Both Israel and Palestine share responsibilities for the latest developments in the Middle East on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine might be at a turning point.
On the 22nd of September, 300 prisoners in israeli jails were ready to start off a hunger strike in response to the Israeli Annexation Plan of part of the West Bank. The news comes from the independent movement “16th October Group/Palestine”, a group of mostly female journalists whose aim is to portray the palestinian issue in Gaza and in the West Bank to the Western world.
The palestinian people have recently faced up a number of cracks to their plea for international and arab support. First of all, the announcement of the “deal of the century” by US President Donald Trump, that consists in recognising eastern Jerusalem as future capital of a Palestinian State and in a progressive annexation of 30% of the West Bank to the Jewish State. Hence, the new Palestinian State will be shrunk by roughly a third of its already narrow territory.
If on one hand this deal allows to accept and pose the basis for a two-state solution, on the other it is favouring the Israeli side. This is no surprise considering the recognition of Jerusalem as sole capital of Israel and the growing alliance between Netanyahu and Trump.
Secondly, Israel has made agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalise the political and economic relations. According to the BBC, these two agreements are more important for the stability of the Middle East than it can be imagined: they open up trade opportunities for the UAE and Bahrain, they enlarge Israel’s legacy in the Middle East to play opposite Iran and to gain more support among the Arab countries (the deals with Egypt and Jordan do not mean stable relations).
They also give recognition to Trump for his foreign policy campaign in the Middle East. They pose a challenge to Iran’s political presence in the Middle East and they leave the palestinian authorities speechless. These agreements encompass a variety of political and economic achievements, from easing travels from Israel to UAE and Bahrain to lay down the basis for future trade deals.
Although Israel seems to come out on top of the conflict, frictions between palestinians and the arab world have recently increased, since the US (and other 10 countries) formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017. On that occasion, the Arab countries did not call for a new jihad against neither the US nor Israel, did not hinder their relations with Israel and did not call out for the international condemnation of the US decision.
On the other hand, these countries gathered a few days after Trump’s recognition of the new status of Jerusalem to acknowledge East Jerusalem as the future Palestinian capital, which is one of the points of the deal of the century. Hence, the US and the arab countries positions on the peace plan are actually matching.
To fully understand why both Israel and Palestine are responsible for all of these biased facts, we must take into account the ongoing shift towards a right-wing politics in Israel and the ambiguous political engagement of the palestinian authorities. Under his leadership, the Likud party has progressively turned towards the orthodox and extreme right political entities in Israel.
After his re-election in 2009, Netanyahu managed to form a coalition with all the major right-wing parties in the Knesset under the promise to engage in the legal and political status of the West Bank.
The extremism in the Knesset is mirrored in the polarised drift of the most important newspapers in Israel. Netanyahu is paying for the free newspaper Israel HaYom (Israel Today) where news is shaped to positively portray Likud’s achievement, whereas Ha’aretz (The Nation) has become a far left-wing newspaper, opposite to Netanyahu’s leadership and critical to Israel’s dealing with the Palestinian cause.
Also, the Likud’s desperate need to the support of the far right parties is not reflected into the Israeli society, where almost 65% of the population is against the enlargement of the settlements in the West Bank and calls out for a two-state solution. Moreover, Netanyahu is relying on Trump’s support and protection.
The alliance between these two gentlemen is the basis for a potential long-lasting dualism between the Likud party in Israel and the Republican party in the US. As such, it’s no surprise that Trump is favouring his Israeli ally and that Netanyahu is enthusiastic about demanding more and more sovereignty for Israel.
As far as the palestinian politics is concerned, things remain entangled. There is no unity in the political arena of the palestinian cause. In Gaza, the major party is accused of terrorism against the jewish state, massive children propaganda against Israel and categorically denies the legitimacy of the jewish state.
In the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership is controversial as he advocates for a two-state solution blaming Israel of playing the racist game, but financially supports the families of palestinian terrorists in the West Bank without calling out for legal procedures against attentive murders towards the Israelis.
The biggest problems between Israel and Palestine is the lack of trust. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to pull all the settlers out of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government was hoping to start building a long but promising route towards peace, but only gained a terroristic state where the inhabitants are chocked by the Israeli military forces and the regime of Hamas.
As far as the PLO is concerned, Abbas’s volatile attitude towards Israel does not ensure a stable commitment towards peace. Hence, the Israeli government is not willing to take the risk of having two hostile states attacking its territory on two sides. This could also lead to the return of attacks by Hezbollah in the Northern part of Israel at the border with Lebanon.
The hunger strike has already reached its 13th day, but it’s sadly not likely to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.