Is a third Palestinian intifada on the way – or has it already begun?

Peter Beaumont writes: A weekend of febrile violence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem has led to growing fears of a third Palestinian intifada. One of the latest victims was a 13-year-old boy killed by Israeli forces during clashes outside a refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Abdel Rahman Shadi, who lived in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, was struck in the chest by Israeli fire and died after undergoing emergency surgery in Beit Jala hospital on Monday – the second youth to be killed in 24 hours.

There is concern among diplomats and analysts in the region that the escalating violence could turn into a new intifada, or uprising. Four Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinians on Friday and Saturday.

The front page of one mass-circulation newspaper on Sunday stated simply: “The Third Intifada.” Elsewhere in the Israeli media, columnists were more circumspect. Some asked whether the latest events fitted the pattern of the two previous intifadas, which began in 1987 and 2000, and if not, how the current escalation could be curbed before becoming one.

Not only in the Israeli media has the question been asked. The issue was given added urgency by the Facebook posting of Muhanad Halabi, a 19-year-old Palestinian student who stabbed two Israeli men to death in the Old City on Saturday, who linked his actions directly to a “third intifada”. [Continue reading…]


Intifada: The writing was on the wall

Gideon Levy writes: Only rarely does a cliche as well-worn as this one hit the mark so precisely: The writing is on the wall, indeed. My readers will pardon me; no response, explanation or analysis seems more pertinent, at this juncture, when the danger of a third Palestinian Intifada breaking out seems greater than at any time in the last decade. Anyone claiming to be surprised has not been living in the Middle East over the last 10 years. Anyone who claims to be surprised has, along with most Israelis, been burying his head in the sand for a decade. The only surprising thing is that a renewed uprising has taken a decade to occur.

Israeli security figures are still trying to minimise the obvious, insisting that this is only a “wave of terror,” not an Intifada. They said exactly the same thing when the two previous Intifadas erupted. When the first Intifada began, I met members of the entourage of the then Minister of Defence Yitzhak Rabin, visiting the United States at the time, in a large New York department store. There was no reason to hurry home to Israel, they said; everything was under control. Nor was the second Intifada exactly anticipated. Yet both erupted, intensely, the second worse than the first. The dimensions of the third will be greater still.

Not yet clear is whether the events occurring right now will develop into a full-blown Intifada or not, but meantime there will be no period of quiet between the Jordan River and the sea any time soon. It’s true that there have been various factors preventing, thus far, the outbreak of a third Intifada: the heavy price paid by the Palestinians for the second Intifada that failed to achieve anything whatever for them; the absence of a leadership moving the people toward another broad uprising; internal Palestinian divisions, greatly intensified in recent years, between Fatah and Hamas; the international isolation of the Palestinians amid growing international indifference; and the slightly improved economic situation on the West Bank. [Continue reading…]


The West cannot escape the effects of Middle East turmoil

Nouriel Roubini writes: With the US on the way to achieving energy independence, there is a risk that America and its Western allies will consider the Middle East less strategically important. That belief is wishful thinking: a burning Middle East can destabilize the world in many ways.

First, some of these conflicts may yet lead to an actual supply disruption, as in 1973, 1979, and 1990. Second, civil wars that turn millions of people into refugees will destabilize Europe economically and socially, which is bound to hit the global economy hard. And the economies and societies of frontline states like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, already under severe stress from absorbing millions of such refugees, face even greater risks.

Third, prolonged misery and hopelessness for millions of Arab young people will create a new generation of desperate jihadists who blame the West for their despair. Some will undoubtedly find their way to Europe and the US and stage terrorist attacks.

So, if the West ignores the Middle East or addresses the region’s problems only through military means (the US has spent $2 trillion in its Afghan and Iraqi wars, only to create more instability), rather than relying on diplomacy and financial resources to support growth and job creation, the region’s instability will only worsen. Such a choice would haunt the US and Europe – and thus the global economy – for decades to come. [Continue reading…]


World Bank warns of ‘high risk’ of renewed Palestine-Israel conflict

Ma’an reports: The World Bank has warned of the “high risk” of renewed Palestine-Israel conflict following the third straight year of increasing poverty in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In a report released Tuesday, the World Bank pointed to war, reduced donor aid, the suspension of revenue payments, and ongoing restrictions by Israel as having had “a severe impact on the Palestinian economy.”

“The persistence of this situation could potentially lead to political and social unrest,” the report said.

“In short, the status quo is not sustainable and downside risks of further conflict and social unrest are high,” said the World Bank.

The percentage of the population living under the poverty line has reached 39 percent in Gaza and 16 percent in the West Bank. [Continue reading…]


Israeli cabinet approves lethal force against non-lethal threats

The New York Times reports: Israel’s security cabinet approved a series of measures on Thursday as part of a crackdown on rock throwing and firebombing by Palestinians in Jerusalem, including minimum sentences and greater leeway for the police to open fire — steps that opponents say contravene basic legal principles and may only escalate the violence.

Police officers will now be authorized to use Ruger rifles that fire .22-caliber bullets, which have less impact than other types of live ammunition but can still be lethal or cause serious injury.

Under the new regulations, police have permission to open fire not only when their own lives are threatened, as was the case previously, but also when there is “an immediate and concrete danger” to civilians, according to a government statement.

In addition, the government is preparing legislation to impose minimum prison terms of four years — the maximum is 20 years — for adults who throw rocks, homemade firebombs or shoot fireworks directly at people during confrontations. Increased fines will be imposed on convicted minors, ages 14 to 18, and their parents, and child support benefits will be revoked for jailed minors, the statement added. [Continue reading…]


The weakness behind Israel’s power

Saree Makdisi writes: It’s no wonder that this video clip went viral earlier this month. It shows a masked Israeli soldier throwing a sobbing Palestinian child to the ground, holding him in a headlock, squashing him, and then grappling with an assortment of women and girls as he tries — and ultimately fails — to wrest the terrified boy away from his mother.

Those few moments of footage revealed for all the world to see the sordid reality of Israel’s everyday war against the Palestinian people. An army that is equipped and ostensibly prepared to take on other armies — but that was last tested against a real army over four decades ago — continues to be unleashed against a largely defenseless civilian population. And it continues to fail abysmally at its assigned task of bringing that population under control and breaking its will to resist. Indeed, in political terms, the ending of the video is as instructive as the beginning: as the child is finally freed, the Israeli soldier, stripped of his coward’s facemask, is forced ignominiously to slink away, defeated — though not before sullenly and gratuitously flinging a parting stun-grenade into the faces of the child and his family, having, for all his brutality, accomplished precisely nothing.

The scene sums up on a small scale the past decades of Israeli violence, and it captures the lesson that the Israelis seem incapable of getting into their heads once and for all: that the sheer capacity for brute force — at which they admittedly excel—does not, in itself, translate into political gain, and can, indeed, backfire politically to produce the opposite result from what was intended: courage instead of fear; steadfastness instead of collapse; defiance instead of submission. [Continue reading…]


Jerusalem’s sickness runs deeper than the occupation

Amjad Iraqi writes: This past week, my fellow writers on +972 have correctly highlighted that the recent escalations in Jerusalem – of Palestinians throwing stones, the Israeli authorities encouraging live fire against them, and the clashes on the Haram al-Sharif – are neither new nor unexpected. They are inevitable outcomes of Israel’s occupation and the resistance and discontent that naturally generates against it.

To this day, many observers are not comprehending the extent to which the occupation has mutated the city to produce what the writer Teju Cole accurately described as “cold violence…a suffocating viciousness” to erode Palestinian presence in the city. Jerusalem has become a sick city as a result of this cold violence, and is getting sicker with every passing year.

But the source of this sickness is deeper than the occupation alone. The real problem – of which even the occupation is a symptom – is the nationalist and religious fervors emanating from many among both Israelis and Palestinians, which foment the greed, competitiveness, obsession, insecurity, and desire for control (if not domination) of the city’s space and its narrative.

We see this from the rhetoric of political leaders, to the symbols and slogans displayed in the public sphere, to the physical and at times deadly violence waged on the ground. It exists in the massive Jewish settlements and infrastructures cutting across occupied lands and neighborhoods, and it exists in the photos of killed Palestinian militants cropped in front of the Sakhra and Aqsa. [Continue reading…]


Can Netanyahu change Al Aqsa status quo?

Ben White writes: In 2014, almost 11,000 Jews entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. This represented a 28 percent increase from the previous year – and almost double the number of Jewish visitors in 2009. While in 2012, Jewish activists entered the compound on average once every 2 weeks, in 2013 this had become once every 4 days, and in 2014, closer to every 2-3 days.

The UN has described how this week’s confrontations were preceded by “three consecutive weeks of [Israeli forces] preventing all Palestinian women, as well as all men under 50, from entering Al Aqsa Mosque Compound during the morning hours, to secure the entry of settlers and other Israeli groups.” Last week, the Israeli government outlawed two Muslim groups, “informal movements of mostly Arab women and elderly men”, who protest Jewish activists’ visits to the compound. [Continue reading…]

Middle East Eye reports: Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured on Friday when Israeli and Palestinian Authority forces suppressed protests across the West Bank amid continuing entry restrictions the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

At the Qalandiya military checkpoint, three Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets as youth threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces who responded with stun grenades, tear gas and .22-caliber bullets, Maan News Agency reported.

Clashes were also reported on Friday in Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya and near Bethlehem where PA security forces assaulted demonstrators and, according to Maan, detained 13 young people. [Continue reading…]


Playing with fire at Al-Aqsa

Khaled Diab writes: The growing familiarity of clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters inside Al-Aqsa Mosque this week has not weakened the effect of the conflict on my Palestinian neighbours and friends in Jerusalem.

The picturesque, stone-lined alleyways of an already tense Old City are seething with anger and frustration, punctuated by Israeli surveillance helicopters that hang in the air. Even unreligious Palestinians who have never stepped foot inside churches or mosques are furious. They partly envisage their wider demise encapsulated by the struggle over the Noble Sanctuary, as they call it, or the Temple Mount, as it is known to Jews.

The symbolism of the confrontation around the holy site quickly triggered an international response. The three days of clashes provoked a stern warning from neighbouring Jordan, with which Israel has a peace accord. “Any more provocations in Jerusalem will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel,” warned Jordan’s King Abdullah II. “Jordan will have no choice but to take action, unfortunately.” [Continue reading…]


Israel’s non-democratic destiny

Michael N. Barnett writes: Believing in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today is a little like looking for unicorns on the moon — it doesn’t matter how much you search, you still won’t find any. As recognition of this fact has become increasingly widespread, grappling with its implications has been hampered by the lack of normatively attractive or politically viable alternatives. In his review of Padraig O’Malley’s “The Two State Delusion,” Peter Beinart calls the book and its research impressive but nevertheless faults the author for not telling us how the story ends.

Although Beinart and others committed to a two-state solution make it sound like the alternatives are a great mystery, the search for unicorns has been distracting them from increasingly plausible outcomes. As the two-state solution fades into history, its alternatives become increasingly likely: civil war, ethnic cleansing or a non-democratic state. Although all three are possible, the third is rising on the horizon. Whether it goes by the name of an apartheid state, an illiberal democracy, a less than free society or a competitive authoritarianism, the dominant theme will be a Jewish minority ruling over a non-Jewish majority. Although such an outcome would be an emotional blow to those who favor the two-state solution as a way to maintain Israel’s democratic and Jewish character, it looks quite familiar in a world where liberal democracy not only remains the exception but has actually lost ground over the last decade. [Continue reading…]


Most of the drivers of regional destruction have little to do with Iranian-Saudi rivalry

Rami G Khouri writes: [Regional] destruction is painfully visible every day in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, and Yemen, at the very least. This spectacle of multiple fragmenting states is bad enough; it is made even worse by the latest troubling development — it is too early to call it a trend — which is the spectacle of repeated bomb attacks and killings of government officials and security forces in three of the most important regional powers that should be stabilizing forces in the Middle East: Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Add to this the ongoing war in Yemen, and the erratic battle against “Islamic State” (ISIS) forces in Syria, Iraq and other tiny pockets of ISIS presence around the region, the massive refugee flows and the stresses they cause, and the dangerous sectarian dimensions of some of the confrontations underway, and we end up with a very complex and violent regional picture that cannot possibly be explained primarily as a consequence of Iranian-Saudi rivalries.

A more complete explanation of the battered Arab region today must include accounting for several other mega-tends: the impact of the last twenty-fix years of non-stop American military attacks, threats and sanctions from Libya to Afghanistan; the radicalizing impact of sixty-seven years of non-stop Zionist colonization and militarism against Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and other Arabs; the hollowing out of Arab economic and governance systems by three generations of military-led, amateurish and corruption-riddled mismanaged governance that deprived citizens of their civic and political rights and pushed them to assert instead the primacy of their sectarian and tribal identities; and, the catalytic force of the 2003 Anglo-American led war on Iraq that opened the door for all these forces and others yet — like lack of water, jobs, and electricity that make normal daily life increasingly difficult — to combine into the current situation of widespread national polarization and violence.

Most of these drivers of the current regional condition have little to do with Iranian-Saudi sensitivities, and much more to do with decades of frail statehood, sustained and often violent Arab authoritarianism, denied citizenship, distorted development, and continuous regional and global assaults. [Continue reading…]


Jimmy Carter: There is zero chance for the two-state solution

Prospect Magazine reports: “At this moment, there is zero chance of the two-state solution,” said Jimmy Carter, giving his bleakest pronouncement yet on the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock to which he devoted much effort while President of the United States, and even more time since then.

“These are the worst prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians for years,” he said, adding that he didn’t think that Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, “has any intention” of making progress towards the goal, the thrust of international efforts for decades, of the creation of a separate state for the Palestinians alongside Israel. After John Kerry’s efforts as Secretary of State to broker a deal, which collapsed in the spring last year, the “US has withdrawn” from the problem, he reckoned. [Continue reading…]


Israelis lean right toward one-state solution

Daoud Kuttab writes: Of all the Israelis who spoke out against the burning of the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma near Nablus, the voice of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin seemed the most sincere.

Speaking at a rally in Jerusalem on Aug. 1, the Israeli president rejected the idea that this was an isolated case with no context to it. “Every society has extremist fringes, but today we have to ask: What is it in the public atmosphere that allows extremism and extremists to walk in confidence, in broad daylight?” he asked. American writer Peter Beinart later wrote in the Israeli daily Haaretz on Aug. 5 that Rivlin accepted moral responsibility while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “denied and lied about incitement including his own.” This was the clearest accusation against Netanyahu of responsibility for what happened.

But beyond Rivlin’s humanistic exterior is a senior Israeli official who is an ardent supporter of the total annexation of the West Bank to Israel. Rivlin’s actions don’t hide the fact that he, like many in his and Netanyahu’s Likud Party, has a much more radical plan for solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. [Continue reading…]


Israel’s occupation killed Ali Dawabsheh

Matthew Duss writes: It’s tempting to treat last week’s tragic murder of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh, burned alive in his bed as the result of a firebomb thrown by suspected Jewish settlers, as somehow separate from the occupation through which Israel has ruled the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza since 1967. Israeli officials have certainly been at pains to make that case, condemning the murder and promising swift action. But we should note that Ali was the fourth Palestinian killed over the previous week and a half. The reality is that Ali’s murder is only a particularly shocking expression of the violence that Israel’s occupation exacts upon Palestinian civilians every day. And any genuine effort to put a stop to extremist violence in the West Bank, by Israelis or Palestinians, requires a fuller awareness of how that extremism is driven by the occupation, and of the role that the U.S. has played in sustaining it.

Don’t expect acknowledgement of the deeper problems here from the current Israeli government — it’s all in behind the occupation and settlements. While there’s no reason to doubt the government’s regret over the death of a child, it’s reasonable to ask how much that regret is actually worth while it remains committed to the policies that led to that death. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon announced, “We intend to fight Jewish terror with our full might, without any leniency.” But of course he has no plans to end the system of radical institutionalized inequality that affirms and empowers Jewish extremists while containing Palestinians within a series of disconnected, impoverished cantons.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, was eager to change the subject. On Sunday, having apparently decided that two days of grief were enough for a Palestinian child burned alive, he was already back to bashing the Palestinians, insisting that Palestinians celebrate terrorism while Israelis condemn it. (As the Forward’s J.J. Goldberg points out, not only is this utterly graceless, it’s also completely false—lots of streets in Israel are named after Zionist terrorists. Netanyahu himself attended a 2006 ceremony commemorating the 1948 bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel by the terror group Irgun, an attack that killed 92 people.) [Continue reading…]


The end of the two-state solution

Avi Issacharoff writes: On Tuesday afternoon I drove to Duma, the village where 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha was murdered in what appears to have been an act of terrorism perpetrated by Jews. At the Shilo junction (I was coming from Ramallah), I headed east along the “Wine Route.” Such a romantic name for a region of illegally constructed outposts, some of them on privately-owned Palestinian land: Ahiya, Kida, Adei Ad, Esh Kodesh. The ruins of what had been the outpost of Geulat Zion were still on one of the hills.

The view is spectacular, breathtaking — and in some cases, so are the homes. For example in Kida, a settlement populated by career and reserve IDF officers, there are several villas so exquisite that residents of Israel’s central region could only dream of such luxury. The combination of stone houses and vineyards gives a feeling almost of a foreign country until we remember that this is the West Bank, and that hardly a week goes by here without reports of violent confrontations between the inhabitants of Esh Kodesh and their Palestinian neighbors from Qusra.

The continuum of Jewish communities stretches from Route 60 to the Allon Road in the direction of the Jordan Valley, making it obvious that the locations of these outposts were not selected at random. The territorial continuity between Nablus and Ramallah is disrupted over and over by numerous Jewish communities, and a Jewish territorial continuity has been created between Beit El, via Ofra, Shilo and Eli and, to the east, Shvut Rahel and the abovementioned outposts. A similar phenomenon exists around Nablus as well: Yitzhar, Bracha, Itamar, Elon Moreh and then a series of outposts descending eastward toward the Jordan Valley. Same goes for the stretch between Bethlehem and Hebron. Conditions are now such that an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank has already become impossible.

And here it must be said: The watershed line seems to have been crossed. The two-state solution is no more. [Continue reading…]


Israel wrecked my home. Now it wants my land

Nureddin Amro writes: The world is watching Susiya to see if Israel will demolish the community of 340 Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills. The Supreme Court here has refused to delay the forced removal of structures where 55 families have lived since they were displaced by state-sponsored archaeological digs that helped expand a nearby settlement. Living under the threat of demolition is a horrible experience. The Palestinians of Susiya probably feel disoriented, unstable and scared that their way of life could be dismantled at any minute. I know, because I’m in a similar situation. In my neighborhood, the destruction has already started.

Just before dawn on March 31, dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers blocked off the streets and surrounded the one-story house where my older brother Sharif, his family of six, our 79-year-old mother, my wife, my three children and I live. We had gone to bed looking forward to a picnic the next morning, but we were awoken by the frightening sounds of jeeps and heavy machinery. Israeli security forces banged on the doors, shouting in Hebrew that we had to get out at once. They had come to demolish our home.

I was born in Jerusalem. My parents were born in Jerusalem. Their parents were born in Jerusalem. Their parents were born in Jerusalem. Our modest house is approximately 70 years old — older than the state of Israel. I have lived here in al-Sawana, a neighborhood between the Old City and the Mount of Olives, not far from the Gethsemane Valley (where the Romans caught Jesus), for more than 40 years. It is near a commercial area, hospitals, Muslim and Jewish cemeteries and precious religious sites for the three big monotheistic faiths. In other words, I live on strategic land. [Continue reading…]


Thousands protest against racist, homophobic attacks; place blame on Israeli gov’t

+972 reports: Thousands of people gathered in cities across the country on Saturday night to protest against the racist and homophobic attacks of the past few days. The demonstrations come in response to Thursday’s mass stabbing attack at the Jerusalem Pride Parade, as well as the arson attack in the West Bank village Duma, where 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burned to death.

In Tel Aviv over 3,000 people attended a rally organized by Peace Now, calling for “an iron fist against Jewish terrorism.” Among the speakers were opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who earlier on Saturday called on the government to expand its use of administrative detention against Jews involved in terrorism.

Nasser Dawabshe, the uncle of the slain infant, also spoke, saying that Netanyahu’s condolences were not enough, and that it is the prime minister’s duty to ensure the security of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. “We demand that this be the end of our people’s suffering,” he told the crowed. “Before Ali came Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and we do not know who is next in line. We want these arson attacks to end.” [Continue reading…]


France prepares sanctions against Israeli settlement policy

Uri Savir writes: Inside the European Union there is an ongoing debate regarding the desirability and scope of sanctions and punitive resources in relation to the Israeli government’s settlement policies. According to a senior source in the French Foreign Ministry who spoke with Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, France is considering sharp economic measures against Israeli goods and businesses east of the Green Line. Settlements, the French official argued, are illegal according to international law and the EU should not apply its agreements with Israel to them. Sharp economic measures would translate into labeling of goods exported from the settlements as such (and not as ”made in Israel”), and excluding Israeli academic, research and development and cultural institutions that are active in the West Bank from any European funds or grants. Brussels, according to this source, has toughened its stance on implementing these policies following Israel’s March 17 elections.

The French, the official added, are considering taking even more severe measures if a peace process on the two-state solution is not launched by the end of 2015. France intends to coordinate these policies with other EU countries.

In the meantime, the French themselves intend to rigidly ensure that all exported Israeli goods emanating from Israeli settlements are indeed labeled accordingly, and that any EU funding to Israeli entities will be dependent on the submission of a declaration stating that the entity in question has no direct or indirect links to the West Bank or East Jerusalem. Concretely, the first to be hurt by these measures would probably be Israeli banks with branches east of the Green Line. [Continue reading…]