Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

November 17, 2015

Israeli-Palestinian conflict maps by Ari RusilaThe Israeli-Palestinian peace process – or lack of that – is now at the  crossroads.  To start or not direct  negotiations, between Israel and Palestinian Authority or at regional level,  with or without preconditions, with or without facilitators, with 2-State
solution as only aim or not, or would unilateral actions be the better option  than keep the status quo.  Is there  Intifada-3  going on or not?   A massive peace effort – the Madrid  Conference and the Oslo Accords – ended the First Intifada; a massive military  campaign –  Operation Defensive Shield –  ended the Second Intifada; how it will end the Intifada-3 if it really  starts?  These are some questions around  the conflict.  With this analysis I try  to clarify main options to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict in relation to  current situation.

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation with aim of ‘Two-State’ solution has been perceived as the only paradigm of international community and it has been the main option for Israeli and Palestinian authorities. To keep negotiations ongoing has came de facto as the goal in itself instead of the means to reach an agreement. The failure to reach an agreement has given excuses to the politicians on both sides, allowing them to blame the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future.

Main options to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Ari Rusila

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been besides 2-State solution also binational ‘One-State’ solution, partial solutions like Sinai an Jordan Options and different variations of ‘Three States’ solutions. One of course easy ‘solution’ is zero-option – ‘frozen conflict’ or ‘status quo’ scenario which can be implemented also through pseudo-talks. Today also unilateral actions – instead vain negotiations – can pave way towards some solutions.

 

One-State Solution

Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one.state solutionOne State scenario means “Isralestine”, a binational state to West from Jordan River or federation/confederation. Omer Bar-Lev – an MK for the Zionist Union – claims that Israel’s approach to security lacks creativity and initiative. He hits the nail on the head by concluding the one-state dilemma as follows:

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit. Then, it is for the Palestinians to decide to create their Palestinian State, which is in their interests and they will make their own decisions. (Source: Fathom)

Indeed one-state option in my opinion would destroy Israel as ‘Jewish homeland’ as both democracy and ‘Jewish Israel’ could not survive in this solution. Failure of negotiations or lack of unilateral actions is shaping Israel and West-Bank more and more towards de facto ‘1-State’.

 

Two-State solution

To this day, I cannot understand why the Palestinian leadership did not accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal I offered them. My proposal included a solution to all outstanding issues: territorial compromise, security arrangements, Jerusalem and refugees.

( How to Achieve a Lasting Peace: Stop Focusing on the Settlements By Ehud Olmert Israel PM 2006-2009)

A bit provocative 2-state vision

A bit provocative 2-state vision

A couple of decades the international community has preached a doctrine of ‘Two states for two peoples’, without any progress for its implementation. Sure also in my opinion a two-state solution might be possible. The final status agreement – negotiated compromise – has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings / agreement / plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try (both plans can be found from my document library ). These plans have been refined many times and serious work can be seen e.g. in leaked Palestine Papers/PaliLeaks (More in ”Pali-Leaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace).

23boundar_map-popup (2)

The endgame with 2-state solution will probably be according The Clinton Parameters . The key element with 2-State Solutions are negotiated borders based to pre-1967 armistice lines with land swaps;  the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people; Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Haram, and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and the space sacred to Judaism; Palestine defined as a “demilitarized state”, solving the refugee question by giving limited return to Israel, return to the new State of Palestine or rehabilitation refugees in host country.

 

Sinai Option

Sinai OptionGreenWith “official” 2-State Solution there is other 2-State options such as Gaza and Palestine option (more e.g. in Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander ). With this version Israel and Hamas could negotiate a deal which could lead to Gaza State while the future of Palestine state in West-Bank would stay unclear. This (part) solution could be stronger by combining it to recently again proposed Sinai option.

According Middle East Monitor (MEMO) report Egypt offers Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas a Palestinian state in Sinai.   Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi offered Palestinian Authority 620 square miles of land adjacent to Gaza in exchange for relinquishing claims to 1967 borders for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state. PA President Abbas reportedly rejects proposal. Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: “The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees.” He continued: “The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it.” One idea with offer was to resettle “Palestinian refugees” in the Sinai. At its core, the Egyptian initiatives proposes expanding the Gaza Strip to three – five times its current size (360 km2 ) and settling all the Palestinian refugees – who want to move – in a state to be established there. Under the initiative, this state will be demilitarized.

israel-palestinian-state-mediterranean-red-sea-west-bank-removalThere is also some versions of Sinai option created by outside NGOs such as “The Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics”, which might have conspiracy theoretical approach on issue.  Anyway ISGP proposes that under United Nations and NATO supervision and with financial support of the world community, humanely transport ALL Palestinians from the West Bank to a newly-created Palestinian state consisting of the south of Israel and preferably a small part of Egypt’s largely uninhabited Sinai Desert. In order to help make Palestine a viable state, extend its borders from Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

More about ‘Sinai Option’ in my article:  Sinai Option again .

 

Three-State solution

I have long been advocating Three State (return) Option – described also as no-state option – as the most pragmatic solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this 3-state scenario Amman rules the Cairo West Bank and Cairo runs Gaza. This scenario includes a Jordanian option meaning recognition and development of Jordan as the Palestinian State – Israel, the United States and the international community will recognize the Kingdom of Jordan as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Jordan will once again recognize itself as the Palestinian nation-state.

3-state return option by Ari RusilaFor 19 years, Judea and Samaria were part of Jordan, its population Jordanian citizens, and the geographic juxtaposition between Israel and Jordan should make delineating the border between the two countries in an agreement considerably easier than reaching a deal on a border between Israel and a Palestinian state that might be established in the area. If three state solution will be implemented so Israel would receive security guarantees from Jordan’s monarchy, which made peace with Israel in 1994, rather than from a politically enfeebled Palestinian president as well from Egypt, which has peace deal with Israel since 1978, rather than from outside supervised Hamas.

Related to Egypt this ‘3-State’ solution can include sc ‘Sinai Option’ and it is possible to agree some level autonomy to so formed ‘Great Gaza’.

Three-State [Return] proposal would eliminate the main logistical complication pertaining to the communication between the two parts of the Palestinian state. In addition two separate states for Palestinians would accord more realistically with a key current political reality. The idea of 2-State solution is to create a land corridor between Gaza and the West Bank, with a free flow of people and commerce between the two; however this kind of corridor effectively cuts Israel in half; sure connecting tunnels or bridges could be a solution, but these too are a logistical challenge.

From my point of view this solution is both pragmatic and doable and now more actual than ever as two-state solution is more and more utopia and road map towards it has been death for years. (More in A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move and The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

The three-state solution essentially replicates – with some minor land swaps – the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War.

 

Roadmaps to solution

In my opinion there is three main pathways to solution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and they are following:

  • (Re)starting negotiations,
  • Constructive unilateralism, and
  • Cold Peace

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace

(Re)starting negotiations

(Re)starting negotiations has two alternatives which are

  1. start negotiations between Israel and Palestine Authority – local approach leading possibly to 2-State solution
  2. restart negotiations between Israel, Egypt and Jordan – regional approach leading to 3-State solution

Both of these alternatives can be implemented directly between shareholders or they can be implemented with help of outside facilitators (USA, Arab League, UN).

I would like to conclude that instead of rigid high-flown statements and dead road maps international community should facilitate the Middle East peace process through following three principles

  • Negotiations will be restored without prior conditions.
  • The talks should be implemented by local stakeholders, not under supervision of outside powers
  • The international community – outside powers – should support any common agreed outcome of talks e.g. with financial aid programs

This approach means that an outcome – which I describe with term ‘quality peace’ – is not possible to achieve imposed from top to field e.g forced by international community or other outsiders; with that kind of approach one can only freeze the conflict not solve it. The only way for ‘quality peace’ is through motivation or at least commitment of individual, clan, community, ethnic groups, wider society or state to resolve conflicts through dialogue by acceptance and at least tolerance of differences. (More in my articles Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too? and Quality Peace )

quality peace by Ari Rusila

 

Constructive unilateralism

Already 2012 then Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel should consider imposing the borders of a future Palestinian state, becoming the most senior government official to suggest bypassing a stagnant peace process.

The plan titled “It’s in Our Hands,” by Omer Bar-Lev – an MK for the Zionist Union – calls for Israel to unilaterally define its own borders to ensure its security, would keep control of all of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley and bequeath about 60 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, evacuating 35,000 Jewish settlers — less than 10 percent of the total.

An example from history

An example from history

According BWF  – an Israeli NGO Blue White Future – Israel should prepare for a reality of two states for two people, most notably by declaring that it does not have claims of sovereignty over most of the occupied territories, and by planning and acting accordingly, including preparing for the relocation of settlers residing east of the security fence to Israel proper. BWF proposes that the international community should adopt a paradigm that allows all stakeholders – Israel, Palestinians, the US and the other players – to take independent steps that will advance a reality of two states. (More in Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict )

A possible Hamas-Israel Deal can pave the way for Cold Peace Solution (More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal ); the final outcome can be 2- or 3-State solution.

Cold Peace

Israel could also independently implement a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally. Creating a reality of two states for two peoples by separation into two nation states so that Israel annexes all Judea and Samaria (West-Bank) inside security fence and draws all outposts inside fence on the route of a permanent border on the basis of agreed-upon land swaps or independently in case negotiations does not take place. In the event that negotiations are not renewed, the temporary border will become permanent. As long as there is no agreement, the IDF and Israel would retain control of the outer borders and surrounding areas of the territories to be evacuated by Israelis who would be resettled within the state’s new borders. With this kind of unilateral “cold peace” solution Palestinians can do whatever they want in remaining territory but however this ‘Cold Peace’ in my opinion might – in the course of years – develop to permanent state of affairs and thus end Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An example could be the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed in 1979 which most Egyptians view as a cold peace; retrospectively not so bad deal anyway.

In my opinion the situation now is leading Israel toward a de facto binational future toward one-state solution and this might be the worst option for both sides. If negotiations now fail so I think that unilateral moves might not be so bad idea. If three-state option can not now replace the buried two-state solution so then the way forward for Israel seems to be annex the main settlements to Israel, finalize the security fence and wait if and when the Palestinian side and international facilitator want negotiate about some details based on this reality on the ground.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


Article Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict first appeared in Conflicts By Ari Rusila

 


Sinai Option again

November 11, 2015

Sinai OptionGreenJerusalem Post reports   that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted on Monday [9th November 2015] as claiming that Israel and Hamas have been conducting direct negotiations to expand the Gaza Strip so that it would include some 1,000 square kilometers of Sinai. Abbas, who was recently visiting in Cairo, told that the idea of slicing off land from Sinai to expand the Gaza Strip was first proposed by ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Abbas said that he knows the names of the Hamas and Israeli negotiators, but did not mention them. He said that former British prime minister and Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair is supervising the purported negotiations between Israel and Hamas. Abbas told that he opposes the idea of annexing any part of Sinai to the Gaza Strip.

History of the Sinai option

The Sinai option indeed is not a new option to solve Egypt-Gaza-Israel conflict. According Middle East Monitor (MEMO) report [01 September 2014 ] Egypt offered Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas a Palestinian state in Sinai.   Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi offered Palestinian Authority 620 square miles of land adjacent to Gaza in exchange for relinquishing claims to 1967 borders for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state. PA President Abbas reportedly rejected proposal. Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: “The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees.” He continued: “The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it.” One idea with offer was to resettle “Palestinian refugees” in the Sinai.

At its core, the Egyptian initiative proposes expanding the Gaza Strip to five times its current size and settling all the Palestinian refugees in a state to be established there. Under the initiative, this state will be demilitarized, Army Radio reported. In addition, the report continued, the Palestinian Authority would be granted autonomy in the Palestinian cities in the West Bank in exchange for relinquishing the Palestinian demand to return to 1967 borders. The U.S. was involved and even greenlighted the initiative, Army Radio reported, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also brought into the loop, but did not brief the cabinet on it.

trilateralscenario1A similar idea was floated some eight years ago by Israeli academics, but it was rejected outright by the regime of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Experts surmise that Sisi’s generous offer stems from Egypt’s current difficulty in controlling terrorist groups based in the Sinai Peninsula. Source: Israel Hayom

According Middle East Eye (MEE)   the scheme became the centrepiece of the 2004 Herzliya conference, an annual meeting of Israel’s political, academic and security elites to exchange and develop policy ideas. It was then enthusiastically adopted by Uzi Arad, the conference’s founder and long-time adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister. He proposed a three-way exchange, in which the Palestinians would get part of Sinai for their state, while in return Israel would receive most of the West Bank, and Egypt would be given a land passage across the Negev to connect it to Jordan. (This and more plans in Herzliya Papers )

According to the reports, the territory in Sinai would become a demilitarised Palestinian state – dubbed “Greater Gaza” – to which returning Palestinian refugees would be assigned. The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas would have autonomous rule over the cities in the West Bank, comprising about a fifth of that territory. In return, Abbas would have to give up the right to a state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The plan probably originated with Giora Eiland, Israel’s national security adviser from 2004 to 2006. According Eiland’s Plan in 2004 that Israel hoped would be implemented after the withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from Gaza – the so-called disengagement – a year later. Under Eiland’s terms, Egypt would agree to expand Gaza into the Sinai in return for Israel giving Egypt land in the Negev. Eiland’s plan also stipulates that the Palestinians would be granted sovereignty over 89 percent of the West Bank as part of a final settlement to the decades-old conflict. ( More about Eiland’s Plan also in my document library )

According the Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat (HQ in London but with strong ties to the Saudi royal family) the Egyptian source said a similar proposal was put to Morsi when he came to power in 2012. A delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders travelled to Washington, where White House officials proposed that “Egypt cede a third of the Sinai to Gaza in a two-stage process spanning four to five years”.US officials, the report stated, promised to “establish and fully support a Palestinian state” in the Sinai, including the establishment of seaports and an airport. The Brotherhood was urged to prepare Egyptian public opinion for the deal.

My conclusion           

Nimetön (60)There is some speculations that, were Isis’s influence to expand further in Gaza or Egypt’s adjoining Sinai peninsula, Hamas could end up forging a common cause — openly or otherwise — with either Israel or Egypt; co-operation between Hamas and Egypt, and between Hamas and Israel might be the outcome.

In my opinion annexing part of Sinai to Gaza as might partly solve Arab-Israeli Conflict. In addition Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’ and beyond. (More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal )

Related articles:

Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal


[Sinai Option again  first appeared in Conflicts By Ari Rusila]

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Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

October 3, 2015

Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Many of the current restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a sc blockade or siege. The situation has been compounded by the restrictions imposed since June 2013 by the Egyptian authorities at Rafah Crossing.

Gaza vs Rafah

Kerem Shalom vs Rafah 2015

Despite restrictions there has been whole time – even during conflicts/wars – movement of commodities as well Palestinians to and from Gaza via Israeli border crossings. During last months movement of goods has increased via Kerem Shalom Crossing at Israeli border to/from Gaza but is almost non-existent via Rafah Crossing at Egyptian border. Besides official border crossings Egypt is now implementing measures which will totally block unofficial traffic aka smuggling.  In my opinion Egypt not Israel is blocking Gaza.

 

The Rafah Border Crossing

The Rafah Border Crossing lies on the international border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip that was recognized by the 1979 Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty and confirmed during the 1982 Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. The crossing was managed by the Israel Airports Authority until Israel evacuated Gaza on 11 September 2005 as part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan. It subsequently became the task of the European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah (EUBAM) to monitor the crossing. Though Israel and Egypt allow limited imports into Gaza, the economy of Gaza largely relies on illicit trade that flourishes via an alternative “tunnel economy.” Hamas enriches itself at the expense of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by collecting tolls from tunnel operators and import taxes on goods brought into Gaza. This second economy increases ordinary Gazans’ reliance on Hamas rule, which most would prefer to see end. Making peace deal only between Israel and the PA does not solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ignoring Gaza further incentives Hamas to oppose peace with Israel and any deal its Palestinian adversaries conclude.

Since former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in June 2013, the Egyptian military has been trying to eliminate the smuggling tunnels beneath the border in the southern Gaza Strip, destroying them and expanding the buffer zone.  Egypt has demolished tunnels e.g. by exploding them, Egyptian army also fires tear gas or throws wastewater inside the tunnels to kill diggers. Rafah crossing with Egypt has been closed almost permanently since October 2014, heavily restricting those who can enter or leave the Gaza Strip. Egypt closed the border after relations soured between the Gazan and Egyptian leaderships after the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the ensuing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers. Egypt has linked instability in the Sinai peninsula to Gaza causing it to isolate the strip. Since 17th September 2015 the Egyptian army has been pumping large volumes of Mediterranean Sea waters  into the buffer zone that it began building two years ago, along 14 kilometers of the Palestinian-Egyptian border. The move is the latest attempt to destroy the tunnels dug by Palestinians under the city of Rafah over the years of the Israeli blockade. (Source and more e.g. in Al-Monitor )
rafah_tunnel-e1406588938670 (2)

2014—15 Egyptian demolition of homes and terror/smuggling tunnels

In 2008 and 2009, according to media reports and the US Defense Department, the US Army Corps of Engineers trained Egyptian troops to use advanced technological equipment that measures ground fluctuations to indicate tunnel digging. In August 2013, the US Defense Department awarded the defense company Raytheon a $9.9 million contract to continue research and development in Egypt on its version of this technology, which is known as a laser radar vibration sensor.

The tunnels were first constructed immediately after Israel’s disengagement from the Sinai Peninsula, as part of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt. But digging got more intense after Israel declared a blockade on Gaza after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections. Hamas’s government started to flourish on what economists called the booming “tunnel economy” until current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi joined Israel in trying to destroy it.

In October 2014 Egypt announced that they planned to expand the buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, following a terrorist attack from Gaza that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. The buffer was created “in a move meant to halt the passage of weapons and militants through cross-border smuggling tunnels but which also puts more pressure on the Palestinian militant Hamas group.” The buffer zone originally was 500 meters, following the announcement of the expanded buffer zone many residents voluntarily left the area. Ibrahim Mahlab the Prime Minister of Egypt announced that any residents unwilling to move willfully would be forcefully removed from their homes. Between July 2013 and August 2015, Egyptian authorities demolished at least 3,255 residential, commercial, administrative, and community buildings in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with the Gaza Strip, forcibly evicting thousands of people.

On 17 November, 2014, Egypt announced that the buffer zone would be doubling to 1 km due to the longer than expected tunnels discovered, in addition to a night time curfew for the area. On January 8, 2015, Egypt’s expansion resulted in the destruction of about 1,220 homes, while destroying more than 1,600 tunnels. Some tunnels discovered ranged over 1 kilometer long and contained lighting, ventilation and phone systems. In February 2015, in response to the buffer zone, ISIS beheaded 10 men they believed were spies for Mossad and the Egyptian Army. In June 2015 Egypt completed its digging of a ditch by the Rafah Crossings, 20 meters wide by 10 meters deep. (Source and more e.g: Wikipedia )

Over the past months Egyptian military bulldozers have also destroyed many Egyptian homes to create a buffer zone of at between 500 and 1,000 metres on the Egyptian side, and 1,000 metres. Entire neighborhoods have been flattened being gutted.

 

Egypt floods the rest of Gaza’s tunnels with seawater

According  MEE – Middle East Eye report Egyptian military vehicles are transferring Mediterranean Sea water to the Rafah border, to fill a newly-built crude canal, flooding and destroying the lifeline tunnels connecting Egypt and blockaded Gaza. By canal the Egyptian government is trying to economically crush Hamas, an ally of the Muslim brotherhood. Egypt is planning that sea water will flood into any remaining undiscovered tunnels and completely destroy them. Most tunnels are usually 20 meters deep, and can stretch for three hundred meters inside Egyptian Rafah. Israel also tried to fight Gaza’s tunnels by digging a canal and pumping sea water into the 14 km borderline with Egypt, but due to environmental damage and danger to natural aquifer water systems, it built a separation wall instead; deep into, and above, the ground.

Egyptian military personnel won’t speak openly of the nature of the project, but some local experts have said the aim is to create fish farms. Water pipes can be seen on the Egyptian side of the border-leading from the beach area into the west of the city, to an area filled with supply tunnels. A local water engineer said that pumping sea water into natural clean-water aquifers will increase salinity twenty-fold.

Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip September 18, 2015. | Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip September 18, 2015. | Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Mayor of Rafah, Subhi Radwan believes this could lead to the forced migration of the local population. “The sea water is leaking into the clean aquifer, damaging the ground structure and pure water,” he said. Radwan said that drinking water, for the population, will not be available soon, as dirty salt water is pushed into the already damaged plumbing system of Gaza. “This will also deprive farmers of the ability to plant consumable vegetables and all forms of fresh plants which rely on clean aquifer waters,” the mayor added.

Economic analyst Moein Rajab told Al-Monitor that the pumping of salt water into the tunnels will affect agriculture and render farmlands unproductive as salt levels rise. As such, large tracts of Palestinian agricultural land that stretches along the Egyptian border will be made useless, leading to a marked decrease in agricultural production. Rajab added that soon after, the area’s inhabitants would be forced to leave as the topsoil is destabilized, further exacerbating the current Gaza Strip housing crisis. He explained, “Due to the fact that houses are so close to the border — mere hundreds of meters away — homes will become threatened with demolition or damaged to the point of being unlivable, with their foundations buckling as the earth liquefies. As a result, inhabitants will be forced to abandon their homes, which will add problems and further exacerbate the housing crisis engendered by the scarcity of building materials, blockade and pitiable economic situation.”

 

The Kerem Shalom crossing

Kerem Shalom in Israel is the main – and now practically only – border crossing to and from Gaza for goods (People are using more Erez crossing in Northern Gaza).   Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is part of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) agency monitoring and reporting e.g. Gaza’s situation to international community. Its statistics show clearly where movement of commodities to and from Gaza take place. To the text frame below I have collected from OCHA reports the main points about import and export of Gaza through Israel on August 2015:

Gaza Import/Export, August 2015

Gaza Import/Export, August 2015

And here is wider picture of Gaza crossings in infographic:

Commodities Dashboard I

 

The Kerem Shalom crossing is relatively small and is not enough for the entry of all of Gaza’s needs. An average of 300 to a maximum of 700 trucks enter every day. To increase the truckloads of supplies that enter Gaza from Israel and speed up efforts to rebuild the territory, the Dutch government donated a new security scanner on July 2015. Some 1,000 trucks are expected to cross with the new scanner, according to COGAT and the Dutch Foreign Ministry. (Source. The Times of Israel )

 

My  conclusions

Hamas’ economic well-being was in large part dependent on its system of smuggling tunnels snaking underneath the Gaza border with Egypt. The supply lines that have fed it cash, arms, goods, luxury items, fuel, and cement for its terror-tunnel industry suddenly were gone. These goods, which were smuggled into Gaza at obscenely low prices at the expense of Egyptian citizens, were no longer flowing in due to the closure of the tunnels. The economy of Hamas is weakening as Egypt has closed main part of over one thousand smuggling tunnels on Gaza border; before that Hamas administration got remarkable income from smuggling activities.

Gaza’s isolation was imposed originally to delegitimize and undermine Hamas’ leadership. Palestinian Authority or better say Fatah was hoping to produce positive economic development in the West Bank which could lead Gazans to overturn Hamas rule. The opposite came true as Hamas’ control grew tighter. During last year there has been talks about national reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. The Hamas-Israel dialogue is the last example that instead unity the split between Hamas and Fatah as well between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is even wider than before.

This situation can at best to lead long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Part of deal is lifting of an eight-year blockade placed on the Gaza Strip, less restriction for goods and people to go over border, importing goods to Gaza through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed). Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’ and beyond. (More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal )

EU claims that imaginary Gaza blockade is the reason for slow reconstruction in Gaza strip while the main reason is corruption and misuse of funds. (More e.g. in Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption ). Besides emergency relief the international community gives also huge donations for capacity building activities. One problem however is that the impact of the international assistance is poor if not even non-existent in relation to sustainable development. As The Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) concluded “it has been almost impossible to trace any positive impact of these mobilized resources on the ground”. More about MAS analysis in Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks .

So called Gaza blockade or siege is one of the main causes or excuse – depending from viewpoint – for flotillas, BDS, EU’s labelling plans, anti-Semitism, donations to Hamas, humanitarian crisis etc. Given the facts referred above one could conclude that blaming Israel for blockade is at least unjust.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila

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Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal

August 18, 2015

 

“This agreement is no longer just rumors or blabber, but will be signed any minute,” (Walid Awadh, a member of the political office of the Palestinian People’s Party in Gaza)

Israel-Palestine roadmap to peaceAccording to the Times of Israel, Hamas and Israel have essentially agreed on a long-term cease-fire. Hamas is about to sign a “comprehensive” agreement with Israel for the lifting of an eight-year blockade placed on the Gaza Strip in return for a long-term ceasefire The gist of the deal is that Israel will end the blockade and allow thousands of Palestinian day laborers to enter Israel. Gaza will import items through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed) and cease all rocket fire and tunneling for eight years. A prisoner swap may be in the works too.  Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’

Israel Prime Minister’s Office gave following statement on 18th Aug. 2015: “Israel would like to officially clarify that it is not holding any meetings with Hamas, neither directly, nor via other countries, nor via intermediaries.” However – in addition to rumours described in my April 2015 article  Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystanderhamas-agreement-1 (2) – the original sources of last developments have been a Turkish official, few days earlier, it was a “knowledgeable source” in the Israeli defense establishment and before that, it was a U.S. State Department official. All confirmed that Israel and Hamas are discussing a long-term cease-fire deal. Already in April it was estimated that official representatives of the Israeli government and defense establishment have been holding a real dialogue even months with the Islamic terrorist group – Hamas – in a bid to reach a long-term calm on the Gaza border. These secret talks have been “partly direct” and partly through Qatari and European mediators. This information was based on an YNet article.

In April 2015 it was claimed that from the Israeli side the person pushing for talks with Hamas is the coordinator of the government’s activities in the territories (COGAT), in cooperation with new IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot , with assistance from the political leadership. The official Israel continues to conceal the dialogue with Hamas: It would have disrupted the elections, it’s not good for the image of a right-wing government, and it gets in the way of continuing to define Hamas as a terror organization in the world. (Source and more in Ynet)

The Hamas-Israel Deal

In an interview- according The Times of Israel – with Hamas daily al-Resalah, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, said that Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mashaal came to Ankara last week to update the Turkish leadership on the details of an agreement reached with Israel. According Israel Hayom [18th Aug. 2015] Hamas officials told Arab media outlets that significant progress had been made in recent talks in Qatar between Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and former Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair about the possibility of a long-term truce deal. Reports also cited a Turkish official as saying progress had been made toward such a deal between Israel and Hamas. According to the official, the deal would include the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. According to the reports, Gaza will be allowed to import merchandise through a “floating port” located 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) off the coast. An intermediary port will be established in Cyprus, where all Gaza-bound merchandise will be scrutinized by NATO representatives.

300px-gaza_strip_map2-svgMeanwhile, progress has been made in reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey yet differences remain on several issues, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Tuesday. The report quoted a Turkish Foreign Ministry official as saying that Israel had agreed to significantly ease the blockade on Gaza — which has been one of Turkey’s demands in the reconciliation talks.

According to Hamas daily al-Resalah, Israel would like to see a larger package deal that would include the exchange of “live and dead Israeli prisoners” held by Hamas — likely a reference to Ethiopian-Israeli citizen Avraham Abere Mengistu and a Bedouin man who both entered the Gaza Strip voluntarily, as well as the remains of Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer — in return for Hamas prisoners jailed by Israel.

Israeli Arabic-language website al-Masdar reported on 16th Aug. 2015 that Hamas’s leadership held a meeting in Gaza on 14th Aug. 2015, specifying the deal’s details. According to al-Masdar’s unnamed Hamas source, Israel has also agreed to allow in thousands of Gazan day laborers through the Erez crossing in return for Hamas’s agreement to stop launching rockets into Israel and digging subterranean attack tunnels underneath the border for a period of at least eight years. Hamas’s Shura Council, the movement’s highest deliberative body, endorsed the agreement following a three-hour debate.

Fatah/PLO against

The reported agreement is opposed by the PLO because it wasn’t consulted, and because it would “eventually detach Gaza completely from the West Bank and Jerusalem,” said one Fatah figure. Hamas officials, headed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, have been dispatched to Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey to discuss the deal. But the agreement is facing domestic opposition from without, as Palestinian factions consider it a potential danger to the political unity of Gaza and the West Bank as stipulated by the Oslo Accords.

no_solutionWalid Awadh, a member of the political office of the Palestinian People’s Party in Gaza, said that his party, like all other PLO factions, is opposed in principle to the deal reached between Hamas and Israel. The agreement, carried out unilaterally by Hamas without consulting the PA, strengthens the political divide with Fatah and will eventually detach Gaza completely from the West Bank and Jerusalem, he argued. “Gaza faces an unknown future,” he said. “This agreement leads us from political divide to [Gaza’s] secession, making it impossible for Gaza to be part of the future Palestinian state.”Awadh said the agreement is being finalized “far from the Gaza Strip” by Hamas’s overseas leadership in coordination with Qatar and Turkey. Notifying the PLO organizations in Gaza was only done in order to market the agreement and portray it as a result of local consensus. Most factions in Gaza support a ceasefire with Israel, Awadh stressed, but insist that it be the result of “unified Palestinian representation, tying the future of Gaza to that of the West Bank.”

Awadh’s dismay with Hamas was expressed even more bluntly by Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmi over the weekend. “Why insist on a naval passageway to the entire world but the West Bank?” Qawasmi wondered in a press statement published on Fatah’s official website. “Why has the land corridor with the West Bank, known as the ‘safe passage,’ not been proposed before anything else, given that the PLO delegation raised the issue forcefully? Is Gaza a humanitarian issue [only] or is it part of the Palestinian homeland?”

Two Palestine?

The eight-year split between Fatah and Hamas aka the Islamic Resistance Movement has cut off Gaza and its 1.7 million people from the West Bank and e.g from negotiating efforts; instead Hamas has implemented few military campaigns against Israel and Gaza still suffers from the last conflict Summer 2014.

According Jerusalem Post Hamas in April 2015 was negotiating with Israel on Palestinian state in Gaza. The Palestinian officials have claimed that Hamas was negotiating with Israel about its plan to turn the Gaza Strip into a separate Palestinian entity. From point of view of Fatah/PLO Israel wants to divide the Palestinian people and turn the Palestinian territories into separate entities and cantons. The idea of establishing a Palestinian state only in the Gaza Strip was first raised by late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1988; it is also claimed that the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed the idea about 10 years ago, when he decided to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is consolidating its grip over the Gaza Strip and making plans to turn it into a separate state. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah consider the purported plan a “severe blow” to the two-state solution and unity among Palestinians. As the U.S. Administration and the international community continue to push for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, Hamas seems to be working toward establishing an independent state of its own in the Gaza Strip.

14374044578404767 (2)It might be that the international community must define their two-state solution with new content including two Palestinian state – one Islamist emirate in the Gaza Strip and an other Fatah-controlled wannabe state in the West Bank.

Earlier on April 2015 in my article Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander I estimated that this possible deal between Hamas and Israel has a risk that internal disagreements between Hamas’ political and military wings could endanger it. Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades might take advantage of instability within the Hamas to carry out attacks on the border with Israel without getting a green light from Hamas’ political leaders. Struggle inside Hamas is not the only battlefield in Gaza. A group calling itself Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem has continued to challenge the Gaza-ruling Palestinian entity Hamas.

Hamas-Israel Deal pave the way for Cold Peace Solution

23boundar_map-popup (2)I still consider a two-state solution be possible. The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings / agreement / plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try (both plans can be found from my document library ) If however it can’t be negotiated so there is possibilities to make regional solution; I for example have long propagated the idea of the “Three-State-(return) Option” ( e.g. in ”The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict” ). Also – if two-state solution is de facto cul-de-sac and if there is no readiness to regional solution so a unilateral ‘Cold Peace solution’ from my perspective is the best option especially if Hamas-Israel Deal will come true.

Israel could independently implement a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations,  to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally. Creating a reality of two states for two peoples by separation into two nation states would be based on voluntary Israeli concession of territories outside of the large with Israel on the route of a permanent border on the basis of agreed-upon land swaps or independently in case negotiations does not take place. In the event that negotiations are not renewed, the temporary border will become permanent. As long as there is no agreement, the IDF and Israel would retain control of the outer borders and surrounding areas of the territories to be evacuated by Israelis who would be resettled within the state’s temporary borders. This kind of unilateral “cold peace” solution – that Israel annexes all Judea and Samaria (West-Bank) inside security fence and draws all outposts inside fence and Palestinians can do whatever they want in remaining territory – in my opinion might – in the course of years – develop to permanent state of affairs and thus end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  An example could be the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed in 1979 which most Egyptians view as a cold peace;  retrospectively not so bad deal anyway.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption

August 12, 2015


“Magen veLo Yera’e” [Motto of Shin Bet]

shin betIt was not a hallucination when Israelis living in Gaza border area were hearing some digging sounds. In July 2015 the Shin Bet [aka The Israel Security Agency/ISA aka Shabak] with Israeli Police arrested a Hamas operative Ibrahim Adel Shehadeh Shaer – a tunnel digger in the group’s armed wing. According Israel Hayom the man was detained for questioning and he proceeded to provide interrogators with valuable information about the terrorist organization’s extensive digging plans and the location of new tunnel access points. The Shin Bet said that Shaer provided significant details about Hamas’ tunnels in the Rafah area, including the areas where digging was taking place, the location of entrance and exit points to tunnels, the identities of other tunnel diggers and the routes of the tunnels.

Shaer also told interrogators that to sustain its military infrastructure, Hamas diverts resources and materials delivered to Gaza within the framework of rehabilitation efforts. According to Shaer, Hamas fighters store explosives in residential homes, in accordance with directives from the group’s commanders, who are concerned that traditional military warehouses will be bombed.

Tiimes-of-LondonThe Shin Bet said that beyond the routine issues pertaining to his main function as a tunnel digger, Shaer was also privy to the link between Iran and Hamas, in the form of military aid the Islamic republic transfers into Gaza to strengthen the terrorist organization. According to Shaer, Iran supports Hamas by transferring funds, advanced weapons systems and electronic equipment, such as devices for jamming radio waves, which are used in efforts to bring down Israeli drones flying over Gaza. In addition Shaer underwent combat and command training, learned how to operate advanced weapons systems and received demolition training. On July 31, an indictment was filed against Shaer in the Beersheba District Court for being a member of, and engaging in, activities with a banned organization, attempted murder, contact with a foreign enemy agent, illegal military training, and various firearms charges. Source: Israel Hayom

Slow reconstruction activities in Gaza is nothing new nor the fact that donor aid for reconstruction is misused e.g. for tunnels. This aspect was very well highlighted by Dr. Ibrahim Abrashin – ex-minister representing political wing in Hamas – in his recent article (more in Palestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity ) Today outrage spreads on social media due two documents leaked online detailing two attempts by Palestinian officials to misuse public funds, highlighting the corruption and mismanagement critics say remains rampant in the Palestinian Authority government. One document, by adviser to President Abbas, asks for $4 million for private building complex, another seeks funds for daughter’s private school. The core of comments is rampant corruption, mismanagement and nepotism in PA. Source: Israel Hayom ) A wider picture about non-existent skills of Palestinian authority to deliver international donor aid to beneficiaries one can find from my article Palestine – Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks

percap1

 

Some of my remarks related to news quoted above:

1)                         Shaer confirms suspicions made earlier that the donor aid for Gaza reconstruction activities is more or less used to dig [attack] tunnels. Western mainstream media has accused so far Israel and imaginary Gaza blockade about slow reconstruction process.

2)                         Hamas is still locating war materials in the middle of civilian buildings; if and when Israel during next Gaza conflict destroys these storages one can expect some civilian deaths and blaming only Israel for war crimes.

3)                         Despite of capasity building efforts for decades of Western international community to develop administration and facilities of dreamed Palestinian state is the outcome modest at best. In Western media many times Israel get the blame for this; a better address could be some inside aspects – such as corruption, misconduct and political elite making money at people’s expence – of Palestinian Authority.

4)                         As consequence tens of billions USD aid, which was intended to give good public services for people disappears on the way to beneficiaries.

5)                         The fact that Palestinian Authority can not make a negotiated peace deal with Israel might be caused by interests of the political elite of the PA and some donor agencies; chaotic situation has its benefits as the international aid flows with minimal transparency.

Appendix:

 

Palestinian Terrorism Industry: Salaries
 
The  Palestinian Authority [PA] pays high salaries and good benefits to convicted  terrorists in Israeli prisons. Much of money to reward terrorists comes from Western  tax dollars as the PA budget is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Donors gave  roughly $30 billion in international aid to the PA between 1993 and 2012; $7  billion came from the U.S. alone and $7 billion came from the EU; $10 billion
came from individual European countries, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
 
The  salaries are usually far higher than the West Bank average wage of $533/month  and sometimes higher than those of any other civil servants. The average  monthly salary paid to terrorists was 3,129 shekels ($850) in 2012 while the  average salary for civil servants was 2,882 shekels, ($783), and for  Palestinian military personnel it was 2,704 shekels ( $734).
 
In  2011, The PA announced the following wages and stipulated that they would be  linked to the cost of living index.
 
•All  security prisoners get a base salary of 1400 shekels ($400) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 3-5 years get 2,000 shekels ($560) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 5-10 years get 4,000 shekels ($1,100) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 10-15 years get 6,000 shekels ($1,690) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 15-20 years get 7,000 shekels ($2,000) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 20-25 years get 8,000 shekels ($2,250) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 25-30 years get 10,000 shekels ($2,800) per month.
•The  worst offenders, those who commit mass murder, get the top wage of 12,000  shekels ($3,400) per month—up to 10 times more than the average pay.
•Released  prisoners receive the status of a deputy minister or the rank of  major-general in the PA security forces – both worth a monthly stipend of NIS  14,000 ($4,000).
•In  2013, four thousand released Palestinian prisoners received monthly salaries  although many of them were able-bodied men who could work.
 

Palestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity

August 6, 2015

gatestone-logoPalestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity

by Khaled Abu Toameh
July 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • While many in the international community and media hold Israel fully responsible for the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abrash offers a completely different perspective.
  • Referring to widespread corruption under the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, the former Palestinian minister reveals that Palestinian academic institutions, including universities and colleges, have become “commercial projects for granting certificates that have no scientific value or content.”
  • This is a voice that is rarely given a platform in mainstream media outlets in the West, whose journalists continue to focus almost entirely on stories that reflect negatively on Israel. Western journalists based in the Middle East tend to ignore Palestinians who are critical of the PA or Hamas, because such criticism does not fit the narrative according to which Israel is solely responsible for all the bad things that happen to the Palestinians.
  • Abrash’s criticism of Hamas and the PA — whom he openly holds responsible for the suffering of their people — actually reflects the widespread sentiment among Palestinians. Over the past few years, a growing number of Palestinians have come to realize that their leaders have failed them again and again and are now aware that both Hamas and the PA, as corrupt as ever, are hindering efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

It is almost unheard of for a prominent Palestinian figure to hold the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas equally responsible for corruption and abuse of power.

Dr. Ibrahim Abrash, a former Palestinian Minister of Culture from the Gaza Strip, recently surprised many Palestinians by publishing an article that included a scathing attack on both the PA and Hamas, holding them responsible for the continued suffering of their people.

In his article, Dr. Abrash also holds the two Palestinian parties responsible for the delay in rebuilding thousands of houses that were destroyed or damaged in the Gaza Strip during last year’s military conflict between Israel and Hamas. He points out that Hamas and the PA have been holding each other responsible for the suffering of Palestinians. “Sometimes, they also put all the blame on Israel for all that is happening in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Referring to the ongoing power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which reached its peak with the violent takeover by Hamas of the entire Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, Dr. Abrash accused the two rival parties of exploiting their dispute to cover up corruption in vital sectors of Palestinian society.

“In light of the division [between the PA-controlled West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza], corruption and absence of accountability have become widespread,” Dr. Abrash wrote. “This division has led to the collapse of the political system and the system of values, and an increase in corruption. This has also allowed many opportunists and hypocrites to reach important positions, where they do anything they want without being held accountable.”

And while many in the international community and media continue to hold Israel fully responsible for the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abrash offers a completely different perspective.

Noting that the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip have fallen victim to the power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, he says that no one today knows who is supposed to be helping the people living there.

“The interests of the people have been lost as result of the two parties’ rivalry,” Dr. Abrash said. “No one knows who is in charge of the people’s needs in the Gaza Strip — Hamas, which is the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip, or the Palestinian Authority and its national consensus government. Or is it UNRWA and the donors who are responsible? Or is it the sole responsibility of Israel as an occupation state? To whom should the people direct their complaints?”

Referring to widespread corruption under the PA in the West Bank, the former Palestinian minister reveals that Palestinian academic institutions, including universities and colleges, have become “commercial projects for granting certificates that have no scientific value or content.”

Dr. Abrash points out that no one knows whether universities and colleges in the Gaza Strip are subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Education in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

He also blasts the PA’s Ministry of Civilian Affairs for exploiting and extorting Palestinians who seek travel permits, especially those wishing to leave the Gaza Strip. He goes on to hold Hamas responsible for “harassing” Palestinians who wish to leave the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing (to Israel). Dr. Abrash claims that some Palestinians are forced to pay bribes to Palestinian officials to obtain a travel permit.

“Many people have been subjected to blackmail and procrastination [by Palestinian officials] after Israel eased travel restrictions at the Bet Hanoun [Erez] border crossing,” he said. “But the people are afraid to complain, out of fear that they would be denied travel permits in the future. What is happening at the border crossing has created favoritism and bribery.”

Dr. Abrash concludes his article with a rhetorical question: “Isn’t it shameful and irritating that while Israel has been issuing travel permits for those with special needs, some influential [Palestinian] officials are placing obstacles? Until when will they continue to manipulate and blackmail the people of the Gaza Strip?”

Dr. Abrash’s article represents a rare voice of sanity among Palestinians. This is a voice that does not blame all the miseries of Palestinians on Israel alone and holds the Palestinians leadership also responsible for the continued suffering of their people.

However, this is a voice that is rarely given a platform in mainstream media outlets in the West, whose journalists continue to focus almost entirely on stories that reflect negatively on Israel.

Western journalists based in the Middle East tend to ignore Palestinians who are critical of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. That is because such criticism does not fit the narrative according to which Israel is solely responsible for all the bad things that happen to the Palestinians.

Dr. Abrash’s criticism of Hamas and the PA — whom he openly holds responsible for the suffering of their people — actually reflects the widespread sentiment among Palestinians. Over the past few years, a growing number of Palestinians have come to realize that their leaders have failed them again and again. Today, many Palestinians are aware of the fact that both Hamas and the PA are responsible for hindering efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip and that the two parties are as corrupt as ever.

But when will the international community and media wake up and comprehend what many Palestinians came to understand years ago, namely that the real tragedy of the Palestinian people has been — and remains — bad and irresponsible leadership? Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as long as the world continues to see Israel as the villain.


Israeli-Palestinian Fears

August 4, 2015

Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) has published their quarterly research e.g. on levels of support for the two-state solution, (which is that support for the two-state solution has dropped to 51 per cent support in Israel and has stayed steady on 51 per cent support among Palestinians). However the really worrying results were related to fears of Israelis and Palestinians: As many as 56 per cent of Israelis are worried or very worried on a daily basis that they will be murdered by Arabs and 79 per cent of Palestinians are worried or very worried on a daily basis that they will be murdered or have their land confiscated by Jews.

psrlogoThe Palestinian sample size was 1200 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in 120 randomly selected locations between June 3 and 6, 2015. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 802 adult Israelis interviewed in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian between June 2 and 14, 2015. The margin of error is 3%. The poll was conducted jointly by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the for Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. This joint survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

These are the results:

MAIN FINDINGS

 (A) Conflict management and threat perceptions

  • Now, after forming a right wing government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu, we asked both sides about their expectations for the future: 6% of the Israelis and 27% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will soon return to negotiations. 28% of the Israelis and 29% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will return to negotiations but some armed attacks will take place. 43% of the Israelis and 20% of the Palestinians think that some armed attacks will take place and the two sides will not return to negotiations. Finally, 8% of the Israelis and 18% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will not return to negotiations and there will be no armed attacks. In December 2014, 32% of the Israelis and 37% of the Palestinians thought that the two sides will not return to negotiations and some armed attacks will take place and 8% of the Israelis and 10% of the Palestinians thought that the two sides will not return to negotiations and there will be no armed attacks.
  • Among Israelis, 56% are worried and 41% are not worried that they or their family may be harmed by Arabs in their daily life. Among Palestinians, 79% are worried and 21% are not worried that they or a member of their family could be hurt by Israel in their daily life or that their land would be confiscated or home demolished.
  • The level of threat on both sides regarding the aspirations of the other side in the long run is very high. 56% of Palestinians think that Israel’s goals are to extend its borders to cover all the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and expel its Arab citizens, and 25% think the Israel’s goals are to annex the West Bank while denying political rights to the Palestinians. 43% of Israelis think that Palestinian’s aspirations in the long run are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population in Israel; 18% think the goals of the Palestinians are to conquer the State of Israel. Only 17% of the Palestinians think Israel’s aspirations in the long run are to withdraw from all (6%) or some (11%) of the territories occupied in 1967 after guaranteeing its security. 27% of Israelis think the aspirations of the Palestinians are to regain some (12%) or all (15%) of the territories conquered in 1967.
  • At the same time: 9% of the Israelis say the aspirations of Israel are to withdraw to the 1967 borders after guaranteeing Israel’s security. 33% say that Israel’s aspirations are to withdraw from parts of the territories after guaranteeing Israel’s security. 18% say that Israel’s aspirations are to annex the West Bank without granting political rights to the Palestinians living there. 14% say that these aspirations are to annex the West Bank and expel the Palestinians living there.
  • Among the Palestinians 38% say that the aspirations of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO are to regain some of the territories conquered in the 1967 war. 30% say the Palestinian aspirations are to regain all the territories conquered in the 1967 war. 13% say that the Palestinian aspirations are to conquer the State of Israel and regain control over the pre 1948 Palestine. 10% say that these aspirations are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population in Israel.

 

PSR poll December 2014

PSR poll December 2014b[http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/505]

(B) Negotiation Tracks on the Agenda

The Saudi Plan

  • 21% of the Israelis and 52% of the Palestinians support the Saudi peace plan, 67% of the Israelis and 44% of the Palestinians oppose it. In December 2014, 27% of the Israelis and 43% of the Palestinians supported the Saudi peace plan, while 63% of the Israelis and 53% of the Palestinians opposed it. The plan calls for Arab recognition of and normalization of relations with Israel after it ends its occupation of Arab territories occupied in 1967 and after the establishment of a Palestinian state. The plan calls for Israeli retreat from all territories occupied in 1967 including Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The refugee problem will be resolved through negotiations in a just and agreed upon manner and in accordance with UN resolution 194. In return, all Arab states will recognize Israel and its right to secure borders, will sign peace treaties with Israel and establish normal diplomatic relations.

The Israeli-Palestinian Track

  • Dismantling settlements – 38% of the Israelis support and 54% oppose the dismantling of most of the settlements in the West Bank as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
  • 51% of Israelis and 51% of Palestinians support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, known as the two-state solution and 43% of Israelis and 48% of Palestinians oppose it. In June 2014, 62% of the Israelis and 54% of the Palestinians supported this solution and 34% of the Israelis and 46% of the Palestinians opposed it. In December 2014, 58% of Israelis and 48% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution and 37% of Israelis and 51% of Palestinians opposed it.
  • Mutual Recognition – As we do periodically in our joint polls, we asked Israelis and Palestinians about their readiness for a mutual recognition as part of a permanent status agreement and after all issues in the conflict are resolved and a Palestinian State is established. Our current poll shows that 44% of the Israeli public supports such a mutual recognition and 45% opposes it. Among Palestinians, 44% support and 54% oppose this step. In December 2014, 54% of the Israeli public supported such a mutual recognition and 36% opposed it. Among Palestinians, 39% supported and 60% opposed this step.

[Source: Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research ]

Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research
PSR is an independent nonprofit institution and think tank of policy analysis and academic research. PSR was founded with the  goal of advancing scholarship and knowledge on immediate issues of concern to  Palestinians in three areas: domestic politics and government, strategic  analysis and foreign policy, and public opinion polls and survey  research.  PSR research units conduct and organize four types of activities: research and policy analysis,  empirical surveys and public opinion polls, task forces and study groups, and  meetings and conferences. The units focus on current public policy issuesn with a special reliance on empirical research as a tool to advancen scholarship and understanding.
 
PSR is dedicated to promoting objective andn nonpartisan research and analysis and to encouraging a better understanding  of Palestinian domestic and international environment in an atmosphere of  free debate and exchange of ideas. PSR is registered as a nonprofit  institution in the Palestinian Ministry of Justice.

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