The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Addressing the Structures

In a series of brief blog posts, researchers of the PRIO Middle East Centre offer their reflections on the unfolding Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

The two-way rocket salvos into and from Gaza feels like a tedious repetition of tragedies past. The world has seen this before, and tragically we will probably see it again in the not too distant future.

Diplomats might be working tirelessly to end this conflict and secure a ceasefire, but they will not address the structures that brought us here. There are many such structures, all of which must be addressed.

Let us just start with the necessary short-term structural changes:

  • The international community might not like Hamas – and for good reason – but peace is not made between friends, it is made between enemies. Negotiating without talking to Hamas is not viable. Not only is it diplomatically cumbersome but it signals to Hamas that violence is the only language that they can speak with.
  • The blockade of Gaza must be lifted. Unless it is, Gaza will continue to be an open-air prison with extreme levels of poverty and unemployment.
  • Israeli house confiscation and settlement expansion in Sheik Jarrah and other Palestinian neighbourhoods in Jerusalem must cease. Gaza is the escalation, but Jerusalem was where tensions started as settlers push for evictions of Palestinians.
  • The sanctity of the Haram al-Sharif must be respected.

This list might seem like a tall order – and it is – but if Israel, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, the United States and the rest of the international community are not even willing to push for these goals, then a ceasefire is just a feeble attempt akin to pushing the “reset the alarm” button.

The medium-term structural issues such as ensuring democratic Palestinian elections, or long-term structural changes such as ending the occupation, addressing the Palestinian refugee issue or opening the full Jerusalem divided-capital debate are the real tall order. If politicians think solving the short-term list is a pipe dream, then discussing the two-state solution is nothing but a charade.

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