Analysis: Neither Israeli nor Palestinian leadership has an exit strategy

Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders are captive to their respective narratives and trapped by political forces that won't allow them to break the impasse.

By
October 18, 2015 23:23
3 minute read.
Netanyahu and Abbas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) gestures as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas looks on. (photo credit: REUTERS)

For several hours, perhaps as long as a whole day, there was a feeling among the Israeli public on Thursday that the Palestinian wave of terror had significantly subsided. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made hay of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's lie that Israel murdered in cold blood a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, who it turned out is alive and hospitalized at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem.

Indeed, there were no terror attacks within the Green Line and in Israel a sort of "countdown" started, that is increasingly becoming a conditioned response - counting the hours that have passed since the last terror attack. However, this feeling is an illusion, as Sunday's attack in Beersheba proved. The relative quiet is deceptive. Over the weekend, the violence came back to its usual focal points - east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

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In Hebron, a Border Policewoman was lightly stabbed, but managed to kill the terrorist. In Hebron and east Jerusalem, there were two attempts to attack police, which ended in the deaths of the terrorists. In Nablus, Joseph's Tomb was set fire to by arsonists. And in Gaza, there were again demonstrations, riots and attempts to break through the border fence. The IDF responded with live fire and media outlets in Gaza reported that two people were killed and a few dozen were wounded. In all of the epicenters of violence there was also stone-throwing, Molotov cocktails, a bus that went up in flames and rioting. In short, the usual. The usual violence and terror. The public in Israel and in the Palestinian territories has quickly become used to and accepted the reality which the defense establishment, unable to decide if it's a third intifada with new characteristics, prefers to refer to as "the new situation."

New or old, as opposed to previous instances, the leadership on both sides has no exit plan nor do they have the desire or will to try and extricate their people from the situation. Both leaderships are captive to their respective narratives and trapped by political forces that will not allow them to attempt to break the impasse.

Unlike in previous intifadas, this time the apathy extends to the international community and the Arab world. The French daily Le Figaro reported Saturday that France is trying to promote a diplomatic process by which the UN secretary-general will try to send international observers to the Temple Mount. The move proves that Paris is the only one of Israel's friends that still cares and is trying to advance proposals to stop the violence through diplomacy.

In the past, Paris tried to do this with a draft resolution which called for the UN Security Council to declare the establishment of a Palestinian state. The draft resolution was torn up because the US did not support it and Israel staunchly opposed the proposal. It is not clear to what extent the new French initiative is serious and realistic, or if it is only a half-baked idea, but in any event, the chances that it will come to fruition are slim. Israel opposes any initiative that includes the sending of observers or international forces to the territories because this will "internationalize" the conflict with the Palestinians, which is what Abbas wants. Later this week, there will also be an attempt by US Secretary of State John Kerry to promote some sort of mini-diplomatic process. This is also likely to fail.

The violence here is over a low flame, especially in comparison to what's happening in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Sinai, where dozens, if not hundreds, are killed every week. Therefore, the world's attention is focused on other centers of violence and terrorism. The world is tired of efforts to advance the moribund peace process. Netanyahu speaks of Palestinian "incitement" and "terror" and ignores the fact that the entire world sees the Israeli occupation as the biggest cause of the violence. And the occupation is not going to end. The Israeli government continues to strengthen the occupation and manage the conflict. In short, we are going to experience more of the same for days and weeks, and perhaps even years, unless a process of Deus ex machina (outside intervention) occurs.



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