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Battle of Jerusalem: What Palestinian leaders want?

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

Jerusalem has been restless since late April. The crisis reached its climax this weekend and escalated into violent clashes between Israeli police and mobs of angry Palestinians
12:30, 13 May 2021

Isreal Palestine conflict
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Jerusalem has been restless since late April. The crisis reached its climax this weekend and escalated into violent clashes between Israeli police and mobs of angry Palestinians. At the beginning of this week, the situation in the south of Israel escalated. The military wing of the terrorist organization Hamas fired over 300 rockets from the Gaza Strip in the direction of Israeli cities, and the Israeli armed forces retaliated against the militants' infrastructure. Not without civilian casualties. One gets the impression that the next escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was a deliberate provocation in the interests of a narrow circle of people.

Related: Israel prepares plans of ground invasion of Gaza Strip

Contrived reasons

The reason for the aggravation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the ban on holding gatherings of Muslims in the Old City on the occasion of the Night of Determination - a religious event in Islam associated with the sending of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad. Also, the Palestinian society painfully perceives the trial around the eviction of several Muslim families from the historical part of Jerusalem.

The security situation in Jerusalem has always been tense. For example, in April 2018, 28-year-old Palestinian Abdul Faddal shot and killed an Israeli police officer in the Old City. There, in December 2020, a 17-year-old boy from the West Bank wounded two law enforcement officers with a homemade submachine gun. Also, a large crowd of people is undesirable from the point of view of the threat of the spread of coronavirus. Therefore, the Israeli authorities have increased the protection of the historic part of Jerusalem. However, this is clearly not the only reason for new terrorist attacks and provocations.

Related: "Escalation must be stopped immediately": Zelensky on Israel-Palestine conflict

Biden factor

The purpose of any terrorist attack is to draw public attention to any issue. The ongoing provocations of the Palestinians occur on the eve of the third anniversary of the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, and their goal is to push the administration of US President Joe Biden to reconsider the decision of his predecessor. Former President Donald Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also recognized Jewish settlements in the West Bank as legal.

Trump's decision is at odds with the "two-state" principle, which is at the heart of the model for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. According to the 1947 UN plan, it was envisaged to create a Palestinian state on the territory of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the Jordan River, and set up Jerusalem as a separate administrative unit under international administration. Then the Palestinians and the leaders of Egypt, Syria and a number of other Arab countries, who tried to seize by force the territories set aside for the creation of Israel, did not agree with this decision.

After a series of armed conflicts, the Palestinian territories came under Israeli control. From 1948 to 1967, East Jerusalem (the historical part of the city) and the West Bank were under the occupation of Jordan, and the Gaza Strip was under the control of Egypt. Israel now controls Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Israeli military left the Gaza Strip in 2005. The Palestinians are interested in making East Jerusalem their capital.

Joe Biden supports the principle of "two states" and, after coming to power, resumed diplomatic relations and financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. However, he did not overturn Trump's decisions regarding Jerusalem and the West Bank, so as not to aggravate relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel remains the strategic partner of the United States in the Middle East.

Biden's team has not yet thoroughly dealt with the issue of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Now the White House's attention is focused on the formation of a system of alliances with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region to contain the military, economic, political and technological might of China, in negotiations with Iran in Vienna on a new nuclear deal and strengthening relations with European partners. In June, Biden will fly to London and Brussels to attend the G7 and NATO summits. The Palestinians decided to make adjustments to the US plans with the help of provocations.

Related: Ukrainian citizens are not harmed in Israel, - MFA

Erdogan factor

The shelling of Israel from the Gaza Strip began shortly after the telephone conversations on May 10 between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the head of Hamas, Ismail Haniya, and the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, about the riots in Jerusalem. The Turkish president openly supported the Palestinians, accused Israel of terror, and promised to consolidate the efforts of the Muslim world to end the occupation of the city.

The current aggravation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is in the interests of the Turkish authorities. Erdogan is promoting himself on this issue in order to develop a reputation for Turkey as a defender of Muslims and a regional leader in the Middle East. He constantly emphasizes his disagreement with US and Israeli policies. Turkey's goal is to strengthen its political influence and economic, military presence in the regions that were once under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Palestinian Arabs in the Muslim world are perceived as a victim nation and sympathize with them.

Turkey is one of the sponsors of Hamas. Turkey pays Hamas up to $ 300 million annually after 2013, according to the Israeli think tank National Security Research Institute. Ankara allocates $ 10 million a year for the needs of Palestinian refugees in the framework of UN programs and as investments to create new industries and jobs in the West Bank.

Related: Israeli flags burned in front of synagogues in two German cities

Netanyahu's interests

The escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has affected the political crisis in Israel and is to some extent beneficial to Prime Minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. In March, early parliamentary elections were held in the country, and none of the parties received enough votes to form a coalition.

The riots in Jerusalem negatively affected the coalition negotiations of the Likud opponents, represented by the Yesh Atid parties, former Finance Minister and journalist Yair Lapid, Yamin, ex-Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, and the political force of the Muslim minority Raam (at the head of the Arab list ") of the Israeli Arab Mansur Abbas.

Abbas suspended negotiations to save face among Arabs living in Israel, as Lapid supported the use of special equipment by the police in Jerusalem. Bennett, back in February, allowed a new military operation in the Gaza Strip to clear the territory of terrorists. This position does not fit into the political program of "Raam". Abbas advocates a peaceful settlement of the conflict based on the principle of "two states" and the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.

While the opposition cannot agree on anything, the Likud called on all conservative political forces to unite in a coalition to resolve the crisis. It is possible that Netanyahu, accused of corruption, will again be able to get out of the water.

Related: Missile exchange, casualties, threats. What causes violence between Israel and Palestine?

Ambiguous prospects

The conflict will never end, the Palestinians will not be able to create a full-fledged state as long as Hamas is in power in the Gaza Strip and receives money from foreign sponsors. In addition to Turkey, Palestinian extremists are financed by Qatar. They had a close relationship with Iran. However, their relationship froze after the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, in which they support different sides. In the Gaza Strip, as in Turkey, the Syrian opposition is supported, and Iran is providing military assistance to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The question of conducting a military ground operation in the Gaza Strip remains open. The last time the Israeli military was there was in the summer of 2014. Then they attacked more than 5 thousand targets and destroyed warehouses with weapons, rocket launchers, ammunition factories, bunkers, tunnels. However, all this did not prevent Hamas from rebuilding the infrastructure and taking up the old business.

Now is not the right time to invade Gaza for a number of reasons.

First, conducting a ground operation without maintaining a presence in the Gaza Strip will only have a short-term effect. The introduction of an armed peacekeeping contingent there under the auspices of the UN to monitor the observance of the ceasefire is hardly possible given the position of Russia, which occupies the chair of a permanent member of the UN Security Council. RF does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas leaders are in contact with Russian officials.

Second, high military spending will exacerbate the Israeli economy, which has been damaged by the coronavirus. In 2020, Israel's GDP contracted by 2.4%. In 2014, Operation Enduring Rock cost the Netanyahu government $ 2.5 billion.

Related: Israel imposes state of emergency in Lod city, and mass protests continue

Third, the hostilities in the Gaza Strip will negatively affect Israel's relations with the Arab states, which have begun to improve through the mediation of the Trump administration. In 2020, Israel signed agreements on the establishment of diplomatic relations with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco. The common enemy of Israel and the Gulf states is Iran. If the terms of a new nuclear deal with Iran are unacceptable to them, they will intensify cooperation in the field of security and defense to contain the Islamic republic.

Perhaps, against the background of the current escalation, another round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations mediated by the United States will take place, as was the case in Oslo in 1994, an international conference with the participation of Israel, Palestinian leaders, heads of Arab states and the United States, as was the case in Annapolis in 2007... Yair Lapid accepts a regional conference mediated by Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Russia and Turkey can act as mediators in the negotiations in order to thereby strengthen their influence and authority in the Middle East. With their mediation, Hamas is likely to participate in negotiations with Israel. Although, this is unlikely, given that Israel and the United States have recognized Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Success in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will depend on who becomes the head of the new government in Israel. Netanyahu will give East Jerusalem to the Palestinians and will not withdraw Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip with a population of 475,000. Yair Lapid may be more compliant. In January 2021, he denounced Netanyahu's plans to build 800 new settlements in the West Bank. In 2016, Lapid advocated the withdrawal of all Jewish settlements.

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