On September 2, 2018, a delegation from Israel’s Peace Now organization travelled to Ramallah in the West Bank to discuss with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas prospects for settling the conflict. The statements that follow such meetings rarely contain anything of substance. This was an exception.
The world, fed hints but no details, ends 2018 with Trump’s “deal of the century” – his long-awaited Israel-Palestine peace plan – dangling tantalisingly before them.
On 16 November 2018 Israel entered into a ceasefire arrangement with the de facto rulers of the Gaza strip – Hamas. It seems to be holding.
The Israeli and Palestinian leaders both travelled to the country last month, raising speculation that Muscat is acting as a mediator on behalf of the Trump administration.
Hamas, Fatah and Israel – three entities locked in an unproductive relationship. Hamas and Fatah may both consider Israel their mortal enemy, but their hatred for each other is just as bitter. Meanwhile Israel may not actively hate the warring Palestinian organizations, but it totally mistrusts both of them and looks on as they strive against each other.
President Donald Trump’s declaration about Jerusalem on 6 December 2017 gave rise to instant and almost universal condemnation. Western governments saw it as an unnecessary provocation, guaranteed to set back the prospects of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and likely to generate violent protests in the Arab world. Muslim condemnation was immediate. Although notably muted from Sunni Arab states, it was at its strongest from Turkey, Iran and the Palestinian Authority. At a specially convened meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas were vehement in their…
On 15 June 2018 senior US administration officials met with UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in New York to discuss US efforts “to promote peace in the Middle East and to meet humanitarian needs in Gaza.” Joining the meeting were Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, two of the three envoys (the third is David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel) who are leading Trump’s Middle East peace effort. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, was also present. Reports had already indicated that the US’s carefully crafted peace plan was virtually complete.
Reaching the age of 83 is no big deal these days. Centenarians abound. But Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is 83 with a long history of health problems. Some twenty years ago he underwent an operation for prostate cancer. Subsequently, as a heavy smoker, he has struggled against a succession of health issues, many connected with his heart.
For the sake of the Palestinians and Israelis alike, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has to be seriously addressed by the international community. The massacure of unarmed Palestinians at the Gaza-Israel Border has left at least 60 Palestinians killed and at least no less than 1700 injured. Eight of the dead were children. While the demonstrations have intensified over US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the start of protests was on 30 March 2018.
Suddenly, it seems, the appalling circumstances in which the vast majority of Gazans are living have struck the public conscience. The Strip suffers from a chronic lack of water, of electricity, of medical resources – and the situation seems to be deteriorating from week to week. Gaza’s problems stem from a variety of causes, but the people of Gaza have little inclination to analyse the reasons for the humanitarian crisis that has overwhelmed them. The struggle to exist in anything approaching decent living and working conditions occupies most of their attention.