Breaking the Cycle: The Call for Ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Boy and soldier in front of Israeli wall

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict began at the turn of the century. The Partition Plan, agreed by the United Nations in 1947, attempted to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. The State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, igniting the first Arab-Israeli War. Although Israel won the war in 1949, 750,000 Palestinians were expelled, and the land was divided into three parts: the State of Israel, the West Bank (of the Jordan River), and the Gaza Strip.

Israeli settlement violence continues, albeit not on the scale seen in June, according to the report, reminding Israel of its responsibility to follow international humanitarian law while implementing security measures.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is facing a serious budget crisis. Now it is up to the international community to pay the $200 million that the Agency urgently requires to continue to help vulnerable people.

Amnesty International issued a 280-page report in February demonstrating how Israel was imposing an institutionalized regime of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it had control over their rights, fragmenting and segregating Palestinian citizens of Israel, residents of the OPT, and Palestinian refugees denied the right of return. Israeli officials would be responsible for the crime against humanity of apartheid, which falls under the jurisdiction of the ICC, through massive seizures of land and property, unlawful killings, infliction of serious injuries, forcible transfers, arbitrary restrictions on freedom of movement, and denial of nationality, among other inhuman acts.

Palestinians have been deprived of practically every essential human right as a result of occupation and the continual fear of violence. Food insecurity, poor water quality, limited access to healthcare, a lack of educational possibilities, high unemployment, and restricted movement are just a few of the many issues that the Palestinian people face daily.

In response to increased food shortages among Palestinians in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden will offer $15 million in additional humanitarian aid for vulnerable Palestinians.  The United States is delivering electronic food vouchers, multifunctional cash assistance, and emergency livelihood support to approximately 210,000 food-insecure people in the next months through funding to the UN World Food Program and two non-governmental organizations.  This investment is part of President Biden’s pledge of increased US government resources announced at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in late June in Germany to safeguard the world’s most vulnerable populations from the rising global food security issue.

Gaza has been labeled an “open-air prison.” Years of travel restrictions combined with blockades have trapped over 2 million residents with little possibility of improving their circumstances. According to reports, if this trend continues, Gaza would become “unlivable” soon. The violence has also resulted in one of the world’s largest refugee crises. Over 7 million Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes.

The Abraham Accords, the 2021 Israel-Hamas conflict, and the escalation in violence that began in 2022, the deadliest year for Israelis and West Bank Palestinians since the second intifada ended in 2005, all contribute to a bleak outlook for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Furthermore, it is exceedingly improbable that the Palestinians will obtain a package of concessions from Israel that is more favorable than those rejected in the past, and political tensions between Hamas and the PA will continue to be a barrier to any future negotiated settlement.

The international community should actively encourage both parties to engage in meaningful and direct negotiations to address the core issues of the conflict, such as borders, refugees, settlements, and Jerusalem. Facilitators like the Quartet on the Middle East (the United States, European Union, Russia, and the United Nations) can play a role in bringing the parties to the table.

Diplomatic engagement and mediation are crucial approaches to addressing the Israel-Palestine conflict. The international community should actively initiate and facilitate dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. A neutral mediator or envoy could play a pivotal role in building trust and creating a conducive environment for discussions. Existing multilateral forums, like the Quartet on the Middle East, can provide a structured platform. Confidence-building measures must be integrated, demonstrating the commitment of both parties to the peace process.

It’s important to consider past negotiations and agreements, learning from successes and challenges. Diplomacy should involve both public and discreet communication channels. Public support for peace and private discussions can address sensitive issues comprehensively. Incentives can encourage participation and concessions, while consequences may be introduced for obstructing progress. Upholding international law and norms is essential, emphasizing adherence to UN resolutions and human rights.

The recent escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine has posed significant challenges for countries that had established closer ties with Israel, namely the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. These nations had openly criticized Israeli policies and advocated for Palestinian support, emphasizing the defense of Jerusalem. However, the recent violence has strained the delicate balance these governments sought to achieve through their improved relations with Israel.

These countries believed that fostering stronger diplomatic and economic ties with Israel could influence and moderate Israeli actions toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. By engaging in dialogue and cooperation, they aimed to encourage peaceful negotiations and contribute to a more stable regional environment.

“I have not seen any Arab state that has not expressed rhetorical support for the Palestinians, and it would be very difficult for them to say anything else,” said H.A. Hellyer, a Middle East affairs specialist at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. “However, what they do about it is quite different.”

Diplomatic efforts need consistent and sustained commitment, even during tense periods. Public diplomacy campaigns, media engagement, and international conferences can generate awareness and support for negotiations. By focusing on these diplomatic strategies, the international community can foster understanding, bridge divides, and create a pathway toward a lasting and peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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