Israel-Palestine tensions rose this week after three missing Israeli teens were found dead. We asked Assistant Professor Guy Ziv, an expert on Israel and author of the forthcoming book, Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel, to provide some context and explain what might happen next.
Q: The case of the kidnapped teens who were found murdered near Hebron has transfixed Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds Hamas responsible and has vowed that “Hamas will pay.” What will be the fallout of this incident?
A: We have already begun seeing the fallout of this incident, with the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teen and the subsequent rioting in East Jerusalem. Israeli-Palestinian tensions are at their highest point in years, and an outbreak of widespread violence may be inevitable. The recent incidents will harden attitudes on both sides, at least in the near term, making the peace process look like a pipe dream. Regrettably, the leaders are failing their people.
Q: The Israeli government has criticized the union between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas, an Islamist group that holds the Gaza Strip. Will Israeli pressure make it more or less likely that the Palestinian unity government will remain united?
A: If peace is to prevail, unity between the Palestinian factions will eventually be necessary since the Palestinian leader will need to represent his entire nation when signing a peace deal with Israel. However, the Israeli government is rightly concerned about the unity deal with Hamas, a terrorist organization that embraces violence; rejects all previous agreements with Israel; and opposes Israel’s right to exist. Netanyahu’s pressure tactics, though, are an exercise in futility. He cannot dictate the makeup of Abbas’s government any more than an outside party can dictate the makeup of his own governing coalition. Unfortunately, his actions to date have only strengthened Hamas while undermining Abbas, who is a moderate and a worthy peace partner for Israel.
Q: You have written that a two-state solution is the only viable option for self-determination in Israel and Palestine. Why do you believe this?
A: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be resolved once each nation’s two most basic demands are met; namely, self-determination for the Palestinians and security for Israelis. The only solution that addresses both demands is a two-state solution: an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with a Jewish state. No other solution of which I am aware is viable. The so-called “one-state solution” would result in a bloodbath. The status quo—continued occupation and mutual recrimination—denies Palestinians their legitimate rights while undermining Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. A two-state solution based on the Clinton Parameters offers both peoples a way out of their quagmire.
Follow Professor Ziv on Twitter: @ZivGuy
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