Home > Israel-Palestine > Israel Makes Little Progress with Palestine and Its Neighbors

Israel Makes Little Progress with Palestine and Its Neighbors

In June, Hamas and Fatah wholly rejected Netanyahu’s stipulated version of a two-state solution, and violence has since escalated at the 500-mile “barrier” that separates the West Bank from Israel.

The Associated Press reports,

Palestinians have been staging weekly demonstrations at both sites to protest the barrier’s route, which crosses through the villages and cuts farmers off from hundreds of acres of agricultural fields.

Israel says the barrier–a mix of towering concrete walls and electronic fences–is needed to stop Palestinian militants from crossing into Israel to carry out attacks. Palestinians call it a land grab because parts of it jut deep into the West Bank, cutting them off from territory they claim for a future state.

Israel has classified the protest areas as closed military zones and troops have clashed frequently and increasingly violently with protesters, some of whom hurl rocks at the soldiers.

In May, Israel’s Justice Ministry opened a criminal investigation into the firing of tear gas shells at the demonstrations. Tear gas shells struck one of the two Palestinian demonstrators killed recently and injured the American.

The AP reported Saturday that Israeli Defense Forces sprayed a “putrid” substance on protesting Palestinians and sent plainclothed Palestinians across the border.

Confrontations over the barrier have become increasingly violent, with two Palestinian demonstrators killed in recent months and an American supporter seriously injured.

Video footage of one incident at the West Bank village of Naalin showed three masked undercover agents surrounding a shirtless Palestinian demonstrator, throwing him to the ground and then calling for backup by uniformed soldiers.

Several rocks hurled by protesters struck the ground near the troops and one of them pulled a pistol and fired in the air as Palestinians fled the scene. Two Palestinians were arrested, the military said.

In his June 4th address in Cairo, President Obama said the Palestinian experience has been defined by “the daily humiliations…that come with occupation,” and he has since pressured Israel to neogitate with Fatah and Hamas. Under these conditions, the failure of negotiations is lamentable and is fortified by ongoing violence on the ground and by Israel’s seizure of humanitarian aid groups, including the “Spirit of Humanity,” which carried US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Prospects for peace have also been wrecked by Israel’s diplomatic relations with neighboring Arab states. In recent months, both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have sent an ambassador to Syria. The former after five years and the latter following a lengthier inter-country contention from the 2005 assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafiki Al-Hariri to disparate support from Hamas and Hizbollah.

According to the Obama administration, establishing diplomatic relations with Syria may weaken its support of Hizbollah and unabashed support of Iran. However, Israel has instead preferred to mobilize military against Iran and has refused to send an Israeli ambassador to Syria because of Syria’s singular demand for Israel to withdraw form the Golan Heights. According to the AP, Syria has refused peace talks with Israel since the latter annexed the area in 1981.

The Associated Press reports,

Syrian forces used the strategic plateau to shell nearby Israeli communities before 1967, and Israel fears those communities will once again become vulnerable should the Heights be ceded. Israeli officials also argue that holding the area gives Israel early warning of Syrian military moves and a buffer zone in case of attack.

The area is also home to crucial water sources, a profitable Israeli winery, and Israeli settlements with about 18,000 residents. About 17,000 Druse Arabs loyal to Syria also live there.

Senior adviser to the Middle East envoy George Mitchell and U.S. diplomat Frederick Hoff went to Israel this week, ostensibly, to shore up talks between Israel and Syria. Hoff will meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barack and other senior military advisers.

Ha’aretz writes, “The Americans believe the crisis in Iran has created an opportunity for the United States to draw Syria closer and resume Israel-Syria negotiations.”

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10
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