Full Withdrawal from the West Bank Can’t Be the Starting Point of Israel-Palestinian Negotiations

Prior to the Trump administration’s 2019 peace proposal, what Eran Lerman dubs the “Everybody Knows Paradigm” for addressing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians came to dominate in American and European foreign-policy circles. Claiming that “everybody knows” what is necessary to make peace, the plan’s supporters call for Israel to withdraw from almost all of the West Bank, retaining a few small areas for which it will compensate the Palestinian Authority with land it has held since 1949. Lerman explains that such a proposal cannot be the basis for serious negotiations:

Failure to advance peace based on the Everybody Knows Paradigm is in part the result of the firm opposition of most Israelis to a “solution” that would require relinquishing key strategic areas of the West Bank, forcibly uprooting hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in Judea and Samaria (Israel’s biblical homeland); carving up the living city of Jerusalem; and responding to Palestinian demands for the so-called “right of return,” [i.e., a right for descendants of refugees from the War of Independence to citizenship not in Palestinian state, but in the Jewish one]. Such propositions are unacceptable to a broad consensus of Israeli public opinion, regardless of who wins future Israeli elections.

However, the mainstream of Israeli opinion . . . would be willing to accept a two-state solution (or a so-called “state-minus” situation) with an emphasis on Palestinian demilitarization if key Israeli security interests were protected and the dislocation of settlers were reduced to a minimum. But such an accommodation seems inconceivable, given that the Palestinians adamantly refuse to consider any Jewish minority in their midst.

This will continue to be so, because such positions create an altogether unrealistic anticipation on the Palestinian side of a solution imposed by the international community rather than a solution negotiated with Israel. . . . Such expectations are already being fed by the decision of the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to launch an investigation into the possibility that war crimes have been committed in “Palestine,” [which the court defines as] all the territories beyond the June 4, 1967 lines, including parts of Jerusalem. When such a definition by an international institution is dangled in front of them, which Palestinian leaders will be bold enough to settle for less at the negotiating table?

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: ICC, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Two-State Solution, West Bank


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security