Divorce on the Palestinian side contributes to all failed peace attempts. Under Palestinian law, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is to negotiate with Israel. Islamist Hamas has not cared about what the PLO agrees with Israel. Hamas has not recognized Israel’s right to exist and does not officially negotiate Israel and Hamas with each other.
Between Hamas and Fatah, the dominant movement in the PLO, an acute conflict erupted after the Palestinian elections in 2006 that Hamas won. When the parties could not agree on the government issue, fighting broke out and Hamas forced the Fatah / PLO to leave Gaza. Since then, Hamas has ruled Gaza and the Fatah / PLO in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) is based. The outside world, which views Hamas as a terrorist organization, has continued to negotiate with the PA, led by Fatah and President Abbas.
It has been reported several times since then that Hamas and Fatah have agreed on reconciliation and a unity government. Hamas is being pressured into settlements by Egypt but also by Fatah, which has had the opportunity to stifle wages and certain supplies to Gaza, where living conditions are already difficult. Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since Hamas took power. The area’s second land border, with Egypt, has also been closed for long periods. The disagreement between Hamas and Fatah concerns, among other things, who will be responsible for security in Gaza as Hamas refuses to disarm its military branch. The division into two rival Palestinian regimes has continued.
In 2017, there were signals of a change in policy from Hamas. The movement adopted a policy document that reflected a more conciliatory line against Israel on a couple of points. While the document maintained that Israel should not be recognized, the text stipulated that a Palestinian state should be established along the borders that prevailed before the Six-Day War in 1967. This logically means that Hamas without declaring the accepted existence of Israel as Israel looked before 1967. Hamas adhered to the usual rhetoric and continued to assert the Palestinians’ right to fight Israel.
Palestinians and the UN
To Israel’s annoyance, the Palestinian Authority / Fatah has gone its own way to strengthen the Palestinians’ position within the UN system. In 2011, President Abbas submitted a membership application to the UN in order to seek recognition for a Palestinian state. The application fell on opposition from the United States, but the Palestinians were voted in as members of the UN agency Unesco. One year later, the UN General Assembly voted to raise the status of Palestinian Authority in the UN from observer to observer state.
In 2013, Abbas issued a decree under which the Palestinian Authority (or Palestinian Authority) officially changed its name to the State of Palestine. The Palestinians experienced great success in 2014, when the Swedish government recognized Palestine. The decision had a symbolic effect as Sweden was the first EU country to take this step. (Poland and some other eastern countries have also recognized Palestine, but that happened before they joined the EU.) The parliaments of some countries have called on their governments to follow in Sweden’s footsteps, but this has not yet happened.
In April 2015, Palestine joined the International Criminal Court ( ICC ) where individuals can be prosecuted for genocide , crimes against humanity and war crimes. Abbas’ intention was to hold Israel accountable for violence against Palestinians. Israel condemned the measure and pointed out that Palestinians could also be prosecuted.
Palestine has continued to apply for membership in international contexts. When Palestine was approved as a member of the police organization Interpol 2017, around 50 international organizations / agreements were said to have admitted the Palestinians.
Violence on the ground continues. At regular intervals, radical groups in Gaza fire rockets at southern Israel and Israel responds with air strikes. Confrontations also occur at the border between Gaza and Israel. In the West Bank, it is most often about clashes between revolting Palestinian youths and the Israeli military. Most of those killed are Palestinians, but sacrifices are also required on the Israeli side.
In both camps, there are extremists who murder civilians, for example through knife attacks and arson. In the summer of 2015, an 18-month-old Palestinian boy was burned to death when a firebomb was thrown into the family’s house on the West Bank. His parents died. Two Israeli settlers were arrested and charged.
According to indexdotcom, the conflict between Israel and radical groups in Gaza has repeatedly resulted in outright war, for example at the turn of the year 2008/2009. Israel, which was shelled from Gaza to and from during the year, then launched a week-long bombing war and invaded Gaza. The conflict lasted for three weeks. 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
In the autumn of 2012, a short war broke out that claimed the lives of 170 Palestinians and six Israelis.
The bloodiest was the conflict that took place in the summer of 2014. The triggering factor was the murders of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. When Israeli extremists avenged the killings by kidnapping and burning a young Arab alive, unrest increased along the Israeli-Gaza border. Hamas’ armed branch began firing on Israel with rockets, and Israel responded with air strikes on Hamas bases and weapons depots. Israel also deployed ground troops entering Gaza to destroy tunnels built by Palestinians to enter Israel. By the time the conflict ended with a ceasefire in August, more than 2,100 Palestinians had been killed. The majority of them were civilians, including several hundred children. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and 7 civilians were killed. Large parts of Gaza were destroyed.