Hamas’s attack on 7 October is a stark reminder that peace and security are impossible while Palestinians live under occupation.
By Thomas Vescovi
There was no ongoing ‘peace process’ between the Israelis and Palestinians at the time of the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October. The 1993 Oslo accords claimed to reflect the interests of both sides, but their main effect has been to reinforce Israeli settlement and occupation of Palestinian territories. A month before the start of this new war, a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found nearly two thirds of Palestinians thought their situation was worse than 30 years ago.
From the Israeli standpoint, the stagnation of the ‘peace process’ is not necessarily a disaster. On the contrary, as journalist Amira Hass wrote in the Israeli daily Haaretz. ‘the creation of Palestinian enclaves is an internal Israeli compromise’ which redraws the map of the occupation so as to make the Palestinians disappear without actually expelling them, or even formally annexing the West Bank. So for the Israeli negotiators, a fully sovereign Palestinian state has never been on the cards.
Giving up their demand for the complete liberation of Palestine in return for a state on only 22% of the territory allocated to it under the 1947 United Nations partition plan was a historic concession for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its chairman Yasser Arafat. But for Israel, everything was still to play for, under the aegis of the hardly neutral US.
A PSR poll this January found that support for a two-state solution had never been lower on either side. Only 33% of Palestinian respondents were in favour, compared to 43% in 2020, and only 39% of Israeli respondents (and 34% of Jewish Israelis). These figures need qualifying: Palestinians have not given up on a two-state solution because they don’t want it any longer, but because they see it as unattainable. The alternatives are even less popular: a democratic state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians had the support of only 23% of Palestinian respondents and 20% of (…)
Thomas Vescovi is an independent researcher specialising in Israel and the Palestinian territories.