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Europe increases its diplomatic engagement as America prepares to release its peace plan; regional leaders have their say; Gaza continues its slide toward conflict, and more: Here is why our Two-State Index (TSI) went up 3.8 percent in June.
To learn about the TSI, read our introductory newsletter and visit our methodology page.You can also check our new log page for complete inventory of the index developments, including some recent adjustments and corrections. 
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As the world observes American diplomats consider if and when to publish their peace plan, Europe has emerged as a centerpiece of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy in June. The Duke of Cambridge visited Israel and, as a first formal visit by a British royal, the Palestinian Authority. Notably, Prince William did not encounter significant Israeli criticism from high-level officials, or the public, as he visited Jerusalem's holy sites as part of his "occupied Palestinian territories" itinerary. Earlier in June, Netanyahu visited Berlin, London and Paris for talks on regional security and the peace process. The European leaders reinforced their support for Israel’s security, the Iran deal and the start of meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. They also urged Netanyahu to enact moderate policies in Gaza.

These events occur on the backdrop of intensifying transatlantic rifts. Europe views the prospective U.S. plan with unease: the United Kingdom considered a staekholders meeting, and the European Union plans to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials as it reevaluates its engagement on the two-state solution, with a first report on the issue slated for the end of August. As Europe takes a more assertive role, we update our Europe parameter’s weight from 2 to 3, and its value from a supportive 7 to a more active 8.
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On the U.S. front, top administration envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblat wrapped up a regional tour, in which they discussed the plan. In a rare interview, Kushner suggested the Palestinian public may well be open to the plan despite their leadership’s resistance and the Trump administration’s hostile policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Regional reaction to the prospective American plan varied between passive acceptance by Gulf allies of the administration and concerned skepticism by Jordan and Egypt.


Public opinion polls conducted by the Peace Index Project on June 24-26 show that only 16 percent of Israelis hold moderate-to-high hopes for the success of the American peace plan. As we withhold judgment on the plan's substance until its publication, these diplomatic maneuvers bring changes to two TSI arenas: the Diplomatic and Legal, and the Political and Public: the parameter of Extent of Third Party Engagement moves three whole points from 2 to 5. The expectations for a U.S. initiative, flawed as it may be, brings the United States parameter from a hostile 2 to a more neutral 4. Similarly, the Arab World moves from 6 to 8, and Europe from 7 to 8.
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Hostilities in Gaza continued in June. Palestinians launched rockets as well as arson kites and balloons that resulted in dozens of fires throughout the areas surrounding Gaza. For its part, the IDF engaged Palestinians at the fence and struck targets in Gaza, killing 10. Concurrently, both regional players and Israel have been considering various plans for the stabilization of Gaza, but none have brought about a breakthrough.

While June saw somewhat less fatalities than the terrible month of May, we assess that the ability of both sides to contain events and avoid war continues to weaken. Public opinion polls conducted by the Peace Index on June 24-26 show that only 30 percent of Israelis believe Israel scored greater achievements in Gaza, and that 70 percent of Israeliד want the IDF to target those who are launching incendiary kites and balloons. Consequently, each of our three relevant parameters — Prospects for War, Palestinian Attacks (Gaza), and IDF Military Actions (Gaza) — moves from 4 to 3.
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The United States left the U.N. Human Rights Council in protest of the organization’s overstressed focus on Israel and its general makeup. Separately, the United States has frozen all aid to the Palestinian Authority pending a review by the administration.


The American withdrawal from the Council left the Palestinians cheerful and Netanyahu feeling vindicated, despite the fact that efforts against Israel and its settlement enterprise are likely to gain momentum. The potential for a more effective role for the Council, including lower number and intensity of clashes there, moves our Legal Institutions and Proceedings (Lawfare) parameter from 2 to 3. The freezing of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority will likely further damage the fraught relations between the parties, but its effects on the ground are still difficult to assess.
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In additional developments this month, the Argentinian soccer team canceled its game in Israel because its relocation to Jerusalem; Hamas leaders visited Moscow; Israel evacuated 15 settler houses from an outpost without major clashes, while its Central Bureau of Statistics published its 2017 housing starts data, showing a six-year low believed to reflect U.S.-Israeli tensions in the last two years of Obama’s presidency; Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank abasing Mahmoud Abbas’s policies vis-a-vis Gaza; and the Knesset voted to withhold tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, a move that outraged the Palestinians who called it a "declaration of war" (Hebrew source) .

See all events on our ongoing TSI 
log.
Analysis
Jared Kushner’s Middle East Fantasy
by PHILIP GORDON and PREM KUMAR
The Atlantic, June 25, 2018
[U.S. Middle East peace envoy Jared Kushner] is living in a fantasy world and preparing an approach more likely to compound the current problems than to resolve them. The assumptions on which he appears to be basing his plan — whatever its precise contents turn out to be — are so flawed that it is fair to wonder if his aim is really to start serious negotiations, or simply to please President Trump’s base by gearing up to blame the Palestinian side for the failure to come.

The first fantasy is the notion that the obstruction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas … can be countered by taking the peace plan “directly to the Palestinian people…” Abbas is indeed unpopular with most Palestinians — his approval rating hovers just above 30 percent — but it’s hardly because he’s too hardline on Israel… The next Palestinian leader will almost certainly be less rather than more ready to make concessions — if he even supports a peace process at all.

Kushner’s second fantasy is the idea that he and the administration he represents are better placed to succeed than all their failed predecessors … While all U.S. administrations have always been closer to Israel than to the Palestinians, they all at least tried to play the role of honest broker in the name of finding some workable compromise, and were seen as necessary partners in the eyes of Palestinians…

The third Kushner fantasy is that the Arab Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan will help him overcome these major challenges. [The] changing regional perspectives do not mean Arab leaders will expend the political capital to deliver the Palestinians, even if they could. There is no doubt Kushner heard positive words from Arab friends in private meetings … But he should not hold his breath waiting for those leaders to publicly embrace positions on peace that the Palestinians — and the vast majority of their populations — reject…

The fourth fantasy is that the Palestinians can be bought off with economic assistance to compensate for political losses. [In addition to the difficulties of raising funds for the Palestinians] Kushner should know by now that prosperity will never substitute for political peace. The key issues remain borders and sovereignty; security; settlements and occupation; refugees; and Jerusalem. No Palestinian leader can survive in office by promising economic benefits alone.

Read the full analysis by Gordon and Kumar in The Atlan
tic here.
The Two-State Index (TSI) is brought to you by the Geneva Initiative, a Palestinian-Israeli organization working to promote a negotiated peace agreement in the spirit of the two-state vision. The TSI is produced by an Israeli-Palestinian team, and reflects a unique bilateral perspective.
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