June, in short:

  • Bahrain Workshop fails to yield results but sparks action: US-led economic conference ends with no economic pledges meanwhile the UN, US Congress & EU pledge support for the two-state solution. US role as honest broker called into question once again.
  • Palestinians overwhelmingly back PA boycott of US peace plan: Poll reveals 79% supported government decision to boycott workshop; poll also shows support for a two-state solution (nearing 50%) is more than double support for a one-state solution.
  • Political map recast, left-wing figures emerge: On the day that former PM Ehud Barak announced his return to the political arena, for the first time, poll (Channel 13) gives a majority of 61 seats to the center-left camp 
  • Unsteady unofficial Gaza ceasefire holds: Tensions rise as Israel continues policy of tightening fuel supply, restrictions on fishing zone.

These events and contradictory trends ultimately moved the Two-State Index (TSI) up by 1.1%.

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US-led Bahrain Economic Workshop fails to yield concrete results, meanwhile, UN, EU & US Congress reaffirm commitment to the two-state solution

While the Trump Administration billed the “Peace to Prosperity” Workshop as the international conference that will lay the economic groundwork for Israeli-Palestinian peace, the reaction from Palestinians was very different. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh
concluded that the conference lacked both direction and concrete results. 

The presence among both Israelis and Palestinians was limited. The conference in Manama attracted some Israeli business leaders who attended the event in lieu of government officials, while Palestinians overwhelmingly boycotted the event architected by Jared Kushner. Even more notable was the lack of finance ministers from various countries, considering their participation was supposed to be the key to the workshop's success. Key international players Russia and China also boycotted the workshop.

The failure to convene Israelis, Palestinians, and other world superpowers was a clear indication to the administration that significant economic progress can only be achieved after political progress. Before and after the workshop, many international players reiterated the need for a two-state process; and political negotiations as the only key to reach an end to the conflict.

The European Union for instance, who did send a representative to the workshop, previously stated in meetings with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the EU is “ready to work” with the US on the peace plan, as long as it aims at achieving two states.

It was estimated that there would be as much as sixty-eight billion dollars raised at the workshop, but the 2 days of discussions concluded without any economic grants or cash pledges raised. Simultaneously, at the UN Pledging Conference in New York City more than $110 million dollars were pledged, helping UNRWA cover costs for the coming months and avoid a budget crisis.

All this comes at time when the US role of being honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was called into question yet again after high-level officials issued statements suggesting Israel’s possible annexation of areas in the West Bank, with one event in particular casting doubts on the US’s intentions.

In an interview with the New York Times, Friedman said that under certain circumstances Israel has the right “to retain” some of the West Bank. He failed to clarify the details of his comments, whether this would take the form of unilateral annexation or land swaps, leaving such emotive rhetoric open to interpretation. In addition to this, the unveiling of a new archeological site in East Jerusalem lying underneath a Palestinian village - attended by Amb. Friedman, Mr. Greenblatt, and Sara Netanyahu - was also interpreted as a recognition by the US of Israel’s sovereignty over certain contested sites. Such moves dispute the US’s credibility as an unbiased actor in resolving the conflict and indicate possible obstructions to achieving a two-state solution.

Back on US soil, the Parternship Fund for Peace Act of 2019 was presented in Congress with bipartisan support – a clear emphasis of support for the two-state solution on their part via offering economic aid to Palestinians and creating opportunities between Israelis, Palestinians, and the United States. The US administration’s failure to bypass the two-state framework along with the bipartisan bill presented to Congress reinforcing the need to preserve conditions for a two-state solution moves the US parameter up from 2 to 3.


Palestinians overwhelmingly reject US Peace Plan and Palestinian Authority boycott, PPC public opinion poll indicates

A Palestinian Peace Coalition (PPC) poll, conducted through the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah, headed by renowned pollster Khalil Shikaki found public opinion overwhelmingly rejected the US’s policy and revealed that support for a two-state solution (nearing 50%) is more than double support for a one-state solution.

A sizeable 79% of Palestinian respondents backed the PA’s decision to boycott the workshop, with an overwhelming 90% rejecting the US’s claims that the “Peace to Prosperity” programme, would in itself, improve economic conditions. When asked to choose between economic prosperity and independence, 83% opted for independence. On the ground, Palestinians activists and politicians took to the streets to protest the workshop, vocally condemning the US administration and Arab countries for their participation. 

When assessing support for a two-state solution, the poll showed that 49% of respondents supported an Israeli and Palestinian State on the basis of the 1967 borders. The support rises to 55% when adding two conditions: “acknowledgment of both states to the equal rights of their respective citizens” and “each side to reform its security, education and legislative sectors so that they serve peace.”

These results move the Palestinian public opinion parameter up from 4 to 5.

View the entire poll results here


West Bank protests against Bahrain workshop, clashes in East Jerusalem escalate

Palestinians activists and politicians marched against the Economic Workshop in Bahrain, condemning the U.S. administration and Arab countries for their participating. A joint press statement from Palestinian political parties dismissed any political or economic solution that does not include the right of return for refugees and fundamental rights for Palestinians.

In East Jerusalem, over 80 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli security forces spurred by the killing of a 20-year-old Palestinian man shot by security forces after his launching fireworks at close range.

The Palestinian Authority taxation crises continue unchanged, even as Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met with his PA counterpart, Shukri Bishara, to discuss civilian and economic issues, as they have done for the past number of years.

The continued economic uncertainty of the Palestinian Authority leaves the Palestinian Statebuilding economic parameter at 2.


Poll shows for the first time a majority of 61 seats for center-left camp as Ehud Barak announces his return to the political arena

The second Israeli elections of 2019 will take place on September 17th and though elections remain over two months away, recent polls indicate that Netanyahu's Likud party will have a difficult time to form a right-wing government.

Only hours after Barak threw his hat into the ring and announced he would run, an Israeli TV Channel 13 survey signaled that the center-left and Arab parties would together obtain 61 seats, while right-wing and ultra-orthodox factions would receive only 52. Such figures call into question Netanyahu’s ability to form a governing coalition and suggest that the center-left could edge to a narrow victory with the help of Barak. 

The former PM has already indicated his intention to focus on Israeli-Palestinian conflict and remains an unapologetic supporter of the two-state solution.

With Israeli elections over two months, all Israeli political parameters (government, legislature, prime minister) remain the same.


Unofficial Ceasefire holds in Gaza amid rising tensions

An unofficial truce was brokered in May between Israel and Hamas after two days of violence along the border, with the latter affirming the truce is being upheld among reports of Israel’s withholding aid. Meanwhile, incendiary balloons continue to cross the border from Gaza, setting fire to farmland. Rather than affecting the ceasefire, Israel seems to be punishing the Strip by cutting fuel supplies and tightening restrictions on fishing areas.

However, Hamas officials are beginning to warn that the ceasefire is in danger of falling through if Israel does not make good on its promises to add hours of electricity and expand the fishing zone per the agreements made in early May.

The uneasy truce leaves all Gaza-related parameters unchanged.

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