Dear Friends,

On November 29th, the UN marked 74 years since the passing of Resolution 181 with strong proclamations in support of a two-state solution. But on the ground, the past month has seen few concrete developments that would move Israelis and Palestinians closer to a lasting peace. The Two State Index dropped 0.4% this month to 5.55. Click on the headlines below or continue reading for our analysis of how political, diplomatic, legal, social and economic events in November impacted the feasibility of the two-state solution.

November At a Glance:

These events decreased the Two-State Index by 0.4% in November (down 0.02 points from 5.57 to 5.55).

To learn about the Geneva Initiative's TSI, visit our website.

Amid Spike in Settler Attacks and Expansion Plan, Herzog Visit to Hebron Shrine Negatively Legitimizes Settlement Enterprise

A visit by Israeli President Herzog to the Tomb of Patriarchs in Hebron has drawn outrage among Palestinians and left-wing Israeli activists and politicians, who say the move legitimizes Israeli settler presence in the city.

Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces following the visit, which the Palestinian Foreign Ministry called "a defiant move aimed at embracing the settlement enterprise. Hamas, meanwhile, called for unrest in the West Bank and Jerusalem in response to the “provocation”. The Arab League, Jordan and Saudi Arabia also condemned the visit. The Tomb of the Patriarchs has become a symbol of violent settler extremism, which has continued to rise amid ongoing settlement expansion.

Tweet: Yishai Fleisher, spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron
Earlier this month, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz convened a high-level meeting on settler violence, noting a 150% increase in violent attacks since 2019. Gantz called for boosting enforcement and issuing explicit orders forbidding Israeli soldiers from “standing by” in such incidents. The convening marks rare formal scrutiny of the issue by Israel’s top security officials, and points to an effort to tackle systemic political avoidance that has allowed the phenomenon to continue unchecked for years. Encouraging rhetoric, however, is yet to be accompanied by concrete action and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Tor Wennesland warned that settler violence is "alarmingly high" in a briefing to the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, Israel continued to advance settlement plans in 
Givat Hamatos, Har Homa, E1 and Qalandia/Atarot. A hearing of objections against plans to advance 3,426 units in E1 is set for December 13 and marks the last obstacle to the project’s approval. Representatives of EU and other countries toured E1 and Qalandia/Atarot and expressed strong opposition to construction in the areas which EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff said marked the final stage of severing the West Bank from Jerusalem. Belgium separately announced plans to label settlement products, with Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll cancelling planned meetings with Belgian officials in retaliation.

The E1 plan also drew criticism from 
26 US Democratic Members of Congress, who penned a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the Washington to exert diplomatic pressure to prevent construction in the area. A US rebuke did little to prevent Israel from advancing settlement plans last month, but Washington’s pushback reportedly led Israel to shelve a separate plan to advance 9,000 units in Qalandia/Atarot. Israeli officials attempted to downplay the plan as a local initiative that would take years to approve, but the matter was nonetheless removed from the agenda of a Jerusalem planning committee meeting next month. 

The Israeli President’s visit to Hebron leads to a drop in the Israeli Public Opinion parameter from 6 to 5 this month, on account of it contributing to the legitimization of Israel’s settlement enterprise in mainstream public discourse to the detriment of the two-state solution.

Hamas-Claimed Attacks in Jerusalem Stoke Tensions, Highlight Palestinian Political Fractures

Palestinian political fractures were on full display this month as Hamas exploited two attacks in Jerusalem to undermine the Palestinian Authority, while working to maintain calm between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Following a stabbing attack and a separate shooting attack carried out by a Hamas political activist in Jerusalem, Hamas capitalized on mounting tensions to rile up supporters in the West Bank.

Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the wake of the fatal shooting, as hundreds of Hamas supporters marched in Shuafat. The display came as the UK joined the US and EU in designating Hamas – including its political branch – a terrorist organization in a move that further erodes prospects for intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Israel, meanwhile, revealed that it had thwarted a Hamas terror cell operating in the West Bank, while the Palestinian Authority separately announced an operation to restore control over the city of Jenin which has become a stronghold for both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.


While stoking tensions in the West Bank, Hamas has worked effectively to maintain a prevailing calm on the Gaza border. An agreement announced between Qatar and Egypt this month will see up to $10 million in Egyptian fuel enter Gaza on a monthly basis, with Israel lending tacit consent to an arrangement for Hamas salaries to be paid from profits generated by fuel salesThe Gaza Ministry of Labor this month also opened registration for residents seeking laborer permits for work in Israel, with reports that between 10,000 to 30,000 laborer permits could be made available in 2022 – up from the current figure of 7,800.

Hamas’ ongoing efforts to undermine the Palestinian Authority, intensifying this month with deadly attacks and clashes in Jerusalem and the West Bank, led to a drop in the Two State Index’s Palestinian State-building (Governance) parameter from 3 to 2. 
Israel Urges Int’l Community to Boost Funding to Palestinians at AHLC Meeting in Oslo

The Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) met this month in Oslo with Israel urging donor countries to step up their contributions to the Palestinian Authority. The AHLC was established to promote cooperation between Israel, Palestinians, and the donor community in support of the two-state solution. But this month’s convening in Oslo – taking place with no prospect for peace talks, and no commitment by Israel to the establishment of a Palestinian state – raises questions as to whether the AHLC is today serving its original objectives, or whether it may inadvertently serve to perpetuate the occupation while the international community foots the bill.

Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej told the confab that he supports the two-state solution and outlined a series of measures to invigorate the Palestinian economy. Frej also said that Israel would be open to updating – for the first time since 1994 – the Paris Protocol and suggested convening the Joint Economic Committee in the next few months to discuss. Palestinian PM Shtayyeh welcomed Israel’s economic steps but said they were “useless if not within a political framework conducive to ending the occupation”. An UNCTAD report published this month estimates that the cumulative economic cost of the Israeli occupation since 2000 is $57.7 billion – more than 3x Palestinian territory’s GDP in 2019.

The AHLC commended “constructive measures” by both Israel and the Palestinians, and urged both sides to translate their “practical attitude” into real changes on the ground. Though the meeting ended without concrete financial pledges, Shtayyeh expressed hope for a breakthrough saying he had received “serious promises” on the resumption of aid, which has fallen 85% since 2008 according to the World Bank. Defense Minister Benny Gantz urged the international community to invest in improving the Palestinian economy in a way that would “contribute to peace and stability and create a foundation for a common future.”

Economic measures announced at the AHLC meeting this month raised the Two State Index’s Paris Protocol parameter from 6 to 7.

As US Engagement Cools, Palestinians Turn to Other International Actors to Push Israel on Peace Talks
Lower intensity US engagement this month was accompanied by Palestinian overtures to other international actors, as they seek to sidestep America’s role as mediators. Both Russia and China reiterated their support for the two-state solution this month, each expressing interest in leading renewed efforts to mediate talks between Israel and the Palestinians. President Abbas met with President Vladimir Putin seeking Russia’s support to revive the role of the Quartet in facilitating negotiations. An earlier visit by Abbas’ rival Mohammed Dahlan sparked speculation that Russia may also be working to reconcile the rival Fatah leaders, but chances are slim that this effort will bear any fruits.

In a meeting with White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on the US to increase pressure on Israel to engage in serious negotiations with the Palestinians and to expedite the re-opening of the US consulate in East Jerusalem. Palestinian officials say that Abbas was left pessimistic on the consulate’s reopening after US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield indicated that Washington needed more time to discuss the matter with Israel.

PM Shtayyeh, meanwhile, blamed Israel for the stagnant peace process accusing Israeli PM Bennett of “three no’s” – no to a meeting with Abbas, no to negotiations, and no to a Palestinian state – referencing the Arab League’s position following the 1967 Six Day War (no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel) and holding Bennett squarely responsible for the current stalemate.

Meanwhile, a massive water-for-energy deal signed between Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates this month was met with protests in Amman against normalization with Israel and in solidarity with the Palestinians. The deal does not include the Palestinians, despite being originally conceptualized as part of a regional desalinated water-energy community between Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. At COP26 earlier in November, PM Shtayyeh said that “Israeli occupation is the most critical long-term threat to the Palestinian environmentand that Israeli restrictions were preventing construction of solar fields in the West Bank.

The Two State Index continues to monitor the evolving roles of the Arab world, and other international players in reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but relevant parameters remain unchanged this month.
New Reports Reveal Scale of Israeli Surveillance of Palestinian Officials and Civilians

The Israeli army this month extended the terror designation of six Palestinian NGO's to the West Bank – where until now the groups had largely been able to continue operating. Media reports suggest that the intelligence dossier containing the purported justifications behind the terror designation failed to show concrete evidence of organized involvement in violent activities by any of the groups.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that Israeli spyware was detected on the phones of three senior officials who were said to be involved in the preparation of complaints against Israel to the ICC. A separate report by the Washington Post said that the Israeli army has ramped up a major surveillance initiative targeting Palestinian civilians using wide-scale facial recognition technology, describing a massive database of Palestinian civilians including children and the elderly. Experts for digital civil rights organization AccessNow say that Israel’s use of surveillance and facial recognition appear to be among the most elaborate deployments of such technology by a country seeking to control a subject population.

New details concerning the scope of Israeli surveillance of Palestinian officials and civilians leads to a drop in the Basic International Norms parameter from 6 to 5. 
Gaza Doctor Receives Empathetic Welcome by Israeli Officials, But Loses Appeal for Apology for Strike that Killed Daughters

A Gazan doctor whose three daughters were killed in a 2009 Israeli strike was welcomed by Israeli officials including Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the Knesset this month. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish was in Israel to deliver an appeal to the Supreme Court for a formal apology and compensation from Israel over the deadly strike.

Israel’s top court rejected Abuelaish’s appeal, as was expected, but his welcome in Israel and rare empathetic embrace by Israeli officials sent a strong signal on the need for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation and narrative recognition.

Despite the rarity of such events, and the strong message they carry, the Two State Index’s parameter on historical narratives and mutual recognition did not change this month.
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.
Think we missed something this month? Send us tips and comments here.

Powered by Publicators