Dear Friends,

This month high-profile incidents of settler violence, forced displacement, and detention practices drew international attention and condemnation, highlighting the crucial role that the international community plays in advocating for urgently achieving a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Click on the headlines below or continue reading for our analysis of how events over the first month of the year have impacted the forecasted feasibility of the two-state solution.

January at a Glance:

No changes are recorded to the Two-State Index this month, which remains stable at 5.65.

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Israeli Ministers Strike Firm Tone on Settler ‘Terror’ as Rise in Attacks Draws Int’l Scrutiny

Israeli ministers adopted a sharper tone in condemning a number of high-profile settler attacks this month, characterizing such incidents as acts of “terror”. The strong denunciations by top officials signal that Israel is taking the rise in violent settler attacks seriously as the phenomenon continues to draw international scrutiny and generate greater debate in Israeli public discourse.

Public Security Minister and GI Steering Committee Member Omer Bar-Lev denounced a violent attack against Palestinians and left-wing activists in Burin – believed to be perpetrated by settlers from the illegal outpost of Giv’at Ronen – as “the organized action of a terror group” and “the tip of the iceberg of a terror organization”.


The incident drew widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum, including from right-wing ministers. In response to a separate attack in Hawara, in which a three-year-old Palestinian was moderately injured, Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared that “anyone who throws stones, torches cars and uses a cold or hot weapon is a terrorist.”  

Meanwhile, thousands of settlers gathered at the dismantled outpost of Homesh on the one-month anniversary of a deadly shooting attack near the site. Demonstrators have congregated at the site several times over the past month, bypassing Israeli military checkpoints where soldiers have otherwise restricted access for Palestinian residents of the nearby village of Burqa.

Despite a notable shift in the tone of Israeli ministers’ condemnations of settler attacks, the Two State Index’s various Settlement parameters and West Bank Security parameters remain unchanged this month. 


Israel Indefinitely Postpones Settlement Plans in Sensitive E1 Area in Response to Diplomatic Pressure

Israel indefinitely postponed a discussion on the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in East Jerusalem’s sensitive E1 area this month on the basis of “expert opinions of certain officials in the Civil Administration”. At the same time, the Jerusalem District Planning Committee advanced plans for the construction of 3,557 new settlement units elsewhere in East Jerusalem. Part of the plan – which would see the construction of 1,465 units between Givat Hamatos and Har Homa in a direct threat to territorial contiguity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem – was advanced to the “deposit” stage, meaning that only one more approval is required before construction is permitted.

The decision to postpone construction in E1 while advancing plans elsewhere in East Jerusalem highlights that there is no singular Israeli settlement policy – decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, which enhances the influence of external actors. Israel appears to have responded to mounting international pressure by prioritizing settlement construction within the municipal boundaries of annexed-East Jerusalem.

These developments point to the critical role that the international community continues to play in curtailing unilateral Israeli steps in sensitive areas such as Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and Khan Al-Ahmar – where diplomatic pressure has led to a reported compromise to relocate the Bedouin outpost just 300 meters (1,000 feet) from its current location.

Though Israel backed down on settlement plans in E1 following international pressure, the impact of this development is tempered by the advancement of other settlement projects this month and TSI’s various Settlement and International Actors parameters remain unchanged.
Israeli FM’s Meetings with Palestinian Officials Could Lay Groundwork for Future Political Developments

Israeli FM and Alternate PM Yair Lapid held meetings with high-ranking Palestinian officials this month, signaling an initial step towards broader bilateral engagement between the sides. Lapid reportedly met with Palestinian Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj in the wake of Gantz’s second meeting with Abbas, and later met Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh.

Lapid’s meetings with Abbas’s two closest senior advisors is indicative of a strategic decision to strengthen the PA, and also signals an initial step towards expanding bilateral engagement beyond security and economic affairs. “The meetings show that a segment of the Israeli government still believes in a political solution, including Lapid who one day might become Prime Minister and might change the current course,” Palestinian analyst Mohammed Daraghmeh says.

On the Palestinian side, the meeting was viewed by some as preparing al-Sheikh to assume the role of chief negotiator with Israel, a position that has remained vacant since the death of Saeb Erekat. Al-Sheikh said that the meeting with Lapid “opened the door” to expanding diplomatic talks: “I made clear to Minister Lapid that it’s important that there be a diplomatic horizon between us and Israelis.”
Lapid has reiterated his view on the need to engage in a political process with the Palestinians, and his will to convince his colleagues in government that this is the best way to serve Israel's interests. Lapid’s efforts to persuade Palestinian officials to suspend legal actions against Israel at the ICC could strengthen his ability to convince fellow ministers to reconsider their positions on peace talks. Defense Minister Gantz echoed the message by stating in the Knesset that Israel must "keep in contact to allow for a diplomatic horizon".

Hamas, meanwhile, has denounced engagement between Israel and the PA as a “betrayal” of the Palestinian people and a sign of “the depths to which the Palestinian Authority has fallen”. Israeli right-wing MKs have also criticized meetings with Palestinian officials, with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party warning that “concessions dangerous to Israel's security are only a matter of time.”

Lapid’s meetings with senior Palestinian officials and Gantz's statements mark a positive step towards broader political engagement, leading to a rise in the TSI’s Israeli-Palestinian Bilateral Negotiations parameter from 4 to 5.

Former IDF Chief Warns Israel Drifting Towards One-State Reality

Former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has warned that Israel is drifting towards a one-state reality, and that a lack of vision among Israeli politicians for resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is leading to an increasingly unstable political climate.

We need to change the reality of the situation, because it will lead to a single state, which will destroy the Zionist dream,” Eisenkot said this month. He added that a “lost generation” of Palestinian youth are a ticking "time bomb" that is becoming increasingly difficult to predict. "The question is not whether there will be another outbreak, but when and how intense it will be," Eisenkot said.
The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) similarly cautioned in its 2022 Strategic Survey published this month that the stalemate in the peace process poses a direct and serious challenge “to the vision of Israel as a Jewish, democratic, secure, and moral state” as mounting frustration drives Palestinians to think increasingly in terms of a one-state reality. “The Palestinian arena is not a secondary arena that can be contained by empty delusions about ‘limiting the conflict’,” the report charges.

The INSS cautioned of growing international criticism that increases the potential for legal action against Israel. FM Lapid has also warned that the coming year would see an intense effort to label Israel as an “apartheid state” – pointing at campaigns in the ICC, The Hague, and the UN Human Rights Council’s establishment of a permanent inquiry into Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians – while human rights group Amnesty International indeed applied the label against Israel for the first time in a new report.

Despite stark warnings about the one-state alternative this month, the TSI’s Israeli Public Opinion parameter remains stable at 6.
Death of Elderly Palestinian-American Man Draws Attention to Israeli Detention Practices

Israel’s detention policies drew an increased level of international scrutiny this month following a number of high-profile incidents, including the death of 80-year-old Palestinian-American Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad. As’ad was one of three elderly Palestinians who died during three separate military actions in the West Bank in just a two-week period, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). As’ad’s US citizenship led to more attention than other such cases, with both the US and UN requesting “clarification” on the circumstances surrounding his death.

Also drawing attention this month was Israel’s decision to extend the detention of a critically-ill Palestinian teenager, Amal Muamar Nakhleh, who suffers from a rare neuromuscular disorder and has been held under Israel’s controversial administrative detention policy for more than a year without charge or trial.
Israel’s administrative detention policy drew further international condemnation as Hisham Abu Hawash – a 40-year-old construction worker held under the policy for more than a year without charge or trial – ended a 141-day hunger strike following a deal between Israeli and Palestinian officials for his release next month. News of Abu Hawash’s pending release infuriated right-wing Israeli lawmakers who believe the case sets precedent for hundreds of other Palestinians held in administrative detention, including five other prisoners currently on hunger strike.

Without wider systemic changes to Israel’s detention policies, the TSI’s Basic International Norms and Prisoners parameters remain unchanged this month.
Failed Effort to Elevate Israeli-Palestinian Issues at UN Security Council Reflects Shift in Member-State Attitudes

Efforts to elevate the UN Security Council’s discussions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a ministerial level this month fell flat, with almost no other country sending their top diplomatic representatives to the meeting. Norway, which held the Council’s rotating presidency in January, said that it had intended to “enhance the council’s focus and the need to find a political solution” to the conflict. But Ghana was the only other member to send its Foreign Minister to the meeting.

The UAEwhich joined the UNSC this month – offered a relatively mild criticism of Israel, while US Envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield criticized the Council’s over-focus on Israel. This is the first time in several years that all Security Council members have diplomatic relations with Israel, and the presence of new allies on the Council could temper its tone Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Middle East Quartet convened virtually this month, agreeing on the need to raise their activity to the ministerial level. Palestinians have looked increasingly to international parties to kickstart peace efforts amid frustration with the pace of US engagement. Palestinian FM Riad Malki this month criticized US President Biden for moving “too slowly” on peace and for not applying enough pressure on Israel to abandon “its rejection of a two-state solution and peace negotiations.”

“It’s clear the US administration is not exerting enough efforts to move the peace process. They found the Israeli Prime Minister’s door blocked and have no interest in breaking down that door,” says Palestinian analyst Mohmmed Hawash, adding that with no prospects for moving the needle on peace, the PA is expecting “more involvement” on other issues such as settlements and the re-opening of the US consulate - subject which were reportedly discussed in a call between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and PA President Abbas.

US Ambassador Tom Nides, for his part, vowed never to visit Israeli settlements and reiterated the Biden administration’s support for the two-state solution. “I feel that I will have succeeded if we keep all the chances open for a peace process. What I mean is, if we persuade the sides not to take unilateral steps that will close the chances,” Nides said.

The TSI continues to monitor the impact of international engagement in various forums, but International Actors and Third Party Engagement parameters remain unchanged this month at 8 and 7 respectively.
Other Events:

  • Successful diplomatic efforts to secure the Israel-Hamas ceasefire despite ongoing tensions in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip indicate that neither side is currently interested in a conflict. The reverse-scale Prospects for War (Gaza), Palestinian Attacks (Gaza), and IDF Military Actions (Gaza) parameters therefore all drop from 6 to 5 this month.
  • Representatives of 6 Palestinian factions held reconciliation talks in Algeria this month, but so far no breakthrough has been achieved. The TSI’s Fatah-Hamas relations parameter remains unchanged at 3.
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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