The return of the ‘Palestinian issue’

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For better or for worse, the relative decline in the international importance of the Palestinian issue is attributable to the Netanyahu governments over the past decade.

In the first decade of the 2000s, allegiance to the idea of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria was de rigeur in international discourse, and any newbie statesman – whether he believed in the idea or considered it dangerous – was required to pay tribute lest he be considered unhinged. Coming into the second decade of the 21st century, the international system began to show signs that it was loosening the chains of adherence to the two-state concept.

” … Thus says the Lord of hosts: “They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever.” Malachi 1:4

The return of the 'Palestinian issue'

The civil wars in Syria and Yemen and the rise of Islamic State and Islamic terrorism, all played their part by providing “proof” that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not the root of all evil and violence in the Middle East. The conduct of the Palestinians, from incitement to terrorism, strengthened skepticism about the existence of a partner, and the Abraham Accords highlighted the option of normalization and peace without Israel having to make concessions and withdraw.

This trend continued after Benjamin Netanyahu was no longer in power. Perhaps it was just the sheer strength of momentum, or perhaps the Lapid-Bennett government realized that resuscitating the Palestinian issue wouldn’t score them any points among the Israeli public, which already knew a thing or two about the bloody costs of concessions to the Palestinians. But the picture has begun to change and there are growing signs that the Palestinian issue is coming back to center stage.

Dr. Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations during the late 1990s, says special attention should be paid to initiatives on the boil at the organization he knows so well.

“There is good reason to be conscious of these issues all the time, especially in the context of the United Nations, because this is an arena where Israel’s diplomatic vulnerability is particularly prominent,” says Gold. “In recent years, our ties with the rest of the world have improved. Our ties with European countries and with the European Union have improved, our ties with Arab and Islamic countries have improved, and so have our ties with Russia and with countries in its sphere. But the United Nations remains a difficult challenge.

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