The International Community and Israel: Giving permission to a permanent occupation

A closed Palestinian shop in the Israeli settlement in Hebron. Note door welded shut. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
Five foundational criteria that could shape a viable and principled strategy by the international community to end the Israeli occupation and enable Palestinian self-determination.

By Michael Lynk | JustSecurity | Jan 7, 2022

Beyond tut-tutting about settlement expansion and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority’s head is kept above water, the international community has no coherent strategy to actually end the 54-year-old Israeli occupation.

On Nov. 17, 2021, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) gathered in Oslo for its semi-annual meeting. Created in 1993 shortly after the famous handshake on the White House lawn, the AHLC is the semi-formal organization of international donors to the Palestinian Authority (PA). It promotes a two-State solution through the development of the Palestinian economy and civil institutions. Its membership of 15 leading States and institutions includes the United States, the European Union, Russia, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and four Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia). Norway acts as the chair.

At the Oslo meeting, the AHLC reviewed the progress towards a Palestinian State, assessed the debilitated Palestinian economy, and encouraged donors to provide a new round of funding pledges for the Palestinian Authority. It also received reports from the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) and the World Bank on the current economic and political landscape of the 54 year-old Israeli occupation.

The updates were grim. The U.N. Special Coordinator reported that the fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority remained dire, international donations were substantially down, there was little hope for a renewed peace process in the foreseeable future, and humanitarian conditions on the ground – including the expansion of the illegal settlements, settler-related violence, and the demolitions of Palestinian homes – were steadily worsening. The report proposed a number of technical solutions to reverse the crippled economy, none of which imposed any substantive obligations on Israel as the occupying power. Notwithstanding the dispiriting political climate, the Special Coordinator insisted that a two-State solution remained possible and opportunities to build momentum should not be missed.

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