The unfolding civil crisis between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza is already having significant effects in both the Middle East and the international community. The eruption of violence between Israel and the Palestinian Territories has disrupted a series of Arab-Israeli normalization deals, initiated with the 2020 Abraham Accords, and the Biden administration’s planned pivot away from the Middle East as the U.S. focuses on great power competition.
Nick Heras: Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us for today’s Contours podcast, a production of the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy. My name is Nick Heras, and I am the senior fellow and head of the State Resilience and Fragility Program here at the Newlines Institute. I will be the host for today’s discussion on the unfolding civil crisis within Israel in some towns and cities that feature mixed populations of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in the Israeli Jewish communities and, simultaneous to this crisis within Israel, metastasizing war between various Palestinian factions based in Gaza and Israel. The unfolding crisis in Gaza is already having significant regional effects at a time when Israel is seeking to leverage the Abraham Accords to build partnerships with Arab states. It is also coming at a time when the Biden administration is looking to sharply reduce American focus on the Middle East and pivot to great power competition with China and Russia.
I am joined for this important discussion today by three insightful experts on the topic of Israel, Palestine, and U.S. policy on the Middle East. First, my Newlines Institute colleague, Caroline Rose. Caroline is the senior analyst and head of the Power Vacuums program here at the Newlines Institute. Second, Elizabeth Tsurkov. Elizabeth is a nonresident fellow here at the Newlines Institute. She is also a research fellow at the Forum for Regional Thinking, an Israeli-Palestinian think tank based in Jerusalem, and a doctoral candidate in the Politics Department at Princeton University. And also Yossi Klein Halevi. Yossi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, where he is also the co-director of the institute’s Muslim Leadership Initiative, which teaches emerging young Muslim American leaders on Judaism, Jewish identity, and Israel. He is a world-renowned analyst on Israel and Middle East issues, and an award-winning and New York Times best-selling author. Caroline, Elizabeth, and Yossi, thank you for joining us today. Okay. I want to start off with an overarching question for Elizabeth and Yossi to react to. Elizabeth, I’d like you to take this on first, and then Yossi. Why did a local police action in Jerusalem lead to a crisis across Israel and Palestine? Why now?
Elizabeth Tsurkov: So I think the timing of the restrictions and measures imposed by the Israeli police against worshippers both in East Jerusalem as well as worshippers from inside Israel who sought to ascend to the Haram al-Sharif, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is incredibly sensitive, and anyone with even basic knowledge of the Middle East, of Islam, would know that taking such measures during the month of Ramadan, in addition to steps to evict families from homes in which they’ve lived for generations in Sheikh Jarrah, that these steps, this timing, would be incredibly sensitive. We’re seeing the results of that both across Israel as well as the West Bank and Gaza.
Yossi Klein Halevi: And I agree with Elizabeth that these were actions that should not have been taken, certainly not during Ramadan. The Sheikh Jarrah problem is complicated, and we can discuss that, but to really answer your question more fully, where I disagree with Elizabeth is that I feel her answer is not complete, and that refers to the provocation of the Israeli side. The problem is on the side of Hamas, they really don’t need moral justifications to go to war against Israel; they need a pretext. And Hamas seized the pretext; Israel foolishly gave the Palestinians a pretext. But Hamas had a very clear interest in provoking the hostilities. The political stalemate within Palestinian society, the cancellation of elections in the Palestinian Authority yet again, Mahmoud Abbas is in his 15th year of a four-year elected term. Hamas wanted to shift the momentum back toward itself; Hamas is the protector of Jerusalem. This war is intended, among other things, to show the impotence of Mahmoud Abbas.
NH: Thank you very much, Elizabeth and Yossi. It’s an interesting discussion on the Palestinian and Israeli perspectives at the outset of this crisis. Caroline, I want to sort of loop you into the discussion here. It does seem as if the Biden administration was caught a bit off guard by how quickly the situation would intensify. Is there a reason for that?
Caroline Rose: Thank you, Nick, and thank you so much for Elizabeth and Yossi for joining us today. Regarding the Biden administration being caught off guard, I think in part it was due to two things. One, the fact that the Biden administration in its first few weeks and first few months, they haven’t necessarily put together a comprehensive plan on how to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian tensions. And on top of that as well, I don’t think that they had a game plan, and they didn’t put this on the top of the priority list — not only necessarily with just handling the aftermath of the Abraham Accords but also how to approach Israeli-Palestinian peace. I think the administration in some ways put this policy on autopilot while they were also trying to put together a larger and more comprehensive Middle East regional policy. And so, I think that this, in addition to American partners in Europe and with [unclear], I think that this caught the United States and the Biden administration off guard. Fortunately, I think now the administration is putting greater attention They are mobilizing certain officials and starting to get more involved in cease-fire discussions. However, you can see that the United States doesn’t necessarily have a plan or a contingency plan in place for this. And on top of that as well, I don’t think the United States expected the Palestinian issue to mobilize much of their citizens and their Congress as well. I think that’s been a very big reaction that has put pressure on the Biden administration to respond, and rightfully so.
NH: Thank you very much, Caroline. Elizabeth, I want to turn to you quickly — what are the dynamics inside Israeli society and the socio-politics of Israel that are shaping Israeli decision making? Have we seen some particular themes play out over the course of this crisis, both inside Israel itself but also in Gaza?
ET: I think that Israel’s leadership as usual in both political and military is able to achieve tactical success. In the fighting the IDF was able to destroy over 100 kilometers of tunnels, it was able to assassinate multiple leaders of the Palestinian factions. But this tactical success has not been translated into political gain. Essentially Israel still finds itself in a position of trying to find a way to present the war as a success to the Israeli public, trying to reestablish deterrence with Hamas, and the dynamic in which Hamas clearly decided to escalate and fire rockets at Jerusalem in what they presume is a retaliation for Israeli actions in Jerusalem. This is something that Israel finds unacceptable because it wants the confrontation with Gaza factions to be limited to issues related to Gaza. If every time Israel abuses Palestinian rights in the West Bank or in Jerusalem or inside Israel proper Hamas starts firing rockets, there would be no end in sight. So therefore, Israel is now caught in a dynamic that is just a repeat of prior wars with Gaza as well as Hezbollah in 2006, basically achieving tactical success but failing to translate those into political gains.
NH: Thank you, Elizabeth. Yossi, I’d like to give you a chance to weigh in on this question. Are there any particular dynamics in Israeli society that we should be paying attention to as this crisis unfolds? And do you think that there will be long-term effects as a result of what we’ve seen in terms of protests, of intercommunal conflict that has occurred inside Israel over the last few weeks?
YKH: I think it’s important to understand how ordinary Israelis perceive this phase of the conflict. When — there’s a real disconnect in the conversation that’s happening outside of Israel, and Elizabeth, I see you are in Israel, but the kind of discourse that I’m hearing from you is very much not part of a normative Israeli conversation. In a mainstream Israeli conversation about Hamas, there is first of all no sense of guilt, no sense that the moral onus is on Israel, and that’s for several reasons. One is because of the nature of Hamas itself — an organization that is created to Israel’s destruction. The other is the indiscriminate way in which Hamas fights its wars, targeting civilians as the heart of its warfare. And then also very much in Israeli minds is that — and of course there are different versions of this narrative, the Palestinians have an opposite narrative — but the normative Israeli narrative is that Israel in the past tried to make peace, it received terrorism in response. It withdrew of Gaza and received thousands of missiles in response. Now again there are obviously two sides to this story. But the fact that there’s such a major disconnect between the conversation that’s happening about Gaza outside of Israel and what’s taken for granted virtually across the spectrum in Israel has not only political consequences here, and we see it being expressed in the makeup of this Knesset, which is overwhelmingly right-wing and centrist — the Israeli left is miniscule. And bear in mind that the Israeli left was once mainstream here. It was the party of government. That also has strategic implications. And the kind of one-sided moral, or I would even say moralistic, conversation that’s happening around this conflict pushes Israelis only further into a corner. And I know that’s my visceral reaction, Elizabeth, listening to you. My visceral reaction is “Wait a minute, there’s more to that story than we’re hearing,” and I find myself having to suppress my angry Israeli side. And if I’m feeling that, I can assure you that Israelis today generally are a very angry society. And that’s important to remember because I think many people outside of Israel assume that we’re sitting here feeling guilty. And we’re not. Israelis are not at all feeling guilty about what’s happening in Gaza.
ET: Just to be fair, I was not claiming that anyone in Israel feels guilty. I was saying that the Israeli public wants to see [unclear] something that proves that Israel was victorious. And thus far there is a sense that this hasn’t been delivered. Basically, Hamas was able to launch rockets at Jerusalem in a way that is perceived by Israelis is unprovoked, and therefore since Hamas was willing to take this brazen step, it needs to incur significant losses to deter it from starting this again. And thus far, what the IDF has been able to achieve through airstrikes and artillery shelling has been limited. Yes, Hamas has been damaged, yes, their tunnels are largely destroyed, and yet there is a sense in Israel that more needs to be done to prevent this from happening. And this is why we’re seeing now deescalation in violence. Hamas is no longer firing at central Israel and Jerusalem; Israel is also significantly reduced strikes, it stopped felling high-rises, which was its preferred tactic in the first days of this conflagration. Basically, both sides are deescalating and yet there is no cease-fire clearly on the horizon, and Hamas and Israeli officials say that Hamas is interested in such a cease-fire. For Hamas right now, the current cycle of violence was a quite successful one. But as far as Israel is concerned, it wants more. It wants to somehow establish deterrence. So, it wasn’t a discussion about whether Israelis feel guilty; it wasn’t about moralizing. It was simply stating, seeking to analyze and explain, why we’re basically seeing this fighting go on. And of course, the longer this goes on, the longer there is potential for escalation. For example, today two civilians were killed in southern Israel. They were both foreign workers. Had they been Israelis, Israeli children, it’s quite possible that there would be even greater demand from the Israeli public to hit Gaza harder.
NH: Caroline, I want to bring you into this discussion because Yossi and Elizabeth have done a very good job capturing for us the tenor of the discussion within Israeli society in all its diversity. Israel’s a very diverse society, with diverse political and social strands, and I think sometimes that is forgotten here in the United States. From the U.S. policy perspective, do you get a sense that some of this debate that Elizabeth and Yossi have relayed to us here in this discussion is impacting how the U.S. perceives its policy moves toward this crisis?
CR: Absolutely. I think the U.S. is walking on eggshells, but at the same time the U.S. has a very close defensive relationship with Israel, and it’s kind of walking a very fine line between preserving it, trying to keep an already let’s say fragile relationship, personal relationship, between Biden and Netanyahu, and at the same time doing what they think is right, particularly calling Israel out for conducting strikes that are targeting civilians and civilian buildings and looking at this rising death toll in Gaza. Particularly with the Biden administration’s focus on a human rights agenda, this particularly relates to that, so I think that the administration is under a lot of pressure here to do the right thing but at the same time preserve this relationship. I also think, too, that the administration is cognizant of Netanyahu’s fragile political and personal situation where he’s facing trial, and I think the United States also has to factor this in — the very fragile coalition government that Netanyahu is trying to achieve, the potential having a fifth election cycle in less than two years, and Netanyahu trying to curry political support with essentially elongating and delaying the timeline for a cease-fire. So, it’s a very tough position for the United States to be in. It’s also tough in their support for the Abraham Accords. I think the United States is looking at its allies in the Gulf and its allies in the Middle East and trying to find a way to see whether these accords can still continue to be upheld. So yes, I think that the U.S. is in a very difficult position, as this is a sensitive and very fragile conflict.
NH: Thank you very much, Caroline. And I think this is an important point: the Netanyahu dynamic. And Yossi, I’ve read a lot of your work, and you have this really excellent quote in one of your Times of Israel articles where you say, “Netanyahu is our most talented leader and our most destructive politician. He is architect metaphor for best and worst impulses, for determination and our dissipation” So I want to ask you, and then have Elizabeth weigh in, what is the end game that Netanyahu would want from this crisis? And what would that end game mean for Israel’s contested politics, its social politics, and the long-term state of relations between Israelis and Palestinians?
YKH: Netanyahu is one of our most brilliant tacticians and a disastrous strategist. If you look at how he survives politically, he takes politics one day at a time. He is truly a master at manipulating events. But I don’t see Netanyahu as a thinker who is able to conceive even to himself an end point. Not militarily, and also not politically. I’m not sure has Netanyahu has an end game for his own political survival. And I think what we’re seeing playing out — and here I agree with Elizabeth — this war is great tactical success, and strategic failure, which is to say that it is bottom-line a failure for Israel. And that’s one of the reasons why the fighting’s being prolonged. Hamas would be happy at this moment to call a cease-fire and claim victory, and they rightfully can. They hit Tel Aviv more intensively than any other of Israel’s enemies have ever done, and Hamas is our weakest enemy, when you think of the arsenal that Hezbollah has or Iran. Hamas has one tenth or one twentieth of missile or rocket capability, to say nothing of the sophistication of Hezbollah’s capabilities. So, this really is a great victory for Hamas. And in that same way that Netanyahu went into this war without a strategic end point, he’s in survival mode. As a result of that, we’re seeing this war being played out the way it is, and we’re seeing Israeli politics lurching from one inconclusive election to the next. We’ve been through four elections over the last three years, and a fifth election now seems like a good bet.
ET: I agree with Yossi completely. Netanyahu is a brilliant tactician. I think he’s one of the most brilliant and conniving leaders in Israeli history and currently in the world, and able really to cling on to power in really adverse circumstances. I think the political situation in Israel since the start of the conflagration has improved markedly for Netanyahu, because it created so much pressure on Naftali Bennett, the head of the Yamina Party, to withdraw from his appearance of support for establishing a government that would enjoy the backing of an Islamist Arab party [unclear]. Basically, the prospect of establishing a government not headed by Netanyahu significantly diminished, and the likelihood of going into a fifth round of elections has significantly decreased. So, in that regard, the conflagration definitely benefited Netanyahu politically. Then if he comes out of the conflict and there’s a perception in the Israeli public that this, this war, this conflagration was a failure as far as Israel is concerned, that can damage him. That can damage him compared to more right-wing voices who may say, you know, we should have gone in, invaded Gaza, wiped [out] Gaza as the far-right is calling on the government to do. So, I think he’s in a very precarious situation but definitely in a better position than he was in a week or two weeks ago when it seemed quite likely that negotiations concerning the establishment of a so-called change government, one not headed by Netanyahu, were at very advanced stages. Basically, the ministries were already divided among the coalition members and then just with tensions surrounding Al Aqsa Mosque and fighting in Gaza really put a hold on that plan.
NH: Thank you both, Yossi and Elizabeth, for your thoughtful and nuanced responses. There’s a lot of food for thought in what you’ve presented to us in how to think about how Netanyahu approaches the aftermath of this crisis and the political impact inside Israel, which is an extremely important, of course, as Caroline pointed out to how the U.S. thinks about its strategy toward the Middle East at a time when it is trying very hard to pivot to Asia and to confront Russia in Europe. I actually want to pick up on a point that Caroline made and presented to all three of you. It’d be great if you, Yossi, could go first. You’ve written very powerful things … recently you wrote something about the Abraham Accords that I thought was very provocative, which is: The prerequisite for Middle East peace is Israeli power. Israeli power is tried in this peace, and Israeli security is enhanced by regional interdependence. Caroline mentioned the focus in Washington, that the Abraham Accords has brought to sort of how the U.S. thinks about its Middle East policy from the trump administration that has just passed, to the Biden administration. I wanted to ask the three of you, does this crisis freeze the implementation of the Abraham Accords and reverse the diplomatic and strategic gains Israel made in Arab geopolitics? And are the Abraham Accords part of the internal Israeli discussion as this crisis has unfolded?
YKH: I think that in Israel, the Abraham Accords are taken, rightly, as a fait accompli. And the Abraham Accords were driven not by moral considerations — this is hard for some people in the West to internalize. This is really about Israeli success and the UAE perceiving itself as the carrier of the Arab future. The UAE sees itself as the leading point between Islam and modernity, and sees itself as the most successful as the most successful Arab country. One can argue this, but that’s certainly the self-perception of the UAE> And as a result of that, the UAE sees this as an alliance for the future of the Middle East. There’s Syria, there’s Iraq, there’s Lebanon, Libya, Yemen on the one side, and there are the successful countries in the Middle East on the other, and that’s really the UAE and Israel — certainly from the perception of the UAE. And so, this is a strategic long-term alliance based on mutual strategic needs, particularly a shared assessment of Iran generally and of the JCPOA, the Iran deal, in particular. And it is based as well on deep economic interests. The ink barely dried on the treaty before economic ties were already being announced. We’ve never seen this before in any of Israel’s relationships with Arab countries. So, I see this as an agreement that will stand this test. This is a difficult test. But those who are eulogizing the Abraham Accords or saying the Abraham Accords were an illusion in imagining that you could circumvent the Palestinian issue, I think that the Abraham Accords are going to outlast skeptics.
ET: I agree on this, and particularly since the Emirati and the Bahraini regimes are not particularly susceptible to public pressure and not particularly interested in public opinion in the home countries, so therefore expressions of solidarity are taking place mostly online among citizens of those countries toward the Palestinians are unlikely to change the strategic course of these regimes. And we see it clearly also in the way media outlets based in the Gulf, based in both the UAE as well as Saudi Arabia, that their coverage of the violence that is now taking place is a very different tone from previous fighting. So, they are very clearly holding on to the approach of improving relations with Israel and use language that would not be inflammatory, kind of trying to not devote too much coverage and too much attention to these developments to this fighting, as much as possible. Really, with the exception of state media in Kuwait, the coverage has been quite different — much more kind of seeking to either ignore what’s happening or even when it is being covered to kind of try to present both sides whereas previous rounds of conflict it was merely the Palestinian side that was being echoed.
CR: Yeah, I agree with both Elizabeth and Yossi. There are many particularly at the beginning of the outbreak of violence that said, “Look, see, the Abraham Accords failed, they didn’t successfully deter a crisis between Palestine and Israel,” but I don’t think that was the purpose of the Abraham Accords to begin with. And I think in many cosmetic ways the Palestinian and Israeli conflict adds a precondition, and stalling and curbing annexations is a precondition, but that was a way to save face, and I think this really won’t stay the Abraham Accords and other normalization deals from proceeding. I think certainly it might stall it a bit. It might delay, for example, more measures from Saudi Arabia to warm relations with Israel and other Arab and GCC countries. However, I think that this was always about economic gain. This was always about improving infrastructure and trade with Israel and creating the Red Sea and rerouting from the Suez Canal to make a commercial hub. And like Yossi said, that really didn’t have much moral incentive between Israel and the UAE. Now, I will say that I think that there have been a few measures that have made, I think that some countries that have normalized relations, they are having a bit of a wakeup call with some of the security issues that have unfolded with these clashes between Israel and Palestine. For example, the port of Ashkelon was hit by a strike, and a pipeline that the UAE has a lot of interested in at Ashkelon, it was hit. And recently, of course, there was a deal between Israel’s company EAPC and the Emirati government on this pipeline. It’s part of their larger, Med-Red land bridge strategy to save cost rerouting from the Suez Canal. And I think the UAE will have more of a concern and an interest in staving some violence, particularly violence that is directed at some of their infrastructural and their economic interest in Israel. Politically I think that GCC states are trying to save face. They’re allowing a few more newspaper to publish critical articles and critiques of the Israeli government, but I think at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, I think that these normalization deals are going to ensue, and the Abraham Accords and the spirit of the Abraham Accords is going to survive because at the end of the day, it was all about economic interests and that being a means to an end.
NH: Thank you very much, Yossi, Elizabeth, and Caroline for weighing in on the geopolitical implications of the current crisis on the Abraham Accords and the regional order that has been emerging the last couple of years. I want to end our discussion with a question I think really gets to the heart of the debate here in the United States that were seeing come into full bloom in the last few weeks and also from what I have perceived from watching, listening to the discussion in Israel. Yossi, you wrote something very provocative in the Globe and Mail recently and there’s a quote that I really want to give to the group that you wrote that I think really captures this: “How do we fight a war against terrorists when we internalize the terror and turn against each other? Is this how Israel unravels?” And that’s one of the most profound things that I have heard, Yossi, about this current crisis and what it might mean. And I would like to ask you, and then have Elizabeth respond — is this how Israel unravels? Is this crisis going to be looked back at as that moment when society in Israel, various communities in Israel, can’t come back together again? And then Caroline, I would like to ask you, related to that, what would it mean for a rising generation of U.S. national security and foreign policy makers to have Israel a period of endemic instability?
YKH: I don’t think Israel’s going to unravel. And sometimes, op-ed writers get carried away with rhetorical flourishes. I certainly meant it in a very heartfelt way when I wrote it, but I’m wondering if I’m going to look back on that op-ed with a more jaundiced eye. I think that Israeli society has some deep structural long-term threats, particularly how to absorb into its mainstream the ultra-Orthodox community on the one hand, which we’ve seen during the Corona year has really functioned increasingly as a state within a state, and on the other side of the spectrum how do we begin a relationship with the Arab Israeli community so that they will find some resonance in a shared Israeli civic identity? We’re very far from even having a serious conversation here about how to begin that process. My sense is that the crisis of this last year which has taken various expressions on the ultra-Orthodox side — we’ve had now two major disasters that could have been averted. Both were really related to the careless of the ultra-Orthodox community. I’m speaking of the stampede that took 45 lives a few weeks ago at a holy site in the Galilee and just this weekend another accident in a Hasidic synagogue. Both of these accidents were manmade, could have been prevented, and happened because the ultra-Orthodox don’t pay attention to the rules here. And so many, many Israelis are asking themselves questions, and I think that the violence on the Arab-Israel, Arab-Jewish, Arab Israeli-Jewish Israeli front is also going to lead to a similar questioning of what do we do? How do we begin the process of absorbing these two peripheral but substantial communities into the mainstream? I think that is, in some ways, the most pressing domestic question for Israel, and I definitely link the Arab Israeli and the ultra-Orthodox communities as part of that same problem of extending a shared Israeli identity and ethos to all parts of the society.
ET: I definitely think that Israeli society is deeply divided. While there are Israel’s establishment, there have been structural divides along religious and ethnic lines. Those divides have definitely grown stronger in some regard. It’s definitely widened during the tenure of Netanyahu in office, due to both incitement against Arabs, the well-known phrase of “Arabs coming in droves to vote,” a prime minister saying his citizens voting is a threat, the labeling of Arab members of the Knesset as terrorists or supporters of terrorism, and laws, discriminatory laws that were passed under Netanyahu — [unclear] law, the nation-state law — have all contributed to a sense among Arab citizens of Israel that their identity, their physical existence in the sense of towns, in the sense of ability to build their homes ability to live in Israel, live a dignified life, that they’re all under threat. And I think this also explains the mobilization of Arab citizens of Israel surrounding Sheikh Jarrah because there is a sense of joint struggle against dispossession. Israeli municipalities, Israeli planning authorities largely do not allow the construction of new homes in Arab towns, in Arab neighborhoods. As a result, people build illegally. As a result, there are then house demolitions. Not a single Arab city was established since Israel came into being in 1948, and therefore there is a serious housing crisis in Arab towns, in Arab neighborhoods, in mixed cities such as Lod and as a result, those places are experiencing tension, even though people live side-by-side sometimes in the same buildings, in the same neighborhoods, this does not mean these two populations are able to then form friendships or relationships of equality. And the sense of Palestinian citizens of Israeli is that their identity is being erased through these laws, through incitement, through attempts that are positive that are intended to improve their economic situation but are sometimes perceived as kind of a way to buy them off. This also triggered this backlash that we’re seeing and really unprecedented violence that we’ve seen between civilians in Israel. There have been, of course, periods of violence previously between Arab citizens of Israel and the Israeli police, famously in 2000 during the beginning stages of the second intifada, but this type of citizen-on-citizen violence is completely unprecedented in Israeli history and is deeply, deeply concerning.
YKH: Once again I feel I agree with much of what Elizabeth has said, but I feel that there’s a whole other side of this story that she’s leaving out. We’re getting very close, as recently as two weeks ago, to having the first what would have been in effect a Jewish-Arab coalition supported by at least one Arab party. We were seeing major breakthroughs. Now I’m not minimizing the problems — the problems are there. But the problems are also to some extent on the Arab side as well. Elizabeth said that Netanyahu was accusing some Arab politicians of supporting terror; well, in fact some Arab politicians have supported terror. And this has made — this has complicated the integration of Arab citizens into Israel. This dynamic is much more complicated than a Bernie Sanders “Palestinian Lives Matter” slogan. And it’s true for Gaza, it’s true for the dynamics within Israeli society. And I think that if we’re really going to have a serious conversation about where we go from here, you can’t simply erase what most Israeli Jews believe about this conflict, have experienced, and only assume one side of the argument.
CR: I can piggyback on the last thought before we move on to the final one. Nick asked about how this will impact the American generation, the next generation of American policymakers and I want to say I don’t think the Biden administration will pick up this ball, so to speak. I don’t necessarily think that the Biden administration will be convinced to chart a peace deal or at least try and open up exploratory discussions. I just don’t think that is the priority with this current administration, nor will it be in at least the next four years. However, I think for the next generation of policymakers this conflict has exposed multiple layers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You see, of course the engagement between the IDF, you see the engagement with Hamas, but as Liz has said — and I’ve been following Liz on Twitter these past few weeks and she’s been circulating a lot of videos and a lot of evidence of the communal violence, which as Liz mentioned is at a level that many people had not necessarily seen before. And some of the demographic engineering that has gone on. You know, a lot has been brought to light, and I think the next generation of American policymakers and American partners, I think that they are recognizing the multiple layers of this conflict, and it all goes back to, as Yossi said, some of these structural failures that are really — that are pushing conflict ahead. And you know, this is not going to be resolved unless we look at some of these structural problems. And I think that, you know, the young generation that is watching this unfold on Twitter, on social media and other platforms, I think they’re recognizing this. This is not just an IDF-Hamas problem, and particularly as political consensus is very hard to achieve in Israel, both within the Knesset and then also within the Palestinian Authority, some of the political rivalries that are ensuing, I think that this is going to continue to plague not necessarily stability but consensus in Israel and also disrupt the quiet-for-quiet policy that was going on between Gaza and Israel. So certainly, I think this is going to be a long-term problem that will of course come back to haunt both Israel=Palestine and the United States as the United States tries to take leadership
NH: Well, thank you very much, Caroline, Elizabeth, and Yossi, for what has been a frank, detailed, and invigorating discussion about Israel-Palestine crisis and the impact on U.S. policy going forward. I want to thank you for being with us today for this discussion. I want to thank all of you for listening to this discussion. We will continue our sentinel stare on issues concerning Israel and Palestine. All the best.
Although transcription is largely accurate, there could be some inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.