Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Six Ways to Prevent a Third Intifada

By Christopher HannaPublished November 5, 2015

If drastic measures to curb violence and dismantle the occupation apparatus aren't taken, Israel-Palestine will surely be engulfed by a fresh intifada, or uprising. Here's how regional authorities can work together to defuse the violence that has gripped the Holy Land this fall.
1. Defend the integrity and security of holy sites: Tensions over Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites—some of which are claimed by multiple sects—are at the heart of the recent wave of violence in the Holy Land. Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian authorities must cooperate to ensure worshipers' ease of access to holy sites, protect those sites from attackers, and prevent illegal or untraditional sectarian encroachments on them by religious fundamentalists.

2. Promote disarmament and non-violence: Over the past several months, Israel and the West Bank have been struck with dozens of knife attacks and shooting deaths. In order to curb this rising tide of violence, Israeli and Palestinian security forces must crack down on the proliferation of weapons among civilians. Furthermore, Israeli law enforcement and military personnel must avoid employing excessive lethal force and refrain from unnecessary killings, rather than shooting civilians execution-style.

3. Abolish excessive penalties for stone-throwers: In an effort to cripple the protest movement against the occupation, Israel has codified draconian punishments for stone-throwers, including fines for children and drastically lengthened sentences for adults and some minors. These unreasonable legal repercussions ought to be unconditionally scrapped; after all, heightened repression of the West Bank protest movement will likely do little to tame anti-occupation activism and much to inflame it.

4. Demolish the Apartheid Wall: The Israeli West Bank barrier has served as a fatal thorn in the side of the peace process, undermining established national borders and crippling the ability of Palestinians to move freely. Other institutions that criminalize Palestinians and foster a culture of suspicion and surveillance include the the East Jerusalem checkpoints, which are employed selectively against non-Israelis and disrupt the lives of thousands of Palestinian student and workers. These monuments to surveillance, occupation, and ethnic segregation must fall.

5. Stop the incitement: In the midst of one the bloodiest weeks of the recent flare-up of violence, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu egregiously and erroneously claimed that a Palestinian religious leader—rather than Hitler and the Nazis—originated the idea of exterminating Europe's Jews in the Holocaust. Israeli and Palestinian authorities must not peddle hate speech and racist historical revisionism. Rather, they ought to condemn or even prosecute rhetorical incitements to ethnic violence, mistrust and hatred.

6. Suspend illegal settlements and home demolitions: Israeli settlers whose West Bank settlements are illegal under international law have coordinated with the Israeli military apparatus to expand outposts of the occupation, attack Palestinians and forcibly appropriate their property. These unprosecuted and unhampered manifestations of settler-colonialism have fueled the recent outbreak of violence and put the peace process—as outlined by the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995—to death. Israel can take immediate steps towards de-occupation and the renewal of the peace process by dismantling illegal settlements and preventing their future construction.

Post-script: If these steps are taken, there will be few reasons for Israel's State of Emergency and Palestine's Days of Rage to persist. A renewed peace process—led by Israelis and Palestinians, but supported by crucial actors such as the Jordanians, Americans and Europeans—ought to take the place of random, deadly violence. If future generations are to live in a Holy Land where the human rights of all are respected, there is simply no other choice.