Pax Christi International's Senior Policy Advisor Paul Lansu wrote reflections about tensions between Israelis and Palestinians
In July 2017, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians rose again after violence on and around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. 50 years after the commencement of the occupation of Palestinian territories, peace in the region seems further away than ever.
In response to the rising tension between Israelis and Palestinians, Pax Christi International's Senior Policy Advisor Paul Lansu wrote down a number of reflections about the conflict, the occupation and the resistance to it, and about possible solutions. Nonviolent initiatives for equal rights and human dignity should remain possible. The rights of human rights activists must remain safe. Defending human rights is not a crime.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2017
Breaking the spiral of violence
The situation in the Holy Land remains tense. Recently, riots and violence were again raging around the Temple Mount, in the center of the Old City. There are the holy places, including the Wailing Wall, the Holy Tomb Church and the Al Aqsa Mosque, on the Temple Mount itself. The church leaders of Jerusalem called for a conservation of the status quo. Structurally, relations between Israelis and Palestinians have been wrong for decades.
Breaking the spiral of violence
A number of armed conflict situations as such encountered a spiral of violence: violence that constantly provokes new violence. Structural violence of persistent unfair situations provokes opposition out which resists the power that maintains the structural violence meeted new violence responds. It's like a vicious circle of reaction and counter reaction. The permanent occupation of the Palestinian Territories by Israel is a clear example of structural violence to me; and this is since June 1967! According to international law, this occupation, which lasts for more than 50 years, is illegal.
The occupation has provoked resistance throughout the entire period with the Palestinians, mainly on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. This is in many cases a refusal of violence. But there is also violence in different forms. The Intifada, collectively violent resistance to violence, is a reaction of the Palestinians to the occupation as structural violence. A first Intifada took place from 1987 until 1993, when the Palestinians protested massively against tribulation and expropriation.
It was from 1937 that the Palestinian people so massively rebelled against injustice; then against the British Mandate. Like David against Goliath. The Israeli authorities repeatedly responded with new violence or rigorous measures (eg limitation of freedom of movement or movement, whether or not granting permits, setting the evening bell) to dump the Intifada. That repression again caused violence because of the Palestinians. And so the circle of violence remains. The Palestinians were collectively punished and Control systems (checkpoints) were set. In 1993 there was finally a peace agreement and an end to the first Intifada. But Oslo's peace process of 1993 did not stand. A second Intifada was the result. With even more drastic measures of Israel, such as the construction of a partition wall.
The Renewed Israel–Palestine peace process is one of our advocacy priorities. Find out more.