Update on Conflict and Diplomacy
This update summarizes bilateral, multilateral, regional, and international events affecting the Palestinians and Israel 16 February-15 May 2018. U.S. president Donald Trump’s December pronouncement to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem overshadowed the quarter. Trump son-in-law and chief negotiator, Jared Kushner, lost his top secret security clearance on 16 February, calling into question his longevity in the White House and his ability to negotiate a deal. U.S. and Israeli officials prepared for the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on 14 May 2018. The Israelis welcomed the embassy move, but were focused on the ongoing investigation into corruption allegations against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An assassination attempt on Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah complicated the already stalled Palestinian national reconciliation process. With conditions in Gaza worsening and the seventieth anniversary of the 1948 Nakba approaching, Palestinians in Gaza embarked on a mass protest movement dubbed the Great March of Return, to demand the internationally guaranteed right of return for Palestinian refugees and raise awareness about the catastrophic humanitarian situation there. The Israeli army countered the protests with sharpshooters, maiming protesters in their hundreds, and killing journalists, aid workers, medical personnel, and children. The violence was the worst since Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s fifty-day war on Gaza in the summer of 2014.