Update on Conflict and Diplomacy
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This update summarizes bilateral, multilateral, regional, and international events affecting the Palestinians and the future of the peace process. It covers the quarter beginning on 16 May and ending on 15 August 2018. With U.S. president Donald Trump’s Middle East peace initiative at a standstill, tensions between Hamas and Israel nearly escalated into a fourth major armed conflict since the so-called Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005. Egyptian and UN mediation efforts produced a series of cease-fires, but tensions remained high. The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership resisted Egyptian efforts to incorporate a new Palestinian reconciliation agreement into ongoing, back-channel talks between Israel and Hamas over a possible long-term cease-fire. Meanwhile, attendance gradually declined at the weekly mass protests along Gaza’s border that began in 3/2018 under the Great March of Return banner. Palestinian protestors turned increasingly to a new form of resistance in Gaza, lashing incendiary devices to kites or balloons and flying them across the border fence into southern Israel.