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European Council on Foreign Relations





Do security issues strain or sustain prospects for a two-state solution?

Levels of violence have not shown a significant increase, although settler actions, lone Palestinian acts against Israeli, and Palestinian casualties in the West Bank have all witnessed recent up-ticks. There has been no progress on transfers of security to the PA.

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Palestinian violence was limited during the first half of 2013, almost reaching the level of security enjoyed by Israel in 2012, when no Israelis died in the West Bank. The second half, however, saw an up-tick in “lone-wolf” attacks, resulting in the killing of nine Israelis by November (including one fatality inside Israel), understandably a cause for Israeli concern. Israeli state violence has also remained limited and, despite occasional flare-ups in Gaza, the November 2012 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has largely held.

Since the beginning of 2013, Palestinian factions have fired a total of 87 projectiles towards Israel from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. This represents 3.42 percent of those fired in 2012. At the same time, Israeli state violence against Palestinians has been comparatively low, with 19 Palestinians killed (five in Gaza and 14 in the West Bank) and 3,427 injured in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) (3,376 in the West Bank and 51 in Gaza).

The current intra-Palestinian split and Hamas’ control over the Gaza Strip, as well as Israeli incursions into Area A of the West Bank, have continued to undermine the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) monopoly on the use of force. Meanwhile, the number of settler attacks on Palestinians and so-called price tag vandalism also challenge Israel’s monopoly on the use of force within the majority of the West Bank that is under its control. The number of settler attacks on Palestinians in 2013 is similar to levels witnessed in 2012: up until October 2013, there were 290 incidents of settler-related violence, 75 of which resulted in Palestinian injuries. By comparison, 2012 registered a total of 359 incidents, 98 of which led to Palestinian injuries.

While prosecution of those committing these crimes has remained very low, the Israeli government claims to be taking more steps to crack down on settler violence. In the first half of 2013, the Judea and Samaria police district opened 72 investigations, resulting in five indictments. This compares to 2012, when authorities opened 121 investigations, resulting in six indictments.