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Are we seeing something new?

Instability reigns over the increasingly segregated city of Jerusalem, as several spontaneous and violent attacks have occurred creating a fearful and chaotic atmosphere in the area. The attacks come amid a violent incident that occurred mid-September at the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount, one of Jerusalem’s most sacred sites for the religious communities of the region.

Following rumors that Israeli authorities were planning to alter the holy site’s fragile and politically important governance in favor of the Jewish community, angry Palestinians attacked an Israeli family in the area and thus, kick- started this upsurge in violence.

The unsystematic nature of the assaults leave authorities unable to control the situation. Praised by militant groups but not orchestrated by them, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremely sophisticated defense force are powerless in the face of the unknown; mostly teenage individuals choosing to target and attack at random.

Some have called this the ‘third intifada’ (resistance), an expression of the Palestinian youth’s dissatisfaction with the current political situation that tarnishes regional cooperation; disillusioned by both Palestinian and Israeli leaders in their lack of effort to come to terms with the cultural divide in the region.

While the Israeli Prime minister is quick to accuse the Palestinian President of endorsing the attacks by not speaking out against them, his administration can hardly be exempt from blame. Four terms as Prime Minister have proved that there is little hope that the Israeli government would agree to release East Jerusalem or the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Authority, a crucial point in all attempted negotiations since the Oslo Accords in the early 1990’s.

On the international front, the reaction is underwhelming. Failing to include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his United Nations General Assembly Address, Barack Obama is silently admitting that with only a year left in office, the time and resource-consuming conflict is no longer a priority. That being said, Israel’s lack of support for Obama’s Iran deal may have bruised the historical relationship between both countries. The US State Department spoke out against the attacks on Israeli civilians, but the statement resembled more of a diplomatic obligation rather than a true commitment to assist.

In 2014, European powers had widely supported the Palestinian cause through parliamentary votes to recognize the state of Palestine and financial assistance; yet they have remained silent these past weeks. One has to admit, with the assaults occurring spontaneously, there is little choice of immediate action that can be taken by external powers.  

Generally agreeing that peace negotiations under US supervision are both unfair and unsuccessful, the rest of the international community have expected the United Nations to be the facilitator for cooperation.

Then again, the Palestinians are at a disadvantage as an observer state, without permanent membership or a vetoing power on their side.   

This year the Palestinian Authority turned to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, seeking international law to condemn Israel for alleged war crimes following the summer of 2014 war in Gaza. As with any international disputes, the process is long and tedious and the ICC has yet to decide whether the accusations merit further investigation.

With little support from the international community, and local authorities on both sides that fail to meet expectations, it is unsurprising that the impatient Palestinian youth turn to violence to voice its message. Perhaps that is why there has been no strong condemnation from Palestinian leaders, as controversial as it may sound, action appears to better than idleness.

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