Reading Time: 4 minutes

A panel discussion, held by al-Zaytouna Centre, expects the escalation of confrontations in Palestine in 2023, especially in Jerusalem, with the potential of resistance action spreading in the West Bank (WB), without ruling out having a violent military confrontation between Gaza Strip (GS) and Israel. These scenarios are expected due to the formation of the most extremist nationalist-religious government in the history of Israel, which is set to escalate its aggression against the Land, holy sites and the Palestinian people, and expand Judaization and settlement plans. The panel discussion was held on 4/1/2023, with the participation of dozens of experts and specialists in Palestinian affairs.

Moderated by Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, the panel discussion included four papers that discussed the future events of 2023. The first paper was by Sari ‘Orabi, discussing the internal Palestinian scene; the second was by Ziad Bheis on Jerusalem and the Holy sites; the third by Wael El Mabhouh on the Palestinian resistance; and the fourth was by Dr. Muhannad Mustafa on the developments of the Israeli internal scene. A selection of researchers, scholars and specialists discussed the papers with important interventions and questions, and the session was concluded by the answers and clarifications of the main panelists.

As for the Palestinian internal scene, the discussions concluded that despite the reconciliation agreement, reached in Algeria on 13/10/2022, the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) would not implement it and hold free and fair elections, unless they guarantee the renewal of their terms of office. They concluded also that despite the many ideas and suggestions, the core of the internal problem lies in “wills” and not in ideas. After having the peace process stalled, and after the PA’s failure to reflect the true will of the Palestinian people, the PA no longer has a real political plan. It has stopped being the legal or social guarantor of justice in the areas it governs in WB, however, it will remain relying on the security forces, and on having its functional role. Moreover, it has disrupted the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) and is not about to revive it, and has increased its encroachment on the judicial authority, and even on Palestinian trade union action, including that of students, doctors and others. These paths are expected to continue in 2023. Furthermore, the Fatah movement has internal division problems and the difficulty of arrangements of the post-‘Abbas era, who has not yet named a deputy.

As for Jerusalem, the panel discussion expects that this will be a hot central issue in 2023. It will be the reason for further escalations and confrontations, and this is due to the formation of the most extremist government in the history of Israel, consequently, the Palestinian people are expected to further challenge and resist.

The interventions pointed out that there is an ebb and flow in the conflict between the occupation and the defenders of Jerusalem. On one hand, the Israeli occupation, in its endeavor to end the battle of Jerusalem and resolve its identity in its favor, has put some facts on the ground; including weakening the Palestinian political presence in Jerusalem, adopting major Judaization projects, and imposing biblical rituals, in addition to the wide campaign of demolition and seizure of Jerusalemites’ homes and properties. However, on the other hand, the resistance in all its forms, and the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites, were able to thwart the aggression and disrupt its course during the uprisings and confrontations of the Mercy Gate, Damascus Gate, Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and Khan al-Ahmar.

Furthermore, having a Knesset with 29 members adopting the Temple building plan, and a Netanyahu government with 16 ministers who want to accelerate the Judaization of al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem, it is expected that Palestinians in 2023 will face Israeli displacement plans, confiscating their property, especially in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and Khan al-Ahmar. Moreover, Israel will attempt to impose its curriculum on Jerusalemite schools, and also impose Jewish and Zionist slogans and symbols, particularly during the provocative annual Israeli flag march through Jerusalem’s Old City, expected on 19 May, 2023.

Concerning resistance, the panel discussion said that the current extremist Netanyahu government increases the prospects of having a new war with Gaza, Palestinians resorting to resistance action, and the resistance action spreading more in WB, not to mention that the Israeli ferocious suppression of the Palestinian will would increase.

The Israeli scene indicates that the new government would increasingly promote the notion that Israel is an exclusively Jewish state, and it would also introduce a new definition of Zionism compatible with the vision of the ultra-nationalist and religious Zionist parties. This time the ruling right is serious and ideological in changing the structure of the Israeli system and the definition of the relationship between religion and the state. It will attempt to impose the Torah and religious laws on daily life issues, which would challenge the “liberal” policies of the Israeli system. The current government will seek to expand the Judaization and settlement plans in WB, especially Jerusalem, and will not give great consideration to the Palestinian, Arab and international reactions. It will try to pass a legislation that enables the Knesset to override High Court rulings, thus reducing the power of the latter and ensuring the “majority” plans are enforced.

It is true that potential of Israeli aggressions are increasing, but this will also lead to internal Israeli crisis, and will highlight the ugly face of the occupation in the international and regional realms.

It is noted here that to complete the 2023 expectations, concerning the Arab, Islamic, and international dimensions of the Palestine issue, al-Zaytouna Centre will hold a second panel discussion next Wednesday, on 11/1/2023.


Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 5/1/2023