Hamas elects military hardliner to lead Gaza
The governing militant group has tapped a leading military figure to head Hamas' political office in Gaza. Analysts have described the new political leader as the "most radical and extreme line of Hamas."
The Palestinian militant group Hamas on Monday elected an influential military figure as its new leader in the Gaza Strip, an official media outlet of the group reported.
Yahya Sinwar, who served as the leading figure of Hamas' armed wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, had been held in Israeli jail for more than 20 years before his release in 2011.
He had been arrested in the early 1990s for his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Nachson Wachsman. In exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including Sinwar.
In 2015, the US added Sinwar to its terrorism watchlist, accusing him of pushing for Hamas fighters to kidnap more Israeli soldiers for use as bargaining chips in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
Sinwar will succeed Hamas political leader and former Prime Minister Ismail Haniya as the head of the militant group's political office in Gaza.
'Radical and extreme'
The appointment has prompted concerns in Israel that Hamas may push for another escalation of hostilities. Since 2008, Hamas has fought three wars against Israeli forces.
Kobi Michael, an analyst and former head of the Palestinian desk at Israel strategic affairs ministry, said Sinwar's accession to political power is a "concerning indication of destabilization in the region."
"He represents the most radical and extreme line of Hamas," Michael told reporters after the announcement.
"Sinwar believes in armed resistance. He doesn't believe in any sort of cooperation with Israel," he added.
UN Security Council Resolution 242, 1967
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, passed on November 22, 1967, called for the exchange of land for peace. Since then, many of the attempts to establish peace in the region have referred to 242. The resolution was written in accordance with Chapter VI of the UN Charter, under which resolutions are recommendations, not orders.
Camp David Accords, 1978
A coalition of Arab states, led by Egypt and Syria, fought Israel in the Yom Kippur or October War in October 1973. The conflict eventually led to the secret peace talks that yielded two agreements after 12 days. This picture from March 26, 1979, shows Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, his US counterpart Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin after signing the accords in Washington.
The Madrid Conference, 1991
The US and the former Soviet Union came together to organize a conference in the Spanish capital city of Madrid. The discussions involved Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestinians — not from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) — who met with Israeli negotiators for the first time. While the conference achieved little, it did create the framework for later, more productive talks.
Oslo I Accord, 1993
The negotiations in Norway between Israel and the PLO, the first direct meeting between the two parties, resulted in the the Oslo I Accord. The agreement was signed in the US in September 1993. It demanded that Israeli troops withdraw from West Bank and Gaza and a self-governing, interim Palestinian authority be set up for a five-year transitional period. A second accord was signed in 1995.
Camp David Summit Meeting, 2000
US President Bill Clinton invited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to the retreat in July 2000 to discuss borders, security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem. Despite the negotiations being more detailed than ever before, no agreement was concluded. The failure to reach a consensus at Camp David was followed by renewed Palestinian uprising, the Second Intifada.
The Arab Peace Initiative, 2002
The Camp David negotiations were followed first by meetings in Washington and then in Cairo and Taba, Egypt — all without results. Later the Arab League proposed the Arab Peace Initiative in Beirut in March 2002. The plan called on Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders so that a Palestinian state could be set up in the West Bank and Gaza. In return, Arab countries would agree to recognize Israel.
The Roadmap, 2003
The US, EU, Russia and the UN worked together as the Middle East Quartet to develop a road map to peace. While Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas accepted the text, his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon had more reservations with the wording. The timetable called for a final agreement on a two-state solution to be reached in 2005. Unfortunately, it was never implemented.
In 2007 US President George W. Bush hosted a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, to relaunch the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took part in talks with officials from the Quartet and over a dozen Arab states. It was agreed that further negotiations would be held with the goal of reaching a peace deal by the end of 2008.
In 2010, US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell convinced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to and implement a ten-month moratorium on settlements in disputed territories. Later, Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to relaunch direct negotiations to resolve all issues. Negotiations began in Washington in September 2010, but within weeks there was a deadlock.
Cycle of escalation and ceasefire continues
A new round of violence broke out in and around Gaza late 2012. A ceasefire was reached between Israel and those in power in the Gaza Strip, which held until June 2014. The kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014 resulted in renewed violence and eventually led to the Israeli military operation Protective Edge. It ended with a ceasefire on August 26, 2014.
Paris Summit, 2017
Envoys from over 70 countries gathered in Paris, France, to discuss the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu slammed the discussions as "rigged" against his country. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives attended the summit. "A two-state solution is the only possible one," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said at the opening of the event.
Deteriorating relations in 2017
Despite the year's optimistic opening, 2017 brought further stagnation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A deadly summer attack on Israeli police at the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, sparked deadly clashes. Then US President Donald Trump's plan to move the embassy to Jerusalem prompted Palestinian leader Abbas to say "the measures ... undermine all peace efforts."
ls/rc (AFP, dpa)