Marwan Muasher | Vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
The short answer is very likely. With the closing of the political horizon and the latest U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a majority of Palestinians no longer believe a two-state solution is possible and are focusing their attention on acquiring their rights even under Israeli occupation.
The question to ask is not whether a third intifada will erupt, but what shape it will take. The second, armed, intifada proved not to be popular. A recent poll found that 62 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza would support nonviolent resistance in the absence of negotiations.
However, it is doubtful that any third intifada would remain peaceful, even if it started that way. The Palestinians today lack a credible and effective leadership that might push in such a direction. There is evidence that militancy is gaining traction. Recent polls found that Palestinians are almost evenly split between supporting negotiations and violence. The likely end of the negotiations route can only push Palestinians to one of the very few other alternatives: an armed intifada.
Ali Jarbawi | Professor at Birzeit University in the West Bank, former minister of planning and administrative development and former minister of higher education in the Palestinian Authority
An intifada should be viewed not only as a reaction that is ready to happen whenever needed. It must also be viewed as an action that requires the proper environment to erupt, and most importantly that must be able to sustain itself and achieve its objectives, if not totally, at least partially. So, there is no point in having an intifada in any form if a sizable number of Palestinians do not believe it would achieve a positive outcome. It should be noted that no intifada would take place without inflicting a heavy price on Palestinians, who should calculate the positives and negatives before choosing such a path.
The popular intifada of 1987 is unlikely to repeat itself. Circumstances are totally different. After the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority, the occupation became dormant, almost invisible, for Palestinians inside their densely-populated centers in the so-called Areas A and B. No daily contact occurs between the occupation forces and Palestinians, except at checkpoints around Palestinian population centers and along the road network. Skirmishes on the outskirts of towns and villages do not provide the proper context for an intifada. In addition, Palestinians, after experiencing the heavy price they had to endure as a result of two previous intifadas, are disinclined to repeat the same experience.
That leaves us with the possibility of Palestinians resorting to an armed intifada, like the one in 2000. However, if the Palestinian Authority wants to preserve its existence, it has to continue with its “security coordination” with Israeli occupation forces, which entails participating in preventing Palestinian armed cells from operating.
Lastly, there is the possibility of sustainable peaceful Palestinian mass protests inside Palestinian city centers, demanding an end to the prolonged Israeli occupation and hoping to attract world attention. Yet this would need years to prepare for Palestinians to believe in the validity and usefulness of such a path.
It is easier to raise slogans about a new Intifada than to build a strategy for one.
Ghassan Khatib | Former Palestinian minister, lecturer in contemporary Arab studies and international studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank
It is unlikely that there will be a new intifada similar to the one in 1987, which entered the political lexicon because of it magnitude. Major ingredients that made the first intifada possible are missing: grassroots political leadership and organizations, networks that enjoy public confidence, and more direct contact with the Israeli occupation.
But as long as the occupation continues, Palestinian public resistance will remain, albeit in different forms. The fifty-year history of occupation has had no period without resistance. Intensification of land appropriation, the expansion of Jewish colonies, restrictions on movement, cantonization, and economic impacts, including increasing youth unemployment, will only spur more resistance.
Recent changes in the position of the United States have aggravated relations further. Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well as its refusal to commit to a two-state solution or condemn the expansion of Israeli settlements have ended hopes for a negotiated solution, increasing frustrations. Therefore, this also increases chances for renewed waves of resistance.
Mkhaimar Abusada | Political analyst and chairman of the Political Science Department at Al-Azhar University in Gaza
It is no secret that the Palestinian people are facing exceptional circumstances. The peace process with Israel has reached a dead end. This is especially true after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It is also true amid Israel’s encroachments in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the continuing Israeli siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip, as well as punitive measures imposed there by the Palestinian Authority, which might lead to the collapse of daily life for some 2 million Palestinians in the territory.
Whether these circumstances lead to a new Palestinian intifada remains to be seen, however. I believe that conditions for it are not there, and there are a number of reasons for this. First, the Palestinian political divide between Fatah and Hamas, and the ensuing internal strife, has led to fatigue and exhaustion among Palestinians. This is depriving the leadership of both factions of any popular trust and respect, which is badly needed to move the masses. Second, the Palestinian leadership is very concerned that the eruption of a new intifada will lead to the chaos and lawlessness that resulted from the second intifada. Third, the Palestinians feel that the region is preoccupied with upheavals and sectarian violence in Syria and Yemen, which will deprive them of media attention. Finally, and to a lesser degree, the economic boom in the West Bank has created a Palestinian middle class that is less interested in a new intifada, and supports more diplomatic and legal battles against Israel. But the Palestinian territories remain volatile, which might lead to the opposite of what I have predicted here.