Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a shopping center near Israel’s Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night. The attack, that killed four people, has resulted in severe repercussions, as Israel revoked the permits of 83,000 Palestinians from visiting Israel.

The attack received the usual denunciations from many members of the Knesset — but Tel Aviv’s 71-year-old Mayor, Ron Huldai, blamed Israel’s occupation of Palestine for the attack.

“We might be the only country in the world where another nation is under occupation without civil rights,” he said when speaking to Israeli army radio on Thursday. “You can’t hold people in a situation of occupation and hope they’ll reach the conclusion everything is alright.”
“No one has the courage [to find peace with the Palestinians],” he said.

Huldai is certainly not the first leading Israeli or Jewish figure to cite the occupation as an obstacle to peace in the region.
In November 2015, Jewish Reform movement President Rabbi Rick Jacobs said, “Our Reform movement has long opposed Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank. The occupation threatens the very Zionism that we hold dear – the living expression of a Jewish democratic state. It causes pain and hardship to the Palestinians and alienates Israel from friends and allies around the world.”

Yuval Diskin, the former Director of Israel’s internal security force Shin Bet, has also often criticized the Israeli occupation. During the offensive on Gaza in the summer of 2014, Diskin posted a Facebook status blaming the cycle of violence both on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the occupation in general.

The deterioration is first and foremost a result of the illusion that the government’s inaction on every front can actually freeze the situation in place, the illusion that “price tag” is simply a few slogans on the wall and not pure racism, the illusion that everything can be solved with a little more force, the illusion that the Palestinians will accept everything that’s done in the West Bank and won’t respond despite the rage and frustration and the worsening economic situation, the illusion that the international community won’t impose sanctions on us, that the Arab citizens of Israel won’t take to the streets at the end of the day because of the lack of care for their problems, and that the Israeli public will continue submissively to accept the government’s helplessness in dealing with the social gaps that its policies have created and are worsening, while corruption continues to poison everything good, and so on and so on.

“The conflict [in Gaza] is, in combination with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the biggest security risk for the state of Israel,” Diskin told der Spiegel a few days later.

Even some White House officials have called for the an end to the occupation. “An occupation that has lasted more than 50 years must end,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in a speech to left-leaning Israel advocacy group J Street in March of last year.

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