Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 1, 2019

What We’re Reading


U.S. Envoy Swings Sledgehammer in East Jerusalem, and a Metaphor Is Born,

American ambassadors to Israel, to avoid being seen as taking Israel’s side in the conflict with the Palestinians, have long avoided public appearances in East Jerusalem. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and then annexed it. Most of the world considers it illegally occupied, and the Palestinians want it as the capital of a future state. But Mr. Friedman has pulverized diplomatic barriers before. In October, he attended a business conference in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, reportedly the first official visit to a Jewish settlement by an American ambassador.

Settlers From the White House,

The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “The participation of American diplomats at an event sponsored by a right-wing group in East Jerusalem constitutes de facto recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem’s historic basin. If anyone had any doubts about that, Friedman made clear in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that, ‘The City of David is an essential component of the national heritage of the State of Israel.’ Giving it up, even in the context of a peace agreement, he said, ‘would be akin to America returning the Statue of Liberty.’ This recognition doesn’t just put the American administration on the extreme right of the Israeli political map – thus undercutting the claim that American can be an unbiased broker between Israel and the Palestinians – but it also ignores the complicated reality in Silwan, East Jerusalem and the entire region. The tunnel, which was excavated using controversial methods from a scientific standpoint, harnesses archaeology to politics while ignoring the nuances of Jerusalem’s ancient past.”

Israel's Collective Punishing Exacts Price From This East Jerusalem Neighborhood,

But anyone who understands anything about police conduct knows that this is no innocent operation but rather collective punishment aimed at forcing the residents of Isawiyah to stop throwing stones at the police. Oshrat Maimon, policy advocacy director of the Ir Amim co-existence NGO, wrote the police commissioner that Isawiyah is a neighborhood of 20,000 residents and even if officers find individuals who are disturbing the peace, they must deal separately with every case – not hand down collective punishments. The pressure the police force is using is not only illegal, she added, it is making matters worse.

Palestinians slam US ‘war crimes’ after envoys open East Jerusalem tunnel,

The Palestine Liberation Organization on Sunday slammed the participation of senior US officials at a ceremony opening an ancient Jewish pilgrimage road excavated in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem as participation in a “war crime,” and said the Trump administration was fanning the flames of the conflict.

Israel frees PA minister for Jerusalem affairs hours after arrest,

Israeli police Sunday released the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs from custody, after questioning him over claims that he had organized activities in the city in violation of Israeli rules, his lawyer said. Fadi al-Hadami was arrested in his East Jerusalem home early Sunday and taken for questioning, with a police spokesman saying he had been involved in unspecified “activities in Jerusalem.”


Israeli Court Ruling Could End Up Legalizing 2,000 Settlement Homes,

In his ruling last month regarding Alei Zahav, District Court Judge Carmi Mossek accepted the state’s position that settlement construction on private Palestinian land can be legalized retroactively if the land had mistakenly been thought to belong to the state.

US Duty Free Owners Give Millions to Israeli Settlements,

The Falic family of Florida, owners of the ubiquitous chain of Duty Free Americas shops, funds a generous and sometimes controversial philanthropic empire in Israel that runs through the corridors of power and stretches deep into the occupied West Bank. An Associated Press investigation shows that the family has donated at least $5.6 million to settler groups in the West Bank and east Jerusalem over the past decade, funding synagogues, schools and social services along with far-right causes considered extreme even in Israel.

Should Palestinian children be able to call parents from prison? Israeli court will decide,

Palestinian minors classified by Israel as “security prisoners,” including those awaiting trial for crimes such as stone throwing, are subject to numerous restrictions identical to those imposed on adult prisoners such as the denial of telephone contact with their parents. The prison service allegedly refuses to treat minors classified as “security prisoners” according to Israeli laws and rules regulating the treatment of children.

The Conditional Right to Health in Palestine,

Yara Asi writes, “The weakness of Palestinian governance and the active de-development of Palestinian institutions in the post-Oslo era have led to human-made deficits in quality of and access to health care and health insurance. This has been accomplished via Israeli restrictions on movement and accessible services, such as its more than decade-long blockade on the Gaza Strip. The brief concludes by offering policy recommendations that can support Palestinians’ right to health within the current constrained circumstances.”

Palestinian Politics

PA frees Hebron businessman arrested for attending Bahrain conference,

The Palestinian Authority has released a Palestinian businessman from the West Bank whom it arrested after attending a US-led conference in Bahrain focused on the Palestinian economy, a family source said Sunday. Saleh Abu Mayala was collared in Hebron by Palestinian intelligence forces in an area under PA security control, a senior PA official based in the city said on Saturday.

Son of an Ohio Steelworker, Now Palestinian Envoy to the U.N.,

The life of Riyad H. Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, has been shaped by the conflict with Israel. But he is also a child of the American antiwar movement. His father, a Palestinian refugee, came to the United States in the 1950s, found employment as an Ohio steelworker and later brought over Mr. Mansour and the family’s six other children from Ramallah, in the West Bank.

U.S. Politics

IfNotNow Now Officially Pushing 2020 Democrats to Speak Out Against Israeli Occupation,

The progressive group IfNotNow has announced that it is expanding its mission beyond the Jewish community and will now officially lobby political leaders to speak out against the occupation and the policies of the Israeli government, focusing on Democratic candidates in the 2020 elections.

Anti-BDS/Anti-Free Speech/Pro-Settlement Lawfare

Support pours in to save Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights,

It was the first crowdfunding drive in the organization’s 30-year history, a response by its directors to a long-running and aggressive campaign by the Israeli right to delegitimize PHR and other human rights and anti-occupation bodies as “Israel-haters.” Numerous tactics have been employed over the years to curb the activities of these groups and dry up their funding sources. Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked promoted legislation cynically named the “transparency law” designed to curtail nongovernmental organizations fundraising capacity abroad. The law, adopted in July 2016, was phrased in a way that does not affect right-wing NGOs, including radical ones that raise tens of millions of dollars for their activities from foreign donors who identify with the settlement enterprise.