Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: January 13-20, 2023

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Domination, Suppression, & Control: The Old & New Policies of the Current Israeli Government,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Kristin McCarthy talks to Dr. Suhad Bishara – the Legal Director of Adalah – about the new Israeli government coalition agreements that spell out its policies of domination, suppression, annexation, and control. See also Adalah’s Analysis of the New Israeli Government’s Guiding Principles and Coalition Agreements and their Implications on Palestinians’ Rights.

A War Crime in the Making: the UN’s Francesca Albanese on Ethnic Cleansing in the South Hebron Hills,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks to Francesca Albanese — international legal expert and the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 — on ongoing and escalating actions by Israel to forcibly eject more than 1200 Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank region known as Masafer Yatta, located in the South Hebron Hills.

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

Israeli forces kill ninth Palestinian in a week,

“The Israeli military initially claimed it killed a Palestinian man who approached the checkpoint near the Ofra Israeli settlement waving a knife at the soldiers, who in turn shot him. It later changed its statement, saying a “suspicious vehicle refused to stop for a routine inspection” and that its forces “used riot dispersal means in order to detain one of the suspects in the vehicle”…Eyewitnesses also denied Israeli reports that the incident took place during a confrontation where Palestinians were throwing rocks at the soldiers, adding that Kahla was driving with his 18-year-old son Qusai to their construction jobs…The incident comes a day after Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin.” See also Palestinian teacher killed by Israeli forces while giving first aid to injured man (New Arab); Three Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in West Bank raids (Middle East Eye)

Israelis are not demonstrating for democracy,

“Over the weekend, tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities to protest what they see as an erosion of their country’s democracy. The demonstrations were sparked by legislation announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government that – if passed by the Knesset – would overhaul the Israeli judicial system. The move is seen by many as an attempt by the prime minister, who is being prosecuted on corruption charges, to rein in the judiciary and dodge prison time….But to single him out as a “crime minister” and his government as the one “destroying Israeli democracy” is quite a stretch. There has been no Israeli prime minister that hasn’t been a criminal with hands stained with the blood of Palestinians, and there has been no Israeli government that has actually upheld democracy. The Israeli “democratic state” is and always has been a myth, an illusion built to sustain the oppression of the Palestinian people and continue their dispossession.” See also Thousands in Israel Protest Netanyahu’s Plans to Limit Courts (NYT); Netanyahu judicial overhaul will be “fatal blow” to Israel’s democracy, top judge says (Axios); Israel’s Judicial Standoff Deepens as Netanyahu Delays Firing Minister (NYT); What to Know About Netanyahu’s Far-Right Government in Israel (WaPo); 

The Israeli army promised to avoid arresting kids at night. It never even tried,

“In 2020, HaMoked submitted a petition to the Israeli High Court against the army’s longtime practice of arresting Palestinian minors in the West Bank from their homes at night. In response, before the court hearing, the army produced a new procedure in August 2021 according to which it would summon Palestinian minors for interrogation as an alternative to night raids. But data collected by HaMoked for 2021 made clear that this procedure was not implemented, and new data for 2022 shows that this trend is only continuing. Over the course of last year, 294 Palestinian families contacted HaMoked asking them to locate a child who was arrested by the army. Among these cases, 138 were arrested from their homes in premeditated operations, of which 125 were taken during the night. According to HaMoked, not a single one of minors arrested at night ever received a summons for interrogation.” See also On Flimsy Grounds: Israel’s Pervasive Night Arrests of Palestinian Children (HaMoked); Israeli forces kill 14-year-old Palestinian boy in West Bank (Guardian)

Give up your right to live in the West Bank, or never see your children in Gaza again,

“After marrying and moving to Gaza, Ola Baqa was prevented from returning to Nablus until her brother died. Then Israel forced an impossible choice on her.” See also The Palestinian couples kept apart by Israel’s ‘separation policy’ (Middle East Eye)

Israel deports Italian activist arrested in West Bank raid,

“Israel deported an Italian activist to Italy after security forces detained her during a raid in the occupied West Bank, Israeli authorities said Tuesday, accusing her of having links to a Palestinian militant group. The Israeli military arrested Stefania Costantini during a pre-dawn incursion Monday into the the Dheisha refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Footage shared on social media shows an Israeli soldier picking up Costantini and flipping her over his shoulders as she shrieks. A group of soldiers drag her out of the camp and shove her into a military vehicle, videos show. Israeli forces fatally shot a 14-year-old boy in the head during the same raid as they opened fire on Palestinians throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. Italian media described Costantini as an advocate for Palestinian rights. Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Costantini was arrested on suspicion of belonging to, and transferring funds to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” See also Italian arrested for transferring money to Palestinian terrorists – Shin Bet (JPost)

Khashm al-Karm School by Awdah Alhathaleen,

“Like other villages in Masafer Yatta, Khashm al-Karm suffers from inhumane living conditions under the Israeli occupation and its settlers. They harass the residents in every way to force them to leave their lands for the rapid looting of the settlement, which is devouring the land little by little.” See also Settlers violently attack Palestinian-led hike near Jericho (New Arab)

About Half of Israelis Believe Jews Should Have More Rights Than Arabs, Study Shows,

“Around half of Jewish Israelis believe that they should have more rights than their Arab compatriots, a new survey released on Sunday from Israel Democracy Institute found. Forty-nine percent of respondents believed that Jews should be afforded special rights in Israel, an increase of 12 percent from the previous annual survey. Among those who identified as right-wing, the statement enjoyed 66 percent support, while only 11 percent of respondents identifying as left-wing supported the notion. However, 80 percent believed that fateful decisions regarding the country’s future should be made by a Jewish majority.”

The U.S. Government & Israel/Palestine

Will the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Be Built on Confiscated Palestinian Land?,

“The Biden administration is doubling down on its predecessor’s reckless decision to recognize Israel’s claims to Jerusalem as its capital, a break with nearly 70 years of policy. The State Department is advancing plans to erect an embassy building in Jerusalem partly on land stolen by Israel shortly after its establishment from Palestinian refugees, including American citizens…The majority of the Allenby Barracks site is owned by Palestinians, including parts of it by my family, whose roots in Jerusalem go back more than 1,000 years…The legal device through which Israel seized Palestinian land and property is its 1950 Absentee Property Law. Israel used this law to expropriate from Palestinian owners the land that the United States now is considering for its embassy. The State Department has known for more than 20 years about our unassailable claims to this site. I know because I was one of the Palestinian property owners who provided the secretary of state at the time, Madeleine Albright, with extensive documentation in 1999 showing that at least 70 percent of this land is owned by Palestinian refugees, including tens of American citizen heirs.” See also Rashida Tlaib voices concern over plans for US embassy in Jerusalem on Palestinian land (New Arab)

How the Biden Administration Should Approach the New Israeli Government,

“The new Israeli government has declared its goal of enforcing the Jewish people’s “exclusive and indisputable rights” in the entirety of Israel and the Palestinian territories, amounting to an intention to consolidate an undemocratic ethnostate. But blaming this all on Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition members, such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, alone is incorrect. Preventing the creation of a Palestinian state and asserting the exclusive national rights of Jews in the Holy Land have been Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lifetime projects. The new government’s support for aggressive expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is not a break from past policies but the logical culmination of them. The previous government of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid may have been less personally corrupt and openly racist than Netanyahu’s, but judged by its behavior—violent escalation against Palestinians in the West Bank, expulsions of Palestinian families, demolition of Palestinian homes, and expansion of settlements on Palestinian land—that government was no less committed to entrenching a one-state reality. In considering what approach to take in the future, the Biden administration should consider the approach that led here. While U.S. administrations have taken various tacks to the situation, one thing has remained nearly consistent: they have protected Israel from any negative consequences—political, diplomatic, economic, or otherwise—for its illegal policies in the occupied territories. Only carrots are offered and offered again—never sticks.”

How Hady Amr represents Biden to the Palestinians,

“Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Amr’s goal is to “strengthen our engagement with the Palestinian people.” He is essentially an envoy to a state that doesn’t yet exist, and his message to Palestinians adds up to two words: Trust me. He is a deep believer in the two-state solution, but in his new role he will not be focused on the peace process…His goal is to make life better, even incrementally, for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, on projects like increased 4G internet access in the West Bank, or the new 24/7 opening hours of the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.” See also US links Israel visa-waiver to West Bank travel for Palestinian-Americans (JPost)

Scoop: Rosen tells Israel she doesn't want to meet with members of 2 far-right parties,

“U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) told the Israeli government she doesn’t want the bipartisan Senate delegation she is leading to Israel this week to meet with any members of two Israeli far-right parties that are in the government coalition, according to two Israeli officials and a source close to the senator.”

Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Stifle Criticism of Israel

Harvard Reverses Course on Human Rights Advocate Who Criticized Israel,

“The Harvard Kennedy School reversed course on Thursday and said it would offer a fellowship to a leading human rights advocate it had previously rejected, after news of the decision touched off a public outcry over academic freedom, donor influence and the boundaries of criticism of Israel.” See also this statement from Ken Roth: “I remain worried about academic freedom…I was able to shine an intense spotlight on Dean Elmendorf’s decision, but what about others? The problem of people penalized for criticizing Israel is not limited to me, and most scholars and students have no comparable capacity to mobilize public attention. How is the Kennedy School, and Harvard, going to ensure that this episode conveys a renewed commitment to academic freedom rather than just exceptional treatment for one well known individual?” Also see this Occupied Thoughts podcast Why Did Harvard Deny a Fellowship to the Former Director of Human Rights Watch? Israel

Media Coverage of Antisemitism,

“This moment calls for a serious, rigorous exploration of the nature of antisemitism and how to fight it—and yet mainstream media coverage of antisemitism regularly fails to rise to the occasion. Articles about spiking antisemitism often contribute to an ahistorical fearmongering that is likely to only deepen Jewish communities’ anxiety and make it harder to accurately assess antisemitic threats. They tend to flatten a rich academic debate about the historical nature of anti-Jewish activity into clichéd descriptions of antisemitism as the “oldest hatred.” Differences between state-sponsored antisemitic policy and individual antisemitic actions are rarely elucidated. The most egregious coverage conflates Palestinian solidarity activism with antisemitism, equating, for example, politicians who have courted antisemitic white nationalists with those who have sought to restrict US funding for Israeli human rights abuses.”

Zionist group uses US anti-terrorism laws to sue Palestinian activists,

Jewish National Fund (JNF), is using American anti-terrorism laws to sue a major Palestinian rights group in the US over its support for the international boycott movement. The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a coalition of groups seeking to end the decades-long occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, said the lawsuit is a part of a broader, Israeli-led strategy to harass organisations critical of the oppression of the Palestinians.”


Nations express 'deep concern' at Israeli punitive measure,

“More than 90 countries have expressed “deep concern” at Israel’s punitive measures against the Palestinian people, leadership and civil society following a U.N. request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legality of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. In a statement released Monday by the Palestinians, the signatories called for a reversal of the Israeli measures, saying regardless of their position on the General Assembly’s resolution, “we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice.” The 193-member General Assembly voted 87-26 with 53 abstentions on Dec. 30 in favor of the resolution which was promoted by the Palestinians and opposed vehemently by Israel…The statement released Monday was signed by representatives of Arab nations and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation and 37 other countries — 27 of them from Europe, including Germany, France and Italy, as well as Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.” See also Over 90 countries, including allies, express ‘deep concern’ over Israel’s retaliation against Palestinians (JTA)

Saudi Arabia Says Palestinian Statehood Is Key to Establishing Ties With Israel,

“While attending the World Economic Forum, Saudi foreign minister says that they have always said normalization with the Jewish state is a regional interest, but ‘true normalization and true stability will only come through giving the Palestinians hope’ and dignity”

What does Latin America’s leftist tide have in store for Palestine?,

“From Brazil to Chile, Palestinians have good reason to be excited for left-wing victories. But the new governments’ many challenges may temper those hopes.” See also Brazil’s Lula fires Israel ambassador as part of pro-Palestine shift (Al Monitor)