Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: June 4-10, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Jerusalem: US Foreign Policy and its Impact,

June 9, 2022: Lara Friedman (FMEP), Khaled Elgindy (Middle East Institute) and Dr. Osama Abuirshaid (American Muslims for Palestine), moderated by AMP’s Tarek Khalil.

“Key Challenges for U.S. Policy in the Middle East – Panel 2: Israelis, Palestinians, & the Slide to a Post-2-State Reality“,

June 1, 2022: Samih Al-Abid (Baker Institute), Lara Friedman (FMEP), Omar Rahman (Middle East Council on Global Affairs) & Gilead Sher (Baker Institute), moderated by Robert Barron (USIP)

Original Research,

FMEP publishes two resources on (most) Fridays: Lara Friedman’s Legislative Round-Up and Kristin McCarthy’s Settlement & Annexation Report. To subscribe to those reports, click here.

Shireen Abu Akleh

Top Republican, Democrat Senators in Bipartisan Call for Probe Into Shireen Abu Akleh's Killing,

“Sens. Jon Ossoff and Mitt Romney, a Jewish Democrat and a noted pro-Israel Republican, on Monday issued a bipartisan demand for the Biden administration to ensure a full and transparent investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. “We insist that the Administration ensure a full and transparent investigation is completed and that justice is served for Ms. Akleh’s death,” wrote the bipartisan senators, who did not explicitly mention Israel nor the Palestinians, in the letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken…Ossoff and Romney demanded a detailed update into American efforts within 30 days, stating “the killing of a U.S. citizen and of a journalist engaged in the work of reporting in a conflict zone is unacceptable.”…The senators’ letter comes days after a separate bipartisan demand from 25 House lawmakers castigated the Palestinian Authority for refusing to hand over the fatal bullet to Israel for investigation.” See also the text of the Ossoff/Romney letter; Jon Ossoff and Mitt Romney join in bipartisan demand for query into Shireen Abu Akleh killing (JTA); 57 U.S. Lawmakers Demand FBI, State Dept. Inquiry Into Shireen Abu Akleh Killing (Haaretz); Shireen Abu Akleh: US senators call for investigation into journalist’s killing (Middle East Eye); Senators call for investigation into killing of U.S. journalist in West Bank (WaPo)

Shireen Abu Akleh: US still thinks Israel should lead probe,

“The administration of US President Joe Biden has said it still believes Israel should lead the investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. “There has been no change in our approach,” a State Department spokesperson told Al Jazeera in a statement on Thursday, a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for an “independent” probe of Abu Akleh’s killing.” See also Blinken: US wants ‘independent’ probe of Abu Akleh killing (Al Jazeera)

Personality of the Month: Shireen Abu Akleh,

“Last September, Shireen was reading to me an article she had written for This Week in Palestine; ironically enough it was about her experience in Jenin. Never did I imagine that a few months later, I would be writing her obituary…During her life, Shireen touched every corner of Palestine. With her words, she amplified the voice of those who had been silenced and brought the stories of all Palestinians to life; with her empathy, she helped children look for toys under the rubble of their demolished homes, she grieved with widows and orphans, and humanized Palestinians; with her love, she touched the hearts of those who knew her and even of those who didn’t. In her death, that love reverberated back to her from every corner of Palestine. From Jenin to Nablus, from Ramallah to Bethlehem, and finally to occupied Jerusalem, the outpouring of love for Shireen is indicative of the life she led and the tremendous impact she had on the lives of others.”

When hospitals become battlefields,

“In a shocking display of cruelty, the Israeli police assaulted the pallbearers holding Abu Akleh’s coffin as they tried to carry her body from the hospital to the church where she was to be buried, followed by thousands of Palestinian mourners who had come from across the land…Videos released from the scene showed dozens of Israeli police officers invading the hospital, throwing stun grenades and tear gas, pushing mourners back into the building, and injuring patients and visitors, all while causing damage to property. In a shaky voice, al-Budeiri reported: “The coffin did not fall… they are shooting in the hospital yard. We are talking about a hospital, not a battlefield.”…As we try to make sense of Israel’s unbridled violence — unconcerned with the world’s gaze and confident in its impunity — it is important to recognize the particularly egregious nature of the police attack at Saint Joseph Hospital, and how it is emblematic of Israel’s total disregard for its duty to protect Palestinian hospitals as neutral institutions and to ensure the safety of patients and medical staff, as guaranteed by international law…although the attack at Saint Joseph’s Hospital was portrayed as an unusual event by the media and members of the international community, it was hardly the first time that Israeli forces have raided hospitals in East Jerusalem. In fact, Palestinian hospitals in the city have long been targets of repeated invasions and abuses, particularly Al-Makassed Hospital in the neighborhood of a-Tur…These attacks are part of a wider trend throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza. In April-May 2021 alone, during the violent escalations that spread from Jerusalem to Gaza, the Israeli military carried out 132 attacks on the health sector in the occupied territories, among them injuries to health workers, damage to ambulances, damage to health facilities, and detentions or confiscations on health properties; 44 of those attacks occurred in East Jerusalem. These incidents are rarely if ever investigated, no one is ever held to account, and the violations are not consistently condemned by the medical community locally and internationally, revealing the extent of Israel’s impunity.”

Who Killed Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh?,

“More than three weeks have passed since Ms. Abu Akleh was killed. Yet, despite a surge of international outrage and calls by, among others, the U.S. State Department, Israeli human rights organizations, scholars and members of civil society for a thorough investigation of her death and of the allegations that she was killed because she was a journalist, no formal, impartial outside inquiry has been started…The Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United States would do well to agree on an independent investigator to determine who shot Ms. Abu Akleh and establish whether she was a target because of her work as a journalist.”

Demolitions & Forced Population Transfer in Masafer Yatta

'In the face of racism and violence, there's bravery and hope.',

“This just happened near my home: Settlers brutally attacked and injured two peace activists. They came here to protest against the occupation’s ongoing policy to ethnically cleanse Masafer Yatta of Palestinians. In the face of racism and violence, there’s bravery and hope.” See video of direct attack on activists. See also Two left-wing activists hurt in West Bank after settlers hurl stones at them (Times of Israel) and this description of the protest: “Israeli Military, Police, and Settlers Attack and Injure 200+ Person Palestinian-Led Protest with Israelis and Jews from US and UK, as Part of Campaign to Save Masafer Yatta” (Center for Jewish Nonviolence)

What’s the story?: Basil al-Adraa in Masafer Yatta,

“Basil al-Adraa on how the Israeli High Court decision to green light the destruction of Masafer Yatta gives judicial consent to the violence Israeli forces and settlers have practiced for decades.”

Life in the firing zone: the occupation of Masafer Yatta,

“After decades trying to resist eviction, the Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta have lost their case in the Israeli supreme court. Bethan McKernan on the controversial decision and the people determined to stay in their homes”

Apartheid//Occupation//Human Rights

Want to dismantle Israeli apartheid? Start with this law,

“What would it look like to begin dismantling Israeli apartheid? Of all places, the answer came this week from none other than Benjamin Netanyahu…On Monday night, the target of this obstructionist strategy was an emergency regulation that formally applies separate legal systems to Jews and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank. It is at once both the public face and the hidden infrastructure of apartheid, a key pillar of the military regime which Israel has operated for over five decades. But that evening, the Knesset voted 58-52 to not extend the regulation, which is set to expire at the end of this month. The political crisis over the law does not in any way signal the imminent demise of apartheid; there is plenty of time in the next few weeks for the government — or the opposition — to find a way to renew the regulation. What this crisis does do, however, is demonstrate just how inconstant and even fickle the legal foundations of apartheid can be. That, in turn, can offer the beginnings of a vision for dismantling it.” See also Israel’s Government Teeters Again, Losing Vote on Law that Supports West Bank Settlers (NYT); Editorial | At Least the West Bank’s Secret Is Out (Haaretz)

‘Is there an alternative?’: MK Rozin says Meretz has no option on settlement bill,

“Explaining the decision of the left-wing party Meretz to support a bill to renew the extension of civil and criminal law to Israelis living in the West Bank, in apparent contradiction with the party’s political platform, Meretz MK Michal Rozin suggested Saturday the alternative of not supporting the bill would be worst for Israel’s left. “If the bill collapses and the government is dissolved, we’ll suffer the outcome and be banished, because the right will pass the bill within a week,” Rozin said Saturday during a cultural event in Tel Aviv. “Do we have an alternative? If I knew that dissolving this government would lead to a center-left government, I would do it right now,” she said.”

The Settler-Protection Law No Israeli Government Can Survive Without,

“The regulations, as well as some related legal provisions, give the settlers the same legal status they would enjoy if they lived within the “Green Line,” the internationally recognized borders of Israel. The original core of the regulations extended the jurisdiction of Israeli civilian courts and police over settlers. The current regulations, however, go far beyond that. They now extend the application to settlers of a huge range of laws that would otherwise only apply to “residents of Israel.” These laws include the right to Israeli national health insurance, to enter within the Green Line without formalities, to receive social security, to be inscribed in the Israeli population registry, to form law firms, adopt children, and inherit property under Israeli law, and so on – all impossible for Palestinians. Some pro-settler pundits have even suggested that a failure to re-enact the regulations could affect the settlers’ ability to vote in the next Israeli elections. In short, the failure to re-enact the regulations would leave Jewish settlers on the West Bank in the same precarious legal position as their Palestinian neighbors – hence the emotional fervor of the debate. The “emergency regulations” thus constitute the legal framework without which the settlement project could not have taken its current form. Put another way: they constitute the de facto annexation of the settlements to Israel, while maintaining the subordination of their Palestinian neighbors under military rule. The specter of the expiration of the “emergency regulations” reveals to all that the Occupation is not simply a matter of power, but rather power structured by law…It is crucial to emphasize that that the discrimination embodied in these regulations is based on ethnicity, not merely citizenship. Settlers entitled to the range of Israeli laws listed in the regulations include both Israeli citizens and people “entitled to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.” This surprising appearance of the Law of Return in regulations concerning the Occupation highlights their troubling nature.”

Thousands of homes destroyed. Over 200 killed. Only one investigation,

“While insisting that its forces abide by international law in all their activities, Israel regularly boasts of its internal investigative mechanisms, claiming that it conducts effective probes concerning any suspected war crimes. With these mechanisms, Israel aims to deflect criticism and dismiss the mandates of international tribunals who seek to hold its soldiers and commanders accountable. However, data recently provided by the army to the NGO Yesh Din, where I work, demonstrates the real objectives of Israel’s investigations: upholding a façade of a functioning law enforcement system.” See also Investigating Themselves – Results of the military law enforcement system’s examination of incidents of Palestinians killed and wounded in the Gaza Strip during “Operation Guardian of the Walls” (Yesh Din)

European Diplomats: Israel Failed to Submit Sufficient Evidence Against Outlawed Palestinian NGOs,

“Israel has not provided European countries with sufficient evidence about the six civil society organizations in the West Bank it accused of funding and acting on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, European diplomats told Haaretz. Sources said the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, is not expected to open an investigation into the organizations after its initial examination.”

West Bank: Harrowing accounts of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces over 24-hour period,

“Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces across the West Bank in the span of just 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed this year to 62. Those killed, including a child and a journalist, died in four separate incidents across the occupied territory. This year, 14 children have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including six since May.”

Israel: Bill to ban Palestinian flags at state-funded institutions gets initial Knesset approval,

“A controversial bill outlawing “the flying of the flags of an enemy state or the Palestinian Authority” at state-funded institutions has passed a preliminary reading in Israel‘s Knesset…Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint List, told the parliament: “About seven years ago the Knesset banned commemoration of the Nakba Day, and since then more and more people are doing that. “You’re acting just like any colonialist, any thief. You’re afraid of the flag, you deny the Nakba.””

Palestinians launch campaign to recover bodies of loved ones killed by Israel,

Palestinian families have launched a campaign to recover the bodies of those who were killed by Israeli forces, according to Arabi 21…Israel holds the bodies of 103 Palestinians in refrigerators, and an additional 256 have already been buried without allowing families to perform their last rites, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.”

GRAPHIC: Restrictions on Palestinian Food Sovereignty,

“Palestine is a food sovereignty and food justice issue! Our allies at Visualizing Palestine show how Israeli apartheid has affected every item on the food table. Water restrictions, agriculture laws, military attacks on fisherfolk, the bulldozing of ancestral olive trees… these are just some of the many ways Israel has colonized Palestinian agriculture. We stand with Palestinians trying to win their food sovereignty and liberation.”

Under Settler Pressure, Israel Extends Antiquities Authority's Powers Into West Bank,

“Anti-theft inspectors from the Israel Antiquities Authority will begin operating in the West Bank, a move pushed by right-wing groups seeking to weaken or even do away with Israel’s main representative in the territory, the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration…Officials at both the authority and the Civil Administration see the move as an attempt to weaken the Civil Administration’s archaeology office in the West Bank, possibly leading to a de facto annexation of the territory in the realm of antiquities. The right-wing groups consider the move the first step in placing West Bank archaeology under the aegis of the antiquities authority…”

Israeli anti-torture body refers Israel to International Criminal Court,

“The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) said on Friday it had demanded that Israelis involved in torture be tried as part of an investigation by the Hague-based ICC over suspected war crimes committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories. It said that after 30 years of fighting torture it had “reached the unfortunate conclusion” that Israel has no wish to end torture, honestly investigate victims’ complaints and prosecute those responsible.”

Tanned, Buff and Ready to Pose, Gaza Bodybuilders Feel Weight of Blockade,

“Bodybuilding is popular in the Gaza Strip among men, both young and old, and a tiny but growing number of women. They are spurred to strap on back braces and heave weights by a 50 percent unemployment rate, a lack of other recreational options and the feeling of strength it provides amid a sense of powerlessness in the besieged strip…“The sea is in front of us, but because of the occupation I can’t take a boat and go out, we have the mountains in the West Bank but I can’t reach them, we have deserts but I can’t reach them,” said Mahmoud Ammar, a trainer and judge with the Palestine Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness. “But bodybuilding is something that’s accessible.””

U.S. Scene

US elections: How pro-Israel spending affects Palestine advocacy,

“With the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the United States getting directly involved in electoral politics for the first time, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is leading a push to influence Democratic congressional primaries across the country. AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups are pouring millions of dollars into Democratic Party races, largely to bolster opponents to left-wing candidates, federal election disclosures show…James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington-based think-tank, said the push before critical November midterms has come in response to a growing chasm on Israel between progressive Democrats and the party’s centrist old guard. “They were losing [support] among progressives, and so, they decided that they would stomp them out with millions of dollars of ads instead of recognising that the split is real,” Zogby told Al Jazeera.”

Will AIPAC Crush One of Congress’s Most Prominent Jewish Democrats?,

“But maybe the most fascinating race pro-Israel groups look set to train their considerable money on is Michigan’s 11th District, another of the small handful of incumbent-on-incumbent Democratic races brought by redistricting. Rep. Andy Levin has lived in the newly drawn 11th District for most of his life; Rep. Haley Stevens, who has represented the old 11th District, moved there in November 2021…What makes those endorsements and fundraising so stunning is not the dollar value; it’s the fact that Levin, the candidate they are opposing, is Jewish, while Stevens, whom they support, is not. And Levin is not merely of Jewish heritage. He’s a prominent Jewish leader in the community, and a member of one of the most prominent Jewish families in Michigan Democratic politics. Levin’s father Sander Levin, whom Andy succeeded in the House in 2019, represented the Jewish community north of Detroit from the early 1980s. His uncle, the late Carl Levin, served as a Michigan senator between 1979 and 2015. Until his election to Congress in 2018, Andy Levin was the president of his synagogue, Congregation T’chiyah in the Detroit suburbs, as well as chair of the steering committee of Detroit Jews for Justice.”

US mission to Palestinians renamed, will report directly to Washington,

“The US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem said on Thursday that it had been redesignated and will report directly to Washington “on substantive matters”, signalling an upgrade in ties ahead of a planned visit by President Joe Biden. The former “Palestinian Affairs Unit” (PAU) was renamed the “US Office of Palestinian Affairs” (OPA) under the move. Prior to becoming the PAU, it had been the US consulate in Jerusalem and a focus of Palestinian statehood goals in the city.”


Israel wants ‘complete control’ of Palestinian land: UN report,

“An independent commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council after the 2021 Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza Strip said Israel must do more than end the occupation of land that Palestinian leaders want for a future state. “Ending the occupation alone will not be sufficient,” according to the report released on Tuesday, urging that additional action be taken to ensure the equal enjoyment of human rights for Palestinians. The report cites evidence that Israel has “no intention of ending the occupation”. Israel is pursuing “complete control” over what the report calls the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which was taken by Israel in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.” See also this response from U.S. State Dep’t Spokesperson Ned Price “The U.S. seeks a negotiated two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. The @HRC’s open-ended, biased, and vaguely defined Commission of Inquiry on the situation in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza does not advance prospects for that peace.” See also UN-mandated rights inquiry rebukes Israel for seeking ‘complete control’ (Reuters)

Criminalizing Palestine Solidarity Activism in the UK,

“A new wave of repressive UK government policies aims to suppress protest and political expression, posing a direct threat to Palestine solidarity work. Al-Shabaka’s senior policy analyst, Yara Hawari, locates this latest crackdown within Britain’s enduring support for Zionism, and shows how only in broad, intersectional alliances can social justice activists effectively repel state-led repression.”  See also BBC says made error in deleting ‘Death to Arabs’ chant from Israeli ‘Flag March’ article