New from FMEP
- The Settlers Trumpeted Their Plans
- The Israeli Government Responded Weakly & Too Late
- The Settlers Did **Exactly What They Said They Would Do**
- The Aftermath: Land Grab, Palestinians’ Fears, Politicians’ Praise
See also the Settlement & Annexation Report: July 14, 2022
In mid-July, President Biden is expected to make his first visit as President of the United States to Israel and the Persian Gulf. What is the point of his visit? What does it mean for U.S. policy vis-a-vis Israel and the Gulf? What does it mean for Palestinians? To explore these and other questions, FMEP and Jewish Currents held a conversation with U.S.-based experts Peter Beinart (CUNY), Dana El Kurd (University of Richmond), Lara Friedman (FMEP), and Trita Parsi (Quincy).
FMEP’s Lara Friedman interviewed on Background Briefing with Ian Masters.
FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin in conversation with Professor Dov Waxman and If Not Now’s Eva Borgwardt as part of a series organized by If Not Now and the Jewish Liberation Fund.
Israeli Assaults on Palestinian Human Rights Organizations
“Nine European Union states said on Tuesday they would continue working with the six Palestinian civil society groups that Israel designated terrorist associations last year, citing a lack of evidence for that claim…In a joint statement, the foreign ministries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden said they had not received “substantial information” from Israel that would justify reviewing their policy.” See also Norway Becomes 10th European State to Reject Israel’s Blacklisting of Palestinian NGOs and Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden on the designation of Palestinian civil society organisations as terrorist organisations
“Israel’s Defense Ministry is demanding that lawyers representing six Palestinian NGOs designated as terror groups and outlawed earlier this year receive official permission from the finance and defense ministers to represent the organizations, or face a prison sentence of up to seven years. The new requirement comes just two days ahead of a hearing on the legality of the decision to outlaw the organizations. Michael Sfard, the attorney representing Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, said it was “extremely difficult to avoid interpreting it [the demand] as a government threat made against a lawyer engaging in entirely legal work.”” See also Israel sends veiled threat to attorneys of outlawed Palestinian NGOs (+972)
On the Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh
“In the wake of Shireen’s killing, Lina has become the face of the Abu Akleh family, appearing on international media outlets to demand accountability for the perpetrators. As the Israeli government continued to try and cover for the killer, Lina’s voice echoed what most everyone knows by now: that an Israeli sniper killed her aunt. I spoke to Lina by phone on the eve of Biden’s visit to the region. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.” See also this Jewish Currents interview with Lina Abu Akleh and For Shireen Abu Akleh: Condemning U.S. deference to Israel, a cousin remembers the life and legacy of the slain Palestinian American journalist
“As public as [Rachel Corrie’s parents and sister] had been in their efforts to get answers about Rachel’s killing, and as outspoken as they remain about the Palestinian cause, the Corries never talked in detail about their private discussions with U.S. officials, at first because they trusted that the process would yield the results they were seeking and later because revisiting the odyssey felt too overwhelming. The experience of seeking justice for Rachel, they say, at times felt just as traumatizing as her death itself…Over two days last month at Sarah’s home in a suburb of Olympia, the Corries spoke at length about their conversations with senior officials, including Blinken, CIA Director William Burns, and staffers working closely with Biden during his time in the Senate and as vice president…Together, the files and the Corries’ testimony paint a damning picture of the futility of U.S. efforts to seek accountability. The documents show that several senior officials attempted for months to extract answers from their Israeli counterparts. But the lack of political will on the part of the U.S. executive branch and Congress to impose consequences for Israeli human rights abuses reduced those efforts to meaningless gestures, with all players involved fully aware that they would lead to no real change. When they embarked on that process, however, the Corries knew none of this. So when they learned that Anton Abu Akleh, Shireen’s brother, had expressed the desire to meet with them, they readily agreed…On a Zoom call last month, the Corries spoke to members of the Abu Akleh family, who called in from Jerusalem and elsewhere in the U.S.”
“In two separate letters sent on Tuesday, Senate Democrats — including pro-Israel stalwart Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) — criticized as insufficient the Biden administration’s handling of the investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. In the first letter, Menendez and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told President Joe Biden it is “troubling” that the administration has failed to provide any details of the investigation to Abu Akleh’s family, requested a classified briefing and backed U.S. involvement in any further investigative efforts. In the second letter, a forceful communique to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) slammed the U.S.’s forensic analysis of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh as insufficient, and pressed the administration for further details on the investigation.“
“In the two months since the killing, leading global media such as CNN, The New York Times, Bellingcat, AP and The Washington Post have conducted in-depth investigations based on video footage filmed at the scene before, after and during the shooting, as well as on video soundtrack analysis and eyewitness accounts. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also investigated the incident. These investigations, as well B’Tselem’s, determined that all the findings indicate the shots that killed Shireen Abu Akleh were fired by the Israeli military from a spot where military vehicles were standing, about 200 meters away. The investigations uncovered no records of an armed Palestinian located between the journalists and the military vehicles. All the documentation of armed Palestinians’ whereabouts during the incident puts them either at sites without a direct line of fire to the group of journalists or at a distance that does not match audio analysis of the footage.”
On Expulsions & Forcible Population Transfer in Masafer Yatta
“On his first Middle East trip as president, Joe Biden began by visiting Israel, a country he’s been to 10 times since he was a senator in 1973. On this latest trip, Biden discussed how to address Iran’s nuclear program, and re-stated his support for a two-state solution. But one thing he didn’t cover when he met with Israeli leaders is what’s happening in Masafer Yatta, a region of the occupied West Bank where mass evictions are taking place. And it encapsulates the plight of Palestinians in a way few other stories do.”
“Two days ahead of his first presidential visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territory, fifteen pro-Israel organizations have sent President Biden a letter urging him to help prevent the forced displacement of approximately 1,000 Palestinians from their homes in the area of Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank. Collectively, these organizations represent millions of Jewish Americans…The groups signing the letter are: Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair USA, Israel Policy Forum, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, National Council of Jewish Women, New Israel Fund, New York Jewish Agenda, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and Union for Reform Judaism.” Also see the full text of the letter here. See also: One week in Masafer Yatta (Times of Israel blog about the recent Center for Jewish Nonviolence delegation in Masafer Yatta)
“Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state can revoke the citizenship of people who carry out actions that constitute a breach of trust against the state, including terrorism, espionage or treason. The ruling addressed a 2008 Citizenship Law in Israel that gives the state authority to revoke citizenship based on actions that constitute a “breach of loyalty”…A joint statement in response to the ruling by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, an Arab rights group, called the law discriminatory and said it “will likely be used exclusively against Palestinian citizens of Israel”. “There are many cases of Jews in Israel who took part in terror and not even once has the interior ministry thought to appeal to revoke their citizenship,” the ACRI’s Oded Feller told Reuters. “The only cases that were submitted to the court were of Arab citizens.”” See also Israeli Supreme Court Rules the State Can Revoke Convicted Terrorists’ Citizenship and this statement from Adalah on Twitter: “The Israeli Supreme Court upheld a law authorizing the revocation of citizenship of persons convicted of “breach of loyalty” offenses, even if they become stateless. To date, this has been used only against Palestinian citizens and it violates int’l law. Adalah and @acrionline, who filed the appeal: “such a mechanism runs contrary to the principles of international law – whereby a person is not made stateless, and it was given despite the ruling itself confirms that there is no such arrangement in any country in the world”.”
“Israel’s military censors have lifted a ban on reporting the country’s use of armed drones, an official said on Wednesday, ending an open secret by admitting that the armed forces have unmanned attack aircraft and have used them. Palestinians have accused Israel of using armed drones in targeted killings in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, something never confirmed by Israel, which had previously barred all publication of news on the issue. There have also been numerous international news reports of Israeli drones attacking targets in Lebanon and Iran, which have never been confirmed officially by Israel.” See also Analysis | 30 Years Later, Israel’s ‘Central Project’ Finally Revealed: Drones (Haaretz); Analysis | The Gradual Proliferation of Israeli Assault Drones Was an Open Secret (Haaretz)
“The report highlights almost 24,000 verified grave violations against children, an average of some 65 violations every day. The killing and maiming of children was the most verified grave violation followed by the recruitment and use of children and the denial of humanitarian access. The places where most children were affected by grave violations in 2021 were Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.” See also Israel could be ‘blacklisted’ over killings of Palestinian children, says UN chief (Middle East Eye)
“The Nachala settler organization announced that it would set up three West Bank outposts on Wednesday. Even though this is illegal, it raised five million shekels for the operation in three days through affiliated groups, Facebook apps and a Chabad crowdfunding platform” See also World Zionist Organization to Invest $8.5 Million of State Funds for West Bank Outpost Legalizations (Haaretz)
“Palestinian families from East Jerusalem and the United States are calling on Washington and Israel to cancel plans for building the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, saying that its planned location sits on land that was private Palestinian property confiscated by Israel after the 1948 war. About a year and a half ago, the U.S. government, in coordination with Israel, drafted a plan for a large diplomatic complex in an area of Jerusalem known as the Allenby Complex in southern Jerusalem. According to the plan, the U.S. embassy would move into that complex; until then, it would remain in a temporary site in the Arnona neighborhood. On Sunday, two days before U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, several Palestinian families, in conjunction with Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, presented documents testifying that some of the land slated for the diplomatic compound project had belonged to them before 1948. The families, including Habib, Qleibo, El Khalidi, Razzaq, and El-Khalili, brought forward decades’ worth of rental contracts between them and the Mandatory government for the land…The land is located west of the Green Line, and like all other Palestinian property in west Jerusalem, it was transferred via the Absentee Property law into Israeli hands in 1950.” See also Adalah reveals new evidence that joint US-Israeli plan for embassy in Jerusalem is located on Palestinian private property (Adalah)
“A bridge that crosses the Jordan River is the only available route for Palestinians in the West Bank and for some from the besieged Gaza Strip, who obtain permits to use it to travel to the outside world. The bridge is controlled mainly by Jordan and Israel, which also coordinate the movement of Palestinians with the Palestinian Authority (PA)…Some Palestinians have been stranded for up to three days in the scorching heat of the Jordan Valley – which can reach 40C – before being able to cross to the Israeli side, according to local media.”
Mr. Biden's Trip to the Middle East + Normalization
“Hailed by Israeli diplomats as historic, the statement — known as the Jerusalem Declaration — reaffirms the unshakable bonds between both countries, “and the enduring commitment of the United States to Israel’s security. Our countries further reaffirm that the strategic US-Israel partnership is based on a bedrock of shared values, shared interests and true friendship. Furthermore, the United States and Israel affirm that among the values the countries share is an unwavering commitment to democracy, the rule of law and the calling of ‘Tikkun Olam’ [repairing the world].” The declaration further underscores the American commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is “prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome. The United States further affirms the commitment to work together with other partners to confront Iran’s aggression and destabilizing activities, whether advanced directly or through proxies and terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”” See also the full text of the Declaration: The Jerusalem U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration; Biden captures Israeli hearts (Al Monitor); As Israelis praise Biden, some Palestinians protest over his visit (NYT); Biden, Battered at Home, Basks in Unvarnished Praise in Israel (NYT); ‘This is apartheid’: Israeli human rights group hang billboards for Biden’s visit (The Independent); and The trip Biden should have taken, but didn’t (+972//Rina Rosenberg (Jabareen); ““What would the president’s itinerary look like if he decided to meet with Palestinians, including U.S. citizens, targeted by Israel’s policies?”)
“Earlier today, @POTUS signed an agreement with Israel that yet again throws Palestinians under the bus, enabling more Israeli war crimes against Palestinian families. In response, Palestinians and allies are speaking out. Here’s what they’ve had to say:
- “While people and governments around the world are increasingly recognizing that Israel is an apartheid state brutally oppressing Palestinians, President Biden remains firmly in denial of reality.” – @DrHananAshrawi, prominent Palestinian scholar and human rights advocate
- “The Jerusalem Declaration is sorely out of step with the progressive base that ushered Biden into office as well as the global social movements resisting fascism and climate doom.” – Palestinian American human rights attorney @4noura [Noura Erekat]
- “It is a demonstration of American weakness and is an act of self-mockery in the face of US moral grandstanding regarding Russian actions in Ukraine.” – Daniel Levy, president of the U.S./Middle East Project.
“For Biden, the real thrust of the visit was more tectonic. U.S. officials hope to reposition themselves in the region’s shifting geopolitical landscape, as Israel and a clutch of Arab monarchies tighten cooperation in the face of mutual antagonist Iran. Tough rhetoric over the regime in Tehran — not Palestinian rights in Israel or civil rights for dissidents in Arab autocracies — dominated proceedings. New diplomatic initiatives may also redefine the region: Earlier last week, Biden participated in a virtual meeting of the “I2U2” bloc, which brings together Israel, India, the UAE and the United States.” See also Biden’s Mideast Message: Good News for Israel, Small Steps for Palestinians (NYT); The Takeaway: Biden opens ‘new chapter’ with Middle East trip (Al Monitor)
“The leaders of Israel, India, the United States and the United Arab Emirates held their first four-part summit on Zoom today, in the framework of the I2U2 forum established by Prime Minister Yair Lapid last October as foreign minister. The four leaders agreed to work together, harnessing their countries’ capabilities and ingenuity to address global challenges such as food security, fighting climate change and clean energy. See also The Richest Man in Asia Just Bought Israel’s Haifa Port (Haifa)”
“My research on the Abraham Accords, as well as other normalization steps between Israel and Arab governments, shows that such agreements can have a negative impact on conditions within participating countries. Specifically, these kinds of agreements facilitate the sharing of technologies such as digital surveillance spyware, which can enable authoritarian regimes to increase repression. Normalization with Israel can also be a way for Arab countries to win credit with Washington without making domestic policy changes on issues such as human rights and political prisoners. The regional security framework Biden reportedly aims to construct might be better understood, in this light, not as a peace agreement but as a form of authoritarian conflict management. For the citizens of countries that join, domestic conditions may worsen.” See also Israeli Arms Exports to Morocco: From Pegasus to Kamikaze Drones (Haaretz)
“Reports indicate that Washington is presenting the United Arab Emirates with a formal defense agreement containing U.S. security guarantees for Abu Dhabi. If true, it would be the first of its kind for the region—and a step back for U.S. interests. The Biden administration has reportedly already sent a draft agreement to the UAE, accompanied by a visit from White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk, to discuss the subject. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an Emirati academic and former advisor to the UAE’s leadership, recently stated that the two countries are close to signing a “comprehensive and binding” partnership that “no country in the region has obtained so far”. “Analysts and experts in Washington have also begun arguing for increased U.S. security guarantees for Saudi Arabia, and the United States is attempting to facilitate a more integrated and formalized regional air defense network with Israel and various Arab states. Far from being an isolated occurrence, the treaty with the UAE appears to be a possible step toward a broader series of U.S. commitments to the Middle East. The pact with the UAE appears to have been spearheaded unilaterally by U.S. President Joe Biden and his team, leaving not only the American people in the dark but Congress as well…An increase in U.S. security commitments to the Middle East would not only violate existing U.S. laws designed to prevent the country from providing security assistance and guarantees to governments with abysmal human rights records, but it would also be strategically nonsensical in that it would advance the interests of actors that are contrary to Washington’s.”
“President Biden devoted the last hours of his Israeli visit to restoring the ties with Palestinians severed by his predecessor, visiting a Palestinian hospital Friday in East Jerusalem and crossing an Israeli military checkpoint to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. The president called for a full accounting of the May killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid in the West Bank, the first time he has publicly mentioned the incident during his visit…In Bethlehem, Biden called her death “an enormous loss to the vital work of sharing with the world the story of the Palestinian people.” “The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand up for media freedom,” he said.” See also To replace US hegemony, Biden blesses a marriage of apartheid and autocracy (+972//Iyad el-Baghdadi)
“The template that Mellman and DMFI created last year in Ohio—pro-Israel groups spending extraordinary sums of money to defeat progressive candidates—has this year gone national. It has transformed the way Democrats wage congressional primaries and laid bare the financial chasm separating the pro-Israel establishment from its liberal Zionist and pro-Palestinian opponents. But it has also illustrated the interconnections between the effort to preserve unconditional support for Israel and the effort to preserve economic policies favored by corporate power. If the formula born in Ohio succeeds—and so far it is succeeding—it will create a new generation of congressional Democrats unwilling not only to hold the Israeli government accountable for its misdeeds, but unwilling to hold America’s energy, health care, and financial industries accountable either. Critics of Israel often complain about the phenomenon known as “progressive except Palestine.” What this year’s campaigns make clear, however, is that if the Democratic Party isn’t progressive on Palestine, it’s unlikely to be genuinely progressive on almost anything else…By creating Super PACs, establishment pro-Israel organizations have revealed their massive financial advantage over groups that criticize Israeli policy. So far, AIPAC’s Super PAC has raised almost $22 million. DMFI’s has raised more than $7 million. By comparison, J Street, their liberal Zionist adversary, aims to raise merely $1 million through a Super PAC it created this January in an effort to keep pace. And the Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian solidarity groups to J Street’s left have even less money than that. The anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace Action has a regular PAC, which has raised just over $45,000 thus far over the course of 2021 and 2022, according to the website Open Secrets. So far this election cycle, the Arab American Democratic Action Fund has raised slightly more than $18,000…The longtime J Street donor calls the pro-Israel right’s spending spree “an existential threat” and worries about a future in which “only people who are running basically unopposed will speak out on this issue.” Looking forward to 2024, a strategist at a progressive organization suggests that the “most realistic scenario is a bunch of progressives who don’t want to take this on.” See also Donna Edwards loses Maryland primary following $6M pro-Israel spending bonanza (JTA); Aipac hails Democrat’s defeat for not being sufficiently pro-Israel (Guardian); Pro-Israel hardliners spend millions to transform Democratic primaries (Guardian) and WhatsApp Inventor Makes Record-breaking $2m Donation to AIPAC (Haaretz)
“The right to boycott is likely heading to the US Supreme Court after a court of appeals upheld an Arkansas law restricting contractors from boycotting Israel. With major implications for freedom of speech in the US, it is worth re-examining the historical use of boycott as a tool of resistance by anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist grassroots movements for justice, and the case of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement called for by Palestinians.”
“A recent conference in Jerusalem showcases the Israeli right’s embrace of American-style culture wars, nationalist populism, and cults of personality….the American New Right is now a global phenomenon, with elites of its own, much like American liberalism. Yet while major Israeli left-wing organizations that receive foreign funding — from B’Tselem to this very website — were born out of a local context, the Tikvah Fund is a top-down operation, explicit in its promotion and importing of an American conservative terminology and agenda in Israel…The coded language, and the minor role the Palestinian national issue seems to play at the conference, betrays the degree to which the right has adapted to the one-state reality between the river and the sea. In the eyes of the New Right, the mixed cities, Area C, and the Negev are the new battle lines, where land is still up for grabs and facts on the ground will determine the future. While diplomats, politicians, and think tank experts make empty platitudes about some future Palestinian state, the binational reality on the ground continues to take shape, and the right has correctly identified that whatever gains Jews make in this moment can and will be used as leverage in any future arrangement, or simply kept in Jewish hands.”
“Donor aid has failed to protect Palestinian Bedouin communities in the E-1 corridor from the Israeli regime’s oppressive policies. Al-Shabaka policy analyst Tamara Tamimi and guest author Osama Risheq show how aid programs in E-1 actually entrench Israeli apartheid. They offer recommendations to donor states, Palestinian civil society organizations, and national stakeholders for how to secure the rights of these communities.”
STC is based on the “separation-without-withdrawal” paradigm: The initial stage of the Oslo process reorganized Israel’s occupation into zones of direct and indirect control, which allowed Israel to maintain its occupation indefinitely at low cost. Essentially, Shrinking The Conflict (STC) proposes extending this paradigm to its logical endpoint.
STC obscures the one-state reality: The consolidation of Israel’s permanent rule over the occupied territories has created a “one-state reality.” STC claims to offer a “two-state reality” in place of two actual states and is intended to free Israel of the implications of preventing the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Echoes of Apartheid: STC echoes the logic of Apartheid-era South Africa in its formation of territorial reservations called “Bantustans,” which were intended to give the appearance of self-determination for Black South Africans and deflect the responsibility of the sovereign government toward all people under its effective control.
Palestinians are passive recipients of Israeli policy: While this reflects the prevailing dynamic between the two sides, the lack of Palestinian acquiescence will ultimately limit STC from realizing its goals and perpetuate the conflict indefinitely.”
“In addition to the praise he lavishes on himself over the course of his 272-page book, [former US Ambassador to Israel David] Friedman includes plenty of examples of the plaudits heaped upon him by the powerful men he was surrounded by during those years. In his telling, his legal and political acuity, along with his grit, determination, and vision, were plain to almost all except for “Deep State” operatives, progressives, and phony pro-Israel Democrats who sought to foil him at every turn. His labored self-aggrandizement aside, however, Friedman’s overarching theme, though not presented as such, is to narrate the accelerated expulsion, dispossession, and violent repression of Palestinians as an extended moment of American, Israeli, and Jewish self-actualization. And in that, “Sledgehammer” — both by omission and inclusion — says as much about the administration Friedman officially represented, and its still-unfolding legacy, as it does about the man himself.”