Top News from Israel & Palestine: April 14, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights

Outgoing IDF liaison: PA’s Abbas a partner, we should have behaved differently,

“Israel’s outgoing military liaison to the Palestinians said Sunday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has worked well with Israel and should have been treated differently. Abbas ‘is a partner. He has proven himself over a period of time that he is against violence,’ Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories head Kamil Abu Rukun said in an interview with Kan news. When asked whether Israel missed an opportunity with him, Abu Rukun said: ‘We should have behaved differently.’ The outgoing liaison also said that he believed the Palestinian Authority was well placed to rule the West Bank if there were ever to be an Israeli withdrawal from the territory.”

Trump-era spike of Israel settlement growth has only begun,

“An aggressive Israeli settlement spree during the Trump era pushed deeper than ever into the occupied West Bank — territory the Palestinians seek for a state — with over 9,000 homes built and thousands more in the pipeline, an AP investigation showed. If left unchallenged by the Biden administration, the construction boom could make fading hopes for an internationally backed two-state solution — Palestine alongside Israel — even more elusive…The huge number of projects in the pipeline, along with massive development of settlement infrastructure, means Biden would likely need to rein in Israel to keep the two-state option alive…”

Palestinians furious after Israel prevents Al-Aqsa call to prayer on first day of Ramadan,

“Palestinians have reacted furiously after Israeli forces on Tuesday cut electric cables inside the minarets of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most holy site of the Islamic faith, preventing the call to prayer…Israeli police stormed the Bab Al-Maghariba and Bab Al-Silsila minarets on the western side of the Al-Aqsa compound on Tuesday evening. The storming was to prevent the adhan call to prayer, which coincided with Israel’s Memorial Day – the commemoration of killed Israeli soldiers – according to reports. Israel held a state ceremony for the occasion at the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site that is adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque…The Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque prevented evening prayers from being called from the mosque on the first day of Ramadan, the sacred Muslim month of fasting which began on Tuesday. The Palestinian Authority’s news agency WAFA also reported that Israeli forces prevented Palestinians from holding their fast-breaking iftar meal near the minarets of the mosque.” Also see reports from Times of Israel, WAFA

6 injured, 5 arrested as hundreds riot in East Jerusalem after Ramadan prayer ,

“Tensions are also soaring in East Jerusalem over concerns Israel will prevent the area from being included in the national Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for next month. Israel cracks down on Palestinian Authority activity inside Jerusalem, considering it a violation of Israeli sovereignty in its capital.”

Israel/OPT: UN experts warn of rising levels of Israeli settler violence in a climate of impunity,

“Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank has risen markedly in recent months, with assaults and property destruction occurring in an atmosphere of impunity, UN human rights experts said today. ‘We note that, in 2020, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 771 incidents of settler violence causing injury to 133 Palestinians and damaging 9,646 trees and 184 vehicles mostly in the areas of Hebron, Jerusalem, Nablus and Ramallah,’ the experts said. ‘Already, during the first three months of 2021, more than 210 settler violent incidents were recorded, with one Palestinian fatality. We call upon the Israeli military and police to investigate and prosecute these violent acts with vigor and resolve.’” Also see reporting from Al Jazeera, Al Anadolu, WAFA


Other reports

Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem knows no limits (Daily Sabah, on Sheikh Jarrah)

Ex-Israel spy storms Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus (Middle East Monitor)

Palestinian Residents Petition to Reopen Road to Their East Jerusalem Neighborhood After 20 Years (Haaretz, on Isawiyah)

Richard Gere: Israelis won’t have a home until the Palestinians have one (Jerusalem Post)

US Policy

How hawkish Democrats are impeding Biden’s Middle East policy,

“From the Iran nuclear deal to the Israeli occupation, conservative Democrats are raising the political costs of adopting a more progressive U.S. foreign policy.”

Joe Biden Is Proceeding With Donald Trump’s Biggest Arms Deal,

“President Joe Biden is advancing controversial Trump-era plans to transfer $23.4 billion in sophisticated weaponry to the United Arab Emirates, a State Department spokesperson told HuffPost on Tuesday ― despite concerns from influential lawmakers and progressive activists, as well as the Biden administration’s promise to review the package. The news ― first reported by HuffPost ― came amid an ongoing lawsuit by a nonprofit group called the New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs, which echoed criticism of the deal as potentially destabilizing for the Middle East. ‘While we will not comment on ongoing litigation, we can confirm that that the Administration intends to move forward with these proposed defense sales to the UAE, even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have developed mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations before, during, and after delivery,’ the spokesperson said. Last December, nearly all Senate Democrats voted to try and block the sale, citing President Donald Trump’s rushed attempt to push it through and the UAE’s alarming violations of human rights at home and around the region.”


Also see:

Israel and US hold 'strategic talks' as Natanz attack overshadows Iran nuclear negotiations,

“Despite its absence from the Iran nuclear deal, Israel was always going to be an important factor in any US rapprochement with Tehran. On Tuesday, the US and Israel met virtually for another set of strategic meetings, according to a report by Axios. It comes ahead of a second round of talks between world powers and Iran – attended indirectly by the US – in Vienna on Wednesday, on rekindling the nuclear deal, which Washington abandoned under former President Donald Trump in 2018. It also follows a series of tense moments in the region, including an explosion at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility two days ago, a controversial site considered among Tehran’s most important for uranium enrichment.”


Also see:

Israel & the Region

In Twilight of the Netanyahu Era, Israel Changes the Rules on Iran,

“Israel seems to be suffering a total breakdown of responsibility among its security chiefs, whether they seek to create a sense of emergency or for self-aggrandizement.” Also see: Ex-intelligence chief questions PM’s authority on alleged Iranian attacks (Israel Hayom)

Vessel owned by Israeli company attacked off UAE coast: Reports,

“A commercial vessel owned by an Israeli firm was attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Gulf waters, pro-Iran media and an Israeli television channel said on Tuesday. Israel’s Channel 12 quoted unnamed Israeli officials as blaming arch foe Iran for the assault, which it described as a missile strike. There were no casualties and the ship continued on its course, the TV channel added, though it was ‘lightly damaged’…The incident comes a day after Tehran accused Israel of sabotaging a nuclear site, and after Iran and the United States began indirect talks in Vienna on ways to revive world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.”

Iran and Israel’s Undeclared War at Sea (Part 2): The Potential for Military Escalation,

“Although both sides have sought to keep their tit-for-tat maritime attacks under control, they pose a substantial risk of miscalculation and escalation that could jeopardize international shipping.”

Israel agrees to increase water supply to Jordan after pressure from Biden,

“Israel has agreed to increase water supply to Jordan following weeks of delays and US pressure, local media reported. Committed to providing Jordan with water provided under the 1994 Wadi Araba peace agreement, every year the supply is increased. But this year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed approval despite recommendations by Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and water authority officials to comply. Under the agreement, Israel pumps water out of the Jordan river and transfers it back to Jordan during dry spells, as it remains one of the world’s most water-scarce states.  Jordan’s request was submitted several weeks ago through the joint Israeli-Jordanian water committee, as Amman had been experiencing a severe water shortage. Israeli newspaper Haaretz had reported that the delay was in retaliation for Jordan interfering with Netanyahu’s plans to travel to Abu Dhabi last month…” Also see: Netanyahu Belatedly Approves Jordan’s Request to Transfer Water, Withheld Amid Diplomatic Spat (Haaretz)

Lebanon president delays declaration on waters disputed with Israel,

“Lebanese President Michel Aoun has refused to consent to a plan to expand Lebanon’s maritime borders amid ongoing disputes with Israel and Syria in the eastern Mediterranean.”

Sudan due to send first delegation to Israel next week, sources say,

“Khartoum said to be preparing to send its first-ever diplomatic delegation to Israel, comprised of security and intelligence officials, as both nations move to solidify last year’s normalization deal.”


(Israel) Fewest seriously ill COVID patients since July 2020,

“Coronavirus infection rate sinks to lowest level since May 2020, with total number of COVID hospitalizations continuing to drop.”

Palestine records 1,923 Covid-19 cases, 22 deaths,

“Palestine today recorded 1,923 new Covid-19 cases and 22 deaths, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 1,923 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and 22 others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 1,923 cases, 498 cases were recorded in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 1,425 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Palestinian doctors escalate protests against PA,

“The Palestinian Doctors’ Syndicate agreed on Monday to escalate its protests in response to the Palestinian Authority distancing itself from agreements signed with the representative body, Al-Ayyam has reported. The PA, said the organisation, is ‘procrastinating’ over its pledges made to the doctors, and ‘disregarding’ their rights…The protest actions have been banned by the Palestinian Supreme Court. Nevertheless, local doctors in the occupied West Bank have continued to call for the government to increase the number of doctors in public hospitals and clinics to ease the burden imposed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”


Israeli Elections 

Netanyahu, Bennett make progress in coalition talks, but 61 seats still out of reach,

“Efforts to form Israel’s next government continued on Wednesday as talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lawmaker Naftali Bennett were described as ‘positive,’ but a solution to reach 61 parliament seats was still far from reach. According to Israel Hayom daily, Netanyahu’s Likud party assesses that persuading Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich to join a government leaning on Islamist Ra’am party votes is the safest bet to form a coalition. All other routes have been exhausted as Gideon Sa’ar, head of New Hope, ‘is deep in his revenge campaign,’ anonymous Likud sources were quoted as saying in the report.” Also see: Naftali Bennett made himself a kingmaker, but will there be a coronation?

AG urges High Court: Reject petition seeking to bar Netanyahu government,

“Mandelblit says he believes there is ‘no justification for judicial interference,’ since previous ruling said premier can retain his position even under indictment.”

Palestinian Scene/Elections

Hamas calls for international intervention to stop detention of election candidates,

“The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, called on Tuesday for immediate international intervention to stop Israel’s detention of its parliamentary election candidates. The movement made the announcement at the Palestinian Central Elections Commission in Ramallah. ‘Israel is detaining candidates in order to affect the results of the election,’ said Alaa Humeidan, the spokesman of the Hamas-aligned Al-Quds is Our Destiny electoral list. Two candidates on the list have already been detained by the Israeli occupation authorities, and others have been threatened with arrest.”


Also see:

Ahead of Palestinian elections, West Bank homes of 2 candidates hit by gunfire,

“Tensions in the West Bank city of Hebron have risen over the past two days, with the homes of two local politicians sprayed with bullets ahead of the Palestinian legislative elections in May. Armed gunmen allegedly opened fire on the home and office of parliamentary candidate Hatem Shaheen early on Monday morning. Shaheen, a lawyer, is currently running on a list sponsored by former Fatah security chief Mohammad Dahlan. Dahlan is a bitter rival of the current leadership in Ramallah, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He was exiled to the United Arab Emirates in 2013, but has hinted that he may use the Palestinian vote to launch a comeback in the West Bank.”

Lawfare, Free Speech, & Weaponization of Antisemitism

Pal Legal to Dep’t of Ed.: Investigate Anti-Palestinian Racism at Florida State,

“For nearly a year, Florida State University student leader Ahmad Daraldik has been the target of rampant anti-Palestinian racism, which his school has not only tolerated but amplified, as detailed in a new federal complaint.  On Tuesday, April 13, Palestine Legal filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights demanding an immediate investigation into a hostile environment of anti-Palestinian racism that continues to fester at FSU. The complaint explains that the university not only stood by while a hostile environment ballooned on campus, but that it took actions of its own to reinforce implicit and explicit forms of anti-Palestinian racism…Tuesday’s filing is the first complaint of its kind alleging discrimination against a student based on Palestinian national origin. ‘It’s time to speak out about racism against Palestinians as the status quo,’ said Michael Ratner Justice Fellow Amira Mattar. ‘We’re demanding that the federal government hold Florida state to account because we must put an end to the erasure, dismissal, and intentional distortion of Palestinian voices.’”

Facebook censored Palestinians in Gaza from sharing our story with the world,

“BDS activists in Gaza tried to promote a video on Facebook that compares Israel and apartheid South Africa. The platform rejected the promotion and shadow banned the account. Unfortunately this is not an isolated case.”

Israel supporter granted honor by SC governor,

“South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster bestowed the highest honor a governor can grant on Tuesday to Alan D. Clemmons, a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives Clemmons served from 2002 until his resignation in 2020. McMaster highlighted Clemmons’ support for Israel when presenting him with the Order of Palmetto. Clemmons initiated the first anti-BDS legislation in the United States. Clemmons has been credited with writing and passing the Republican platform on Israel.”