Top News from Israel & Palestine: April 28, 2020

What We’re Reading

Please join FMEP for two webinars this week:

Weds Apr 29 — Coronavirus & Israel’s Supreme Court: Disclosing Structural Failures & Inequities in Israeli Policies, ft. Hassan Jabareen (Adalah), Jessica Montell (Hamoked), Michael Sfard (human rights lawyer) in conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman

Fri May 1 — Making Sense of Israel’s Domestic Political Circus, ft. Dahlia Scheindlin (public opinion expert/strategic analyst) and Neri Zilber (journalist, analyst, author), in conversation with FMEP non-resident fellow Peter Beinart

Annexation on the Agenda

US says ‘prepared to recognize’ Israeli annexation of parts of West Bank,

“The United States said Monday it was ready to recognize Israel’s annexation of parts of the West Bank but asked Israel’s government to also negotiate with the Palestinians. ‘As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel,’ a US State Department spokesperson said when asked if the US would allow Israel’s new government to move forward with the process.”

Netanyahu notches up international blitz on West Bank annexation,

“Netanyahu’s April 27 statement evidently shows that Jerusalem is engaged in a blitz of its own, designed to put the issue on the international table several months ahead of any concrete move. Some see this [as] an effort to exhaust the international community and to make clear that Israel and the United States have already decided to go ahead with annexation, no matter what.”

How should Palestinians respond to Israeli threats of annexation? ,

“Now is the time for a refocusing of efforts and a change in political strategy. Palestinians have to clean up their own house and demand new representative and legitimate leadership which no longer bows down to an international community enabling Israeli expansionism. While elections are an important democratic practice, in the West Bank and Gaza they would only serve to prop up the current authorities. What is required is a complete overhaul of the current political system which, for over the last two decades, has been focusing solely on keeping Palestinians subdued and contained. Such an overhaul requires a return to a revolutionary consensus achieved through plurality and reconciliation of political groups, geographic fragments, and collectives and a popular mobilisation around a political agenda of liberation. Only then will we stand a chance to stop the theft of Palestinian land.”

Urgent Arab League meeting to discuss Israel plan to annex West Bank,

“The Arab League will on Thursday hold an urgent virtual meeting to discuss Israeli plans to annex illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, Wafa News Agency reported yesterday. In a statement, Assistant Secretary General of the Arab League, Hossam Zaki, said that the meeting will discuss various ways of providing political, legal and financial support to the Palestinian leadership to confront the Israeli plans. They will also discuss ways to empower the Palestinian government to face the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the aggressive Israeli measures as well as Israel’s seizure of Palestinian tax revenues.”

Occupation/Settlements/Human Rights

Woman hurt in suspected Memorial Day terror attack in Kfar Sava,

“A woman was moderately to seriously wounded in a suspected terror attack in Kfar Sava as Israel marked Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. The 62-year-old woman was stabbed by a 19-year-old Palestinian assailant wearing a mask at around 1pm outside a shopping mall on Galgalei ha-Plada Street in the central city.”

Israel Evicts Palestinian Family Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Despite Assurances,

“Israeli authorities seized a mobile home near Jericho in the West Bank on April 23, leaving a family of seven homeless. The move violates Israel’s commitment made in early April to stop confiscating or demolishing structures deemed illegal until the end of the coronavirus crisis.”

Palestinians claim COVID-19 efforts blunted by Israel in East Jerusalem,

“Some East Jerusalemites accuse Israel of not being forthcoming about the spread of the coronavirus in East Jerusalem and criticize it for shutting down local efforts against the virus that are backed by the Palestinian Authority.”

Israel arrests more Palestinians in occupied West Bank and Jerusalem,

“Israeli occupation forces made a number of dawn arrests on Sunday, with Palestinians detained across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, has reported. Others who performed night prayers near Al-Aqsa Mosque were fined NIS500 ($142) on the spot. According to local Palestinian sources, the Israeli occupation forces raided Al-Tur neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem and arrested Omar Abu Ghannam after breaking into the youth’s house. In Al-Issawiyeh neighbourhood, the Israelis raided several Palestinian homes and arrested another youth, Ahmed Kayid Mahmoud.The same sources added that the occupation forces also raided Obeid neighbourhood in the occupied holy city and fired tear gas at local residents.”

Palestinians are facing coronavirus inside a lion’s den,

“Trapped with a depleted health sector, Palestinians are forced to depend on an occupier that is simultaneously thwarting their ability to care for themselves.”

Israel threatens Al-Aqsa Mosque imam,

“Israeli intelligence services threatened the Preacher of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, after raiding his house in occupied East Jerusalem. The threat came after Sheikh Sabri said that he will reopen Al-Aqsa Mosque’s doors if occupation forces allowed settlers to storm the Muslim site. Sheikh Sabri told Anadolu Agency: ‘Israeli intelligence forces came to my house and threatened me saying that they will hold me responsible for any tension in Al-Aqsa Mosque.’ He continued: ‘I told them that suspending the reception of worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque does not mean in any way that it is permissible to the settlers to enter it. Therefore, if the occupation police decide to open the Mughrabi Gate unilaterally to the settlers, then we will open the rest of the mosque’s doors to worshippers.’”

Israeli Domestic Scene

Netanyahu-Gantz Rotation Agreement May Be Toothless,

“Legislation meant to ensure that the prime minister’s job goes to Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz after 18 months may prove toothless, Knesset sources said on Monday. For one thing, Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid-Telem ticket, announced on Monday that should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu want to cancel his deal with Gantz at any point, Lapid’s party will vote with him. That would give Netanyahu’s bloc enough votes to repeal the legislation, which has a provision saying it can only be repealed if 75 of the Knesset’s 120 members vote to do so. Second, Knesset sources said, this provision will probably have to be changed before the bill passes in any case, to require only a 61-lawmaker majority. Given that Netanyahu’s bloc already comprises 59 members of Knesset, that means he would have to find only two additional votes to cancel the agreement.”

Regime change in the shadow of the coronavirus,

“The political changes being perpetrated under the guise of the COVID-19 disaster chip away at Israel’s democracy while so many are too worn out to pay full attention.”

After Their Deal With Netanyahu, Three Perspectives on the Death of Israel’s Labor Party,

“The committee of Israel’s founding party voted Sunday to let what’s left of it join the coalition. Here’s what that means for Labor’s present and future.”


Israeli court rules PA must pay $150 million in damages to terror victims,

“The Jerusalem District Court has ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay nearly $150 million in damages to the families of people killed in terror attacks. The decision comes following a lawsuit brought by Shurat Hadin, an Israeli legal advocacy group, on behalf of relatives of victims from a number of attacks, mostly carried out during the Second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s. A previous court ruling from last year found the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization to be liable for those attacks, along with other actors. In its decision Friday, the Jerusalem court ruled that the funds would come from tax money that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians. Shurat Hadin had asked that more than $2 billion be paid in compensation. The court gave Israel until next month to appeal the decision if it wants the order annulled. Israel might consider appealing if it fears the freezing of the funds could destabilize the cash-strapped Palestinian government.”

Israel freezes Palestinian Authority tax revenue again,

“A court in Jerusalem decided on Sunday to freeze NIS450m ($128m) of Palestinian Authority tax revenue collected by Israeli customs, Quds Press has reported. The decision followed a lawsuit submitted by dozens of Israelis whose relatives were killed in resistance action against the military occupation during the Second Intifada. The Israel Law Centre — Shurat HaDin — filed the complaints for the plaintiffs and asked the court to freeze NIS7.1bn ($2.16bn) of taxes collected on behalf of the PA by the Israeli customs authorities. The court decided to freeze NIS450m as a first stage, noting that the total sum could reach more than NIS2bn.”

EXCLUSIVE: HSBC to block donations to Palestinian aid charity Interpal,

“British bank HSBC has told customers in the UK that it will stop processing standing order payments to the Palestinian aid charity Interpal from next month. The bank sent out letters earlier this month to account holders who make regular donations in support of the London-based charity, informing them any payments would stop on 17 May. It gave no reason for taking the action….This is the first time that HSBC is thought to have taken action against Interpal. However, as MEE reported last year, the charity has had other banking or donation processing facilities withdrawn. At that time, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), a pro-Israel lobbying group, claimed a role in the withdrawal of Interpal’s BT MyDonate and JustGiving services, and the withdrawal of credit card services. UKLFI’s actions against Interpal were based on the US Treasury designation of Interpal as a terrorist organisation in 2003.”

Israel Memorial Day 2020

200,000 tune in for joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony,

“Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families made an impassioned call for reconciliation and peace on Monday evening during a joint virtual Memorial Day ceremony viewed by nearly 200,000 people. The Israeli-Palestinian Joint Memorial Day Ceremony was held without an in-person audience for the first time since its inception in 2006 due to the coronavirus, and instead was live-streamed from studios in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.” [Event can be watched here]

Jewish terrorists killed his wife. Now he has a message for the world,

Aisha Rabi was killed by settlers in the West Bank two years ago. Her husband Yacoub  commemorated her as part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony.