Top News from Israel & Palestine: April 28, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights, Apartheid

Rights Group Hits Israel With Explosive Charge: Apartheid,

“”While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” [HRW executive director Ken Roth] said…Human Rights Watch officials said their goal is not to delegitimize Israel but to apply pressure on it to end what they see as clear-cut discriminatory practices. They called on foreign countries to predicate arms sales and military assistance on Israel’s taking steps to reform the system, on the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis suspected of involvement in the policy, and for foreign countries to sanction individual Israeli officials who are responsible for it.”

Also see: 

  • “Human Rights Watch: Israel commits ‘crimes of apartheid’ against Palestinians” (Middle East Eye)
  • Human rights group says Israel’s treatment of Palestinians amounts to ‘apartheid’ (Globe & Mail)
  • For a full overview, see yesterday’s News Roundup from FMEP

Jewish Leaders Denounce Anti-Israel Report by Human Rights Watch,

“…this libelous document resorts to baseless apartheid accusations against Israel, among other lies and distortions…HRW should be denounced for giving voice to such vicious hate…”

Also see: 

  • “Israel is not an apartheid state – editorial” (Jerusalem Post)
  • “Human Rights Watch’s Long War Against Israel” (JNS)
  • “Human Rights Watch really wants to push Israel and PA into one state (JPost)

Israel Using Drones to Tear Gas Palestinian Demonstrators in West Bank,

“The police began using drones that drop tear gas grenades on demonstrators last week, three years after they were first used at the Gaza border. Their use on a wider scale was approved by the police last week, and they were used in the West Bank and Jerusalem for the first time over the last weekend, during a protest by Palestinian demonstrators near Rachel’s Tomb, just outside Bethlehem, and at another demonstration near the Qalandiya checkpoint in north Jerusalem.”

Palestinians succeed in kicking out Israeli settlers seeking to level land in their village for settlement purposes,

“Palestinians in the West Bank village of Nilin succeeded today in kicking out Israeli settlers who came to their lands to level it in order to open a road for the settlers, according to the activist Murad Amira. He told WAFA that the settlers, protected by soldiers, came to an area in the north of the village in order to continue work they started two days ago to open a 2-kilometer long road for the settlers. Village residents confronted them and were able to kick the settlers out of the land, said Amira, adding that the settlers want to seize thousands of dunums of land from Nilin and nearby Deir Qadis villages to build a settlement outpost after setting up tents and mobile homes in that area two years ago.”

Settlers set Palestinian vehicles ablaze near Jerusalem,

“Israeli settlers Wednesday overnight set three Palestinian-owned vehicles ablaze near the village of Beit Iksa, northwest of the occupied West Bank city of Jerusalem, according to local sources. They said that a group of Israeli settlers torched the vehicles, which were parked nearby the illegal Israeli colonial settlement of Ramot, east of the village, spray-painted racist graffiti and smashes the window shields of other vehicles parked in the area.” Also see:Israel settlers set fire to cars in Jerusalem chanting ‘May your village burn’” (Middle East Eye)

Israeli navy injures fisherman offshore northern Gaza,

“Israeli navy Wednesday overnight shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman offshore Beit Lahia town in the northern besieged Gaza Strip, according to WAFA correspondent. He said that the fishermen were sailing within three nautical miles, west of the town, when Israeli naval boats opened gunfire toward them, lightly injuring one of them.”

Israel's 'fierce' targeting of human rights groups exposed in new report,

““Over the past decade, Israel has been running a vicious smear campaign targeting human rights groups critical of the Zionist state, a new report by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) has found. Titled Target Locked, the report exposed “the unrelenting Israeli smear campaigns to discredit human rights groups in Israel, Palestine, and the Syrian Golan.” Human rights groups and NGOs that are working on issues related to the Israeli occupation, settlement activity, accountability for international crimes and human rights violations, asylum seekers and refugees, political prisoners, or the rights of the Palestinian minority within Israel, have been the primary target of a vast delegitimisation campaign led by Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy (MSA). MSA, say the report’s authors, has been “fiercely” laying out an Israeli strategy to delegitimise human rights groups and NGOs defending Palestinian human rights as “anti-Semitic operatives with deep ties to terrorist groups fixated on destroying the State of Israel”.”

Also see: 

Opinion | 'Death to Arabs': Palestinians Need International Protection From Israel's Racist Jewish Thugs,

“But there is also a new element to these attacks: the role that Israel’s prime minister is playing. Netanyahu’s allies, particularly the Kahanist-supporting MKs, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, called on their fanatic youth to take over the streets, a show of force and a mob to harass and assault Palestinians. It was clear that there was coordination with the police; they were supported by politicians; and from the government – not a single condemnation to date…. there is an urgent need to ensure the international protection of the Palestinian people. Palestinians within Israel’s border and in occupied territory need to be defended, not just against the cruelty of Israel’s armed forces, but also against the brutality of “regular” citizens, emboldened by their new Knesset representation and fueled by a racist vision of Jewish supremacy, and embrace of apartheid and a mission to transfer Palestinians from their homes and homeland by intimidation, or force.”

Palestinian Elections & Scene

Fatah: By barring elections in Jerusalem Israel is blocking Palestinian democracy,

The ruling Fatah party today renewed its call on to the United Nations and the European Union (EU) to put pressure on Israel to permit all eligible Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote in the Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for May 22, stressing that by barring elections in Jerusalem Israel is blocking Palestinian democracy. Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazzal…warned that Israel’s hostile stance toward Palestinian democracy, stemming notably from a racist scheme, will undermine the democratic process Fatah views as necessary for building the foundations of good governance, institution-building and the rule of law.”

'Israel not trying to thwart Palestinian elections',

“Israel is not trying to thwart the Palestinian elections and expects European countries will not pay heed to accusations being leveled by Palestinian officials, a senior Israeli official said Tuesday.  The remarks were made by Alon Bar, head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s political department, in a meeting with 13 European ambassadors, according to a report by Israeli news website Walla…The European diplomats pressed Israel to allow a delegation of observers to enter the occupied West Bank and Gaza to monitor the elections, the Walla report said.”

President Abbas discusses Palestinian elections with European Union representative,

“The President briefed his guest on the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and efforts by the Palestinian leadership to hold elections in all the Palestinian territories, including in Jerusalem as candidates, campaigning and voting as per the presidential decrees on this matter. President Abbas stressed the importance of the European Union continuing to pressure the Israeli government to allow Palestinian elections in occupied Jerusalem according to the agreements signed between the two sides under international auspices.”

How Israeli hurdle in Palestinian elections may benefit Abbas,

“Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman reportedly told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a recent meeting that until Israel installs a new government, he will not get an answer regarding permission for residents of east Jerusalem to vote in the May 22 Palestinian elections… If Abbas truly wants elections, he could set up special voting stations for east Jerusalem residents outside the city. But the contest that was supposed to hand him a victory in the waning days of his rule could turn out to be a painful defeat opening the gates to Hamas.”

Jerusalem protests: Palestine's new generation rises up,

“As in the waves of anger that erupted in October 2015 and July 2017, the current popular action in Jerusalem represents resistance politics in its most vibrant form. Such collective actions present a challenge to authorities and elites, and to their claims of representation. Still, the transformation of this anger into a social movement representative of all Palestinian people requires efforts that build on existing networks. It requires the consolidation of collective goals based on a programme of liberation from colonialism and defiance of oppressive authorities and elites. Jerusalemites recognise this dynamic, and they know that by transforming the wave of anger into a broader movement, they will be closer to emancipation and self-determination. To this end, as political analyst Hani al-Masri argued during the 2017 protest wave, four requirements must be met: broad popular adoption, continuity, platform objectivity and leadership.”

Despite Egyptian campaign, Gaza border tunnels resume smuggling activity,

“Despite the largely successful security campaign launched by Egypt in February 2013 against the Palestinian border tunnels in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, there are reportedly Palestinian attempts to bring back some of the destroyed tunnels to life.”

EU moves to stop funding Palestinian terrorists, inciting textbooks,

“The European Parliament Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to ensure EU funds do not reach anyone affiliated with terrorists. It also rapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, for iinciting hate and violence in their textbooks. The legislature’s annual budgetary report says the EU must “thoroughly verify” that its funds are not “allocated or linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalization.” Any funds that did go to any person or organization with terror ties must be “proactively recovered, and recipients involved are excluded from future Union funding.””

Israeli Politics & Election

Cabinet appoints Gantz as justice minister after U-turn by Netanyahu,

“While insisting that the disputed vote he held in the cabinet on Tuesday to appoint Likud’s Ofir Akunis as justice minister was a legitimate move, Prime Minister Benjamin backed down Wednesday from his refusal to appoint anyone else to the position, agreeing to make Blue and White’s Benny Gantz justice minister for the duration of the transitional government.”

See also: 

Bennett meets Ra’am chief Abbas amid effort to form government without Netanyahu,

Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett met Wednesday with Ra’am party chief Mansour Abbas in the first-ever political contact between the leaders of the two parties, amid ongoing efforts to form a government without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.”

Why the UAE’s Billion Dollar Investment in Israeli Natural Gas Should Concern Us,

“How much weight should the UAE’s anger over the Jerusalem violence hold should the nation own one-fifth of Israel’s main energy source?… This is the sixth deal in which business interests are taking priority over geopolitical and defense interests – following Israel’s plan for its natural gas industry, after the sale of submarines to Egypt, after the deal to export natural gas to Egypt and Jordan, after the sale of the F-35s to the UAE and after the deal signed to transport oil from the Gulf to Trans-Israel pipeline facilities in Eilat and Ashkelon. And there’s no indication whether these deals serve national or private interests.” See also “Israeli company sells shares in natural gas field to Emirati group

American Scene

Tom Nides Emerges as Front-runner for Biden's Ambassador to Israel,

“Thomas R. Nides, managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley, has emerged as front-runner to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel. Nides, whose emergence was first reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday, previously served as a deputy secretary of state and is expected to bring a unique hybrid of public and private sector experiences…While serving in the Obama administration, he helped oversee the recommendation that Congress approve a three-year extension of loan guarantees to Israel worth $3.8 billion, amid Israeli concerns that the U.S. would not extend them despite Israel’s request.”

Also see:

  • “Tom Nides expected to be Biden’s ambassador to Israel” (Jewish Insider)
  • “Biden donors, friends and former aides expected on first slate of ambassadors” (WaPo)

Opinion//The US cannot continue ignoring Israel’s crimes in Jerusalem,

“At home, the Biden administration has stood against far-right extremism and voter suppression. It does not make sense that its foreign policy towards Israel and Palestine should not reflect the same principles. If President Joe Biden is really set on undoing the damage that his predecessor, Donald Trump, did at home and abroad, then he needs to change tact on Israel. Turning a blind eye to Israeli crimes against Palestinians and choosing to constantly appease it will not lead to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Biden needs to pressure Israel to stand down on Jerusalem, allow the Palestinian elections to take place, so a new Palestinian leadership can be elected, and then proceed to get the two sides back on the negotiating table.”