Top News from Israel & Palestine: April 5, 2021

What We’re Reading

US Policy

Blinken seeks Israel's 'equal' treatment of Palestinians,

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Friday on Israel to ensure ‘equal’ treatment of the Palestinians as the new US administration cautiously steps up efforts for a two-state solution. In a telephone call with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Blinken ‘emphasised the administration’s belief that Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy,’ State Department spokesman Ned Price said. Blinken also committed to ‘strengthening all aspects of the US-Israel partnership’ and voiced support for the Jewish state’s agreements over the past year to normalise relations with four more Arab nations.” Also see:

Biden administration lifts Trump sanctions on ICC officials,

“The US revoked sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on prosecutors and officials associated with the International Criminal Court (ICC), Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced. Blinken, in a statement on Friday, said that while the sanctions have been lifted, the administration remains concerned over the court’s investigations regarding citizens of the United States and Israel, neither of which are signatories to the ICC. ‘We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel,’ Blinken said. ‘We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions,’ he continued.” Also see:

Israel, in first comment, says troubled by US position ahead of Iran talks,

“Mixed messages from the Biden administration on the Iran nuclear deal days before indirect talks commence in Vienna between the sides are ‘very troubling,’ senior Israel officials said Sunday.They expressed their concerns after US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley, in an interview with PBS on Friday, spoke about a return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action without any additional elements that would make it ‘longer and stronger,’ as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.”

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights

Settlers Assaulted Palestinian, Israeli Soldiers Dispersed Rescuers, Rights Group Says,

“A group of settlers assaulted a Palestinian in the West Bank village of Jalud on Saturday afternoon, the human rights organization Yesh Din reported. Two Israeli soldiers who reached the scene fired stun grenades at the Jalud residents who came to the Palestinian’s aid. According to a Yesh Din field researcher, the settlers came from the direction of the nearby Esh Kodesh outpost and attacked the Jalud resident, who is in his 50s, outside his home. A second group of settlers, whose faces were covered, began attacking him as well, throwing rocks and beating him with sticks. Two soldiers arrived at the scene shortly after the attackers fired stun grenades at Jalud residents who tried to help the Palestinian. He was evacuated for medical care and suffered various injuries.” Also see:

Har Homa E Plan for 540 HU Advances to Second to Final Stage in Approval Process on Wednesday,

“On Wednesday, April 7, the Local Planning Committee is scheduled to discuss objections to the outline plan (TPS 285411) for 540 housing units in Har Homa E (also known as Har Homa West). While portrayed as an extension to the existing Har Homa neighborhood/settlement, the plan will rather establish a completely new settlement over the Green Line in East Jerusalem in the open space between Har Homa and Givat Hamatos. This new neighborhood/settlement would be built along the northwestern edge, just 400 meters from the area designated for the planned 1257 housing units in Givat Hamatos. If constructed, it will complete Israeli territorial contiguity along the southern perimeter and sever East Jerusalem from Bethlehem and the southern West Bank.”

Israel arrests 230 Palestinian children in 3 months,

“Israeli authorities have arrested 230 Palestinian children since the beginning of this year, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said Sunday in a report. The report comes just a day before Palestinian Children’s Day, which is celebrated annually on April 5 with cultural, educational and media activities aimed at raising awareness on the plight of Palestinian children, ‘who lack the most basic rights due to the Israeli occupation,’ according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.” Also see:

Farming families in West Bank retreat to caves as settlers encircle land,

“In the southern West Bank near the separation wall lies the village of Khirbet al-Radhim, where seven Palestinian families live without roads, electricity or water and report constant harassment by the Israeli authorities and settlers.”

Palestinian citizen forced to demolish his own house in Jerusalem,

“Israeli occupation authorities today forced a Palestinian citizen to demolish his own house in the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir in occupied Jerusalem, under the pretext of lacking a construction permit, according to local sources. Amer Shkerat, a citizen of Jabal al-Mukabbir, embarked on tearing down his own house in the neighborhood to avoid paying exorbitant costs if the Israeli-run Jerusalem municipality carries out the demolition on its own. Using the pretext of illegal building, Israel demolishes houses on a regular basis to restrict Palestinian expansion in occupied Jerusalem.” More from WAFA:

Palestinians in Lebanon: 'The world has forgotten us',

“COVID pandemic, economic crisis, few rights: Things are getting harder and harder for displaced Palestinians in Lebanon. One reason is the chronic underfinancing of the UN agency responsible for them.”

Events in Jordan

Jordan's Prince Hamzah Disobeys Orders to Stay Silent, Vows to 'Escalate' Moves,

“Jordan’s estranged Prince Hamzah said in a voice recording released on Monday that he would disobey orders by the army to not communicate with outside world after he was put under house arrest. The half-brother of King Abdullah II and former heir to the throne said in voice recording sent to contacts released by the country’s opposition that he would ‘escalate’ moves after being barred from any activity and told to keep quiet. About 20 people, including associates of King Abdullah, were arrested by Jordanian authorities Saturday on suspicion of plotting to unseat the monarch.” Also see:

Gantz vows to assist Jordan, in first Israeli comment after alleged coup attempt,

“Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday said Israel was prepared to assist Jordan as necessary following an alleged coup attempt there over the weekend, in the first official comments from Jerusalem about the issue. Gantz referred to the incident as an ‘‘internal Jordanian issue,’ stressing Israel’s close security ties to Amman. ‘A strong and flourishing Jordan is a security and economic interest for us, and we need to do what we can to help them,’ Gantz said. ‘But as I said, regarding the internal developments there — that’s an internal issue,’ he said. The defense minister’s comments were the first on-the-record remarks by an Israeli official about the alleged coup attempt. The Israeli government has been monitoring the situation in next-door Jordan closely since reports first emerged Saturday of the alleged attempted coup.” Also see

Israeli offered to send jet to evacuate detained Jordan prince’s family: reports,

“An Israeli man based in Europe contacted Jordan’s Prince Hamzah bin Hussein over the weekend and offered to organize his family’s evacuation from Jordan on a private jet, according to a report on Sunday. The Jordanian Ammon news agency, which cited an “informed source,” on Sunday claimed Israeli Roy Shaposhnik contacted the wife of former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein, and offered to fly her out of the country with their children. It claimed Shaposhnik was a former Mossad intelligence agency officer. The report did not name the State of Israel as tied to the alleged coup attempt in any way.     In a statement to the Walla news site, however, Shaposhnik maintained that he was never a Mossad officer. He did confirm that he had proposed assistance to Hamzah for his family as part of their personal friendship.” Also see:


Saudi FM: Normalisation with Israel to 'bring tremendous benefits to the region',

“Normalising ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel would ‘bring tremendous benefits to the region as a whole,’ Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan Al-Saud announced on Thursday. ‘It [normalisation] would be extremely helpful economically, socially and from a security perspective,’ he expressed in the interview with CNN. Bin Farhan stated that his country’s normalisation of ties with Israel: ‘Depends to a large extent on the progress of the peace process,’ adding that it could be achieved only after the creation of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Israeli intelligence met with general Haftar's son in Libya - report,

“Intelligence Ministry officials secretly met with Saddam Haftar, the son of the de-facto leader of Libya General Khalifa Haftar, a report by the Washington Free Beacon claims.Haftar, the son, is currently eyeing Libya’s presidential seat, which will be decided in December of this year. Haftar, who many see as a proxy for his father, according to the report, has been seeking Western backing for his bid to run the country.The report claims that Israeli officials traveled to the country as a “signal” of support for Haftar’s bid. It could be seen as per-emptive negotiations to normalizing relations between Libya and Israel, if the report stands to be true.”

Iran says it has arrested spies for Israel, other nations,

“Iranian authorities arrested several people on charges of spying for Israel and other nations, state TV announced Monday. An unnamed Intelligence Ministry official in the country’s eastern Azerbaijan province was quoted by state TV as saying that security forces had detained a group of people suspected of spying for Israel and other unspecified countries. The brief report did not provide further details on the nationalities of the suspects or provide evidence to support the espionage charges.”




‘Like a Miracle’: Israel’s Vaccine Success Allows Easter Crowds in Jerusalem,

“..The mood among Christians a few miles away, in the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, was even less jubilant. Christians in the occupied territories can visit Jerusalem only with a special permit, which has become even harder to procure during the pandemic. While most Israelis are now vaccinated, the vast majority of Palestinians haven’t received a dose. Israel has supplied vaccines to more than 100,000 Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, almost all of whom work in Israel or West Bank settlements. Palestinian officials have obtained around 150,000 more doses.” Also see: Israel Returns to Sanity, but Ignores Rising COVID Infection in the West Bank and Gaza (Haaretz)

Palestine records highest daily COVID-19 infection rate: 2,800 new cases, 25 deaths,

“Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that a total of 2,806 new coronavirus cases were registered in Palestine, the highest number since the first outbreak of the pandemic last year. In addition, 25 deaths and 1589 recoveries were reported in the past 24 hours. She said in her daily report on coronavirus in Palestine that 1628 new cases, two deaths, and 272 recoveries were recorded in the besieged Gaza Strip, while 1178 new cases, 23 deaths, and 1628 recoveries were reported in the West Bank.” Also see: President Abbas extends state of emergency in Palestine over coronavirus for 30 more days (WAFA)

As Israel Races Toward Herd Immunity, a Palestinian Town Teeters Under the Weight of COVID,

“Few Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been vaccinated, explaining why the hospitals in Tul Karm are filling up as people die and the city remains under curfew” Also see: Israel could start vaccinating children against COVID-19 in coming weeks, top official says (i24 News)



Israeli Elections 

Poll: 80% of Israelis believe Israel is heading to 5th elections,

“More than three-quarters of Israelis believe that Israel is heading to its fifth elections in two years due to the ongoing political stalemate and fragmented blocs within the Israeli Knesset, Shehab News Agency reported on Sunday. A survey conducted by Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) concluded that 68 per cent of Israelis were dissatisfied with the last election results. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of those who participated in the survey said they expected a fifth round of elections. The survey revealed that 32 per cent believe Netanyahu would succeed in forming the government, while 17 per cent believed that his opposition would form the next government. Among the respondents, 24 per cent thought that none of the Israeli blocs would be able to form the government.” Also see: Rivlin: Israelis should be ‘very worried’ about 5th elections (Israel Hayom)

Lapid agrees to have Bennett serve as PM first in rotational deal,

“Yesh Atid chief and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid has acquiesced to a key demand made by the Yamina party, agreeing that Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett will serve first as prime minister if a rotational, power-sharing deal can be made to establish a new government.” Also see: Bennett Is Close to Achieving His Goal, and No Big Sacrifices Are Needed (Haaretz)

Rivlin to meet with party chiefs for recommendations on PM nomination,

“Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin is meeting heads of Israeli political parties in the Knesset (Israel Parliament) on Monday to hear their recommendations on who should form the country’s next government. According to a schedule released by the president’s office, the consultations will begin at 9:30 am, or 2:30 am Eastern, with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, the Knesset’s largest in the wake of the March 23 vote. Then, at 10:15 am, the president will meet with the opposition chief Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, with the final meeting slated for 7:00 pm, when Rivlin will speak with Ra’am party head Mansour Abbas.” Also see:

Netanyahu as president supported by Knesset majority - Likud source,

“A majority of the MKs who will be sworn in to the Knesset on Tuesday would vote for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be Israel’s next president, a senior Likud source close to Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. By law, the election for president must be held between April 9 and June 9, before President Reuven Rivlin’s seven-year term expires on July 9. The politician closest to Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, will set the date for the vote in the Knesset, which must be held at least three weeks after the date is announced.” Also see: President Netanyahu? (Arutz Sheva)

Mansour Abbas: Islamist kingmaker or the “good Arab”? ,

“…While Abbas’s speech was easy on the ears of Israelis, reactions in the Palestinian-Arab community were divided. His supporters hailed it as a pragmatic and sophisticated way to gain political advantage, but his opponents expressed considerable disappointment toward what they perceived as Abbas’s submissive posture and betrayal of their national aspirations and sentiments.” Also see:




Palestinian Elections - News & Analysis

Hamas ready to form coalition government,

“The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas announced on Friday that it is ready to form a coalition government after the parliamentary election. Speaking to Al Jazeera Mubasher TV, Hamas official Ismail Ridwan stated: ‘Even if Hamas won the majority of the seats in parliament, it would be ready to form a national coalition government.’ He also affirmed: ‘We hope that the election goes ahead without Israeli interference.’” Also see:

Palestinians approve 36 groups to run in May vote,

“Palestinian election officials announced Sunday that 36 candidate lists had been approved to run in legislative elections set for next month, the first Palestinian polls in 15 years. The vote, which precedes a presidential election called for July 31, is part of an effort by the dominant Palestinian movements – Fatah secularists and Hamas Islamists – to boost international support for Palestinian governance. Groups had until Wednesday to submit their lists of candidates to contest in the May 22 legislative polls. Individual names on each list are due to be published Tuesday, but the Palestinian electoral commission announced on its website that it had approved all 36 applications. Also see: Fatah assures members after no agreement reached on united electoral list (Middle East Monitor)

Mladenov Calls on Israel to Allow Palestinian Elections to be Held in Jerusalem,

“Nickolay Mladenov, former UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, urged Israel to allow Palestinians to hold legislative elections in Jerusalem. In a series of tweets on Saturday, Mladenov said Israel should not allow itself to be used as an excuse for those who seek to block elections. There are ways to ensure that all eligible voters can participate in accordance with the law without disrupting peace and security, he tweeted. ‘The international community must be clear that it expects elected Palestinian officials and any future government to abide by prior agreements and commitments, including Israel’s recognition and renounce violence. If elections prove to be impossible, it will be critically important for Palestinian leaders, with support from Egypt and Jordan, to quickly move and form a true national unity government that brings Gaza and the West Bank under a single national authority,’ Mladenov stressed.” Also see:

Free Speech. Antisemitism, Lawfare

Facebook reassurances on ‘Zionist’ hate speech policy met with skepticism,

“A Facebook announcement on Tuesday responding to criticism about a controversial rethink of how the platform should interpret the term ‘Zionist’ has been met with skepticism by Arab and Jewish rights groups. Speaking at the Palestine Digital Activism Forum, Facebook officials said they had no plans to make ‘Zionist’ part of their so-called protected characteristics in their hate speech policy. The platform does not allow content attacking tenets of a person’s identity, including race, gender, sexual identity, ethnicity and religion. But Facebook also removes content adjudged to be attacking such characteristics by proxy, and the officials said that there had been ‘no decision’ yet on how they would moderate content including the term ‘Zionist’ when seen as a ‘proxy for Jew’, doing little to allay a major concern of activists that a policy change could stifle free speech and legitimate criticism of Israel.”

Bonus read

Oh, no, minister! ALAN DUNCAN's gloriously wicked diary spills the vitriol on Boris 'the buffoon', 'frightened rabbit' Theresa May, her 'walking dead' Cabinet...,

“Monday, February 6: [Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu is being feted in Number 10, meeting the PM, followed by lunch, and then we let him use the FCO media suite to peddle his pro-settlement propaganda. We are supine, lickspittle, insignificant cowards. I am ashamed of my own Government.” and “Saturday, July 16: At 5.30pm I go to the Foreign Office. All seems clear and agreed that I will be Minister for the Middle East. [But] when I see Boris [now Foreign Secretary] at 6pm it seems a massive problem has arisen, which is nothing short of contemptible. Boris says the Conservative Friends of Israel [CFI] are going ballistic. If I’d ever so much as sided with anti-Semitic people, or said anything near it, they’d be fully entitled to have a go at me, but I never have. It is for no other reason than that I believe in the rights of Palestinians and it’s quite clear that they don’t. They just want to belittle and subjugate the Palestinians. Now Number 10 are telling Boris I cannot have the Middle East. This it seems has come from [May’s special adviser, or spad] Nick Timothy, who has also been got at. Appalling.”