Top News from Israel & Palestine: April 6, 2021

What We’re Reading

US Policy

US ducks question on whether east Jerusalem is Palestinian capital,

“US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday ducked a question about whether the Biden administration considers east Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state.” Also see: Department Press Briefing – April 5, 2021 (US Department of State)

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights

Israeli forces kill Palestinian man at West Bank flying checkpoint,

“Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man and injured his wife in the early hours of Tuesday morning as the pair were on their way home to their village of Biddu, northwest of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. Osama Mansour, 42, and his wife Sumayya, 35, were on their way home around 2:30am when they were stopped at a flying checkpoint outside the neighbouring village al-Jib, where Israeli soldiers were conducting a search and arrest operation. In an interview with news channel Palestine TV, Sumayya Mansour said that Israeli soldiers stopped her and her husband’s car at the checkpoint and told them to turn off the vehicle, which she says they did. ‘Then they told us to turn the car back on and leave, and so we drove off – and then they all started firing bullets at us,’ she said from her hospital bed in the West Bank city of Ramallah.” Also see:

Liberal Jewish groups threaten boycott of JNF-KKL if it buys West Bank land,

“Two dozen international liberal Jewish organizations sent a letter to the chairman of the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemeth Leisrael Sunday threatening a boycott if the agency moves ahead with its plans to purchase land in the West Bank. ‘If this decision is not rejected and reversed by the Board of JNF-KKL, we pledge to lend no further support to the JNF-KKL,’ the groups wrote in their letter to Avraham Duvdevani, according to a copy obtained by the Forward. ‘We have a collective obligation to ensure that our philanthropy, educational programs and communal impact in no way legitimizes or contributes to the expansion of Israel’s settlement enterprise in the West Bank.’ The letter was organized by organizations including J Street, Americans for Peace Now, T’ruah, the New Israel Fund, Habnonim Dror and affiliates of the Reform movement. The coalition included organizations based on four continents and was also signed by roughly 7,000 individuals.”

PA urges action against Israel settlements,

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) yesterday urged the international community to take immediate action against Israel’s settlement expansion and ‘ethnic cleansing’. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, the PA said: ‘Israeli settlement practices are part of official Israeli plans to evacuate the Palestinian territories from their original residents and make it a deep background for the strategic Israeli colonial project.’ This statement came in response to the occupation setting up a new settlement post in the occupied Jordan Valley. Meanwhile, the PA condemned Israel’s usurping of Ein Al Hilwa spring, also in the northern part of the Jordan Valley and its targeting of Bedouin in the area.”

Aiding Palestine refugees is not political,

“The charge most frequently levied against us is that UNRWA plays a political role. This could not be further from the truth. UNRWA is mandated to provide direct, vital humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. That is the agency’s priority and focus. It does not engage in politics. UNRWA, like all other United Nations agencies and international NGOs, is bound to the four humanitarian principles (humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence) that are enshrined in two UN General Assembly resolutions. This means that all UNRWA operations are exclusively driven by the alleviation of suffering (humanity), while ensuring that our response is independent from military and political aims (independence), with no discrimination (impartiality), and not taking sides in conflict (neutrality). Being political is antithetical to being a humanitarian. Strict commitment to humanitarian principles drives all our positions and decisions.”


Alarm bells start to ring in Gaza amid COVID-19 surge,

“Reeling under a 14-year Israeli blockade, the Gaza Strip is witnessing a dangerous spike in the daily coronavirus infections and fatalities in recent days. Israel, which has vaccinated most of its citizens against the pandemic, does not provide the COVID-19 vaccine to the Gaza Strip as well as the occupied West Bank. To date, 81,600 doses of vaccine, mostly donated by other countries, have reached Gaza and only 24,000 people have been vaccinated in the territory. The Palestinian health system, which is already in a difficult situation due to the Israeli blockade, is on the verge of collapse amid a severe shortage of medicines and equipment. One out of every three tests conducted in recent days in Gaza City came back positive, according to data by the Health Ministry.”

Israeli Elections

Israeli president picks Netanyahu to try to form government,

“Israel’s president on Tuesday handed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the difficult task of trying to form a government from the country’s splintered parliament, giving the embattled leader a chance to prolong his lengthy term in office while he stands trial on corruption charges. In his announcement, President Reuven Rivlin acknowledged that no party leader had the necessary support to form a majority coalition in the 120-seat Knesset. He also noted that many believe Netanyahu is unfit to serve as prime minister in light of his legal problems. Nonetheless, Rivlin said that there was nothing in the law preventing Netanyahu from holding that office. After consulting with the 13 parties in the newly elected parliament, Rivlin said that Netanyahu had the best chance of any candidate of forming a new government.” Also see:

Israel's 24th Knesset sworn in amid looming threat of fifth election,

“The swearing in of the 24th Knesset began Tuesday afternoon under the looming threat of a fifth election and just hours after President Reuven Rivlin tapped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the mandate to form the next coalition. In his speech, Rivlin lamented that he presided over six Knessets in his seven-year term. He broke out in tears when describing the divisiveness in Israeli society.  ‘If we will not be wise enough to find a model of partnership that will enable us to live here together in mutual respect and genuine shared commitment to each other, our national resilience will be in real danger,’ Rivlin warned.”  Also see:

Israel: Bennett says will concede PM role to uphold right-wing values,

“Israel’s former interim Defense Minister Naftali Bennett broke his silence on Tuesday, stating he will not renounce his values even if it would distance him from the prime minister post. ‘I don’t know many politicians who faced the real and immediate option of becoming prime minister and didn’t jump on it,’ Bennett said at a faction meeting of his right-wing Yamina party. The Yamina chair congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the opportunity to form the next government and pledged to ‘make sure that it will represent all citizens.’” Also see:

Poll: Lapid soars, Likud sinks if Israel goes to 5th election,

“…a new poll released Tuesday morning shows that if Israel is forced into yet another election, Yesh Atid and the left-wing bloc would likely benefit. The poll, conducted by Panels Politics on Monday and published on Radio 103FM Tuesday morning, found that if efforts to form a new government were to fail and new elections were held today, Yesh Atid would cut significantly into the Likud’s lead, rising from the 17 seats it won in last month’s election to 21 seats. The Likud, by contrast, would sink from 30 seats to 29. The right-wing bloc would gain one seat overall, rising from 59 seats to 60, while the left-wing – Arab bloc would gain one seat, rising from 48 seats to 49. The two right-of-center parties opposed to forming a government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu – would both lose seats, falling from 13 combined to 11.”

Mansour Abbas doesn’t stand a chance against the forces of Jewish supremacy,

“Mansour Abbas was on top of the world last week after his Islamist Ra’am party defied expectations and was elected to the Knesset. Following the election, Abbas delivered a primetime speech hailed by pundits as historic, in which he declared: ‘I, Mansour Abbas, a man of the Islamic Movement, am a proud Arab and Muslim, a citizen of the state of Israel who heads the leading, biggest political movement in Arab society, courageously champion a vision of peace, mutual security, partnership, and tolerance between the peoples.’ Extending a hand to the Israeli far right, Abbas seemed to offer a message of partnership: ‘If we cannot find the way to defeat ignorance and beat racism, we will bequeath to the next generation a complex and dangerous and impossible reality.’ But now, a week after his election victory and months after he made clear that he would sit in a Netanyahu coalition, Abbas’ achievements are coming up against the wall of Jewish supremacy.”

Palestinian Elections - News & Analysis

1,389 candidates to run in 36 lists in Palestine election,

“The Palestinian Election Commission announced it has approved 36 candidate lists ahead of the legislative elections set for next month. The committee said in a press release that access to the lists and candidates’ details are available on its website and in its offices and voters are welcome to submit objections to the lists of candidates no later than Thursday. Of the 36 lists that had applied to run in the election, seven are parties while 29 are independent lists. A total of 1,389 candidates have also applied to run in the polls, including 405 women who make up 29 per cent of the candidates.” Also see: Hamas: Palestine electoral body must stop punishing those held in long-term detention by Israel (Middle East Monitor)

Israel detains Hamas candidate for Bethlehem,

“Israeli occupation forces this morning detained senior Hamas official Hasan Wardyan, a candidate in the upcoming Palestinian elections, and other citizens from their homes in Bethlehem, the Palestinian Information Centre reported. Wardyan has previously spent over 20 years in Israeli jails. He is one of Hamas’ noted figures in Bethlehem and one of the candidates on its electoral list. Occupation forces also took former detainees Nader Abiyat, from Al-Fureidis village, and Adel Hijazi, from the central district of Bethlehem, from their homes.”

Israeli police raid East Jerusalem hotel to suppress an event on Palestinian elections,

“Israeli police today raided a hotel in occupied East Jerusalem to suppress an event on Palestinian elections and detained two Palestinians, including the hotel manager, according to WAFA correspondent. He said that Israeli police cordoned the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, denying access to it as a means to prevent a meeting on the upcoming Palestinian general elections. The meeting, called for by the civil society organizations in the city, was slated to be held under the title ‘International Law Guarantees our Right to Vote’. Police detained Secretary-General of Fatah in Jerusalem Adel Abu Zneid, the hotel manager Sami Abu-Dayyeh, and summoned two others, including Fatah activist Awad Salaymeh, for interrogation.” Also see: