Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 26, 2021

What We’re Reading

US Public Opinion

Americans Split on Military Aid to Israel, Say Political Status Quo Unacceptable,

“Ahead of Prime Minister Bennett’s first visit to Washington, Council data show partisan divides on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for a Palestinian state, and more…New data from the 2021 Chicago Council Survey indicate that some differences in ideas about US policy toward Israel on Capitol Hill—heightened by the 11-day clash between Israel and Hamas last May—have corresponding divisions among the American public. The US public is sharply divided along partisan lines on key issues, including whether to take a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for a Palestinian state, and restrictions on the uses of military aid to Israel…Americans prefer not to choose a side in the Israel-Palestinian conflict (58% no side, 32% choose to side with Israel, 8% with the Palestinians). Americans think either an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza (56%) or a one-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians are treated as equal citizens (60%) is acceptable. Relatively few say the status quo is acceptable (26%)…Attitudes regarding specific US policies toward Israel differ by partisan orientation. For example, overall opinion divides closely on whether the United States should (50%) or should not (45%) restrict US military aid to Israel to prohibit its use in military operations against Palestinians. While a majority of Democrats favor these restrictions (62%, 32% oppose), Republicans are nearly the mirror opposite, with six in 10 opposing them (61%, 32% favor).”

Mr. Bennett Comes to Washington

Biden and Naftali Bennett to Meet, Seeking to Burnish U.S.-Israel Relations,

“When Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel meets President Biden at the White House on Thursday, the two new leaders plan to seek a reset in relations between their countries and reinforce a bond that has showed signs of strain….But for all the conciliatory style, the challenge may be the substance. Mr. Biden and Mr. Bennett, who have never met before, have vastly different views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of efforts to restore the Iran nuclear deal.”


Also see:

Bennett to Americans: We want stability, but not two states,

“…When it comes to settlements, the source referred to Bennett’s statement in an interview with The New York Times that ‘there will not be a building freeze, but there also will not be annexation.’ Asked about Bennett’s remark in that same interview that only ‘natural growth’ will be allowed in settlements, the source said that the prime minister wants to ‘preserve the current situation.’ However, ‘natural growth’ refers to construction only for people who already live in Judea and Samaria – such as new schools or homes for newly married couples who grew up in the area – while the situation in recent years included limited construction beyond that.”


Also see:

Biden, Bennett to discuss Iran’s ‘out of the box’ nuclear program,

“President Joe Biden will tell Israel’s Naftali Bennett that the US is looking to roll back Iran’s nuclear programme through diplomacy but also has ‘other avenues to pursue’, a senior US official told reporters ahead of the two leaders’ meeting. Bennett, who is meeting Biden for the first time since becoming Israel’s prime minister, has voiced opposition to US efforts to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.”


Also see – Israeli messaging in advance of Biden meeting:

Blinken reaffirms 'unshakeable' US commitment to Israel's security in meeting with Bennett,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Wednesday in Washington, DC, ahead of a summit between Bennett and US President Joe Biden Thursday. Bennett and Blinken discussed regional security issues such as Iran and stressed the strong bilateral relationship. Blinken reaffirmed the ‘unshakeable’ US commitment to Israel’s security.”


Also see:

PM Bennett Meets with AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr,

“Prime Minister Bennett thanked AIPAC CEO Kohr for the organization’s steadfast support for the State of Israel and noted that he views its activity as a leading and integral factor in strengthening Israel’s standing in the US.” Also see: Bennett heaps praise on AIPAC ahead of meeting with Biden (The Forward)

Gaza Strip

For Hamas, May's War With Israel Never Ended,

“Criticism over the wounding of an Israeli officer led to a tighter deployment at the Gaza fence, but Hamas is still striving to get all its Qatari money and the border crossings opened.”

Palestinians in Gaza protest against Israel’s crippling blockade,

“Hundreds of Palestinians have demonstrated near the Israeli separation barrier in the southern Gaza Strip, calling on Israel to ease a crippling blockade, days after a similar gathering ended in a deadly crackdown…Palestinian medics reported at least 14 people were wounded, including five people who were shot. Soheil al-Hendi, a Hamas official, said the group had made a “great effort” to avoid bloodshed. The protests are an attempt to put pressure on Israel to ease its blockade on Gaza. Israel and Egypt have maintained the blockade since Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007, a year after winning a Palestinian election. The blockade has devastated Gaza’s economy and fuelled an unemployment rate that hovers at approximately 50 percent.”


Also see:

Israel to allow goods into Gaza in move to ease tensions,

“Israel said that it would be easing commercial restrictions on the Gaza Strip and expand entry of goods to the Palestinian enclave following days of heightened tensions. The announcement came after hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Wednesday near the Israeli border, calling on Israel to ease a crippling blockade days after a similar gathering ended in deadly clashes with the Israeli army. Hamas kept the crowds from approaching the barrier, and the protests ended without a repeat of Saturday’s intense clashes that left one Palestinian dead and an Israeli border policeman critically injured after being shot from point-blank range.”


Also see:

Egypt partially reopens Rafah border crossing with Gaza,

“Egypt says it has partially reopened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing one-way traffic into the besieged Palestinian enclave, as Israel eases import restrictions for the territory it has blockaded since 2007. Rafah, Gaza’s only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel, was shuttered on Monday by Egypt, which gave no reason for the move. But it came after Gazans on Saturday staged a protest along the separation fence with Israel, which killed one Palestinian, left dozens of others injured and an Israeli soldier in a critical condition from a gunshot wound. The border’s partial reopening on Thursday comes a day after Hamas’s interior ministry said Cairo would give the go-ahead for the flow of goods into the territory. It said two-way traffic would be open on Sunday.” Also see: Egypt to open Rafah crossing with Gaza in one direction for 3 days (Middle East Monitor)

3 months after Gaza conflict, IDF gearing up for another round of fighting,

“Three months after Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip waged a brutal 11-day conflict, the Israeli military is prepared for another round of fighting with the enclave, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said this week. While the Israel Defense Forces considers May’s Gaza conflict, known in Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls, as having achieved many — though not all — of its goals, it is still seen as something of a mixed bag. While there were some clear victories over Hamas, particularly against the terror group’s rocket production capabilities, there were also notable failures, namely Hamas’s ability to freely fire thousands of rockets at Israeli cities and critical infrastructure, which the IDF is now working to address.”


Also see:

Can We Worry Only About a Wounded Israeli Soldier, and Not the Victims in Gaza Too?,

“…Once again, at the Gaza border, things are turned upside down. The victim becomes the accused, the tyrant becomes the victim. Through the slit in the Gaza wall it is only permissible to shoot in one direction. Gunfire in the opposite direction is a crime for which the two million inhabitants of Gaza must be punished. Shmueli is a policeman and sniper who was brought to the fence to shoot protesters. By what moral criterion is it okay for an Israeli sniper to shoot protesters while a Palestinian is not permitted to shoot at those who are shooting at him?”

Mohammed el-Halabi: Israel’s claims against me are fake, and aimed at maintaining the Gaza blockade,

“In his first interview since his 2016 arrest, Mohammed el-Halabi tells Mondoweiss, ‘[Israel’s] claims issued against me are fabricated, and aimed at stopping the humanitarian work I and others are doing for the people of Gaza.’”


IDF cancels soldiers' tour of Temple Mount, following request by Sephardic Chief Rabbi,

“General Yehuda Fuchs of the Central Command has issued an order changing the route taken by outstanding soldiers as they tour Jerusalem’s Old City, such that they will not ascend to the Temple Mount. The decision was taken following a request of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef made of IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. In his letter, Rabbi Yosef stressed the halachic prohibition (in Jewish law) of ascending to the Temple Mount, as ruled by the Chief Rabbinate.”

West Bank

In mourning of a refugee student killed by Israeli forces, UNRWA calls for restraint in use of force,

“In mourning of a Palestinian refugee student killed this week by Israeli occupation forces in Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees said it was “deeply saddened” by the killing of the student and called on the Israeli forces to exercise restraint in the use of force. Imad Saleh Hashash, 15, a ninth-grade student at the UNRWA Balata Boys’ School, was shot in the head and killed in Balata refugee camp during clashes that followed an arrest operation carried out by Israeli forces in the camp on Tuesday. According to reports, Hashash was standing on the roof of his house when he was shot in the head with live ammunition and pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.”


More WAFA headlines:

Palestinian Authority/PLO

Focus On: Cracking Down on Resistance,

“In this selection of pieces, Al-Shabaka policy analysts outline the trajectory of contemporary Palestinian resistance with an eye to the emerging trends, actors, and tactics that will be crucial to harness in the years to come. In particular, they focus on the challenges that will be faced from various fronts, including efforts to censure the BDS movement and its supporters in the West, online censorship of grassroots actors by media corporations, and crackdowns by Israeli and Palestinian security forces on the ground.”

PA court sentences Nizar Banat's brother to jail,

“The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Corruption Crimes Court sentenced Ghassan Banat, brother of murdered activist Nizar Banat, to two years in prison in absentia after accusing him of corruption, ordering him to repay 6,900 shekels ($2,143), Safa news agency reported yesterday. The court also ordered Banat to pay a 100 Jordanian dinars ($141) fine. Commenting on the court’s ruling, Ghassan said that the Labour Ministry had refused to receive the 6,900 shekels money to pass it onto the institution in which he was working. He said he has the funds to hand. ‘The PA in Ramallah is living in a state of confusion and they do not understand what they are doing since they have murdered Nizar,’ he said.”

Inside the Green Line

Don't Want Your Kids Taught by an Arab? Yes, That's Racist,

“While Iyad Shalabi’s inspiring gold medal win Wednesday at the Paralympics in Tokyo was greeted with applause by politicians and in general, it seems that the awful truth about integrating Jews and Arabs is found thousands of kilometers from there, in Herzliya’s Nof Yam school, where parents of children going into second grade vehemently objected to the principal’s courageous decision to give the class an Arab homeroom teacher. All this, even though it was clarified that a different teacher would teach Hebrew and Torah, and that the Arab teacher would not teach material dealing with the Jewish holidays, for example.”

Poll: 72.8% of Israelis oppose reopening of US consulate in Jerusalem,

“As many as 72.8 per cent of Israelis oppose the reopening of a US consulate in Jerusalem as the de facto mission for Palestinians, a new poll showed. Israel’s Channel 7 said the poll was commissioned by Member of the Knesset Nir Barkat. Direct Talks, which conducted the poll, sent a letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in which it said: ‘The majority of the people are against a Palestinian state, and 72.8 percent oppose the establishment of a consulate for the Palestinians in the heart of Jerusalem.’ It demanded Bennett focus on facing international pressures to reopen a consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem.”

This Luxury Home Epitomizes the Erasure of Jaffa's Historical Landscape,

“The fast spreading gentrification taking over Jaffa is eradicating the ‘city of the Palestinian bourgeoisie’.”

Free Speech & Weaponization of “antisemitism”

Pro-Israel lawyers urge European countries to drop 'antisemitic' UN conference,

“The International Legal Forum (ILF), an Israel-based network of over 3,000 lawyers and global activists, penned a letter to European countries calling on them to withdraw from an upcoming event marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban Conference, to be held at the United Nations in New York next month…Countries receiving the letter include Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Each of those countries also adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. The ILF argues that the Durban conference’s process and practices are in contradiction to this definition. Consequently, the states are morally obligated to withdraw from the event.”