Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 4, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation (de facto & de jure) Watch

White House still mulling annexation, which could happen this month – source,

“Avi Berkowitz, the US administration’s envoy to the Middle East, is continuing to work on the implementation of US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal, including conducting meetings with interlocutors preparing for possible Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, according to a well-placed source. More discussions between Jerusalem and Washington are needed for annexation to take place, as are gestures toward the Palestinians, the source said, but the move could possibly get underway in the near future. But after August ends, annexation becomes increasingly unlikely due to the approaching US elections in November, he added.”

Netanyahu: West Bank annexation ‘not off the table’; issue ‘is in Washington’,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday told his Likud faction meeting that Israel’s planned annexation of West Bank land is not off the table, but is being held up by the US administration. ‘The issue of applying sovereignty is in Washington. It’s not off the table, the option still exists,’ he said.”

Netanyahu Says Annexation Still on the Table, but White House Needs to Back It,

“Prominent settler leader David Elhayani, who heads the Yesha Council of settlements, called on the prime minister to promote annexation plans ‘immediately’ in response. Elhayani said that Netanyahu, ‘who once and again promised to extend Israeli sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, isn’t in Washington, but in Jerusalem. The decision is yours, and only yours to make.’”

Palestinians: Israel is 'secretly' imposing annexation plan,

“Palestinian officials claimed on Tuesday that Israel is ‘secretly’ implementing its plan to apply sovereignty to portions of the West Bank and said they would pursue their efforts to foil the move….’Netanyahu’s remarks prove that he and the US administration are determined to proceed with this dangerous plan. That’s why we are pursuing our diplomatic efforts in the international arena to warn of the grave consequences of such a move.’ The official claimed that Israel’s actions on the ground show that it has been taking various measures to pave the way for the implementation of the annexation plan.”

Blue and White cabinet minister: 'Settlement evacuation brings terror',

“Blue and white Minister of Diaspora Affairs Omer Yankelevich during a tour of Samaria today spoke out against the idea of evacuating settlements. ‘Settlement evacuation brings terror, not peace,’ she said in discussing the consequences of evacuation from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip fifteen years ago…Regarding application of sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, Yankelevich said: ‘Judea and Samaria are an inheritance from our forefathers. There are those who speak of these areas in terms of cost versus benefit but we need to remind them that we are talking about our land and not to be ashamed of this fact. Extension of sovereignty over these areas is our desire at the end of the day, under the right conditions,’ Yankelevich concluded.”

West Bank land registry essential to conflict is hand-written,

“…The right-wing NGO Regavim said that Civil Administration’s failure to properly achieve and record land transactions, couple by the secrecy in which such document are held, had enabled the Palestinian Authority to seize control of land in Area C. Regavim Director-General Meir Deutch said, ‘The painstaking, glacial pace of hand-written record keeping is fertile ground for forgery, and leads to further violation of property rights, making it nearly impossible to conduct property transactions in a normal fashion,’ Deutch said. ‘The failure to carry out the necessary registration and regulation of land in these areas has enabled the Palestinian Authority to carry out a well-planned, carefully-timed and well-funded land-seizure program,’ he added.”

IDF ‘endangered lives’ on West Bank roads,

“The IDF had placed lives at risk by not ensuring the safe construction and maintenance of roads in Area C of the West Bank, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman warned in an investigative report published on Monday…Efrat Council lhead Oded Revivi said the report showed the need for the application of sovereignty over all West Bank settlements, including his own…The issue of road safety only highlights the problem, for which the only real solution is ‘the application of Israeli law in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria’ so that the lives of the Israelis there can be normalized, said Revivi.”

Annexation (de facto & de jure) - Commentary/Analysis

How much annexation can Palestinians survive?,

“Palestinians have resisted Israeli occupation and colonisation for decades. But erasure is still a looming threat.”

The Palestinian Authority Is Harming Its Own People in the Name of National Pride,

“In response to Israel’s annexation plan the PA has halted both security and civil coordination, but by linking the two the PA is aiding the occupier.”

In the Name of My Future Grandchildren, I Refuse to Be a Citizen of an Apartheid State,

“My grandfather, Elazar Granot, was the Israeli ambassador in Nelson Mandela’s South Africa between 1994-1996, right after the fall of the apartheid regime. Last August, I visited there myself and witnessed with my own eyes the reality caused by this racist and discriminatory system and its terrible implications for South African society to this day, 25 years after. ‘Apartheid’ is a loaded and complicated term and has the potential to evoke antagonism. Therefore, and due to its conspicuous absence from mainstream media coverage during the entire time the issue of Israel’s annexation of parts of the West Bank has been high on the agenda, we at Zulat, a human rights think tank, published a report on how Israeli discourse whitewashes the true meaning of the plan.” [read the report here]

Palestinian Scene/Occupation

Israel offers money to Palestinian family over settler killing,

“The Israeli government offered to compensate the family of Aisha al-Rabi for her killing by Jewish settlers. Al-Rabi from the village of Biddya southwest of the West Bank city of Nablus on the West Bank, was killed after her car came under attack by stones hurled at it by Jewish settlers. Five people were arrested following the incident…the Defense Ministry recognized the attack as an act of terror but since Al-Rabi was not an Israeli citizen and the killing occurred outside Israel’s recognized borders her family was offered no compensation. They appealed the decision and demanded over NIS 7million. The ministry offered to settle the dispute with the payment of NIS 670,000 but lawyers for the family said they would reject the offer and pursue the matter through the courts.”

Israel orders 2 Palestinian families to demolish their own homes,

“Israel soldiers forced two Palestinian families to demolish their homes yesterday in the Silwan neighbourhood of occupied Jerusalem, reported Wafa news agency. Member of the Silwan Lands Defence Committee, Khaled Abu Tayeh, said that Iyad Abu Sbeih’s family resorted to demolishing their one-storey house in order to avoid paying a demolition fee to the occupation forces, after all legal methods had been exhausted. He added that another house belonging to Issa Illan Oweisat, located in Jabal Al-Mukabber, was also issued demolition orders.”

Cars torched, graffiti scrawled in West Bank village in apparent hate crime,

“Two cars were torched and Hebrew-language writing was discovered Tuesday morning in the Palestinian village of Fara’ata in the northern West Bank, in a suspected hate crime, the B’Tselem rights group said. The Israel Police said officers were preparing to enter the village, aided by army forces, to collect evidence. Photos from the scene published by the local council showed a burnt car and graffiti reading, ‘The Land of Israel [belongs] to the People of Israel.’” Also see: Jerusalem Post – Cars torched in suspected price tag attack in West Bank

Israeli forces demolish homes in West Bank Bedouin community,

“Israeli forces demolished homes and infrastructure in a Bedouin community in the occupied West Bank early on Tuesday, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported…According to B’Tselem, staff of the Civil Administration – the military body that oversees Israel’s occupation of the West Bank – went to the Bedouin village of al-Muntar at around 7.30am, escorted by military jeeps, a truck and a crane. Israeli forces demolished six homes in the village, which had housed 26 people, including 14 children, the organisation said in a statement, in addition to a sheep enclosure and a water tank.”

What Comes First, an Israeli Army Firing Zone or Palestinian Villages?,

“Next Monday the justices of the High Court of Justice will discuss the State of Israel’s demand to destroy eight Palestinian hamlets in the southern West Bank. I should say: will once again discuss, because the government’s demand is not new. For about 40 years the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration did everything in their power to make these communities disappear, while they, in their heroic and prolonged battle against the order to become extinct, also turned to legal channels and to petitions. In military Hebrew, the area designated for demolition and the eviction of its Palestinian residents is known as Firing Zone 918. In ordinary Arabic and Hebrew it is Masafer Yatta.”

Israel Military Ops - Gaza & Syria

Israel army says it attacked military posts in southwest Syria,

“Israeli military describes attacks as retaliation for an attempted bombing of the border fence by an enemy squad.”

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah amid high tensions along northern border,

“Following thwarted attempt to plant explosives on Golan border, PM says Israel’s foes should know ‘we will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves.’”

Israel army attacks Hamas targets in Gaza,

“Hamas says the Israeli attack on its sites in the besieged Gaza Strip is a ‘clear message of escalation’.”

US-Israel Defense Relations

Is US aid hampering defense spending?,

“The Defense Ministry has failed to properly assess the implications the defense aid memorandum of understanding Israel signed with the US in 2016 would have on national security, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman warned Monday. The $38 billion MOU, inked between Jerusalem and Washington in 2016, spans 10 years and includes various stipulations about defense deals that must prioritize American defense firms over the Israeli military industries. The MOU came into effect in 2018 and Englman’s report reviewed the defense establishment’s preparatory work and relevant projections for 2019-2028. Since the MOU was put in place, some of the annual $3.8 billion aid has been converted into shekels and used for procurement from local defense firms. But the MOU states that this process is to be gradually phased out, especially in the period between 2025 and 2028. This means the state will be sending far less business in the Israeli military industries’ way. The comptroller noted that the Defense Ministry ‘did not fully assess the implication of this move on the local defense industry, nor did it fully account for the impact this move would have on the IDF’s force-building plans or its emergency readiness.’”

Rafael, Raytheon sign US Iron Dome production plant deal,

“US company Raytheon Technologies (NYSE:RTX) has announced that it has signed an agreement to form a joint venture with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. to establish an Iron Dome Weapon short range missile interception production facility in the US. The new partnership, called Raytheon Rafael Area Protection Systems will finalize a site for the plant before the end of 2020. The plant will manufacture both Iron Dome, which consists of the Tamir interceptor and launcher, and the SkyHunter missile, a US version of Tamir. Both Tamir and SkyHunter intercept incoming cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems and short-range targets such as rockets, artillery, mortars and other aerial threats.” Also see: Israel Hayom – Defense firms announce plans for US production of Iron Dome system


Israel Can’t Hide Evidence of Its Occupation Anymore,

“For the past two decades, there has been a general—and mostly unchallenged—understanding that satellite imagery is restricted over Israel and the Palestinian and Syrian territories it occupies. This was due to a 1996 U.S. regulation known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment (KBA) which has limited the quality and availability of high-resolution satellite imagery produced by U.S. companies covering Israel (and by implicit extension, the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Golan Heights). The result is that publicly available imagery on platforms such as Google Earth has been deliberately coarse and blurred. On June 25, following two years of sustained pressure from academia and civil society, the 97-word KBA was unexpectedly reformed, making higher-resolution satellite imagery legally accessible and readily available to all. The news, though welcome, raises certain questions: First, what were the effects of the KBA? Second, since satellite imagery has advanced significantly both in scale and diversity in the 24 years since the KBA was passed, why did it take so long to reverse?”

When Arab-American Detroit Auto Workers Struck for Palestinian Liberation,

“In 1973, Arab-American workers in Detroit auto plants walked off the job in protest of the UAW’s investment in bonds from the state of Israel. The incident is little-remembered today, but it shows how workers can organize against racism and colonialism — including against the labor movement’s investment in the Israeli occupation of Palestine today.”

Delegitimization & Weaponization of Charges of Antisemitism

Rep. Lacy Clay hits his primary opponent over her BDS support,

“Longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-MO) is making a last-ditch effort to boost his support in the Jewish community ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Missouri’s 1st congressional district. Clay has circulated campaign literature highlighting opponent Cori Bush’s support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as well as her work alongside Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour. The mailers come as Clay, who has represented parts of St. Louis and its northern suburbs — including University City and Clayton, which have significant Jewish populations — since 2001, faces a serious threat from Bush, who challenged the sitting congressman in 2018 but lost by nearly 20 points. Looking for a rematch, Bush has increased her fundraising efforts and outspent Clay in advertising, including a major blitz in the campaign’s final week.”