Top News from Israel & Palestine: December 14, 2020

What We’re Reading

Normalization & News from the Region

US Embassy says Sudan no longer on list of terror sponsors,

“The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said Monday that President Donald Trump’s administration has removed Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that could help the African country get international loans to revive its battered economy and end its pariah status. According to a Facebook post by the embassy, Sudan’s removal was effective as of Monday. A notification to that effect, signed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, would be published in the Federal Register, it said, adding that the 45-day congressional notification period has lapsed.”

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Trump said to offer $700 million to 9/11 victims to salvage Israel-Sudan deal,

“The Trump administration reportedly offered victims of the 9/11 terror attacks some $700 million to drop their claims against Sudan as part of an effort to save an agreement that would see the African country normalize ties with Israel in exchange for a removal of Sudan from the US’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Lawyers for the 9/11 claimants asked for $4 billion, a price the administration and Senate Republicans rejected, according to an ABC News report on Friday citing sources familiar with the negotiations. The talks are ongoing, ABC News said.”

US adopts 'new official' map of Morocco that includes Western Sahara,

“The United States adopted on Saturday a “new official” map of Morocco that included the disputed territory of Western Sahara, the US ambassador to Rabat said. “This map is a tangible representation of President Trump’s bold proclamation two days ago – recognising Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara,” Ambassador David Fischer said, according to a statement seen by AFP. He then signed the “new official US government map of the kingdom of Morocco” at a ceremony at the US embassy in the capital Rabat.”

Pence said planning Israel visit a week before Biden’s inauguration,

“US Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit Israel in January, a week before Joe Biden is sworn in as the new president, Hebrew media reported Sunday. There was no word on the purpose of the potential visit, but Army Radio quoted Israeli officials saying there were two more states that could normalize relations with Israel before US President Donald Trump leaves office on January 20. The radio station said the planned date for Pence’s trip is January 13, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is required to attend a plea hearing in his trial on corruption charges.”

Saudi Arabia said to have played role in Israel-Morocco normalization agreement,

“Saudi Arabia played a role in the Trump-brokered normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco, diplomatic sources told Channel 12 on Friday. The report did not detail the Saudi involvement in the US-brokered deal, announced Thursday, and Riyadh has not officially reacted to the accord. However, Saudi Arabia plays a central role in the region, particularly among Sunni states, leading many analysts to speculate that none of the recent normalization deals would have been allowed without a green-light from Saudi Arabia.”

From Samaria to supermarkets and hotels in Dubai,

“Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, together with businessmen from Samaria, signed a series of additional agreements with businessmen from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. According to the agreements: Samaria will supply honey and olive oil to the VIP line of supermarkets and minimarkets while the fine wines of Samaria that have already reaped international awards will arrive at the luxurious Gulf Princess hotels.”

As Israel Normalizes Ties With Arab Countries, Signs of Renewed Friendship With Turkey,

“Barring last-minute surprises, a new Turkish ambassador will soon land in Israel, two years after the previous envoy was called back to Ankara following the killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests on the Gaza border. According to reports in Turkey, the new ambassador is Ufuk Ulutas, 40, who studied Hebrew and Middle Eastern politics at Hebrew University. Ulutas is not a professional diplomat. He was head of the SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research think tank, and is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This would be the first time that Turkey sent a political appointee to serve as ambassador in Israel.”

Israel-Morocco agreement plants long term seeds of conflict,

“By agreeing to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara that it has occupied since 1975, the Trump administration has exceeded even its own standards of transactionalism. This recognition of one occupation in service of another is even more cynical than the normalization deals it brokered with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan.”

Israel-Morocco deal: Palestinians and Sahrawis hope for renewed solidarity,

“Palestinian and Sahrawi activists have expressed their hope for greater cooperation and solidarity in the wake of the Israel-Morocco normalisation deal, which saw the US recognise Rabat’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara. Morocco’s move this week to establish diplomatic ties with Israel has been greeted with outrage by Palestinians, coming on the heels of similar recognition deals involving the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. It has also highlighted the joint struggle for sovereignty and recognition faced by both the Palestinians and Sahrawis against the powerful militaries of Israel and Morocco.”

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

DEPRIVED A VOICE: An Investigation into Shrinking Space in Area C,

“The 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II Agreement) divided the West Bank into three Areas. However, the present analysis focuses on Area C and the impact of shrinking space for civil society in this part of the OPT. As an administrative space constructed by the Oslo Accords, Area C is the only area with geographic contiguity. Notably, the PA has no power under Oslo to undertake its responsibilities within this area. However, this arrangement was intended to remain in place for a limited five-year transitional period, now exceeded by decades, in violation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Palestinians in Area C are particularly vulnerable, as they are entirely dependent on, and subject to, the Israeli Occupying Authority. From building homes to acquiring permits for harvesting farmlands, nothing gets done without the approval of the Israeli Occupying Authority.

Critically, It is also important to understand that Area C is extremely resource rich. The Jordan Valley in particular is home to the most valuable natural resources the West Bank has to offer. For example, the Jordan Valley has fertile farmable ground that is excellent for crop production. While Palestine’s Area C quarries yield copious amounts of stone, Israel has unlawfully appropriated and leased the quarries to foreign companies, such as the German owned HeidelbergCement, in order to maintain the Palestinian economy captive by Israel while fuelling Israel’s economy and settlement enterprise. The Dead Sea contains rare minerals that Israel illegally pillages for the production of skin care products and cosmetics under a license to Ahava. As a result, Israel has established a sophisticated settlement enterprise of residential, agricultural and industrial settlements, resulting in billions of dollars appropriated from the Palestinian economy every year. Israel’s Annexation Wall, unlawful settlements, and current plans for formal annexation, are all focused within Area C. As a result, protesting the numerous human rights violations in Area C is incredibly dangerous.”

Shackled and bedbound: How Israel treats hospitalised Palestinian prisoners,

“When Munir Moqbel secretly snapped photos of his son, 16-year-old Mohammad, handcuffed to a hospital bed in Jerusalem, the images sparked renewed outrage on social media over the treatment of injured and sick detained Palestinians by Israeli forces. During an Israeli military raid on al-Arroub refugee camp, north of the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, on 29 November, Israeli soldiers arrested and beat Mohammad severely; the teenager sustained four fractures on the left side of his jaw. Some 20 hours after his arrest, Mohammad was transferred to hospital for treatment. “

Israeli Troops Beat the Palestinian Teen, Shattering His Jaw. Then They Cuffed Him to the Hospital Bed,

“Soldiers bashed a Palestinian teen with their rifles, breaking his jaw. When finally taken to the hospital, 20 hours later, he was in shackles. His father waited in the hall for three days before he could hug him”

Politicians may bypass gov't, ask Knesset to legalize West Bank outposts,

“Right-wing politicians may bypass the government and turn instead to the Knesset in their quest to legalize West Bank outposts. Community Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi had hoped to submit a text for a decision on the matter to the government for debate and for approval at its meeting this week. At present, that option is not possible, Hanegbi told The Jerusalem Post, because Alternative Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz “is not with us” and has blocked the measure.”

'Temporarily Uprooted' Gaza Settlements Among 'Miracles' in Israeli Learning Kits,

“The kits present eight events in the history of the Jewish people and the State of Israel as “miracles.” Gush Katif, the cluster of Gaza Strip settlements evacuated in 2005, is described as “a flourishing and wonderful community” that operated in the shadow of “base terrorists who sought to destroy the Jewish spirit emanating from it.”

Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate Battles to Become the Old City's Main Portal,

“Now, the Tower of David Museum seeks to completely revamp the site and create a new tourist space replete with an underground museum. Under this plan, which the city’s preservation committee has approved, the public would enter the square through a new building next to the Tower of David that’s already under construction. The underground space would contain a café, an auditorium, galleries, an archaeological compound and public toilets. Some people view this project as part of a competition between two of the Old City’s gates. The first is Jaffa Gate, the cosmopolitan western gate, the natural entrance to the Old City and most of its tourism sites. The second is Dung Gate, the Jewish/national southern gate, which is closest to the Western Wall and the City of David National Park. The latter is controlled by the right-wing Ir David Foundation, better known as Elad, which champions Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem…Major Elad projects in the area similarly seek to funnel tourists through Dung Gate. One is the controversial Kedem complex, located between Dung Gate and East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood. The cable car will stop on the complex’s roof, and a planned underground “pilgrimage road” would then lead to the Western Wall.”

Israel Agrees to Fund Visually Impaired Girl's Rides to School Days After Haaretz Report,

“The Education Ministry will pay for transportation to school for Fidaa Abu Afash, a 9-year-old visually impaired girl from the Bedouin Wadi al-Na’am community in the Negev, after refusing to do so for over a year.”


Report: Israel, Hamas closing on prisoner swap deal in light of COVID-19 crisis,

“According to reports, the breakthrough in talks ensued due to the spread of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip, and the authorities’ growing fears that the situation could get out of hand without further external aid.”

Also See

  • “As Virus Spreads Across Gaza, Hamas Is More Willing to Negotiate With Israel” (Haaretz)

Israeli Politics

Bill to dissolve Knesset set for delay until next week, angering Blue and White,

“The first Knesset plenum reading of a bill that would dissolve the government and call early elections will likely be pushed off to next week, Hebrew-language media reported Monday, angering Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, which is pushing the legislation. The move by Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, is not aimed at preventing the dissolution of the parliament. Even without the bill, the Knesset is already on track to dissolve later this month due to an impasse over the state budget, which has long been held up by Likud. Moreover, Netanyahu is widely believed to be planning to dissolve the government anyway before the 2021 budget must be passed in March, in order to prevent a scenario in which, as stipulated by their power-sharing agreement, Gantz will succeed him as prime minister.”

Israeli Parliament Speaker Postpones Knesset Dissolution Vote by a Day,

“The move by Levin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, was made in an effort to make it more difficult for the vote to take place, since the Knesset’s agenda for Tuesday is busier than usual and debates end at 4 P.M. because of Hannukah. Most ministers usually miss Tuesday sessions at the Knesset due to ministerial obligations, and Likud hopes that this will make it harder for cabinet members from Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party to attend the vote.”

Netanyahu enters quarantine for third time after contact with virus carrier,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will enter quarantine until Friday after meeting a person who was later confirmed to be a carrier of coronavirus, his office said Monday afternoon. Netanyahu underwent virus tests on Sunday and Monday and came out negative for the virus, the statement added.”

To save himself, Netanyahu might agree to keep rotation agreement,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s priorities over the past year have been clear: Squeezing the final drops from the succulent orange named President Donald Trump, fighting the health and economic crises induced by the coronavirus pandemic and cheating Defense Minister Benny Gantz out of the power-sharing deal he promised him.”

Free Speech, Lawfare, BDS, & Stifling Dissent

Here's What the Next Yad Vashem Head Said About Palestinians. Now Imagine It in German,

“According to a different officer, “The brigade commander ordered curfew violators to be placed in a seated position in the center of the village and beaten so as to leave marks, so that everyone would see and be afraid.” Several officers testified that Eitam “ordered to carry out ‘mass evictions’ of residents from their homes and to seat them in places of assembly for hours, in the dead of night.” A battalion operations officer testified that “He heard brigade commander Eitam say he ‘wants to see lots of broken arms and legs.’” The battalion commander, a defendant in the trial, testified that Eitam “asked the soldiers, “How many broken arms and legs do we have today?””

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