Top News from Israel & Palestine: December 4, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

The Baffling Siege of Issawiya,

“We cannot emphasize enough: the events of the past six months in Issawiya are unprecedented, taking place nowhere else in East Jerusalem since 1967. While there have been in the past clashes between the police and residents of East Jerusalem neighborhoods, these have invariably been in response to disturbances rather than the provocation of disturbances, and these were limited in time. Issawiya has been targeted as never before – and we are at a loss to adequately explain why this is happening. It is evident that the police are not responding to disturbances in the neighborhood, on the contrary. The incursions spark the disturbance and there is compelling evidence that this is precisely the purpose of the nightly raids…Regardless of the direct causes of this protracted Police operation, the rationale, if there is one, could simply be that this is what occupations do. Occupation has a logic of its own, and one which requires increasingly repressive measures to sustain itself. Hence, the events in recent months in Issawiya disclose much about the changing nature of Israeli rule over East Jerusalem, as the total marginalization of the Palestinian sector of Jerusalem are now deeply embedded in the ‘organizational DNA’ of the Government of Israel and the Jerusalem Municipality, and at all levels.”

Palestinians condemn Israeli closures of institutions in Jerusalem,

“Among the affected institutions are an office for the Palestinian Directorate of Education and an office providing media services to Palestine TV — a subsidiary of the Palestinian General Authority for Radio and Television and the official TV of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The official closure order was attached to the doors of these institutions…Participants stressed that the Israeli decision comes as part of a systematic campaign to control the education system in the city. They called on human rights, humanitarian and media organizations to shoulder their responsibilities to curb Israeli plans aimed at obliterating the Palestinian identity in Jerusalem.”

West Bank Olive Harvest Marred by 50% Surge in Thefts, Vandalism and Violence, UN Report Says,

“‘Every year there are a lot of incidents during the harvest season, but this year has been particularly bad,’ Khaled Abbieh, the mayor of the village of Yasouf, told Haaretz. Last year between September and November, 25 incidents were reported during the olive harvest, according to OCHA, including four violent incidents, eight cases of theft of olives or equipment and 13 involving the destruction of trees. All told, 806 trees were vandalized. In 2017, there were 23 reported incidents, including two involving violence, 13 thefts of olives or equipment and eight cases of damage to trees. That year 1,554 trees were damaged.”

These Settlers Got Expropriated Palestinian Plot From the State. Now They Rent It to Jerusalem's Municipality at a Profit,

“The Jerusalem Municipality pays nearly 1 million shekels ($224,000) a year to the Amana settlement organization in exchange for operating a welfare department in one floor of an office building that the group bought from the government for that same price. Amana, whose primary goal is developing new Jewish communities, particularly in the West Bank, received the plot located in East Jerusalem from the government after it was expropriated from a Palestinian family. The organization paid the state 913,000 shekels ($262,000) for the land in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and now receives the same amount it paid for the entire plot every year in return for renting out only the ground floor.”

Israeli Politics

Lieberman Threatens to Join Right-wing Gov't if Gantz Doesn't Let Netanyahu Serve as PM First in Rotation Deal,

“Earlier that day, Lieberman, who emerged once again as kingmaker after the September election, said that Knesset members from his faction ‘are riling up against the conduct of Kahol Lavan.’ When asked on the Knesset Channel whether he still rules out entering a narrow, right-wing government, he said: ‘It’s hard to rule out what’s worse, an early election or a narrow government.’ “

Netanyahu challenges Liberman to join government,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday to enter a unity government and prevent a third election in under a year. ‘Liberman could make a government with us and that is his decision,’ Netanyahu said as he left for Lisbon. ‘The country requires a unity government and not unnecessary elections, but if we will be stuck with elections, we will win them.'”

Israeli officials said to warn Jordan Valley annexation would imperil Amman ties,

“Israeli military officials are reportedly warning that Jordan may take drastic steps if Israel continues to push for annexation of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, including possibly freezing a quarter-century-old peace treaty between the nations.

2 settler leaders back Sa’ar as cracks in Netanyahu’s armor begin to show,

“The endorsements from both Dagan and Dorani, who hail from opposite ends of the fairly narrow settler political spectrum, point to the possibility of widespread dissatisfaction with Netanyahu in the West Bank. Dorani comes from the establishment flank that has traditionally stood by the prime minister and avoided public confrontations with him, while Dagan has led protests outside the premier’s home and office in Jerusalem. But neither camp has entertained the idea of openly supporting Netanyahu’s ouster, until this week.”

As unity talks falter, details of proposed pact show annexation, 30 ministers,

“The parties also reportedly agreed that Blue and White would effectively control defense and foreign policy, with the party’s No. 2 Yair Lapid serving as foreign minister and No. 4 Gabi Ashkenazi (like Gantz, a former chief of the army) as defense minister. Blue and White would also get the influential Interior Ministry, which has authority over many religion-and-state and municipal governance issues that are a point of contention between Haredi backers of Netanyahu and the secularist Yesh Atid faction within Blue and White…Perhaps most controversially, the sides reportedly agreed that Israel would annex the Jordan Valley under the new government, a key Netanyahu campaign promise, but one that is opposed by much of Israel’s security establishment. Gantz has said Israel must retain the Jordan Valley as a security border, but has not backed unilateral annexation.”

Palestinian Politics

Palestinians await presidential decree to hold general elections,

“Khatib expressed concerns that Israel would refuse to hold elections in East Jerusalem, which would mean halting the electoral process in all Palestinian territories, as agreed to by all factions with Abbas. Imad Ghayaza, a professor of political science at Birzeit University, called on the Palestinian Authority to exert more efforts with the EU and Egypt to pressure Israel to allow the holding of elections in East Jerusalem. He said the call for general Palestinian elections came as a result of international pressure on the PA, especially from the EU. The EU was among a number of international stakeholders, mainly the United Nations, Qatar, Egypt and Turkey, that supported Palestinians’ efforts to hold elections in order to end the internal division.”

Palestinian rivals Haniyeh, Abbas hold rare phone call,

“Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday and offered his condolences to him on the death of a well-known Fatah member, the official PA news site Wafa reported, marking a rare sign of contact between the two. Abbas’s Fatah party has been at loggerheads with the Hamas terror group since the latter ousted the PA from the Gaza Strip in 2007. Multiple attempts to reconcile the two have failed.”

U.S. Politics

U.S. pushing Arab states on non-belligerence pacts with Israel,

“The Israeli, Arab and U.S. sources tell me President Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Victoria Coates, met last week with the ambassadors of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Morocco in Washington. All four countries have secret contacts and cooperation with Israel but no diplomatic relations.”


Israel to launch database to target Palestinian activists' finances,

“Naftali Bennett, Israel’s interim defence minister, described the order as ‘economic persecution’ aimed at limiting activists from accessing assets and managing their finances. He said the move was part of a ‘war on terrorism’. The order is the first of its kind in Israel, according to Yisrael Hayom. The database will be available for other countries to use and fully accessible to the public, the paper reported. It will include the names of hundreds of individuals allegedly linked to the Palestinian Hamas movement and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The order, Yisrael Hayom said, is part of a widescale plan by Israel’s defence ministry to set up non-military means, predominantly economic, to target political groups that it deems ‘terrorist’.”