Top News from Israel & Palestine: February 1, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Annexation

PM said to condition construction [of new settlement] in Atarot on merger of smaller, right-wing parties,

“Confidantes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he is willing to advance moves for the authorization of a new Jewish community in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Atarot, in line with the demands of some on the Right in recent months. In return, the Religious Zionist party, headed by Bezalel Smotrich will run together with the national religious Habayit Heyehudi party, and far-right Otzma Yehudit will run with the radical ultra-Orthodox Noam party in the upcoming March election, Israel Hayom has learned.”

Also see:

Israeli authorities imprison Palestinian child with rare autoimmune disease without charge,

“Israeli authorities issued a six-month administrative detention order on Monday against a 17-year-old Palestinian boy with a rare autoimmune disease, extending his detention without charge. Israeli forces arrested Amal Nakhleh 17, from his home around 3:30 a.m. on January 21, 2021, in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, according to information collected by DCIP. His detention was promptly extended for 72 hours by an Israeli military court judge at Israel’s Ofer military court, then, on January 25, the six-month administrative detention order against him was issued and accepted. He is currently detained at Israel’s Megiddo prison, located inside Israel, north of the occupied West Bank. Amal suffers from myasthenia gravis, a rare chronic autoimmune, neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness, including in the muscles used for breathing and swallowing. His treatment requires ongoing medical treatment and that he takes medication regularly and without interruption”

Also see:

Israel orders five Palestinian families to evict homes to conduct drills,

“Israeli occupation forces ordered five Bedouin families in Masafer Yatta area to the south of Hebron to temporarily evict their homes to make way for military training exercises, according to a local activist…’It is extremely difficult for whole families, including children, to be evacuated on such short notice. With no properly arranged place to stay, they must find a way to ensure shelter, food and drink away from home in the intense, grueling heat of the Jordan Valley,’ said B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights center in a report on army eviction of families for exercise reasons. ‘The frequent evacuations force residents to put their lives on hold. They evoke fear and uncertainty and involve a great deal of inconvenience,’ it had said. Palestinians living in these areas have to also worry about left behind ammunition and bombs, which have led to the death of many Palestinians, including children, over the past years.”

More from WAFA:

An Israeli Hospital Discharged a Palestinian Who Was Shot at a Checkpoint. Soon After, He Was Dead,

“Abdel Nasser Halawa, a deaf man with mental disabilities, died of his wounds four months after being shot at a checkpoint. His brother accuses a Jerusalem hospital of releasing him despite his dire condition.”

Palestinian shot and injured in attempted West Bank stabbing,

“A Palestinian man was shot and critically injured on Sunday after he attempted to stab IDF soldiers in the West Bank, the IDF Spokesperson Unit said. The incident took place at the Gush Etzion Junction and ended with no injuries to Israeli troops or civilians.”

Also see:

Celebrating Trump’s “Middle East Peace” Team

Kushner, Berkowitz, Friedman nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for Israel deals,

“Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his deputy, Avi Berkowitz, as well as former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and former Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer were nominated on Sunday for the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in negotiating four normalization deals between Israel and Arab nations known as the ‘Abraham Accords.’ Nominating the pair of former deputies to then-President Donald Trump was American attorney Alan Dershowitz, who was eligible to do so in his capacity as a professor emeritus of Harvard Law School.”

Ariel University awards honorary doctorate to former US ambassador,

“Ariel University announced Sunday that it will award its first honorary doctorate to David, outgoing US ambassador to Israel ‘in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the diplomatic international relations between the USA and Israel.’”

The Gaza Strip

Egypt to open Rafah border crossing for four days,

“For the first time in two months, the Egyptian authorities will temporarily reopen the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip for four days for travel in both directions, said Palestine’s ambassador to Egypt Diab al-Louh. He said the crossing point on the border with Egypt will open from Monday to Thursday. The reopening of the crossing point will allow Palestinian patients, students, Egyptian and foreign passport holders, as well as those who have residency documents to leave or enter the coastal enclave.”

Qatar pledges $360 million in aid to Hamas-ruled Gaza,

“The Qatari government on Sunday said it would provide $360 million in assistance for the Gaza Strip during the coming year, renewing a program that has helped reduce fighting between Israel and the territory’s militant Hamas rulers. Qatar, an energy-rich Gulf country, has been providing $20 million to Gaza each month since 2018. The payments have paid for much-needed electricity, helped Hamas cover the salaries of its civil servants and provided monthly $100 stipends to scores of impoverished families.”


Gantz confirms Israel to provide 5,000 coronavirus vaccines to Palestinians,

“Israel has agreed to transfer 5,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to the Palestinians to immunize front-line medical workers, Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office announced Sunday. It was the first time that Israel has confirmed the transfer of vaccines to the Palestinians, who lag far behind Israel’s aggressive vaccination campaign after saying they have ordered a mass shipment of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia. Also see: Israel to give few Covid-19 vaccines to Palestinians amid ‘apartheid’ accusations (Middle East Eye)

Detainees’ Commission: 200 Palestinian prisoners in Israel got infected with coronavirus since start of year,

“At least 200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails got infected with the coronavirus disease since the start of the year, today said an official with the Palestinian Detainees and Ex-detainees’ Commission. Hasan Abed Rabbo told the official Voice of Palestine radio that the overall positive corona cases among the Palestinian prisoners in Israel have reached 340, mainly in Rimon and the Naqab prisons. He said five of the infected prisoners were admitted to hospitals due to deterioration in their health as a result of the virus.” Also see: Palestinian prisoner with COVID-19 is in a critical condition, says NGO (WAFA)

Israel holds all the cards in the West Bank – it should vaccinate everyone,

“The occupying power is responsible for the healthcare of the Palestinians, whose economy and medical systems are in ruins.”

Shtayyeh: First batch of Corona vaccine will arrive mid-month,

“Prime Minister Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh announced the extension of the state of emergency in Palestine for a period of 30 days, in light of the spread of Coronavirus and its new strain. Shtayyeh indicated at the beginning of the cabinet session, on Monday, that the government will continue to take measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus in force for another two weeks, stressing that the government will receive 50,000 Corona vaccines in the middle of this month.”

Biden Admin - People & Policies

Biden Praised Trump for This Achievement. Now He Needs to Decide What to Do With It,

“The Biden administration has repeatedly praised the normalization pacts between Israel and various Arab states as former President Donald Trump’s premier diplomatic achievement. Yet while Biden and his top foreign policy officials have stated that they hope to both maintain and build on the Abraham Accords, they have yet to explain what those steps might entail.”

Biden breaks from predecessors by taking it slow on Israeli-Palestinian peace,

“…rather than falling into the ostensible honey-trap that allured his predecessors, the new US president has a different strategy. Instead of going for it all at once, the Biden administration prefers pushing incremental steps that can be taken by both parties while discouraging unilateral moves that would dissolve whatever confidence still remains between the sides. The end goal is still the same, and Acting US Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills made that clear in the first line of his Tuesday address: ‘Under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.’”

Also see:

'Israel hopes to avoid open conflict with Biden administration over settlements',

“With US President Joe Biden’s administration expected to oppose Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, Israel Hayom has learned that Jerusalem hopes to avoid the kind of public disputes seen under former President Barack Obama and hash things out with the new administration behind the scenes. The diplomatic echelon intends to propose a continuation of the clandestine agreement adopted four years ago that allowed for limited construction in small areas. A diplomatic official with knowledge of the agreement said that although Israel was unable to build freely in Judea and Samaria, the policy afforded both countries peace of mind.”

Iran Envoy Rob Malley Is Not 'anti-Israel' or an Iran Apologist. It’s That Simple,

“Throwing baseless accusations at Biden’s envoy Rob Malley when he faces such a monumental challenge concerning Tehran’s nuclear program is futile and wrong.”

Palestinian Scene

After 15-year wait, Palestinian elections face new obstacles following law amendments,

“As Palestinian factions prepare to travel to Cairo next month to hold talks on elections, which, if held, would be the first in 15 years, new obstacles have surfaced with President Mahmoud Abbas’s amendments to laws that experts say could protect him from undesired results…These amendments, according to experts, have put the judiciary in ‘Abbas’s grip,’ and through them the Palestinian president has prepared to fortify himself if the ballot boxes come out without the results he seeks.”

Hamas leaders in West Bank warn of Israeli intimidation ahead of elections,

“The Israeli intelligence summoned Jan. 24 Omar al-Barghouti, a 67-year-old leader in the Hamas movement, from the village of Kober, north of Ramallah, and warned him against running in the upcoming Palestinian elections. Fifteen years since elections were last held in the Palestinian territories, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree Jan. 15 setting the dates for general elections, beginning with the legislative elections on May 22. Barghouti told Al-Monitor, ‘I received a call from the Israeli intelligence to show up to the Ofer prison, and when I came, the Israeli officer warned me not to run in the upcoming elections and threatened me with imprisonment if I did.’”

Hamas to hold primaries ahead of PA parliamentary election,

“The Gaza-based terrorist group is still undecided whether to vie for the PA presidency in a separate election slated for July 31, Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reports.” Also see: ‘Secretive’ Hamas elections spark internal party row (Arab News)

PA arrests Hamas supporters ahead of elections,

“Despite the talk about holding new general elections, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are continuing to crack down on each other’s supporters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The clampdown comes as representatives of several Palestinian factions, including the ruling Fatah faction and Hamas, are expected to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo soon to discuss ways of ensuring the success of the elections.”

Israeli Scene

Poll predicts Likud as clear election frontrunner,

“If elections were held in Israel today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud would remain the largest party in the Knesset with 30 seats, a new poll published Sunday by broadcaster Channel 12 found. Yesh Atid headed by Opposition Leader Yair Lapid would come in second with 17 seats, albeit with a significantly lower number than the Likud.”

Naftali Bennett: 'We're four seats away from being able to form a government',

“MK Naftali Bennett, who chairs the Yamina party, spoke about the upcoming elections, emphasizing that only four more Knesset seats are needed for him to be able to form a government.’”

Alliance Could Boost Center-left Bloc, New Israeli Election Poll Shows,

“A strategic union between the Labor Party and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai’s party, The Israelis, led by Labor’s leader Merav Michaeli, would receive seven seats if elections were held today, according to a new opinion poll presented on Channel 12 News on Sunday night.” Also see: Will Merav Michaeli resuscitate Labor? (Jerusalem Post)

So Now Yair Lapid Is the Israeli Left's Pet Candidate?,

“This will be just like the previous election campaigns, when “we” supported Benny Gantz. We ignored the lack of an agenda and his Teflon characteristics; we closed our eyes and ears (and mouths) to his festive declaration about the number of Palestinian deaths he was responsible for – 1,364 killed, he said proudly – and we tried to dismiss it as a slip of the tongue. We were captivated by his blue eyes, believed in the wonders of Photoshop and filled the opinion pages with enthusiastically supportive essays.”

Netanyahu can't afford a splintered right-wing bloc,

“The prime minister knows that if he wants to stick around at the PM’s office for a few more years, he has to ensure Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionist party makes it into the Knesset. In recent days, the premier has done everything in his power to ensure that happens.” Also see: As Lapid emerges as challenger, Likud signals it’s no more Mr. Nice Campaign (Times of Israel)

Lawfare & Weaponization of Definition of “Antisemitism” 

Facebook is getting pulled into a fight about the politics of Israel,

“On November 10th, a Facebook employee sent out an unusual email to an unknown outside party, hoping to arrange a conversation about how the platform moderated against anti-Semitism. ‘We are looking at the question of how we should interpret attacks on ‘Zionists,’’ reads the letter, whose recipient was redacted, ‘to determine whether the term is a proxy for attacking Jewish or Israeli people.’ That strange but seemingly innocuous email has set off a firestorm in certain corners of the left. Since Tuesday, activists have been circulating a petition calling on the platform to halt any potential changes to the way Facebook moderates the word “Zionist.” Both sides agree the term is often used as part of racist rhetoric that is accurately described as hate speech and should be removed. At the same time, the term is also used by Jewish critics of specific Israeli policies, particularly the country’s settlement policy. Classifying the term as hate speech would end up stifling those criticisms — at least on Facebook.”

New chair of equalities watchdog is against call for unis to adopt IHRA,

“Baroness Falkner said the international definition is ‘extremely poorly worded and probably unactionable in law’ while it ‘directly conflicts with the duty to protect free speech’.”

Pro-Israel Instagram page provokes ridicule over questions to 'anti-Zionists',

“A post by a pro-Israel group on Instagram posing questions to ‘anti-Zionists’ has gone viral and provoked criticism and ridicule. Jewish Perspective, a page on Instagram which breaks down ‘conversations around the Jewish people, antisemitism and Zionism’, posted a series of questions to its almost 15,000 followers to check if they were ‘speaking over Zionists’ or were projecting ‘Western standards’ onto Israel. Anti-Zionists were called to check whether they are ‘speaking from a place of privilege’, if Palestinians and Israelis are both being held ‘accountable’, why the ‘only Jewish state’ should be dissolved when there are ‘60+ Muslim and Chrisitian’ states, and whether the conflict is being treated in the same way as other ‘conflicts, wars and human rights issues’.”

No, BDS is NOT Antisemitic,

“BDS is not antisemitic. In fact, the movement itself stands against antisemitism. It does so, rightly, with the understanding that antisemitism and anti-Zionism are two different and distinct things. Indeed, while it is undeniable that much of the rhetoric around BDS is anti-Zionist or, at the very least, in severe tension, with even the most liberal forms of Zionism, and most of its leaders are proudly anti-Zionist, it is not impossible to support BDS and still consider oneself a Zionist of some sort. I know several people personally who fit that description, including some with vast expertise in the field of Israel-Palestine politics.”

It’s Alright to Be an anti-Zionist,

“The reality of apartheid and Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the sea is hidden only from the blind, the ignorant, the propagandists and the liars.”


Farewell to Ezra Nawi, a Mizrahi Jew who refused to live by Zionism’s rules,

“Nawi gave his body, mind, and possessions to the most vulnerable Palestinians. This made him a threat to the Israeli regime — and its easiest prey.”

Destroying Armageddon: The Apocalypse as a Tourism Attraction,

“Snags to creating a park starring Tell Megiddo, a proto-church, a unique Roman legion camp and much more, include a pesky prison smack in the middle and the billion-shekel bill to move it – and the plan to expand a highway.”