Top News from Israel & Palestine: January 30, 2020

What We’re Reading

News re: the “Plan”

PM may push sovereignty move elections despite US reservations, official says,

“Officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he may push for a decision on applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the large settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria before the March 2 elections, despite US reservations on the issue.”

Netanyahu on mixed annexation messages: ‘It’ll be alright’,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dodged questions about annexing settlements on Wednesday, amid reports that he was backing down from earlier promises of applying Israeli sovereignty next week to the municipalities in the West Bank. ‘Everything will be alright,’ Netanyahu said when asked about annexation on the tarmac at Andrews Air Base outside Washington.”

Gantz says will present Trump's peace plan for Knesset approval next week,

“Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz said Wednesday that he will present the US administration’s Middle East peace for the Knesset’s approval next week. Speaking at a conference hosted by the Institute for National Security Studies, Gantz said that the American proposal ‘reflects faithfully the fundamental principles outlined in the Blue and White platform. This is a historic opportunity to establish Israel’s borders and future.’”

Pompeo: Palestinians are welcome to present a counter offer,

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that if the Palestinian Arabs do not like the Trump administration’s ‘Deal of the Century’, they are welcome to present an offer of their own…’we are truly confident that this is a plan that is good for everyone – every Israeli and every Palestinian. And they’re free to come up – they now have an offer on the table. They are free to come up with a counter offer, if that’s what they think is appropriate. We’d look forward to that. We’re prepared to listen, and I know the Israelis will be prepared to sit down and negotiate on the basis of the vision that the President laid out.’”

Abbas to Netanyahu: We are free to end security coordination at any time,

“As reported by the central news agency, Abbas sent a letter on Wednesday to the Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein a-Sheikh, following Sheikh’s meeting with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. There, Kahlon was given a letter written in Arabic and in Abbas’s handwriting, to be given to Netanyahu. In his letter, Abbas attacked ‘The Deal of the Century’ and claimed that, ‘the plan is an American and Israeli abandonment of the Oslo Accords.’ Abbas also added that if the deal is embraced by Israel, ‘the PA will consider itself free to break any and all agreements signed with Israel, including security coordination between the two sides.’”

Jordan: Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic endowment not up for negotiation,

“The Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said yesterday that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is an ‘Islamic endowment that does not accept compromise’. The ministry warned against imposing a new status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. ‘The Israeli practices to disrupt the work of the Jerusalem Waqf Department and the daily intrusions of the Al-Aqsa compound, aim at imposing a temporal and spatial division,’ it said. The ministry stressed that the Kingdom of Jordan is the custodian of Islamic and Christian holy sites in the occupied city of Jerusalem, a role it carries out on behalf of all Islamic nations. The statement came in response to the Middle East ‘peace plan’ announced by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday in which said: ‘The State of Israel has been a good custodian of Jerusalem. During Israel’s stewardship, it has kept Jerusalem open and secure.’”

Bracing for violence over Trump's peace plan, IDF bolsters troops in Judea and Samaria,

“The Israeli military on Wednesday announced it was deploying additional infantry troops to Judea and Samaria and the Israel-Gaza Strip border over concerns that the release of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan could trigger a violent Palestinian response. The Palestinian Authority has rejected the plan even before its release, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stating he will now allow the American president to ‘strongarm the PA.’”

Palestinian factions in Gaza unite to oppose Trump's plan,

“In a rare show of unity, Palestinians from different political factions inside the Gaza Strip held a protest against US President Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century’.”

Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ fails to resonate among Egyptians,

“Trump’s plan drew mixed reactions from Egyptians on social media networks. Some expressed anger and dismay over the proposal. Others shared an image of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kissing. Some reminisced about late President Anwar Sadat and the Palestinians’ ‘missed opportunity’ for peace, in reference to Sadat’s exhortations to Palestinians to accept the Camp David Accords he signed with Israel in 1978, which were brokered by then-US President Jimmy Carter. Many of those propagating the ‘missed opportunity’ view are Egyptian government supporters who are apathetic toward Palestinians in Gaza, whom they perceive as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood because of Hamas’ close relationship with the outlawed group.”

US envoy tells Jewish leaders a Palestinian state won’t happen in near future,

“US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told a gathering of American Jewish and Christian Evangelical leaders that it would take a long time for a Palestinian state to emerge under the White House’s Middle East peace plan, according to sources in the room.”

Barkat: 'Deal of Century’ can lead to cyber-security coexistence with PA,

“The Trump Administration’s ‘Deal of the Century’ can lead to cybersecurity co-existence, including nine new industrial zones as well as technological cooperation with the Palestinians, Likud MK Nir Barkat said at the Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday.  ‘I’ve looked at the potential in Judea and Samaria, and even now, there’s lots of collaboration between Israelis and Palestinians that is technologically based,’ Barkat said.”

Putin meets Netanyahu, reserves judgement on Middle East plan,

“Putin did not talk about Trump’s plan in his opening remarks, and Russian officials so far have refrained from comment – a careful stance reflecting the Kremlin’s desire to maintain warm ties with Israel and its hopes for a rapprochement with Trump’s administration.”

Commentary/Analysis re: the “Plan”

Trump’s ‘peace’ deal flagrantly tramples on Palestinian rights and freedoms,

“Depressing as the Trump plan may be, it does suggest one possible opportunity. It stipulates that while negotiations take place, the PLO is not to take part in any action against Israel at the international criminal court – in a nod to the recent war crimes probe opened by the court’s chief prosecutor. This reveals that Israel is genuinely scared of such a move, if any international actors are brave enough to seek it.”

Ten ways Trump has launched a relentless assault on the very idea of Israeli-Palestinian peace ,

“In its outward appearance, the plan had such a familiar feel to it, like returning to a place of one’s childhood. But as I absorbed the words, nostalgia gave way to a feeling of having entered a topsy-turvy Alice in Wonderland. The language of peace had been cut and pasted, then put through a grinder, delivering an act of aggression dripping with the coarse syntax of racism. A hate plan, not a peace plan.”

Interview with Noura Erekat: Trump's fake 'peace plan' is permanent apartheid for Palestine,

The Grayzone: “Pushback with Aaron Maté – President Trump was joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to unveil the so-called “deal of the century” at the White House. Attorney and author Noura Erakat says Trump’s so-called ‘peace plan’ is a con that seeks to cement Israeli apartheid for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Guest: Noura Erakat. Human rights attorney, legal scholar, Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, and author of Justice for Some: Law and in the Question of Palestine.”

Israeli security chiefs and Arab leaders agree: Trump's plan is a disaster,

“From a strict security point of view, Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and practically all Arab governments share the same estimate that the Trump Middle East plan is bad and so dangerous that it could set the region in flames.”

A Threat, Not an Offer,

“The overarching message sent by Trump and Netanyahu on Tuesday—a message reinforced by Jared Kushner’s appearances on cable news yesterday and today—is that this was not a peace plan but a threat directed at the Palestinians: accept the terms of the proposal—a $50 billion investment in a farce of a state—or reject them and risk losing everything. Trump admitted as much in his characteristically blunt remarks. ‘Today’s agreement is a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to achieve a state of their own,’ he said. ‘After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have.’”

I have just read 25 books and am here to perform your open-heart surgery,

Jared Kushnner: ““What I would encourage people to do is try to divorce yourself from all of the history that’s happened over the years and read this plan…I’ve been getting criticized for the last couple of years by all the people who have tried and failed for not doing this the same way they have, okay?…If somebody was successful I wouldn’t be dealing with this, and I wouldn’t have this additional responsibility to the other things I have. I think that people should try to be optimistic…“I’ve read 25 books on it.”

The Trump Peace Sham,

A roundup of analysis and statements of opposition to Trump’s dangerous peace sham (analysis, candidates, Palestinians, Congress, Israel leaders, Jewish organizations).

Other News

Right-wing Israeli lawmakers attempt to remove Palestinians from Knesset,

“On 29 January, the Central Election Committee (CEC) within the Israeli Knesset moved to disqualify Palestinian member of the Knesset (MK), Heba Yazbak of the Balad party, from running in the upcoming March election. The motion will now be moved to the Supreme Court, who will convene on 5 February, and provide a final answer on 9 February. Motions were also presented to disqualify the entire Joint List (a coalition of four primarily Palestinian-run political parties), but were rejected by the CEC.”

Expansion of jurisdiction brings change for settlers,

“If the government does decide to extend its jurisdiction to include the settlements, a move that will likely have far-reaching security implications, what changes could the hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers expect?”

Uganda expected to move its embassy to Jerusalem - report,

“Uganda is reportedly planning to announce that it is moving its embassy to Jerusalem next week, sources close to the Ugandan president and the Ugandan Christian community told The Jerusalem Post.A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry could not confirm the report. The Hebrew website Ynet reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to travel to Uganda on Monday, but did not cite a reason for the visit.”

The Israeli Civics Teacher Canned for Challenging His Students,

“As part of his job, and also perhaps his duty, Baruchin says he aims to arouse the students, to challenge them to think differently, not to accept anything as self-evident. He also says that there is nothing wrong with sticking to the same opinion, but only after it has been carefully considered. In his first civics lesson, usually taught in 11th grade, he draws a big question mark on the board. ‘I tell students that when they finish studying civics with me, I’ll be happy if they show more respect for the question mark than for the exclamation point. I want them to check, investigate, think twice or three times, not to be robots.’”

In Israel, It's Much Easier for Sailors or Prisoners to Vote Than It Is for Bedouins,

“The State of Israel knows very well how to enable access to ballot boxes so that all its citizens can participate in the democratic process. This includes the absentee ballots allocated to sailors at sea, soldiers on their bases and patients in hospitals. Also included are people incarcerated in the country’s prisons. Not one of them votes in the location officially defined as their domicile, and people in this category cast their votes by placing them in double envelopes. But when it comes to Bedouin in the Negev – all of a sudden an excuse relating to their place of residence crops up, with no ballot boxes placed in the places they live. Thus, the residents of unrecognized villages are compelled to travel great distances, mostly on dirt roads, in order to exercise their democratic right to vote.”

For Second Time in a Week, Jerusalem Court Orders Eviction of Palestinian Family,

“An Israeli court on Sunday ordered the eviction of 26 members of a Palestinian family from a home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The order was issued in response to an eviction action filed by Ateret Cohanim, a group seeing to increase the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem and the eviction of roughly 700 Palestinians from the eastern part of the city. This is the second time within a week that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court has granted an eviction order in favor of the organization, following the eviction of another Palestinian family the Rajbis, from Silwan earlier this month.”

IDF attacks Hamas targets in southern Gaza,

“IDF aircraft and fighter planes on Wednesday night attacked several targets belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the southern Gaza Strip, including weapons production infrastructure as well as underground infrastructure. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the attack was carried out in response to the rocket fire and the firing of incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israeli territory.”