Top News from Israel & Palestine: January 7, 2020

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights

Civil Administration Advances 1,936 Settlement Units,

“Despite lacking a clear mandate, for this caretaker government it’s business as usual – Continue the massive promotion of harmful and unnecessary construction in occupied territory and in places that Israel will have to evacuate. Netanyahu continues to sabotage the prospects of peace, dragging Israel into an anti-democratic one-state reality resembling apartheid.”

Palestinians in Gaza are bringing their stories of siege to Israelis,

“‘We, Israelis and Palestinians, those who live between the river and the sea, deserve to live here in peace and equality, with no discrimination or oppression of any kind.’ This declaration, written by 25-year-old Palestinian journalist Ahmed Alnaouq, who lives in Gaza, accompanied the launch of a new Hebrew-language website, We Beyond the Fence. The site, which provides Israeli readers with articles, poems, and personal essays about life in the Gaza Strip, is jointly-run by Alnaouq and Yuval Abraham, 25, a student and activist from Jerusalem. We Beyond the Fence is run from the strip and offers a platform for young Palestinians to share their stories of life under siege. The work, which is translated by a group of Israelis, draws from the English-language website, We Are Not Numbers.”

Israeli Confiscations, Demolitions of Palestinian Homes Up 45 Percent in 2019, UN Figures Show,

“A total of 393 Palestinian structures were destroyed or confiscated in Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and military control, compared to 271 structures in 2018. Of these structures, 116 were contributed by international agencies. The number of people removed from their homes also spiked in 2019 to 507, compared to 218 the previous year. Of the structures demolished or confiscated, 128 were agricultural, 99 were inhabited and 53 were water pipes, wells or toilets…According to a recent report in the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has devised a plan to completely stop Palestinian construction in Area C within two years. The plan is still unclear at this point, but the report says it includes changes in the Civil Administration’s enforcement priorities.”

Court gives nod to settlement largely built on private Palestinian land,

“The High Court of Justice on Monday dismissed a petition against the legality of a central West Bank settlement’s construction master plan, in a move that residents hope will pave the way for the legalization of the entire community, which was largely built on private Palestinian land. The petitioners, from the Palestinian villages of Ein Yabrud and Silwad, had argued that the master plan submitted by the neighboring Ofra settlement in 2014 covering approximately one-third of its area should have been dismissed due to its inclusion of nearly a dozen acres of land that had been registered to residents of their respective towns. Rejecting the Palestinian claims, the panel of judges ruled that the majority of the master plan — roughly 60 acres’ worth — which had been a Jordanian military base before 1967 but was subsequently expropriated by Israel, could be used by the residents of Ofra.”

Israel Confiscates Sole Vehicle of Palestinian Medical Team in West Bank Firing Zone,

“Israel has impounded the only vehicle available to a medical team that provides assistance to 1,500 Palestinians living inside an Israeli military firing zone in the West Bank. This is the second time the vehicle serving residents of Masafer Yatta in the south Hebron hills has been confiscated within one year, cutting off healthcare to an isolated and impoverished population.”

U.S. Politics/The "Deal of the Century"

Berkowitz meets Netanyahu over potential Trump peace plan roll out,

“Avi Berkowitz, assistant to US President Donald Trump and special representative for international negotiations, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Residence on Monday to discuss the Trump administration’s peace plan, The Jerusalem Post has confirmed. Attending the meeting was also US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. It was not immediately clear how long the meeting lasted and what was specifically discussed.”

Israeli Politics

Despite Doubts, Israeli Left-wing Parties Due to Discuss Election Merger,

“Israeli Labor and Meretz parties are expected to discuss the possibility of running together in the upcoming Knesset election, say sources familiar with talks between the two parties. Negotiating teams on their behalf – or the two leaders themselves – are expected to meet in the next few days, in advance of the deadline for formal submission of party slates to the Central Elections Committee, in nine days’ time. Sources in both parties confirm that unofficial feelers have been put out in an attempt to reach understandings, including talks between Labor MK Itzik Shmuli and Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg.”

What You Need to Know About Israel’s New Diaspora Affairs Minister,

“Her appointment is almost certain to be short-lived, but that doesn’t mean world Jewish leaders weren’t wringing their hands Sunday when they learned that Tzipi Hotovely had just been named Israel’s next Diaspora affairs minister. A self-proclaimed religious right-winger, her values and positions seem bound to collide with those of large sections of the Jewish world, particularly in the United States. As if they haven’t already. In November 2017, American Jewish leaders demanded her ouster as Israel’s deputy foreign minister after Hotovely accused U.S. Jews of not understanding ‘the complexities of the region’ because they ‘never send their children to fight for their country’.”

Israel Expands Attorney General's Authority Ahead of Possible International War Crimes Case,

“The Justice Ministry and the Israeli military expanded the attorney general’s authority to overturn the military advocate general’s decisions last year, a move that would help the government contend with possible prosecutions by the International Criminal Court. This change allows the attorney general to examine more appeals against the military advocate general’s decisions not to criminally investigate complaints alleging a violation of the international rules of war.”