Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 13, 2021

What We’re Reading

West Bank/East Jerusalem

Israel blocks jailed Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar from attending daughter's funeral,

“Israel on Monday barred imprisoned Palestinian lawmaker and political prisoner Khalida Jarrar from attending her daughter’s funeral, a day after she died from cardiac arrest. Jarrar – a prominent political activist and member of the Marxist-Leninist organisation the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – was sentenced in March to two years in prison by an Israeli military court for “inciting violence” and belonging to a “banned organisation”. She was arrested at her home in Ramallah on 31 October 2019 and is slated to be released from prison in September. However, Rafael Gana, assistant to the prison service commissioner, said that Jarrar’s “request doesn’t meet the prerequisites for consideration”. “The prisoner is classified as a security prisoner,” Gana wrote, as reported by Haaretz. “As a result, no one in the prison service, including the commissioner, has the authority to approve this request,” she added. The prison service allowed Jarrar to make a phone call instead. The family decided to hold the funeral without her on Tuesday, after learning she was denied a request for temporary release to attend.” Also See – “Deceased daughter of incarcerated PFLP leader Khalida Jarrar laid to rest” (WAFA); “Israel bars jailed Palestinian from daughter’s funeral” (Washington Post)

Jewish Temple Mount entrance at risk of collapse. Will Israel fix it?,

“A group of right-wing MKs led by Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir held a discussion in the Knesset Tuesday about replacing the deteriorating Mughrabi Bridge, which Jews and non-Muslims currently use to enter the Temple Mount…”It’s not just an engineering issue,” Religious Zionist MK Simcha Rotman said. “[How can] the entrance to the Temple Mount [be] a temporary structure? We returned to our land. We need to think about how people will go the Temple Mount once the Temple will be rebuilt.”…Throughout the discussion, speakers affirmed the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, their desire to build the third Temple, the need for more education about the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and increasing education about the halachic rules of going to the Temple Mount. There were also calls to make Temple Mount more accessible for Jews. Currently, the Mughrabi Bridge entrance is open between 7 and 11 a.m. and is closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Jewish and Christian prayer on the Temple Mount is also forbidden.”

Under the pretext of nature reserve, Israel appropriates Palestinian land in occupied Jordan Valley,

“The Israeli occupation authorities appropriated Palestinian land in the occupied northern Jordan Valley under the pretext of turning it into a nature reserve, today said a Palestinian official source. Ayed Murrar, an official with the Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission, confirmed the appropriation of Palestinian land in the northern Jordan Valley even though the details of the area and location were not clear yet. He said Israel claims the appropriation is intended to turn that land into a nature reserve.”

Palestinian forced to demolish his house in occupied East Jerusalem,

“A Palestinian resident of occupied East Jerusalem proceeded last night to demolish his own house in Silwan neighborhood under pressure from the Israeli West Jerusalem municipality, which said the house was built without a permit and therefore should be demolished, reported WAFA correspondent. Mohammad Nassar al-Husseini proceeded to tear down his house at Wadi Qaddum quarter in Silwan to avoid paying exorbitant costs that could exceed $60,000 if the Jerusalem municipality carries out the demolition on its own.”

Israeli forces set up mobile homes near Hebron,

“The Israeli occupation forces today set up mobile homes on a 3-dunum area to the east of the occupied southern West Bank city of Hebron in what Palestinians fear is a prelude to building an illegal settlement outpost, reported WAFA correspondent. He said the homes were set up on a piece of land owned by local resident Mahmoud Jaber, noting that the land is located near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba. He said the forces fenced off the land in what residents fear it may be a step to establish a new Israeli settlement outpost.”

Israel’s Supreme Court barely rules unconstitutional a vengeful law targeting families of minor Palestinian stone-throwers,

“On 8 July, the Israeli Supreme Court, in a sharply divided ruling of 5-4, accepted a petition against an amendment to a 2015 law considered as vengeful for denying social benefits to parents of Palestinian minors convicted of offenses classified as security or committed with “nationalist motivations”, primarily stone-throwing. The petition challenging the law was submitted in April 2016 by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, together with Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, Addameer – Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, and Defense for Children International-Palestine. The Court held that the law disproportionately violates the constitutional right to equality. As a result, it froze the law for a year to allow the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to address its flaws, and to find alternative legislative measures that would not infringe on the right to equality.”

Israeli settlements should be classified as war crimes, says UN expert,

“The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, today called on the international community to designate the creation of Israeli settlements as a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Lynk said the Israeli settlements violate the absolute prohibition against the transfer by an occupying power of parts of its civilian population into an occupied territory. The international community designated this practice as a war crime when it adopted the Rome Statute in 1998. “For Israel, the settlements serve two related purposes. One is to guarantee that the occupied territory will remain under Israeli control in perpetuity. The second purpose is to ensure that there will never be a genuine Palestinian state,” Lynk told the Human Rights Council in Geneva. “These are exactly the reasons why the international community agreed to prohibit the practice of settler implantation when it created the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949 and the Rome Statute in 1998.””

Gaza & Israeli Control Over Gaza's Reconstruction

Israel wants voucher system for foreign aid to Gaza, police minister says,

“Israel wants foreign aid to Gaza disbursed through a voucher system, as a safeguard against donations being diverted to bolster the Palestinian enclave’s Hamas rulers and their arsenal, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said on Tuesday. Humanitarian agencies put the latest reconstruction costs for the impoverished Gaza Strip at $500 million following 11 days of cross-border fighting in May. Qatar bankrolled more than $1 billion worth of construction and other projects in Gaza, some of it in cash, after a war in 2014. The payments were monitored and approved by Israel, and Doha pledged another $500 million in late May. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wants a shift in policy, Barlev said. “The Qatari money for Gaza will not go in as suitcases full of dollars which end up with Hamas, where Hamas, in essence, takes for itself and its officials a significant part of it,” he told Army Radio. He said Bennett envisaged “a mechanism where what will go in, in essence, would be food vouchers, or vouchers for humanitarian aid, and not cash that can be taken and used for developing weaponry to be wielded against the State of Israel”.”

Crashed Israeli drone found in northern Gaza Strip - report,

“A crashed Israeli Skylark drone was found in a field in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, according to Palestinian media.”

How Israeli government ministers are talking about Gaza,

War in a different form,

“Yesterday, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced some minor “easings” to Israel’s policy at Gaza’s crossings. The proposed measures are not enough to meet current needs or to mitigate the harm caused by Israel’s closure policy. Israel’s abuse of its control over the crossings to apply pressure on Gaza’s civilian population violates the absolute prohibition on collective punishment. Limited entry of construction materials and other items via Egypt falls far short of meeting needs in Gaza, and does not detract from Israel’s legal and moral obligation to protect residents’ basic human rights. Gisha is calling on Israel to open the crossings immediately, without conditions, and allow Gaza residents living under occupation movement and access to all that is needed to facilitate normal life.”

The effects of Israel’s offensive and tightened blockade on Gaza’s patients and healthcare system,

“May 2021 was one of the grimmest months in recent years for more than two million Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip. Between 10-21 May 2021, Gaza endured Israel’s fifth large-scale military operation in the Strip since 2008. Over the 11 days, 261 Palestinians in Gaza were killed (153 men, 41 women and 67 children), of whom at least 176 were civilian, while another 1,981 suffered moderate to serious injuries (939 men, 399 women and 643 children). During and after the offensive, Israel tightened its land, sea and air blockade on Gaza and closed the Israeli-controlled crossings, before imposing additional restrictions on the entry and exit of people and goods (including fuel, food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies) under its comprehensive closure policy…”

“After each attack, we hoped life would get better”,

“Two months on from Israel’s latest military offensive on Gaza, Haitham Saqqa, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)’s Programme Assistant in Gaza, reflects on living under occupation, blockade and frequent attacks.”

The Diplomatic Realm

Israel's Lapid to EU's Top Diplomats: Two-state Solution Is Unfeasible,

“Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday that although he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is currently unfeasible. Lapid made the remarks as the main guest at a meeting of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council, which was attended by 26 EU foreign ministers. “It is no secret that I support a two-state solution. Unfortunately, there is no current plan for this. However, there is one thing we all need to remember. If there is eventually a Palestinian state, it must be a peace-loving democracy. We cannot be asked to take part in the building of another threat to our lives,” the Israeli foreign minister said.” Also See – “Lapid declares support for two-state solution before EU foreign ministers” (i24 News)

Biden’s Mideast point man in region amid tussle over home demolitions,

“US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr was in the region Monday for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials, where he is expected to push the administration’s case against home demolitions. Amr landed Monday and began his visit with meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah. He is also scheduled to travel to Bethlehem and Tel Aviv, where he will speak with business leaders and members of civil society. The visit comes after the Biden administration leveled serious criticism at Israel’s new government for the first time last week over the decision to raze the West Bank home of a Palestinian American terror suspect.”

Inside the Green Line

Bennett bashes Netanyahu over Iran, COVID in Knesset showdown,

““Never in the history of the State of Israel has there been someone who has spoken so much and done so little on Iran,” Bennett said of Netanyahu. The comments came hours after Netanyahu accused Bennett of inadvertently aiding Iran by providing water to Jordan. “You’ve become the new sourpusses,” said Bennett, a reference to the former prime minister’s infamous 2017 “pickle speech,” attacking the opposition and media as “sourpusses,” using a Hebrew word that also means pickles”

Justice Minister Sa’ar Pushing to Divide Post of Attorney General by Fall,

“Sa’ar said in January that he wants to split the job in part because there’s currently an “extreme concentration of power” in the attorney general’s hands. In addition, he said, “a situation in which the same person who advises the prime minister and other ministers on policy issues also orders them investigated and put on trial is irrational and tainted by an in-built conflict of interests.””

Opinion | Why Does Israel's Interior Minister Insist on Lying?,

“Comparing Shaked’s insistence on the annexation plan with her battle against family reunifications reveals her dishonest use of national security. During the Knesset debate on extending the temporary law, she said it was originally enacted “due to the Jewish blood spilled by cursed murderers who entered Israel via marriage.” In her words, “the hundreds of terrorists who obtained residency through marriage are decisive proof of the law’s security importance.””

The Palestinian Scene

The PA stumbled from one failure to another. Has its reckoning arrived?,

“The early democratic excitement and valiant activist efforts of this year, and now the civil rage in response to Nizar Banat’s killing, shows a Palestinian population tired of the Oslo-induced inertia and who are ready for effective political mobilization. Now, all the PA has left is to exercise its monopoly on violence over its own people — the only form of Palestinian violence tolerated and sanctioned by Israel, the United States, and the European Union. With the leadership of a half-mast Palestinian “state” firmly embedded in benefiting from the continued presence of the occupation, it has become clearer than ever that the PA is an obstacle to the end of that military regime, rather than a vehicle for liberation as it has continuously declared itself to be. The grassroots organizing of recent years — as seen with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, local resistance such as in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, and online collectives working to break media censorship of the occupation — shows that the future of Palestinian activism and politics lies outside of the legal bodies and structures approved by the same governments that maintain Israel’s rule.”

Unemployment rate among Palestinian university graduates exceeded 50% in 2020 - PCBS,

“Unemployment rate among individuals aged 20-29 years with an intermediate diploma or bachelor’s degree (BA) reached 54% in 2020: 35% in West Bank and 78% in Gaza Strip, while it was about 53% in 2019 at the national level, today said the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in a report on educational fields and labor market among individuals aged 20-29 years in 2020. It said that it takes graduates about 10 to 25 months before getting their first labor chance. The PCBS said that in the 2020/2021 scholastic year, there were 84,598 applicants for the General Certificate Exam, the Tawjihi, more than half will be later either continuing their higher education at home or abroad or seek work in the local market.”

The U.S.

Survey: A quarter of US Jews agree that Israel ‘is an apartheid state’,

“A survey of U.S. Jewish voters taken after the Israel-Gaza conflict finds that a sizable minority believe some of the harshest criticisms of Israel, including that it is committing genocide and apartheid. Among respondents to the survey commissioned by the Jewish Electorate Institute, a group led by prominent Jewish Democrats, 34% agreed that “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the United States,” 25% agreed that “Israel is an apartheid state” and 22% agreed that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.”” Also See – “Israel ‘Is an Apartheid State,’ a Quarter of U.S. Jews Say in New Poll” (Haaretz)

Climate Change

A Green Blue Deal for the Middle East,

“This report seeks to inform the policy considerations of Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian policymakers and the understanding of international stakeholders as they work to meet the challenges posed by climate change in our region. The authors’ assessment is that a “Middle East Green Blue Deal” – one that gives additional emphasis to the particular importance of water and water scarcity issues in the region — is a practical, feasible and effective policy approach to an urgent challenge, and one that can serve to address conflict drivers, advance a two state solution based on 1967 borders, and promote trust-building and cooperation in a conflict-mired region…Our “Green Blue Deal” proposes harnessing the sun and the sea to create region-wide desalinated water and energy security for all; highlights the need and opportunity to solve Israeli / Palestinian natural water allocations today to achieve water equity; proposes climate-smart investments and green job development around the Jordan Valley; and recommends public awareness and education programs that can engage the stakeholder publics, especially the younger generations, to understand the importance of diplomacy in the water and climate fields as an effective tool for conflict resolution and peace building.”

Free Speech, Big Tech, Media

Facebook blocks Gaza's Shehab News Agency from its platform,

“Facebook blocked the Palestinian Shehab News Agency from its platform on Tuesday, accusing the news organisation of violating its guidelines. The news agency, headquartered in the besieged Gaza Strip, extensively covers the Israeli occupation and Israel’s violations against Palestinians in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem. Before it was blocked from publishing on the platform, Shehab News had over seven million followers on Facebook on its Arabic page…In response to a request for comment by Middle East Eye on Tuesday, Facebook said Shehab News had been removed from the platform for “repeatedly violating our community standards”.”