Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 21, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation Watch

John Bolton says there's 'disagreement' between Israel and US on sovereignty plan,

“The failure of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to move forward with his sovereignty plan at the beginning of July is the result of ‘disagreement’ with the US over the plan, says former US National Security Advisor John Bolton, who singled out President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner as the key opponent to Israeli plans to apply sovereignty. In an interview with Galei Tzahal’s Efi Triger which was released Tuesday morning, Bolton said that Kushner opposes unilateral actions by Israel, including the application of sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria. ‘I think there’s obviously a disagreement. Jared is still trying to sustain his peace plan and he’s worried about unilateral action or American recognition of unilateral action. Personally, I would go ahead and do it.’”

“ICC halted decision on probing Israel war crimes after annexation delayed”,

“Israeli Army Radio yesterday claimed that the International Criminal Court (ICC) had adjourned taking a decision on its jurisdiction over investigating possible Israeli war crimes due to Tel Aviv postponing its plans to annex the occupied West Bank, Quds Net News reported. This comes two days after the ICC adjourned making a decision on whether to investigate Israeli war crime against Palestinians in the occupied territories. According to Israel Hayom, Israeli diplomats and legal experts had expected the panel of three judges to accept the position of chief ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, whereby ‘the Palestinian territories fall under the jurisdiction of the court’. Israeli officials believe the ICC will resume work on the case in mid-August, after its summer recess.”

Yossi Dagan: 'Government is missing the target when it comes to sovereignty',

“‘All of the governments are busy right now fighting coronavirus, and the last thing they will busy themselves with is the application of sovereignty here in Judea and Samaria. The US President is up to his neck in coronavirus issues and he’s also preparing for the elections scheduled to be held in the US in November. There’s no better time than this. I call on the Prime Minister to apply sovereignty here and now,” he concluded, emphasizing that he wants “no more talk, and certainly, no more election promises.’”

Hungarian FM: EU must give Trump plan a chance,

“Hungary vetoed EU condemnation of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan because it has more hope to succeed than any previous proposal, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview during his half-day visit to Israel on Monday. ‘All of the plans put forward so far have failed,’” he said. ‘If you look at the Trump plan, we do believe it has the most hope to be a basis of successful negotiations. That’s why we have vetoed the EU statement condemning the plan when it was published.’”

Egypt intervening to stop Israel from applying sovereignty,

“Egypt is working to prevent Israel from applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, by pressuring the Palestinian Authority to restart direct negotiations with the US government, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met Monday evening with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, telling him that he needs to bring back faith in the US ‘in order to completely end thoughts of annexation.’”

Former Israeli security officials thank Dem House members for opposing annexation,

“A group of 41 Israeli former senior security officials have sent a letter of appreciation to Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and David Price (D-NC), the authors of a letter signed by 191 House members and sent to Israeli leaders expressing opposition to annexation. ‘We commend you on building such a broad coalition of Members of Congress to join you in signing this letter,’ the Israeli officials wrote in a letter sent to congressional offices Monday.”

Hamas and Fatah agree to hold national festival in Gaza,

“The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement and its rival Fatah have agreed to hold a national festival in Gaza against Israel’s annexation plan, Hamas revealed on Monday. ‘We have agreed this in order to finalise the unification of Palestinian efforts against the Israeli annexation and the US deal of the century,’ explained Khalil Al-Hayya of the Hamas Political Bureau. ‘Representatives of various Palestinian parties will take part in the festival which is going to host international participants as well as speeches for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas.’”

Palestinian Scene/Occupation

‘Israel insists on security cooperation in return for tax revenue’,

“The head of the Palestinian Authority Prisoners’ and Freed Prisoners’ Commission, Qadri Abu Baker, has said that Israel is insisting on the PA resuming security cooperation in return for the release of tax revenue collected on its behalf by the occupation authorities, Al-Watan Voice reported on Monday. Abu Baker said that this is one of the conditions made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to transfer the money collected by Israel on behalf of the PA. He stressed that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is sticking to his decision to end security coordination.”

Palestinian Jerusalem governor said probed by Israel over ‘terrorism’,

“Israel is investigating the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem over suspected terrorism, in the first such allegation against the often-arrested leader, his lawyer said Monday. Adnan Ghaith has been arrested by Israeli security forces more than 10 times over the past two years, but typically over the minor offense of engaging in ‘illegal’ political activities in the disputed city…Under Israeli law, a broad range of offenses fall under the terrorism umbrella, and the probe does not necessarily mean Ghaith is suspected of plotting an act of violence. Israeli law also prohibits the Palestinian Authority from carrying out political activities in Jerusalem.” Also see: Middle East Monitor – Israel arrests PA’s Jerusalem governor for 17th time

Israel concerned by Palestinian Authority's lack of governance,

“Israeli sources have expressed concern over signs of a lack of governance in the Palestinian Authority (PA), due to the lack of security coordination with Israel and the difficult economic situation caused by coronavirus, Kan News reported. According to the sources, over the past weeks there has been a lack of governance by the PA security forces, especially in villages and ‘refugee camps.’ The sources added that the situation stems from an inability on the part of the PA to move large numbers of armed forces within the area, due to a lack of security coordination with Israel. Meanwhile, sources in the defense system said that PA security forces’ motivation has dropped since the PA is no longer paying them full salaries, preferring not to take taxes transferred to it by Israel until Israel stops deducting terrorists’ salaries from the amount transferred. It was also reported that dozens of PA security personnel have applied for Israeli work permits, aiming for better salaries and less dangerous jobs.”

Israel soldiers destroy Palestinian coronavirus testing centre,

“Israeli soldiers demolished a Palestinian security checkpoint used to test for coronavirus in the occupied West Bank, according to Wafa news agency. The checkpoint was set up by Palestinian security forces at the entrance to the occupied West Bank city of Jenin to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian lands near Bethlehem for settlement expansion,

“Israeli bulldozers on Monday razed Palestinian agricultural lands east of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, with the intention of expanding an illegal outpost, Ibei HaNahal. The land belongs to Palestinian residents of Kisan village, on which Ibei HaNahal was built in 1999, and is located south of the West Bank, near the Hebron Road and within the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.”

Palestinians accuse Israel of stealing 1500-year-old Christian relic from Bethlehem,

“Palestinians have accused Israel of an ‘abominable act of thuggery and cultural appropriation’ after a 1500-year-old Christian relic was ‘stolen’ by Israeli forces early on Monday. Video footage posted online by the PLO Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy showed Israeli forces escorting a large flatbed truck out from the town of Tuqu, in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. The rare artefact, which dates back to the Byzantine period, was used as a water basin for baptisms and is one of three known relics of its kind. The other two include one recently discovered at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and another belonging to a church in Beit Jibrin, an ancient Palestinian town left in ruins following Israel’s 1948 invasion.” Also see: Times of Israel – Israel says ancient baptismal font, stolen 20 years ago, retrieved in West Bank

Journalists acknowledge involvement in anti-Hamas campaign,

“Palestinian journalists close to former Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan have acknowledged that they were involved in a campaign to discredit Hamas, Quds Press reported on Monday. Hassan Asfour, a journalist from Gaza who runs a news website from the UAE, confirmed reports that there was such a campaign targeting the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement. Asfour’s website, Amad, published fake news about Israeli infiltration of the Hamas military wing. He said that the campaign arose after ‘increasing’ Turkish and Qatari involvement in Gaza with the alleged aim of creating an independent entity led by Hamas. The fake report by Amad was covered widely by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath TV stations and other Saudi and UAE media. Asfour was unrepentant, and told Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, ‘There is no smoke without fire.’”

Israeli Scene

Shin Bet foils Iran, Hezbollah-backed PFLP terror plot in Judea and Samaria,

“The Shin Bet security agency on Tuesday said it thwarted an Iran and Hezbollah-backed terrorist plot in recent months to launch high-profile attacks in Judea and Samaria via the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group. The Syrian army was reportedly also involved in training the PFLP cell, which reportedly operated under the guise of a civilian welfare organization known as ‘Al-Shabab Al-Alumi Al-Arabi.’”

Mysterious' Incidents in Iran Could Provoke Regime to Confront Israel,

“…the U.S. administration is not taking steps to restrain Israel, and in effect is giving the Israeli leadership to believe it has a green light from the United States to act. She estimated that there is a reasonable possibility that Israel is behind the explosion in the centrifuge facility earlier this month – as claimed by regional intelligence sources who were quoted in The New York Times. She also says that it’s possible to expect additional Israeli moves. But she warns that Israel may be taking a dangerous gamble when it assumes that Iran won’t react, because it’s hard to prevent escalation when the regional situation is already so sensitive.”  Also see: Times of Israel – Iran-linked sites around Damascus said hit in Israeli strike and Times of Israel – Bolton: Israel should act now in own security interests ahead of US election

US Scene

As Trump slips in polls, Adelson pumps $25m into GOP Senate races,

“As US President Donald Trump’s poll numbers drop amid the surging coronavirus pandemic, Republican mega-donors are increasingly directing their funds toward helping the party keep its Senate majority, according to a New York Times report Tuesday. That includes the Jewish billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, who donated $25 million to a Super PAC aimed at helping Senate Republicans in the November election. The contribution marks the couple’s largest yet donation of the 2020 campaign season. In February, Adelson pumped $5,600 into Trump’s campaign and another $580,600 to a PAC supporting the president’s reelection, according to the Federal Election Commission’s campaign finance reports.”

International Community

Jordan could support Israeli-Palestinian binational state, its PM says,

“Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said his country could possibly back a single Israeli-Palestinian state, if it offered equal rights to all citizens. Speaking to the UK Guardian newspaper in an interview published Tuesday, Razzaz said a binational state could, under those circumstances, be an alternative to the two-state solution that currently forms the basis of international expectations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Lebanon politician calls for expelling Palestine refugees,

“Leader of the Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement and former Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Sunday called for expelling Palestinian refugees from the country, Arab48 reported. After a meeting with the Maronite Patriarch, Mar Bechara Al Rahi, Bassil said that Lebanon would be able to be neutral if it expelled ‘explosive opponents’ in the country. He pointed out that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are part of these ‘explosive opponents’ and they should be forced out.”

Syria says Israeli missiles intercepted over capital,

“Syrian air defences intercepted Israeli missiles over the capital Monday, state media reported, during an attack which a war monitor said hit several positions of regime forces and Iran-backed militias. ‘Air defences intercepted Israeli missiles’ over the skies of Damascus, the official SANA news agency said.”

Lawfare/Targeting Free Speech/Weaponization of claims of Antisemitism

Gantz further delays sanctions on West Bank banks for paying PA terror stipends,

“Defense Minister Benny Gantz has further delayed implementation of a military decree that would sanction banks in the West Bank for dispensing stipends from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to convicted terrorists and families of terrorists.Gantz signed off on freezing implementation of the edict over the weekend for an additional 45 days.”

The BDS-BLM alignment: Implications for Israel and Diaspora Jewry,

“…the BDS and BLM movements share a vision for the replacement of Israel, which they see as an extension of the white United States—inherently unjust, racist and illegal. In this view, Israel is the result of a historical sin—an error that can be corrected only by Israel’s replacement by Palestine. This deepens the challenge to Israel and American Jewry posed by BDS, BLM and Antifa, who demand the dismantling of the United States and Israel and their rebuilding from the ground up. The rebranding of Israel as a white supremacist entity also categorizes Diaspora Jews as “white supremacists” by extension, unless they disavow Israel as a centerpiece of their American Jewish identity. This new radicalized discourse demands that American Jews sacrifice their liberal and progressive worldviews…”

“Netherlands admits to paying terrorists who killed 17-year-old Israeli”,

“The Netherlands paid part of the salaries of two terrorists involved in killing 17-year-old Rina Shnerb last year, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Development Minister Sigrid Kaag admitted to parliament on Tuesday.The killers are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terrorist group in the EU, and employees of the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), to which the Dutch representative in Ramallah pledged nearly $20 million in 2013-2021…The Netherlands is suspending its donations to UAWC indefinitely, pending an investigation.”

"Progressive Dems praise anti-Semitic groups for letter censuring Israeli sovereignty",

“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) praised the support by at least 10 anti-Semitic groups for a letter issued by her and signed by other Democrats, The Washington Free Beacon recently reported, citing ‘an internal email circulated to House Democrats.’ The ‘supporting organizations’ listed on the letter include ones related to the anti-Israel BDS movement, including the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, American Muslims for Palestine, American Friends Service Committee, Churches for Middle East Peace and Defense for Children International-Palestine. The Defense for Children International-Palestine has been linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, designated a terror group by the United States and European Union.”


Constant surveillance: Israeli drones over Gaza (video report),

“Palestinians speak about the trauma and fear they feel under constant surveillance from Israeli drones.”

How Israel's lobbyists occupied Mandela's legacy,

“‘Where is the Palestinian Mandela?’ is a question I have often heard from Israel’s defenders. What they are really asking is: Where is the Palestinian equivalent of Nelson Mandela – a man who, they believe, offered only olive branches and dialogue? Where is the Palestinian version of Mandela, who – in their imagination – adored his oppressor so much that he was prepared to forgive and reconcile with them unconditionally? Israel’s lobbyists – both in South Africa and around the world – have resurrected my grandfather as a liberal pacifist who benevolently made peace with his enemies. To reduce the life of Rolihlahla (Nelson Mandela’s middle name, meaning “the uprooter”) to peace-maker and reconciler is a deliberate distortion of his legacy.”