Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 23, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation Watch

Greenblatt: Peace plan asks Israel to pledge land for Palestinian state,

“…’Can the Israeli government declare the extension of sovereignty? The answer is yes,’ Greenblatt said. ‘But under the peace plan that we released, that comes with a commitment to set aside a certain area of land for the eventual potential Palestinian state,’ he explained.”

For Palestinian Police, Much to Lose if Israel Annexes West Bank Land,

“…polls show that Palestinians trust the security forces more than the authority’s leaders. Buf if the dream of statehood is dashed, the officers who have risked their lives and reputations for it have much to lose. ‘You say, ‘State, state, state,’ and now the other side is saying ‘you won’t get one,” said Akram Rajoub, a longtime commander in Preventive Security, a domestic intelligence agency, who is now the governor of Jenin. ‘Where have all these state-building efforts gone? Where has all this investment gone? What are we going to tell our children?’”

If Netanyahu opts for elections, will West Bank annexation be lost?,

“It’s presumed that if Netanyahu were to move forward now on annexation, it would generate further chaos in the coalition given the opposition from Blue and White. Technically, under the coalition agreement between the two parties, Netanyahu is permitted to move forward without Blue and White. Pragmatically, however, the party could retaliate legislatively, creating an upheaval that could lead to the coalition’s downfall.For Netanyahu to regain control of the coalition, he cannot afford steps that would generate such controversy within his government.If he moved forward with annexation, it would be with the likely understanding that it would collapse his government and lead to new elections.”

Will Hamas and Fatah Agree on a Joint Political Program?,

“Hamas and Fatah movements have been seeking to agree on a joint political agenda, said Hamas politburo member Hussam Badran on Tuesday. In statements published by the Hamas website, Badran stressed that both movements, along with all Palestinian factions, can agree on a joint political program, saying the Palestine Liberation Organization is still capable of receiving new parties…His comments come in light of progress in talks between Fatah and Hamas after the two announced setting aside their differences and launching a new phase in the face of Israel’s plan to annex large parts of the West Bank.” Also see: Israel Hayom – Report: Hamas, Fatah to join forces against Israeli annexation plan

Palestinian Scene/Occupation

Israel Demolishes Building Palestinians Say Was Meant to Be Coronavirus Testing Center,

“Israel’s Civil Administration on Tuesday tore down a building at the entrance to Hebron that Palestinians say was meant to serve as a center for coronavirus testing and quarantine. The Civil Administration, however, said the building was erected illegally for personal purposes. The structure, whose construction began three months ago, stood on land belonging to Hebron resident Hazem Maswada. Maswada says he donated the land to the city for temporary use during the pandemic so it could build a coronavirus testing center. He said the center was supposed to start operating next week.” Also see: Jerusalem Post – Israel demolished Hebron car dealership, not ‘COVID-19 center’; Al Jazeera – UN: COVID-19 efforts hampered amid Israeli-Palestinian breakdown

Israel releases West Bank Hamas leader after 16 months in administrative detention,

“One of the founders of the Palestinian Islamist terrorist movement Hamas was released Thursday by Israel after 16 months of administrative detention, his son told international media outlets…Hassan Youssef was arrested at his home near Ramallah in April 2019 and placed in administrative detention for six months. His detention was initially extended for an additional six months, then a second time for four months, his son said. Administrative detention is a provision that allows Israel to detain Palestinians without charge or trial for renewable periods for up to half a year. Hassan Youssef, 65, had already been released at the end of 2018 after 10 months of administrative detention.”

PA blames Israel for coronavirus cases in West Bank,

“The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of deliberately spreading the coronavirus in the Palestinian territories as the number of active cases has begun to climb again. Over recent weeks, prominent Palestinian politicians have laid the blame for coronavirus within the Palestinian population squarely at Israel’s feet, blaming soldiers entering Palestinian homes and manning checkpoints – even while admitting that large gatherings may also have had an effect.”

In Preparation for the Annexation of “Greater Jerusalem”: Significant Settlement Advancement in East Jerusalem in the Six Months Leading up to July 1st,

“While a decision on formal annexation has yet to take place, during the six months prior to July 1st, Israel took significant steps to enhance the  de facto annexation of Greater Jerusalem through the advancement of settlement plans in East Jerusalem and in Greater Jerusalem. These include new settlements in  the extremely sensitive areas of Har Homa E, Givat Hamatos, and E-1- areas that have been a red line which Israel refrained from crossing for years. Furthermore, settlement activity inside Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem is continuing at a heightened pace. Finally, during the first six months of 2020, detailed outline plans with a total of 3,514 additional housing units were advanced for settlements within East Jerusalem. If advancement of settlement plans continues at this pace for the remainder of the year, then 2020 will pass the record of 2012, when Israel advanced detailed outline plans for 6,431 housing units, mainly in response to the United Nations General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a non-member state.”

Palestinians: PA exploiting coronavirus measures to silence critics,

“Palestinian politicians, academics and human rights advocates on Thursday called on the Palestinian Authority to immediately release several activists who were arrested in the past few days for protesting administrative and financial corruption in Palestinian institutions. A PA court in Ramallah on Wednesday ordered nine activists remanded into custody for 15 days on charges of holding an illegal gathering and violating the state of emergency announced by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the West Bank. The organizers of the protest accused the PA leadership of using the state of emergency as an excuse to silence its critics and suppress freedom of speech in the West Bank.” Also see: Middle East Monitor: Popular Front calls on PA to ‘stop bullying’ Palestinians

Focus on Gaza

Gantz: Israel could 'normalize' relations with Gaza if captives, remains of IDF soldiers returned,

“Israel could ‘normalize’ its relations with the restive Gaza Strip if Hamas, the terrorist group running the coastal enclave, was to release its Israeli captives, Defense Minister and Alternative Prime Minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday, as cited by Arutz Sheva.”

Hamas condemns US’ claims it is responsible for Gaza suffering,

“Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas described allegations made by US Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, as ‘lies, fabrications and political bullying’. In comments to the UN Security Council, Craft held Hamas responsible for the dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, which has been under a strict Israeli siege since 2006 after the movement won democratic Palestinian elections.”

Palestine police uncover counterfeit money network in Gaza,

“Palestinian police officers in the Gaza Strip revealed on Wednesday that they have uncovered a network producing counterfeit money. Hundreds of coins and notes produced in three workshops have been confiscated.”

Israel Scene

Israel's Netanyahu eyeing fourth election in November amid trial concerns: Report,

“Sources say premier fears petition could force him to declare he is incapable of governing while sitting in the dock three times a week.”

Also see: Jerusalem Post – Rivlin reprimands government for election talk during national crisis

Israel Hayom – Election seems closer than ever as government infighting reaches new high

Times of Israel – Don’t believe the hype about a new election (unless it happens)

US Scene

Where progressives won — and lost — in the Democratic platform,

“Sanders staffers failed to persuade moderates to include in the platform a reference to Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the West Bank, as well as a call for placing conditions on military aid to the country. Instead, the draft platform said a 2016 vow by former President Barack Obama to provide assistance to Israel is ‘ironclad.’ In a demonstration of the compromise behind the document, it reads, ‘We oppose any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, while protecting the Constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.’ Progressives considered that a step forward. ‘It’s a statement of personal preference on part of whoever wrote the draft, but affirmation of the fact that everyone has the right to do it. The second clause nullifies the first clause, so it’s a win,’ said Zogby. ‘That’s like the Republican platform saying, ‘We are against abortion, but every woman has the right to choose.’”

AIPAC-Connected Lobby Whiffs in Eliot Engel Debacle,

“Framing an accomplished Black man as a deadbeat over a fairly insignificant debt would have been an odd line of attack in a socioeconomically diverse congressional district even if the country wasn’t in the midst of a terrifying, pandemic-triggered economic crisis and nationwide anti-racism protests. Engel soon asked for the spot to be taken off the air, but the damage was done. DMFI’s disastrous intervention showed that pro-Israel Dems couldn’t swing an election, not even for a pro-Israel icon representing a district in metropolitan New York. Donors spent close to $2 million with nothing to show for it but a fresh narrative of defeat and party disunity, along with a new potential opponent in Bowman.”

International Community

Outgoing UN Ambassador Danny Danon says world is gradually changing its perspective on Israel,

“…I brought them to Judea and Samaria, which helped change their perspective. When we visited with Mayor of Samaria Yossi Dagan at factories in the Barkan Industrial Zone, and they spoke to Palestinian employees and saw the coexistence there, we explained to them that when you support the BDS movement, you hurt the same Palestinians who work in these companies.”

Lawfare/Targeting Free Speech/Weaponization of claims of Antisemitism

Police arrest, then release Palestinian cultural leaders in East Jerusalem,

“Israeli police released two prominent Palestinian cultural leaders on Wednesday hours after arresting them in east Jerusalem, police and one of their lawyers said. Rania Elias, who heads the Yabous Cultural Center, and her husband, Suhail Khoury, director general of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, were detained in their home in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood. They were released on Wednesday evening ‘under conditions,’ Elias’s lawyer Nasir Odeh told AFP, without giving further details. The Yabous center and the conservatory were also raided by police and Israeli tax investigators, with documents confiscated. The Palestine Liberation Organization condemned the arrests and raids as part of ‘Israel’s violent and systematic campaign against Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem.’”

Also see:

Middle East Eye – Israeli forces storm two Palestinian cultural centres in East Jerusalem

Jewish Press: “EXPOSED: Network of Jerusalem Cultural Orgs Run by PFLP Operatives is Funded by Europeans”

i24News – Israel arrests Palestinian cultural leaders for ‘financing terrorist organizations’

Middle East Monitor – Prominent Palestinian husband and wife released after brief detention by Israel

Spain adopts IHRA Definition of Antisemitism,

“The government of Spain has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain issued a statement Wednesday thanking the Spanish government for its decision. The IHRA working definition describes various forms of antisemitism, including hatred and discrimination against Jews, Holocaust denial and, sometimes controversially, expressions of criticism of Israel. Spain has been a member of the alliance since 2008. It is one of 34 member countries. In June, the parliament of the Spanish state the Balearic Islands Autonomous Community passed legislation declaring the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel a form of anti-Semitism as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Spain’s judiciary has repeatedly defined BDS as a discriminatory endeavor, but legislation reflecting this view rarely passes.”

New Likud MK forms caucus on fighting antisemitism,

“Kallner said the caucus would centralize efforts to reveal organizations in Israel that receive aid from foreign countries in delegitimizing the country, its citizens and the IDF, and would use legislation and legal means against those organizations. He also intends to fight efforts to put Israelis on trial at the International Court of Justice at the Hague and stop foreign countries from funding Palestinian attempts to take over land in Area C of Judea and Samaria.”

German Foreign Ministry hires “Islamist” who defends Israel’s destruction,

“In her defense of the antisemitic al-Quds rally, Soykan told German radio station Deutschlandfunk in 2014 that opponents of Israeli politics ‘who want to show their anger sometimes” must be given the opportunity “to clear the air in the way of a demonstration.’”


Israel said it had a firefight during Gaza’s Return March. Where’s the evidence?,

“An activist looked into an Israeli army claim of a shootout with Hamas militants during Gaza’s mass protests. Two years later, the army still can’t confirm if the ‘battle’ even took place.”

Why Israeli Arabs Are Staying on the Sidelines of Country's Protest Movement,

“One former Joint List leader says that in order for the Arab community to join in, the protest must call for justice for all, and not be held under ‘the umbrella of Zionism.’”

American Jewry in Transition? How Attitudes toward Israel May Be Shifting,

“The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has been researching the attitudes of Jewish-Americans for the past two years. We may now be seeing a trend in Jewish-American attitudes that represents a narrower definition of “support” for Israel. Our latest series of data shows moderately strong but less than enthusiastic overall support for Israel. We found mild-moderate but clear expressions of ‘sympathy’ for the Palestinians. There is deep concern over anti-Semitism, dissociated from concern over anti-Israel attitudes. There is a lack of serious concern for anti-Semitism from the left-progressive elements of society. Despite some concerns, there is a willingness to associate with possibly anti-Israel movements…”

What If the Palestinian Authority Disbands?,

“The main conclusion from the following analysis is that even if the preferred option for Israel is to continue to maintain a functioning Palestinian Authority, some of the alternatives, including one where Israel will retain its responsibility for the territory over time, are not much worse. First, the direct financial burden involved is relatively not very significant, and secondly, the Palestinian Authority will have difficulty continuing the struggle against Israel with the tools at its disposal, compared to those if the PA continued control of its territory.”