Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 24, 2020

What We’re Reading

What We're Watching

Imagining the Way(s) Forward w/ Palestinian Thought Leaders,

Watch Part 1 of FMEP’s two-part webinar series featuring leading Palestinian and Jewish Israeli thought leaders who are exploring different paths toward an equitable, safe, and just future for Palestinians and Israelis, and whose ideas can change the debate and inform policy and opinion shapers in Israel, Palestine, the U.S., and beyond.

Occupation, De Facto Annexation, & Human Rights Abuses Continue...

Israeli Police Raid Major East Jerusalem Palestinian Cultural Institutions in Justice Ministry 'Experiment',

“Officials at both of the targeted institutions and from the Palestinian Authority said they interpreted Wednesday’s investigation and arrests as part of an Israeli policy to curb expressions of Palestinian culture and identity in Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem Muslims brace for Israel to shutter Al-Aqsa Mosque prayer house,

“If Israel closes the prayer house, Jerusalemites are likely to protest. Abdel Qader stated, ‘We will counter any Israeli court decision to close the prayer house, which will not be closed again. We are on the way to a situation similar to the battle of the gates in 2017 if the court decides to close it’…Abdel Qader said it’s possible ‘that the Israeli practices are designed to weaken the Jordanian custodianship due to the Jordanian position against the ‘deal of the century’ and the annexation scheme. Jordan is subject to US and Israeli pressure and the tense relations with Israel have had an impact on Israel’s actions at Al-Aqsa. They are trying to pressure Jordan through these measures’.”


Palestine records 537 coronavirus cases, three fatalities,

“Palestine today recorded 537 new novel coronavirus cases and three fatalities in the last 24 hours. The Health Ministry announced in a press release that 537 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus in the occupied territories. Among the 537 new confirmed cases, 287 cases were recorded in Jerusalem district, 106 others in Hebron district, 27 others in Ramallah and al-Bireh district, five others in Tulkarem district, 11 others in Bethlehem district, another in Jenin district, 46 others in Nablus district, 44 others in Jericho district, and 10 others in Qalqiliya district.”

COVID-19 and the Absence of Israeli-Palestinian Coordination Spell Grim Fate for Gaza Cancer Patients,

“The passage of Palestinians from Gaza to Israel, the West Bank or East Jerusalem has always entailed bureaucratic tribulations fraught with despair. But as if that weren’t enough, in the past few months, the lives of cancer patients in the Strip have become more hellish than ever. Two new ordeals are compounding the old ones: the spread of the coronavirus, which requires everyone who leaves Gaza for treatment in Israel to enter a three-week isolation period when they return home – time not always available to cancer patients, who need more treatments – and, even worse, the cessation of coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.”

Coronavirus czar will get ‘all authority’ to cut virus infection chain, PM says,

“Gamzu’s entry as the country’s point man in dealing with the pandemic came as the government indicated that it will not rush to the drastic measure of a national lockdown.”

Weekend restrictions set to take effect as 59 virus deaths recorded in a week,

“The number of serious cases reached 302, a rise of 89 over the past week. Of the serious patients, 81 are on ventilators. There were 120 others in moderate condition and the rest had mild or no symptoms…Meanwhile, restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus were set to kick in at 5 p.m. Friday and remain in effect until early Sunday morning, after a tumultuous week that saw some of the government’s planned closures overturned by a Knesset panel….The Knesset Coronavirus Committee this week continued with its series of reversals of cabinet-imposed restrictions, ruling in several separate decisions that restaurants, attractions, swimming pools and beaches could remain open over the weekend and that gyms may reopen on Sunday morning.”

Israeli Domestic Scene

Netanyahu says claims he wants elections are ‘absurd’; polls show Likud slipping,

“At a press conference introducing the government’s newly appointed coronavirus ‘czar,’ former Health Ministry chief Ronni Gamzu, Netanyahu was asked about reports circulating in the past day that he intends to capitalize on the falling political fortunes of his coalition partner, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, bring down the government over the budget, and thus avoid having to hand over the prime minister post to Gantz in November 2021 as specified in their agreement. ‘I’m not aiming for [early] elections. That’s absurd,’ Netanyahu said. ‘We are in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. We have to deal with it. We also have to pass a budget. It can pass in a minute… or a very short time’.”

Israeli police use water cannons on protesters, arrest 55,

“Police say they moved in to disperse the protesters when they tried to stage a procession through the city. Police scuffled with demonstrators before four large trucks roared into action, spraying water cannons back and forth, scattering the protesters. At times, it appeared the trucks were spraying protesters from behind as they tried to leave the area peacefully.”

Netanyahu losing ground, as Bennett and Lapid rise in the polls,

“In the Channel 13 poll, Netanyahu’s Likud Party would receive only 31 seats were the elections held today, down from 36 (and 40 in recent polls). The Channel 12 poll saw the Likud Party fairing slightly better, winning 32 seats. Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party received 11 seats in the N13 poll, thought the N12 poll predicted them receiving 9 seats, in keeping with recent polls. Yair Lapid and the Yesh Atid Party have continued their rise in the polls, receiving 19 seats in the N13 poll, and 18 seats in the N12 poll. Yamina also continued to rise in the polls, receiving 16 seats in the N13 poll and 15 in the N12 poll, more than twice their current amount (6). Meretz received 7 seats in the N13 poll and 8 in the N12 poll.”

Israel’s anti-Netanyahu protests, explained,

“I think in this kind of situation where he’s on trial during a pandemic, the economy’s going down, there are demonstrations across the country against him, and even internally in the Likud now, rival leaders feel emboldened to challenge him, he’ll certainly be lashing out even more and his suspicious nature will be heightened even more,” Aronoff said. “So we’ll see whether he’s able to maneuver politically as he usually is.”

Netanyahu’s authoritarian rule is turning Israelis against the state,

“The question is whether the protesters, even if they come from the establishment or higher classes, have opened up a wider democratic space, whether on purpose or inadvertently. The answer, right now, seems to be in the affirmative.”

Top Analysis & Commentary

Beyond Failed Frameworks: A Re-Imagined Collective Future,

“Palestinian futures have long been discussed without Palestinian input or within an imposed and limited framework. Indeed, most ideas of the future in mainstream political spaces rather consistently establish the containment of the Indigenous Palestinians and security for the Israeli settler state as their primary concern…However there have been attempts to push these boundaries and some more radical attempts to transcend them altogether. This policy brief focuses on the possibilities for building a collective vision for a Palestinian future. It draws on Palestinian experience in visioning and discusses approaches to consensus-building that could advance a vision shared by the majority of the Palestinian people.”