Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 28, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation Watch

Meshaal proposes plan to confront Israeli annexation,

“Former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has proposed a plan to confront Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank and the US deal of the century, reported on Monday. Meshaal’s proposal is part of a ‘political vision’ produced for the Arab Thinking Forum in London. It was announced in an interview with the Chairman of the forum, Mohamed Amin. According to, the proposal is based mainly on rebuilding the Palestinian national programme and reformation of the Palestinian Authority in a way that enables it to face up to the measures imposed by Israel. Meshaal spoke about the Israeli annexation plan, its background and the tactical reasons for its postponement. He stressed that the Palestinian national programme must include ‘comprehensive confrontation’ with the Israeli occupation.”

PM: Palestinian government refused tax revenues from Israel,

“Palestinian Prime Minister, Muhammad Shtayyeh, said yesterday that his government had refused to accept tax revenues from Israel, despite the financial crisis it is suffering. Speaking at the Palestinian cabinet’s weekly meeting, Shtayyeh said: ‘We are continuing with a total halt to ties with the [Israeli] occupation, and we will not allow it to blackmail us, and therefore we will not receive the tax revenues for this month.’ Last May, the Palestinian Authority suspended all agreements signed with Israel in response to Tel Aviv’s plans to annex nearly 30 per cent of the West Bank. Among the deals which were halted was the acceptance of tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian government.”

Palestinian Scene/Occupation

The man responsible for Jews being allowed to pray on the Temple Mount,

“Over the past few years, Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount have noted a gradual but nevertheless dramatic change in the attitude of police securing the holy site. Part of a larger effort by the Matte Irguni HaMikdash, an umbrella group uniting various Temple Mount activist groups, Israeli authorities now meet regularly with activists to coordinate policy, as the number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount every year increases. Restrictions on visitors have gradually been eased, including an unofficial end to the prohibition on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. One of the key figures responsible for these changes is Rabbi Shimshon Elboim, a long-time activist and son of Rabbi Yosef Elboim, one of the first Jews to visit the Temple Mount after Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem in June 1967.”

Is Israel foiling Fatah-Hamas reconciliation?,

“Hamas officials claimed on Tuesday that Israel was trying to foil efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift. The claim was made after the IDF arrested in the past few days a number of Hamas operatives in the West Bank.Hatem Qafisheh, a senior Hamas official from Hebron who was briefly detained by the IDF earlier this week, claimed that he and other Hamas representatives were warned by their Israeli interrogators not to strike any deal with Fatah. Israeli security officials refused to comment on the allegations.Qafisheh told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that the interrogators told him that he and other Hamas officials would pay a price if an agreement is reached between Hamas and Fatah.”

Haris, Salfit District: Settlers uproot almost 150 olive trees and bury them in the ground. Amjad Sultan: “We’re exhausted from the effort to hold on to our land”,

“The damage was discovered on Monday. Two residents of Haris, brothers Ihab (40) and Amjad (46) Sultan, went to their farmland in the Khallet Abu al-‘Ula area and found that almost 150 of their olive trees had vanished. The brothers’ olive grove stretches across 42 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters]. Apart from the 10-year-old trees that disappeared, they have another 300 trees that are 40 years old. The plot lies on the western side of the town, just by the main road (Route 505).”

Police Fail to Investigate East Jerusalem Murder Beyond West Bank Separation Barrier,

“An East Jerusalem resident was shot to death on Saturday, but the police have yet to come to the site of the shooting in Kafr Aqab because it is beyond the West Bank separation wall. Although combing a murder scene ought to be routine, the Israel Police do not enter the Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the barrier without coordinating with and being chaperoned by the army.”

Banksy donates his artwork to help fund Palestine hospital,

“British street artist Banksy has donated one of his works, valued at over $1 million, in support of a hospital in Palestine. The triptych will be auctioned at Sotheby’s to contribute towards a new stroke unit and buy children’s rehabilitation equipment at a hospital in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The work, entitled Mediterranean Sea View 2017, is divided into three sections, and is displayed at the Walled Off Hotel, Banksy’s hotel in the occupied city which sits right next to Israel’s illegal Separation Wall.”

World Bank grants Palestinians $30M in welfare aid,

“Funds earmarked for the creation of jobs and other welfare projects seeking to help the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Focus on Gaza

Hamas rejects offer of $15bn in return for disarming,

“The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement revealed on Monday that it had rejected a $15bn offer for Israel to lift its siege imposed on Gaza on condition that it disarms and abandons resistance to the occupation. Hamas revealed that its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said that the movement had turned down the offer about two months ago. The offer included financial aid, infrastructure projects, an airport and a seaport for the besieged Gaza Strip, as part of the ‘deal of the century’. The official Hamas website pointed out that Haniyeh told this for the first time to a Qatari newspaper. In the interview, the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister said that the parties which made the offer asked for the resistance to be disarmed and the Palestinians’ right to Jerusalem to be abandoned.”

Gaza 2020: Worsening conditions lead more Palestinians to take their own lives,

“An increase in suicides in the first half of 2020 illustrates the dire psychological impact of the Israeli siege on Gaza residents.”

US Scene

Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff makes unannounced visit to Israel,

“The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff met with senior defense officials in Israel during a short and unannounced visit there amid rising tensions in the region. Army Gen. Mark Milley discussed ‘regional security challenges’ with Israeli military’s chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, among others, The Associated Press reported. Milley also spoke by videoconference from the base with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His visit came at a time of Israel’s escalating tension with Iran, cross-border incidents with Lebanon and airstrikes on Syria blamed on Israel…Israel reportedly was Milley’s only stop on the overseas trip.”

US Democratic platform nixes conditioning aid to Israel over annexation,

“The Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee voted down a motion Monday to include language in the 2020 document that would be more critical of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians. By a vote of 117-34, the panel rejected an amendment that would mention the ‘Israeli occupation’ and call for the United States to condition aid to the country if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follows through on his plan to annex parts of the West Bank. The amendment — proposed by Clem Balanoff, the Illinois director of Our Revolution, a Bernie Sanders-inspired nonprofit — also would have included criticism of settlement activity, not just settlement “expansion” as it currently does.” Also see: Haaretz – Final Democratic Party Platform Expresses ‘Ironclad’ Support for Israel; Jewish Insider – DNC denies motion to condition aid to Israel, mention ‘occupation’   

Dan Shapiro on the Biden & the Platform,

(Twitter thread) “1. Tonight, the Democratic Platform Committee completed its work on the 2020 platform. It was a great honor to serve on the committee and help assemble an outstanding platform that conveys what Democrats stand for & what we will do. I worked especially on Middle East provisions. The section on Israel/Palestine always gets a lot of attention. And what emerged is a platform that sounds like @JoeBiden : committed to Israel’s security and legitimacy; to US military assistance; to a two-state solution including Palestinians’ right to a state;…3. …to opposing unilateral steps by either side, including annexation, that undermine prospects of 2 states; to standing against incitement & terror; to opposing settlement expansion; to restoring diplomatic ties with Palestinians & assistance to the Palestinian people; & more…” [Also see: Youssef Munayyer tweet — “Congrats on steering Democrat platform language to the right of George Bush and Ariel Sharon”; Danny Seidemann tweet (in response to a different tweet about the platform — “The DNC requires occupational therapy. But it goes well beyond that. Any President who fails to acknowledge the reality of occupation and the existential imperative of ending it for the sake of Palestinians AND Israelis alike is condemned to preordained failure.”]

Will the Left Get a Say in the Biden Doctrine?,

“Lara Friedman…excoriated Blinken for his statement during a webcast in May that ‘Joe Biden believes strongly in keeping your differences—to the greatest extent possible—between friends behind doors,’ referring to how Biden would handle disagreements with Israel…’He’s saying aid will never be used as leverage of any kind. He’s promising to protect Israel at the United Nations, which I have a hard time reading as anything other than a shot at Obama’—a reference to Obama’s decision not to veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank in December 2016. Friedman was pessimistic about a Biden administration’s willingness to listen to pro-Palestine activists. ‘If they’ve already annexed by the time you come in, how much political capital are you going to spend trying to undo or unwind annexation?’ she asked.”

The First Draft of Biden’s Israel Policy,

“…while pro-Israel advocacy groups are eager to claim policy victories in the platform fight, some progressive operatives are too. Although they are disappointed that the word ‘occupation’ does not appear in the platform draft, multiple progressives I spoke to with knowledge of the platform negotiations point to language supportive of Palestinian rights that did not appear in any previous Democratic platform. For instance, the platform draft includes a line recognizing ‘the worth of every Israeli and every Palestinian,’ omitting language that appeared in the 2016 platform singling out Israel for its ‘values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism.’ It also says that Democrats reject ‘annexation’ and ‘settlement expansion,’ whereas the term ‘settlement’ was entirely omitted in 2016 (annexation was not an urgent concern at the time). And in its final line, the 2020 platform draft says that although Democrats oppose the BDS movement, they do so ‘while protecting the Constitutional right of our citizens to free speech’—a reference to legislation many Democrats have supported that criminalizes BDS. The 2016 platform contained no such caveat regarding a right to free speech.”

Lawfare/Targeting Free Speech/Weaponization of claims of Antisemitism

Strategic Affairs Ministry pivots to target delegitimization,

“The Strategic Affairs Ministry is shifting its focus from the BDS movement to delegitimization of Israel more broadly, its director-general Ronen Manelis told the Knesset State Control Committee on Tuesday. ’Whoever doesn’t recognize Israel, in any boundaries, as a Jewish state, is delegitimizing the State of Israel,’ Manelis said, giving the Strategic Affairs Ministry’s definition of the term. Delegitimization will be a major challenge to Israel in the coming years, Manelis said, citing the expected decision of the International Criminal Court, the UN Human Rights Commission’s blacklist of companies operating in Judea and Samaria, online antisemitism, as well as conspiracy theories surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and related economic crisis as ‘fertile ground’ for anti-Israel actions….Manelis also gave an overview of the network of pro-Israel organizations working with the ministry. One form of partnership with the NGOs is that the ministry matches funds raised to counter delegitimization…”

Court: State can seize stipends Palestinian Authority pays jailed terrorists,

“Defense Minister Benny Gantz lauds ruling, says he plans to promote future moves that ‘block the transfer of funds to terrorists and terrorist organizations.’”

Education Dept.’s Civil Rights Chief Steps Down Amid Controversy,

“…Mr. Marcus, who was confirmed to lead the office in June 2018, is perhaps best known for resurrecting a complaint against Rutgers University, in which he unilaterally adopted a disputed definition of anti-Semitism that includes opposition to the state of Israel and asserted the department’s right to treat Judaism as a national origin. His decision to reopen the complaint, which had been dismissed by the Obama administration, caused an uproar among Palestinian rights and higher education groups, which had long fought Mr. Marcus’s efforts to squelch student calls for boycotting, divesting from and imposing sanctions on Israel. The Rutgers case emboldened Mr. Marcus to push similar investigations into national origin at other high-profile universities, including whether Jewish students were discriminated against in admissions processes. His efforts were widely seen as the groundwork for an executive order to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses.”

Civil Rights Groups Ask Appellate Court to Reject Renewed Palestine Censorship Efforts by Fordham University,

“Students asked New York’s Appellate Court on Friday to reject an effort by Fordham University to overturn a decision ordering the school to recognize the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) club. The students are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, and cooperating counsel Alan Levine. ‘It’s ridiculous to us that our university is still trying to censor us now,’ said Veer Shetty, vice president of SJP at Fordham. ‘We’ve already been active for a year, and appealing the court’s ruling feels especially cruel.’”