Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 29, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation Watch

Netanyahu, Pompeo put Trump peace plan back on the table,

“After weeks of silence on US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put it back on the agenda in their remarks at an event hosted by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus on Tuesday. However, they notably did not mention any timeline for Israel to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria as the plan allows…Pompeo touted that support in his remarks, in a video message filmed in advance, in which he said ‘Christian support for Israel in the US is both morally right and absolutely indispensable. It’s strong in both our nations and it’s not going anywhere’.”

Annexation aims to cut Palestinians out of Israel’s demographic equation,

“In fragmenting Palestinian territory in the West Bank and entrenching Israeli geographic domination, today’s annexation plans similarly seek to cut out the issue of Palestinian demography. Now, as then, the goal of those playing with Israel’s borders and numbers has always been to preserve Israeli control over the occupied territories, and to shirk Israel’s responsibility for the Palestinian residents under its rule. In Sharon’s day, Israel tried to circumvent counting Gaza’s population in its demography. Now, Trump and Netanyahu are trying to establish Bantustans that will allow Palestinians to have “autonomy,” but over which Israel will continue to have ultimate and permanent dominion. Waving a wand may make the magician’s rabbit disappear, but no magic words — whether “disengagement,” “peace,” or “Palestinian state” — can make the millions of Palestinians under Israeli control go away. Magic tricks work as long as the audience is prepared to be deceived. In the short run, there will be those who are captivated by the rhetoric and propaganda that sell these belligerent acts packaged as “peace” and a “solution to the conflict.” Yet reality is stronger than the attempts to distort it. Annexation will ultimately have the same effect as the Disengagement — bolstering Israeli control over the entire region and perpetuating the occupation. In other words, the Trump plan seeks to create miniature Gaza Strips across the West Bank — isolated enclaves drowning in a sea of Israeli domination.”

Occupation, De Facto Annexation, & Human Rights in the OPT

Jerusalem Police arrest, question top PA, Fatah officials,

“’Israel is waging war on the Palestinians in Jerusalem,’ said a senior Fatah official. ‘The recent arrests and summons for interrogation are part of Israel’s policy to prevent the Palestinians from carrying out any activities to serve the [Arab] residents of Jerusalem.’ The official pointed out that the Israeli authorities have issued orders banning scores of PA and Fatah officials from east Jerusalem from entering the West Bank or contacting the PA and its institutions. ‘Despite the security measures, we will continue to provide services to our people in Jerusalem,’ he said.”

World Bank grants Palestinians $30M in welfare aid,

“The World Bank on Monday approved a $30 million grant to the Palestinian Authority in an effort to help the cash-strapped government stay afloat. The funds have been earmarked for the creation of jobs and other welfare projects seeking to help the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

A Clear Message From West Bank Mosque Burning: Palestinians Must Disappear,

“The arsonists’ indirect message is: Look at us, we do whatever we like and will continue to do it, because the police won’t bother to search for us and the army won’t turn us in. And if they do catch us, they won’t prosecute us, and if they do prosecute, the judges will find an excuse to acquit us. That’s how it’s been for years. The direct message behind the arson attack is written on the wall: The Palestinians must disappear from here. And if they don’t disappear of their own free will then we, anonymous Jews, will force them to do so.”

Settlement sprawl forces Hebron's Palestinian families to live in caves,

“In the foothills of the rocky mountains of Hebron, Munther Abu Aram, 48, lives a primitive life inside a natural cave with his wife and four children. When the Israeli authorities demolished Abu Aram’s home, they were left with no choice but to live in a cave with no infrastructure, electricity, water or sanitation. The small cave of some 150 square meters (500 square feet) is located in Khirbet Janba in the occupied West Bank. “Life inside the cave is very difficult, but we got used to it after the Israeli occupation bulldozers demolished my home in 2018, which was built out of bricks, cement and tinplate, because it was built without a license. It was rebuilt and demolished again in 2019,” Abu Aram told Al-Monitor. According to a report by the Turkish Anadolu Agency in December 2019, about 19 Palestinian families — some 100 people — are living in the caves of southern Hebron, without access to electricity or water, schools or roads.”

Israel-Lebanon Border

Netanyahu at northern border: I wouldn't advise anyone to test us,

“‘I do not suggest anyone try testing the IDF or the State of Israel, we are determined to defend ourselves’ he said during a situational assessment at the Northern Command’s headquarters. ‘We are determined to defend ourselves … Yesterday’s operation was important and prevented an infiltration into our territory … Everything that is happening right now is the result of an Iranian attempt to establish itself in our region’.”

An IDF balancing act on the Israel-Lebanon border,

“Israeli officers say army conducting sensitive work away from frontier area, aiming to thwart Hezbollah’s efforts to obtain precision weapons, keep Iran from Syria entrenchment – and a border blowup could harm that operation”

Israeli Army Says 'Several Suspects' Cross in From Lebanon as Hezbollah Tensions Peak,

“The Israeli army said on Tuesday “several suspects” crossed in from Lebanon in the Western Galilee, hours after it said it was reinforcing troops in the area amid heightened tensions with Hezbollah…Israeli defense officials say they have enough evidence, namely footage from the incident, to support their account of it. They say the footage shows the Hezbollah unit tried to avoid being seen by Israeli forces. At this stage, Israel has refrained from publishing the footage, which officials say proves their version of events.”

Israeli Domestic Scene

Amendment to clarify equality in Nation-State Law rejected,

“An opposition bill to amend the controversial nation state law to include a clause guaranteeing the equality of all citizens was defeated in the Knesset on Wednesday, although the senior Blue and White leadership absented themselves from the vote. The defeat of the bill comes following a severe coalition crisis last week when Blue and White MKs voted in favor of an opposition bill to ban gay conversion therapy, and Wednesday’s vote demonstrates a return to coalition discipline…During the election campaign, the Blue and White party pledged to amend the law to include explicit language guaranteeing the equal rights of non-Jews while preserving the clause asserting the State of Israel’s status as the nation state of the Jewish people where it exercises self-determination.”

Protesters Attacked at Demonstration Against Police Brutality Outside Minister's Tel Aviv Home,

“Five people were injured Tuesday night after unknown individuals attacked protestors following a hundreds-strong demonstration near the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana in Tel Aviv against police brutality and what they view as attempts to suppress the anti-government movement. The attackers, dressed in black, threw stones, glass bottles and pepper sprayed some of the protesters who had walked from Ohana’s home to the Ayalon Highway, briefly blocking parts of it. The group began beating the demonstrators suddenly and without any provocation on their part. Carrying black flags and wearing hats and masks, the attackers did not identify themselves, with eyewitnesses saying they were right-wing activists who infiltrated the march. Others said that members of the so-called La Familia, an extremist organization of fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, infiltrated the rally after watching a game nearby and attacked the protesters. The attack occurred after most of the protesters had already left the area after blocking many roads in the heart of Tel Aviv for hours.”

Also See:

Far-right Israeli Extremists Hunt for ‘Antifa A-holes’ at anti-Netanyahu Protests” (Haaretz)

Netanyahu Calls to Probe Attack on Anti-government Protesters, Says Opponents Undermining Society,

“Five demonstrators were injured Tuesday night by an unidentified group as hundreds protested near Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s home against what they view as attempts to subdue the growing protests against Netanyahu’s government in recent weeks.”

Man Suspected of Threatening Netanyahu Arrested Near His Office While Carrying Two Knives,

“The suspect told the court that he and his family are experiencing economic distress, adding that “A hungry person can’t be judged, my parents don’t have anything to eat at home.” The man’s lawyer said that he’s homeless, “frustrated and hungry,” and requested that the court take into account his mental state. “In light of my client’s condition, he was sent to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. We believe criminal procedures against him won’t solve his distress,” the lawyer added. According to the police, the suspect refers to himself as “a Jewish ISIS fighter.” A protest encampment of youth movements outside the Prime Minister’s Office reported the man to the police.”

Till Bibi Goes Home,

“Last Wednesday, a few dozen protesters chained themselves together and blocked the entrance to the Knesset until they were forcibly removed by police. Among them was Sadi Ben Shitrit, a 56-year-old forklift operator from Kibbutz Gat, in the country’s south. A vocal figure in the protests, Ben Shitrit has received attention because his cousin is Amir Ohana, a staunch Netanyahu ally currently serving as Israel’s public security minister—effectively, Ohana is in charge of the police. Ben Shitrit is a member of Crime Minister, a small group focused on combating government corruption through litigation and protests. I spoke with him about his involvement in the protests and his vision for the movement’s future… “

Human Rights Activists Urge Israel to Stop Spy Tool Exports to Hong Kong Police,

“Human rights activists in Israel and Hong Kong called on Cellebrite to stop its cooperation with the Hong Kong police over use of its technology against Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters. After a global petition was circulated, Israeli activists wrote to the ministries of defense and finance to intervene in exports of Cellebrite’s products to Hong King – mainly a device that police officers use to unlock and extract data from confiscated phones of protesters. “Israeli forensics company Cellebrite has a long history helping Hong Kong police forces to crack into activists’ mobile devices,” wrote activist Nathan Law, claiming Cellebrite’s hardware cracked the phone of prominent activists Joshua Wong earlier this year, along with the phones of nearly 4,000 detainees last year.”

On the Weaponization of Antisemitism

False charges of antisemitism are the vanguard of cancel culture,

“The knee-jerk invocation of antisemitism is meant to do one thing: silence people, whether by getting them fired or labeling them and their ideas illegitimate — in other words, canceling them. The accusation is used so often, and so effectively, because of the near-consensus that antisemitism is a red line one should not cross.”

Kenneth Marcus steps down from Education Department under cloud of 2 complaints,

“In reopening the Rutgers probe, Marcus employed the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, which includes some types of anti-Israel activity, including holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions and likening that country’s actions to the Nazis. The definition, which has sparked controversy, was composed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. In January, a complaint filed by a former lawyer in the Office for Civil Rights said Marcus forced employees to investigate a policy that allowed transgender athletes in Connecticut to compete on female sports teams, despite department lawyers questioning whether the department had jurisdiction. Dwayne Bensing, a former lawyer in the civil rights office, filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel that provided examples of how he said Marcus pressured the department to rush through a complaint filed in June 2019 by the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom against the transgender athletes competing in the gender in which they identified.”