Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 17, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation on the Agenda

Senior Likud MK says Netanyahu vowed he’ll never recognize a Palestinian state,

“Coalition whip Miki Zohar said Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised his Likud faction a day earlier that no government he leads will ever recognize a Palestinian state, even in principle. ‘The prime minister announced yesterday at the faction meeting that in no constellation will the government or the Knesset recognize the principle of establishing a Palestinian state,’ Zohar tweeted.”

Blue and White pushing a Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim annexation plan,

“Blue and White parliamentarians are attempting to promote a staged annexation plan that would begin with the two well recognized settlement blocs of Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim, Kan Radio reported on Wednesday morning. It added that it was possible that an additional two areas would be added to that plan, the Ariel bloc and the Jordan Valley, which is not considered to be a bloc.”

Netanyahu: Sovereignty may start small if Gantz insists,

“Israel may apply its law to only some of the settlements this summer because the US will only support it if Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz is on board, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of former IDF senior commanders on Monday. There is a strong possibility that Gantz will only agree for sovereignty to be applied in phases, he said.”

Settlers push annexation map without enclaves,

“The Yesha Council has published US President Donald Trump’s annexation map to show how a road system could eliminate the danger of enclave settlements and prevent both a building freeze and the ultimate demolition of at least 15 settlements. It’s part of their two-part campaign against Trump’s plan. First and foremost, leading members of the Yesha Council want to ensure that a Palestinian state is not created. After that, they are at odds over Trump’s annexation map that allows Israel to apply sovereignty to all the West Bank settlements, including the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. “

Settler Leader: Trump's Plan Is a Scam, Netanyahu Will Establish Palestinian State,

“The settler leader claims Netanyahu ‘tried to pull one over us. He said,’Guys, it’s not a [Palestinian] state, it’s less than that. It’s a state without an army.’ I told him: ‘Honorable prime minister, a state is a state. It doesn’t have an army now. If anything, I’d prefer it to have an army. The Israel Defense Forces knows how to handle armies; it’s terror it doesn’t know how to contend with. Look at Gaza’.”

Once touted as Palestinians' capital, Abu Dis may shrink under annexation,

“As far as the mayor of Abu Dis is concerned, Israel has already begun implementing its plan to apply its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank – including his town, southeast of Jerusalem…The bulldozers arrived in Abu Dis to demolish a one-story structure that was under construction, and whose owners had ignored repeated warnings by Israeli authorities to halt the building. The structure belonged to the Surkhi family in Abu Dis. The bulldozers also tore down a wall surrounding a playground. ‘I can tell you 100% that the implementation of the annexation plan has begun,’ Abu Hilal said. ‘I see what happened today in Abu Dis as the beginning of the annexation plan’.”

The Annexation’s Ambassador to Israel,

“But none of this has cooled the enthusiasm of the champion of the whole Land of Israel within the White House, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Friedman supports annexation and is pushing for it, certainly more than either Israel’s prime minister or its alternate prime minister, and he’s more determined than either of them not to let the settlers’ window of opportunity close without annexing as much territory as possible with as few Palestinians as possible. In this sense, it’s not at all clear who Friedman represents. His position is more extreme than that of either the Americans or the Israeli government and is boycotted by the Palestinians. Even the settlers’ Yesha Council, for its own reasons, opposes the plan, so even his settler friends aren’t backing him.”

Netanyahu edges back to reality as support for annexation wanes,

“One doesn’t have to be an expert on Netanyahu and his map of interests to realize that not much will happen on July 1. Two weeks out, Netanyahu is preparing to explain the delay on his plan to annex all West Bank and Jordan Valley settlements. He’s also already identifying who is to blame for the delay: Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.”

Netanyahu Aides Fear U.S. May Drop Annexation if PM Can't Reach Deal With Gantz,

“Sources involved in the contacts told Haaretz that the gaps between Likud and Kahol Lavan are large and at this point it will be difficult to bridge them.”

Occupation Continues...

Israeli military raids Ramallah after ties cut - Palestinians sources,

“The Israeli army raided Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, the first such incursion since the Palestinian Authority cut security coordination with Israel, a Palestinian official told AFP…The incursion sparked clashes between young residents and Israeli soldiers, who responded to stone-throwing with tear gas, the source added.”

Palestinian activists press solidarity between Palestinians, Black Lives Matter,

“Palestinians raised photos of Iyad al-Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian shot by Israeli police, and George Floyd to make a comparison between racism against black people and Palestinians.”

Israeli Politics

Netanyahu's associates escalate campaign against legal system,

“The Netanyahu salvation campaign is now on its final and decisive leg: The target this time is the judges. The initial targets in the ongoing pro-Netanyahu campaign were the police officers and investigators, and subsequently the top brass of the Israeli Police and Commissioner Roni Alsheikh — another Netanyahu appointee. Next in line was Special Prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari who handles the Netanyahu case, then her fellow prosecutors and chief State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan. Mandelblit was the next stop. Now that the chain of investigation and prosecution has been dealt with, it is time to tackle the courts and the judges.”

News from the Region

Abdullah getting some rare heat from DC,

“AP reported on Tuesday that the Trump Administration is considering withholding aid from Jordan to pressure it into extraditing Tamimi. The report came ahead of Abdullah’s scheduled video appearance before the Senate and House foreign relations committees on Wednesday where he is expected to voice opposition to any Israeli plan to extend its sovereignty to any parts of the West Bank.”

Will Jordan end the peace treaty after Israel annexes the West Bank?,

“The region is heading in a dangerous direction as the world awaits to see what Israel does next. In 2020, it’s clear that all the traditional means to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict have been exhausted. There are not many options left for the Palestinian National Authority. It would be difficult to exaggerate how much Amman has at stake. Jordan’s leadership has long warned of Israeli efforts to establish ‘an alternative homeland’ for Palestinians in the Hashemite Kingdom. An Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley would only add to such concerns. There is every reason to worry about the fate of Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Jordan because they could find themselves increasingly marginalized. Within this context, significant domestic pressure is mounting on the King of Jordan to tear the Jordanian-Israeli Wadi Araba peace treaty to shreds. Nonetheless, such a move would inevitably add significant tension to U.S.-Jordan relations, which have suffered under the Trump presidency. Given that Jordan receives $1.8 billion a year in aid from Washington, King Abdullah II will have to weigh his options carefully.”


Intel: Jordan’s King Abdullah pushes Congress to oppose West Bank annexation,

“Jordan’s King Abdullah met virtually with several key lawmakers today, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to reiterate his opposition to ‘any unilateral measure to annex lands in the West Bank’ as laid out under President Donald Trump’s peace plan. ‘At meetings held via conference calls with US Congressional leaders and committees, attended by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, King Abdullah stressed the importance of establishing an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital,’ the Jordanian Royal Court said in a readout.”


Rocket fired from Gaza into Israel for first time in more than a month,

” A rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel for the first time since early May, spurring Israeli airstrikes and tank fire on Hamas posts and infrastructure in retaliation, according to the Israel Defense Forces.”