Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 2, 2020

What We’re Reading

Jerusalem Murder Puts Spotlight on Israeli Killing of Palestinians

If It Had Been My Son, I’d Find It Hard to Go on Living,

“I can’t stop thinking about the last moments in the life of Eyad Hallaq. I’m not a sentimental type, but when I saw his father on TV, tears welled up in my eyes, and I felt a helpless rage rising in me. I too have a son with special needs. He’ll be 25 in January, close to Hallaq’s age. He was 32 when he was shot like a dog by policemen, in a garbage disposal shed in Jerusalem’s Old City. Hallaq was all alone when he was murdered in cold blood. He escaped in fright to that shed, searching for shelter after fleeing from policemen who wanted to search him. He didn’t understand them. He didn’t know what they wanted from him. They scared him. I know exactly what his fear looked like, how he was flooded with anxiety within a second or two, from the moment they called him in an authoritarian and threatening tone. I know exactly what his face looked like, what features it took on. I know this from my own son. When he was little, I held him in my arms when he was beset by similar anxieties, hugging him tight until he settled down. I can’t stop thinking of him hiding there, in the garbage shed, all alone in the world, without someone beside him to comfort him, to interpret the world for him, to explain the situation, to guide him as to how to behave. I think of him and see my son. My son wouldn’t have acted any differently. Hallaq was on his way to the institution that took care of him, where he felt protected and loved. And they shot him. Like a dog, I wrote. That’s a stupid expression. They didn’t shoot him like a dog. They don’t shoot dogs in the Old City. They shoot Arabs. They shot him like an Arab.”

Joint List MK blames ingrained racism for fatal police shooting of disabled Palestinian,

“MK Ahmed Tibi, who co-heads the Joint List, a union of predominantly Arab parties, said on Monday that the fatal shooting a man suffering from autism in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday was the result of ingrained racism among police. Tibi also suggested the newly appointed Minister of Public Security, Amir Ohana, may have stoked the fire when he told officers that anyone threatening their safety has their own blood on their garment. ‘When you shoot a helpless person with such ease, there’s a reason,’ said Tibi. ‘The drive, the motivation, the upbringing, and maybe Public Security Amir Ohana’s remarks to the cops. He did not attack a police officer, he was attacked by them. You tell a cop to shoot in order to kill, so now the cops think they have unlimited protection. Dozens of Arab Israeli citizens were shot and killed to this day.’”

Iyad al-Halak’s killing raises concerns over police behavior towards Arabs,

“The slaying of 32-year-old Iyad al-Halak in east Jerusalem on Saturday by Border Police, who shot him after a pursuit outside Jerusalem’s Old City, has sparked anger once again among Israel’s Arab community over police treatment of Arab citizens.The police have said the officers involved believed that Halak was holding a gun, although he was actually unarmed. A caretaker who was escorting Halak — who was autistic and on his way to a special needs institute — said she told the police numerous times that he was “disabled” before they shot him. The incident was the third of its kind in May, during which an Arab citizen was killed by police personnel or security guards, and the 15th incident in the last decade in which an Arab citizen has been killed by police.In light of these incidents, questions have again arisen regarding police attitude toward the Arab population and its behavior when dealing with the community.”

Family of East Jerusalem man killed by cops: We don’t believe he’ll get justice,

“The family of an East Jerusalem man with autism shot to death by police officers said Monday that they didn’t believe Israel would do “anything” to the offending cops because their victim was Palestinian.”

US envoy Friedman ‘saddened’ by police killing of disabled East Jerusalem man,

“US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Tuesday expressed sorrow at the death of an East Jerusalem man with autism shot to death by police officers, commending Israel for ordering an investigation….’We are all saddened by the death of Iyad Al Halak this weekend and extend our deepest condolences to his family and to those who mourn this tragic loss,’ Friedman said in a tweet.” Also see – B’tselem head Hagai El-ad on Twitter, ““saddened”? on the day @USAmbIsrael opened his embassy in Jerusalem, Israel killed 73 Palestinians by the Gaza fence. Friedman’s words on Iyad al-Halaq are as sincere as @realDonaldTrump “expressing sorrow” over the George Floyd killing #BlackLivesMattter #PalestinianLivesMattter”

The police were designed to take Black and Palestinian lives, not protect them,

“Whether through negligence or brutality, police forces in both Israel-Palestine and the United States have proven time and again that they were never designed to protect people of color, but rather to protect white supremacy from people of color. Had the voices of Black and Brown people mattered, people like George and Iyad might still be breathing. It is no coincidence that many of the militarized tactics used by U.S. police to oppress and kill Black people are, in fact, studied from and employed by Israeli forces. They are the same chokeholds, arrest procedures, and crowd dispersal methods that we see in Palestinian streets and refugee camps every day, and which we saw replicated in Minneapolis and other cities this past week.”

PA exploits tragic killing in US,

“The Palestinian Authority and Fatah were both quick to exploit the recent tragedy in the US to demonize Israel by comparing Israeli soldiers’ actions, to the American policeman who killed an African American. The PA’s repeating libel is that Israel deliberately kills Palestinians and it uses every opportunity to disseminate the lie.”

Systematic, Legalized Discrimination

Knesset committee limits Palestinian citizenship and entry into Israel,

“The first step taken by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in its first meeting was to join the Knesset Interior Committee in advancing a one-year extension of the Law on Citizenship and Entry into Israel.The law prevents Palestinians and residents of Arab countries from moving into Israel by marrying Israelis. It was enacted in 2003 after terrorist attacks were committed during the Second Intifada by Palestinians who had married into Israeli families. As an emergency regulation, it must be extended every year.”

For an Israeli Married to a Palestinian, Family Unification Is Forbidden,

“I requested the meeting with the insurance agent to open a pension fund, but he insisted on trying to sell me disability, life and supplementary health insurance. ‘Coverage for organ transplants, operations abroad and medical evacuation flights will cost you just 88 shekels ($25) a month for the entire family,’ he said. His laptop screen had a table with the names of Osama – my partner – and our children, with an X next to each name. Delete my partner’s name, I said. You can’t insure him. ‘He’s not a citizen?’ “No. ‘How long have you been married?’ Six years. ‘That’s strange. My cousin married a British guy, also not Jewish, but after two years I’m pretty sure he was at least a permanent resident.’ It’s different for Palestinians, I said. ‘Are you sure? Sounds odd to me.’ In 2003 they passed a law blocking family unification for Israeli citizens who marry Palestinians. ‘But usually you can bring a spouse to Israel.’ Usually you can. Unless the spouse is Palestinian.”

Palestinians Politics/Policies

Shtayyeh: We are working to suspend agreements with Israel,

“‘“Israel must stop its shoot to kill policy, which led to wasting many Palestinian lives,’ Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said yesterday, adding: ‘This is a systematic policy adopted by the occupation.’…Speaking at the session of parliament, Shtayyeh continued: ‘The cabinet will work at this session to accomplish the plans related to the decision of the Palestinian leadership, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, to suspend all agreements with Israel, since Israel has announced and started implementing several annexation measures in some Palestinian lands.’”

Annexation on the Agenda

PMO: Mapping talks with US ongoing,

“The Prime Minister’s Office says ‘discussions with the Americans are still ongoing,’ in an apparent reference to the joint Israeli-US mapping committee that is finalizing the borders of annexation Washington will be prepared to accept in the context of the Trump administration plan.”

IDF generals peruse sovereignty map,

“For the first time yesterday, some of IDF General Staff generals were exposed to the sovereignty map drawn up by Israel and the United States for next month’s sovereignty being officially declared in parts of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley. A few hours later, Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the Chief of Staff to prepare military steps…Accordingly, the IDF is preparing for several scenarios: the ‘easy’ scenario that will include protests and clashes around the checkpoints. The second scenario talks about hostile operations on the roads, while the most difficult scenario sees integration of tens of thousands of armed Tanzim and Fatah fighters joining a general uprising, which would mean a strategic change. In light of all this, the IDF will be holding a wide-scale war game this Wednesday to deal with the possibility of escalation following annexation.”

Benny Gantz says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations,

“Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel’s pending annexation of parts of the West Bank, a plan that could stoke Palestinian violence…In public remarks to legislators of his centrist Blue and White party, Gantz noted a recent uptick in anti-Israeli violence in the West Bank and the Palestinians’ declaration last month that they were ending security cooperation with Israel over the annexation issue. He said he had subsequently ordered the chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, to ‘examine all the ramifications and the required preparations’ stemming from moving ahead with the peace plan US President Donald Trump announced in January, a blueprint that could ease annexation.” Also see: Israel Hayom – Gantz orders IDF to prepare for implementation of US peace plan

Gantz Instructs Army Chief to Accelerate Prep for 'Diplomatic Changes in Palestinian Arena',

“Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, said Monday that he has instructed Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to accelerate preparations for ‘the upcoming diplomatic changes in the Palestinian arena.’ According to Gantz’s statement, the defense minister ‘Updated the chief of staff about progress in the political arena.’ The move comes in light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stated intent that Israel will begin the process of annexaing parts of the West Bank on July 1.” Also see: Times of Israel – Gantz tells army to step up preparations, as West Bank annexation looms

'Charged meeting' between Netanyahu and settlement leaders ends,

“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with settlement leaders from the Yesha Council – the umbrella group which represents Israelis living in Judea and Samaria – Tuesday afternoon, one month before the government is expected to take up Netanyahu’s plan to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria….During the gathering, Netanyahu told settlement leaders that Israel has a ‘historic opportunity to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria,’ while emphasizing his obligation under the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan to conduct final status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, should the PA drop its opposition to talks.” Also see: Israel Hayom – ‘Historic opportunity cannot be missed,’ Netanyahu tells settlers

Applying Israeli law to the Golan in 1981 and the West Bank in 2020,

“When it comes to the Knesset debate, it is unlikely to be completed in one day, but there may be echoes of the kinds of arguments MKs had in 1981.”

Largest Evangelical pro-Israel Summit to Be Held Virtually Days Before Netanyahu's Annexation Target Date,

“The largest annual gathering of evangelical Christian supporters of Israel will take place virtually in June, days before the July 1 date set by the Israeli to begin annexing parts of the West Bank. The annual conference of Christians United for Israel, which is usually held in Washington, will be a “virtual summit” this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The organization, which represents millions of evangelical supporters of Israel, released a video on Saturday promoting its virtual gathering, scheduled for late June. The most senior Trump administration official currently listed as a speaker at the summit is David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel. Other senior administration officials are also expected to speak.”

Palestians, International Community vs. Annexation

Palestinians, Jordan are bluffing on Israeli sovereignty, say former US officials,

“…’Both the Palestinians and Jordanians are showing weakness and instead of threatening Israel with something it cares about, they are busy taking themselves hostage,’ said David Wurmser, who served as a senior adviser on the Middle East to former Vice President Dick Cheney and is currently an executive at the Dephi Global Analysis Group, which he founded…Wurmser explains that Arab leaders will often inflate their own value by warning that their populations will turn to chaos and violence should they lose power. And while there may indeed be chaos, he suggests the P.A. and the Jordanian regime need Israel and the United States much more than the other way around…According to Harold Rhode, a longtime former adviser on Islamic affairs within the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment, Abbas’s threat to cut off security cooperation and end agreements with Israel is empty since it is in Abbas’s and other senior Palestinian officials’ interest to continue the cooperation.” Also see: JNS – How worried should Israel be about the Arab response on extending sovereignty?

Israel’s momentous decision: The settlements or the Saudis?,

“Israel is rapidly approaching a momentous decision. Should our new unity government move quickly to apply Israeli sovereignty over swaths of hotly contested territory known in the Bible as ‘Judea and Samaria,’ and to the international community as the ‘West Bank’ of the Jordan River? Or should we defer discussions of unilateral annexation for the time being and place a higher priority on establishing full peace treaties with Gulf Arab states that are steadily warming towards normalization? Put another away: Do we want the settlements now, or peace with the Saudis? It is clear where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands.”

Lawfare & the Like

Pompeo: U.S. Could Make Moves Against International Criminal Court In “Coming Days”,

“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States will ‘push back’ against the “corrupt” International Criminal Court in the coming days.Pompeo has slammed the international tribunal over its inquiries into U.S. actions in Afghanistan and Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories. His Monday comments, on a podcast hosted by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, hinted that the United States could retaliate soon. ‘You’ll see in the coming days a series of announcements not just from the State Department, from all across the United States government, that attempt to push back against what the ICC is up to,’ he said. ‘I think that the ICC and the world will see that we are determined to prevent having Americans and our friends and allies in Israel and elsewhere hauled in by this corrupt ICC.’”

PA and Palestinian banks plan to defy Israel’s Anti-Terror Law,

“The PA announced yesterday that in the coming days it will pay the monthly salaries to imprisoned terrorists in cooperation with and through the banks that are active in the PA. This is a defiant move against Israeli authority and rule of law by the banks that are apparently under pressure from the PA. Banks that will receive the terrorists’ salaries are violating a new law that came into effect in Judea and Samaria on May 9, 2020. The new law determines that paying rewards for acts of terror constitutes a crime, and anyone who is involved in the process is committing a crime – including the banks and their employees. Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr announced that the PA will continue to pay the terrorists’ salaries through the banks for four months until the establishment of a new ‘banking institution’ that will be subordinate to the PLO. This plan for a new bank was undertaken by the PA because of the new Israeli law. However, even accepting the salaries for one month is a violation of Israeli law.”

US: Families devastated from lone wolf terror can sue countries which support terrorism,

“In an unprecedented ruling, a US court ruled that families devastated by terror by ‘lone wolf’ terrorists can sue countries which support terrorism, including Syria and Iran, demanding to receive compensation, Kan News reported The decision follows a suit by seven families of terror victims, including the family of Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old man who was murdered in a 2015 terror attack, and the family of former MK Yehuda Glick, who were represented by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. Following the suit, the Washington Federal Court ruled that a terror organization can be proven to have stood behind the lone wolf terrorist, and therefore terror-supporting countries can be sued for compensation.”