Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 25, 2021

What We’re Reading

Palestinian Politics

Thousands Protest in West Bank After Death of Dissident in Palestinian Authority Custody,

“Protesters in Hebron and Ramallah accused the PA of carrying out a political assassination, while some clashed with Palestinian police in Ramallah. Protesters also called on President Abbas and the PA to be “overthrown.”…Human rights groups and Banat’s family said that the autopsy showed that he suffocated from blood in his lungs after being beaten by security forces. One of the doctors who took part in the autopsy also revealed that Banat suffered injuries to all parts of his body, including his head and limps. The doctor said the circumstances raised suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.”

More on the killing of Nizar Banat by PA forces:

BDS says Hamas leader 'betrayed' Palestinians by meeting Moroccan PM,

“The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is upset at a Hamas leader for meeting with the Moroccan prime minister due to Morocco having relations with Israel. BDS released an Arabic-language statement on Tuesday to “denounce” Hamas’ political head, Ismail Haniyeh, for meeting with Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani. The meeting took place last week during Haniyeh’s trip to Morocco, during which he also met with Islamist and opposition parties. “We strongly condemn Haniyeh’s meeting with the Moroccan prime minister, which betrays our people and furthers normalization with the occupation and its continuing crimes,” BDS said in the statement.”

The West Bank/Settlements

Palestinian Seriously Wounded by Israeli Fire Near Illegal West Bank Outpost, Red Crescent Says,

“A Palestinian was seriously wounded Friday by Israeli military fire during clashes next to the unauthorized outpost of Evyatar in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Three Palestinians were also wounded by rubber bullets, the Red Crescent added. Four Palestinians have been killed since protests against the establishment of the outpost began last month, two of them teenagers.” Also See – “Occupation forces quell anti-settlement rally south of Nablus, dozens injured” (WAFA)

Two Palestinians injured as occupation forces attack weekly Kafr Qaddum protest,

“Morad Shtewi, coordinator of the popular resistance in the village, said Israeli soldiers fired live bullets, injuring two Palestinians in the foot and knee respectively. One of the two wounded was detained by the attacking Israeli forces and taken to an unknown destination.”

Israeli settlers set olive, fig trees on fire near Salfit,

“Hardcore Israeli settlers set dozens of Palestinian-owned olive and fig trees on fire today near the town of Salfit in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources.”

Unauthorized Settlement Creates Stress Test for Israel’s New Government,

“If the new right-wing prime minister, Naftali Bennett, backs the settlers, he will alienate the leftist and Arab members of his coalition. If he permits them to be evicted, he will allow the Israeli right to paint him as a turncoat. An eviction could come as soon as Sunday, but could be delayed by legal proceedings.”

Lasers and flaming torches light up battle over new Israeli settlement,

“During the night protests that began last week, burning tires have engulfed settler homes in acrid smoke. We come at night, we light up the mountain, to send them a message that they can’t have even an inch of this land,” said one masked Palestinian this week. He lit fires while others flashed laser pointers to dazzle the settlers in their homes.”

Israeli settlers refuse to vacate illegal West Bank settlement,

“Not only are the settlers in Evyatar refusing to evacuate, but they are planning to appeal the evacuation order with further plans to build another 70 settler homes, a synagogue, daycare centre and a school.”

UN urges Israel to immediately halt building in West Bank, East Jerusalem,

“The United Nations on Thursday accused Israel of flagrantly violating international law by advancing building projects in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and urged its new government to halt such construction immediately. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland reported on the implementation of a 2016 Security Council resolution that declared settlements have “no legal validity.” It demanded a halt to construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Wennesland said in a briefing to the council on Guterres’ 12-page report that he was “deeply troubled” by Israel’s approval of a plan to add 540 housing units to the Har Homa neighborhood in East Jerusalem.”


Israel to ease Gaza fishing restrictions as ceasefire holds,

“Starting from Friday, Israel will “expand the fishing zone in the Gaza Strip from six to nine  nautical miles, and approve the import of raw materials for essential civilian factories,” Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said in a statement. The decision was made following “this past week’s calm security situation,” while the new measures are “conditional upon the preservation of security stability”, the COGAT statement read.”

Gaza’s Deadly Night: How Israeli Airstrikes Killed 44 People,

“On May 16, Israeli airstrikes destroyed three apartment buildings, decimating several families. We visited the scene, interviewed survivors and analyzed videos, photos and satellite images to find out what happened.”

Delayed reconstruction in Gaza exacerbates suffering of homeowners,

“Muhammad Abu Jiyab, editor-in-chief of Al-Eqtesadia newspaper in Gaza, told Al-Monitor that “the delay in reconstruction will affect the economic reality of Palestinian families, especially those whose houses were destroyed, by increasing the rates of poverty and unemployment and engendering economic crises and a comprehensive economic collapse.” In response to a question about the mechanism preferred by the international community for reconstruction in Gaza, Abu Jiyab said, “There is an international tendency to move ahead with reconstruction through the PA and not through the Hamas government, and there is talk about independent committees that Egypt may spearhead in partnership with government institutions in Gaza for implementation.” He added, “This (independent committees) may be the best solution for the citizens of Gaza to speed up reconstruction and avoid political rivalries between the PA and Hamas.””

The U.S. Scene

73 House Democrats Urge Biden: Reverse Harmful Trump Policies on Israel-Palestinian Conflict,

” Seventy-three House Democrats are urging U.S. President Joe Biden to reverse the Trump administration’s “abandonment of longstanding, bipartisan U.S. policy” relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including support for a two-state solution. Led by Reps. Gerry Connolly, Peter Welch and Jan Schakowsky, the lawmakers welcomed the administration’s initial release of aid for the Palestinians, as well as its inclusion in next fiscal year’s budget request, but made several specific suggestions to align U.S. policy with his call for supporting Israel and ensuring equal measures for Israelis and Palestinians.”

U.S. policy regarding the Golan has not changed, and reports to the contrary are false.,

“U.S. policy regarding the Golan has not changed, and reports to the contrary are false.”

Also See – “Amid uproar, US denies change in policy recognizing Golan Heights as Israeli” (The Times of Israel)

U.S. State Dept. Doubles Down on Embrace of IHRA Antisemitism Definition,

“Months after several House Democrats urged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to use the various definitions of antisemitism at his disposal to combat antisemitism, the State Department has doubled down on its embrace of the contentious International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism…The State Department’s response to Schakowsky, obtained by Haaretz, does not once address the alternate definitions, but highlights the IHRA definition as “the gold standard.” “The Department agrees that it is crucial that governments and public are able to recognize anti-Semitism in its many forms, traditional and contemporary, so that we can call hate by its proper name and take effective action,” wrote Acting Assistant Secretary Naz Durakoğlu from the Bureau of Legislative Affairs. “To those ends, like prior U.S. administrations of both political parties, the Biden Administration embraces and champions the IHRA nonlegally binding working definition of anti-Semitism in its entirety, including its examples, and the Administration continues to encourage other countries as well as international bodies to do the same.” ”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee advances Arab-Israeli normalization bill,

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Thursday to advance the bipartisan Israel Relations Normalization Act, a broadly popular bill originally sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN) and James Risch (R-ID) that seeks to strengthen and expand last year’s agreements between Israel and a number of Arab nations. The legislation, which passed the committee by voice vote, has 56 total sponsors, making it likely to pass though the Senate. Despite the bill’s broad support, Thursday’s meeting turned acrimonious over a pair of amendments introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). One of Cruz’s amendments would have removed a line from the bill stating that U.S. policy is to support a negotiated two-state solution, which was added after Cruz cosponsored the bill…Cruz and Hagerty also introduced amendments seeking to block aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops its “pay-to-slay” payments to families of individuals involved in acts of terrorism against Israelis.”

Israeli Politics

Netanyahu Trying to Harm Israel’s Ties With Biden, Government Sources Allege,

“A political source, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss sensitive diplomatic affairs, claimed that Netanyahu is “frustrated by the new government’s relationship with the U.S. administration. He saw how [President Joe] Biden called Bennett within two hours of his inauguration, while Netanyahu himself waited for a phone call from the president for weeks.” This source added that he believed Netanyahu was letting his damaged ego get the better of him. However, a diplomatic source said that “it is clear to Netanyahu that his statements, even if they were made for political motives, could harm Israel’s foreign relations. He probably believes that harming Bennett’s political capabilities will ultimately serve his interests.””

Naftali Bennett and the New Hard Line in Israeli Politics,

“Bennett has now unseated his former boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, as Prime Minister of Israeli. Remnick spoke with two writers in the region about this political upheaval. Raja Shehadeh, who is based in Ramallah, says that the changing of the guard will mean little on the West Bank, where the recent bloody conflict was a propaganda victory for Hamas. Ruth Margalit, who is based in Tel Aviv, says that, while the peace movement seems all but dead, the changing of a political epoch, and the presence of the first Arab-Israeli party ever represented in the Knesset, has to be seen as an opportunity for change.”


Bennett appears to hint at Israeli involvement in attack on Iran nuclear site,

““Our enemies know — not from statements, but from actions — that we are much more determined and much more clever, and that we do not hesitate to act when it is needed,” Bennett said in his speech at the IAF’s Hatzerim Air Base, outside Beersheba. His remarks came a day after an alleged drone attack on an Iranian centrifuge production facility outside Tehran, which reportedly damaged the site.”

Unlike Netanyahu, Bennett opts for discreet dialogue with US on Iran,

“Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told Al-Monitor June 24, “The prime minister and I have changed Israeli policy regarding this process and the Americans were happy to accept it.” Asked how this change is manifesting itself, Lapid said, “Up to now, Israel screamed that the agreement was no good; the Americans screamed back that there is no better alternative and moved quickly ahead. Now, Israel will try to explain, demonstrate and prove its case to the Americans through intimate clandestine contacts. After all, we do agree on the fundamental principle that Iran must not be allowed to achieve military nuclear capabilities. We believe this way is effective, correct and serves Israel’s national security better than the previous way.””


Israel, a world leader in fighting the virus, grapples with a new outbreak.,

“Israel has been a trailblazer in the post-pandemic world, largely returning to normal in May following one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives. But dozens of new cases recently emerged at schools in two cities, Modiin and Binyamina, leading to hundreds of people being quarantined. Israel has made 12- to 15-year-olds eligible for vaccination, but many have yet to get shots…The containment effort has struggled to have an impact as the virus continues to spread through several cities. Many of those who contracted the virus had been vaccinated, according to the director general of the Health Ministry, Prof. Chezy Levy, though he did not specify if they had had one or two doses.

Israel restores indoor mask requirement after rise in Covid cases,

“Israel has decided to reimpose the mandatory wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces owing to a rise in Covid-19 cases just 10 days after the measure was lifted – a blow for a country that has prided itself on one of the world’s most successful vaccine rollouts.”

Palestine records 156 new coronavirus cases, one death,

“Palestine today recorded 156 new Covid-19 cases and one death, according to Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh. She announced that 156 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and another died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 156 cases, 12 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 144 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Normalization, News from the Region & Around the World

Oman urges Israel to create independent Palestinian state,

“Oman’s foreign minister told his Israeli counterpart he hopes Israel’s new government will take concrete steps towards creating an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, Omani state media said on Thursday. Oman’s Badr al-Busaidi spoke by phone to Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, according to ONA, the state news agency of Oman, which has a longstanding policy of neutrality in the turbulent region and often acts as a mediator.”

Honduras opens embassy in Jerusalem, 4th country to do so,

“Honduras on Thursday opened its embassy in contested Jerusalem, becoming the fourth country to follow the U.S. move under former President Donald Trump to relocate its chief diplomatic mission in Israel from Tel Aviv. To mark the occasion, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett signed several bilateral cooperation agreements in Jerusalem on Thursday.” Also See – “[Palestinian] Foreign Ministry: Relocating Honduras’ embassy to Jerusalem violates international law” (WAFA)

Analysis, Opinion & Long Reads

Israel’s Deep Apartheid Is Here to Stay: LISTEN to Gideon Levy,

“Host Simon Spungin is joined by Gideon Levy, the recent recipient of Israel’s top journalistic award – the Sokolow Prize. Gideon answers listeners’ questions on his prize-winning writing, the best way to reach out to Israeli Jews and why he no longer has any hesitation about calling Israel an apartheid state. Gideon also answer questions on the new Israeli government and how he feels about readers who cancel their subscriptions in protest at his writing.”

The Palestinian Model Who Took on Zara: 'We Must Stop Being Afraid',

“East Jerusalem model Qaher Harhash set off a social media storm last week when he published personal correspondence with Zara’s head designer, who had berated him for supporting Palestinians during the bloody events in Jerusalem and Gaza last month. Harhash, 23, said in an interview this week that he didn’t fear for his career following the incident.”

A ‘Radical’ Idea for Future Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks: Involve Women,

“According to a new report published this week, the prospective solutions have all had one thing in common: women have almost never been directly involved in their development. As a result, the daily lives of women living in the city have received little attention in the proposed plans.