Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 3, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation Watch

Netanyahu Assures Settler Leaders West Bank Annexation Won't Be Tied to Trump Plan,

“But behind closed doors, Netanyahu has assured settlers that annexation will be promoted independently of the total plan, and thus will not mean acquiescing to the aspects and preconditions which they oppose. Benny Gantz’s party, however, has opposed divorcing land annexation from the total plan proposed by the White House.”

US ‘highly unlikely’ to back July 1 annexation, ToI told; mapping far from done,

“In fact, it could take long weeks and possibly even several months before the joint US-Israel mapping committee concludes its work, which the White House has declared a precondition that must be met before it would give a green light for annexation, the source said…Quoting a senior Israeli source, the TV report also said that the Americans ‘want to downplay the enthusiasm’ for imminent annexation — ‘to greatly slow the process’ — because the administration is preoccupied, among other matters, with nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd by a policeman in Minneapolis last week, on top of the COVID-19 crisis and accompanying economic fallout.”

Netanyahu said to tell settlers US enthusiasm for annexation ‘may have lessened,

“The official said settler leaders left the ‘intense’ meeting under the impression that annexation would not be taking place ‘as soon or in the scope’ that had initially been pledged by Netanyahu…According to a report on Channel 13 news, Netanyahu gave settler leaders at the meeting no indication of when the process might move forward, never once mentioning his previously stated goal of launching the annexation bid on July 1. The report also said Netanyahu reprimanded the settler mayors for vocally criticizing the peace proposal, saying: ‘Your campaigns and statements against the Trump plan are only hindering the goal of annexation in as wide a scope as possible. You’re tickling the tail of the bear, and the bear isn’t even here yet’.”

Netanyahu tells settlers he is committed to negotiations with Palestinians,

“Netanyahu emphasized to the settler leadership that he was committed to negotiating a peace deal with the Palestinians based on the Trump plan. He also underscored that talks were ongoing with the US about its map for the application of sovereignty. Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, who is part of the joint Israeli-US mapping committee, also attended the meeting. His two hours with settlers failed to quell their opposition to the plan. The oppositional forces are led by Yesha Council head David Elhayani and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.”

Israel’s security chiefs to meet on looming annexation amid fears of violence,

“Security chiefs will convene Wednesday for a key discussion to prepare for various scenarios if parts of the West Bank are annexed next month, as currently planned. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi will host Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman and several senior IDF commanders and Shin Bet officials at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv for a first-of-its-kind meeting on the subject, Hebrew-language media reported.”

Israel said girding for bids to kick it out of global projects over annexation,

“Israeli officials are working to put together a plan to deal with the expected economic and cultural fallout from Jerusalem’s apparently imminent move to annex parts of the West Bank, according to a report Tuesday…Israeli leaders expect that beyond a diplomatic furor, reactions will include stepped up boycotts in academia and other areas, Army Radio reported. It said Israel has been receiving indications from the international community, through official and unofficial channels, that the country faces exclusion from a variety of major scientific and economic international projects if annexation goes ahead in July as planned. Senior government officials are deeply concerned, the report said, and are devising a plan to combat such efforts.”

On Annexation, Netanyahu and the Settlers Have Never Been on the Same Page,

“But Netanyahu as usual is keeping the settlers guessing. He talks of July 1 as an ‘unmissable’ date but won’t detail how he plans to extend Israeli sovereignty. There’s no map. No draft legislation. No timetable. And meanwhile the settlers are divided among themselves between those who are anxious for Netanyahu to go along with the Trump plan, immediately, before the window of opportunity closes, and those who are concerned about the ‘Palestinian state’ component in the Deal of the Century and the fact that under it, isolated settlements could become perpetual enclaves. Netanyahu has failed to assuage the concerns of either group as to his intentions. He probably can’t. It’s easy to forget that while Netanyahu and the settlers may be political allies, there remain considerable gaps between them. The settler ideology of returning and holding on to every corner of our holy land, fulfilling a godly commandment, usually works in tandem with Netanyahu’s belief in the renewal and reinforcement of Jewish national sovereignty in the historical homeland. But the priorities and emphases are not always the same.”

Impunity and annexation: 'Israel has its cake and eats it too',

“Many countries, as well as the United Nations and the European Union, have warned against such a move, noting that unilateral annexation would breach international law and would be a devastating blow to the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…A similar scenario occurred in 1980 when Israel annexed occupied East Jerusalem and subsequently the occupied Syrian Golan Heights in 1981. The UN Security Council indicated it was going to implement economic and political consequences for Israel, but it did not follow through. Four decades later, the international community continues to debate how to respond to Israel’s plans of annexing about one-third of the occupied West Bank. ‘We wouldn’t be here in 2020 debating this if firm lines in the sand had been drawn in 1980 and in 1981,’Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, told Al Jazeera. ‘Israel has learned an undeniable lesson with respect to impunity – that the international community will pass resolutions against annexation, will adopt resolutions with respect to illegality with building of settlement enterprises, and yet the international community will do virtually nothing as a consequence to Israel, so it can, in fact, have its cake and eat it too,’ Lynk said.”

Will West Bank annexation harm US-Jordan security cooperation?,

“Whether or not this about-face will be enough to jeopardize US-Jordanian relations hinges mostly on the United States, as Jordan’s dependency on Washington’s foreign aid and political support gives it very little leverage to coerce the Trump administration into stopping annexation. The only scenario in which Jordan could make any sort of move to reduce cooperation with the United States is, according to Anani, for Amman to take measures — such as canceling the peace treaty — against Israel for annexation and the Trump administration punished Jordan in response. He noted that this possibility was ‘unlikely.’”

Jordan Valley Palestinians await ‘annexation’ with fear, confusion,

“Erkan Abu Zayed, another resident of Al-Auja, said that as far most Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley are concerned, the issue of Israeli citizenship is not the real problem. ‘My sister lives in Beersheba and has Israeli citizenship,’ Abu Zayed said. ‘That hasn’t changed much of her life. Our main concern is what will happen to our lands after the annexation. We live a few kilometers away from Jericho. Will I need a permit from Israel each time I want to go to Jericho?’”

Occupation Continues...

A Top U.S. Donor to Netanyahu Bought West Bank Land — but Palestinians Are Claiming Fraud,

“The plot of land near the West Bank settlement of Beit El reveals nothing of the drama surrounding it. On one side, Palestinians who claim that the land was fraudulently sold, and on the other, a company headed by elite members of the settlement movement. In the middle is a Jewish-American millionaire who is a regular contributor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the settlements, who, it turns out, owns the land.”

Human Rights & Global Protests Against Police Violence/Systemic Racism

Palestinian, Regional, and International Human Rights Organisations Submit Joint Report on Accountability to UN Special Rapporteur ,

“Al-Haq, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network, have submitted a joint report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Mr Michael Lynk, detailing the continued failure to ensure justice and accountability, and an end to Israeli impunity, for widespread and systematic human rights violations and international crimes committed against the Palestinian people, including the crime of apartheid, ahead of the Rapporteur’s presentation of a report on accountability to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2020.”

Hundreds March in Israel, West Bank for Palestinian, Black American Police Brutality Victims,

“The protests in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Bethlehem were mostly peaceful, but in Jerusalem a confrontation erupted between police and protesters, who marched to the police headquarters and blocked a main street on the way, tying up traffic on the light rail on Jaffa Street.”

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.”

Palestinians draw parallels between disabled man's killing, US police violence against black people,

“Linda Mansour, a US immigration lawyer of Palestinian origin in Dayton, Ohio, told Al-Monitor that the death of Floyd brought back the daily images of Israeli brutality experienced by Palestinians. ‘The minute I saw the knee on the neck, my mind flashed to the daily images of the Israeli brutality experienced by Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, in the dark of the night and during the day ignored by the world. The aftermath images of the handling of the protests [in the United States] including the arrests, tear gas and rubber bullets are all too familiar to those of us acquainted with Israel’s tactics in the face of resistance or protests by Palestinians to the continuing brutality and slow murder of an entire society over 70 years’.”

U.S. Politics

Pompeo Threatens to Target 'Corrupt' ICC Over Israel, U.S. War Crime Probes,

“Speaking in an American Enterprise Institute podcast, Pompeo said that ‘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.’ Pompeo added 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’.”

Intel: House Middle East panel chairman questions Trump’s commitment to two-state solution,

“Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said that he ‘didn’t reject’ Trump’s peace Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal ‘out of hand’ and that he was initially ‘hopeful’ that the president had started referring to it as a ‘two-state solution.’ However, Deutch went on to add that the plan raised ‘lots of questions about the viability of a Palestinian state. There was a realization it could lead more to unilateral annexation, and then we started seeing a response from the outside world,’ said Deutch. ‘What’s confusing is the plan envisioned, at some point … negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. It’s been everyone’s position that that’s how you get two states. But then we fast forward to where we are in this moment, and it doesn’t look like that commitment exists.’”

Israeli Civil Society Discourse

To understand Zionism, we must see it as both a liberation and colonial project,

“Robust scholarship has shown that Zionism has featured settler colonial elements. Zionists sought to build an overseas community, bounded by ties of identity and a shared past, in a land they viewed as empty or inhabited by natives that they regarded as less civilized than themselves. They wanted not so much to govern or exploit the natives, but to replace them as a political community. A key question that many historians are debating is how dominant settler colonialism has been compared to Zionism’s other characteristics. Approaching Zionism as one settler colonial movement among others does not necessarily negate the pursuit of justice embedded in Zionism, in which the Jews deserve a homeland of their own in the modern world. It also does not necessarily deny Israel’s ‘right to exist,’ just as the recognition of the United States, Canada, and Australia as settler colonial states does not negate their right to exist. It does, however, make Zionism’s duality clear: it is both a national liberation movement designed to provide a sovereign haven for Jews fleeing antisemitism, and where Holocaust survivors could rebuild their lives; and it is a settler colonial project that has created a hierarchical relationship between Jews and Palestinians based on segregation and discrimination.”


Report by Israeli watchdog triggers EU turmoil over funding of NGOs linked to terrorist groups,

“The EU on Tuesday ordered its representatives in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to investigate whether EU funds are reaching organizations affiliated with Palestinian terrorist groups. The move follows a report by NGO Monitor, a watchdog group that promotes greater transparency among foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations operating in Israel.” For background on the weaponization of law to delegitimize and defund Palestinian solidarity organizations, see Lara Friedman’s “The Surprising New Battleground In the War Against Palestinian Rights: Your Local Courthouse