Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 3, 2021

What We’re Reading

A New Israeli Governing Coalition?

Bid to quickly swear in gov’t appears off table as Joint List support rejected,

“Lapid, Bennett wanted to oust Likud’s Knesset speaker so coalition could take office next week, but were derailed by Yamina MK Nir Orbach who opposes move.” Also See – “Yesh Atid, Yamina distance themselves from Joint List support” (The Times of Israel)

'Crossing Red Lines': Netanyahu and Allies Up Pressure on Lawmakers to Torpedo New Government,

“On Thursday, Netanyahu’s Likud party called on its supporters to demonstrate outside the homes of Yamina’s Ayelet Shaked, second on the party’s election slate, and Nir Orbach, who has expressed reservations about supporting his party’s chosen course. Shaked was recently assigned a security detail after the Shin Bet warned of a rise in incitement against her, as were Bennett and Lapid.”

Netanyahu foes push for quick vote to end his 12-year rule,

“The anti-Netanyahu bloc announced the coalition deal just before a deadline at midnight Wednesday. The agreement triggered a complex process that is likely to stretch over the next week. The coalition has a razor-thin majority of 61 votes in parliament. Now the question is whether the group’s votes will hold together in order to name a new parliament speaker, who would then preside over a vote required to confirm the new government. If the group can’t manage that, the current speaker, who is a Netanyahu ally, could use his position to delay the vote and give Netanyahu more time to sabotage the coalition…Under the coalition agreement, Lapid and Bennett will split the job of prime minister in a rotation. Bennett, a former ally of Netanyahu, is to serve the first two years, while Lapid is to serve the final two years — though it is far from certain their fragile coalition will last that long. The historic deal also includes a small Islamist party, the United Arab List, which would make it the first Arab party ever to be part of a governing coalition.” Also See – “Israeli opposition lawmakers say they’re ready for parliamentary vote to replace Netanyahu” (Washington Post)

Analysis of the New Coalition:

  • “Despite agreements, fate of Israel’s new government still uncertain” (Al-Monitor)
  • “Would a new government mean a profound shift for Israel?” (New York Times)
  • “Four reasons Benjamin Netanyahu’s era is not over yet” (Middle East)
  • “Everything you need to know about the Israeli government that will replace Benjamin Netanyahu” (JTA)
  • “For Israel’s Palestinian minority, feelings of relief but no rejoicing.” (New York Times)
  • “Coalition government of opposite poles ending Netanyahu’s rule” (Al Anadolu)

Arab Islamist helps clinch Israel's new anti-Netanyahu government,

“”We decided to join the government in order to change the balance of political forces in the country,” he said in a message to supporters after signing a coalition agreement with Bennett and opposition leader Yair Lapid. Abbas’s party said that the agreement includes the allocation of more than 53 billion shekels ($16 billion) to improve infrastructure and combat violent crime in Arab towns. The agreement also includes provisions freezing demolition of homes built without permits in Arab villages and granting official status to Bedouin towns in the Negev desert, a stronghold for Islamist support, the party said.”

Isaac Herzog elected 11th president of State of Israel,

“Former Labor party leader, current Jewish Agency chair and son of a previous president Isaac Herzog was elected as the 11th president of the State of Israel on Wednesday, beating his rival Miriam Peretz with 87 votes to 26 in a secret ballot of Knesset members.”

[Podcast] The cast changes, the policies stay the same,

“n this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” analyst Yousef Munayyer joins FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin to discuss the implications of a potential new government in Israel, in which Naftali Bennett would replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister and head a coalition that includes the far-right, the so-called center-left and Zionist left, and Ra’am/the United Arab List.”


Egypt promises $500 million to Gaza, excludes Hamas,

“Egypt, which played a vital role in brokering a cease-fire May 20, pledged $500 million for Gaza’s reconstruction. Cairo insists that reconstruction work be done through its own construction companies, meaning it will not put a penny in the hands of the Hamas leaders. The movement insists, however, on managing the reconstruction and the money given for it.”

Palestinian woman dies of wounds sustained during Israel's onslaught on Gaza,

“With this latest death, the death toll of the Israeli aggression on Gaza rises to 260, including 66 children, 40 women and 16 elderly.”

Palestine confirms 297 new coronavirus cases, two deaths,

“Among the new 297 cases, 37 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 260 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Staggering health needs emerge in the occupied Palestinian territory in the wake of recent escalations, says WHO,

“The World Health Organization is scaling up its response to provide health aid for almost 200,000 people in need across the occupied Palestinian territories as the ceasefire holds. WHO has said in a statement that so far it provided essential medicines to support trauma care and ambulance services for more than 2,000 injured beneficiaries in the Gaza Strip, and ten triage and treatment tents by WHO have been set up outside six Ministry of Health emergency departments, also in the Gaza Strip.” Also See – “WHO ramping up health aid for Palestinians after Gaza conflict” (The Times of Israel)

UNRWA Gaza chief recalled after uproar over claim that IDF strikes ‘precise’,

“The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency’s mission in Gaza has been recalled from his post following an uproar in the coastal enclave after he told Israeli TV that IDF strikes during last month’s 11-day war appeared to be “precise” and “sophisticated.” Matthias Schmale, along with his deputy David de Bold, left the Hamas-run coastal enclave on Wednesday, according to Channel 12, the network to which the UNRWA director made the original comments last month. The interview led to accusations from Gaza rulers Hamas that he was exonerating Israel for the deaths of Palestinian civilians, prompting Schmale to apologize.”

The 2021 Gaza War and the Limits of International Humanitarian Law,

“For me, the current incarnation of the debate about the legality of specific attacks conducted by Israel often illustrates these shortcomings, and requires us to face up to the limits of IHL…IHL cannot avoid engaging in the “hairsplitting” legal analysis of specific strikes. And it is my concern, that once we participate in the legal analysis of the specific strikes, we cannot avoid going down Mahanty’s rabbit hole. This is because this form of analysis asks us to put aside much more than the “moral compass” Sari mentions. It also requires us to put aside questions of injustice and of power relations. The examination of individual attacks through the IHL prism requires us to isolate specific incidents, and argue (splitting hairs) about whether the duties of distinction, precautionary measures, and proportionally were or were not maintained in this or that attack; or whether an attack that killed two rather than, say, fifteen children does or does not violate the proportionality principle. And while I think that those who oppose many of Israel’s attacks have the law on their side, going down these particular rabbit holes is likely to end up as a losing strategy.”


Israeli Authorities Freeze Plans for Jewish Heritage Center in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan,

“Two days ago (June 1), the state informed the District Court that the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry had frozen plans for the establishment of a Yemenite Jewish heritage center in the home of an evicted Palestinian family in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan (see map below). The project was being advanced and carried out in close cooperation with the Ateret Cohanim settler organization. Approximately 85 families, numbering over 700 individuals, currently face eviction lawsuits due to Ateret Cohanim’s actions in the area. The freeze is a direct result of two legal petitions Ir Amim filed over the course of the past year…This resulted in the Ministry of Justice/Registrar of Trusts opening an in-depth investigation into the trust and its trustees, which is currently still underway and likewise contributed to suspension of the project.”

Occupation forces detain a Palestinian girl in Sheikh Jarrah,

“Israeli occupation forces detained a female Palestinian teenager today in the occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where dozens of Palestinian families are facing an Israeli threat of eviction from their homes for the benefit of colonial settler organizations. Nufouth Hammad, 14, was arrested by the Israeli police in Sheikh Jarrah for painting a flag of Palestine on the faces of her colleagues during an entertainment event for Palestinian children in the neighborhood.”

A Toddler, a Tantrum and Trauma at the Sheikh Jarrah Checkpoint,

“During the hour I waited there, Jewish settlers went in and out of the neighborhood without any problem. As soon as they came up to the checkpoint, it was opened for them. Only for them. Lords of the land and the neighborhood…My granddaughter is just learning to talk, but she understood the deeper meaning of the checkpoint, which prevented her from getting to her home. Tia received a lesson, and made her feelings known in the clearest possible way: She rejected having others control her future. Yes, they controlled her grandparents, and they still control her parents, but they won’t control her.”

West Bank

Israeli forces seal off archaeological site north of Nablus,

“Israeli forces today sealed off the archeological site of Sebastia, north of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, in preparation for a settler intrusion, local sources said. Mayor of Sebastia, Mohammad Azem, told WAFA that a sizable Israeli military force raided the town and proceeded to close the site, preventing from Palestinians from accessing it, to ensure protection of dozens of settlers who forced their way into the site. Located 11 kilometers to the northwest of Nablus, Sebastia is a small historical town located on a hill with panoramic views across the West Bank and has a population of some 3,000 Palestinians.”

Israeli settlers storm Islamic shrines in Salfit-district town,

“Hundreds of Israeli settlers today stormed ancient Islamic sites in Kifl Haris town, north of the West Bank city of Salfit, according to local sources. They said that Israeli forces beefed up their presence at the town entrances and barged their way into the town to provide protection for the settlers who proceeded to break into and desecrate the Prophet Thu Al-Kifl, Prophet Thu An-Noon and Prophet Yosha shrines, causing a state of tension among the town residents.”

Palestinian Citizens of Israel

Israeli police detained 2,142 Arab Israelis in May,

“sraeli police said Thursday 2,142 Arab Israelis were detained in May in the aftermath of Israeli attacks in Jerusalem and Gaza. Police have filed indictments against 285 of the detainees. A total of 614 people are still in custody, while others have been released.”

The U.S.

145 House Democrats Urge Top Republican: Release Hold on Palestinian Aid Money,

“The lawmakers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, wrote to Sen. James Risch “to respectfully request that you release your hold on tens of millions of dollars in appropriated humanitarian aid that is so desperately needed to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians rebuilding their lives in the wake of the fighting between Hamas and Israel earlier this month.” “Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe. Buildings lie in rubble. Access to clean water and electricity is sporadic or nonexistent. Food insecurity is spreading. COVID-19 is running rampant and thousands of people have been displaced and rendered homeless. The magnitude of the crisis is staggering,” they wrote. Risch is said to be behind the hold on $75 million in aid that the Biden administration committed toward development and economic assistance over the next year that will support relief and recovery in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Sanders Says He Will 'Not Be Mourning' Netanyahu's Departure From Israeli Politics,

““We’ll see what happens in terms of that coalition, but it is no great secret that I am no great fan of Benjamin Netanyahu,” the former U.S. presidential candidate said. “I think over the years the coalition that he has put together has become more right-wing and in some cases part of that coalition is overtly racist. So I will not be mourning the departure of the Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, and I hope that Israel will have a government that we will be better able to work with.””

US Sen. Booker launches new group of Black, Jewish senators against antisemitism,

“The so-called Black-Jewish coalition will also include Booker’s fellow Democrats Sens. Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, as well as Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican from across the aisle.”

Free Speech, Big Tech, Media, & Academia

Political censorship in academic journals sets a dangerous new precedent,

“By allowing powerful external political interests to overrule editorial judgement and policies, the removal of published articles in peer-reviewed journals deals a massive blow to academic freedom. Sadly, this is only the elite tip of the academic freedom iceberg. What of all Palestinians, who—because of Israel’s ongoing occupation—cannot even access the resources necessary to engage in the free exchange of ideas or share their lived reality?”

Google’s diversity head removed from role for antisemitic blog post,

“Public outrage at Google’s diversity head, Kamau Bobb, called for his termination after an antisemitic blog post he wrote in November 2007 surfaced this week. The post, “If I were a Jew” details Bobb’s critique of Israel’s military actions during the Second Lebanon War and the Hamas takeover of Gaza. Bobb was removed from his role on Google’s diversity team and will focus on his STEM work at the company, according to a statement by Google.”

A teacher at a Main Line Jewish school criticized Zionism on Twitter. Then he got fired.,

“The firing of Schwartz, who is 27 and unrelated to his attorney, cuts to the heart of several issues that have divided the country, including Zionism, Israel’s national ideology. In the last month, people have more frequently criticized media outlets such as the New York Times for their coverage, saying that the media’s obsession with the appearance of impartiality reflected a pro-Israel bias.”

Israel-Gaza Conflict Spurs Bitcoin Donations to Hamas,

“The Palestinian militant group Hamas has seen a surge in cryptocurrency donations since the start of the armed conflict with Israel last month, a senior official with the group said, exploiting a trend in online fundraising that has enabled it to circumvent international sanctions to fund its military operations. The international attention to the recent fighting drew new eyeballs to websites run by Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and that surge translated into donations for its military operations, the senior Hamas official said. “There was definitely a spike” in bitcoin donations, he said. “Some of the money gets used for military purposes to defend the basic rights of the Palestinians.””

Analysis & Commentary

‘Economic Peace’ With Israel Won’t Help Palestinians,

“Economic peace plans for Israel and Palestine are everywhere—from the 2013 Kerry Plan to the 2019 Kushner Plan to reports from institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund calling for unhindered economic ties between the Palestinian and Israeli private sectors. These proposals fall under the “economic peace” umbrella, a flawed theory that assumes there is an economic solution to a political problem. In other words, there is a pervasive belief among so-called “experts” that economic incentives will keep Palestinians from demanding their right to self-determination…The international community must stop choosing the path of least resistance. In the short run, it should direct aid to support Palestinian farmers in areas that are facing the threat of annexation, including areas where illegal Israeli settlements and the separation wall are built as well as the so-called “buffer zone” in the Gaza Strip. They should also support Palestinian manufacturers by pressuring Israel to facilitate licenses in Area C—the portion of the West Bank fully administered by Israel, which accounts for about 60 percent of the occupied Palestinian territory—including building permits for residential and business structures. Such policies would support the Palestinian economy’s independence by increasing its ability to absorb a currently unsustainable level of unemployed workers and help alleviate current dire socioeconomic conditions.”

A Palestinian Writer and an Israeli Writer Exchange Emails — and Seek Common Ground,

“In the wake of the recent fighting in Israel and Palestine, The Washington Post Magazine asked two writers — Sam Bahour, a Palestinian American writer and entrepreneur who lives near Ramallah; and Nadav Eyal, an Israeli journalist who lives near Tel Aviv — to correspond with each other. Their exchange, which was lightly edited, took place between May 24 and May 31. To get the conversation started, we posed an initial question: Realistically, where do Palestinians and Israelis go from here?”

Why Israeli progressives have started to talk about ‘apartheid’,

“Israel’s progressive camp is in the midst of updating its frame of reference for the conflict. Admittedly, it is a small group, even among those to the left of Israel’s increasingly right-leaning mainstream. But given that the progressive camp is the main ideological alternative to the prevailing political current – and given the credibility that Israeli human rights groups enjoy around the world – it is influential beyond its size. The updated paradigm provides a comprehensive analysis to understand the situation in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel – using a lens that reveals an Israeli ethnocracy. Our upgraded lexicon reduces the gap between the racialised reality and its political description, and therefore makes the forging of a shared Palestinian-Israeli vision possible – a vision that respects the national aspirations of both peoples, and guarantees equal rights to everyone living in the land. This new model is critical – but only moral and political integrity will make it possible.”

PODCAST: An uprising for Palestinian unity,

“Now, as Israel sets to swear in a new government, most likely led by the far right Naftali Bennett, the police’s operation continues unabated. The editors of +972 Magazine sat down at the height of the crackdown last week to discuss what led to this moment, the synchronization of the Palestinian struggle from the river to the sea, and how Israeli and international media have been covering recent events. The conversation was edited for length and clarity.”

Netanyahu changed the way Americans view Israel — but not always in the way he wanted,

““For decades, Israel wisely cultivated relations with both Democrats and Republicans,” said a Jewish former senior Democratic congressional staffer who asked not to be named to speak candidly. “Bibi broke that tradition and threw his lot in with the Republicans, and permanently undermined the trust of many Democrats on and off the Hill.””