Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 30, 2021

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[Podcast] Why Palestinians are Rising Up Against the Palestinian Authority,

Last week, a Palestinian political activist, Nizar Banat, was arrested by the Palestinian Authority and died soon after in their custody. His family accuses the PA of murdering him. Following his death, Palestinians in the West Bank gathered for protests, and the PA responded with violence and repression. According to the Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq, PA security forces – both in uniform and dressed as civilians – attacked protesters with batons and tear gas, attacked several journalists, and attacked human rights researchers who were monitoring the protests and confiscated their phones. In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, Peter Beinart interviews political organizer and activist Fadi Quran about why Palestinians are rising up against the Palestinian Authority. Watch this conversation on YouTube here.

West Bank & East Jerusalem

Israel Israel reaches compromise with settlers on West Bank outpost,

“Israel has reached a compromise with Jewish settlers who rapidly established an unauthorized outpost in the occupied West Bank last month, officials and the settlers said Wednesday. Under the agreement, the settlers will leave by the end of the week. The area will become a closed military zone, but the houses and roads will remain in place. A survey will be carried out that the settlers say will prove the outpost was not established on land privately owned by Palestinians. That would pave the way authorization, allowing them to establish a religious school and for some families to return…The settlers announced a compromise earlier this week at a celebratory press conference, while the government said negotiations were still underway. This time, Israeli officials signaled it was a done deal. Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s pro-settler party, tweeted that the deal is “an important achievement” for the settlement movement and thanked the “pioneers of Eviatar.” Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, from the left-wing Labor Party, welcomed the evacuation of the settlers from the “illegal outpost.”


More Coverage:

Israel Hurriedly Clears Sheikh Jarrah Checkpoints, Lifting Two-month Ban on Non-residents,

“Israel Police unexpectedly removed  the checkpoints from the entrance of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Tuesday, practically lifting a two-month ban on non-residents from entering the neighborhood…According to the neighborhood’s residents, police removed the checkpoints in light of a U.S. envoy visit to the neighborhood. “Police wish to seemingly show as if everything is normal and there are no restrictions,” Mohammad Sabah, an activist, said. Palestinian residents are also concerned that moving forces from the neighborhood may renew clashes between residents and Jewish settlers. “If we will protect ourselves we will be arrested, we need protection,” said Salah Diab, a Sheikh Jarrah resident.”

4 Palestinians arrested during clashes in Sheikh Jarrah,

“Four Palestinians were arrested during clashes that broke out in the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Tuesday night. Dozens of people gathered in the neighborhood protest the impending eviction of Palestinian families. Some threw rocks and shot fireworks at officers, police said. The four were arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace and were taken for questioning, police said.”

Palestinian owners of 25 houses in West Bank village receive Israeli demolition orders,

“The Israeli military authorities today handed 25 residents of al-Sawiyeh village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, demolition orders for their houses under the pretext they were built in Area C and without an Israeli permit. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, told WAFA that soldiers raided the village and handed the 25 residents the demolition orders. Al-Sawiyeh head of village council, Murad Abu Ras, told WAFA that some of these houses are inhabited while others are still under construction. He said village residents are not allowed to build in most of their land under the pretext that land is classified as Area C, which is under full Israeli rule, while they can build in only 5 percent of the area of the village, classified as Area B, which is under Palestinian administration and Israeli military control.”

Inside Beita’s protests: ‘The settlers didn’t understand who they were dealing with’,

“The demonstrations in Beita are quite distinct from those that characterized the Palestinian popular struggle against Israel’s separation barrier and settlements during the late 2000s and early 2010s, which have largely waned in recent years. Unlike in other villages in the West Bank, such as Bil’in, the Beita protests are not joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstrations, but clearly Palestinian ones; although individual Israeli activists attend, they do not march alongside Palestinian residents. And compared to most West Bank protests in recent years, Beita’s demonstrations are much larger, more frequent, and more intense. I joined Beita’s demonstrations over a number of weeks. The following is a chronicle of the town’s resistance and the attempts to suppress it.”


Israel digs in heels on Gaza, demands captives' release,

“In three high-level meetings this week, Israel has insisted on linking the rehabilitation of Gaza with the return by Hamas of the remains of two soldiers and the release of two captives. President Reuven Rivlin raised the matter with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday in New York and with US President Joe Biden on Monday in Washington…At issue are the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, presumed to have been killed during the 2014 Gaza war, and the fate of two Israeli citizens, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who crossed into Gaza in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Leah Goldin, Hadar’s mother, joined Rivlin for his meeting with Guterres and spoke with the secretary-general about her son…On Monday, Leah Goldin met with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield and asked her to work to secure the release of the captives. “It was an honor to meet with Dr. Leah Goldin, whose son Hadar was killed by Hamas militants nearly seven years ago,” Thomas-Greenfield tweeted after the meeting. “The US will continue to advocate for the return of Israeli soldiers killed in action in Gaza, as well as the return of Israeli civilians held captive there,” she said.”


Also See:

US opposes conditioning Gaza reconstruction on return of IDF troops’ bodies,

“The Biden administration opposes Israel’s desire to condition post-war reconstruction projects in Gaza on the return of the bodies of the fallen IDF soldiers held by Hamas, two Western diplomats told The Times of Israel Monday. In the past, Jerusalem had agreed to hold a separate series of indirect talks with Hamas — one for a prisoner exchange, and another for Gaza reconstruction and securing a long-term truce. However, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is intent on combining the two issues, with an Israeli official telling The Times of Israel that the new government won’t enable long-term rehabilitation projects as long as Hamas refuses to return the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.”

Aid worker’s father appeals to Pope Francis to gain his son’s release from Israel,

“A Palestinian man has appealed to Pope Francis to intercede with the Israeli government to release his son, a humanitarian worker with a Christian aid organization, who has been in jail for more than five years on what the father maintains are manufactured charges…Mohammad el Halabi, 44, the former manager of operations in Gaza and the West Bank for World Vision, was arrested in 2016 as he returned from Jerusalem. He has been accused of transferring $7.2 million to Gaza’s governing party, Hamas, which Israel and other countries have branded a terrorist organization.

[Video] Gaza: 11 Days in May,

“What did 11 days of violence do to the hopes of people in Gaza?”

Children in Gaza call on the world to save them,

“A group of children in Gaza came together today to call on the world to help save them. Gathering at the Port of Gaza, the minors wrote letters highlighting their dreams and aspirations, placed them in bottles and threw them into the sea in the hope that they would reach the world. They called for lifting the nearly 15-year-old siege imposed on the enclave to be lifted and to be granted the right to a decent standard of living, away from violations and the threats of the occupation. Israel must stop targeting children, they added, and keep the crossings into and out of Gaza open so they can access the most basic rights. Scores of flags were flown at the event, including that of France, Iraq, Morocco and Spain, while some children attached messages to balloons and set them free over the Gaza waters.”

Palestinian Politics

PA said to ask Israel to allow in riot gear amid protests over activist’s death,

“The Palestinian Authority has asked Israel for permission to obtain additional riot equipment in anticipation of an uptick in protests over the death of prominent opposition figure Nizar Banat while he was in the custody of PA security forces, the Ynet news site reported on Tuesday night…While the PA has a stock of riot dispersal materiel, those reserves have been somewhat depleted in recent days, leading it to ask Israel to approve further shipments, the Ynet news site reported. The report did not clarify where the equipment could come from…Israel controls all border crossings into and out of the West Bank, and the PA cannot obtain weaponry without coordination with Israel. But Israel has previously provided additional equipment to the PA when its security forces have struggled to maintain law and order in the West Bank.”

Criticism of Palestinian security forces raises pressure on Abbas,

“Pressure is mounting on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over his security forces’ handling of protesters demanding his resignation since one of his biggest critics died in custody…Aseel AlBajeh, of the rights group Al-Haq, said she was confronted by men in civilian clothing who pushed her and took her phone when she was filming Sunday’s protest in Ramallah. “You feel completely unsafe because you don’t know if the person next to you, dressed in completely normal clothing, is going to beat you up or not,” AlBajeh, 26, said. “It is painful. As Palestinians, we have two struggles: one against an occupying power in Israel, and the other against an authoritarian regime.” The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said reporters had been “prevented from covering events and threatened by plain-clothes forces.” It demanded the PA “prosecute those who assaulted journalists, and bring them to justice”.”

Abbas to head to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II - report,

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be traveling to Amman, Jordan today to speak with Kind Abdullah II, according to N12. Demonstrations have been taking place across the Palestinian territories against Abbas following the killing of political activist Nizar Banat, who was presumably beaten to death by Palestinian security officers during a raid on the activist’s home last Thursday.”

Hezbollah leader, Hamas chief discuss recent Gaza fighting,

“The top leaders of the groups Hezbollah and Hamas held talks in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday about last month’s 11-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs Gaza, arrived in Lebanon on Sunday and met several top officials, including President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.”

The Palestinians Will Not—and Cannot—Be Ignored,

“The recent upheaval has brought about a unique moment, with both the growing shift in international public opinion and the nascent reunification of the Palestinian people at the grassroots level. The Palestinians have an opportunity to reestablish their frayed national movement, unify their ranks, and agree on a strategic agenda that they can clearly communicate globally. To achieve this uphill task, they will have to supersede existing political structures— notably the framework put in place by the Oslo accords, including the creation of the Palestinian Authority—that have produced only a generation of failed leaders, repressive governance, patronage-based corruption, popular demobilization, and no strategy for liberation. The two political parties that have long dominated Palestinian politics—Fatah and Hamas—seem structurally weaker and less popular than ever before, notwithstanding the considerable external support they receive. This is true even of a currently buoyant Hamas, whose own internal polling predicted it would lose in the elections that were scheduled for May but which were postponed by the president of the Palestinian Authority, whose legal term in office ended over a decade ago. A new generation of young Palestinian activists has no time for the slogans, politics, and leaders of the past. These activists are operating on the same wavelength throughout Palestine and in the diaspora. Young people are taking the political initiative today, sparking a new phase of the effort for Palestinian liberation, as they have done repeatedly in the past—for example, by launching the 1936 general strike and the 1987 intifada. They will face a hard task in overthrowing the older generation of leaders and the extensive security and financial structures that protect them. But the tide is turning, as evident in the recent popular anger directed against the Palestinian leadership. Nizar Banat, a stern critic of the Palestinian Authority, died in its custody in June, sparking widespread unrest that has underlined the extreme fragility of these leaders’ hold on power.”

[Podcast] Sheikh Jarrah and Beyond,

“Muna Dajani joins host Yara Hawari to discuss how the #SaveSheikhJarrah campaign in support of her family and others in the Jerusalem neighborhood has acted as a catalyst for the ongoing uprising across historic Palestine against decades of Israeli settler-colonialism.”

Inside the Green Line

Family reunification vote delayed until Monday,

“Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked postponed Wednesday’s vote on the controversial family reunification bill to next Monday, just ahead of Tuesday night’s deadline, because she has still not succeeded in drafting enough support to pass it. MKs from Ra’am (United Arab List), Meretz and Labor MK Ibtisam Mara’ana oppose the bill, which would continue to prevent Palestinians from obtaining Israeli citizenship by marrying Arab-Israelis.”


Also See:

Thousands of Palestinians swept up in Israeli arrest campaign,

“Israel continues to carry out a wave of arrests of Palestinians, including children, in an effort to crush Palestinian resistance and political opposition to the occupation. In May 2021, at least 3,100 Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and 1948 occupied territories were arrested during random and organised Israeli arrest campaigns, reported the Palestinian prisoners’ association Addameer in its report for the month. The largest proportion of those arrests, 2,000, took place within Israel’s internationally recognised Green Line boundary following mass protests against Israeli raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque, the eviction of Palestinian residents from their homes in East Jerusalem, and clashes with Israeli settlers and forces. “Similarly, in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem a campaign of arbitrary arrests led to over 1,100 arrests, including 180 children, and 42 women and girls. The highest of these arrests took place in Jerusalem, with 677 arrests,” reported Addameer.”

Six Weeks After Gaza Conflict, Israeli Arabs Struggle Luring Back Jewish Customers,

“It’s been nearly six weeks since the cease-fire went into effect, ending the major military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip – fighting that was accompanied by assaults, vandalism and other chaos in the form of clashes between Jews and Arabs in Israel itself. But business owners in the triangle of Israeli Arab communities northeast of Tel Aviv say they have failed to recover from the disturbances. Their revenues remain substantially down from the month of April – the month before the fighting erupted.”

The Arab Lawmaker Fighting for Israel's Bedouin Could Decide New Government's Fate,

“The agreement between UAL and Yesh Atid, the largest party in the coalition, stipulates that within 45 days of the government’s formation – that is, by the end of July – it will have completed the process of official recognition of three unrecognized villages: Rahma, Abdih and Khasim Zannih…But more than two weeks into the tenure of the new government, there are no obvious signs of progress toward recognizing any of the unrecognized communities, including the three mentioned above. More significant, regardless of the new government’s intentions, the bureaucratic machine overseen by the Bedouin Development and Settlement Authority continues to issue demolition orders in the villages and also to plow under crops that it says were sown illegally.”

Netanyahu Trial Delayed by Another Week as Prosecution Gets More Time to Hand Over Key Evidence,

“The Jerusalem District Court has partially acceded to prosecutors’ request for extra time to hand over material to the defense taken from the cellphone of the main witness in one of the favors-for-positive-news-coverage cases against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The court Tuesday set a new deadline of July 5 to provide the material and delayed the resumption of hearings to July 12, when Ilan Yeshua will resume giving testimony. Yeshua is the former CEO of the Walla news website, which is owned by telecom company Bezeq.”

[Podcast] The Israeli researchers unearthing their country’s dark past,

“Lior Yavne and Adam Raz discuss the challenges they face in trying to tell the true history that successive Israeli governments have been so intent on hiding.”

Why Israel’s new government brings grim news and rare hope,

“Two stories dominating the news in Israel over the past few weeks offer opposite and complex views of what the new and unlikely coalition government is all about: the green-lighting of a new settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank, and the failure to reinstate a law that prevents Palestinian families from reunifying across the Green Line…The difference between Eviatar and the Citizenship Law is about power and where it lies. In the case of the illegal outpost, the decisions are up to the mostly right-wing cabinet — and primarily Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — with little prospect for successful pushback, save for international pressure. Yet in the case of the Citizenship Law, the decision requires a parliamentary majority, thereby giving parties representing Palestinian citizens and the left more power to block it. What this means for the future is that as far as government policies against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are concerned, there is very little to hope for from this new government. But in all matters inside Israel itself, and especially on matters of legislation, real change may be afoot.”

Stop Israeli Weapons Killing Global Environmental Activists,

“If Zandberg is interested in participating in the global war against climate change, she must do so by reviving the proposal she boldly promoted in the Knesset for several years: amending the Defense Export Control Law. Only such legislation will ensure that Israeli weapons, training and surveillance systems will no longer reach corrupt and violent regimes around the world that violate human rights, among them those in Brazil, Honduras and Colombia. As long as such undemocratic and corrupt regimes survive with the aid of Israeli or other countries’ weaponry, and enable corporations to continue to plunder valuable natural resources, and as long as these regimes continue to assassinate local environmentalists – it will be impossible to ensure the future of humanity.”

U.S. Politics & Policy

Israel asks U.S. to hold off on reopening Jerusalem consulate,

“Israel Foreign Ministry officials have been lobbying the State Department to hold off on reopening the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to avoid creating difficulties for the new government, Israeli officials tell me. Why it matters: Israel’s new government contains an unstable mix of parties with opposing views, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing the consulate issue to portray the government as weak and unable to stand up to the Biden administration.”

Bennett meets with interim US ambassador to Israel in Jerusalem,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with the US Chargé d’Affaires, or interim ambassador, to Israel, Michael Ratney at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jeruaslem on Wednesday.”

After Israel controversies, Omar says some colleagues ‘not partners in justice’,

“In an interview with CNN, Omar was asked about some of her past comments that were critical of the Jewish state, including a 2012 tweet in which she claimed Israel “hypnotized the world” and another from 2019 implying Jewish money explained American elected officials’ support for Israel. Anchor Jake Tapper asked Omar if she could understand why House Democrats, and particularly Jews, would consider such remarks antisemitic. “I’ve welcomed anytime, you know, my colleagues have asked to have a conversation, to learn from them, for them to learn from me. I think it’s really important for these members to realize they haven’t been partners in justice,” the Minnesota Democrat said. “They haven’t been, you know, equally engaging in seeking justice around the world… I will continue to do that. It is important for me as someone who knows what it feels like to experience injustice in a way my colleagues don’t, to be a voice in finding accountability,” added Omar, who move to the US as a refugee from Somalia. Omar later tweeted: “I know that many of my colleagues — both Jewish and non-Jewish — deeply share [a] commitment to fighting injustice… the Black community and the Jewish community have historically stood side-by-side in the fight against injustice and throughout our history we have faced efforts to divide us based on our differences… we must stand in solidarity.” Pressed again by Tapper on why her Jewish colleagues could see past remarks she has made as antisemitic, Omar said, “I hear that. I have obviously clarified and apologized when I have felt my words have offended.”

"Today I asked @SecBlinken to work with his Israeli counterparts to end the arrest and arbitrary detention of Palestinian journalists.",

“I write to express immense alarm over reports of the Israeli government carrying out arbitrary arrests of journalists in Israel and occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Big Tech, Media, & Free Speech

Announcement of case: 2021-009-FB-UA,

“In May 2021 a Facebook user in Egypt shared a post by a verified Al Jazeera news page about the escalating violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories of Gaza and the West Bank. The Al Jazeera post consists of text in Arabic and a photo. The text states: “‘He Who Warns is Excused’. Al-Qassam Brigades military spokesman threatens the occupation forces if they do not withdraw from Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades are the military wing of Hamas and have been designated as a terrorist group by multiple states, either individually or as part of Hamas.”…Facebook initially removed the user’s post for violating its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations Community Standard. In their appeal the user stated that they had shared the post to update people on the developing crisis and that it was an important issue that more people should be aware of. The user also noted that their post simply shared content from an Al Jazeera page. After the Board asked Facebook to confirm the eligibility of this post for Board review, Facebook identified the removal of this post as an enforcement error and restored the content. The Board chose to proceed with reviewing this case as it continues to raise important questions about Facebook’s policies and enforcement practices.”

Israeli apartheid on campus,

“It would be easy to describe the attacks on university campuses as an exceptional occurrence, in a period of heightened political tensions, but Israeli universities have long been complicit in the victimisation of Palestinians by the Israeli occupation. In the research I conducted between 2013 and 2016 in Israel, I found that Israeli universities systematically discriminate against Palestinian students and communities, engage with the Israeli military industrial complex and fully support the state’s apartheid policies.”

Normalization & News from the Region

Lapid opens Israeli Embassy to UAE,

“Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurated Israel’s embassy to the United Arab Emirates today, saying, “This is a historic moment. And it is a reminder that history is created by people who understand history and are willing to change it, by people who prefer the future over the past.” The minister further noted, “Israel wants peace with its neighbors. With all its neighbors. We aren’t going anywhere. The Middle East is our home and we’re here to stay, so we call on all the countries of the region to recognize that and to talk to us.”

UAE foreign minister: Peace with Israel will grow despite change in government,

“UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed told me in an exclusive interview on Tuesday he is convinced that relations with Israel will continue to move forward regardless of the change of government in Jerusalem. Why it matters: This was the first interview bin Zayed has given to an Israeli journalist. The interview took place on the sidelines of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s visit here, the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the UAE since the signing of the peace treaty between the countries in September. What he’s saying: “I was concerned Israelis are going to go through a phase of looking inwards and wasting the current momentum. But I think Lapid’s first call to anyone was to me,” bin Zayed said.”

Israel FM: Trump's normalisation deals were to prove no need for political process with Palestinians,

“Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate-Prime Minister Yair Lapid said yesterday that former US President Donald Trump pushed for normalisation between Israel and Arabs to prove that there was no need for a political process with Palestinians. During his visit to Abu Dhabi, where he attended the inauguration of the Israeli embassy, Lapid said: “There [under Trump’s administration] was a feeling sometimes that it [normalisation] comes instead of something. Let’s do this to prove that we do not need… to advance on the Palestinian front.”..”In the end, the Palestinians themselves have to want to move forward in order for someone else to come in and help them… That’s not the case right now,” he said of the situation regarding the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.”

Analysis & Opinion

U.S. should back a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,

“It is time to acknowledge that the longstanding approach taken to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the international community has failed and a new one is required. The recent eruption of violence, not only in Gaza and Jerusalem but also between Arab and Jewish communities in Israel, showed why this enduring conflict cannot be ignored and illustrated the need for fresh thinking…President Joe Biden’s administration should seize this moment and work together with the EU, UK and others on a new approach that is consistent with their public commitments to uphold human rights in their foreign policies …. Israelis, Palestinians and their friends abroad with the ability to alter the trajectory in a decisive way should seize this moment of change.” Also See – “Former UN chief says Israeli oppression ‘arguably constitutes apartheid’” (Middle East Eye)

Netanyahu plots comeback,

“Netanyahu is having trouble bidding farewell to the power, authority and perks of office. His family continues to reside in the official prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, after Bennett agreed to delay his move there for a few weeks. Netanyahu is now trying to force the Likud to cover his private expenses, much like his years in government. He does not have a credit card, he only just got a cellphone, he has not driven a car in ages and he has no inkling of how ordinary Israelis manage their daily lives. Evidently, he sees no reason to adapt. Instead, he is running around the country, walking barefoot along the beach in the town of Bat Yam, drawing attention and posing for selfies, basking in the love of his many supporters who also continue to refer to him as “prime minister.” This is one of the toughest hangovers in the annals of Israel’s history…How long his party’s rank and file keep up their support is anyone’s guess. As long as Netanyahu delivered and brought the Likud to power time after time, his hold was assured, but he has now distanced the party from the throne. The asset has become an encumbrance. Senior Likud members have successfully blocked his plan to hold swift primaries in order to lock his hold on the party’s chair. They are organizing behind his back. He can no longer easily push all his whims through the Likud institutions. Chinks have appeared in his one-man rule, the magic has dissipated. Barring a dramatic development fatally undermining the Bennett-Lapid government, Netanyahu’s political future appears murkier than ever.”