Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 4, 2020

What We’re Reading

Palestinians vs. Annexation

In move seen as ‘nearly suicidal,’ Abbas’s PA refuses tax transfers from Israel,

“The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday said it will no longer accept tax revenue transfers from Israel as it pushes ahead with efforts to void understandings and end coordination with Israel. ‘We assert that we refused and continue to refuse the delivery of the tax revenues in adherence to the decision of the Palestinian leadership that we are absolved of all understandings and agreements with Israel,’  Palestinian Civil Affairs Commission director Hussein al-Sheikh, who is also a member of the Fatah Central Committee, wrote on Twitter. PA government spokesperson Ibrahim Milhim confirmed al-Sheikh’s statement, saying that the PA had rejected its “regular tax transfer” from Israel for May 2020. The Palestinian news agency Maan also quoted Milhim as saying that the PA had rejected the funds after Israel tried to condition them on the revival of coordination. The move is likely to cause widespread economic hardship in the PA, which had to abandon a previous attempt to reject the payments due to severe financial difficulties. In 2019, tax revenues transferred to the Palestinian Authority by Israel accounted for approximately 60 % of the Palestinian budget. Given the instability in international funding during the coronavirus crisis, as well as the drying up of domestic tax revenue, Israeli payments to the PA may account for a much larger share in 2020.” Also See – “Palestinians snub tax handover by Israel over annexation plan” (Reuters); “Israel denies policy change on deducting payouts to Palestinian assailants from PA taxes” (Al-Monitor); “Palestinian Authority rejects $190m Israeli tax payment in annexation plans protest” (Middle East Eye)

Annexation Watch

Settler mayor: If Netanyahu won’t reveal annexation plan, we’ll ‘blow it up’,

“A prominent settler leader told The Times of Israel Wednesday that he and his colleagues are prepared to ‘blow up’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex their towns in the West Bank — if the premier persists in refusing to share a map a joint US-Israeli committee is currently drawing up to delineate the scope of Israeli sovereignty beyond the Green Line. ‘If Netanyahu continues to keep his cards close to his chest on this, we’ll have no choice but to blow it up,’ threatened the West Bank mayor, who asked not to be identified by name. The remarks came just 24 hours after roughly half a dozen members of the Yesha umbrella council of settlement mayors met with Netanyahu to raise their objections to the Trump plan due to its envisioning of a semi-autonomous, non-contiguous Palestinian state being established on roughly 70 percent of the West Bank.”

Netanyahu and settlers clash over West Bank annexation plans,

“On Wednesday, David Elhayani, chairman of the umbrella Yesha Council representing the settlers, told the Haaretz daily that the plan proved Trump was “not a friend of Israel.’ Netanyahu, having just met settler leaders to hear their grievances, lashed back. ‘President Trump is a great friend of Israel’s. He has led historic moves for Israel’s benefit,’ Netanyahu said in a statement Wednesday. ‘It is regrettable that instead of showing gratitude, there are those who are denying his friendship’.”

Israel Police Tell Anti-annexation Activists Not to Promote Protest on Facebook,

“The police are forbidding organizers of a demonstration against Isreal’s alleged plan to annex parts of the West Bank from holding the protest, arguing that it would contravene reinstated coronavirus regulations. They have also asked demonstrators to limit Facebook announcements of upcoming rallies in order to put a damper on the number of participants. At a meeting with the police, they were told that the police would not approve marches due to coronavirus restrictions. However, this is not specified in measures that were announced earlier. Many buses have been organised to bring protesters from all around the country to Saturday’s rally.”

58% of Israelis believe West Bank annexation could lead to a 3rd Palestinian uprising, survey finds,

“Half of the Israeli public supports applying Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, a new survey found, while 58 percent of respondents believe unilateral annexation by Israel could lead to a third Palestinian intifada. Twenty-five prevent of Israelis support annexation with the support of the United States, and the same percentage said they support such a move even without the backing of the Trump administration, according to the Israeli Voice Index monthly survey conducted by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute.”

It's Now Clear: Gantz's Party Isn't Seeking to Stop Netanyahu's Dangerous Moves,

“The farce of the Kahol Lavan party never ends. People who voted for the ‘anyone but Bibi’ party hadn’t yet finished digesting the bitter truth that Benjamin Netanyahu had won another term only thanks to them when they were smacked by the realization that the person who headed this ‘governmental alternative,’ Benny Gantz, has turned out to be Netanyahu’s ideological Siamese twin, even effectively volunteering to serve as coordinator of government activities in the territories during the annexation. And now it turns out that ‘their man’ on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chairman Zvi Hauser – whose Derech Eretz party was part of the Kahol Lavan joint ticket, which promised to stop the dangerous erosion of democracy – is personally pushing Israel down a slippery slope to becoming a race-based state.”

Emirati ambassador: West Bank annexation will make region ‘unstable',

“In an interview with Al-Monitor published yesterday, the United Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al-Otaiba said that Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank will make the region more ‘unstable.’ ‘We think that kind of decision will only take matters and make what is an unstable region at the moment even more unstable,’ Otaiba told Andrew Parasiliti in the On the Middle East podcast.”

Meretz chairman warns against Trump ‘apartheid’ plan in West Bank protest tour,

“The leader of the left-wing Meretz party, Nitzan Horowitz, on Thursday warned against the government’s imminent plan to annex large parts of the West Bank, asserting that the move envisioned by the Trump peace plan would turn Israel into an apartheid state. Speaking to reporters during a Meretz-organized protest tour in the Jordan Valley, Horowitz held up a provisional map of the Trump plan and said, ‘This is an apartheid map. It reminds me of South Africa.’”

The Three Most Commonly Held Misconceptions About Israel's Annexation Plan,

Michael Sfard writes, “The first and most egregious mistake is the claim that annexation will not change anything, since ‘In any event there’s de facto annexation’ and ‘Even without annexation the Palestinians are suffering.’ This view leads to a dangerous leftist mutation: quiet support for annexation, in order to ‘remove the masks.’ The approach is a misapprehension of the implication of applying Israeli law in the West Bank. Annexation will necessarily lead to the massive expropriation, automatic in some cases, of Palestinian land and property, the subsequent expulsion of individuals, families and entire communities from the annexed territories and a dramatic rise in the power of the settlers’ local governments, which today are a weak administrative entity that is controlled by the Israel Defense Forces.”

For the Settlers in the West Bank, It Will Never Be Enough,

Gideon Levy writes, “An iconic photo taken last week tells the whole story: A group of tough men are sitting in a circle, some of them in sandals, some in boots, most of them wearing kippas, one in a jacket. The mafia in action, the gangsters discussing the stolen loot. They are eyeing a map that is spread out on the wooden floor in front of them. Most of the areas on it are colored pink. That’s the occupation map. “Colonialism 2020,” someone tweeted, the settler leaders discussing annexation. Their future never looked so rosy, just like the lands on the map, but they are resentful. That’s how they always are. The robbed Cossack that’s never satisfied. That’s the occupation lust and real estate greed that can never get enough, along with their constant cynical manipulation, their resentment. For all their manipulations, they still complain. For 50 years they’ve been complaining about all Israeli governments, blackmailing all of them nearly equally. The resentment works for them; few prime ministers could resist yielding to it. Now it’s Netanyahu’s turn. That photo was also a picture of pure apartheid. The white ranchers divvying up the skin of the bear they’ve hunted that doesn’t belong to them. Most of the residents of those rose-colored lands will never be asked what they think, but Israeli propaganda won’t call that apartheid. Is there more proof than that picture that apartheid has won? Where are the Palestinians? Aren’t they human beings?”

Occupation & Human Rights

East Jerusalem Palestinians Say Right-wing Group Using Land Trust to Displace Them,

“Dozens of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood have petitioned the High Court of Justice, claiming that the right-wing Ateret Cohanim organization is using a land trust to overtake property there that houses 700 Palestinians, some of whom are facing eviction. According to the petition, the Charitable Trust Registrar helped the organization acquire control over a historic land trust (hekdesh) in the Batan al-Hawa section of Silwan, which had been founded in Jerusalem 120 years ago to benefit the city’s poor. This control has made Ateret Cohanim the de facto owner of the land and in August the eviction of several Palestinian families is expected to begin. “

HaMoked to the HCJ: Dismantle 6 kilometers of the Separation Barrier in the West Bank,

“As the Israeli government prepares to annex parts of the West Bank as part of President Trump’s “deal of the century,” seven farmers from the villages of Qaffin, Nazlat’ Isa and Akkabah, in the northwest of the West Bank, petition Israel’s High Court of Justice to dismantle a section of the separation barrier built about 15 years ago. This is the first petition in a decade to challenge the route of the barrier. While most previous petitions addressed planned sections and the possible future harm to Palestinian life, this petition relates to an existing section of the barrier with proven severely negative effects on the lives and livelihoods of residents of the adjacent villages.”

Israeli Legislator Invokes Nation-state Law in Bid to Block Palestinian Family Unification,

“The head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has cited the so-called nation-state law to call on the government to bar Palestinians from moving to Israel to be united with relatives. The attempt Tuesday by committee chief Zvi Hauser is the first of its kind to rely on the 2018 Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. Up to now, family-unifications have been declined only based on security considerations…By a 41-13 margin overnight Monday into Tuesday, the Knesset voted to extend application of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law by a year to bar some Palestinians from moving to Israel to live with relatives.”

Israeli Soldiers Committed Hate Crime Against Palestinians to Avenge Friends' Death. Their Commanders Covered It Up,

“A team of reconnaissance fighters from the Israel Defense Forces Golani Brigade committed a hate crime against Palestinians in a Nablus refugee camp, but their commanders decided not to punish the troops involved. A Haaretz investigative report about the incident shows that when the information about what transpired reached senior officers in the infantry brigade, including its commander, it was decided to cover up the whole episode. The top IDF brass only learned what happened after Haaretz sought a response from them – more than two years after the fact.”

Jerusalem Beneath the Surface: Archaeology in the Service of Politics,

The reality around Jerusalem’s historic sites is complicated by the multiplicity of private and government players with varying responsibilities. It makes any objection to projects an extremely complex bureaucratic process. We, in Emek Shaveh, often find ourselves trying to explain the intricate map of interests and players at key historic sites. To make this information more accessible we are pleased to offer you this interactive political and historical map of Jerusalem. The map features two separate, but related, layers. The historical layers present the wealth of historical periods and the history of Jerusalem’s monuments and sites over the centuries. The other layer maps the central private and governmental bodies currently managing and operating major archaeological sites in the Historic Basin.”

‘Iyad was the flower of the family. They cut him down too early’,

“Iyad al-Hallaq had waited to return to school ‘with bated breath,’ said his sister, Diana al-Hallaq. During the coronavirus outbreak, the Elwyn school for children and adults with special needs, where Iyad studied, was shut down. Iyad, a 32-year-old Palestinian man with autism, cried because he wanted to study, and their mother had to explain to him over and again that the school was closed. When he was still not convinced, their mother took him there twice to show him, explained Diana. ‘Our mother felt he was different [from a young age],’ said Diana. ‘The moment we understood that he has autism, my mother loved him even more. She believes in God, and she saw Iyad as an angel who was sent to her from heaven to protect us and her.'”


Knesset postpones debates as Joint List MK contracts coronavirus,

“The Knesset officials have postponed all debates after Joint List MK Sami Abu Shehadeh tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday night. Shehadeh entered self-isolation on Monday after his personal driver tested positive for COVID-19. His party members from the Balad faction, which makes up the political alliance of predominantly Arab parties, have also all entered quarantine.”