Top News from Israel & Palestine: March 16, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Annexation

West Bank demolitions and displacement: An Overview (Feb 2021),

“In February, the Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 153 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem: this is the fourth highest such figure recorded in a single month since OCHA began systematically documenting this practice in 2009, surpassed only by November 2020 (178), February (237) and March 2016 (179). This month’s incidents resulted in the displacement of 305 people, including 172 children, and affected the livelihoods or access to services of 435 others. With the exception of two structures in Tura al Gharbiya (Jenin), demolished or damaged on punitive grounds, all the structures targeted were located in Area C or East Jerusalem and were demolished due to a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. So far in 2021, the monthly average of structures targeted (117) represents a 65 per cent increase compared with the monthly average in 2020 (71).”

IDF troops shoot two suspected of firebombing West Bank settlement,

“Israeli troops shot two people who threw firebombs at homes in the West Bank settlement of Beit El on Monday night, the military said. Israel Defense Forces soldiers spotted three suspects tossing the firebombs and fired at them, hitting two, the IDF said in a statement.” Also see: Israeli forces fire at Palestinian refugees in Ramallah camp (The New Arab)

Settlers work on Palestinian land in Masafer Yatta in a step to take it over (WAFA),

“Israeli settlers today worked on Palestinian-owned land in Masafer Yatta in the south of the West Bank in an attempt to take over the land, according to Fouad al-Imour, a local activist. He told WAFA that settlers from the illegal settlements of Maon and Karmiel, and under army protection, razed agricultural lands in al-Oyoun al-Beed of Masafer Yatta and owned by three local families in order to take them over to expand their settlements and connect them together.”

More from WAFA:

Settlements/Annexation & Israeli Elections

Netanyahu promises to legalise West Bank outposts if re-elected,

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to legalise West Bank settler outposts if he is re-elected in the upcoming elections slated for 23 March, reported the Jerusalem Post. He made the announcement during a visit to the illegal Givat Harel outpost in the occupied West Bank, pointing to 160 illegal West Bank outposts, of which 65 were constructed in the last eight years during his tenure. He said: ‘I swear to you: If I create a strong right-wing government without a rotation, I will take care of the settlements and the authorisation of the young settlements [outposts].’”

Settlers enter evacuated settlement, demand to resettle,

“Dozens of families on Tuesday entered the evacuated settlement of Sa-Nur in the northern part of the West Bank, demanding to resettle it. Sa-Nur was evacuated in 2005 under the Israeli government’s orders as part of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip that included the evacuation of three settlements on the West Bank. An earlier attempt to settle the abandoned community, in November of 2020 ended with an agreement reached with the military authorities, to evacuate the area.” Also see: Settlers challenge Netanyahu to prove he’s right-wing w/ Sa-Nur standoff (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinians lambast Netanyahu's visit to archaeological site near settler outpost,

“Palestine’s foreign affairs ministry on Monday condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the ancient site of Khirbet Susiya, south of the occupied West Bank, to boost his election campaign among settlers. Netanyahu’s visit to Susiya was to inaugurate an archaeological site that belongs to an Israeli Jewish settlement in the area.”

Biden Policy

US Policy Ignores Palestinian Human Rights,

“The best this administration has so far offered the Palestinians was the reiteration of a vague commitment to “a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.” But this remains hollow as long as it fails to address the complete and abusive control Israel exercises over Palestinians and their land, and the US refuses to apply pressure to end these Israeli abuses. Even more telling was a policy address on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict delivered by a US Ambassador at a recent meeting of the UN Security Council. It was so Israel-centric that any acknowledgment of Palestinian concerns were either accompanied by caveats or framed in terms of Israel’s interests.”


Settler head urges vaccinating Palestinians, paid for by tax revenues sent to PA,

“A prominent settler leader on Monday called on Israel to vaccinate Palestinians in the West Bank and pay for it by deducting the cost from the tax revenues Jerusalem transfers to Ramallah. The statement from David Elhayani, who chairs the Yesha umbrella council of settler mayors, followed a meeting he held in his office at the Jordan Valley Regional Council with Muhammad Arif Masad, an anti-Palestinian Authority activist who heads a union representing Palestinian workers in Israel and the settlements…Masad has become a marginalized figure among Palestinians in the West Bank due to his willingness to cooperate not just with Israelis within the Green Line but with settler leaders as well.”

Israel Vaccinated Over 50,000 Palestinians With Israeli Work Permits Against COVID,

“Over 50,000 Palestinians with permits to work in Israel and West Bank settlements have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to a joint statement by the Israeli Health Ministry and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) released last Thursday.”

More COVID headlines:


Kushner: near to normalising ties with Israel,

“Jared Kushner, envoy to the Middle East of former US President Donald Trump, has said that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Mauritania are on the brink of normalising ties with Israel. In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, he wrote: ‘We are witnessing the last vestiges of what has been known as the Arab-Israeli conflict.’” Also see: Saudi Arabia-Israel normalisaton is ‘in sight’, says Jared Kushner (Middle East Eye)

Arab Parliament, Jordan condemn opening of Czech Jerusalem office,

“The Arab Parliament condemned Czech Republic’s opening of an embassy in Jerusalem, saying the decision is against the international law and violates the rights of Palestinians, state news agency Petra reported. Speaker of the Parliament Adel Assomi called on the ‘government and parliament of the Czech Republic to not follow through with this illegal action that runs counter to the international legitimacy.’ Jordan’s foreign ministry has also expressed its condemnation to Czech Republic’s decision, describing it as a flagrant violation of international law.”

Netanyahu: UAE crown prince to invest $12m in Israel,

“Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ‘volunteered’ to invest over $12 million in Israel. In an interview with the Israeli army radio, Netanyahu said Abu Dhabi’s crown prince told him that he ‘wants to be a partner in projects which could enhance Israel’s economy after the coronavirus [pandemic].’”

Palestinian Scene/Elections

PA will never backtrack from general elections,

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) will never backtrack from heading to general elections because they are democratic and popular rights, PA spokesperson Nabil Abu-Rudieneh said yesterday. Speaking to Voice of Palestine radio, he reiterated the position of PA President Mahmoud Abbas which was declared through the presidential decrees related to elections. Meanwhile, he reiterated that the Fatah Movement insists on running for the elections on one united list, adding that it hoped that the outcome of the election will meet the needs and desires of the Palestinian people.”

Also see:

Israeli Scene/Elections

Israel's Left-wing Camp Didn't Shrink. New Poll Finds What Happened to Its Voters,

“…a new poll by the Midgam polling company, which was commissioned by the left-wing Geneva Initiative, shows that the left hasn’t actually shrunk. Rather, many leftists have prioritized ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and decided that the best way to do so is to vote for rightist parties. As a result, these strategic voters may end up enabling rightist parties to promote an agenda that contradicts their own worldview. If the polls are accurate about the size of rightist parties’ majority, they would be able to promote diplomatic, economic and social policies suited to their ideology relatively easily, while center-left parties wouldn’t be able to do much to stop them.” Also see: ‘If We Don’t Pass, There Won’t Be a Left in the Knesset’ (Haaretz)

Surprised Netanyahu's Supporters Are After You Now?,

“…it’s hard to avoid feeling that there’s a non-negligible degree of hypocrisy in the shock they felt when an egg was thrown at a New Hope activist during the rally. It’s impossible not to ask where they were when the well-oiled incitement machines targeted Arabs, leftists, asylum seekers, human rights organizations (B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence) and the media, as well as the police commissioner, the attorney general and other law enforcement officials. Where were they when the protesters outside the prime minister’s residence were attacked by Netanyahu supporters?”

Lawfare/Attacks on Civil Society & Free Speech (and Pushback)

New antisemitism definition does not include most criticism of Israel or Zionism,

“A task force promoted by leading liberal Jewish leaders released a new working definition of antisemitism on Monday that challenges the one being promoted by Jewish establishment groups. The definition states that most criticism of Israel and Zionism is not antisemitic.”

Israel to push for UN adoption of IRHA definition of anti-Semitism,

“Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan is promoting an initiative that would see the international body adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism…He said, ‘The UN’s adoption of the official definition can limit some of the incitement against Israel at the UN that some of the member-states have grown accustomed to and will also better equip all UN to fight anti-Semitism.’”

Congressman Asks Attorney General, Secretary Of Treasury To Investigate Funds Raised By Left-Wing Charity Platform, Citing Terror Concerns,

“Republican Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking them to investigate whether funds raised by the left-wing fundraising platform ActBlue could have trickled down into the pockets of designated terror groups…The congressman’s letter comes after a February 2021 letter from the Zachor Legal Institute obtained by the Caller, which called upon ActBlue to look more thoroughly into groups they host, especially one called the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.” [For more on this letter, see last week’s edition of FMEP’s Legislative Round-Up].