Top News from Israel & Palestine: March 18, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Annexation

‘The settler bashed my head with a pipe, and everything went dark’,

“A family picnic in the South Hebron Hills turned bloody last week after a settler beat Said Abu Aliyan with a metal pipe, sending him to the hospital.”

Israel to displace 1,550 Palestinian to build park in Jerusalem,

“More than 100 Palestinian homes face demolition and about 1,550 residents, including more than 800 children, will be made homeless at the hands of Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality, Arab48 reported yesterday. This comes as the Israeli municipality cancelled all agreements with the Palestinian residents of the Silwan neighbourhood.” Also see: Haaretz lead editorial – Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon, Stop the Bulldozers

After plans to demolish 100 homes in East Jerusalem, more Palestinian homes under threat of demolition by Israel,

“As plans loom for the demolition of an entire area that includes 100 houses in occupied East Jerusalem, at least eight more Palestinian-owned homes in the occupied city are facing an imminent threat of demolition by the Israeli municipality under the pretext of construction without a permit, today said different sources In Silwan neighborhood…Seven people live in the two homes, including three children, he said, adding that the Israeli municipality also informed four other households in Silwan that they should empty their homes in preparation for their demolition under the pretext of construction without a permit. The Israeli municipality also plans to demolish 100 homes in al-Bustan section of Silwan, which means displacing their 1550 Palestinian residents, more than 60 percent of them are children under the age of 18. In Isawiyya, another East Jerusalem neighborhood, local sources said the Israeli municipality posted demolition orders on two Palestinian-owned houses in the neighborhood under the pretext of construction without a permit.”

Biden Policy

'The National' obtains US official document for Palestinian ‘reset’,

“The US administration is looking to ‘reset’ relations with the Palestinians with a plan that includes $15 million in Covid-19 assistance and a rollback of several Trump administration positions that favoured Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and did not prioritise the two-state solution, an internal memo reveals.”

What Each of Israel's Election Night Scenarios Will Mean for Working Ties With Biden,

“Experts discuss how the coalitions that could emerge after Tuesday’s election, from an extreme right-wing government led by Netanyahu to a more moderate one without him, would impact U.S.-Israel relations.” [including FMEP’s Lara Friedman on the mainstreaming of Kahanism in Israeli politics]

The Next Big Battle in U.S. Jewish Politics: Who Will Be Biden's Antisemitism Envoy,

“The internal battle within the Jewish community concerning the Biden administration’s appointment of the next Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is heating up – particularly between an increasingly emboldened left-wing camp and more traditional establishment figures…Central to the envoy’s portfolio will be whether the appointee embraces the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism and its attached examples. Establishment figures are hopeful that the envoy will rely on the definition in some form, especially after Blinken has said the administration “enthusiastically embraces” this definition, despite widespread concerns among progressives that it conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism.”

PA Prime Minister: Biden and Abbas to speak 'in the near future',

“Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday evening that US President Joe Biden will speak to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas via telephone ‘in the near future.’ ‘Numerous contacts were made with the American administration, and many files were discussed, and it was emphasized that the Palestinian issue should be present on the American docket,’ Shtayyeh told Palestinian news site Dunya al-Watan.”

Jordan counts on support from Biden as it pushes back against Netanyahu,

“When Jordan sabotaged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s triumphant pre-election trip to the United Arab Emirates last week, analysts say, it was sending him a message: stop marginalizing us. The Hashemite kingdom — which kept a low profile during the term of former US president Donald Trump, a close Netanyahu ally — now believes the winds have shifted and Joe Biden will show a more balanced approach.”

UNESCO chief set for new term, eyes U.S. return: official,

“Most of its activities are uncontroversial, but issues such as resolutions about how religious sites should be run in Jerusalem have been highly charged and the United States quit over accusations of anti-Israeli bias by the body. The official told Reuters that the signals from the new U.S. administration were positive and that the objective was to make progress on the issue over the coming months. UNESCO has had to fill a gaping financial hole. The United States left with $542 million in arrears. A U.S. return, done through a letter informing the body, would also mean that Washington would repay its arrears at some stage. Things may still prove complicated given a U.S. law that forbids Washington from funding U.N. bodies that have admitted Palestine as a full member, although a waiver can be sought.”


Covid-19: West Bank hospitals inundated while Israel tosses surplus vaccines,

“Palestinians describe scenes in hospitals reminiscent of ‘war zones’, calling out both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for inaction in the occupied territory.”

Covid-19: West Bank receives first Covax vaccine doses,

“World Health Organisation’s vaccine-sharing initiative adds 62,000 doses to the occupied West Bank’s struggling inoculation programme.”


Israel said to receive formal letter from ICC informing of war crimes probe,

“Israel has received a letter from the International Criminal Court formally detailing the scope of its war crimes investigation against Israel and Palestinian terror groups, Channel 13 reported Wednesday. According to the report, the letter arrived over the weekend and the National Security Council has already met to begin formulating Israel’s response. The report said the one-and-a-half page letter briefly laid out the three main areas the probe intends to cover: the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas; Israeli settlement policy; and the 2018 Great March of Return protests, a series of violent demonstrations along Gaza’s border with Israel that left dozens of Palestinians dead.” Also see: “Rivlin urges France to oppose ICC’s ‘legally, morally bankrupt’ war crimes probe” (Times of Israel)

Strategic Affairs Ministry unveils website to fight ICC jurisdiction,

“The Strategic Affairs Ministry on Thursday unveiled a new website dedicated to presenting Israel’s position against International Criminal Court jurisdiction over IDF conduct or settlement-related issues. The website features interviews with leading international law experts in Israel and various other countries supporting Jerusalem’s claims that the ICC lacks jurisdiction over Israelis.”

Palestinian Scene/Elections

The Israeli and Palestinian elections offend democracy – each in their own way,

“The tale of these two elections is not of democracy but of giving the veneer of legitimacy to a system that maintains the supremacy and domination of one people over another. In this reality, Palestinians are stripped of sovereignty and the agency to shape their lives, their futures and the ability to challenge this oppression. This system cannot offer true democracy and as such it must be dismantled. A new social contract must be built where every person can practise true self-determination and is free and equal.”

Back to democracy: Europe, Hamas, and the Palestinian elections,

“At a time when the Oslo peace process has run aground and there is almost no realistic prospect of a return to a two-state solution, it would be a significant achievement to bring Hamas into a nonviolent political strategy for resolving the conflict with Israel and ensuring its respect for democratic rules and international law. In doing so, the EU would help create the basis for a sustainable political agreement with Israel underpinned by cross-factional and Palestinian public support. While the path ahead will not be easy, working to back successful elections and secure a positive post-election political environment would be a wise investment of the EU’s political capital.”

Abbas rival Dahlan says president failed Palestinians,

“Mohammed Dahlan, a former top Palestinian official exiled in the United Arab Emirates, branded his rival president Mahmoud Abbas a failed leader in an interview Wednesday ahead of Palestinian elections. Speaking to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya channel, the Gaza-born Dahlan did not announce his candidacy to replace Abbas but voiced his commitment towards the ‘governing of the Palestinian people’.” Also see: Mohammed Dahlan hints he may run in PA presidential election (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian elections: The resurrection of Salam Fayyad,

“The former prime minister’s candidacy highlights a power contest involving Israel, the West, and competing PA and Fatah figures.”

Israeli Scene/Elections

Israel’s upcoming election: Where did the occupation go?,

“While these parties have strikingly different attitudes towards Netanyahu, there are no discernible differences among them on issues that actually matter – the occupation and the state of the Israeli democracy. In their electoral campaigns, these parties all but completely ignored the most fundamental problems facing Israel today. In fact, even most of the centrist and left-wing parties chose to sweep these issues under the carpet in their efforts to expand their base and oust Netanyahu from power.”

UAE said to shelve plans for Israel-US summit amid anger at PM’s electioneering,

“The United Arab Emirates has reportedly suspended plans for a summit at which it was to host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, senior US officials and the heads of Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel, amid a diplomatic tiff over the Israeli premier’s attempted use of Abu Dhabi as a stop on the campaign trail.”

Also see:

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

Amsterdam Mayor Accuses Netanyahu of Hurting the Fight Against Antisemitism,

“Femke Halsema, a former leader of the Green Left party, criticized Netanyahu’s recent statement that the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court has made ‘antisemitic edicts’ when the court decided last year that it had jurisdiction to prosecute Israelis for alleged war crimes in Gaza in 2014. ‘If someone says for political gain that a legal investigation by the International Criminal Court of a state actor in Gaza is antisemitism, then you deeply undervalue the meaning [of] antisemitism and the dark outcomes of antisemitism nowadays and in history,’ Halsema said Tuesday during her video address in the Mayors Summit Against Anti-Semitism, a virtual conference hosted by the German city of Frankfurt with the U.S.-based Combat Anti-Semitism Movement.”

UCLA can shield Palestinian advocates names, judge rules,

“UCLA can continue to shield the identities of Palestinian rights activists to protect them from harassment and guard their constitutional rights to freedom of association, privacy and speech, a Los Angeles judge has ruled in a case that drew national attention to the volatile battles at college campuses over the Mideast conflict. Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant denied a request by a New York attorney to order the disclosure of the names of 64 presenters at a 2018 conference sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA. The attorney, David Abrams of the Zionist Advocacy Center, said in court filings that he wanted the information for research into ‘anti-Israel terrorists’ and was entitled to it under the California Public Records Act. But the University of California, in its legal filings, said an internal investigation by UCLA police had concluded none of the speakers were terrorists and argued that disclosing their identities would subject them to harassment and undermine the university’s mission to promote free speech and academic inquiry.”