Top News from Israel & Palestine: March 2, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Annexation

Hundreds of European lawmakers push for action against Israel's 'de facto annexation',

“More than 400 European parliamentarians have urged leaders to use US President Joe Biden’s new administration as an opportunity to stop what they term Israel’s “de-facto annexation” of territory in the West Bank. According to the French news agency AFP, hundreds of European politicians serving in national legislatures and senates or in the European parliament signed the letter. Addressed to European foreign ministers and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the letter argues that “the Biden administration presents a chance to correct course” in Middle East diplomacy.”

For Second Time, Israeli Settler Filmed Expelling Arab Family Having a Picnic,

“A West Bank settler was filmed trying to eject an Arab family from a public area on Friday, three weeks after being filmed ejecting, with the help of a soldier, an Arab family having a picnic in the same area…On Friday afternoon, four families lighting a campfire were confronted by five settlers who ‘began to say in Arabic, ‘Go home,’’ said a witness who asked to remain anonymous. ‘Suddenly one of them poured water on the campfire and began pushing our plastic chairs with his feet and shouted, ‘get out and go home.’ ‘They had guns. We became extremely anxious and began to look for our children, who were playing nearby,’ she said. The family captured only the end of the incident on camera. In the video, Bar Yosef can be heard telling the group to put out the campfire ‘and get out of here,’ and being told in response: ‘I won’t leave. Don’t use your gun.’”

Palestinian rights organizations call for boycotting Israeli military courts in the occupied territories,

“Several Palestinian rights organizations today held a rally outside the Israeli Ofer military camp and detention center west of Ramallah calling for a boycott of the Israeli military courts. The organizations, which defend the rights of Palestinian political prisoners in Israel, accused the courts of being a tool in the hands of the Israeli occupation authorities to suppress the Palestinian people and do not guarantee a fair trial.”

Israeli forces demolish three Palestinian-owned homes in Masafer Yatta in south of the West Bank,

“Israeli occupation forces today demolished three Palestinian-owned homes in Masafer Yatta in the south of the West Bank, according to a local activist. Fouad Imour, an activist, told WAFA that the soldiers raided Khillet al-Daba hamlet in Masafer Yatta and demolished three homes owned by two brothers under the pretext they were built without a permit. He said Khillet al-Daba is often targeted by the Israeli military in order to empty it of its Palestinian residents for the benefit of its illegal settlement activities.”

Also from WAFA:

Israel sentences senior PFLP member to two years in prison,

“Khalida Jarrar, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was sentenced on Monday to two years in prison after being held in an Israeli jail for more than a year without charges, the Israeli military said on Sunday. ‘The Judea Military Court convicted Khalida Jarrar, by her own confession, of the offense of holding office in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine from 2016 until her arrest in 2019,’ the army said in a statement.” Also see: Israel jails Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar for 2 years (Middle East Monitor)

Israeli navy targets Palestinian fishermen off Gaza shore,

“Israeli navy today targeted Palestinian fishermen sailing off Gaza shore damaging one, reported WAFA correspondent. He said that the fishermen were sailing within three nautical miles into the sea when Israeli naval boats opened gunfire and water hoses towards them, causing damage to a boat. The fishermen had to leave the water and abruptly end their fishing mission, which is their sole source of livelihood. No injuries were reported though.”


Arab who ran over man in Mea She'arim: I was sure they would kill me,

“A driver who ran over and killed a man in Mea Shearim on Sunday night during a demonstration against Shushan Purim restrictions, told police that he was attacked by a haredi crowd causing him to lose control of his minibus. ‘They wanted to kill me because I’m Arab. When I turned onto the street, they started attacking me and throwing rocks at me,’ Ibrahim Hamed said, according to Channel 13 news.”

Can Silwan’s rekindled protests beat back Israel’s eviction threats?,

“With little hope that the courts will stop the settlers’ eviction campaign, one Palestinian activist feels energized by the Israelis joining the neighborhood’s struggle.”

Israel forces Palestinian man near al-Aqsa to demolish his own home,

“The Israeli authorities on Monday forced a Palestinian man to demolish his house in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, according to local reports. Israeli forces stormed Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood that is south of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and ordered resident Nidal Salaymeh to tear down his own home, local sources said. Israeli authorities threatened to destroy Salaymeh’s home themselves and charge him extortionate fees if he had refused, as they have done with other Palestinians.”

Israel demolishes house of disabled Palestinian,

“Israeli occupation forces demolished the house of disabled Palestinian Hatim Hussein Abu Rayala in the Issawiya neighbourhood in the northeast of occupied Jerusalem, Quds Press reported yesterday. Occupation forces raided the Palestinian neighbourhood along with the staff of the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem, surrounded the house and demolished it under the pretext that it was built without the nearly impossible to obtain building licenses. Quds Press said that this was the fourth time Abu Rayala’s house has been demolished, other news sites reported it was the sixth such demolition.”

Amid resistance from Turkey, Kosovo embassy may not be in Jerusalem,

“Kosovo’s prime minister-designate has found himself in a difficult diplomatic position ahead of taking the post following his country’s diplomatic ties with Israel. Albin Kurti of the Self-Determination Movement party, or Vetevendosje!, is expected to be Kosovo’s next prime minister after his party won the February 14 parliamentary election. On Monday, Kurti met with the Turkish ambassador in Pristina, and Kosovo’s decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem was among the topics of discussion.”

Catholic churches condemn settler attacks on Romanian monastery in Jerusalem,

“The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL) condemned repeated Israeli settler attacks against the Romanian church monastery in Jerusalem, the latest was setting fire to the entrance of the monastery of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Musrara, close to the religious Jewish orthodox quarter. The local priest managed to extinguish the fire quickly. Recordings of surveillance cameras showed Orthodox Jewish fundamentalists attempting to set the monastery entrance on fire. ‘This act of vandalism is the fourth in a month that targeted the same monastery; according to the authorities, some religious Orthodox Jews are suspected as the probable assailants,’ ACOHL said in a statement.”


Trump’s $3 billion Abraham Fund may be tapped out before staking a dime,

“Future of opaque initiative meant to back Arab-Israel normalization unclear after political appointee heading it quits and Biden administration appears set to shut spigot.”

US says Israel-Saudi peace still a goal, but Riyadh must respect American values,

“Facilitating peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia is a goal of the United States, but it can only happen in the context of the new terms the Biden administration has laid out for its relationship with Riyadh, said U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday. Speaking at a press conference, Price said the United States is ‘recalibrating,’ not rupturing, its relationship with Saudi Arabia.” Also see: Pompeo: Many in Saudi want to normalise ties with Israel (Middle East Monitor)

Pompeo receives award for combating anti-Semitism, work on Abraham Accords,

“The former U.S. secretary of state was chosen for his ‘exceptional and groundbreaking contributions to the fight against anti-Semitism and religious prejudice of all forms.’”


Palestinian Scene

Barghouti and Qidwa give Abbas ultimatum for accepting electoral list,

“Senior Fatah leaders Marwan Barghouti and Nasser Al-Qidwa have given Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas until 5 March to accept their electoral list, Lebanon’s Al-Akbar reported on Monday. Abbas is also the head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Fatah movement. Barghouti has been in an Israeli prison since 2002, while Al-Qidwa is a cousin of the late Yasser Arafat. According to senior Fatah sources, they have proposed a list to Abbas that includes young people and active Fatah members who have been effectively neutralised by Abbas due to their resistance against the Israeli occupation. The Lebanese newspaper reported the sources as saying that they ruled out that Abbas could cancel the elections or postpone them due to regional and international pressure if he fails to be ready to face Fatah’s main rival, Hamas.”

Free Speech, Lawfare & Weaponization of Definition of “Antisemitism” 

Biden admin ‘enthusiastically embraces’ full IHRA definition of antisemitism,

“Secretary of State Tony Blinken wrote that the Biden administration ‘enthusiastically embraces’ the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, including its full list of examples. In a letter to American Zionist Movement President Richard Heideman obtained by Jewish Insider, Blinken said the administration is ‘eager to work with allies and partners to counter Holocaust distortion and combat anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance abroad while we strengthen our efforts at home.’”

European Commission "Handbook" entrenches controversial IHRA definition of antisemitism ,

“On 7 January 2021, the European Commission released a “Handbook for the practical use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism”. This Handbook entrenches the controversial IHRA definition across many policy areas and facilitates the political instrumentalization of the fight against antisemitism.”