Top News from Israel & Palestine: March 22, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Annexation

Palestinian Hamlet Embodies Fight for the West Bank’s Future,

“Israel suspended a decision to annex a section of the territory last year, but its military still exerts tight control over Palestinians in the area.”

Symbiosis between state and settler attacks,

“Opinion: In attempt to drive them out of their homes, Israel is hounding underprivileged Palestinian farmers who have given up filing complaints, having learned from experience that they get no protection from Israeli police.”

Only 4% of Gaza household have access to safe water,

“A recent study has found that only four per cent of households in the Gaza Strip have access to safe water, compared with 39.5 per cent in the rest of Palestine. According to a study released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Palestinian Water Authority yesterday and reported by the Wafa news agency, 66.2 per cent of Palestinian households in the occupied West Bank have access to safe water. The report also found that the daily allocation of water per capita is less than the internationally recommended rate, adding that it is decreasing.”

Ireland approves funding of $21m to UNRWA,

“The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs has announced a three-year contribution towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Ireland will be donating €6 million ($7 million) per year to the agency between 2021 and 2023, intended to be what the Irish government has described as ‘development needs of refugees across UNRWA’s fields of operation in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.’”

Unprecedented ruling helps Palestinian collaborators sue PA for torture,

“Hundreds of Palestinians who were tortured by the Palestinian Authority for collaborating with Israel could soon find it far easier to file lawsuits against it and seek compensation. In an unprecedented ruling, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that such lawsuits will henceforth require a far less expensive court fee, similar to the fee for lawsuits seeking compensation for acts of terror.”

A Tale of Two Elections

Palestinians and Israelis Both Vote Soon. The Differences Are Stark.,

“Many Israelis feel numbed by their endless election cycle. Many Palestinians are excited about a rare chance to vote — but others expect little change without statehood.”

East Jerusalem's Palestinians torn between two elections,

“Even if they pay their taxes to Israel, east Jerusalem’s Palestinians will be barred from voting in Tuesday’s election because the Jewish state does not consider them as citizens. Israel, which sees the Holy City as its undivided capital, annexed east Jerusalem in 1967 and views the estimated 300,000 Palestinians who live there as mere residents. These Palestinians have social rights, access to health care and resident’s cards, but no passports. They can only vote for municipal councillors but not in national elections – unless they break a taboo and obtain Israeli citizenship. But by doing so they forfeit the right to vote in Palestinian polls. With Israel’s fourth election in under two years due on March 23 and the first Palestinian polls in 15 years planned for later this year, the focus is again on the complex situation faced by these Palestinians.”

Israeli Elections - News & Analysis

A day before elections, Netanyahu backs further legalization of West Bank outposts,

“A day before national elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new neighborhood in a West Bank settlement and says his Likud party supports the legalization of unrecognized outposts. ‘We support the regulation of the young settlement movement communities,’ Netanyahu said at the ceremony in Revava, employing common terminology used by pro-settler groups for the legalization of outposts. ‘Why didn’t we pass the entire regulation? Because we were in a rotation [government]. We didn’t have 61 [Knesset seats]. Now we can change that.’” Also see: Netanyahu hammered by Bennett, Sa’ar for broken promises on settlements (Jerusalem Post); Netanyahu’s promises on Judea and Samaria – should we believe them again? (Arutz Sheva)

West Bank to be put under lockdown during elections, Passover - IDF,

“A lockdown will be put in place in the West Bank and all border passes will be closed during Election Day on Tuesday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced early Monday morning. The lockdown is expected to be lifted on midnight Tuesday, subject to approval by the IDF.  Another lockdown will be imposed on Passover eve, between midnight Friday and midnight Saturday. The announcement noted that specific approvals to move between Israel and the West Bank will be given in specific cases, such as urgent medical need.”

Kahanism doesn’t need a seat in the Knesset,

“Israelis may fear the racist Itamar Ben-Gvir could enter the Knesset next week, but the government has been carrying out his vision just fine without him.”

It’s Not Netanyahu, Stupid: What This Israeli Election Is Really About,

“The electorate’s greatest divide between left, right and center remains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a defining, polarizing issue: 84 percent of all self-defined left-wingers (Jews and Arabs) in the Israeli-Palestinian joint survey from August 2020 support the two state solution, compared to just 24 percent of right-wingers. Self-defined centrists behave more like the left: a 63 percent majority support the two state solution…Whether campaigns focus on maximalist goals such as annexation, as they did in the first three rounds in 2019 and 2020, or avoid the issue altogether as in the current campaign, the conflict still dominates voters’ political identity. The conflict is the reason moderate right-wing voters won’t cross to other ideological ‘blocs.’”

Interview: Adel Al-Jubeir talks Yemen, Saudi-US relations, human rights and Israel,

“Referring to the states that have normalized ties with Israel, Al-Jubeir said: ‘Those are sovereign decisions that are really up to those countries. What we have said is if that leads to a change in Israel’s position with regards to annexation of Palestinian territory, or if it leads to a softening of Israel’s position with regards to negotiations, then there may be some benefit in it. But as far as the Kingdom is concerned, our position remains that normalization can only come if there’s an agreement on peace.’” Also see: Qatar Joins Saudi in Denying Israel Normalization Plans (Bloomberg)


More Israeli Election News

More Israeli Elections Analysis

Palestinian Elections - News & Analysis

Israel asks Abbas to call off Palestine elections,

“Head of Israel’s Shin Bet Security Agency Nadav Argaman has secretly met with Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas and asked him to call off Palestinian elections, Israeli media reported on Friday. According to a report broadcast by Israeli Channel 13, Argaman met with Abbas in Ramallah over the last two weeks, the Times of Israel revealed. He urged Abbas to cancel the elections if the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas takes part, according to the Times of Israel.”

More Palestinian Elections News

US Scene/Biden Policy

Increase in Americans’ desire to pressure Israel, Gallup poll reveals,

“Americans continue to favor Israel over the Palestinians, yet their support for the Palestinian Authority has increased to 30 percent, according to a Gallup annual World Affairs poll published on Friday. Favorability of Israel remains high, at 75 percent, the poll revealed. The poll also indicated that since 2018, the percentage of Americans wanting more pressure placed on the Palestinians to resolve their conflict with Israel has dropped from 50 percent to 44 percent, while that of Americans wanting more pressure exerted on Israel has increased from 27 percent to 34 percent.”

Challenging Israel’s exceptionalism in American politics (Khaled Elgindy reviews “Except for Palestine”),

“…The alternative to an Israel-centric approach is not one that inordinately favors Palestinians but one based on universal values of freedom, justice, and equality. Hill and Plitnick’s fundamental hope is for American politicians in general and progressives in particular to acknowledge ‘that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights to freedom, justice, equality, safety, and self-determination as everyone else around the world,’ including Israeli Jews. Yet such a reasonable outcome seems almost unthinkable in the context of Israeli exceptionalism and in the absence of a robust policy debate, which has long been stymied by ideological dogmatism and an almost religious commitment to maintaining a ‘bipartisan consensus’ on Israel. If basic fairness is not sufficient motivation, then we should at least endeavor to treat Israel as its founders had envisioned — as ‘a state like any other.’”


With most adults vaccinated, Israel’s large inoculation centers start to close,

“With the vast majority of Israelis age 16 and up already vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, big vaccination centers in the country’s main cities have started to close as the focus shifts to smaller, mobile stations in smaller communities. More than 5.1 million of Israel’s 9.3 million population have received at least one vaccine dose, and over 4.5 million have gotten both shots.”

Palestinians roll out vaccines as virus cases spike,

“Thousands of Palestinian health workers, the elderly, and patients with cancer or kidney disease were set to get Covid-19 vaccines from Sunday as the health ministry ramped up its inoculation campaign. The rollout came days after some 60,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca arrived in the Israeli-occupied West Bank via the Covax scheme of the World Health Organisation. Cases of Covid-19 have spiked in the enclave in recent weeks, sparking a flood of patients hospital officials say they are struggling to treat.” Also see: Palestinians expand vaccination campaign after UN shipment (AP News)



Israelis retaliate against Palestinian minister for ICC move,

“The Israeli domestic security service Shin Bet revoked Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki’s VIP status when he returned to the West Bank from Jordan today, Axios has learned from Israeli officials. Why it matters: According to the officials, the unusual act was retaliation for al-Maliki’s push for an investigation against Israel in the International Criminal Court. The card allows easier movement and access inside the West Bank and at border crossings.” Also see: Israel cancels PA foreign minister’s travel documents after visit to ICC (Times of Israel), Foreign Minister Malki: Contacts with the International Criminal Court will continue despite Israeli obstacles (WAFA)

IDF chief condemns ICC probe, implies judges unfamiliar with terror tactics,

“Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on Sunday condemned the International Criminal Court’s investigation into Israel over alleged war crimes and defended the Israeli military’s conduct… ‘The Hague is living in the old world. In the Middle East, there is a new area of terrorism,’ Kohavi said during a ceremony held at the IDF’s Southern Command which is responsible for security against the Gaza Strip.”