Top News from Israel & Palestine: May 29, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation Watch

Jordan warns Washington, London of ‘unprecedented threat’ of annexation,

“Ayman Safadi spoke with British FM Dominic Raab, urging him to make efforts to “safeguard” peace and prevent Israel from moving forward with the annexation project, the Jordan Times reported…In a conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he said, he expressed Jordan’s strong opposition to the move, which he warned would endanger prospects of peace.

Netanyahu: Israeli cabinet won’t vote on Palestinian statehood,

“Israel’s government won’t vote on the issue of Palestinian statehood or on the entirety of the US Donald Trump’s peace plan, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu told the Hebrew daily Makor Rishon in an interview published Friday. He clarified for the paper, that he planned to solely bring the topic of sovereignty to the cabinet and the Knesset for a vote, as dictated under the terms of his coalition agreement with the Blue and White party led by Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. The paper asked Netanyahu, who has plans to bring the issue of sovereignty to a vote as early as July, ‘would the government decision on sovereignty include the topic of Palestinian statehood?’ Netanyahu answered: ‘That subject is separate. A government decision on the matter is not expected’.”

Netanyahu says Palestinians must ‘consent’ to Israeli security control,

“Netanyahu said that there will only be a Palestinian state if Palestinians agree to Israeli security control, and that Palestinians in to-be annexed areas will not receive Israeli citizenship. ‘They need to acknowledge that we control security in all areas. If they consent to all this, then they will have an entity of their own that President [Donald] Trump defines as a state,u Netanyahu said.”

Settlers argue over Netanyahu’s annexation plan,

“The Trump plan in its current iteration would leave them as isolated enclaves completely surrounded by Palestinian territory. Ne’eman told Al-Monitor that these enclaves are like a frog in the throat, which is impossible to swallow. ‘It is unacceptable to have Jewish settlements, which are home to Israeli citizens, connected to their country by a narrow strip of road, just 10 meters wide, with a Palestinian state on either side of it,’ he said.’Why, then, did they agree to the plan so enthusiastically when it was first released? ‘We thought that in exchange for annexation, Israel had agreed to negotiate with the Palestinians. However, once we were expected to give our approval in advance to the creation of a Palestinian state, we opposed it unequivocally,’ Ne’eman said.”

Annexation is a tool for Netanyahu to delay trial,

“PM has convinced the Israeli public, and especially the settlers, that it isn’t him who is on trial, it’s the whole right-wing bloc, and only the prime minister can save it by triggering annexation of the West Bank”

Netanyahu echoes Ariel Sharon's rules of distraction with his annexation plan,

“Both prime ministers have faced corruption allegations, and both embarked on world-altering policies at the same time”

Palestinian Politics

Despite cut in ties, PA officials said to meet with IDF for security talks,

“Senior Palestinian officials reportedly met with IDF officers this week to discuss security arrangements, despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority recently publicly announced that it had cut off all ties with Israel and was no longer bound by agreements with it. According to a report by the Walla news site, the meetings took place at the instigation of the PA out of concern that a flare-up of violence on the ground could harm its ability to govern…While Israeli security officials have confirmed the PA has ended security cooperation, Channel 13 reported earlier this week that Ramallah had sent messages to Israel saying it would not allow terror attacks against Israelis or a mass popular uprising.”

Abbas’ decision to cut ties with Israel will weaken PA, boost PLO,

“PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi agrees that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement on May 20 means a shift toward the PLO, but feels that the latter needs to be reformed and revitalized. ‘That’s been the plan of the Palestine National Council and Palestine Central Council for some time. But this needs the reform and revitalization of the PLO and its institutions, including elections, and a readjustment of its relationship to the Palestinian Authority.’ Ashrawi noted that a “lot has to be done if the political and representative mandate of the PLO is to be fully exercised to lead to national liberation and sovereignty.'”

A look into the Palestinian Authority's security services,

“As part of the Oslo Accords, the newly formed Palestinian Authority was permitted to recruit and establish security forces to police the territories under its control. The PA was not allowed to have an army and the newly formed security forces were limited in size, the kinds of weapons they possess, and the scope of their authority.”

Occupation & Human Rights

Palestinians angered over prayer restrictions at Cave of the Patriarchs,

“The PA accused Israel of deliberately infringing on religious freedoms by applying restrictions, with the Palestinian WAFA news claiming that the ‘Israeli occupation forces’ stopped Palestinians from attending morning prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs (known in Arabic as the Ibrahimi Mosque). Israel said that the restrictions were placed on public gatherings in a bid to stop the further spread of coronavirus in the area. The report also noted that IDF forces have allegedly set up checkpoints and inspection areas along roads leading to the religious site, preventing groups of more than 50 people from entering the prayer space.”

Palestinian journalist says Associated Press fired him over row with PA,

“Palestinian journalists are standing together in solidarity after one of their colleagues, Eyad Hamad, a veteran cameraman for the Associated Press (AP), was fired from his post. Hamad, 63, told journalists and activists on Wednesday night that he had received a call from the AP office in Jerusalem letting him know that he was being terminated. Hamad, a resident of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, claimed that he was fired after Palestinian Authority (PA) officials filed a complaint against him to his superiors at AP over a personal conflict between him and Palestinian police spokesperson Luay Zreiqat, among other issues. Zreiqat allegedly threatened Hamad numerous times in recent weeks after the journalist kicked him out of a Whatsapp group for local journalists. The conflict appears to have been exacerbated when Hamad openly criticised the PA for the arrest last week of Anas Hawari, a reporter for the Hamas-affiliated Quds News Network.”

Palestinians worry for livelihoods as COVID-19 cripples blockaded Gaza,

“For Palestinians in Gaza like Mousa, the coronavirus crisis has led to a steep deterioration in an already-low quality of life. And unfortunately, it is only expected to get worse…According to a Palestinian Federation of Industries (PFI) report on the pandemic’s impact on industry in Gaza, 641 out of 1,865 factories have closed down, and 12,555 workers have lost their jobs since March. Six of the 11 sectors mentioned in the report are suffering great losses, including in construction, aluminum, metal and engineering, solar energy, lumber, and leather.”