Top News from Israel & Palestine: May 3, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights -- Jerusalem

What is happening in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah?,

“Dozens of Palestinians are facing imminent dispossession from their homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in what they say is a move to force them out and replace it entirely with a Jewish settlement. The Jerusalem District Court ruled at least six families must vacate their homes in Sheikh Jarrah on Sunday, despite living there for generations. The same court ruled seven other families should leave their homes by August 1. In total, 58 people, including 17 children, are set to be forcibly displaced to make way for Jewish settlers.”


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Israel demolished 58 Palestinian facilities, built 5,000 settlement units in Jerusalem so far this year,

“Israel has demolished 31 homes and 27 Palestinian facilities after plans to construct 4,982 new settlement units were approved, since the beginning of this year, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in statement. During the past four months, Israel has escalated its policy of demolishing Palestinian homes and facilities and removing Palestinians from their neighborhoods, while building thousands of settlement units in East Jerusalem. Such a conduct aims to  perpetuate racial discrimination and eliminate the Palestinian Arab presence in the city.”

Israeli settler’s attempt to justify forcible takeover of a Palestinian home sparks online anger,

“‘If I don’t steal it, someone else is going to steal it.’ An Israeli settler’s attempt to justify a forcible takeover of a Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem has sparked anger online after it was caught on camera.” [including video]

Israeli security guard filmed beating Palestinian man in East Jerusalem,

“An Israeli security guard stationed outside a Jewish home has been filmed beating up an Arab resident of the Palestinian-majority East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. A video, published last Thursday by Palestinian media, is said to depict a security guard employed through the Construction and Housing Ministry restraining and punching a man — who reportedly has an unspecified disability — several times in the head and face.”

Israel blocks some Christians from Holy Fire ceremony,

“Israel on Saturday prevented some Orthodox Christians from attending the Holy Fire ceremony at Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Anadolu Agency reported. Orthodox Christians, including priests, seeking to attend the ceremony flocked to the church — one of the most sacred Christian sites in the world — in East Jerusalem, but were blocked by police in the narrow streets leading to the church.”


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Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights -- West Bank

3 Israelis wounded in West Bank shooting ambush,

“Gunmen in a passing car opened fire at Israelis standing at a major intersection in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Sunday, injuring three of them, according to rescue officials and the military. The assailants escaped in a car with Palestinian license plates, news reports said. The military said troops fired towards the car. Security forces immediately launched a search for the attackers.”


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Israeli settlers attack Palestinian village after shooting,

“Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank overnight, setting brush fires and hurling stones, Palestinian officials and an Israeli rights group said Monday. It appeared to be a revenge attack after three Israelis were wounded in a drive-by shooting at a nearby traffic junction on Sunday. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said dozens of settlers attacked the village of Jaloud. It circulated videos showing the fires, with people shouting in the background. Israeli security forces arrested 11 Palestinians and four people were wounded by rubber bullets, B’Tselem said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, provided a similar account, saying the villagers had come out to defend the village after the settlers attacked.”


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Spurred on by shooting, Evyatar community retakes hilltop,

“In response to the shooting at Tapuach junction in which three Yeshiva students from Itamar were injured, a group of families and youths seized a nearby hill to begin immediate construction on a new neighborhood. Under the cover of darkness, tents, houses, sanitation facilities, and a synagogue were built on the site. The nascent town was named Evyatar, in memory of Evyatar Borovsky who was killed in a stabbing, also at Tapuach junction, on May 20, 2013. The residents have called on the government to grant immediate legitimization to their efforts. The hill controls the road into the Jordan Valley from Tapuach junction and was chosen for this reason.”

Palestinian woman tries to stab soldiers in West Bank, is shot dead — IDF,

“Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian woman brandishing a knife who tried to carry out a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, the Israel Defense Forces said Sunday. The incident came amid rising tensions over the postponement of Palestinian elections, as well as unrest surrounding the holy month of Ramadan. The woman, a 60-year-old resident of the nearby village of Husan, approached a group of soldiers with a knife in her hand and tried to stab the troops, the military said.”


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Israel builds more settlement units in West Bank,

“Israeli occupation authorities have started building 164 new settlement units in the Neve Daniel settlement built on Palestinian lands in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Al-Ayyam newspaper reported on Friday. At the same time, the Israeli occupation settlers cut the water pipe in the town of Qaryout, south of Nablus, and assaulted a Palestinian shepherd in Jenin.”

Palestinian fears rise as settlers visit synagogue ruins in Jericho,

“Israeli settlers have been increasing their visits to the ruins of the ancient Naaran and Shahwan synagogues in the Jericho area in the West Bank and also performing rituals in them, sparking Palestinian fears about Israeli intentions for the region.”

Report: Captive Markets, Captive Lives | Palestinian Workers in Israeli Settlements,

“The report ‘Captive Markets, Captive Lives: Palestinian Workers in Israeli Settlements’ examines the experiences of Palestinian workers in Israel’s unlawful settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Al-Haq illustrates Israel’s reliance on the Oslo Accords to maintain control over the occupied Palestinian population and deepen their fragmentation, while holding the Palestinian economy captive, in what amounts to ‘economic annexation’.”

Palestinian dancer jailed in Israel,

“Israel’s policies inside the Palestinian territories are not limited to settlement expansion, confiscation of lands and political detention, but these arbitrary and racist measures rather extend to fighting Palestinian culture, history and arts, to the point of imprisoning people for expressing their ideas, values and messages through contemporary Palestinian culture and dance. Atta Khattab is the head of training, choreography and dance of El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe. Khattab’s family was shocked to see Israeli forces storm their home and take their 31-year-old son to Israeli prison without any charges being brought against him.”

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights -- Analysis/Commentary

The A-Word Gives Palestinians a New Path to Normalcy,

“A Palestinian demand for  normalcy would rapidly secure  broad global endorsement. It would also be a particularly effective counter  to plans by the Israeli right to annex large chunks of the West Bank without providing Palestinians either independence or citizenship. It might even get significant American support. For instance, the fledgling efforts in Congress to make aid for Israel conditional on better treatment of Palestinians would have a far better chance of success. By showing that Palestinians live under apartheid conditions, the human rights reports bring new attention to their plight and give them an opportunity to recalibrate their collective strategy and vision. They should waste no time in seizing it.”

The New Tahrir Square: Damascus Gate Is Latest Symbol of Palestinian Protest,

“The beautiful Old City gate has always played a central role in the lives of Palestinians in Jerusalem, but the closure of the plaza during Ramadan has turned it into the epicenter of impassioned demonstrations.”

American Jews, Stop Funding Jewish Terrorism,

“It is not enough to issue statements against the violence of the extremists, or to pretend that they represent a marginal perspective. Those of us committed to the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians also must insist that the institutions to which we are connected do not contribute to the groups that promote genocide and organize Jews to take part in violent rampages. Some basic steps might include creating values statements that prohibit funding groups that promote violence or extremism, as the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation has; and insisting that individual donors such as Adam and Gila Milstein and the Falic Family, who actively invest in violent extremism, not be honored or given leadership positions in our community.”

Jewish Israelis Should Stop Being Afraid of the Nakba,

“It’s impossible to understand the relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the failed efforts to solve it, and even the current coalition talks with parties from the Arab community without diving into the history of 1948. The Jewish-Arab schism isn’t the only thing that can’t be understood; planning and construction in Israel are dictated by the land policy designed to perpetuate the results of ‘Independence and Nakba’ – the title of historian Yoav Gelber’s Hebrew-language book – and to make sure the Arabs can’t reverse the situation. That’s the reason for the “population dispersal,” the euphemism for devouring the open territories and filling the area with small, scattered communities, contrary to economic or environmental rationale.”

What Israel missed by ignoring the J Street conference ,

“The Israeli government and public are unaware of the change in US attitudes toward Israel, especially in the American Jewish community. The lack of attention in Israel towards J Street proves this.”

Israel - (Continuing) Post-Elections Machinations

Two Days to Deadline, Neither Netanyahu nor Rival Bloc Are Able to Form Coalition,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mandate to form a government expires at midnight on Tuesday, but so far, neither his bloc nor the opposing one is capable of doing so. ‘We’re skeptical about whether it’s possible to finalize a coalition by that time,’ said a source in Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, which would be part of the government no matter which bloc formed it. Netanyahu is still unable to persuade Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionism party, to be part of a government supported by the United Arab List. Nor has he been able to find defectors from Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party to join him.”


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Palestinian Political Scene

Delayed Election: Abbas Rivals Seethe, Palestinians Reacts With Apathy,

“While most Palestinian factions criticized President Mahmoud Abbas for his announcement on Thursday that parliamentary elections were being postponed, the Palestinian public received the news rather apathetically. Protests were held in Gaza and Ramallah following Abbas’ announcement, but none of appeared to threaten the president’s power. The heads of the factions and candidates who planned to run in the May 22 election attacked Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership. They accused Abbas of caving to Israel, which refused to allow voting in East Jerusalem – the official reason for delaying the election. According to Palestinian political sources, however, the election was delayed because of Abbas’ fear that his Fatah faction would not be victorious.”


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Abbas Wants to Form Palestinian National Unity Government,

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) wants to form a national unity government following the postponement of elections, announced presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh. Abu Rudeineh told the official Palestine Radio that after delaying the polls, officials will be to hold talks with the factions, establish a national unity government, strengthen the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and hold a meeting for the Central Council to set the policies and strategies. ‘Talks will be with all factions. Talks started and efforts are underway,’ Abu Rudeineh said.” Also see: Palestinians say talks underway to form unity government (Al Anadolu)

UN urges Palestinian leaders to avoid uncertainty and quickly set new date for elections,

“The UN has called on Palestinian leaders to maintain their commitment to democracy and quickly set a new date for elections. Tor Wennesland, the organization’s special coordinator for the Middle East Peace process, said this would be an important step in ‘reassuring the Palestinian people that their voices will be heard.’ He also warned that a ‘prolonged period of uncertainty risks exacerbating the fragile situation.’” Also see: Postponing of Palestinian Election Proves Abbas Is Closer to Israel’s Interests Than His Own People (Haaretz)

Shtayyeh calls on Europe to pressure Israel to allow holding of elections in Jerusalem,

“Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said that the elections were postponed, and not canceled, calling on Europe to continue its efforts to pressure Israel to allow elections to be held in Jerusalem and to allow Palestinians there to participate in the elections through casting their votes and running as electoral candidates.”

Free Speech, Lawfare, & Weaponization of Antisemitism

Massachusetts House rejects distorted IHRA definition of antisemitism,

“The Massachusetts House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected an amendment to the state budget which would have Massachusetts adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, a definition that equates criticism of Israel with antisemitism, within its law on religious discrimination. The problem amendment, called ‘Condemnation of Antisemitism and Adoption of IHRA Definition’, was submitted by Rep. Howitt (R. Seekonk) as amendment #300 to the state budget bill, H.4000. With only two days to respond before the amendment was considered, Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston, Massachusetts Peace Action, the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine, and the Unitarian-Universalists for Justice in the Middle East mobilized quickly and contacted representatives and Palestinian rights supporters. Over 400 people wrote to Aaron Michlewitz, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, to other Ways and Means leaders, and to their own representative and senator, warning of the serious damage that would be done by the amendment. Legislators expressed their views as well. One progressive representative, Liz Malia, who had signed on to the amendment thinking it was a legitimate anti-discrimination measure, dropped off the list of supporters once she realized what it really meant. The amendment was then removed by the Ways and Means committee, effectively killing it.”

Idaho and West Virginia pass anti-Israel boycott laws,

“Idaho and West Virginia have joined the growing list of states that over the past several years have passed anti-Israel boycott legislation aimed at outlawing businesses that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The bills passed this week bring the number of states with similar laws to 33.”

UNRWA Statement on the latest European Parliament Resolution,

“Host country curricula are used by UNRWA in all its fields of operations and the content of the educational materials is thoroughly reviewed to ensure that it is in line with UN values and principles. In the rare cases where discrepancies are found, a robust system is in place to address them. To suggest that hate is widespread within the Agency and schools is not only false and misleading, but it validates sensationalist and politically motivated attacks which deliberately seek to discredit UNRWA and harm the most vulnerable section of the community: the Palestine refugee children.”