Top News from Israel & Palestine: May 4, 2020

What We’re Reading

New Insights

Barak: Goal of first Lebanon War was to turn Jordan to Palestinian State,

“…‘The idea was to use the pretext of Palestinian terror, which they (the PLO) were providing us with, to attack them in south Lebanon and turn that into a leverage [Israel can use] and join the Christian (forces) in Beirut,’ Barak explained. ‘The assumption was that they (the PLO) will have to return to Jordan and unlike what happened in 1970 (when they were routed out by the Jordanian Army) this time they will be ready and take over the government. And in that way Zion is redeemed,’ Barak continued. ‘In Jordan a Palestinian state will be created and the conflict could be resolved.’”

Peace activist author A.B. Yehoshua now pushes for a one-state solution,

“In conversation with ToI to mark release of new book, ‘The Tunnel,’ the writer says, ‘We have to integrate the Palestinians into Israel, by the right or the left’”

Annexation on the Agenda

What will happen to Palestinian land the day after annexation?,

“While many rights will likely be violated after annexation, the right to property will be among the hardest hit. Once territory is annexed, Israel will likely expropriate the land en masse and transfer it from its Palestinian ownership to state hands. One of the tools Israel might employ is the Absentees’ Property Law, which was used to nationalize property owned by Palestinians who became refugees during the 1948 war. According to the law, Israel is able to expropriate land and property of Palestinians who were expelled or fled during the war.”

Settler leader: preliminary Knesset vote on annexation bill can happen now,

“The Knesset should hold an immediate preliminary reading of a private members bill filed by MK May Golan (Likud) that would allow for the application of sovereignty over West Bank settlements, Yesha Council head David Elhayani said on Sunday. ‘The bill can already be brought now for a preliminary reading’ in the Knesset plenum, Elhayani said. He spoke after Golan’s bill, which she filed last month, was bureaucratically advanced on Sunday. The bill was initiated by Economic Affairs Minister Eli Cohen, but his status as a minister prohibits him from filling a private members bill.”

Netanyahu Is 'Confident' in His Annexation Plan. Experts Outline His Next Steps,

“Addressing an online gathering of evangelicals on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was ‘confident’ that U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to recognize Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank would be honored within ‘a couple of months.’ …at least as far as the home front is concerned, Netanyahu has removed all obstacles in the path of annexation. The question is no longer ‘Can he do it?’ but rather, ‘Will he?’”

PA organizations to fight Israeli sovereignty move,

“Palestinian Arab NGOs are coordinating their moves in a joint action meant to thwart Israel’s attempt, they claim, to ‘take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to establish facts on the ground and to continue its military escalation policy against the Palestinian people.’ At a meeting held by the secretaries of these organizations, and attended by senior representatives of the Fatah and the PLO, ways of action were discussed in response to Israel’s planned application of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and what Palestinian Arabs perceive as the green light given by the US for such a move. The participants emphasized the importance of the boycott of Israel, acting to isolate in on the international level, and taking its leaders to justice in the International Criminal Court.”

UK lawmakers urge Johnson to sanction Israel if West Bank annexation goes ahead,

“130 signatories from both major parties say Britain sanctioned Russia over Crimea grab, so any move by Netanyahu must be met with the same response.”

Occupation/Settlements/Human Rights

Instead of attacking the ICC, Israel now ignores it,

“With the coronavirus spreading, Israel’s political echelon paid no attention to the announcement by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda about charging Israel for war crimes.”

Palestinians in Israeli-controlled West Bank Fall Through Cracks of Coronavirus Response,

“Palestinians in small villages of Area C don’t receive the services they need to combat the coronavirus from either Israel or the Palestinian Authority.”

Israel seizes Palestinian municipal power for Tomb of Patriarchs elevator,

“Israel seized municipal power from the Palestinian Authority in Hebron on Sunday, when the Defense Ministry issued the final approval for construction of an elevator that would make the Tomb of the Patriarchs wheelchair accessible…This project has been delayed for years, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday. ‘The time has come to move forward…This is what it means to develop the settlements, with deeds and not words….’ He authorized the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Council to seize all the necessary administrative planning powers necessary from the Hebron Municipality so the project could be completed.Similarly, Bennett authorized the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukon to take all action necessary to expropriate access land at the site necessary for the wheelchair and elevator project.” [Celebrating his move, Bennett tweeted (in Hebrew): “…The cave belongs to us, the people of Israel, since Abraham purchased it 3800 years ago…”]

IDF taking action against illegal PA construction,

“The Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency reported that three residents of the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, located southwest of Shechem (Nablus), received orders from the Israeli authorities to stop construction of buildings and demolish existing buildings. The report further claimed that IDF forces prevented farmers and shepherds from working near the village because of their proximity to ‘Israeli settlements’ in the area. Another report claimed that IDF forces seized equipment for excavating a water well and a crane south of Qalqilya. Local resident Jamal Arar said the forces broke into the area, seized the tools and issued an order ordering the cessation of work.”

Israel to build new Jewish cemetery in occupied West Bank,

“Israel’s occupation authorities are to build a new cemetery for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Information Centre reported on Sunday. The cemetery will be located near the village of Azzun Atmeh. According to local researcher Abdul Kareem Ayyoub, the cemetery will be the largest allocated for illegal settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. Built entirely on Palestinian land, it is estimated that the site will have space for 30,000 burials. Ayyoub added that the plan will lead to the destruction of about 35 acres of Palestinian-owned agricultural land planted with olive and almond trees. The land belongs to villagers in Az-Zawiya and Mas-ha, as well as Azzun Atmeh.”

Petition to immediately allow Jewish prayer on Temple Mt.,

“Supporters of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, Yehuda Etzion and journalist Arnon Segal are claiming that Muslims are continued to be allowed to conduct prayers on the Temple Mount while Jews are forbidden to enter.”

Danon calls UNRWA Gaza schools 'terror storage facilities',

“Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon has charged that UNRWA schools in Gaza are ‘terror storage facilities’ and has called on the UN to condemn the organization, which is the main provider of services to Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.He sent a letter to UN senior officials on the matter, after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency reported a few weeks ago that a grenade and a military vest had been found in one of its Gaza facilities.”

Dawn of a New Era? Jerusalem and Its Palestinian Residents Joining Forces to Battle Coronavirus,

“East Jerusalem activists and Mayor Moshe Leon report close and efficient cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus, with representatives of both sides meeting several times a week on a regular basis.” [Jerusalem expert Danny Seidemann comments on Twitter: “A superb analysis from @nirhasson \ I disagree with its key thesis and some of its conclusions. Not for the first time, we are seeing many of the same things, and interpret them very differently. \ He is my doubt; I hope I am his.”]

Palestinian workers allowed back into Israel as virus restrictions eased,

“Some 14,500 workers entered Israel from the West Bank Sunday morning, out of 39,000 total permits granted by Israeli authorities. The workers are returning to jobs frozen for over a month, after the West Bank and much of Israel’s economy went into lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The jobs are mainly in construction, agriculture and industrial plants. The move comes after Israeli and Palestinian officials reached an agreement that includes a provision that Israel will supply the workers with protective gear, including face masks and gloves.” Also see: Arutz Sheva: Palestinian Arab laborers back working in Israel as virus slows

Israeli Domestic Scene

Will High Court endorse or nix coalition deal?,

“A maximum 11-judge panel of the High Court of Justice is now holding the second of two dramatic days of hearings on Monday about whether controversial aspects of the Blue and White-Likud coalition deal are constitutional.If the High Court endorses the deal, a government may form as early as Thursday. If the High Court nixes the deal, the country may go to new elections. A third possibility is the High Court nixes smaller aspects of the deal, and Likud or Blue and White swallow the changes and move on to a government.”

Court indicates it can’t rule on unity deal until relevant laws have been passed [live updates],

“Judges highlight problematic clauses, such as freezing senior appointments, non-virus related legislation for 6 months along with Blue and White planned expanded ‘Norwegian Law.’”

‘If Yamina wants to join the government, it has to be flexible’,

“Likud Party officials said over the weekend that while they’d like to see the Yamina in the government, the right-wing party would have to be flexible. A senior Likud official told Israel Hayom that the ‘portfolio allotment still hasn’t been finalized but that there wasn’t much room left to maneuver, we can’t give an improved package. Either [Yamina] comes on board with what’s been offered, or it won’t be in the government.’ …Yamina officials for their part have been exceedingly skeptical and are projecting a sense of mistrust towards the Likud. ‘There is no serious offer, there aren’t really talks [going on] with the Likud. Netanyahu spoke with Bennett for a few minutes and didn’t offer anything serious,’ said a Yamina official…Bennett, too, has repeatedly said that Yamina could be headed to the opposition. ‘I wasn’t born a minister, and no one said I have to be a minister. If we can make a difference, we will join [the coalition], and if we can’t, we won’t. It’s not a big deal. Everything is fine,’ said Bennett.”

New bill would disqualify terrorist supporters from holding office [targeting Joint List],

Srugim Hebrew news reported that a new bill submitted by MK Ofir Katz (Likud) calls for amendments to the Knesset’s disqualification process, so that any discovery of an MK’s support for terrorism would be considered grounds for disqualification: ‘The Supreme Court should not encourage terror supporters to sit in the Knesset. This should come to a stop.’ Following the turmoil surrounding attempts to disqualify the Joint List’s Heba Yazbek in the recent election campaign, MK Katz on Sunday submitted a bill whose articles are intended to amend the Knesset’s disqualification process. The proposed amendment would make it possible to disqualify a party from within a list that had joined together. It was also proposed to expand the disqualification clauses, so that any support for acts of terrorism committed against the state or its civilians, even if a single perpetrator was involved, would be considered grounds for disqualification. Terrorist supporters would face disqualification even if there is was no ‘critical mass,’ amounting to a few instances of explicit or implicit support.” [article is illustrated with photo of Joint List members]

Almagor: Families of Israelis killed by Palestinians do not want prisoner swap,

“Almagor, an association for the families of Israelis killed in Palestinian resistance attacks, has called for the Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to stop discussing the prisoner swap with Hamas, Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported on Friday. ‘These processes have negative strategic implications that there is no way back from,’ Almagor disclosed in a letter sent to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli cabinet ministers.”

Palestinian Domestic Scene

Will Abbas carry out his threat to nix agreements with Israel?,

“Palestinian officials are scheduled to hold a series of meetings in Ramallah this week amid reports that the Palestinian Authority is considering cancelling all signed agreements with Israel in response to the Israeli government’s plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. Palestinians, however, do not seem to take seriously repeated threats by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PLO institutions to renounce the agreements or suspend security coordination with Israel. In the past few years, Abbas and some Palestinian officials have threatened to abandon the agreements, including the 1993 Oslo Accords, and revoke the PLO’s recognition of Israel. On several occasions, Abbas has also threatened to dismantle the PA in response to Israeli and US policies and measures towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

PA arrests 21 Palestinians in first 10 days of Ramadan,

“The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has arrested 21 Palestinians in the first ten days of Ramadan due to their political views and charitable activities, has reported. The families of those and others arrested by the PA have revealed that dozens more were summoned for investigations over their political views, social media posts or involvement in charitable activities outside the scope of Fatah’s umbrella.”


US court drops $900m lawsuit against PA and PLO,

“The US Court of Appeals of the District of Colombia has dropped a lawsuit filed against the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organisation, Wafa News Agency reported on Sunday. The families of US-Israeli dual nationals killed in attacks allegedly carried out by Palestinians filed the case in 2004 and demanded around $900 million in damages. The Court of Appeals decided that ‘The district court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants’ in Shabtai Scott Shatsky vs the PLO, et al.”

Outrage after Egypt puts jailed BDS co-founder and pro-Palestine activist on terror list,

“Human rights groups have expressed outrage after adding jailed human rights activist and Palestine campaigner Ramy Shaath to its terrorism list. Shaath, who co-founded and co-ordinates Egypt’s wing of the peaceful Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli human rights abuses, has been arbitrarily detained in Egypt following his arrest in July 2019, according to Amnesty International….’Amnesty International considers Ramy Shaath to be a prisoner of conscience, as his detention stems solely from the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and his right to participate in public affairs,’ the group said on their website.”

Top 10 Points from Harvard Law Review Note Debunking Anti-BDS Claims,

“In February the Harvard Law Review published a compelling note refuting legal claims that boycotts for Palestinian rights are discriminatory. Many states have relied on such claims as a justification for infringing on First Amendment rights when enacting anti-boycott laws aimed at silencing advocacy for Palestinian freedom. Against the backdrop of 28 state-level anti-boycott laws and proposed federal measures, the note explores the legal framework of anti-discrimination doctrines and debunks the argument that boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) are a form of  ‘legally cognizable discrimination.’ The legality of anti-boycott laws made the news again on Monday, when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Texas to join Kansas and Arizona in evading judicial review of its unconstitutional anti-boycott law. After a federal judge blocked enforcement of the Texas anti-boycott law on First Amendment grounds, legislators amended the law so that it no longer applied to the individuals who challenged it. The Fifth Circuit ruled on Monday that the new law rendered the case moot. Lawsuits challenging anti-boycott laws are still under way in Maryland and Georgia, and a case against an anti-boycott law in Arkansas is pending at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  In case you missed it, here are 10 key points from the Harvard Law Review note…”