Top News from Israel & Palestine: November 18, 2019

What We’re Reading

Israeli Politics

By labeling Arabs an ‘existential threat,’ Bibi invokes a terrifying history of ethnic violence,

Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “The conflation of genuine grievances with obsessive repetition of imminent existential threat should terrify everyone. In a way, Netanyahu’s fantasies are even more egregious. They lack any basis of actual injury by Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, historical or present. This group is never involved in organizational terror, and individual incidents are exceedingly rare. The community has no secessionist tendencies, has participated in the Israeli political process for decades, and repeatedly states its desire for greater political, civil, and economic integration. The one demand that challenges Israeli Jews is symbolic: preservation of their battered Palestinian identity. The great political demand associated with that identity is their call to release Palestinians in the territories from a five-decade military occupation and allow their independence. Turning Palestinian-Arab citizens into an existential threat of real destruction is a fabrication at the level of a blood libel. That’s something Jews should understand.”

With Three Days Left to Deadline, Netanyahu Rival Gantz Scrambles to Form Gov't,

“Likud held an ’emergency rally’ on Sunday in Tel Aviv to protest ‘a minority government supported by the Arab parties.’ During the rally, Netanyahu said Arab Joint List lawmakers seek to destroy Israel, adding that if a Gantz-led minority government is formed, ‘they will celebrate in Tehran, in Ramallah, and in Gaza’.”

With Gaza behind him, Netanyahu puts Israel's Palestinians in the crosshairs,

“On Saturday night, just two days after the ceasefire went into effect, Netanyahu shifted his wrath from Islamic Jihad to Benny Gantz, the Blue and White party leader, and the Joint List. In an emergency meeting with Likud lawmakers, Netanyahu reportedly called the possibility of an Arab-backed minority government an ’emergency that is unprecedented in the history of the State of Israel… It’s a historic danger to Israel’s security. It will gravely hurt the security of Israel.’ Benny Gantz is rumored to be seeking the Joint List’s support for a minority coalition that falls short of the 61 seats required for a majority. If the Joint List agrees, this would allow Gantz to preside over a coalition that has the support of the Arab parties from the outside, without breaching the taboo — in place since Israel’s founding — of bringing them into the government. Gantz has until Wednesday to secure a coalition.”

Against odds, Netanyahu revives his fortunes,

“Israel’s beleaguered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored a hat trick this week, reviving his political fortunes with a series of deft policy moves. It starts with the targeted killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Baha Abu al-Ata with an Israeli airstrike on his home in Gaza Nov. 12.  In addition to taking out one of Israel’s most implacable terrorist foes, Bibi advanced his interests in two other areas as well: He gave notice to Israel’s most wanted, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, that he could be next, and he appears to simultaneously have sunk rival Benny Gantz’s options of cobbling together a minority government with Arab Joint List support. Not a bad week for a man still facing possible indictment for corruption, and whose political fortunes may be hanging by a thread. And despite a good week, he is still hanging by that thread.”

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

Palestinian journalist loses eye after Border Police open fire on West Bank protest,

“A Palestinian journalist lost his eye after Israel Border Police officers opened fire at demonstrators in a village near Hebron in the occupied West Bank on Friday. The photojournalist, Moath Amarnih, was wounded while covering confrontations between young Palestinian protesters and police following a demonstration against a settlement’s takeover of land belonging to the Palestinian village of Surif, northwest of Hebron. According to journalists who were at the scene, Border Police officers used live 0.22 inch Ruger rifle bullets (also known as “two-two” bullets) against the demonstrators, which likely struck the leg of one protester before changing direction and hitting Amarnih, who was standing approximately 150 meters from the officers, in the eye. The officers did not offer him medical aid and delayed his evacuation from the scene. One of the officers filmed Amarnih’s face from up close as he was being carried away by journalists.”

With Qatar’s money, Israeli gas set to bring Gaza light,

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) has approved a long-delayed proposal to operate the Gaza Strip’s power plant using Israeli natural gas and Qatari funding, according to Palestinian economic sources. Some critics, however, fear the project will undo an effort to cut Palestinian economic dependence on Israel.”

Israeli Judge Orders Release of Palestinian Activist Who Was Filmed Being Beaten by Police,

“Jerusalem District Court Judge Mordechay Caduri on Sunday confirmed a court order releasing a Palestinian from detention who had been arrested on Thursday for assaulting police officers. The ruling came after Judge Caduri viewed video footage of the incident in which the Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Hummus, was seen being beaten by police.”

U.S. Politics

Sources: Trump 'frustrated' and 'disappointed' with Netanyahu, Israel,

“Americans are discouraged and frustrated by Israeli politics and the current political crisis, which has prevented the White House from unveiling the political part of the deal of the century,” said White House sources, referring to the Trump administration’s long-delayed Mideast peace plan. The sources added that President Donald Trump has in the past admitted to feeling “very disappointed” with Netanyhau and has spoken about him in a negative manner.

Presidential Candidates Open To Leveraging American Support For Israel,

Yousef Munayyer writes, “Proponents of continued blank check support to Israel will make the argument that conditioning US military financing would jeopardize its security. This argument garners significant political support from many corners of Congress. But for the reasons outlined above, US military financing goes above and beyond ensuring Israeli security. In fact, what it ensures is the profitability of Israeli military industries. The United States is not merely selling Israel weapons––as it does with Saudi Arabia for example, where it is paid money in exchange for US manufactured military articles. Instead, the United States is giving Israel weapons for free while simultaneously subsidizing the Israeli military industry. The conversation on conditioning military financing to Israel needs to begin with an understanding that it is already conditioned heavily in Israel’s favor.”