Top News from Israel/Palestine: October 12, 2020

What We’re Reading

Normalization & Regional Relations

Israel's Cabinet Endorses UAE Deal; Netanyahu, Crown Prince Agree to Meet 'Soon',

“The vote on the U.S.-brokered agreement between the two countries, which involves establishing full diplomatic and economic ties, will now be subject to a Knesset vote to take place on Thursday. The government will then formally ratify the agreement.”

Also See – “Netanyahu says he will meet Abu Dhabi crown prince ‘soon’” (Al Jazeera); “Cabinet authorizes Israel-UAE peace treaty” (Jerusalem Post)

Joint US-Israeli delegation reportedly will fly to Bahrain next week,

“A joint US-Israeli delegation will travel to Bahrain next week to work on finalizing the normalization agreement between Jerusalem and Manama, the Walla news site reports. Citing Israeli officials, the news site says the trip was requested by Bahrain, which wanted a joint delegation to fly directly from Israel to the Gulf state, following a similar visit made to the United Arab Emirates last month. The Israeli delegation is expected to be led by the directors general of the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office, while the US team will be headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s peace envoy Avi Berkowitz, according to the report.”

Smotrich to PM: Release UAE-Israel agreements regarding Temple Mount,

“The details of any agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates regarding the Temple Mount must be released before Thursday’s Knesset vote on the peace treaty, Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Smotrich pointed out that Israeli, American and Emirati officials said that visits by Muslims to the Temple Mount were part of the agreements. However, that matter is not part of the published text.”

Also See – “Sovereignty Movement calls for clarity ahead of UAE peace deal vote” (Jerusalem Post)

Israel will oppose Qatar F-35 warplane sale to ensure 'military superiority',

“Israel will oppose the sale of American F-35 fighter jets to Qatar to ensure its own military superiority in the region, the Israeli intelligence minister said on Sunday. “Our security and military superiority in the region are the most significant things for us. Our region has still not turned into Switzerland,” intelligence minister Eli Cohen told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday. Cohen was responding to questions about a Reuters report that Qatar had asked the US about purchasing the F-35 jets, prized for their ability to avoid detection. “

Saudi Arabia’s Campaign to Cancel the Palestinians,

“…Saudi Arabia is now the foremost protagonist of the ongoing regional normalization frenzy, and is engaged in an all-fronts media campaign to not only legitimize the UAE’s accords with Israel, but to embed a revisionist Mideast history in time for Riyadh to abandon decades of Arab consensus and establish relations itself with Israel.”

Also See – “Palestinians outraged by Saudi prince’s barbed criticism of leadership” (Middle East Eye)

Ninety Percent of Arabic Social Media Chatter About Israel-Gulf Deals Negative, Report Finds,

“The main argument made against the agreements, the report said, was that they betrayed the Palestinians. This sentiment appeared in 45 percent of comments. People also objected to signing agreements with Zionists in general (27 percent), accused the UAE of hypocrisy (10 percent), accused it of capitulating to the U.S. (five percent) and accused it of craving profits (four percent).”

Hamas’s Haniyeh: ‘No mercy’ for Arab states who betray Palestinian cause,

““The Zionist project is an expansionist project. Its objective is to create a greater Israel. We don’t want to see the Emiratis or the Bahrainis or the Sudanese being used as vehicles for this project. History will show no mercy, the people will not forget, and humanitarian law will not forgive,” he said.”

Also See – “Ismail Haniyeh interview: Full transcript” (Middle East Eye)


Israel and Hamas said to reach agreement for 6-month ceasefire,

“Israel and the terror group Hamas have reached a truce agreement mediated by Qatar that will see quiet on the southern border for a period of six months, Channel 12 news reported on Sunday. In return, Qatar will transfer $100 million to Hamas in a deal coordinated with Doha by Mossad head Yossi Cohen alongside the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), according to the report.”

Annexation/Apartheid/Human Rights

Hunger striking Palestinian prisoner in Israel rejects court deal; Premier demands his release,

“Palestinian hunger striker, Maher al-Akhras, who has been on a 78-day long fast protesting his administrative detention, today rejected a deal from the Israeli High Court that recommends his release from prison in return for ending his hunger strike. At the same time, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called for his immediate release following the serious deterioration in his health…Al-Akhras rejected the Israeli High Court deal after only recommending his release by November 26 instead of ruling in favor of his release as requested by his lawyer in the petition submitted to the Court and was rejected today. As a result, and according to his lawyer, al-Akhras decided to continue with his hunger strike until there is a definite and clear position from the High Court or the Israeli occupation authorities setting a specific date for his release and not only a recommendation. According to prisoners’ advocacy groups, this is the second time in few weeks the Israeli High Court plays with words in deciding the fate of al-Akhras after calling on September 23 for “freezing” the administrative detention order, and now only “recommending” an end to it.”

Apartheid in the West Bank: Palestinians warned by Israeli settlers against using some roads,

“Israel seems to be starting to turn some roads in the occupied West Bank into a settlers-only roads, indicating a system of apartheid being implemented in the occupied Palestinian territories and raising concern that Palestinians will not be able to use these roads to move between West Bank cities, today said Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank. He told WAFA that Israeli settlers set up a billboard on the road linking the cities of Nablus and Qalqilya, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, which said “This road leads to Yitzhar. Entrance for Arabs is dangerous.””

Crops stolen, trees cut by settlers in Palestinian land located beyond Israel’s apartheid barrier,

“Mohammad Amer, a resident of Masha village, told WAFA that two out of 20 Palestinians who own land planted with olive trees in the north of the village and located beyond the Israeli apartheid wall and were able to get access to their lands were shocked to find out that Israeli settlers from the illegal Eits Ephraim settlement have stolen their olive crops and cut branches of some 60 trees planted in a 120-dunum plot. Israel does not allow Palestinians to reach their lands near the settlements or beyond the barrier with prior coordination and with a permit. Usually, permits are not issued except for elderly people and only on some days of the year leaving their land open for abuse by the settlers.”

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers harvesting olive crops near Ramallah, injure five,

“Israeli settlers today attacked Palestinian farmers harvesting their olive crops in the village of Burqa, northeast of Ramallah, according to the village’s head of local council Adnan Habas. He told WAFA that a group of settlers attacked the Palestinian farmers as they were picking their olive crops in the north of the village in an attempt to prevent them from continuing in the harvest. He said the settlers also hurled stones at the farmers, who attempted to fend off the attack, inflicting injuries on five of them and damaging two vehicles.”

Settlement Under the Guise of Tourism: The Elad Settler Organization in Silwan,

“Tourism and archaeology have become central to Elad’s operations and they in fact constitute another type of settlement. In addition to the legitimacy that the tourism enterprise provides Elad, it also allows Elad to change the facts on the ground, making Silwan much more “Israeli.” Through tourism, Elad is able to bring hundreds of thousands of Israelis as visitors to Silwan and tell the story of the area as they see it. For more information about settlement tourism, see “Invisible Settlements in Jerusalem.” It is important to note that an important and sensitive site like ancient Jerusalem in Silwan could be managed differently. It could be a place with enough space for the heritage of all people and all the relevant cultures, shared with the residents. But instead it is used as a political tool. For more on possible alternatives for managing archaeology and tourism in Jerusalem, see the work of Emek Shaveh. In 2016, the Israeli State Comptroller sharply criticized the fact that important archaeological sites in Jerusalem were given to Elad without an auction and the fact that state authorities, including the Nature and Parks Authority and the Antiquities Authority, do not supervise Elad’s activities.”

The Israeli Domestic Scene

Israel's Parliament Returns for a Likely Brief Winter Session Amid Ongoing Coalition Crisis,

“Seventeen days after leaving for an unusually short recess, Knesset members will return to a weak, faltering parliament that may well fall apart in a couple of months. If MKs fail to pass a budget by December 23, the Knesset will automatically dissolve and new elections will be called.”

Weary of Netanyahu, Benny Gantz delivers last ultimatum,

“Gantz is hoping that this balance of “mutually assured destruction” will make Netanyahu blink first. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is hoping that as the deadline for a decision nears, Gantz will get off his high horse and revert to his familiar, featherweight naive self. The final decision is not due for a while. The deadline for passage of the 2021 budget is March 23. An entire nation held hostage by both sides is in for more nerve-wracking months.”

Coalition chair Zohar: Likud not obligated to rotation deal with Gantz,

“The Likud is no longer obligated to fulfill the terms of the prime ministerial rotation deal with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, and Blue and White does not have legitimacy to lead the country, Coalition Chairman MK Miki Zohar (Likud) said Sunday. Later on Sunday, Finance Minister Israel Katz said the 2021 budget would be submitted to the government for review by December, meaning it would not be passed by the December 23 deadline.”

Also See – “Coalition row deepens as Netanyahu ally calls Blue and White ‘danger to nation’” (The Times of Israel)

Lapid launches no-confidence push to replace Netanyahu as PM,

“Yesh Atid party’s “constructive no-confidence” vote, which would see the current government replaced with an alternative one. “Whoever doesn’t vote in favor of this proposal is a coward,” Lapid says at a Knesset faction meeting. “This government is not fit to lead the [coronavirus] crisis.” Without the support of the coalition’s Blue and White party, the measure is seen as having little chance of passing.”

Gantz says Blue and White voting against opposition no confidence motion,

“Blue and White leader and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said that his party would be voting against the opposition’s no confidence motion on Monday afternoon, despite the severe tensions and lack of trust between Blue and White and the Likud. “We will not vote in favor of the no confidence motion because it is a public relations move and doesn’t stand a chance, but the loss of public trust in the leadership of the country should be a glaring warning light for the prime minister and every member of the government,” said Gantz at a faction meeting in the Knesset. “

Tens of thousands of Israelis renew protests against Netanyahu,

“Tens of thousands of Israelis reportedly demonstrated against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in hundreds of sites across Israel on Saturday night, renewing a movement that had been halted by a sharp second wave of the coronavirus. The country’s second COVID-19 lockdown has kept Israelis from going far from their homes, so many smaller protests erupted in different locales. For instance, fewer than 100 people gathered in Jerusalem’s Paris Square, the site of large past protests. A group of people on bicycles were fined for trying to ride in front of Netanyahu’s private home in Caesarea earlier on Saturday.”

Coronavirus lockdown exit strategy remains unclear as gov't squabbles,

“Israel’s exit strategy from the national coronavirus lockdown remained unclear on Monday as government officials squabbled over opening schools and businesses, as well as other issues surrounding the continuing outbreak. Despite comments by other Health Ministry officials, deputy director-general Prof. Itamar Grotto told Army Radio on Monday that kindergartens would likely reopen on Sunday.”

The Palestinian Scene

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi tests positive for COVID-19,

“PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, 74, has contracted the coronavirus, the PLO Department of Pubilc Diplomacy and Policy announced in a statement on Sunday evening. Ashrawi contracted the virus only a few days after PLO Executive Committee Secretary General Saeb Erekat. Ashrawi has no known background illnesses.”

Also See – “Second member of the PLO’s Executive Committee tests positive for Coronavirus” (Middle East Eye)

Abbas Meets With World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder in Ramallah,

“Lauder’s visit comes a few weeks out of the November 3 U.S. election. Lauder participated in the signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in Washington in September, and spoke at length with Bahraini representatives at the ceremony.In Washington, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters that Lauder’s visit was not coordinated with or on behalf of the Trump administration but was in a strictly private capacity.”

Daily Coronavirus report in Palestine: 10 deaths, 395 new cases, and 312 recoveries,

“Ten people have died of Coronavirus in Palestine in the last 24 hours, 395 new cases were recorded and 312 recovered, today said Minister of Health Mai Alkaila. Of the deaths, four were in East Jerusalem, six in the West Bank ranging in age between 53 and 82, while none was recorded in the Gaza Strip, said the Minister in her daily report on the COVID-19 pandemic in Palestine. She said that only 10 new cases were recorded in East Jerusalem, a significant drop from previous figures some of which exceeded 100 daily new cases, 267 in the West Bank, also a significant decline in the number of cases, and 118 in the Gaza Strip.”