Top News from Israel/Palestine: October 13, 2020

What We’re Reading

Settlements/Occupation/De Facto Annexation

New construction plans to advance de-facto annexation of Greater Jerusalem,

“The Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration is scheduled to discuss this week numerous outline plans for the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.  A number of these plans are located in strategic areas of what Israel calls “Greater Jerusalem”. They include a total of more than 1,600 housing units. Advancement of plans of this scope in the Greater Jerusalem area is another clear sign that the Israeli government is continuing to actualize its strategy of de facto annexation. It follows a series of earlier Israeli moves this year which begun with the publishing of the Trump Plan in January.”

Israel approves hundreds of new settlement units in occupied West Bank,

“The construction of hundreds of new settlement units has been approved by Israeli authorities to expand an illegal Jewish settlement in occupied Bethlehem, reported Wafa news agency. Hasan Brijiyeh, a local anti-settlement and anti-apartheid activist, told Wafa that occupation authorities have approved the construction of 500 housing units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Tzur Hadassah, which is built on land belonging to Palestinians from Wadi Fukin village.”

Israeli Colonists Attack, Injure, Palestinians While Picking Their Olive Trees Near Ramallah,

“Many fanatic illegal Israeli colonists attacked, Monday, Palestinians while picking their olive trees in their orchards in Burqa village, south of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, injured five of them and punctured the tires of two cars. Adnan Jaber, the head of Burqa Village Council, said the colonists invaded Palestinian olive orchards north of the village, and tried to force them out of their lands. He added that the Palestinians intercepted the assailing colonists and attempted to stop them, and that the colonists started hurling stones at the residents mildly wounding five of them. The colonists also punctured the tires of two Palestinian cars, before the soldiers arrived at the scene.” Also see: In the south of the West Bank, Israeli settlers steal Palestinian olive crops, vandalize trees (WAFA), and Twitter thread following tweets from the head of Yesh Din, documenting ongoing settler attacks on Palestinians during the olive harvest (including the attack discussed in this article), with video/photos and background

Facing International Outcry, Jewish National Fund Reconsidering East Jerusalem Family's Eviction,

“Fearing donor wrath, JNF attempts to distance itself from settler organization Elad, which in response threatens individual legal action against board members of JNF subsidiary.”

JCB challenged over machinery used to demolish Palestinian homes,

“The British heavy machinery firm JCB’s sale of equipment used in the destruction of Palestinian villages in the Israeli-occupied West Bank may have breached Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development guidelines on human rights, a UK government body has assessed. The case is likely to test the degree to which multinationals are responsible if their export goods are being sold by local distributors in ways that infringe human rights.” Also see: JCB to be investigated after UK Government body accepts LPHR complaint is material and substantiated relating to involvement in Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians (Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights – UK)

For Israel, tens of thousands of Palestinian newborns don’t exist,

“More than 35,000 Palestinian newborns have been registered with the PA since May 20, according to Palestinian Deputy Interior Minister Yousef Harb. But for Israel, these children simply do not exist, and therefore cannot travel freely out of the occupied territories.”

Tourism in Service of Occupation and Annexation,

“Tourism has been critical to the Zionist enterprise since the first Zionists settled Palestine. Al-Shabaka policy analyst Halah Ahmad explores the role of tourism, and especially religious tourism, in propagating the Zionist and Israeli-state narratives, focusing on the damaging impacts of Israeli settlement tourism in illegally occupied Palestinian land. She offers recommendations for ethical tourism that promotes Palestinian rights to self-determination.”

How Evangelicals Working in Settlements Bypassed Israel's COVID-19 Entry Ban,

“An investigation by Haaretz reveals that the ministry was not fully aware of the nature of the organization when it decided to grant entry to this large Christian group. Israeli politicians who requested visas on behalf of the volunteers hid the fact that they belonged to an evangelical organization, while the Interior Ministry itself didn’t conduct any independent inquiries of its own. The Haaretz probe also reveals that the volunteers were granted permission to enter Israel on the basis of a special exemption clause, even though it doesn’t appear to be relevant to them.”

Yitzhar protest sign banning Arabs draws racism charges,

“A protest sign placed on the road outside the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on Monday, which warned that “entrance to Arabs is dangerous,” has prompted charges of racism from politicians and settlers.The sign was designed to mimic the well-known red and white signs that dot the roads in the West Bank forbidding Israelis from entering Area A, which is under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and which is an exclusively Palestinian region. The sign appeared after a dispute between the settlement and the army over the entry of Palestinians that arose after an Arab doctor was not allowed to administer a COVID-19 test in Yitzhar.”

Human Rights/Violence

Israel’s top court refuses to release ailing Palestinian hunger striker,

“High Court insists that Maher al-Akhras, who is hospitalized in grave condition, end his 78-day protest before being released from administrative detention.” Also see: PA warns Israel about hunger striker (Middle East Monitor); Palestinian leaders call for Israel to release prisoner on 80th day of hunger strike (Middle East Eye)

Israel: 32 Palestinian prisoners launch hunger strike,

“Thirty-two Palestinian prisoners at Ofer Prison began a hunger strike in solidarity with a detainee who is hospitalized at the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, Israel Prison Service said in a statement on Tuesday. Israeli rights group B’Tselem said that the Palestinian man has been on hunger strike for nearly 80 days since his arrest by Israel in late July and is ‘on the verge of death.’”

People in Gaza sifting through rubbish for food, UN head says,

“People in Gaza are searching through rubbish to find food as Palestinians battle unprecedented levels of poverty, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has said. Across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and elsewhere, Palestinian refugees are suffering at new depths because of the pandemic, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency chief, Philippe Lazzarini. ‘There is despair and hopelessness,’ he said in an interview. ‘In Gaza, people are going through the garbage,’ Lazzarini said, referring to reports from UNRWA staff in the enclave. ‘More people are fighting to provide one or two meals a day to their families.’”

PA/PLO/Palestinian Politics

Palestine PM: God help us if there are 4 more years of US’ Trump,

“Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh yesterday expressed concern if US President Donald Trump were to be re-elected into office in November, according to the Jerusalem Post. ‘The election is very important. God help us, the EU and the whole world if there are four more years of Trump,’ he told European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. ‘Trump has wasted four years of everyone’s time,’ he added, referring to the US administration’s so-called Middle East ‘peace plan’. ‘The ultimate deal was not delivered. Trump’s plan was rejected by the Palestinians, the Arabs and Europe…The US is just too biased.’”

Hamas says Russia is ready to host factions’ meeting,

“The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement announced on Sunday that Russia is ready to host a meeting for leaders of the Palestinian factions. ‘During our visit to Moscow,’ said Hamas Political Bureau member Mousa Abu Marzouk, ‘President [Vladimir] Putin’s envoy to the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov expressed Russia’s readiness to host a meeting for secretaries-general of the Palestinian factions.’” Also see: Egypt will not host Palestinian factions until after US election (Middle East Monitor)

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

“History will show no mercy to the Arab nations that recognise Israel, Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, has told Middle East Eye. Asked about the recent ‘normalisation’ pacts agreed with Israel by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Haniyeh said that any deal an Arab country makes with Israel will eventually threaten that country. ‘We know Israeli leaders better than them. We know how they think. We would like to tell our brothers in the United Arab Emirates that they will lose as a result of those agreements because Israel’s only interest is to seek a military and economic foothold in areas close to Iran,’ Haniyeh said.” Also see: Ismail Haniyeh interview: Full transcript (Middle East Eye)

Saudi Arabia’s Campaign to Cancel the Palestinians,

“From trolls to TV, Riyadh is rewriting history to undermine the entire Palestinian struggle, softening up the Arab world for its pending normalization with Israel.”

Palestinian two-state support at 39% after Israel-UAE deal, Shikaki says,

“Palestinian support for the two-state solution has hit a nine-year low, dropping to 39% in the aftermath of the announcement of the Israeli-United Arab Emirates normalization deal, political scientist Khalil Shikaki told the Jerusalem Press Club on Monday morning.The data was based on a poll of 1,270 Palestinians on September 9-12, just prior to the Washington signing, and had a margin of error of 3%, he said…‘There is no doubt that we see a correlation’ between Palestinian perception with regard to the two-state solution and the Arab normalization deals with Israel, he said…Palestinians say the deals create ‘an environment in which Israel does not need to compromise with the Palestinians in order to have normalization with the Arab world,’ Shikaki said.”

Jibril Rajoub's problematic Palestine,

“Analysis: If the veteran Fatah official, who trades in incessant anti-Israel slogans, does indeed end up as the next Palestinian president, Jerusalem may find itself dealing with a dangerous successor to Arab nationalist and extremist Yasser Arafat.”

The Palestinians Are Losing the Arab World’s Support,

“…The days when Palestinian bullying intimidated the Emirates are over. The new generation of Gulf rulers is made from sturdier stuff. Last week, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz mounted an unprecedented assault against the Palestinian leadership, saying, ‘There is something that successive Palestinian leaderships historically share in common: they always bet on the losing side, and that comes at a price.’” Also see: Poll finds growing support for ties with Israel in some Arab countries (Israel Hayom)

Arab World/Normalization

Israeli official: Arab East Jerusalem can become regional tech R&D hub,

“The UAE-Israel peace deal offers tangible benefits to Palestinians, a senior Israeli official has said. ‘If I can help bring a UAE company to invest in helping us build a Silicon Valley to [Arab] East Jerusalem, that’s a tangible benefit [to the Palestinians] of the UAE-Israel peace deal,’ Fleur Hassan-Nahoum Deputy Mayor, Foreign Relations, Jerusalem Municipality and co-founder of the UAE Israel Business Council said.” Contrast with: 200 east Jerusalem businesses to be demolished for ‘Silicon Wadi’ (Jerusalem Post, June 2020)

Aiming for regional peace, could normalization deals spark arms race instead?,

“The Trump administration predicted that the normalization deals signed in September between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain would have a domino effect on regional peace, with as many as nine countries lining up to sign deals with the Jewish state. But while many analysts believe that further peace deals are likely, there is also a growing concern that the moves could spark an arms race, injecting increasingly advanced US military weapons into an already highly armed and fraught region.” Also see: Israel would oppose any U.S. F-35 sale to Qatar, Israeli minister says (Reuters)

Israel's cabinet approves normalisation deals ahead of visits to UAE, Bahrain,

“An Israeli delegation will fly to Bahrain and the UAE later this week, as Netanyahu hints at future meeting with Emirati crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed.” Also see: Israel Sees Commercial Aviation Deal With UAE Within Days (Algemeiner); Dubai-based Company Makes Bid for Israeli Airline (Haaretz); Israel-UAE flights ‘delayed to January’ (Arab News); Emirati ship docks in Haifa port for first time, linking UAE and Israel by sea (Al Araby)

Lebanon and Israel, long-time foes, to start talks on disputed waters,

“Lebanon and Israel, formally still at war after decades of conflict, launch talks on Wednesday to address a long-running dispute over their maritime border running through potentially gas-rich Mediterranean waters.” Also see: Israel lowers expectations ahead of ‘historic’ maritime talks with Lebanon (Times of Israel)

Israeli-US delegation to visit Bahrain on second ‘historic’ flight to ready pact,

“A joint US-Israel delegation is planning a trip to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates early next week to continue working on implementing normalization agreements with Israel signed in Washington last month.”

Trump Administration

Trump asks UAE to encourage others to build ties with Israel,

“US President Donald Trump asked UAE Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed to encourage other countries in the region to build ties with Israel, Arab48 reported yesterday. In a statement issued on Sunday, Arab48 reported White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere saying that Trump and Bin Zayed discussed the latest updates about the Middle East on the telephone. Trump, according to Deere, asked Bin Zayed to encourage other countries in the region to follow in the footsteps of the UAE regarding the normalisation of ties with Israel.”

Poll: Ahead of US elections, 63% of Israelis say 'Trump better for Israel',

“A clear majority of Israelis favor the re-election of US President Donald Trump come November’s presidential elections, a new poll conducted for i24NEWS showed Monday night…Moreover, 53.2 percent said they thought the Israeli right would be significantly harmed if Trump was not re-elected.” Also see: Message from an Israeli Jew: Please don’t re-elect Trump (The Forward)

Lawfare/Free Speech

Sabra and Shatila survivors call on Zoom not to silence Palestinian voices,

“Survivors of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon came together to condemn online meeting platform Zoom for cancelling a session which was set to include Palestinian resistance fighter Leila Khaled last month.”

Congressman calls for criminal investigation after Khaled talk at S.F. State,

“Colorado congressman is calling for an investigation of San Francisco State University, its president and two professors for their involvement in facilitating a virtual event that featured Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled. Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn sent a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Sept. 29 claiming that the event’s organizers, professors Rabab Abdulhadi and Tomomi Kinukawa, as well as university president Lynn Mahoney and S.F. State ‘generally,’ were in violation of federal law that prohibits providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.”

UK education secretary accuses universities of disregarding anti-Semitism,

“The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson accused British universities of “dragging their feet” in responding to anti-Semitism on campus and urged them to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition or risk losing government funding.”


The great myth of Israeli annexation, Part II: De facto sovereignty,

“…Though Israel agreed to temporarily suspend its formalization of sovereignty, it is not planning on giving up its sovereign rights to those territories. Israel has no intention of uprooting even one Jewish settlement or resettling even one of the hundreds of thousands of Jews living on the presently disputed grounds. By recognizing Israel’s “right to sovereignty” and acknowledging the maps of the U.S. vision for peace, both the Emirates and the Bahrainis are recognizing Israel’s ‘de facto sovereignty’ over the territories. Without the fanfare of an official sovereignty announcement that would do little to change Israel’s footprint on the ground, for Israel, the Arab world’s recognition of de facto Jewish sovereignty over settlements represents a major diplomatic achievement. And maintaining ambiguity over the status of the adjacent territories—by not officially delineating borders for a future Palestinian state—may actually be in Israel’s long-term best interests.” Also see: Why do Arab regimes support Netanyahu’s strategy? (Middle East Monitor)

When we stopped caring for Palestinian prisoners,

“Sadly, even solidarity with hunger strikers is often factional, as each Palestinian political group often places disproportionate focus on their own striking prisoners and, largely ignores others. Not only has the issue of prisoners become depoliticized, it has also fallen victim to Palestine’s unfortunate disunity. While it is untrue that ‘no one cares about Palestinian prisoners’, thousands of Palestinian families are justified to hold this opinion. For the freedom of prisoners to take center stage within the larger Palestinian struggle for freedom, the issue must be placed at the top of Palestine’s political agenda, by Palestinians themselves and by Palestinian solidarity networks everywhere. Maher al-Akhras, and thousands like him, should not risk their lives to obtain basic human rights, which should, in theory, be guaranteed under international law. Equally important, Palestinian prisoners should not be left alone, paying a price for daring to stand up for justice, fairness and for their people’s freedom.”

Normalization cannot silence Arab resistance forever,

“The leaders who are seeking to do business with Israel are for the most part unelected monarchs who care little for the desires of the people under their rule. These kings and princes want battle-tested weapons and technology from Israel’s war machine in order to continue oppressing their own people, and to conquer and exploit countries like Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. And yet, the citizens of those countries are not so easily convinced.”