Top News from Israel & Palestine: October 5, 2020

What We’re Reading

Settlements/Occupation/De Facto Annexation

Amid Pandemic and Economic Crisis, Israel to Advance at Least 4,430 Settlement Units,

“The Higher Planning Council (HPC) of the Civil Administration is set to convene to advance at least 4,430 settlement units in the West Bank in two consecutive meetings on 14 and 15 October. This will be the first time the HPC will have held such a hearing in eight months, and follows a declaration by Prime Minister Netanyahu on 1 October that he has instructed it to approve 5,400 units. It is set to make 2020 the highest year on record in units in settlement plans promoted since Peace Now began recording in 2012.”

Also see:

De-facto freeze broken, IDF to approve new West Bank settler homes (Jerusalem Post)

Palestine condemns Israel’s plan to build 5,400 new settlement units (Middle East Monitor)

Turkey Slams Israel For its New Settlements Plan in Occupied West Bank (Al Bawaba)

Ariel U. study rejected because author refused to remove 'written in Israel',

“The international open-access science journal Molecules canceled the publication of a study by Dr. Mindy Levine from Ariel University after she refused to erase the word ‘Israel’ in the address of the university, according to Israeli activists. The study was originally meant to be featured in the journal’s January 2021 edition. Levine marked the address in the study as ‘The Department of Chemical Sciences, Ariel University, Ramat HaGolan 65, Ariel, Israel.’ …’All that was asked of Dr. Mindy Levine was that she be more exact with facts. Ariel is not part of the State of Israel. That is not a political statement, it is a simple fact,’ Gush Shalom movement spokesman Adam Keller said in a statement. ‘Ariel is not part of the State of Israel, not according to international law and also not according to the laws of the State of Israel itself.’”

Prominent Evangelical Leader Makes ‘Aliyah’ From Detroit, Becomes ‘First Bishop of Israel’,

“Bishop Glenn Plummer, a prominent evangelical leader, loves Israel so much that he decided to move here. Less than a month ago, he and his wife Pauline packed up all their worldly possessions and boarded a plane to Israel having just sold their home in Detroit. ‘We see it as we’re making aliyah as non-Jews,’ said Plummer, in a telephone conversation with Haaretz from his new home in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem.”

Human Rights & Violence

Jewish Soldiers and Civilians Looted Arab Neighbors' Property en Masse in '48. The Authorities Turned a Blind Eye,

“On July 24, 1948, two months after establishment of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, head of the provisional government, voiced some extreme criticism about its people: ‘It turns out that most of the Jews are thieves… I say this deliberately and simply, because unfortunately it is true.” His comments appear in black and white in the minutes of a meeting of the Central Committee of Mapai, the forerunner of Labor, stored in the Labor Party Archives…People from the Jezreel Valley stole! The pioneers of the pioneers, parents of Palmach [pre-state commando force] children! And everyone took part in it, baruch Hashem, the people of [Moshav] Nahalal!… This is a general blow. It’s appalling, because it shows a basic flaw. Theft and robbery – and where does this come to us from? Why have the people of the land – builders, creators, pioneers – come to deeds like this? What happened?’ The protocol was unearthed by historian Adam Raz in the course of his research for his new book which, as its title suggests, addresses a highly charged, sensitive and volatile issue: “Looting of Arab Property in the War of Independence” (Carmel Publishing House, in association with the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research; in Hebrew).”

Palestinian arrested with soldier’s knee to his neck is convicted of incitement,

“A Palestinian man who made headlines last month after an Israeli soldier was filmed kneeling on his neck, in a manner reminiscent of the killing of George Floyd in the US, has been convicted in a West Bank military court of incitement and publishing symbols of an illegal association. Khairi Hannoun, 65, was arrested for what the Border Police called ‘participating actively in a number of riots’ and for incitement on social media, referencing five posts on his Facebook account. He was rearrested two weeks after his initial arrest went viral…Sahar Francis, director of the Palestinian NGO Addameer, which provided Hannoun with legal council, called his arrest ‘clearly political’ and said that it had to do with the fact he had filed a complaint against the soldier who was recorded kneeling on his neck.”

Gaza’s power cuts: Living in the dark (Video report),

“Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant in 2006, sending it into a power shortage crisis that continues to cripple life for Palestinians living in the besieged enclave. As a result, people only get 4-8 hours of electricity a day.”

Israel arrests 22 Palestinians in West Bank, including 12 policemen,

“Israeli occupation forces yesterday arrested 22 Palestinians from different parts of the occupied West Bank, including 12 policemen, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club (PPS) reported.”

Al-Akhras Continues Hunger Strike For 70th Day,

“The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported, Sunday, that Maher al-Akhras, a political prisoner held by Israel without charges or trial, is ongoing with the hunger strike for the seventieth consecutive day despite his seriously deteriorating health condition. The PPS stated that Al-Akhras, 49, from Jenin in northern West Bank, is at Kaplan Israeli medical center, determined to continue his strike, and so far, his demands to be released are constantly met with rejection, although he is not facing charges.”

Why Hamas can’t control arms proliferation in Gaza,

“Amid the uncontrollable proliferation of weapons in the Gaza Strip, human rights centers and institutions sounded the alarm, while Hamas seems unable to prevent citizens from obtaining arms.”

Likud MK: European fund paying to defend anti-gov't rioters,

“Likud MK Ariel Kallner on Sunday claimed that Germany, Norway and Switzerland were funding anti-government protests calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s removal from power. Kallner, who heads the Knesset lobby dedicated to the struggle against the international Delegitimization of Israel, said the three countries’ governments support an NGO called the ‘Human Rights Defenders Fund’ under the auspices that its activities bolster democracy.”

Police: Assailant tries to stab officer near West Bank city of Hebron,

“Police said on Monday said that a Palestinian man tried to stab an officer at a junction near the West Bank city of Hebron. There were no Israeli injuries in the attack at the Okfim intersection. Police said the officer cocked his weapon and subdued the suspect without opening fire. The knife was recovered at the scene.”

“Peace”/Normalization - What’s Next & Dividends

Palestine to start talks with Guterres about international peace conference,

“Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, is to start consultations with the international organisation’s Secretary-General about an international peace conference. Mansour told Voice of Palestine that he is scheduled to begin separate consultations next week with Antonio Guterres and members of the UN Security Council to discuss such a conference.”

Gulf Muslim Pilgrims Are About to Upset the Fragile Status Quo at Al-Aqsa,

“A surge of pilgrims from the UAE and Bahrain is expected to visit Jerusalem’s Muslim sites, following normalization with Israel. How will the Palestinians, Jordan and Saudi Arabia respond? Will this be a victory for coexistence, or a trigger for violence?”

Egypt vexed by Israel, UAE plans for 'rival Suez Canal',

“Warming economic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates have forced a wedge between Abu Dhabi and ally Cairo amid talk of plans to build a rival Suez Canal. Around 10 percent of the global trade volume passes through Egypt’s Suez Canal, the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia. The Suez Canal has remained a vital lifeline for the Egyptian economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, with maritime traffic and revenues actually having risen in the first four months of 2020 before taking a dip in the second quarter. A burgeoning economic partnership between Israel and the UAE could threaten Egypt’s important role in global trade, however.”

New Kuwait emir expected to face US pressure to normalize ties with Israel,

“The new Kuwaiti emir has big shoes to fill and formidable issues to deal with — balancing relations with regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran, steering the economy through crisis, and selecting a new crown prince. The hot topic of whether to establish ties with Israel, and how to respond to low oil prices amid the coronavirus slump, will also preoccupy the 83-year-old Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah.”

Bahrainis Continue to Protest Nationwide Against Manama's Deal With Israel,

“Bahraini protesters have staged rallies across the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, denouncing the recent agreement between the ruling Al Khalifah regime and Israel to establish full diplomatic ties. Waving Palestinian flags and wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus, demonstrators rallied in the northern villages of Abu Saiba and Shakhura on Friday, walking over the name of Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah in an apparent show of outrage over the normalization deal.”

Israel says Lebanon talks to only be on maritime, not land borders,

“Negotiations between Israel and Lebanon, set to begin next week, will only be on maritime borders, a diplomatic source in Jerusalem said on Sunday, despite indications to the contrary from Washington and Beirut.Though disputes about the Blue Line, as the land border between Israel and Lebanon is known, came up in pre-negotiation talks, Israel did not agree to negotiate land borders.”

Sudan, Oman postpone normalising ties with Israel until after US elections,

“An Israeli newspaper has reported that Sudan and Oman have postponed normalising ties with Israel until after the US elections, Rai Al-Youm reported on Friday. Reporting Israeli newspaper Maariv, Rai Al-Youm disclosed that the two Arab countries would not offer their ‘precious gifts’ to US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the US elections….Maariv’s reporter Gideon Kotz claimed that the speech of Oman’s foreign minister at the United Nations General Assembly, through which he reiterated the Palestinian right to have an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, toned down Israel’s enthusiasm regarding normalisation.”

US push for Arab-Israel ties divides Sudanese leaders,

“Sudan’s fragile interim government is sharply divided over normalizing relations with Israel, as it finds itself under intense pressure from the Trump administration to become the third Arab country to do so in short order — after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain…Sudan seemed like a natural target for the pressure campaign because of U.S. leverage — Khartoum’s desperate efforts to be removed from a U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism. Sudan can only get the international loans and aid that are essential for reviving its battered economy once that stain is removed. While Sudan’s transitional government has been negotiating the terms of removing the country from the list for more than a year, U.S. officials introduced the linkage to normalization with Israel more recently.”

PA/PLO/Palestinian Politics

Fatah: Israel’s detention of Hamas leader ‘an attempt to thwart unity efforts’,

“Secretary-General of Fatah’s Executive Committee Jibril Rajoub condemned on Friday Israel’s detention of senior Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, Safa News Agency reported. In a statement, Rajoub announced that Israel’s detention of Hamas leader: ‘Is an attempt to thwart national unity efforts.’ The Fatah leader also conveyed that Israel’s detention of Yousef: ‘Is a retention of the occupation’s policy of detention of tens of Palestinians on a daily basis and a continuation of the decades-long Israeli aggression on the Palestinians.’ Israeli occupation forces raided the house of Hamas leader Yousef on Friday at dawn and arrested him. Yousef was released in July 2020 after 15 months of administrative detention. He spent a total of 21 years in prisons, most of them under administrative detention.”

Also see:

Israel forces arrest senior Hamas leader in West Bank (Middle East Monitor)
Fatah Central Committee approves agreements with Hamas (Middle East Monitor)

Fatah accuses PA government of 'discrimination' against Gaza,

“Activists from the dominant Fatah faction have demanded that the Palestinian Authority stop its policy of “discrimination” against its own employees in the Gaza Strip, who have seen their salaries either cut or halted in the past three years.The demand was a sign of growing discontent among Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA leadership, and some Palestinians said the demand could spark a revolt within Fatah in the Strip where the faction has tens of thousands of members.”

Palestinian Authority targets Dahlan’s supporters in West Bank,

“Supporters of the exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan appear to be taking the brunt of the Fatah leadership’s anger, with rounds of political arrests.”

Hamas calls for 'national unity' in bid to reignite Palestinian elections,

“Gaza’s ruling faction Hamas issued a statement Saturday calling for ‘national unity’ among all Palestinian organizations, paving a ‘national road map’ that will lead to the ‘liberation of Palestine’ with Jerusalem as its capital. ‘National partnership, and achieving unity is a strategic and mandatory option for Hamas, Fatah and all political and societal forces,’ the terrorist group said, following extensive discussions between Hamas and the Fatah movement in Ramallah and Beirut held over the past few weeks. Hamas urged for complete rebuilding of the Palestinian political system ‘on sound democratic foundations, through comprehensive, free and fair elections in all regions, with occupied Jerusalem at the forefront,’ guaranteeing the participation of every Palestinian without exception.”

PA, Hamas Rerun Election & Unity Vows,

“No doubt, the People wants reconciliation. But in the hands of the PA, talk of reconciliation is also a cardboard sword that it waves in the face of Israel from time to time. Today, especially, it is difficult to impress Israel and Israelis with these stagnant “developments” in the Palestinian arena. Nevertheless, one sign of interest has come from the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service: On Friday they again arrested Hassan Yousef, a Hamas leader in the West Bank. Whenever any reconciliation process begins, Israel makes a point of arresting the Hamas people who are involved in it.”

Islamic Jihad ready to participate in Palestinian National Council elections,

“Member of the political bureau of Islamic Jihad in Palestine Mohammed Al-Hindi has announced that his movement is ready to take part in Palestinian National Council elections, Shehab News Agency reported on Friday. Speaking to the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV, Al-Hindi confirmed that these elections ‘must’ be aimed at reconstructing the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as: ‘A liberation organisation not as a submissive organisation.’ He stressed that the start of ending the internal Palestinian division is the unity against the Israeli occupation, warning of: ‘Continuing dependence on manoeuvrers or small tactics and political changes that could take place here or there.’”

Trump Administration & Congress

Friedman: A Biden victory would be bad for Israel, Arab allies,

“The American ambassador to Israel warned that a Biden victory this November could have serious consequences for Israel and moderate Arab states. Speaking with the United Arab Emirates-based media outlet Al Ain News in an interview published Sunday, Ambassador David Friedman said that if former Vice President Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump this November, the new administration’s policies would likely have negative repercussions for American allies in the Middle East, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. ‘If Biden wins we will see a policy shift that, in my personal opinion, will be wrong and will be bad for the region, including for Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait,’ Friedman said in a video released by Al Ain News.”

Bipartisan bill proposed to give Israel veto on US arms sales to Middle East,

“A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives would enhance protections for Israel’s qualitative military edge to include an effective Israeli veto on US arms sales to the Middle East. The bill ‘would require the President to consult with the Israeli government to ensure [qualitative military edge] concerns are settled’ when it comes to arms sales to Middle Eastern countries, said the news release Friday announcing its introduction the previous day. The release came from the office of the bill’s lead sponsor, Illinois Democrat Rep. Brad Schneider. Existing law already guarantees Israel a qualitative military edge in the Middle East, but Congress — not Israel — is the arbiter of whether an arms sale meets QME standards.”

Fatah to Pompeo: 'Palestine is not a banana republic',

“The Palestinian Fatah movement has directed sharp criticism at the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his recent call to replace the Palestinian leadership. This follows the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s categorical rejection of the recent normalisation agreements between Arab states and Israel, as well as its initial position against the implementation of the deal of the century. Munir Jaghoub, head of Fatah’s Information Department in the Office of Mobilisation and Organisation, responded to Pompeo through a post on Facebook in which he questioned: ‘Mr Pompeo, when will you realise that our people always choose their leadership and that Palestine, although it is a state under occupation, is not a banana republic?’”

Lawfare/Free Speech

Strategic Affairs Ministry announces aid for pro-Israel groups as funding dives,

“Israel’s government is planning to find funding for pro-Israel groups hit worldwide by a funding crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The survey released Thursday by the Ministry for Strategic Affairs says over 80 percent of major pro-Israel groups anticipate significant cuts in funding from donors and a 49 percent cut in grants. …’The Ministry of Strategic Affairs has been working in recent months on a financial aid program that will provide an economic lifeline to the pro-Israel network, to ensure the change and streamlining of their activities so they continue to remain an influential and relevant source into the future,’ Orit Farkash-Hacohen, the minister, said in a statement. The statement did not elaborate on where the funding would come from, or how it would overcome restrictions in some countries — including the United States — on money from foreign governments.” Also see: Farkash-Hacohen tapped as tourism minister after Zamir resignation (Times of Israel)

Jerusalem Post took government money to publish anti-BDS special,

“Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry paid over NIS 100,000 to the Jerusalem Post to publish articles that promote its messages in both its print and online editions, according to official government communiques. In exchange for government money, the Jerusalem Post published a special supplement in June 2019 titled ‘Unmasking BDS,’ as part of the ministry’s attempts to delegitimize the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Within the supplement’s pages, top journalists at the paper interviewed officials from the ministry as well as members of organizations abroad that work in concert with it. Other interviewees included Republican Senator and former U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who was described as a “brave warrior” for Israel….On its face, the supplement appears to be a combination of a Jerusalem Post project and an advertising pamphlet, although nowhere does it directly declare that the ministry paid for its content. In contrast, the articles and columns from the supplement that were published on the Jerusalem Post’s website do not inform readers in any way that they are, in fact, reading government propaganda.”

Investigating Israel will 'undermine entire infrastructure on which ICC is based' ,

“Ahead of the International Criminal Court’s impending ruling on a Palestinian Authority lawsuit alleging Israeli war crimes, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin has appointed Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsch as the Knesset’s official representative to the ICC…Speaking with Israel Hayom, Cotler-Wunsch warned that ruling in favor of Bensouda’s position would ‘undermine the entire infrastructure upon which the ICC is based.’”

In bid to stop probe, NYU to adopt White House-backed anti-Semitism definition,

“New York University has agreed to incorporate the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the Trump administration’s in its anti-discrimination policy to head off a federal investigation of the school. The NYU agreement, revealed this week by Jewish Insider, came after a former student described a hostile environment for Jews on the downtown Manhattan campus, including an incident that occurred at a pro-Israel event.”

The Real Cancel Culture: Pro-Israel Blacklists,

“Firings and censorship relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict long ago became common in both academia and politics. Just this month, a prominent academic, Valentina Azarova, had a job offer rescinded by the University of Toronto Faculty of Law after a major donor reportedly ‘expressed concerns in private over Azarova’s past work on the issue of Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine.’ Instead of taking up a defense of pro-Palestine speech, the debate among journalists and intellectuals has mostly focused on their own discomfort as a class. Yet, when it comes to this blind spot, the suppression of free speech targeting ordinary people has been fierce: threats to immigration status, personal lives, careers, restrictions on foreign travel, and more. And, unlike high-profile public figures able to call on magazines and newspapers for support when they feel silenced… ordinary people targeted for their speech generally lack the ability to get their stories told. Lacking powerful platforms, they generally suffer their ‘cancellations’ in mute anonymity.”

A talk with a pro-Zionist advocate, Republican MO Senator Bob Order,

“America’s interests are a threat and Israel stands as a lone democratic republic in a part of the world that is not known for its democratic institutions or for freedom or for liberty. What I really felt was that it was politically the right thing to do, was to stand with Israel. As a Christian I really do feel that Israel is a part of a Judeo- Christian heritage and part of the Western freedom, dignity, and rights of the individual; without Judaism there would be no Christianity. Without Israel, Judaism, and Christianity there is no Western world. We live in a world in which, throughout human history, freedom is the miniscule exception to the rule. Most human beings have lived under harsh tyranny. Truly little respect is paid to the rights of individuals in most political systems throughout history and today throughout most of world.”


US media talks a lot about Palestinians — just without Palestinians,

“…how are American news readers encouraged to think about Palestinians? …I examined two daily newspapers — The New York Times and The Washington Post — and two weekly news magazines — The New Republic and The Nation — over a 50-year period, from 1970 to 2019…I had expected to find relatively few opinion pieces by Palestinians, and I was correct. But what surprised me was how much Palestinians have been talked about in major U.S. media outlets over the decades. Editorial boards and columnists seem to have been quite consumed with talking about the Palestinians, often in condescending and even racist ways — yet they somehow did not feel the need to hear much from Palestinians themselves. This trend was especially striking in the daily press. In the New York Times, less than 2 percent of the nearly 2,500 opinion pieces that discussed Palestinians since 1970 were actually written by Palestinians. In the Washington Post, the average was just 1 percent.”

Netanyahu is crushing dissent among Israeli Jews now, too,

“Anti-Netanyahu protesters now feel caged in, constricted by increasingly rigid and seemingly arbitrary restrictions, and they have been subject to police brutality, baseless arrests or fines. But when they call out that ‘there is no such thing as an illegal protest,’ they’re wrong — that’s how Israel defines protests that happen just a few miles away in the occupied territories. The government’s crackdown means many Israelis are, for the first time in their lives, getting a very small taste of what it’s like — what it has always been like — for Palestinians. Not only those in the occupied West Bank who do not actually have the right to protest without a military permit and whose nonviolent resistance has been brutally suppressed, but also Palestinian citizens who make up over 20 percent of the population of the state of Israel. They have been noticeably absent from these protests.”

Endless occupation is a failure, not a success, of the Oslo Accords,

“Since Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, successive Israeli prime ministers have turned their backs on the Oslo process. A deepening occupation is the result.”