Top News from Israel & Palestine: October 9, 2020

What We’re Reading

Normalization/Regional Relations

Cabinet to vote on UAE peace agreement next week,

“The cabinet will hold a vote on Israel’s peace treaty with the United Arab Emirates on Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Monday. There has not been a full cabinet meeting since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from the signing ceremony at the White House, almost a month before the planned vote. The agreement is expected to get unanimous support from the ministers…The seven-page “Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and The State of Israel” avoids any topics that may be controversial, such as a Palestinian state or American weapons sales to Abu Dhabi.”

Also See – “Netanyahu to bring UAE peace treaty for approval in cabinet, Knesset next week” (The Times of Israel)

Israel signs deal with Jordan to open airspace: transport ministry,

“Israel has signed an aviation agreement with Jordan that will allow flights from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to fly through Israeli airspace, it said on Thursday. The deal had been discussed for years, but the neighbors were only able to finalize it after Israel and the two Gulf Arab states signed a historic agreement last month to normalize ties, Israel’s Transportation Ministry said. Jordanian officials had no immediate comment.”

Also See –  “Jordan and Israel Sign Deal for Reciprocal Overflights” (Haaretz); “Israel hopes aviation agreement warms up ties with Jordan” (Al-Monitor); “Israel and Jordan sign aviation deal to cut time and costs for Gulf flights” (Middle East Eye)

Netanyahu, Ethiopian PM discuss regional issues,

“Netanyahu discussed with Ahmed his intention of bringing over some 2,000 Jewish residents of Addis Ababa and Gondar, as part of Israel’s commitment of assisting Ethiopian Jews make aliyah. Ahmed indicated that he fully approves the plan and that the step symbolizes the unique relationship between the countries. Netanyahu and Ahmed also discussed the possibility of further developing agriculture cooperation, as well increasing Israeli aid.”

Report: In same room at maritime negotiations, Lebanese won’t talk to Israelis,

“Lebanese negotiators do not intend to speak directly with their Israeli counterparts when the two sides meet next week for rare talks on delineating the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon, according to Walla news and Axios reporter Barak Ravid. Ravid tweeted Thursday that though the sides will sit in the same room, Lebanese officials are planning to ask US and UN mediators to relay messages to the Israeli side.”

Assad: No talks with Israel without return of Golan Heights to Syria ,

“Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with Russian state news Thursday that peace talks with Israel would only take place if the Israelis return the Golan Heights to Syrian control.”

Why Trump wants Sudan to befriend Israel,

“With Sudan in desperate straits – a collapsing economy, hyperinflation looming and a nationwide food crisis – the administration of US President Donald Trump and the Israeli government have seen an opportunity. The country’s democratic hopes hang by a thread 18 months after non-violent protests overthrew their long-term ruler Omar al-Bashir. But if Sudan recognises Israel then the US will strike it off the state sponsors of terror list, opening the door to essential economic stabilisation measures.”

The real winners in the Israel-UAE deal? Arms dealers,

“The win-win-win scenario for the arms industries is much bigger than just a diplomatically negotiated market expansion, however. On the sidelines of the three-way agreement between Israel, the UAE, and the United States, the latter two countries struck a deal wherein the United States will sell fifth-generation American F-35 fighter jets to the Gulf state at a minimum price of $77.9 million per unit. Israel is now in the process of weighing up what kind of “compensation package” to secure from the U.S. government, in exchange for the perceived dent to its “qualitative military edge” in the region — the maintenance of which has previously prevented such arms deals. This “compensation” will manifest as part of the United States’ military aid to Israel.”

Palestinian Politics

Top PLO official Saeb Erekat diagnosed with coronavirus,

“Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the longtime Palestinian diplomat said on Thursday night. Erekat is currently in isolation in his house in the West Bank city of Jericho, and has canceled all his appointments until he recovers from the virus. He has experienced light coronavirus symptoms, including a fever.”

Als0 See – “Palestinian negotiator Erekat experiencing ‘difficult’ COVID-19 symptoms” (Jerusalem Post)

Turkey offers help in organizing future Palestinian elections,

“Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara is ready to assist the Palestinian Authority in organizing new elections, the Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.  Cavusoglu, a close confidant of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, later confirmed the report in a tweet, writing that he was holding talks with the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) top diplomatic official. “Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki and I spoke on a video conference,” Cavusoglu said in a tweet. “We will work together against attempts to undermine the two-state solution.” He added: “We are ready to help in the organization of future Palestinian elections and also support the reconciliation” of the various Palestinian factions. “We will always be at the side of our Palestinian brother.”

Israel's Gulf Deals Derailed Palestinians' Strategy. Future Leaders May Have to Take Different Path,

“Conversations with Israeli intelligence and security officials indicate that Israel’s accord with the Gulf states was devastating for the Palestinians and its reverberations will be felt for a long time. Some of these officials liken the accord to a tsunami that puts the entire Palestinian strategy to the test. The bypass route that Netanyahu and Trump found to the UAE has brought down the Palestinian wall that sought to ensure that Israel could not enjoy the fruits of normalization with other Arab countries before it agreed to significant concessions in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, a process that was frozen a decade ago.”

Palestinians in Kuwait: The Family and the Politics of Survival,

“This small, non-inclusive sample illustrates Palestinian accomplishments in Kuwait, focusing only on those who came between 1948 and 1955. The contributions of this group directly resulted from an obsession with professional standards, caused to a large extent by the need to find and maintain employment as stateless refugees. In every area of the private and public sectors, the displaced Palestinian intelligentsia left its mark. Furthermore, these examples demonstrate how every exiled population, in adapting to a new environment, follows strategies that reflect the original society. The majority of the early-comer Palestinian intelligentsia were urban; their experience had been accumulated in cities such as Jaffa, Haifa, Lydda, Ramla, Acre, Safad , Gaza, Tiberias, and Jerusalem. Their education, knowledge of foreign languages, and experience with the British system of civil administration provided them with tools helpful for survival after the 1948 trauma.”

Israeli Domestic Politics

Thousands Protest Against Netanyahu Across Israel; Demonstrators Report Attacks,

“At least two protesters were arrested on Thursday night in Tel Aviv after thousands of Israelis protested all across Israel against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a day after the government approved a one-week extension on the emergency regulations which allow the limiting of demonstrations. Throughout the day, hundreds of protesters gathered in Tel Aviv and at the Jaffa Clock Tower roundabout, chanting “we won’t give up until Netanyahu resigns.” Demonstrators are carried signs reading “We are the hope” and waving pink flags. In Tel Aviv, protests are held at Rabin Square, Habima Square, Ben-Zion and Hashmonaim junctions.”

Also See – “Hundreds of anti-Netanyahu protesters march in Tel Aviv despite virus lockdown” (The Times of Israel); “Gantz: Rising Violence Against anti-Netanyahu Protesters Could Lead to Murder” (Haaretz)

Naftali Bennett, propelled by coronavirus crisis, challenges Netanyahu,

“Dramatic polling results, already released by Channel 12 on Oct. 6, showed Bennett breathing down the neck of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (23 seats for Yamina compared with 26 for Likud if elections were held today). It’s a remarkable achievement, especially considering that as late as April 2019, Bennett was considered political deadwood. His party failed to pass the electoral threshold, and it was not at all clear that he could rehabilitate himself…He has managed to challenge Netanyahu from the right and present himself as a candidate for the office of prime minister. Actually, support for Bennett increased the moment he cut off his dependence on Netanyahu and positioned himself as an alternative. He is almost the only beneficiary in what is seen as a government fiasco of historic proportions.”

Also See – “On the political map, Likud continues to lose seats while Yamina rises” (Jerusalem Post)

Occupation/Annexation/Human Rights/Apartheid

Israel confirms holding body of slain Palestinian as controversial 'necroviolence' policy continues,

“The Israeli army said on Friday it was holding the body of a Palestinian shot dead in the West Bank earlier this week, ending days of uncertainty over his fate. The announcement follows a policy change last month in which Israel said it would not return the bodies of any Palestinian killed during or as a result of a suspected attack. On Monday, 27-year-old Palestinian Samir Hamidi was killed by Israeli soldiers near the northern West Bank settlement of Einav after reportedly throwing petrol bombs.”

Also See – “IDF says it is holding body of Palestinian shot dead for hurling firebombs” (The Times of Israel)

Occupation forces injure four Palestinians during weekly Kafr Qaddum protest,

“At least four Palestinians were injured by Israeli occupation forces today during the weekly protest against Israeli settlements, which takes place every Friday in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank, local sources said. Morad Shtewi, an official in charge of the popular resistance file in the village, told WAFA that Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated rounds and teargas at the protesters, injuring four of them by rubber-coated rounds. Others also sustained suffocation from gas inhalation.”

PM Shtayyeh urges an international intervention to stop Israeli demolition of a West Bank school,

“The Office of Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh today called on international human rights and humanitarian organizations and international allies to intervene and stop the Israeli demolition of Ras al-Tin school, affiliated with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and located east of Ramallah, following the Israeli Civil Administration’s cancelation of a judicial order protecting the school.”

Palestinian prisoner's hunger strike against administrative detention hits 75 days,

“A Palestinian prisoner has been on a hunger strike for 75 days in protest against his administrative detention – imprisonment without charges or trial – by Israel. Maher al-Akhras, 49, said this week that he will not cease his hunger strike. In a video message from his hospital bed in Kaplan Medical Centre in Rehovot, Israel, Akhras said the aim of his protest strike was “either freedom for my family and my children, or my killing in the name of their false justice”.”

High Court won’t reconsider barring home demolition of accused soldier killer,

“The High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected a request to hold another hearing on its decision to bar the military from demolishing the home of a Palestinian man charged with killing an Israeli soldier. The court in August forbade the Israel Defense Forces from demolishing the home of Nazmi Abu Bakr, who is accused of killing 21-year-old Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal by throwing a brick at him from a rooftop, as the soldier took part in an operation in the West Bank village of Yabed in May.”

U.S. Politics & International Relations

Trump administration imposes crushing sanctions on Iran in defiance of European humanitarian concerns,

“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin challenged that assertion in a statement, saying that the designation of 18 Iranian banks “reflects our commitment to stop illicit access to U.S. dollars” and that “today’s actions will continue to allow for humanitarian transactions to support the Iranian people.” The move represents a major pre-election push on a signature Trump administration policy that has succeeded in devastating the Iranian economy while failing to moderate Tehran’s behavior or limit its nuclear program. ”

Also See – “US government announces seizure of 92 Iran-linked websites” (Al-Monitor); “US government sanctions 18 Iranian banks” (Al-Monitor); “US hits Iran’s entire financial sector with sanctions” (The Times of Israel)

Battle simmers over Palestinian voices in D.C., as Dems do damage control on Rabin’s heroism,

“Ocasio-Cortez’s stance so rattled Democrats, that they are engaged in damage control. Several legislators including Senator Ben Cardin and Reps. Dean Phillips, Ted Deutch, Jan Schakowsky, and Jamie Raskin introduced a bipartisan resolution on October 1 honoring Rabin.”