Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 11, 2020

What We’re Reading


Nationwide lockdown gets green light ahead of final vote next week,

“The special ministerial forum on the COVID-19 pandemic approved coronavirus czar Ronny Gamzu’s proposal to reimpose a nationwide lockdown for about a month. The decision now moves to the cabinet and then to the Knesset for final approval, but it is expected to be fast tracked by early next week, with the lockdown taking effect by next Friday….In recent days some 3,000 new cases have been recorded on a daily basis. If approved the measure would see Israelis being forced to stay at home or within a set distance from their residence and virtually all non-essential commercial activity would cease. This would span the month of the High Holy Days, taking effect on Sept 15 and ending on Oct. 12.”

Setting new one-day COVID records, Israel gears up for extended lockdown starting on Rosh Hashanah,

“The country recorded more than 4,000 new cases Thursday and 22 new deaths, both records. Israel hurtled past the grim 1,000-death threshold last weekend, and it has the highest per-capita new infection rate in the world. The daily case total would be the equivalent of nearly 150,000 new cases in the United States.”

Virus task force: At least 3 months needed to bring cases down to 400 a day,

“A new report by a government coronavirus task force assesses that it will take no less than 90 days to bring infections down to 400 cases a day, given the current rate of some 4,000 daily diagnoses…According to the ministry, 4,038 new cases were diagnosed on Thursday, slightly surpassing the previous day’s record. Of the 33,920 active cases, 489 were in serious condition, 134 of them on ventilators. Another 180 were in moderate condition, with the rest displaying mild or no symptoms. Since the start of the pandemic, 146,542 Israelis have contracted the virus and 111,539 have recovered.”

Coronavirus rages, but Netanyahu goes to Washington,

“Netanyahu’s planned absence has been generating growing criticism over the timing of the trip and the decision to leave the country rather than devoting himself to curb the spread of the disease. The debate grew more heated this morning following the latest Health Ministry report that indicated that another record of daily infections had been broken in the previous 24 hours, with over 3,900 Israelis testing positive for the virus — compared with fewer than 1,000 in early July at the start of the pandemic’s second wave in Israel.”


Trump says another country could join Israel-UAE accord,

“Next week at the White House we’ll be having a signing between the UAE and Israel, and we could have another country added into that. And I will tell you that countries are lining up that want to go into it,” Trump told a White House news conference.

UAE delegation’s Israel visit likely to be delayed as lockdown looms — minister,

“A planned visit to Israel by an official delegation from the United Arab Emirates later this month will likely be delayed or held under tight restrictions, Science Minister Izhar Shay said Friday. “It appears [the visit] will either be postponed or a special procedure will be required,” Shay told 102 FM radio, citing Thursday night’s decision to impose a new national lockdown in the coming days, for an unspecified period.”

One month after the UAE-Israel deal, there’s little sign of buy-in from other Arab states,

“Senior figures in the Trump administration embarked on a hard sell of the agreement in tours to regional capitals that aimed to persuade other states in the Arab world to follow the UAE’s lead. However, neither Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nor presidential adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner succeeded, as leader after leader after leader restated their commitment to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia’s then Crown Prince (later King) Abdullah, which based Arab normalization with Israel on Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories occupied since 1967….A lack of other states lining up to follow the UAE may also reflect a calculation that the Abraham Accord is neither about peace nor about the Palestinians but is instead an agreement made for purely national and bilateral interests, especially in regard to the UAE and its political positioning in Washington, DC ahead of the November 3 presidential and congressional elections. By coincidence of timing, the UAE-Israel signing ceremony at the White House takes place a day after a Qatari delegation visits Washington for the third instalment of an annual U.S.-Qatar strategic dialogue. This began in 2018, shortly after Qatar was placed under blockade by four neighboring and regional states, including the UAE, and the September 14 iteration will focus on issues that range from trade and investment to regional security and defense cooperation.”

Occupation & De Facto Annexation Continue...

Netanyahu Apology to Bedouins Is Taken as an Affront,

“It took nearly four years for the Israeli government to apologize to a Bedouin family from the Negev desert after a relative whose car had fatally run over a police officer, and who was killed by police fire, was hastily and wrongly labeled a terrorist. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally addressed the injustice this week, publicly apologizing to the family of the killed man, Yakub Abu al-Qian. But his presentation outraged many current and former officials, who accused Mr. Netanyahu of cynically exploiting the tragic case as part of his broader campaign to discredit the law enforcement authorities and the judiciary before his corruption trial moves into a critical phase in the coming months.”

Israel Police Obstructed Investigation of 2017 Killing of Bedouin Man, Official Says,

“Police obstructed a Justice Ministry unit’s inquiry into the killing of Bedouin teacher Yakub Abu al-Kiyan in Umm al-Hiran in 2017, a senior law enforcement official said this week. Police delayed passing materials about the incident in Umm al-Hiran to the ministry’s unit that investigates police misconduct, showed the officers involved in the incident footage of the shooting, and took their testimonies at the site and at the station, while the Justice Ministry unit was investigating the incident. These acts prevented the unit from arriving at the truth, investigating officers said.”

Israel’s climate justice movement has a colonialism problem,

“Yet the Israeli climate movement often remains silent when it comes to fighting neoliberalism, racism, oppression, and the occupation and its profound ecological damage to this land and the people who live on it. As someone who ran a large environmental organization for nearly a decade, I have witnessed how on the one hand, environmental discourse easily connects to struggles against government corruption, hyper-capitalism, and the shoving aside of the public interest, and on the other how burning political and social issues that appear unrelated to the climate, at least on paper, are all but ignored.”

With an Israeli Soldier's Knee on His Neck, This 61-year-old Palestinian Remembered George Floyd,

“You need to see both clips. They leave no room for doubt: An Israel Defense Forces officer brutally assaults an elderly demonstrator who is walking with a cane and carrying a Palestine flag. The officer hurls the man to the ground and hits him. The demonstrator’s keffiyeh falls off, his head is exposed – and then the officer pushes his knee down on the man’s neck and begins to suffocate him, in what appears like a replay of the image of the suffocation of George Floyd. The officer then cuffs the man’s hands behind his back and then he and some other soldiers pick him up, shackled, and try to take him away. They jostle the elderly man this way and that, as other protesters try to free him and explain to them that he’s old, until the soldiers relent and let go. The demonstrators free him and hustle him into a Palestinian Authority vehicle, to extricate him from the scene. But then an enraged IDF officer attacks the vehicle, smashes the front window with his rifle butt and pulls out the driver and the elderly man, all the while shouting at them. These repulsive images, captured on September 1 in the West Bank village of Shufa, were disseminated far and wide, largely because of their resemblance to the killing of George Floyd by police in a botched arrest operation in Minneapolis this past May. In the more recent case, the suffocation did not cause death, fortunately. And naturally, no public storm ensued in Israel, where no “Palestinian lives matter” organization has ever been formed.”


Gaza factions say Hamas cut them out of deal with Israel,

“Al-Monitor learned from sources within Islamic Jihad that the movement is not pleased with the agreement, claiming that it does not fulfill the resistance’s basic demand of lifting the 14-year siege of the Gaza Strip.Members and supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad exchanged criticism on social media regarding the understandings.”

U.S. Politics

Kushner says Democrats will be invited to UAE-Israel accord ceremony at the White House,

“White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner told Jewish Insider on Wednesday that the White House will invite members of the Democratic Party to attend the signing ceremony of the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization deal next week. “This is something that should be bipartisan. We will invite Democrats [and] Republicans to be here,” Kushner told JI during a press call previewing the event, which will take place next Monday and include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an Emirati delegation headed by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed.”

Jared Kushner: ‘We’ll do what we can’ to preserve Israel’s military superiority while selling combat jets to UAE,

“Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner pledged to “do what we can” to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge if the administration works out a deal to sell advanced combat jets to the United Arab Emirates.“With regard to the F-35: Right now, again, it’s just something that’s being discussed; we’re going through consultations,” Kushner said Wednesday when asked about congressional pushback against reports that the Trump administration is selling F-35 stealth fighters to the UAE.”

What Joe Biden told donors at a J Street fundraiser,

“Biden told the group that he assumes “Netanyahu knows and the Israelis know my position” on the matter. “I’ve made clear that I’m going to oppose annexation as president,” he said. “A two-state solution is the only way to ensure Israel’s long-term security while sustaining its Jewish and democratic identity. I don’t know how they do it without a two-state solution. And it’s also the only way to ensure Palestinian rights to a state of their own.” The Democratic nominee remarked that “Trump has put Israel in danger by tearing up the Iran nuclear deal” and “has undermined the stability of self-determination for the Palestinians, undercutting hope for a viable two-state solution any chance that he gets.””

Haim Saban backs Biden; will host a fundraiser next week,

“Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban, a major Democratic donor and bundler, is expected to host a virtual fundraiser in support of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden next Monday, Jewish Insider has learned. The event will feature Biden, along with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and costs $500,000 per person, a person with knowledge of the event told JI. Saban and his wife, Cheryl, who were the largest individual donors to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, stayed on the sidelines and didn’t endorse any candidate during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. “

DMFI releases new round of congressional endorsements,

“Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action committee, established last year to support pro-Israel Democrats, is set to release a post-primary season round of congressional endorsements today. The list, shared exclusively with Jewish Insider, includes mostly incumbent senators running for reelection this year and House members. “

Rep. Brad Sherman calls on pro-Israel groups to help him take control of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,

“In a zoom event hosted by the lobbying group Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) made it clear that, if appointed to the position, he would defend Israel with the same zeal that Engel has. He also called on pro-Israel organizations to support his effort to become chairman of the committee. “You went to bat for Eliot Engel in a huge way, and demonstrated that you understood how important that chairmanship is,” he told DMFI members. “Eliot Engel was Plan A. I strongly supported him. But now I’m going to try to ask you to go with Plan B. And I won’t compare myself to my good friend Eliot Engel, except to say that when it comes to having one’s heart in the right place, Eliot and I are in the exact same place.””

Biden runs to Trump’s right on Israel in Florida,

“Now Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Netanyahu cheerleader (literally), who represents Miami Dade, has stepped up for Biden by publishing an op-ed in The Miami Herald saying that Trump is endangering Israel by agreeing to give F-35 fighter jets to the UAE. DWS’s op-ed piece– “Trump puts Israel’s security in danger with deal to sell fighter jets to United Arab Emirates” — shows that Biden will do his best to run on Trump’s right on Israel, just as Bill Clinton ran to George H.W. Bush’s right on settlements the last time a Dem challenger knocked off a Republican incumbent, 1992.”