Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 14, 2020

What We’re Reading


Trump’s Mideast deals tout ‘peace’ where there was never war,

“For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a U.S. president will host a signing ceremony between Israelis and Arabs at the White House, billing it as an “historic breakthrough” in a region long known for its stubborn conflicts. But while the optics of Tuesday’s event will evoke the groundbreaking agreements that ended decades of war between Israel and neighboring Egypt and Jordan, and that launched the peace process with the Palestinians, the reality is quite different. The United Arab Emirates will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, a fellow U.S. ally it has never gone to war with, formalizing ties that go back several years. The agreement cements an informal alliance against Iran and could pave the way for the UAE to acquire advanced U.S. weapons, while leaving the far more contentious Israeli-Palestinian conflict as intractable as ever. That hasn’t stopped U.S. President Donald Trump from referring to the UAE deal, which was announced last month, as heralding a ‘previously unthinkable regional transformation.’ A similar agreement announced Friday with Bahrain, which welcomed a visiting Israeli Cabinet minister as early as 1994, also formalizes longstanding ties.”

Netanyahu: ‘We are on the threshold of a new era’,

“Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a gathering of ministers on Sunday of his ‘‘warm conversation’ on Friday with U.S. President Donald Trump and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, to discuss the “establishment of peaceful relations” between Jerusalem and Manama…’We now have two historic peace agreements, with two Arab countries, which were established in one month,’ said the Israeli premier. ‘We are on the threshold of a new era,’ he declared. ‘I want to promise you that each and every one of you, through your ministries, will be part of it because this is going to be a different kind of peace.’” Also see: New York Times – In Arab States’ Embrace, Israelis See a Reshaped Mideast

Israel drawing up a defense tech wish list,

“The Israel Defense Forces has set up a team tasked with assembling a ‘wish list’ of technologies and systems to help it maintain its regional defensive superiority. The list is to be submitted to the United States government, which is expected to approve the sale of F35 fighter jets and other advanced military technology to the United Arab Emirates under the Israel-UAE normalization deal.”

US assured UAE it won’t back Israel annexation before 2024 at earliest, ToI told,

“The Trump administration gave the UAE a commitment during normalization negotiations that Washington would not recognize Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank until 2024 at the earliest, sources with direct knowledge of the matter have told The Times of Israel… According to three sources with direct knowledge of the normalization negotiations, Emirati officials, led by the UAE’s Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba, focused on seeking assurances from the US, rather than Israel, on the matter.” Also see: Times of Israel – As Netanyahu heads back to DC, settlers now find themselves on the outside

Hungary will be only EU state to send minister to Israel-UAE deal signing,

“Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto will be the only EU diplomatic leader to attend the signing ceremony on Tuesday in Washington for the Israel-United Arab Emirates peace deal, his spokesman said on Sunday. ‘At the invitation of US President Donald Trump, as the only European Union minister, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto will also attend … the signing ceremony in the White House on Tuesday,’ Mate Paczolay told Hungarian news agency MTI.”


Further reading:


Al Jazeera: How the world reacted to Bahrain, Israel normalising ties

Algemeiner: Netanyahu Sees Direct Israel-Bahrain Flights After Normalization Deal

Al Jazeera: What is behind Bahrain’s normalisation deal with Israel?

Times of Israel: Bahrain won’t have to abolish Israel boycott law — because it did so years ago

Times of Israel: In wake of diplomatic ties, Jewish Agency to work on aiding community in Bahrain

Arab News: Bahrain: Israeli peace agreement contributes to regional stability

Israel Hayom: PM to present UAE, Bahrain peace deal for Knesset approval

Israel Hayom: Iran could target Israelis in Bahrain, expert warns

Haaretz: Israel’s New Ally, Bahrain, Is Desperate for an Economic Reboot


Jerusalem Post: UAE minister: Historic deal with Israel doesn’t forgo Palestinian cause

Jerusalem Post: The ‘private diplomacy’ that laid groundwork for UAE, Bahrain agreements

MIddle East Eye: UAE-Israel deal: Emirati tycoon set to invest in notorious Israeli football club

Arab News: UAE, Israeli educational institutions sign artificial intelligence MoU

Bahrain – Opposition to Normalization

Middle East Eye: ‘A black day’: Bahrainis voice anger over normalisation deal with Israel

YNet: Top Bahraini Shi’ite cleric rejects Israel normalization, calls on people to resist

Middle East Monitor: Bahrain civil society groups reject normalisation agreement

Middle East Monitor: Bahrain opposition rejects Israel normalisation, calls to resist

Al Jazeera: Bahrain opposition rejects Israel normalisation

Middle East Eye: Israel-UAE deal: Abu Dhabi’s betrayal could spark a new cold war with Iran

Other Arab States

Free Beacon: Trump Admin Optimistic Saudi Arabia Could Be Next to Make Peace with Israel

Israel Hayom: Diplomatic source slams ‘fake news’ on Israel-Morocco deal

Middle East Monitor: Oman welcomes Bahrain-Israel normalisation decision

Times of Israel: ‘Alternative normalization’ with Saudi Arabia seen in Bahrain-Israel deal

YNet: Saudi, Bahraini ministers discuss regional developments amid deal with Israel

Arab News: Yemen will not normalize ties with Israel without Palestinian state

Palestinian Response 

Haaretz: ‘Tomorrow, the Arab Peace Initiative Dies’: Palestinian PM Blasts Israel-UAE-Bahrain Deal

Middle East Monitor: PLO: Normalisation prepares for formation of military alliances led by Israel

Al Jazeera: Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation

Jewish News Syndicate: Palestinian Authority recalls Bahrain envoy following deal with Israel

Times of Israel: PLO, Hamas to hold joint rallies decrying UAE, Bahrain normalization with Israel

Times of Israel: Bahrain told us they would not normalize with Israel, top Palestinian laments

Arutz Sheva: PA to mark ‘black day’ to mourn Arab normalization with Israel

Middle East Monitor: Hamas welcomes formation of ‘United Leadership of Popular Resistance’

Washington Post: The Arab tide turns against the Palestinians

Al Bawaba: PLO Leader Says ‘Israel Will Never be Part of The ‘Arab National Security Mix’


Dear Facebook: Please don’t adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism,

“With 55 other scholars specialized in antisemitism, Jewish and Holocaust history and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I have just sent my own letter to Facebook’s Board of Directors warning them against adoption and application of the IHRA definition. We call on Facebook to fight all forms of hate speech on Facebook. But don’t do so by adopting and applying a politicized definition of antisemitism, which has been weaponized to undermine free speech, in order to shield the Israeli government and to silence Palestinian voices and their supporters.”

Settlements/De Facto Annexation

Israel's Settlement Affairs Ministry Gets $6 Million to Survey Unauthorized Palestinian Construction,

“The Israeli government allocated 20 million shekels (about $6 million) on Thursday to survey and map out unaothorized Palestinian construction in the Wesy Bank’s Area C, which is under full Israeli control. This is the first time that funds have been specifically allocated for such a survey as part of the state budget. Even though the authority for enforcing the Israeli law on illegal construction in Area C is in the hands of the Civil Administration, the survey budget was allocated to the newly founded Settlement Affairs Ministry.”

Israel approves 1,000 settlement units in occupied West Bank,

“Israeli authorities approved 980 settlement units in the illegal Efrat settlement in occupied Bethlehem, reported Wafa news agency. Hasan Brijiyeh, a local anti-settlement and anti-apartheid activist, told Wafa that Israel announced its approval of the construction of 980 new settlement units. The activist said that this means Israel’s plan to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank will be implemented gradually, pointing out that vast areas of agricultural land will be seized as part of the expansion of the settlement. Earlier this year, Defence Minister Naftali Bennett approved 7,000 settlement units in the illegal Efrat settlement.”

Israel Is Proud to Have Halted International Projects for Palestinians in Area C,

“The [Israeli] legislators revel in cuts to humanitarian projects funded by the EU but ask for more measures against Palestinian construction in Area C, which some call a ‘virus,’ ‘cancer’ or ‘territorial terror.’”

Palestinians say not even caves safe from Israeli bulldozers,

“Residents of the West Bank village of Farasin are living in fear of displacement after receiving demolition notices for their houses, tents and even caves.”

Israel's home demolitions in West Bank spiked during pandemic: UN,

“The number of Palestinian homes demolished by Israel in the West Bank has increased sharply in recent months and further exposed displaced residents to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations said on Friday. From March to August, 389 Palestinian-owned structures were razed, in what the the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said was the highest average destruction rate in four years. During that period, 442 Palestinians were made homeless, the agency said. In just the month of August, 205 people lost their homes, the highest displacement figure since January 2017.  The UN and human rights organizations say the policy amounts to collective punishment. According to OCHA, building permits are nearly impossible for Palestinains to obtain from Israel, describing the processing as ‘restrictive and discriminatory.’”

Occupation - Jerusalem

Israel normalisation may partition Al-Aqsa Mosque: Analysts,

“A statement embedded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain normalisation agreements with Israel, brokered by the United States, may lead to the division of the Al-Aqsa compound because it violates the status quo, analysts say. According to a report by NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem (TJ), the statements mark a ‘radical change in the status quo’ and have ‘far-reaching and potentially explosive ramifications’. Under the status quo affirmed in 1967, only Muslims can pray within al-Haram al-Sharif, also known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which consists of 14 hectares (35 acres). Non-Muslims can visit but cannot pray at the site. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed this status quo in a formal declaration in 2015. However, a clause included in the recent accords between Israel and Gulf Arab states indicates this may no longer be the case. According to the joint statement between the US, Israel, and the UAE released on August 13 by US President Donald Trump: ‘As set forth in the Vision of Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths.’”

How the UAE-Israel deal seeks to impose a 'fait accompli' in Jerusalem,

“While the normalisation agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is seen by many as a historic peace deal between the two countries, analysts in Jerusalem say it will bring ‘everything but peace to the region’. A report by Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli organisation that tracks developments in Jerusalem that could impact political processes or spark violence, says that the phrasing of an initial joint statement between Israel and the UAE raised fears of restrictions to Muslims’ rights to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Israelis as the Temple Mount, while legitimising Jewish prayers there, in violation of a longstanding agreement.”

Human Rights/Violence

Jewish terrorist gets 3 life terms for killing Palestinian family in 2015 arson,

“An Israeli man found guilty of carrying out a deadly 2015 firebombing that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian boy and his parents was sentenced on Monday to three life sentences. Handing down the sentence, the Lod District Court said Amiram Ben Uliel, 26, committed the attack out of ‘extreme and racist ideology.’ Ben Uliel, along with a teenage accomplice, were convicted previously over the 2015 arson attack in Duma. The attack, one of the most brutal acts of Jewish terror in recent years, claimed the lives of Sa’ad and Riham Dawabsha and their 18-month-old son Ali. Five-year-old Ahmed was the lone survivor of the attack.” Also see: Jerusalem Post – Jewish terrorist gets three life sentences for Duma attack

Justice minister asks for probe into alleged cover-up of Bedouin man’s killing,

“Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn on Sunday asked an ombudsman to open a probe into the conduct of the State Attorney’s Office in the case of a Bedouin man shot to death by police in 2017, days after a TV report said the office had covered up the fact that he was not a terrorist in an attempt to protect the image of law enforcement agencies. Nissenkorn made the request from former judge David Rosen, who is in charge of probing the public prosecution. Yaqoub Abu al-Qia’an’s relatives have called for a probe into the incident in the unrecognized village of Umm al-Hiran, and have said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology last week for labeling him a terrorist was too little and too late.”

Saudi accuses detained Palestinians, Jordanians of supporting terror,

“The Saudi Public Prosecution has accused Palestinian and Jordanian prisoners being held in the kingdom of being affiliated to terror groups and supporting or financing terror acts, a Jordanian lawyer revealed yesterday. Mustafa Nasrallah, who is defending a number of the Palestinian and Jordanian prisoners, said in a video posted on Twitter by the Prisoners of Conscience account, that these accusations were given by the Saudi State Intelligence Services. ‘Saudi Public Prosecution refers to terror acts as supporting the Palestinian national resistance of the Zionist occupation, supporting the Palestinian people and highlighting the Palestinian cause,’ the lawyer said.”

PA accused of being 'a police state' over its detention of Palestinian film director,

“In front of the Palestinian Council of Ministers building in Ramallah, 66-year-old Asaad Thaher walked with his cane past dozens of riot police and iron barricades to take a seat and catch his breath. Asaad had come from his hometown, the northern Palestinian city of Nablus, about an hour’s drive, to the Palestinian Authority (PA) headquarters in Ramallah to demand justice for his son Abdel-Rahman. The 38-year-old filmmaker has been held in PA detention cells since 19 August, when he was arrested by the preventive security apparatus. ‘I have not heard anything about Abdel-Rahman. I have not seen him since he was arrested,’ Asaad told Middle East Eye. “[I feel] a lot worry and fear for him… I don’t have a single piece of information to ease my worries,” he said before he choked up with tears, unable to continue speaking.”

The Gaza Strip & Hamas

Gaza Strip records 100 new cases of coronavirus as health crisis deepens,

“The Gaza Strip on Sunday recorded 100 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the number of infections detected outside quarantine centers to 1,588, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The number of people infected with the coronavirus in the Palestinian territory has thus increased fifteen-fold in nearly three weeks, while 15 Gazans have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.” Also see: Middle East Monitor – Gaza records 2 deaths, 100 infections from coronavirus

Report: Egypt mediating new Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange deal,

“Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Friday told Turkish media that Egypt is currently mediating a new prisoner exchange deal between Gaza Strip’s rulers and Israel. The Islamism terrorist group is holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, killed in the 2014 Gaza war, as well as Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Israeli Hisham al-Sayed, both suffering from mental health issues, crossed into Gaza willingly in 2014 and 2015 and were captured by Hamas. Speaking with the Anadolu news agency, Haniyeh said he ‘welcomes the Egyptian role in reaching a new agreement and we hope to make some progress. Our Egyptian brethren are addressing many issues, including the attempt to reach Palestinian unity, easing the siege on the Gaza Strip, and a prisoner exchange.’”

When will the world stop ignoring what is happening in Gaza?,

“For my family, and for the people of Gaza, August has been horrific. Israel bombed the Strip on an almost daily basis, making us feel like we were stuck at the epicentre of a never-ending earthquake. The explosions, at times barely a kilometre from our home, were so loud, my two-year-old niece could not sleep at night. Every time she heard a loud bang she quickly gathered her toys around her, as if to protect them from Israel’s bombs. Last month was indeed horrific, but it was not extraordinary in any way. Israel’s soldiers, warplanes, drones and gunships have been harassing, intimidating, and killing the people of Gaza regularly, and with impunity, for decades. Israel’s attacks are part of the daily routine in Gaza. To be able to survive, and to lead something that resembles a normal life, us Gazans have no choice but to accept as normal the violence being inflicted on us.”

US Scene

Book: Netanyahu showed Trump likely doctored clip of Abbas backing child murder,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017 showed US President Donald Trump a potentially doctored video in which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas seemed to call for the murder of children, in order to sway the American leader to the Israeli side, according journalist Bob Woodward’s explosive new book on the administration, ‘Rage.’ Reporting on excerpts from the book, set to be released next week, Jewish Insider and The Independent said that early on in his presidency, Trump began to waver in his support for Netanyahu. The US president was having ‘doubts about Netanyahu and wondering aloud if the Israeli prime minister might be the real problem,’ according to Woodward. ‘Trump had even earlier said to Netanyahu on a Washington visit that he believed he was the obstacle to peace, not Abbas.’ Then, when Trump came to Israel in May 2017, Netanyahu presented him with a video of Abbas in which ‘it sounded like Abbas was ordering the murder of children.’ Netanyahu wondered: ‘And that’s the guy you want to help?’ Trump was disturbed by the video and called in then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson to watch the clip. ‘Watch this! This is unbelievable! You’ve got to see this,’ he said. Tillerson watched the clip, but was highly skeptical. He later said he believed it had been crudely cut together using various bits of speech by Abbas. After Netanyahu left the room, Tillerson told Trump: ‘Mr. President, you realize that the whole thing was fabricated?’ But Trump was unconvinced. ‘Well it’s not fabricated,’ he said. ‘They got the guy on tape saying it.’”


Report: Israeli strike kills 10 Iran-backed gunmen in Syria,

“A suspected Israeli airstrike on Iran-backed fighters in eastern Syria on Monday killed 10 fighters, including eight Iraqis, a Syrian opposition war monitor reported. Israel rarely comments on such reports, but is believed to have carried out scores of raids targeting Iran’s military presence in Syria in recent years.”

Satellite images show alleged Israeli strike in Syria targeted missile factory,

“Less than three days after airstrikes in Syria’s Aleppo province were attributed to Israel by Syrian state news agency SANA, satellite images released by ImageSat International on Sunday showed the facility to be a missile production plant near the town of al-Safirah, in northern Syria. According to ImageSat International, which specializes in satellite imagery analysis, the two buildings that were targeted in the strike ‘played a significant part in the missile production at the al-Safirah Missile Factory.’” Also see: Times of Israel – Israeli intel firm: Friday airstrikes in Syria hit missile production facility