Top News from Israel/Palestine: September 16, 2020

What We’re Reading

"Peace" in the Middle East

A brave new Middle East? Top experts break down momentous Israel-UAE-Bahrain accords,

“We selected ten cogent and insider experts to parse this old/new reality. Their insights are essential reading.”

Also see:

Celebrations/Analysis in Pro-Greater Israel Media

Israel Hayom: 27 years after the Oslo bluff, Israel finally receives a New Middle East

Free Beacon: BEASTMODE: Netanyahu: Trump Holds the ‘Key to the Hearts of the People of Israel’

Free Beacon: The ‘Coffee Boy’ Makes Peace in the Middle East

Free Beacon: FLASHBACK: Experts Predicted Jerusalem Embassy Move Would Kill Middle East Peace

Arutz Sheva: Italian lawmaker nominates Netanyahu for Nobel Peace Prize

Artuz Sheva: Trump nominated for 2 Nobel Peace Prizes

Breitbart: Gaza Terror Rockets Rain Down on Israel in Wake of UAE-Israel-Bahrain Peace Deals

BESA: The Serbia-Kosovo Agreement Is a Result of the Israel-UAE Agreement

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: The Abraham Accords May Herald New Security Structures for the Middle East

Palestinian response

Times of Israel: As Israelis celebrate, Palestinians decry ‘disgraceful’ UAE and Bahrain deals

Jerusalem Post: Decrying normalization, Palestinians warn of Third Intifada

Al Jazeera: Palestinians unify as Arab states ‘normalise’ Israel relations

Other responses

Al Jazeera: More than 200,000 sign anti-normalisation ‘Palestine Charter’

Al Jazeera: Rouhani: UAE, Bahrain will bear ‘consequences’ of Israel deals

Al Jazeera: Qatar rules out normalising relations with Israel

Next up?

Israel Hayom: ‘Pakistan could be next to normalize ties with Israel’

Times of Israel: Trump says Saudi Arabia among 7-9 countries expected to make peace with Israel

Analysis/Commentary on “Peace”/Normalization Deals

The mirage of Trump’s ‘peace’ deals,

“The two big deals trumpeted by the White House this month are not the victories for ‘peace’ that Trump claims they are. Start with the main event this week: Both the UAE and Bahrain already communicate and engage with Israel, and the three countries were not locked in anything close to conflict. ‘The UAE-Israel strategic relationship was fueled by mutual fears of Iran and formalized by the United States,’ Karim Sadjadpour, a Middle East analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told my colleagues. ‘It’s an example of Trump slapping his name on a hotel that was essentially already built.’ Boosters of the normalization see Israel’s deepening ties with the Arab world as a positive development in the region. But there’s no indication of what sort of real ‘peace’ Palestinians chafing under Israeli occupation may gain from a handful of Gulf states receiving Israeli ambassadors and new orders of U.S. military hardware.”

Also see:

Times of Israel – Accords mark Mideast peace breakthrough, but Palestinian issue isn’t going away

Times of Israel – Gantz lauds normalization, but says no stability without talking to Palestinians

JTA/Hadar Susskind – Normalizing relations with UAE does nothing to fix existential problems

How Brutal UAE and Bahrain Autocrats Outplayed a Tired, Deluded Palestinian Leadership,

“Today, the Middle East crosses a point of no return. But when Israel, the UAE and Bahrain are signing the U.S.-brokered ‘Abraham Accords,’ at the White House Tuesday, Palestinian leaders – weak and divided – are still lagging behind, unable to develop a new, concrete strategy that would salvage the wreckage of their ‘disappearance’ from what is being touted as an unprecedented era of peacemaking. Not that any Palestinian leader could have halted the normalization frenzy between the Gulf and Israel. But the feebleness, cynicism and fragmentation of the Palestinian leaders now in office have critically undermined any potential capacity to prevent, delay, engage with or respond meaningfully to the UAE and Bahrain’s groundbreaking groveling to Israel, and to Donald Trump.”

American Jews Know Israel’s Only Real Peace Deal Is With the Palestinians,

“U.S. Jews see through the Trump-Netanyahu ‘peace deal’ spin: Israel’s only existential conflict is with the Palestinians, and it is with them that Israel must make peace.”

Trump and Netanyahu's Big Fat Fake Peace Deal,

“As a lawyer to the Palestinian negotiating team, I spent years listening to Israeli representatives do as Netanyahu and Trump did Tuesday: ignoring Palestinians, arrogantly telling us that we should simply accept whatever crumbs are thrown our way (and be grateful for those crumbs), denying or justifying the Nakba of 1948, and attempting to relegate us into a “minority” and not the indigenous people of this land. This is, unfortunately, the face of Zionism: an arrogant colonial movement that can only thrive through our demise.”

'Palestinian self-determination not for sale': Protesters in US rally against normalisation,

“As US President Donald Trump brought together leaders from Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to sign deals to establish diplomatic relations, just outside of the White House, hundreds of Palestinians, civil rights and advocacy groups gathered in protest of the occasion, accusing the leaders of ignoring the voices of Palestinians. Coming together with waves of Palestinian flags, donning traditional keffiyehs, and some wearing masks with the words ‘Free Palestine’, the demonstrators shouted slogans: ‘No hate, no fear, Bibi is not welcome here’, and ‘Occupation is a crime, normalisation is a crime’”.”

Noura Erakat Trump 'peace' deals for Israel, UAE and Bahrain are shams. They boost oppression, not amity.,

“The agreements reflect a geopolitical alliance among repressive regimes to expand the U.S. sphere of influence in the Middle East.”

Mideast peace, Trump style,

Dividends of “Peace”/Normalization

Peace deal or arms race? ,

“The proposed sale of advanced U.S. fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates is raising concerns among some security experts in Israel that the Middle East could be on the verge of an arms race even as those two countries sign a peace deal Tuesday at the White House.”

Also see:

Real Clear Defense/JINSA: F-35s to UAE Necessitates U.S. Ensure Israel’s QME

Breaking Defense: Israel Seeks $8B Arms Deal At White House: F-35s, V-22s, KC-46s

Times of Israel: Noting ‘questions’ over F-35 sale, Pelosi vows to ensure Israeli military edge

Middle East Monitor: Bahrain minister: Normalising with Israel protects us from Iran

Haaretz: The Real Reason Gulf States Are Normalizing Relations With Israel Right Now [Israel and Gulf states have engaged in discreet cooperation for years, on issues from Iran to Islamist radicalism. What has changed is not only the tempting prospect of arms deals with the U.S.]

After peace deals, Gazans fire 13-rocket salvo at Israel; IDF hits Hamas targets,

“Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired 13 rockets into southern Israel before dawn on Wednesday, eight of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, the Israel Defense Forces said. The attack apparently came in response to Israel signing peace deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The projectiles were fired over the course of half an hour, prompting the second of two waves of overnight strikes by the Israeli Air Force on Hamas targets across Gaza. The predawn attacks from the Strip triggered sirens at least five times over a half-hour period — from roughly 4:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. — in the town of Sderot and communities in the Eshkol and Sha’ar Hanegev regions early Wednesday. The IDF said several volleys were fired, totaling 13 rockets. Soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted eight of the incoming projectiles, the military said.”

Also see:

Haaretz – Gaza Rockets Bring Palestinians to the White House Lawn

Times of Israel: Netanyahu: Israel will strike anyone who attacks us, and make peace with those who seek peace

Direct Israel-UAE shipping route? Dubai firm bids to take over Haifa port,

“Dubai-based port operator DP World said Wednesday it would partner with an Israeli firm in a bid to take over the country’s Haifa port, the largest shipping hub in the country. DP World said in a statement that it signed memorandums of understanding with DoverTower, a company owned by Shlomi Fogel, the co-owner of Israel Shipyards and the Port of Eilat. The two firms also will explore creating a direct shipping route from Dubai’s massive Jebel Ali port to Eilat, the statement said.” Also see, for some interesting background/context: Al Monitor 1/7/20 – Dubai ports giant hires ex-Israeli intelligence official to land US support for Sudan bid [“DP World has hired controversial lobbyist Ari Ben-Menashe to get a US grant to develop Sudan’s most important cargo terminal.”]

Kosovo government adopts IHRA definition of anti-Semitism,

“The government of Kosovo yesterday adopted IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, a move in Prishtina applauded by the Israeli government.”

The Trump Administration Orders an Al Jazeera Affiliate to Register as a Foreign Agent],

“The US Justice Department on Monday declared that the Al Jazeera Media Network—the international news organization based in Doha—’is an agent of the Government of Qatar.’ The DOJ has ordered the network’s US-based social media division, AJ+, to register as a foreign agent, a step the news outlet says will hobble its journalism…The designation follows a years-long push by lobbyists hired by the autocratic government of the United Arab Emirates, which has long resented the critical coverage it receives from Al Jazeera. That effort has been led by Akin Gump, a large law firm and a registered foreign agent for the UAE. Its employees, including former House Foreign Relations Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, amped up their work related to Al Jazeera this year, issuing a lengthy report in July and contacting scores of lawmakers and legislative aides, according to Akin Gump’s federal filings.”


State Department campaign could be groundbreaking,

“…The administration must pursue a ‘whole-of-government’ approach, as State Department representatives have reportedly pledged. At a minimum, this must include involvement of the Commerce Department’s Office of Anti-Boycott Compliance. That office enforces federal anti-boycott law, specifically the Export Administration Act. In recent years, Commerce’s enforcement record has been spotty at best. In fairness, the Export Administration Act is badly outdated. Congress should play a role in updating this legislation, perhaps by passing of the long-pending Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Other agencies should also play a role. This includes domestic departments, which should demonstrate the kinds of measures that the State will urge other countries to undertake. For example, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which I headed until August, has promised to issue regulations implementing the Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism. This executive order directed OCR and other agencies to consider the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism under appropriate circumstances. Education should honor this promise. The United States must be as clear as its allies in condemning BDS as anti-Semitic. This should be done through regulations and guidance, not just diplomacy and politics. Finally, the United States must speak from American values when pursuing its fight against BDS. For example, other countries do not have a First Amendment, although they may pursue analogous principles of free speech. The United States should condemn anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of bigotry, within a context in which commitment to free speech remains explicit and clear.”

Strategic Affairs Ministry: The peace deals hurt BDS,

“The Ministry sees the reaction of BDS organizations to peace deals as an opportunity to delegitimize the movement by showing that the groups are working to hurt peace processes.”

Szabolcs Takács Named Hungary’s New Ambassador to Washington DC,

“Szabolcs Takács will be Hungary’s new ambassador to Washington, D.C., Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, who is visiting Washington, D.C. at the invitation of the White House, announced on Tuesday.” [Note: Szabolcs Takács is the head of the Hungarian Delegation to the IHRA]

Anti-BDS Group Provides $25,000 to UC Berkeley Anti-Semitism Initiative,

“…’Our new initiative aims to creatively engage an important subset of university administrators and staff members who have an outsized role in addressing the issues that directly impact Jewish student life on campuses, particularly in better identifying and responding to situations where a critique of Israel or Zionism goes well beyond a heated political disagreement and is in fact a dangerous form of antisemitism…’”

ICC permanently closes flotilla war crimes case,

“The International Criminal Court on Wednesday permanently closed the war crimes allegations against Israel relating to the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla in which 10 Turkish citizens were killed during an altercation with IDF troops.The decision by the ICC’s Pretrial Chamber followed a decision by the ICC Prosecutor to close the case for a third time in December 2019 as well as prior rulings from the ICC’s highest body, the appeals chamber, which seemed to undermine attempts to force the ICC Prosecutor to move forward with the case. This is the first time that the ICC Pretrial Chamber has thrown in the towel after appeals against the ICC Prosecutor’s decision to close the case.”

Exclusive: Israel Advances Bill Allowing Military to Use ‘All Means Necessary’ to Defend Israeli, U.S. Troops from ICC,

“New legislation against the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is being advanced at the Knesset, and would allow Israel to use all means necessary in defending U.S. and Israeli troops from the global tribunal.”

Nas Daily: BDS movement calls for boycott of influencer's new project,

“Critics accuse Palestinian-Israeli blogger of ‘normalisation’ as he seeks to recruit Arabic language content creators for media academy backed by UAE.”

Occupation/Annexation (de facto & otherwise)

Israel’s UN envoy insists West Bank annexation ‘not off the table’,

“Israel’s new ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday that plans to annex parts of the West Bank were still on the table, despite officials from the United States and United Arab Emirates indicating the move has been called off for the foreseeable future as part of the normalization deals Jerusalem signed this week with the UAE and Bahrain. Gilad Erdan, a former top member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party who is also set to take over as ambassador to the US, said that he had spoken to the premier about the matter. ‘The annexation is not off the table. It can be discussed again after the US elections,’ Erdan told Army Radio, referring to the November 3 vote in which US President Donald Trump faces Democrat Joe Biden. ‘The annexation hasn’t been canceled, but it is off the Americans’ priority list,’ he added.”

Court Orders Dozens of Palestinians Out of Jerusalem Homes to Make Way for Settlers,

“Judges base evacuation orders in two cases on claims to Jewish ownership of property from before 1948, which the law permits for Jews only.”

Israel expands campaign to seize West Bank archaeological sites,

“Israel gave notice of seizure of two new archaeological sites in the West Bank, in an endless series of targeting such sites in Palestinian areas.”

Jerusalem walls used as political canvas in normalisation deals,

“The ramparts of Jerusalem, built for battle, were commandeered for a messaging war between Israelis and Palestinians in the build-up to Israel’s normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain. During the White House signing ceremony Israel projected flags of Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and the US onto the Old City walls as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood alongside President Donald Trump in Washington hailing what he called ‘historic’ peace agreements. But the same walls, built in the 16th century by Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, were also used by Palestinians to proclaim their opposition to deals that they see as a betrayal by their fellow Arabs. A week after the Israel-Emirates deal was announced, Palestinians draped a black banner of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the wall near Damascus Gate with the accompanying headline ‘The rightful owner’.”

Human Rights/Violence

Fundraiser for Jewish terrorist in Duma attack raises over NIS 500,000 in a day,

“An online fundraising appeal for a Jewish Israeli terrorist convicted of killing three members of a Palestinian family has raised over half a million shekels for his appeal in less than a day. Amiram Ben Uliel was sentenced by the Lod District Court Monday to three life terms plus 20 years for a 2015 firebomb attack on the Dawabsha family home in the West Bank village of Duma. Saad and Riham Dawabsha, and their 18-month-old son Ali died in the attack. Only the couple’s eldest son, Ahmed, survived, with burns; he was 5 years old at the time…Among those to back the fundraiser was Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who retweeted a link to the fundraiser on Monday…Support for Ben-Uliel also came from around two dozen rabbis who signed an open letter Monday calling for his acquittal. The list included several well-known figures on the far-right flank of religious Zionism, including Bet El Chief Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, and Rabbi Zvi Tau.”

Minor in Jewish terror Duma attack gets 42 months in prison,

“…In May 2019, the minor cut a plea bargain deal leading to a conviction on reduced charges.The minor was not merely spared from being convicted of murdering the Dawabshe family in the 2015 arson incident, but was not even convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. On the other hand, he did confess to a background narrative in which he clearly admits to participating in planning some kind of attack on Duma, including surveillance of that village specifically. In addition, for those who say that the minor did nothing but discuss an attack, he was convicted of other arson and “price-tag” attacks – even though they did not involve murder.Why the minor did not participate in the actual attack – having told Ben-Uliel that he would – has never been cleared up, though speculation is that he merely overslept the time he was due to meet Ben-Uliel.”

UN agency for Palestinians says it could be forced to halt some services,

“UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, is experiencing a financial crisis that could force it to halt some services to an already impoverished population of more than 5 million people, the head of the agency says. Philippe Lazzarini also warns in an interview with The Associated Press in Beirut that the spread of coronavirus, an economic meltdown in Lebanon and a huge deficit in UNRWA’s budget are deepening the hopelessness among Palestinian refugees, some of whom are trying to flee the Mediterranean nation on migrant boats.” Also see: AP – Palestinian refugee agency warns of instability amid crisis; Middle East Monitor – EU donates $0.6m to support UNRWA coronavirus safety measures

Comptroller rules out probe of alleged police cover-up in Bedouin man’s killing,

“State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said Tuesday that he would not open a specific 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.”

Revealed: Israeli Firm Provided Phone-hacking Services to Saudi Arabia,

“A representative of Cellebrite, which states that it has complied with the rules, flew to Riyadh from London last November, and at the request of the Saudi prosecutor’s office hacked into a Samsung cellphone.”

The Gaza Strip & Hamas

Hamas warns Israel of escalation following air strikes on Gaza,

“Hamas warned Israel it would face a military escalation on Wednesday after its warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip following rocket fire from the Palestinian territory. ‘The occupation (Israel) will pay the price for any aggression against our people or resistance sites and the response will be direct,’ said the group which governs the besieged enclave. ‘We will increase and expand our response to the extent that the occupation persists in its aggression,’ the group added in a statement.”

Gaza's 'quarantine within a quarantine' must end,

“Gaza is now in the grip of the coronavirus. The blockade preventing aid reaching the Strip must be dismantled.”

The United Nations Was Right – Gaza Is Unlivable,

“Everyone knows the numbers and figures. The unemployment rate is known, as is the poverty rate. And it’s no secret that we’re losing hope. Unless the blockade is lifted, until people are permitted to freely enter and leave Gaza to trade, study and be with their families, until the infrastructure is repaired and people can live normally, life here will keep deteriorating. The latest escalation subsided after Qatar’s intervention, but it’s obviously only a lull until the next round of violence. Nothing has changed. And now there is a worldwide health and economic crisis that even affluent countries are staggering under. While other countries are struggling to thrive, in Gaza the best we can hope for is to survive. We again recall the UN report that aimed to enlist the world’s assistance – the report that predicted that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020. That prediction has come true.”

Israeli Domestic Scene

How a pro-Bibi paper tilted Israeli voters to the right,

“Israel Hayom, the pro-Benjamin Netanyahu daily run by American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has repeatedly been accused of publishing propaganda to bolster the Israeli prime minister and his Likud party — and has even been taken to court several times based on these claims. But for the first time, a new study has quantified the paper’s political influence, finding that the daily helped to add at least two Knesset seats to the right-wing bloc during three of Israel’s elections since it began circulation.”

After 58 days bracing for Hezbollah attack, IDF shows no sign of easing up,

“Senior officer says military is ready to respond forcefully, not only in ways it has retaliated before, if Nasrallah follows through on his vow to avenge the group’s fallen fighter.”

US Domestic Scene

Evangelical Christians and Israel: Divisive issue explored in new film,

“The documentary focuses on what motivates American Christians to support Israel and what form their support takes.” [View film trailer here.]

US congresswoman Betty McCollum receives award for Palestinian children advocacy,

“McCollum thanked American Muslims for Palestine for the ‘Champion of Palestinian Rights Award’ and accepted it on behalf of ‘those who stand up to support human rights for children.’”

Trump campaign launches Jewish outreach coalition,

“President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign will launch a Jewish outreach team on Wednesday aimed at promoting the Trump administration’s record on Israel and efforts to combat the rise in antisemitism ahead of the November presidential election. The group, named Jewish Voices for Trump, will be co-chaired by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, along with Republican Jewish Coalition board member Wayne Berman, former Trump White House aide Boris Epshteyn and Julie Strauss Levin, wife of TV and radio personality Mark Levin.” Also see: AP – Trump highlights foreign policy wins as he woos voters

Donald Trump Promises Middle East Peace ‘Without War and Without Losing’,

“President Trump celebrated the agreement between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Israel brokered by the United States to normalize relationships with Arab countries and Israel. ‘I have numerous other countries in that region that are going to be signing very soon also,’ he said. ‘You’ll have peace in the Middle East, and this is without war and without losing.’”

Restoring the Bipartisan Consensus,

“…for Palestinian rights advocates, as for many progressives, the Biden-Harris ticket offers a bitter choice. ‘It saddens me greatly to be put in the position of supporting two people who have not evolved as the Democratic electorate has evolved, who seem frozen in an era that is now part of the past,’ said George Bisharat, a Palestinian American legal scholar and professor at UC Hastings in San Francisco. With Harris set to take up the Democratic Party mantle after Biden, who has defined himself as a ‘transitional figure,’ ‘we could be looking at these very outdated positions on Palestine for the next 12 years,’ he continued. ‘The Democratic leadership has not yet recognized the ground shift underneath them….’”