Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 17, 2021

What We’re Reading

Normalization & News from the Region

Bennett cheers ‘groundbreaking’ Abraham Accords on 1-year anniversary,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords, hailing the “groundbreaking” agreements that saw Israel normalize ties with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco. Bennett, who had not publicly commented on the accords since becoming prime minister, praised the “new and groundbreaking chapter in the history of peace in the Middle East,” established under his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu and the previous US administration led by Donald Trump. “The State of Israel will continue to develop, deepen and expand relations between the countries, as well as work to develop relations with other countries in the region,” said Bennett, in a statement that did not name Netanyahu.”

U.S. to Mark Abraham Accords One-year Anniversary in Online Event,

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to host an online summit on Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords, which will be attended by the foreign ministers of the signatory countries – Bahrain, Israel, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates – and in which attendees will discuss ways to deepen ties…During a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price rejected claims that Blinken had arranged the meeting hurriedly in the past few days just as a matter of form. Price praised the accords and their results. “One year later, we see over half a billion dollars in trade between Israel and these new partners and direct flights between Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi, Marrakesh, and Manama, with huge implications for freedom of travel in the region,” he said, adding: “We continue to support these agreements and their signatories and we look forward to opportunities to further expand and advance cooperation between Israel and countries around the world.””

Academic experts believe that Middle East politics are actually getting worse,

“A year after the Abraham Accords came into effect, what do scholars of the Middle East think about the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE and several other Arab nations? Is a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians still possible? And what’s the latest on Tunisia’s constitutional crisis — do scholars consider it a coup against democracy? Last month, we fielded the second round of the Middle East Scholar Barometer, a unique survey of scholars with expertise in the Middle East. As far as we know, this is the only survey of its kind….The percentage of scholars who say that a two-state Israel-Palestine solution is no longer possible increased by five percentage points, from 52 percent to 57 percent. And the percentage of scholars who describe the current situation as “a one state reality akin to apartheid” grew even faster, from 59 percent in February to 65 percent in this latest poll…We also asked scholars to assess the impact of the Abraham Accords, signed in 2020 between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — Sudan and Morocco also signed on later. Respondents were highly negative that the accords would boost the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace: Nearly three-quarters, 72 percent, said the impact was negative, and only 6 percent said the accords would have a positive impact.”

Why should we be celebrating a year of Abraham Accords?,

“At a time when the U.S. should be reducing its military footprint in the region, the accord could bring America back into war in the Middle East by lowering the bar for Israeli military action against Iran. Any military confrontation between Israel and Iran will likely suck in the U.S. as well. As the Quincy Institute’s Steven Simon wrote in his June brief on the subject, the risk of the accord playing this destabilizing role is particularly acute if talks to revive the Iran nuclear agreement collapse. “

On This Day: Camp David Accords signed, leading to Israel-Egypt peace,

“September 17, 2021 marks 43 years since the signing of the Camp David Accords between former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, under the auspices of then US president Jimmy Carter. It paved the way for the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace deal, the first such treaty between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors.”

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights

Palestinian prisoners suspend hunger strike,

“The Palestinian security prisoners’ decision to suspend the hunger strike that was supposed to begin on Friday “does not mean that the battle is over,” Qadoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said on Thursday.” Also See – “1,400 Palestinian prisoners in Israel call off planned hunger strike” (The Times of Israel)

Israelis stab Jerusalemite bus driver,

“A Jerusalemite bus driver was injured this morning after a group of Jewish Israelis stabbed him in the occupied Holy City, the Palestinian Information Centre reported. According to local sources, the settlers stabbed Mohamed Abu Nab twice in the back in West Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood, built on the ruins of the depopulated Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. Abu Nab, a resident of the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan who works for the Egged public transportation company, was rushed to hospital where his injuries were said to be moderate. The company said in a statement that it is investigating a “quarrel” in Givat Shaul involving a driver and three passengers.”

Soldiers Injure Dozens Of Nonviolent Protesters Near Yatta,

“Mohammad Rib’ey, the head of the Tiwana Village Council, told the WAFA News Agency that the soldiers attacked the Palestinian and international activists when they nonviolently marched against the illegal Israeli colonialist activities in Marah Abu Radaf area in Masafer Yatta,  where Israel is planning to build a new illegal colony on stolen Palestinian lands. He added that the soldiers fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at the protesters, and assaulted many of them, leading to dozens of injuries due to tear gas inhalation, in addition to lacerations and bruises, especially after the soldiers struck them with their batons and rifle-butts. One of the injured Palestinians, Adam Rabea’ Rib’ey, 38, was shot with a concussion grenade in the abdomen before he was rushed to a hospital.”

Israel soldiers abuse 2 Palestinian children, arrest one in Hebron,

“Walid Sabarneh, from the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, said Israeli occupation forces attacked his two children, Muhammad, 15, and Ibrahim, 13, as they worked in his agricultural nursery. “I saw the soldiers throwing the two children to the ground and kicking them with their boots and when I tried to protect them, the soldiers threatened to shoot me,” he said. “Later, the soldiers released Ibrahim, and arrested Muhammad, and I do not know where they took him,” Walid said. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Israel is currently holding about 200 Palestinian children.”

The night my daughter was born into the occupation,

“In the final month of my wife Rana’s pregnancy, we prayed every day that her birth pains would, inshallah, begin during the daytime, when it would be easier to travel from our village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately for us, they came at night. As the pains began, I started phoning several people in the middle of the night to see if anyone could come with a legally-registered car to take us to the hospital. But no one was willing: it was during the violent escalations in May, and Israeli settlers in our area had been throwing stones at Palestinian cars along the main highway at night. My wife’s water broke, and after an hour, I decided that we had no choice but to go in my mashtuba (unregistered) car. In the South Hebron Hills, which is under full Israeli control, buying a registered car with a Palestinian license plate could cost around 15 times what it should. My current car cost NIS 2,000, and if I had bought a legal vehicle, even a used one, I may have had to pay 30,000 shekels. We are shepherds living in an area that our occupiers have declared a firing zone — we barely have enough money to feed ourselves.”

Analysis | Bennett Presents: How to Establish One State Without Ruffling Feathers,

“Bennett didn’t invent the occupation or annexation. This is the reality he inherited, created before he was born. But as opposed to some of his predecessors, who at least talked about change, and sometimes tried to work toward it, he sees the status quo as a blessing and is certain that Palestinian independence will put Israel in danger – and hopes that economic crumbs will satisfy the Palestinian hunger for self-determination and national recognition. According to him, if Palestinian laborers leave for work at 6 A.M. instead of 3 or 4 A.M., they’ll feel relieved and stop sulking about the settlements, the nighttime arrests and the political oppression. What is all that compared to making minimum wage at an Israeli construction site? Bennett understands that with President Joe Biden in the White House, and better ties with Arab countries, there’s no place for talk of “extending sovereignty” in the West Bank and provocations like the eviction of Khan al-Ahmar’s residents. He simply applies his polite style to Israel’s foreign and security policies as well. Instead of arguing with allies, he keeps them happy and gallops softly and determinedly toward one state with millions of Palestinian subjects. That is the core of his policy, which is much more important for the future of Israel than any shows of change, the statesmanship and the professionalism of the prime minister. And that’s what Bennett should be judged by.”

The Palestinian Scene

Palestinians to hold municipal elections in December,

“The Palestinian Authority has decided to hold municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in December, for the first time since 2017. The first phase of the elections will be held on December 11 for 388 municipalities and village councils in the West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the PA government announced. The second phase of the elections will be held at a later date. However, it was not clear on Thursday whether Hamas would allow the elections to take place in the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinian factions form joint operations room in Jenin,

“The Palestinian resistance factions announced yesterday the formation of “a joint operations room” in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Anadolu has reported. The military wings of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are all involved, the first time that the three movements have joined forces in such joint action. The agency quoted a resistance fighter from Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a group affiliated with Fatah. “There is no room to talk [with Israel] except with bullets,” he said. “We are ready to fight and we will not retreat.” The agency pointed out that armed masked men wearing the insignia of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were also present.”

Palestinian official praises Lapid’s ‘new vision’ for Gaza,

“A Palestinian official told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site, that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s “new vision” for the Gaza Strip is “the new Oslo [Accords].” The proposal raised earlier this week by the foreign minister was swiftly rejected by PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, as well as Gaza rulers Hamas, but some within the Palestinian Authority are quietly in favor. “This is the new Oslo,” said the unnamed official, referring to the 1993 peace agreements. “The program Lapid announced could save Gaza. This is the first time in 11 years that someone in Israel is suggesting a solution to the problem of Gaza in the framework of a two-state solution.”

Hamas arrested Palestinian Islamic Jihad members during Yom Kippur - report,

“According to several reports, between two to ten PIJ terrorists who reportedly launched rockets towards Israel last week, were arrested by Hamas. The Palestinian terrorists, belonging to PIJ’s Al-Quds Brigade, are currently detained by Hamas, according to Army Radio.”

Israel prison escapees began digging tunnel in December, lawyers say,

“Palestinian prisoners who broke out of a high-security Israeli jail this month began digging their escape tunnel in December, lawyers for two of the arrested escapees said on Wednesday.”

Spoon becomes a new symbol of Palestinian 'freedom' following prison break,

“The humble spoon has taken its place alongside traditional flags and banners as a Palestinian resistance symbol, after prisoners were said to have carried out one of Israel’s most spectacular jail breaks with the utensil.”

'48 Israel

Bennett Ends His First 90 Days With Few Mistakes – and an Assist From Egypt,

“Sissi sees Bennett as someone who will gain major influence in Washington and thus help him with matters much more important to the Egyptians than the Palestinians. First come their regional water disputes and budgeting issues, the latter a concern amid the U.S. administration’s plan to cut aid to Cairo due to human rights violations. Cairo studied the details of Bennett’s meeting in Washington and concluded that the new prime minister might become the darling of the new administration. No less important, he’s seen as an antidote for keeping Netanyahu away. So the Egyptians need him. If Bennett helps them solve the American money issue, Sissi can certainly help us solve the Qatari money issue.”

Opinion | Who Will Carry the Torch of Bedouin Leadership?,

“An earthquake hit the Negev, breaking hearts throughout the Bedouin community, upon the death of Knesset member Saeed Alkharumi. “The Son of the Negev” left behind an aching community, bereft and isolated, riven and poor. An entire sector, represented since the first Knesset by a succession of six lawmakers, was left without someone to represent it. The question is: Who will carry the burden of the Bedouin community now?”

Opinion | Israel Must Prove Its Loyalty to Its Arab Citizens, Not Vice Versa,

“In the case of Israel’s Arabs, the state has for years failed in demonstrating its loyalty towards them. This finds expression in many ways, from the condition of sewage in their towns and villages, to the inability to get a mortgage and the whistling bullets that hit their homes at night, with the shooting continuing even after it’s reported to the authorities. The state has simply disappeared for so many citizens here. They have no security and no one to rely on. And yet, too many other citizens choose to check what kind of contract Arab citizens signed with the state, not noticing that the contract they got is broken daily. Perhaps, if the state managed to better protect its citizens, and if they knew they could trust it, an ordinary citizen who notifies the police about an escaped prisoner would not become primarily a political story, but simply a story about a choice made by a free citizen in his or her country.”

Opinion | Why Are Israelis Scared of Palestinian Identity?,

“We do not expect high-tech companies, supermarket chains, hospitals or other workplaces with both Jewish and Arab employees to conduct dialogue workshops about the occupation or to formulate an organizational policy about it. Nor do we expect that every Arab-Jewish partnership will deal directly with the issue of the occupation. What is crucial, however, is to ensure that, in all such places, it is legitimate to discuss issues involving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and legitimate to express opinions opposing the occupation. We must not be afraid of the lack of consensus that often attaches to this subject. We should understand that an absence of consensus is going to be part of the fabric of our shared society so long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues unresolved. “

The U.S.

Trump said Kushner ‘more loyal to Israel than the US,’ new book reports,

“Former U.S. President Donald Trump accused his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner of being more loyal to Israel than to America, authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa alleged in their new book, “Peril,” Business Insider reported. “You know, Jared’s more loyal to Israel than the United States,” Trump said about his Jewish son-in-law, the book authors wrote.”