Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 28, 2020

What We’re Reading

Settlements/Occupation/De Facto Annexation

Settlers, Palestinians Clash, Damage Farms and Supplies Near Nablus,

“Jewish settlers and Palestinians clashed on Saturday in a West Bank village near Nablus, and Palestinian residents say masked men threw stones and broke into a chicken farm in Qusra, causing damage to it. Israeli police have launched an investigation into the incident, which follows several recent clashes between settlers and Palestinians in the area.” Also see: Twitter thread (with pictures and video is here); Also see: Palestinian farmer left hospitalised after Israeli settler attack (New Arab)

Netanyahu orders construction of 5,000 new settlement units in West Bank,

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the construction of 5,000 new settlement units in an Israeli Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported on Friday. According to the news website of Israeli TV Channel 7, Netanyahu has called for the Israeli High Council of Planning and Building to be convened in the West Bank after the Jewish holidays. ‘Netanyahu instructed the council to approve the construction of 5,000 housing units in dozens of settlements in the West Bank,’ the website reported. The Israeli government has neither confirmed nor denied the development, claiming that Netanyahu made his decision after settler leaders in the occupied West Bank convinced him to take the step.” Also see: ‘Ungrateful’ Palestinians should be happy about normalisation, says Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE ambassador to US (New Arab)

Israel to Confiscate Palestinian-owned Land in Hebron,

“The head of the Youth Against Settlements, Palestinian activist, Issa Amr stated that ‘the military verdict targets 17 areas in Tel Rumeida neighborhood, ash-Shuhada street and the vicinity of Kiryat Arba settlement — in the Israeli-administered area of al-Khalil’s (Hebron) city center known as H2 according to Oslo accords.’  ‘The targeted lands are 3,807 square meters (1 acre) and is located in a very important area of the central al-Khalil (Hebron) city,’ Amr added.”

Why Do Google and Apple Maps Recognize Illegal Israeli Settlements, but Not Palestine?,

“When Google and Apple erase Palestinian villages from their navigation, but proudly mark settlements, the effect is complicity in the Israeli nationalist narrative that settlers came to ‘redeem’ and ‘civilize’ a ‘land without a people.’ Their maps effectively assist the settlement enterprise, by removing the digital record of living Palestinians whose lands are under constant threat of confiscation for the use of settlements. And it weakens the the Palestinian case for statehood, by giving an inaccurate picture of our actual presence. Their technology is disregarding today’s reality, and damaging our future.”

The famed ‘Jericho banana’ is vanishing. Under Israeli occupation, there’s not enough water.,

“The end of the banana era represents the broad shift in Palestinian agriculture over the course of Israeli control of the West Bank and its water. At the time of the 1967 war, the area around Jericho was known for lemons, oranges and bananas. But over the decades, as Israel sank more deep wells to supply growing Israeli settlements in the occupied territory, the springs began to dry out earlier and earlier each year, according to studies by the World Bank and other international organizations. Palestinian surface wells grew brackish as water tables dropped, the sweet water becoming too mineralized for citrus and bananas.”

Israel’s ‘silent transfer’ of Palestinians out of Palestine,

“By allotting a fragile residency status in East Jerusalem, Israel has succeeded to revoke and subsequently uproot more than 14,200 Palestinians.”

What Does It Take For A Palestinian American Baby To Travel From Israel To The U.S.?,

“This summer, California native Morgan Cooper delivered a healthy baby girl at the home she shares with her Palestinian American husband Saleh Totah in the West Bank city of Ramallah. But according to Israel, which occupies the West Bank, their baby Lourice did not officially exist. That’s because since May, Palestinian authorities have refused to register newborns with Israeli occupation authorities. It’s part of a campaign to defy Israel’s grip on Palestinian life — even refusing to cooperate with Israel on security matters and accept tax revenues Israel collects on Palestinians’ behalf. Since Israel occupied the Palestinian territories in 1967, Israel has kept track of their population. Now an estimated 70,000 newborns aren’t in Israel’s registry, and Israeli border authorities will not let them leave. So Lourice, her parents and her four-year-old brother — all of whom are American citizens — are trapped in the West Bank.”

Former MK and Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick plans to run for president,

“Yehudah Glick, a former Knesset member and longtime advocate for Jewish rights on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, has told right-wing lawmakers that he will run for the job when Reuven Rivlin’s tenure ends in the summer of 2021, Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site, has learned.”

Human Rights/Violence

Gaza Peace Activists Face Prison for Holding Video Call With Israelis,

“The Palestinian activists were charged after organizing a virtual discussion as a part of a bridge-building initiative focused on peace and empowering young people.”

Young Palestinians face bleak future two decades on from second intifada,

“Two decades after the second Palestinian intifada began, a new generation has grown up while hopes for a Palestinian state and freedom from Israeli occupation have failed to materialize.”

Israeli army injures 7 Palestinians in West Bank,

“At least seven Palestinians, including a photojournalist working with Anadolu Agency, were injured as Israeli forces use rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters demonstrating against settlements building in the occupied West Bank, Anadolu Agency reports. Palestinians held a demonstration in the town of Kafr Qaddum, north of the West Bank [in the northern West Bank], to protest the illegal Jewish settlements and Israel’s separation barrier, which snakes through the West Bank. The Israeli army used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up the marches, with protesters pelting stones at Israeli soldiers. Protesters and freelance photojournalist Nidal Shtayyeh were hit with rubber bullets.”

Egyptian navy kills two Gaza fishermen for breaching territorial waters,

“Egyptian naval forces on Friday shot dead two Palestinian fishermen from Gaza and wounded a third for allegedly crossing into Egyptian territorial waters, according to officials and local media.” Also see: Palestinian fishermen killed by Egyptian navy buried in Gaza (Middle East Monitor); Rights group slams Egypt’s ‘execution’ of Palestinian fishermen (New Arab); Gaza mourns Palestinian fishermen killed by Egyptian navy (Middle East Eye)


Prominent Emirati writer banned from leaving UAE over anti-normalisation stance,

“A prominent Emirati poetess said she was banned from travelling out of her home country over her anti-normalisation stance. Veteran poet Dhabiya Khamis Al-Muhairi said she was prohibited by authorities from leaving Dubai International Airport to go to Cairo on Saturday, according to a Facebook post. ‘I am Emirati writer Dhabiya Khamis. I was banned from flying today due to an order from Abu Dhabi without specific reason,’ she wrote in the Facebook post. ‘Most likely this is because of my publicly announced position against the Zionists and normalisation and I am fearful for my freedom and life from threats and arrest.’” Also see: UAE poet barred from travel for rejecting Israel deal (Middle East Monitor)

Israel becomes new obstacle for Sudan in quest to leave U.S. terrorism list,

“Despite over a year of negotiations, Sudan is facing a fresh obstacle to its removal from a U.S. terrorism list that has hindered its economy: a demand that it normalize relations with Israel, three sources familiar with the matter said.”

Also see:
Sudan Is Focus of U.S. Efforts to Improve Ties With Israel (New York Times)
Sudan reportedly requesting billions in aid in exchange for ties with Israel (Times of Israel)
Sudanese PM says ‘deep debate’ needed before normalisation with Israel (New Arab)
‘Palestine is priceless’: Sudanese activists launch online anti-normalisation campaign (New Arab)
Sudan rejects linking removal from US terrorism list with Israel (Al Jazeera)
Israel Becomes New Obstacle for Sudan in Quest to Leave US Terrorism List (The Algemeiner)
PLO: US puts pressure on Sudan to settle Palestine refugees (Middle East Monitor)

Qatar refuses to head Arab League instead of Palestine,

“The State of Qatar refused to assume the presidency of the 154th regular session of the Arab League at the ministerial level instead of Palestine, which has recently resigned from the position. Qatar announced in a statement on Thursday evening: ‘We apologise for completing the aforementioned session, which the State of Palestine abandoned, while adhering to the right of the State of Qatar to the next presidency of the 155th session of March 2021.’”

Elsewhere in the Arab World:

No peace for Palestinians without statehood: Moroccan PM (New Arab)
Kuwait calls for end to Israeli occupation in Palestine (Middle East Monitor)
The ‘peace deal’ will not break Bahraini-Palestinian solidarity (Al Jazeera)

Israel confirms it will hold US-mediated talks with Lebanon over sea border,

“Israel will hold rare talks with Lebanon next month in an effort to resolve a longstanding maritime border dispute, an Israeli official said Saturday. The official said Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will lead the Israeli delegation in talks mediated by the United States. Representatives from the three countries are likely to speak by video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic, the official said.”

Is Israel holding secret peace talks with Syria?,

“Following the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and the United Arab Emirates, a growing number of Arab diplomats believe Syria is now conducting secret negotiations with the Jewish state. According to a report by the London-based pro-Saudi Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday, there is now a ‘widespread belief’ among Arab diplomats that Syria and Israel have resumed secret negotiations, similar to the unofficial talks conducted between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the Ehud Olmert government in 2008.”

Trump camp hopes Mideast pacts translate to Jewish support,

“Jewish American voters have leaned Democratic for decades, but Republicans are hoping the recent steps toward normalized relations between Gulf states and Israel — which Trump vigorously touted earlier this month — bolster his appeal to Jewish voters.”

PA/PLO/Palestinian Politics

Hamas, Fatah agree to hold elections in Palestine within 6 months,

“Hamas and Fatah have agreed to hold the first elections in Palestine in nearly 15 years, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported. Following a meeting at the Palestinian Embassy in Istanbul, a press release was issued that confirmed the two biggest Palestinian factions had reached ‘a unified vision’.”

Also see:
In Turkey, Palestinian leaders announce breakthrough on unity, elections (Al-Monitor)
Fatah delegation arrives in Egypt for reconciliation, elections talks with Hamas (Middle East Monitor)

Abbas to UN: No peace, no security, without resolution to Israel-Palestinian conflict,

“Addressing the United Nation’s annual General Assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calls for 2021 Israeli-Palestinian peace conference. Any peace deal with Israel should be ‘based on international law, UN resolutions and the relevant terms of reference, leading to an end the occupation,’ he says.” Also see: Palestine calls for international talks on ‘real peace process’ (Middle East Monitor); Israel’s UN Envoy: Abbas Speech to UNGA ‘Saturated With Lies, Incitement’ (The Algemeiner)

PA issues ‘strict’ directions for West Bank Dahlan supporters,

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has issued ‘strict’ directions related to the ongoing campaign against supporters of disgraced Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan in the occupied West Bank, Safa reported on Sunday. According to informed sources, the campaign was launched in the wake of the normalisation deal between Israel and the UAE, which finances the former Fatah official.”

Free Speech

The IHRA Definition of Antisemitism: Denying Antisemitism by Erasing Palestinians,

“The IHRA definition is one of the most contentious documents in the history of efforts to combat antisemitism. Although it first became well known in the UK as a result of disputes within the Labour Party, the definition reaches well beyond that context, and has been adopted by universities, city councils, and governments. With its intensive focus on the critique of Israel as a marker of antisemitism, the IHRA definition has been heavily implicated in the suppression of Israel-critical speech in recent years. This article is among the first to adopt a global perspective on the definition—both its history and its content—clarifying the political stakes of this definition and broader paratextual apparatus for a general audience, and provides an explanation of why it should be rejected rather than used to censor Israel-critical speech.”

Facebook's Israel policy head says platform takes antisemitism seriously,

“‘Facebook takes the war on antisemitism very seriously, Jordana Cutler, Facebook’s head of policy for Israel and the Jewish Diaspora, told The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Cutler, who was included in the The Jerusalem Post’s list of the 50 most influential Jews in the world, is at the forefront of the social media giant’s efforts to control incitement and hate speech online.’My job is to be a representative in Israel for Facebook, and to speak at Facebook on behalf of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora,’ she said” Also see: Facebook accused of censoring Palestinians under pretext of fighting hate speech (Middle East Monitor)

The Debate over Rabin

Ocasio-Cortez withdraws from Rabin memorial event after backlash,

“Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday withdrew her participation from an event commemorating former prime minster Yitzhak Rabin on the 25th anniversary of his assassination. The decision, which came after backlash from pro-Palestinian activists, was confirmed to The Times of Israel by a spokeswoman for the congresswoman, a rising star in the progressive wing of the Democratic party.”

Also see:

Liberal Zionists, It’s Time to Admit: AOC Just Doesn’t Want to Be Your Friend (Haaretz – Amir Tibon)

AOC should honor Rabin. She should honor Arafat, too. (The Forward – Muhammad Shehad)

Zionist activists ‘troubled’ by Ocasio-Cortez withdrawal from Rabin event (Jerusalem Post)

As AOC cancels Rabin event, Palestine movement finds new clout in Washington,

“Ocasio-Cortez’s withdrawal from the event showcases the growing influence the Palestinian rights movement has on both the American progressive left and Congress. Five years ago, it would have been inconceivable for a U.S. politician to bow to pressure from the left, let alone Palestinian activists, to pull out of an event celebrating an Israeli leader. Today, however, the Palestinian rights movement can count on a small bloc of progressive lawmakers who are backing their cause and authoring legislation to condition U.S. military aid to Israel.”

The Myth of Rabin the Peacemaker ,

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was right to cancel her participation in an event honoring Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. After news broke that the Congresswoman was scheduled to speak at a memorial organized by Americans for Peace Now in late October, Palestinians and their allies shared historical archives and family stories on social media to explain why Rabin, who was assassinated by an Israeli right-wing extremist 25 years ago, was no man of peace.”

Israeli Twitter on fire after AOC withdraws from Rabin memorial,

“Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be snubbing a memorial for assassinated Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin. It made for a noisy sabbath on Twitter as Israel is under its second full lockdown.”

More on Twitter:

Tweet from Americans for Peace Now: “We are sorry to hear that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will no longer be speaking at our Oct. 20th Yitzhak Rabin memorial. Her participation would have added to the event. We are certain that the event will be a success and invite the public to register and attend.”

Tweet from Peace Now (Israel): “Whichever side you fall on on the @AOC decision over the @PeaceNowUS event, please redirect your anger to helping promote peace. For example, echo the joint Isr-Pal campaign #jnfdontuproot to pressure the JNF to stop trying to evict the Sumarin family.”

Tweet from FMEP’s Lara Friedman: “1) I <heart> @PeaceNowUS, 2) The debate over Rabin is healthy 3) If only all those folks fighting over past 24hrs to defend their idea of Rabin spent equal energy fighting violations of Palestinian rights that have continued & multiplied over past 27 yrs (eg, settler terror).”

Tweet from Matt Duss: “Lots of advice on political courage being given to AOC by people who are too cowardly to even utter the word occupation.”

Tweet from Noura Erekat: “Thank you @AOC for modeling humility and principle. The fact that the liberal Zionist camp in the US is trying to resist Trump’s Israeli apartheid by advocating for putting Palestinians back into the Oslo trap- liberals’ Apartheid- at least makes the fault lines clear for all.”

Tweet from MEI’s Khaled Elgindy: “Agree or disagree w/AOC decision to pull out of Rabin memorial (I personally think she could’ve handled it better), it is generating much needed debate on taboo issues RE Israel/Palestine. Real debate means hearing full range of voices, even if they make some of us uncomfortable.”

Twitter thread from Eliyahu Ungar Sargon: “Two events happened this week that to the untrained eye might seem like mirror reflections of each other, but in reality serve as a window into a dimension of the cancel culture debate that is rarely discussed…”

Twitter thread from: Muhammad Shehada: “What’s most striking about #Rabin memorials is how low the bar is for an #Israeli ex-militant to become a peace icon compared to how incapacitating & impossible the bar is for any #Palestinian to ever make the cut!…”

Twitter thread from IMEU: “Just as we are rethinking the legacy of unsavory US figures who are selectively remembered and celebrated, we should apply the same critical eye to Yitzhak Rabin, whose renown for “peace” is out of step with his actual legacy of racism, oppression and violence…”

Twitter thread from Ron Skolnik: “A lot of (mixed) thoughts about #Rabin politically. But the new kerfuffle about him, right before Yom Kippur, has me more focused on the question of how we judge people, whether we allow for change and growth and sometimes contrition, explicit or implicit…”

Tweet from Eli Valley: “Gonna be fun watching the same forces that demonized Yitzhak Rabin until he was murdered get sanctimonious about his honor and legacy now that @AOC is heeding a Palestinian narrative of Rabin’s life and of what Oslo wrought. Shabbat Shalom!”

Bonus Reads

Edward Said: American Intellectual, Palestinian Patriot, Breaker of Dogmas,

“…An intellectual auteur whose unbending commitment to principle, most notably humanism and its staunch opposition to dogmas religious and secular, moved him to form iconoclastic bonds with mercurial minds like Hitchens; engage in tempered exchanges with Orientalists like Bernard Lewis; and pursue transformative friendships with Israeli musicians like Barenboim. An exile in every measure, Said defied the comfortable landings of political dogma for the roaming freedom of complexity. He refused to be constrained by any one of his many identities, and furiously rebelled against any and all intellectual confines. Said did so by remaining steadfastly committed to principle, and indeed, the matters that formed the core of his intellectual concerns: Palestinian self-determination, uncovering Islam beyond its Orientalist bind, and the humanism that ties the two…”

Saying goodbye to the Israeli one-state prophet,

“Meron Benvenisti died last week on Rosh Hashanah at the age of 86…he will be remembered primarily as a prophet — a tormented, hyperbolic, anguished, but, in the end, undeniably accurate prophet. Prophets only need to be right about some things to be remembered for their prophecy. Meron was right about one big thing: that the future of Palestine, the future of the Land of Israel, will grow out of a one-state reality from the river to the sea — a reality he identified as such earlier than almost any Jewish Israeli.”

Miriam Margolyes: ‘I’m just a nice old lady’ - an interview with the Harry Potter and Call The Midwife star,

“‘…‘I am anti-Zionist and the reason why is that I have seen the devastation and misery the Palestinian population is experiencing and has experienced from the beginning of Israel’s creation. That makes me sad. I believe Jewish people are just and compassionate and our religion strongly emphasises that. Every day, I am reminded of the Holocaust and the terrible things that have been done to our people. I don’t forget or overlook that. I just don’t want us to be doing similar things to other people  in the misguided belief that we have the right to do so. We don’t.’ Her staunch beliefs have not been without a hefty cost. ‘I’ve been called all kinds of names,’ she continues. ‘I get filthy emails and people call me worse than Hitler. But I can’t help it – I have to tell the truth as I see it.’”