Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 29, 2020

What We’re Reading

Settlements/Occupation/De Facto Annexation

UN: Israel has demolished over 500 Palestinian buildings so far this year,

“The Israeli occupation authorities have demolished more than 500 Palestinian buildings in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since the start of 2020, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revealed on Monday. The UN agency said that 506 buildings were razed to the ground by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank on the pretext that they did not have building permits. According to the official statement, a total of 134 structures have so far been demolished in occupied East Jerusalem in 2020 alone.”

65 Israeli wines win medals in Decanter World Wine Awards,

“The six Israeli gold medalists are all reds: Gofna Cabernet Franc Réserve from Gva’ot Winery (vintage 2017), Peak from Psagot Winery (2016), Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Mosaic Exclusive Edition from Shiloh Winery (2017), Black Tulip from Tulip Winery (2017), and Cabernet Sauvignon from Yarden Winery (2016)…The silver awardees—four whites and 27 reds—were from Adir, Carmel, Dalton, Ella Valley, Gat Shomron, Golan Heights, Gva’ot, Har Bracha, Karmei Yosef, Maia, Psagot, Recanati, Shiloh, Teperberg and Tura Estate wineries. The bronze awardees were from Adir, Bravdo, Carmel, Dalton, Ella Valley, Gat Shomron, Golan Heights, Gva’ot, Har Bracha, Karmei Yosef, Recanati, Shiloh and Teperberg wineries. They included 18 reds, nine whites and one rosé (Adir’s 2019 Kerem Ben Zimra Barbera Rosé). The Israeli winery that garnered the most Decanter awards this year was Shiloh, with two golds, seven silvers and four bronzes.”  [Note: A number of these wineries – including Psagot & Shiloh – are in settlements located deep inside the West Bank].

All eyes might be on the Temple Mount after the UAE-Israel deal ,

“Does anyone think for a second our prime minister, a vocal defender of the status quo, would decline to worship alongside Emirati leaders on the Temple Mount? Of course not. And would the Wakf or the Jordanians dare take him to task?For reasons of their own concern, Emirati leaders would help normalize the Jewish presence on the mount, and not only tolerate, but also participate in Jewish prayer.And with such a hecsher (the kosher stamp), the status of Jewish prayer on the mount might just be permanently altered.”

For Palestinians, Jewish holidays mean uncertainty, closed roads and lost income,

“Every year, the Jewish high holiday season marks a time when many in Israel turn to God – but for Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, it is a time of confusion, amid further restrictions on movement and work….Like each year, the Israeli army announced the closure of all checkpoints between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory during Jewish high holidays, stating such a move would help ‘prevent terror attacks’ and allow Israeli security personnel to have a holiday. For tens of thousands of Palestinians – living in the West Bank and otherwise cut off from East Jerusalem and Israel by the illegal Israeli separation wall – who cross through the checkpoints every day, these restrictions disrupt their daily lives.”

Human Rights/Violence

Military Court Watch -- Newsletter - August 2020,

“According to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of 30 June 2020 there were 4,279 Palestinians (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza) held as ‘security prisoners’ in detention facilities including 151 children (12-17 years). In the case of children there was a 6% increase in the number compared with the previous month and an annual decrease of 13% compared with 2019. Two children are currently held in administrative detention. According to the IPS, 81% of child detainees were forcibly transferred and/or unlawfully detained in Israel in June in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. *Note: The IPS has not released updated prison statistics since June 2020”

Palestinian prisoners begin protests over worsening conditions in Israeli jails,

“Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention centres are facing worsening conditions due to the Israeli Prisons Service’s ‘suffocating’ restrictions on prisoners, Qadri Abu Bakr, a leading Palestinian Authority official has said. Abu Bakr, head of the prisoners and ex-prisoners commission, on Monday deplored the Israel for carrying out ‘demeaning policies’ against prisoners, which he said have been scaled up this year.”

Fear and loathing in Gaza: Tales of a life under siege,

“Stuck in an endless conflict, young Palestinian authors reflect their own lives through some of their darkest work.”


Reflections on 20th Anniversary of 2nd Intifada

No Terror Attacks, No Accords: 20 Years On, the Effects of the Second Intifada Are Clear,

“The Palestinians’ suicide-bomb campaign led to an extraordinary Israeli consensus on the tough response needed. And now the Palestinian leadership is helping quell violence.”

Palestinian Intifada: How Israel orchestrated a bloody takeover,

“On the 20th anniversary of the second Intifada, Palestinians remember how Israel sought to entrench its occupation.”

The Killing of the Terrorist With Nine Lives Changed the Course of the Second Intifada,

“Until January 2002, Fatah did not openly perpetrate attacks in Israel. But a bomb that ended Israel’s long pursuit of Raed Karmi, among the most wanted men of the time, led to a policy change.”

“Peace”/Normalization - What’s Next & Dividends

A peace paradox: Sidelined Palestinians may finally have their leverage,

“Israel’s newfound Arab friends keep raising the uncomfortable question of Palestine because they are trying to explain to Israelis that Israel now has a role to play in safeguarding its Gulf allies from strategically compromising embarrassment. To be friends with Israel is to be vulnerable to accusations of culpability each time the Arab world’s news cycle fills with new images of Palestinian suffering. The normalization deals acknowledge that the Palestinian conflict may take time to solve, but, the Arab leaders are urging Israel, at least don’t make it worse in the interim. It’s a strange new chapter in the Israeli-Arab encounter, one that poses a surprising irony for the Palestinians — an irony that might be summarized thus: The further they are pushed to the margins of Arab political consciousness, the more valuable their negotiating position becomes. For the first time in a long time, and only as a function of their abandonment, the Palestinians have something to offer that Israel and its Arab allies want.”

Saudi Arabia’s fragile support to Palestine,

“Saudi Arabia’s traditional pro-Palestinian positions are unlikely to be compromised even if some gestures are made to the Israelis and to the Trump administration.”

'Ungrateful' Palestinians should be happy about normalisation, says Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE ambassador to US,

“Palestinians should be grateful that the UAE normalised relations with Israel, Yousef Al-Otaiba, the Emirati ambassador to the US, claiming that once again the event prevented Israeli normalisation of parts of the West Bank, despite official denials. According to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, in an online conversation with the former US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro and a number of American officials who worked in the normalisation project, Al-Otaiba blasted Palestinians for being ‘ungrateful’ about normalisation. Al-Otaiba claimed that the Emirati-Israeli normalisation agreement had postponed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex up to 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.”

Is Syria ready to resume peace talks with Israel?,

“Syrian journalist considered ‘very close’ to the Damascus regime claims President Bashar Assad recently asked senior Russian officials to contact PM Benjamin Netanyahu directly on the matter.”

How the Emirates' Dark Financial Corruption Threatens Israel-UAE Peace Bonanza,

“The UAE has become a global symbol of tolerance – for financial corruption, money laundering and complicit courts. Is that a dealbreaker for Israeli business partners? Will the Emiratis clean up their act?”

UAE stocks drop despite deals with Israel,

“The UAE has incurred losses of about 20.5 billion dirhams ($5.6 billion) during last week’s stock transactions, despite the deals signed with Israel. Major shares declined due to the negative impact of selling operations conducted by investors, while the overall Dubai Financial Market General Index fell 2.12 per cent.”

PA/PLO/Palestinian Politics

Report: Qatar, Turkey push for Fatah-Hamas coalition,

“Doha, with Ankara’s support, has proposed to P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas that he form a joint list in the Palestinian Legislative Council with the Gaza-based terror group, and then a national-unity coalition.”

Palestine politics: Could a unified leadership and elections herald a new era?,

“During their meeting last week in Turkey, the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas movements finally agreed to present a joint vision on legislative and presidential elections to be held in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem within six months…A crucial aspect of this is the formation of a new unified Palestinian leadership. Although the two movements have previously made positive press statements about moving towards reconciliation, these efforts have quickly faltered. However, the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh stressed that, this time, ‘a positive and fruitful dialogue is taking place between Fatah and Hamas in Turkey’, adding that this meeting constituted an important step towards reconciliation and partnership.”

Arrest campaign targets allies of Palestinian MP,

“Palestinian Authority security services recently began a campaign to arrest opposition activists in the West Bank. The campaign has targeted activists in the Democratic Reform Bloc of parliament member Muhammad Dahlan, a high-profile critic of President Mahmoud Abbas. Key members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, former security officials and university professors have been arrested. These include Haitham Al-Halabi, a member of the Revolutionary Council in the Nablus, and Maj. Gen. Salim Abu Safiya, a former security official in the Gaza Strip.”


AOC ignites a debate about Yitzhak Rabin,

“Many Jewish people voiced support for AOC’s decision, while Palestinian voices were overwhelming in their initial criticism of the congresswoman’s attendance at the event, and, later, in support of her withdrawal. Time will tell what this means politically, as AOC risked the ire of both right-wing and liberal supporters of Israel to avoid offending Palestinians and their supporters. That is a remarkable step for a rising star in the Democratic party from New York City, and it has provoked a deeper examination of Yitzhak Rabin’s place in history.”