Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 3, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation is definitely (maybe?) off the table

Stop or suspend West Bank annexation? Devil in the detail for Israel-UAE deal,

“A difference between English and Arabic versions of a trilateral statement after an historic flight from Israel to the UAE has been seized upon by Palestinians to suggest the Gulf state has overstated Israeli readiness to drop West Bank annexation plans. The English version of a joint communiqué by the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the United States in Abu Dhabi on Monday said the accord had ‘led to the suspension of Israel’s plans to extend its sovereignty’. But the Arabic version, carried by the UAE state news agency WAM, said ‘the agreement … has led to Israel’s plans to annex Palestinian lands being stopped’. The discrepancy was highlighted by Palestinians after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner flew with U.S. and Israeli delegations on the first Israeli commercial flight to the UAE to cement the normalisation accord, the first by a Gulf state.”

West Bank/PA & Occupation

Israel approves policy of withholding bodies of all slain Palestinians,

“Israel will now withhold the bodies of all slain Palestinians accused of staging attacks on Israelis, not just those said to be Hamas members, following a security cabinet decision on Wednesday. Israel has long been criticised by human rights advocates for its policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians its forces killed during alleged attacks on its citizens. Defence Minister Benny Gantz requested that the policy, which Israel says is used as a deterrent, be extended to all Palestinians, regardless of their political affiliation or whether the alleged attack led to any Israeli casualties. ‘Refusal to return the bodies of terrorists is part of our commitment of maintaining the security of Israeli citizens, and of course to bring [dead or missing soldiers] home. I hope our enemy understands and internalises the message well,’ he said. Legal rights organisation Adalah denounced the cabinet decision on Wednesday. ‘The Israeli security cabinet’s decision to withhold the bodies of Palestinians is extremely problematic and is driven clearly by motivations for vengeance,’ the statement read. ‘The policy of using human bodies as bargaining chips violates the most basic universal values and international law, which prohibit cruel and inhuman treatment.’” Also see: Times of Israel – Cabinet okays policy to hold bodies of all alleged attackers

How a proposed new fund to bolster the Palestinian economy stands to benefit Israeli settlers,

“…a new initiative recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to preserve the prospects for a Palestinian state, but instead is likely to support Israeli business ventures in the West Bank at a time when annexation still looms.”

Palestinian prisoner dies of heart attack in Israel's Ofer jail,

“A Palestinian prisoner died of a heart attack in Israeli custody on Wednesday night, only a few months before the end of his 18-year sentence, Palestinian media has reported. Daoud Talaat al-Khatib, a 45-year-old from the town of Bethlehem, died in Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank, official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa quoted the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) as saying. Khatib’s death has reignited calls for Israeli prison services to be held accountable for its medical neglect of jailed Palestinians.” Also see: Times of Israel – Palestinian security prisoner, 45, dies in Israeli jail

Israel police wound Palestinian driver who attacked officers,

“Israeli police said an officer shot and wounded a Palestinian driver who attempted to run over and stab Israeli security personnel in the West Bank on Wednesday. The Israeli military said the man attempted to ram his car into a soldier and a police officer at an intersection near the West Bank city of Nablus. The police said in a statement that the officer shot the Palestinian after he came out of the vehicle and ran at the officers with a knife. The soldier and the policeman were lightly wounded while the attacker was moderately wounded, the army said.”

Efrat council head: Coronavirus regulations don't automatically apply to us,

“Head of the Efrat Regional Council Oded Revivi has revealed that a document issued by the government’s coronavirus cabinet regarding implementation of its decisions does not relate to the communities of Judea and Samaria. ‘The fact that there are no up-to-date statistics on the situation in our communities – that half million people are dealt with via general military order – should be a wake-up call to the government,’ he said. ‘The time has come to make the decision that Israeli law should automatically apply to Judea and Samaria.’”

The Gaza Strip

Coronavirus Israel Live: Gaza Renews Lockdown as Officials Warn of Virus Spreading Across Strip,

“Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are dealing with a renewed coronavirus outbreak, leading to proposals and measures intended to curb its spread and mitigate the economic ramifications of the crisis by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Israel currently has 23,698 active cases; 969 people have died. In the West Bank, there are 9,109 active cases; 175 people have died. In the Gaza Strip, there are 500 active cases and five people have died.”

3 Palestinian children die in Gaza house fire,

“Family says blaze was caused by a candle, lit during one of the Strip’s repeated power cuts.”

Gaza Strip records 98 new coronavirus cases,

“The Gaza Strip on Thursday recorded 98 new coronavirus cases, raising the number of active infections detected outside quarantine centers to 463, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.”

Israel-Gulf Normalization

Emiratis considering consulate in Haifa or Nazareth,

“UAE wants maximum accessibility to Arab population in Israel, and plans consular activity to fill in “knowledge gaps” about Emirati history and culture. Meanwhile, senior Saudi official tells Israel Hayom that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed will stick to the Arab peace plan ‘as long as his father is alive.’”

Palestinian leaders to discuss ways to foil Israel-UAE deal,

“The leaders of Palestinian factions are scheduled to hold a meeting today via video conference to discuss ways of thwarting Israeli and US ‘conspiracies’ against the Palestinians and the recent normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The meeting will be held under the chairmanship of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his capacity as chairman of the ruling Fatah faction. Leaders of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other factions based in Lebanon are expected to participate in the meeting, the first of its kind since 2013, when the faction leaders met in Egypt.”

Hamas chief in Lebanon to meet with Palestinian factions,

“Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Beirut on Wednesday for a week-long visit that will see him meet with Palestinian factions to discuss the growing ties between Israel and Arab states and seek to ‘end divisions’ between rival groups. Haniyeh’s visit, his first to Lebanon in 27 years, comes after a 13 August announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to normalise ties. He was received by Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri at the capital’s Ain el-Tineh Palace.”

A Cartoon of Peace and Outrage,

“…Though criticism of Emirati normalization with Israel has largely been muted across the Arab region, the arrest of Hajjaj this week fomented solidarity with the cartoonist on social media. For many Jordanians and Arabs, the cartoon represented how unpopular the deal was—confirming, as it does, the power that Israel wields over Arab states, the lack of equal footing between Israel and the Emirates, and the absence of Palestine from the arrangement.”

How the Israel-UAE deal could leave Jordan out in the cold,

“…With a Palestinian majority populous, King Abdullah II has responded coldly to UAE-Israel relations but will no doubt be balancing this response with access to Washington and the Emirates. No matter what balancing act is chosen, one thing is clear: if Jordan still wants Washington’s attention, it must also please the UAE.”

Cellphone Hacking and Millions in Gulf Deals: Inner Workings of Top Secret Israeli Cyberattack Firm Revealed,

“Leaked documents confirm that Candiru does not just operate spyware for computers but also has operational mobile spytech. Here’s what we know about the cyberattack firm offering ‘untraceable’ mic and camera manipulation.”

Palestinians lead Arab artists to boycott UAE culture events after Israel deal,

“Encouraged by Abbas’s PA, cultural figures and intellectuals take a stand against Emirati-backed exhibits and awards, accusing the UAE of betraying the Palestinian cause.”

Security and business: Israel charts potential of ties with 3 more Gulf states,

“With UAE normalization begun, Intelligence Ministry report says Saudi Arabia interested in ‘military and intelligence cooperation,’ Bahrain and Oman in security and trade relations.”

Would Egypt support Sudan-Israel normalization deal?,

“Egypt, which welcomed the recent normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and has its own longstanding peace treaty with Israel, does not seem to be as enthusiastic about Sudan doing the same.”

Qatar emir presses for two-state solution in meeting with Kushner,

“Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told senior White House adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday that Doha remained committed to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with East Jerusalem serving as the capital of a Palestinian state.Kushner met with the Qatari emir after visiting Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where he had been trying to muster regional support for the deal between Israel and the UAE to normalise relations. Sheikh Tamim told Kushner that Qatar was committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which Arab leaders had offered to establish relations with Israel in exchange for a full withdrawal from territories captured and occupied since the 1967 war, as a part of a deal for Palestinian statehood.” Also see: Al-Monitor – Qatar, Egypt react to UAE-Israel agreement, Israel Hayom – Qatar: Normalization with Israel only after two-state solution with Palestinians

US Slaps Sanctions on ICC Officials (same as terrorists)

US places sanctions on International Criminal Court prosecutor Bensouda,

“The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and one of her top aides for continuing to investigate war crimes allegations against Americans. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the moves as part of the administration’s pushback against the tribunal, based in The Hague, for investigations into the United States and its allies such as Israel. The sanctions include a freeze on assets held in the US or subject to US law, and target prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the court’s head of jurisdiction, Phakiso Mochochoko. Pompeo had previously imposed a travel ban on Bensouda and other tribunal employees because of its investigation into allegations of torture and other crimes by Americans in Afghanistan.”


Also see:

Twitter thread laying out the impact of the US putting ICC prosecutor on the SDN list: “The purpose of sanctions is to fight activity that appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce the govt or civil population, breaks criminal laws, or endangers human life. Listing ICC Prosecutor Bensouda turns that effort on its head and will lead America into isolation. In practice: One day, her bank will write Prosecutor Bensouda that she has fallen out of their risk appetite or that her accounts are being frozen or closed. She is likely not going to be accepted as a customer anywhere else…She might seek advice from a solicitor who might tell her she can’t advise her as she cannot accept payment in cash. Direct debits will not be paid and she might start having problems paying her utilities…”

US Department of Treasury: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court Designations

ICC Statement: ASP President, O-Gon Kwon, rejects US measures against ICC

Human Rights Watch: US Sanctions International Criminal Court Prosecutor – Trump Administration’s Action Tries to Block Justice for World’s Worst Crimes

Center for Constitutional Rights: U.S. Sanctions on ICC Prosecutor Constitute “Full Frontal Attack on Rule of Law,” Human Rights Attorneys Say

Times of Israel: EU ‘standing by’ ICC after US sanctions the court’s prosecutor


Family of US-born Israeli settler files $1bn lawsuit against Iran and Syria for West Bank stabbing,

“The family of a US-born Israeli settler who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank in 2018 has filed a $1bn US lawsuit against Iran and Syria for their part in funding the Hamas movement, which the court filing alleges was responsible for the attack. Ari Fuld, 45, was killed near the entrance to a shopping centre in the occupied West Bank two years ago by then-17-year-old Khalil Jabarin, who in June was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court. On Tuesday, the mother, father and three brothers of Fuld filed a lawsuit alleging that Jabarin was a Hamas operative and that Syria and Iran funded the Hamas movement, and were therefore responsible for the attack. ‘The act of stabbing and killing Ari Fuld constituted extreme and outrageous conduct on the part of Hamas, whose acts were funded, directed and materially supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic,’ the court filing reads. The suit says the actions taken by Iran and Syria to support Hamas directly ‘resulted in the murder’ of Fuld. The Fuld family, who are all listed as Israeli residents, are asking for $1bn in punitive damages, a form of punishment designed to be a deterrent against future crime. The lawsuit is filed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), a law amended in 2008 to allow victims of militant attacks to seek punitive damages from foreign governments in American courts.”


Presumed Israeli strikes kill 16 pro-Iran fighters in Syria,

“Presumed Israeli air strikes on eastern Syria killed 16 Iran-backed fighters Thursday, a war monitor said, hours after Damascus said it intercepted Israeli missiles fired at a central air base. Those killed were ‘Iraqi paramilitary fighters loyal to Iran, seven of whom were killed outside the city of Mayadeen,’ Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said. The other nine were killed in strikes south of the city of Albu Kamal, on the Iraqi border further east. Abdul Rahman said Israel was ‘likely’ responsible for the attack, which if confirmed, would mark the second such strike in less than 24 hours and the third this week.” Also see: Al-Monitor – Israeli airstrikes target T4 base, Syrian regime says