Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 9, 2020

What We’re Reading

Occupation & De Facto Annexation Continue...

Housing Min.: East Jerusalem’s Givat Hamatos project not frozen,

“The Construction and Housing Ministry rejected claims Monday that the east Jerusalem Jewish housing project of Givat Hamatos, condemned by the European Union and the United Nations, had been frozen by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to international pressure. “All the diplomatic approvals [from the Prime Minister’s Office] have been given,” the ministry said on Monday, as it clarified that any delays in the project were due to technical issues only. Talks were underway between its office and the Jerusalem Municipality, to clarify budgetary matters and issues of responsibility with regard to the development of the project, including infrastructure matters, the Housing Ministry said.”

Jerusalem Municipal Committee Halts Discussion of Expropriations for Cable Car,

“We are pleased that the municipality and members of the committee have shown responsibility and stopped the deplorable attempt by the promoters of the cable car to advance the expropriation of private property before the High Court even rules on the matter. We thank the promoters for disclosing how the cable car will look and who will pay the price for its construction: the cable car pillars will be constructed inside the yards of the residents of Silwan and the cars will sail directly over their heads.”

Netanyahu apologizes to family of man killed by police and accused of terrorism,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly apologized on Tuesday night for the Israeli government’s claim that a Bedouin teacher shot dead by police was a terrorist. “I would like to express, in my name, my apologies to the Al-Qi’an family. They [the police] said he was a terrorist. Yesterday, it turned out that he wasn’t a terrorist,” Netanyahu said.” Also See – “Contradicting Police Chief, Shin Bet Found No Evidence of Terrorism Before 2017 Killing of Bedouin Teacher” (Haaretz); “Buried Shin Bet report: Bedouin man killed by police was not a terrorist” (Israel Hayom)

Despite COVID-19 Travel Ban, Israel Lets in 70 Evangelicals to Volunteer in Settlements,

“Although Israel’s borders have been largely closed to non-citizens since the coronavirus outbreak, volunteers from a Christian evangelical organization have obtained special government permission to enter the country in order to help with the grape harvest on West Bank settlements. Roughly 70 volunteers from Hayovel, an organization headquartered in Missouri, have been awarded visas so that they can travel to Israel and pick grapes for settler-owned wineries. The grape harvest season typically runs from August through October.”

Palestinian holy sites are crumbling under Israeli rule,

“Israel’s takeover of the mountain ranges and hills throughout the occupied West Bank has not spared sacred places of worship for Palestinian Muslims. According to a new report by Israeli anti-occupation group Machsom Watch, maqams — tombs or shrines built on a site associated with a Muslim saint or religious figure — across the West Bank have been informally annexed to Israeli settlements through military orders, the expansion of IDF open-fire zones, and entrapment in nature reserves and antiquity sites.”

'Not a right but a privilege': Israeli jail confiscates fans amid searing heatwave,

“Israel’s Ofer prison administration has confiscated Palestinian prisoners’ fans and electrical appliances during a massive crackdown on protests that erupted following the death of a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody. The move comes amid a record-breaking heatwave where temperatures have reached well-over 40 degrees outside. Around 850 prisoners held in two sections of Ofer prison, located west of Ramallah, had been protesting against the ill-treatment and medical negligence that resulted in the death of inmate Daoud Talaat al-Khatib, 45, who died last week.”

Palestinian governor of Jerusalem boxed in by Israeli authorities,

“Since assuming his post, Palestinian Gov. of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith has been subjected to a harassment campaign by the Israeli authorities, recently being handed a notice restricting his movement within the city of Jerusalem.”

Private gun ownership soars in West Bank,

“The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights issued a warning Aug. 23 about an armament race between Palestinian families in the West Bank provoked by “their feeling of insecurity, weakness and lack of protection.” Only the Palestinian security apparatus is allowed to own arms in the West Bank, according to the Oslo Accords. Nevertheless, Ammar Duweik, director general of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, told Al-Monitor, “Weapons are widely spreading among families in the [West Bank] areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and under the protection of influential PA or Fatah figures.”

A Treat for Israeli Soldiers: Raiding a Palestinian Home at 3 A.M.,

“Arrests are an exciting activity for soldiers. At least in the beginning. It’s the only sort of operation they’re involved in that’s like combat. All the rest are policing missions. This is more of a military mission.” Thus two young Israelis told me last year, not long after completing their compulsory service in the Israel Defense Forces, adding, “We had to go on long marches, do target practice, we worked our butts off and so on – and in the end all we did is open the gates for some [Palestinian] workers in the morning? Arrests are the only part of the operational routine where combat soldiers get to fulfill their potential and their duty.”

Call It What You Will, but It’s Still Occupation,

“Israel’s legal trick is to argue that because there was no legal sovereign in the West Bank in June 1967, it’s impossible for the territory to be occupied. For there to be an occupation, there must be a sovereign from whom the territory was captured. If there is no sovereign, then there’s no occupation…Not one serious person worldwide ever bought this shady maneuver. It’s been thrown out of every possible door. Even when the late Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy recruited all of his prestige to market this Israeli bluff, nobody bought it.”


Israel, UAE to sign deal at White House next week,

“Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign their historic deal normalizing relations at a White House ceremony on Sept. 15, officials said Tuesday. Senior delegations from the two countries will be led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the brother of Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince. U.S. officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ceremony would either be on the South Lawn, the Rose Garden or inside depending on weather.” Also See – “Israeli, UAE politicians to visit White House for agreement ceremony” (Al-Monitor); “Trump to Host Israel-UAE Deal Signing Ceremony Next Week, White House Says” (Haaretz)

Palestinians to Soften Stance on UAE-Israel Deal in Arab League Draft Resolution,

“A draft resolution presented by the Palestinian envoy, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, does not include a call to condemn, or act against, the Emirates over the U.S.-brokered deal. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also issued instructions on Tuesday banning any offensive statements or actions toward Arab leaders, including UAE rulers.” Also See – “Palestinians set to soften stance on UAE-Israel normalization” (Ynet)

Report: Chad says to open diplomatic office in Jerusalem within year,

“A senior Chadian official told Israeli leaders that the African country will open a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem within a year, Hebrew-language outlet N12 reported Tuesday. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen held separate meetings with the son of Chad’s President Idriss Déby, Abdelkarim Déby. Déby, Deputy Director of Chad’s civil cabinet, arrived on Tuesday with a delegation in Israel to promote ties between the states.”

Serbia won’t open Jerusalem embassy if Israel recognizes Kosovo – Serbian source,

“Serbia will not fulfill its promise to move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognizes its enemy Kosovo, a source close to the government in Belgrade warned Wednesday, adding that formal recognition of Pristina’s 2008 declaration of independence by Israel would “destroy” the Jewish state’s relationship with Serbia. “This could end up being a real mess, unless there is a compromise on what sort of relationship Israel will end up having with Kosovo,” the source told The Times of Israel, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

Israel's Bank Hapoalim to Forge Ties With UAE Banks After Normalization Accord Signed,

“Israel’s largest lender Bank Hapoalim expects to start working with banks in the United Arab Emirates once the two Middle East governments sign a normalization agreement, its chief executive said on Wednesday. The UAE and Israel are due to sign the agreement brokered by the United States on September 15 at a ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump.”

The U.A.E.-Israel Flight Is Nothing to Celebrate,

“With Palestinians sidelined, the U.A.E. deal makes it very clear that Palestinians can no longer count on Arab states for political support. While King Salman of Saudi Arabia told President Trump in a recent phone call that he is prioritizing a fair and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue, his country had allowed the Israel-U.A.E. flight to travel through its airspace. In any case, a once united diplomatic front of the Arab states supporting the Palestinian cause is clearly crumbling. And if President Trump and Mr. Netanyahu are to have their way, other Arab countries may soon follow the U.A.E. Given this shift in regional and international attitudes, Palestinians need to ask themselves: Today, can it really be said that the P.L.O.’s strategic direction — that of two states achieved through negotiations — is working? It is past time to initiate meaningful reform to the P.L.O.”


Netanyahu Seeks Full Lockdown, After He's Back From UAE Deal Ceremony in D.C.,

“Members of the coronavirus cabinet believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to impose a nationwide lockdown of limited duration toward the end of this month. A power struggle is shaping up within the cabinet that was formed to handle the pandemic, with members from Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan working to reduce the likelihood of having to announce a full closure.”

Health Ministry said to seek immediate, month-long nationwide lockdown,

“Israel could soon be returning to a full national lockdown for more than a month amid skyrocketing coronavirus infection rates, according to reports citing comments made Tuesday night in a videoconference with top Health Ministry officials and hospital chiefs. Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy said in the call that if a lockdown is approved, it will last for at least a month due to the current high morbidity rate, according to leaks from the call carried by Channel 12 and Ynet.”

Gaza’s New Coronavirus Fears,

“A cluster of coronavirus cases indicates that community transmission is occurring in the Gaza Strip. Israel should relax its blockade to permit entry of medical equipment and exit of seriously ill patients. Donors should respond quickly to requests for aid.”

Despite Resistance, Nightly Curfew in 40 Israeli Coronavirus Hot Spots Goes Into Effect,

“A nightly curfew on 40 towns and neighborhoods across Israel began Tuesday, in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus in hardest hit localities. The curfew, which will last until September 15, takes effect daily from 7 P.M. until 5 A.M. During curfews, residents will be able to walk up to 500 meters (0.3 miles) from their homes, and all businesses that are not essential will be closed. In addition, the education system in these localities will shift to distance learning, except special education. Gatherings in closed spaces will also be to be limited to up to 10 people, and up to 20 in open areas.”

Coronavirus pummels already crippled Palestinian economy: UN,

“Socioeconomic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory are growing more dire, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) warned on Tuesday, as the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic compounds an already bleak economic landscape. “

Coronavirus-infected Israel, on brink of anarchy,

“Israel is clearly on the brink of anarchy. In addition to Liberman’s call for civil disobedience, the head of the opposition Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, has also expressed particularly lethal criticism of Netanyahu in recent days. The prevailing sense is of a loss of government control given the inability to agree on solutions, implement them and mobilize the public’s support.”

Virus-battered Israel pays the price of Netanyahu’s endless election campaign,

“The system is frozen in place. Everyone smells a looming election, and it’s exceedingly hard to get anything done in the Knesset in its shadow. Elections overpower the senses and transform every decision and compromise of the sort required to produce a state budget into an unsanctionable risk. In Israel right now, they are overpowering the elected leadership’s capacity to effectively tackle a pandemic.”