Top News from Palestine & Israel: December 9, 2020

What We’re Reading


Hanegbi: Gov't decision to legalize outposts ready, ball in PM's court,

“The issue of outpost legalization is now up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, Community Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said on Wednesday as he announced that the government text on the matter would be finalized by the end of the day. ‘The ball is now in [their] court,’ Hanegbi told a Foreign Affairs and Defense sub-committee meeting on the matter chaired by outgoing MK Gideon Sa’ar.”

Minister Hendel: Gush Etzion is part of Israeli consensus,

“Yesterday (Tuesday) Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel from the Derech Eretz Party toured in Gush Etzion along with Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman. The minister visited various focal points in the Gush…During his visit Hendel said, ‘Gush Etzion is part of the Israeli consensus. There is a connection here between the past, present, and future. I would like to thank Shlomo Ne’eman for the tour. I was very impressed by the development taking places in all areas of the Gush. We will continue to develop Gush Etzion. We promised to provide high-speed Internet, and fiber optics, and we are working on this full force.’”

Dubai trade official: We have no problem with Israeli products from West Bank,

“The head of a Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said the United Arab Emirates has no issue with importing Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank, as it will help boost the Palestinian economy via workers employed in the factories. ‘We are an open market in every sense of the word, and that means the broader the trade is and the more it is able to help various populations in the region, the better,’ Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of the chamber, told Israel’s Globes newspaper in comments published Wednesday…The UAE will not boycott Israeli products from the West Bank, Buamim said, adding he did not believe there is a need to make a distinction. He noted that Israeli factories provide work for tens of thousands of Palestinians and said the hope is to assist the Palestinians economy rather than harm it.”

Also see:

Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in West Bank,

“Israeli forces have demolished a number of Palestinian homes and detained 16 people in the occupied West Bank, an official said on Tuesday. ‘The [Israeli] occupation army demolished five homes in the town of Ras Al-Auja in the Jordan Valley,’ mayor Salah Freijat told Anadolu Agency. He said the demolition has left some 50 people homeless. For his part, activist Fuad al-Amor told Anadolu Agency that the occupation forces destroyed a well and confiscated a tent in the Al-Simiya area, and a caravan in Bireen south of Hebron city. The demolitions took place in Area C which is home to 300,000 Palestinians, comprising Bedouin and herding communities who mostly live in tents, caravans, and caves.

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Army Invades Palestinian Lands In Gaza,

“Several armored Israeli military vehicles carried out, on Wednesday morning, limited invasions in the central and northern parts of the Gaza Strip, and uprooted Palestinian lands. The army vehicles, including bulldozers, invaded Palestinian lands east of Juhr ed-Deek, northeast of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, and bulldozed several sections close to the perimeter fence. The vehicles also invaded and bulldozed lands near the fence, east of Jabalia town, in the northern part of the coastal regions, and installed sand hills.”

Arab citizens of Israel: 'Occupation is responsible for attempts to burn Gethsemane Church in Jerusalem',

“Christian and Islamic sanctities are one of the founding symbols of the Palestinian Arab national identity, Joint List member Sami Abu Shehadeh said during a visit to the Gethsemane Church in the Mount of Olives in occupied Jerusalem yesterday, days after settlers attempted to set fire to the holy site. Speaking to Father Ibrahim Faltas, pastor of the, Custodian of the Holy Land and president of the John Paul II Foundation in the Middle East, Abu Shehadeh said: ‘…Jerusalem is Israel main target because it holds meanings of sanctity and symbolism to all Arabs with the plurality of their religions, and thus we and our people in Jerusalem have no other option but to stand firm and adhere to our common right in this city, our national, religious and cultural capital.’”

Human Rights

IDF gives lenient community service sentence for killing of Palestinian,

“An IDF Court on Wednesday confirmed a controversial plea deal which gave the IDF soldier who shot and killed an innocent Palestinian on March 20, 2019 at a junction near Efrat a lenient sentence of three months of community service. The court split by a 2-1 vote, with a dissenting judge saying that the soldier should serve jail time for killing innocent 23-year-old Palestinian Ahmad Manasra. B’Tselem responded to the deal saying, ‘Unlawfully shooting and killing a person who poses no danger to the shooter cannot be considered a ‘complicated operational situation.’’”

Killed on his birthday: Family grieves Palestinian boy shot by Israeli forces,

“On Saturday 4 December, Ali took part in a weekly demonstration against Israeli settlements in his village al-Mughayer, in the north east of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. He was standing among the crowds when an Israeli soldier shot him in the abdomen, killing him on his 15th birthday.” Also see: Israel uses deadly weapons against Palestinian children (Anadolu Agency)

Israel 'whitewashing' crime after soldier cleared of shooting 9-year-old Palestinian boy,

“Israeli authorities have said that the case of nine-year-old Palestinian boy, Malik Eissa, who was shot in the eye was ‘sad’ but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone even though eyewitnesses claim that occupation soldiers had opened fire as Malik got of the school bus.”

United Nations complaints seek justice over Israel’s killing and systematic targeting of journalists,

“Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate killings of media workers are a violation of the right to life, freedom of expression and in breach of international law and may amount to war crimes, according to two complaints submitted to the United Nations today by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)…The Special Rapporteurs will be asked to investigate the Israeli state’s actions over the 2018 killings of Ahmed Abu Hussein, and Yaser Murtaja and the maiming of Muath Amarneh in 2019 and Nedal Eshtayeh in 2015, both photographers who were shot by snipers in the eye in the first such complaint ever submitted by the IFJ.” Also see: Palestinian Incitement Against Israeli Journalists (Gatestone Institute)

DISCRIMINATION BY DEFAULT - A gender analysis of Israel’s criteria for travel through Erez Crossing,

“…The destructive effect of Israel’s policy on Gaza’s two million residents is apparent and well-documented. Here, we aim to describe how Israel’s narrow criteria for travel through Erez Crossing results in effective discrimination against Palestinian women in Gaza by ignoring their needs for travel and their right to freedom of movement. Movement and access restrictions must be removed by Israel to enable both men and women to exercise their fundamental right to freedom of movement and other rights that are conditional on it.”

‘2020 worst year for Palestinian prisoners in Israel’,

“A Palestinian official said late Monday that 2020 has been the worst year for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Qadri Abu Bakr, chairman of the Palestine Authority’s Prisoner Affairs Commission, told Anadolu Agency that Israel has hardened its practices towards Palestinians this year. He said ‘2020 is the worst year for Palestinian prisoners. The prison administration raids and attacks detainees’ sections almost every day.’ Underlining that prisoners are also subjected to solitary confinement without humanitarian conditions, he said Israel has passed a law to impose more strict conditions. A total of 137 prisoners were infected by COVID-19 in Gilboa Prison in northern Israel, he said, stressing that Israel did not care about the lives of the prisoners and did not take protective measures.”

Also see:

Suffocation cases  [from tear gas] confirmed as Israeli forces storm Nablus-district town,

“A number of Palestinians Wednesday morning suffered from suffocation during an Israeli raid to Sebastia town, north of the West Bank city of Nablus, according to a local official. Sebastia mayor Mohammad Azzem told WAFA that Israeli soldiers forced their way into the town, backed by a military bulldozer, while opening intense fire to secure the site for settlers, who are expected to storm the archaeological site of the town. As a result, a number of the town residents suffocated from tear gas inhalation.”

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Palestinian writer Majd Kayyal arrested by Israeli police in Haifa,

“Palestinian writer, journalist and political activist Majd Kayyal was arrested by Israeli police at his home in Haifa on Tuesday morning and was released following hours of detention on unknown charges. Kayyal, 30, is a prominent voice in the Palestinian citizens of Israel community and has written for Middle East Eye. At 6am, police raided the home he shares with his mother, seizing Kayyal and his brother Ward, a student. Upon their release on Tuesday evening, Kayyal wrote a Facebook post thanking people for their support, adding that the arrest was ‘complete nonsense and nothing but intimidation and repression, as usual, and just like it has happened with many young men and women in the recent period.’”

Palestinian Domestic Scene

PA seeks Arab support for international peace conference,

“The Palestinian Authority has called on Arab countries to support its planned international peace conference, the New Khaleej news website reported on Monday. ‘In light of recent international developments after the US election, there will be a new page in international relations,’ said Social Affairs Minister Ahmed Majdalani. ‘It will have an impact on the region and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.’ The minister noted that the recent visit by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to Jordan and Egypt was successful and aimed to revive tripartite dialogue in which they would be involved.”

Statement by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi Regarding Her Resignation,

“Consistent with my lifelong commitment to the principles of integrity and transparency, I would like to state the following pertaining to my resignation from the PLO Executive Committee: I met with President Mahmoud Abbas on 24 November, 2020 and we had a candid and amicable discussion in which I informed him of my decision to resign from the Executive Committee, effective the end of the year. I sent the resignation in writing on 26 November, 2020, with the agreement that it will not be publicly disclosed until all necessary arrangements are concluded. Regrettably, news of my resignation was leaked from ‘senior sources’ in a misleading and irresponsible manner that lead to conjecture and rumors…”

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EU delegation visits Gaza to assess coronavirus treatment,

“A EU delegation arrived in the besieged Gaza Strip today to assess the health situation in the Palestinian territory amid a coronavirus outbreak. The delegation visited the European Hospital in Gaza for treatment of COVID-19 patients. It will also visit EU-funded projects in Gaza and meet representatives of the territory’s civil society. The EU said in a statement yesterday that the visit aims to show solidarity with the residents of Gaza and to review the health situation in the Palestinian enclave.”

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Hamas to continue resisting Israel: Top official,

“The Palestinian Hamas group has reiterated their commitment to the resistance and the principle of not recognizing Israel. ‘On its foundation anniversary, Hamas reiterates its commitment to the unity and integrity of the Palestinian people, to resistance against the occupation, to not recognize Israel and to oppose normalization projects,’ Maher Salah, the head of movement’s Diaspora Office, said in a statement. Underlining that Hamas is committed to the unity of Jerusalem as a Palestinian city and rejects attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque with Judaization plans, Salah said that the blockade against Gaza should be lifted.
 He also highlighted the importance of opposing the annexation plans of the West Bank, and the continuation of the works of the UN’s aid agency to help Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA.”


A new page in Israeli-Saudi relations? Not so fast,

“With US President Donald Trump soon out of the picture, the Saudis prefer to take things slow with Israel, and await the new Biden administration. Also see: Hamas hails Saudi criticism of Israel (Middle East Monitor)

Iran Is Already Stalking Israelis Visiting the UAE. Mossad Is Bracing for the Worst,

“Warnings about an Iranian attempt to exploit the situation in the Persian Gulf have existed for years, but the expectation of visits by tens of thousands of Israelis is a major headache for the Shin Bet and Mossad.”

DP World aims to link Europe, Mideast ports via Israel,

“Europe’s ports can be linked with those in the Middle East via Israel, the chairman of Dubai state-owned DP World, one of the world’s largest port operators, said Monday… DP World is a multinational logistics company that operates facilities and shipment services around the world, including ports in Europe and the UK. In September, it signed a cooperation agreement with the Israeli group Dovertower on shipping activities between Dubai and Israel’s Red Sea port of Eilat in addition to submitting a joint bid on the privatization of Israel’s Haifa Port with Israel Shipyards Ltd.” Also see: Twitter thread on Dubai Port World, including regarding the January 2020 FARA registration in the US

Two Shocking Israel-UAE Developments Just Occurred. The More Significant One Was in D.C.,

“Two shocking developments occurred in the relationship between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Monday. One of them took place in Abu Dhabi, where it was announced that an Emirati billionaire was buying half of the Israeli soccer club Beitar Jerusalem. The other happened in Washington, where Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, openly expressed Israeli support for the UAE’s arms deal with the Trump administration – including the purchase of F-35 fighter jets…But for those who follow Israel and the Middle East from the banks of the Potomac River, Dermer’s interview on Monday morning, in which he stated that Israel is “very comfortable” with the Trump-UAE weapons deal, was probably the more significant and surprising story.”

Also see:

To boost normalisation efforts, Israel lobbies US to pass Sudan immunity bill,

“Israel has started lobbying US Senators and Congressmen to approve a bill which would stop Sudan being the victim of future lawsuits by terror victims, Axios news website reported on Monday. This comes as part of Israel’s efforts to meet Khartoum’s demands before a normalisation deal can be reached between the two countries.”

UAE owner of Israeli club says ‘door open’ to Arab players,

“The Emirati businessman who has bought a stake in the controversial Israeli soccer club Beitar Jerusalem said on Tuesday that ‘the door is open’ to adding Arab players to its roster, a step that would make the team the last in Israel to integrate its lineup. At a joint news conference, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan and his Israeli partner, Moshe Hogeg, both vowed to turn the team — which has gained notoriety for its racist fans and ban on Arab players — into a model of coexistence. ‘We want to set an example to both nations that Jews and Muslims can work together,’ Al Nahyan said.” Also see: UAE royal buys Israel football club as fans react with ‘F*** Dubai’ (Middle East Monitor)

Israeli Domestic Scene

Committee advances bill to dissolve Knesset, setting election date for March 16,

“The Knesset House Committee on Wednesday set March 16 as the potential date for Israelis to go to the polls, advancing legislation to dissolve the parliament as the country continued its slide toward its fourth elections in two years. The vote on the bill passed 10-7, with the Blue and White party voting alongside opposition parties in favor of the legislation. The MKs from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, as well as the coalition Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, voted against the measure.”

Israel’s center left courts another general,

“In a desperate effort to find a real alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the center-left camp is now courting former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot.”

Netanyahu rival bolts party to launch leadership challenge,

“Gideon Saar, the leading rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inside the ruling Likud party, announced on Tuesday that he was breaking away to form a new political party ahead of elections expected early next year. In a statement broadcast on national television, Saar said that Netanyahu had bungled the management of the health and economic crises stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and had turned the Likud into a tool for personal survival at a time when he is on trial for corruption charges. Saar said that he could not serve under Netanyahu any longer and would seek the prime minister’s post himself as the head of a new party.”

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Foreign Ministry summons Russian ambassador over ‘Post’ interview,

“The Foreign Ministry summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov over remarks he made in an interview with The Jerusalem Post this week.Among other things, Viktorov said Israel’s ‘noncompliance with UN resolutions in the Israel-Arab and Israel-Palestinian conflict’ is a bigger problem for the Middle East than Iran’s proxy wars.” Also see: Russian envoy: Israel-Arab issues – not Iran – main problem in Middle East (Jerusalem Post)

Fighting Lawfare/Weaponization of False Accusations of Antisemitism

Who’s against adopting the IHRA antisemitism definition?,

“the IHRA definition also has a great many detractors who sharply criticize the definition, including its accompanying list of 11 illustrative examples, and how it has been deployed to attack and discredit advocates for Palestinian human rights. As Birmingham scholar Rebecca Ruth Gould argues, the IHRA definition is ‘one of the most contentious documents in the history of efforts to combat antisemitism.’”


Abstract: “The Executive Order on Combatting Anti-Semitism issued by President Trump in December 2019 serves the salutary purpose of continuing the policy of the Obama administration authorizing the Department of Education to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against anti-Semitic harassment in educational institutions as discrimination based on national origin. However, the definition of anti-Semitism that the Executive Order requires educational institutions to “consider” appears to regulate core political speech. If that definition is actually applied by ED in enforcement proceedings, it will infringe on the right to free speech protected by the First Amendment.”

With this flawed antisemitism definition, Britain is closing down academic freedom,

“By forcing universities to adopt the problematic IHRA definition, the government aims to criminalise the Palestine solidarity movement and roll back civil liberties.”

Students urge UK universities not to adopt ‘dangerous’ IHRA definition of antisemitism,

“Students and staff at universities around the UK are calling on their institutions not to adopt what they see as a ‘discredited definition’ of antisemitism. Conservative education secretary Gavin Williamson is reportedly trying to force universities to sign up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism by the end of the year, or face funding cuts. But student opponents of the colonisation of Palestine are worried that it will silence criticism of Israel. The UK government has already signed up to IHRA’s definition. But a legal expert has said that this does not oblige public institutions to follow suit.”

New Israeli ambassador in Britain describes Nakba as 'Arab lie',

“Israel’s new Ambassador to the United Kingdom, 42-year-old Tzipi Hotovely has used her first speech during an event organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews to describe the Nakba as ‘a very strong and very popular Arab lie.’ She added that the displacement  of Palestinians since 1948, when Israel was created in their land, is ‘a made up story’.”

Bonus Read

The end of Oslo: A new European strategy on Israel-Palestine,

“Summary: European policy this year saw significant wins in Israel-Palestine: helping to block Donald Trump’s ‘peace’ plan and to avoid Israel’s de jure annexation of Palestinian territory. But Europe is failing to fundamentally challenge the worsening situation on the ground, which is storing up future instability and threatens European interests. The Oslo process is exhausted and a viable two-state outcome is slipping out of reach. Instead of its rigid focus on the Oslo peace process, the EU should craft a new peacemaking paradigm based on equality and deoccupation. The absence of a two-state solution will mean Israel ensuring equal rights for Palestinians in one democratic state. The EU should also deter Israeli settlement activity and push Palestinians towards political renewal as prerequisites for a future resolution of the conflict.”