Top News from Palestine & Israel: January 21, 2021

What We’re Reading

Anticipating the Biden Era

Biden Administration Will Avoid Major Moves on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, but Will Seek to Contain Netanyahu: Report,

“The administration of newly sworn-in President Joe Biden will not make any major moves on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but will attempt to prevent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from ‘aggravating’ the situation on the ground, Israeli media reported Wednesday. Israel’s public broadcaster Kan cited unnamed sources in the new Biden administration saying that Biden and his advisors assess that no meaningful action can be taken on the Israeli-Palestinian issue at the moment, and they will therefore seek to ameliorate potential problems rather than attempt to solve the conflict as a whole…One possible area of disagreement will be the issue of settlements, as Netanyahu has recently pushed for the approval of dozens of outposts and the construction of hundreds of new settlement homes in the West Bank.”

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Greeting Biden With Settlements

2,572 Settlement Housing Units in Tenders are Published on the Eve of the Change in Government in Washington,

“The Ministry of Housing and the Israel Land Authority today issued tenders for the construction of 2,572 new housing units across the Green Line: 2,112 of them in settlements throughout the West Bank and 460 in East Jerusalem. Several tenders for industry and commerce were also published. Note that these advancements are in addition to the 780 units promoted in plans for West Bank settlements this week.”

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PA calls for international pressure on Israel,

“Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the official spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, on Wednesday condemned the Israeli government’s decision to build more than 2,500 new housing units in ‘occupied Palestinian lands.’ Abbas’ spokesman stressed that the Israeli decision, which is contrary to international legitimacy, including UN Security Council Resolution 2334, calls for a firm international stance and a shift from condemnation to effective pressure on the Israeli government to stop challenging international law and the decisions of international institutions. ‘The continuation of settlement policy and the theft of Palestinian land by the Netanyahu government and the support and biased position of the [outgoing] US administration will not lead to security and stability,’ Abu Rudeineh said.”

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Education minister: Israel will continue to approve construction, even during Biden admin.,

“Education Minister Yoav Galant (Likud) on Thursday addressed to Reshet Bet…Galant clarified in the interview that Israel will continue to approve construction in the Israeli localities in Judea and Samaria even during the Biden administration, and that construction is not expected to be frozen in these areas. ‘We need to continue to increase our hold on Judea and Samaria. Hundreds of thousands of people live there, we need to give them the appropriate services,’ he explained.” Also see: Let’s start talking about our rights in J’lem, Judea, and Samaria (Israel Hayom)

'Stripped to the bone': Israel advances plan to cut off Palestinian suburb from Jerusalem,

“Last week…the Israeli government approved a project that would build extensive new sections of its separation wall around Aizarya’s north and east, severing it from the Israeli road and direct route to Jerusalem it has enjoyed for centuries, which now would be only accessible to Israeli settlers. Israel’s government has allocated 14m shekels ($4.3m) for the project, according to Israeli NGO Peace Now. Aizarya wouldn’t be totally cut off by the scheme. A new entrance to the town and Abu Dis would be erected to the north. That would move traffic towards Ramallah, away from the settlers’ view, and sever it from Jerusalem, the city that Aizarya has always been a satellite of.”

Occupation/Human Rights

How Israel Was Annexed to the Territories,

“Israeli society for the most part is not interested in what is happening in the territories and in the fate of those living there. Many good people will probably say that the comparison is not relevant, certainly not during these difficult times. But anyone who knows and can see cannot help but think about how easily a population becomes transparent and human beings become subjects whose individual rights are de facto unprotected – and how a government that is used to compel is in danger of operating in its own country using methods it is accustomed to exercising outside of it. And anyone who can see would also do well to think about the immediate dangers posed by the occupation to Israeli democracy.”

Israeli High School Principal Faces Disciplinary Action Over B'Tselem Talk to Students,

“Talk by B’Tselem director came after Education Ministry banned schools from hosting people from groups ‘that treat IDF soldiers with contempt and call Israel an apartheid state.’” Also see: Democracy doesn’t mean what B’Tselem thinks it means (Arutz Sheva)

Israeli army detains 17 Palestinians across West Bank,

“At least 17 Palestinians were detained on Thursday when the Israeli forces stormed several Palestinian cities across the occupied West Bank. In a statement, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the arrests concentrated in southern Hebron and central Ramallah governorates. It also said former Palestinian parliamentarian Mohammad Badr was among the people detained. Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that many Palestinian youths confronted the Israeli forces which opened fire and tear gas canisters. A Palestinian journalist was shot with a rubber-coated bullet by the Israeli forces when he was covering the Israeli raids, they said.” Also see: Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians from West Bank (WAFA)

Police Severely Beat Palestinian Workers After Bogus Terror Attack Tip-off,

“Police severely beat two Palestinian men at a construction site in central Israel on Thursday, during a violent intervention following a terror attack tip-off. One of the victims’ shoulder was dislocated, and another’s nose was broken. A medical examination revealed other fractures. Earlier that day,the police received a call from someone saying they were planning to carry out a terrorist attack. It later transpired that the person who made the call was at odds with the owner of the phone…Three of the four men arrested only participated in the hearing through video conference, despite their insistence to come to court…’Does this have something to do with them having had their faces busted?’ the lawyer of one of the Palestinians from the public defender’s office, Abed Abu Amar, said. ‘I have a disquieting feeling. The suspect wasn’t brought to court so we wouldn’t see the injuries he sustained. Even now it seems he sustained serious injuries.’”

Israel academics call for Israel to allow Gazans to attend their universities abroad,

“Some 450 Israeli university professors have signed a petition calling for the Israeli government to allow Palestinian students besieged in Gaza to attend their universities abroad, Israeli rights group Gisha-Maslak said last week. The petition also called for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to take immediate action to allow students from Gaza to exit the Strip in order to reach their academic institutions abroad.”

IDF troops arrest 4 settlers after 2 tried to break into West Bank base,

“Soldiers arrested four Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank after two of them attempted to break into a military base on Thursday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces said. According to the military, two suspects were spotted climbing the fence into the Samaria Regional Brigade’s headquarters near Nablus. When soldiers were dispatched to arrest them, the pair fled the scene, with the IDF troops giving chase. The two suspected infiltrators were caught and arrested, along with two other settlers who were found nearby and were suspected of being part of the same group.” Also see: Jewish youths caught after infiltrating army base in Samaria (Arutz Sheva)

For the first time: Public transportation for Samaria community [settlement 'Nofei Nehemia',

“After eight years of hard work by the Samaria Regional Council led by Council Chairman Yossi Dagan, Nofei Nehemiah’s master plan was approved together with the young community of Havat Yair and, as a result, this morning, Thursday, the first public transportation bus, line 101 to Ariel, entered the community and was received by the residents.”

Israeli forces demolish Al-Araqib village for 182nd time,

“Israeli occupation forces demolished Al-Araqib village in the Negev Desert on Tuesday for the 182nd time, Anadolu and other agencies have reported. Local sources said that the Israeli forces entered the village with a number of bulldozers and demolished homes and tents. The residents were displaced. One of them, Aziz Al-Touri, explained that the demolition went ahead despite the awful weather. ‘It was raining and cold,’ he said, ‘but the Israeli forces still demolished our homes.’ He pointed out that this is the seventh time that Israel has destroyed their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.”


Palestine confirms 574 new coronavirus cases, seven deaths,

“Palestine recorded today 574 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths, according to Health Minister Mai al-Kaila. She announced that 574 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and seven others died of it in the occupied territories. Among the new 574 cases, 288 cases were recorded in the West Bank and 286 others in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Virus sickens 24 more Palestinian detainees in Israel,

“Twenty-four Palestinian detainees have contracted the coronavirus inside Israeli prisons, a Palestinian NGO said on Wednesday. The Palestinian Prisoner Society said in a statement that 15 new cases were reported in the Rimon Prison in northern Israel and nine others in the Negev Prison in southern Israel. The new infections bring to 274, the number of Palestinian detainees who have been infected with COVID-19 inside Israeli jails since March.” Also see: Eldest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails contracts coronavirus (WAFA)

Palestinian Scene

‘We stood tall against the bully’: Palestinians hail end of Trump, welcome Biden,

“As Joe Biden became US president Wednesday, Palestinian officials welcomed him to the post, but more than they were happy to see Biden’s arrival they appeared to be glad to see his predecessor Donald Trump go. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Biden with a laconic statement. ‘We look forward to working together for peace and stability in the region and the world,’ Abbas said.”

Palestinian skeptics not yet sold on elections,

“The leading Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Quds dedicated a red headline to its Jan. 16 issue, announcing the issuance of three election-related presidential decrees. But this breakthrough, which was welcomed by leading Palestinian, Arab and international players, were also met by skeptics. A major worry about the holding of Palestinian general elections continues to be the internal conflict between the two biggest factions, Fatah and Hamas, as well as the deep divisions within the two organizations, especially Fatah.”

Abbas to remain Fatah’s presidential candidate in polls,

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be Fatah’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections expected to be held in July, the Palestinian prime minister said. ‘The Fatah movement has unanimously nominated Abbas,’ Mohammad Shtayyeh said in an interview with London-based Al-Araby TV, to be fully broadcasted on Thursday.”

Hamas: Palestinian resistance is not subject to extortion,

“Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation and its tools are not subject to extortion, Hamas official website reported Head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh saying on Tuesday. Speaking at a conference held in Tehran on the 12th anniversary of Israeli offensive on Gaza carried out in 2008/9, Haniyeh stressed that political developments, including the so-called ‘deal of the century,’ Israeli annexation plans and Arab normalisation with the Israeli occupation, posed a threat not only to Palestine but to the whole region and Arab world.”

PA pledges to legally pursue US ambassador to Israel for recognising settlement project,

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) pledged on Tuesday to legally pursue US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, after he recognised a settlement project called City of David in the occupied city of Jerusalem, Wafa News Agency reported. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, the PA said that all of East Jerusalem is a Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. The statement reiterated that ‘[East Jerusalem] is the eternal capital of the State of Palestine despite Friedman and his outgoing administration, which has violated every legal, diplomatic or ethical norm.’ It added that ‘Friedman’s bigoted statements are a flagrant violation of international law, international resolutions and international diplomatic traditions.’”

Israeli Domestic Scene

Activist Who Joined Bennett's Party Had Admitted to Uprooting Palestinian Olive Trees,

“An Israeli protest leader who on Tuesday joined Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party ahead of Israel’s March election had admitted to uprooting 30 olive trees owned by a Palestinian man. Abir Kara, founder of the “I am Shulman” protest group of self-employed Israelis who is expected to be placed high on Yamina’s slate, was also convicted in 2006 of obstructing and insulting a police officer. Further incidents of threatening behavior by Kara were reported by two Israeli broadcasters on Tuesday, following Kara’s announcement.”

Israel: Settlements council chief attacks Netanyahu,

“The head of the so-called Israeli settlement Yesha Council and Jordan Valley Regional Council, David Elhayani, yesterday announced he was withdrawing from the leading Likud Party. Elhayani told Ynet News that he had joined the New Hope Party led by the Israeli politician Gideon Sa’ar, accusing the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of ‘destroying Likud and abandoning the principles of the right-wing constituents.’ ‘Netanyahu is deceiving the Jordan Valley residents and is not fulfilling his pledges to annex it,’ the Israeli official added.”

Israel’s Arab parties launch election campaigns; vow not to ‘sell out’ to Netanyahu,

“Israel’s Arab parties, Balad, Ra’am, Ta’al and Hadash—which together form the Joint Arab List—launched their campaigns this week, ahead of the March 23 Knesset elections. The faction’s central committee affirmed Hadash leader MK Ayman Odeh as head of the Joint Arab List for the next Knesset run. Hadash MK Aida Touma-Suleiman said that members of the Jewish-Arab party, ‘have expressed renewed faith’ in its slate, adding, ‘Our position is clear: to preserve the Joint Arab List as long as its core tenets—anti-right, anti-occupation and pro-social equality for all—are preserved.’ Touma-Suleiman was alluding to the recent controversy in the Joint Arab List, sparked by an apparent rapprochement between Ra’am head MK Mansour Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is actively courting the Arab-Israeli electorate. Balad, the most hawkish member of the Joint Arab List, launched an aggressive anti-Netanyahu campaign, pledging it would not allow the faction to ‘sell out.’”

Fighting Politicization of Antisemitism Definition

New FMEP Resource: Challenging the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism – Expert Views & Resources,

“…In the media and on social media, and in the mainstream political discourse, there are almost daily interventions in support of the IHRA definition – interventions that too often dismiss the well-established, well-fleshed-out substantive and constitutional concerns/objections to the definition and its implementation. Yet, this new definition has been the focus of enormous controversy and myriad challenges, including from academics/experts on antisemitism and Holocaust studies in the U.S., Israel, and around the world; from prominent voices and groups that defend free speech and human rights; from progressive Jewish community organizations; from leading legal scholars; from groups defending Palestinians and Palestinian rights; and more. In this context, I have created a new data table — a compendium of expert views and other resources laying out concerns/objections to the IHRA definition.”