Top News from Palestine & Israel: July 29, 2021

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

[Podcast] NSO Group & Israel’s expertise in spyware & repression,

In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” FMEP’s Peter Beinart interviews Yousef Munayyer and Dahlia Scheindlin about the Israeli intelligence firm NSO Group, which leases military-grade surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes around the world. A new investigation revealed a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that had been targeted by NSO’s spyware tools and included human rights advocates, journalists, and world leaders. This week, Yousef published “Exporting the Tools of Apartheid” in Jewish Currents and Dahlia published “Why Israel is more concerned about Ben & Jerry’s than the Pegasus revelations” in the Guardian.

[Video or Podcast] Palestinian Liberation & Leadership: What’s Next? ,

Palestinian analysts discuss the current state of Palestinian leadership and how Palestinians are contending with multiple layers of authoritarian rule (Israel, the PA, and Hamas). The discussion addresses issues including: What are the challenges to Palestinian liberation? What roles – positive and negative – do the Palestinian Authority and Hamas play? What role does Palestinian civil society play in mobilizing against Israel and the PA? What can Palestinian resistance to Israel look like? What is behind Hamas’s rise in popularity since the most recent escalation with Israel? What is the status of the uprising against the PA and how is it part of a larger struggle against occupation, annexation, and apartheid? And how do Palestinians inside of Israel and in the Diaspora – from Lebanon to the U.S. – fit into the puzzle of Palestinian liberation?

Annexation, Apartheid, Human Rights

Three Sheikh Jarrah families get a court order temporarily suspending their eviction from their homes,

“The Israeli High Court today issued a decision freezing the eviction of three Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. The family’s attorney, Sami Irsheid, said that the court accepted a petition submitted by him and attorney Hosni Abu Hussein on behalf of the Dajani, Hammad, and Dahoudi families to freeze the eviction decision that was supposed to enter into effect on Sunday until completion of the procedures for an appeal against the eviction, which will be later considered by the same court. On Monday, the High Court is scheduled to consider another appeal by four other families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood – Jaouni, Iskafi, al-Kurd, and al-Qadi – against their eviction from their homes for the benefit of Jewish settlers.”

[Video] Funeral held for Palestinian teenager killed by Israeli soldiers in Nabi Saleh,

“Muhammad Munir al-Tamimi was shot in the stomach and rushed to hospital on Friday where he was pronounced dead later in the day”

Palestinian shot and critically injured by Israeli soldiers in the south of the West Bank,

“A Palestinian youth said to be 20 years of age was today shot by Israeli soldiers and critically wounded in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, according to the Ministry of Health. It said the youth was shot in the head and belly and was admitted to surgery. The shooting came during clashes between residents and Israeli soldiers following the funeral of Mohammad Allamy, 11, who was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers yesterday in the same town.”


Also See:

Israel Allocates Swathes of West Bank Land to Illegal Outposts,

“Israel has allocated more than 8,500 dunams (about 2,100 acres) of land for six farms and grazing outposts in the West Bank, although the outposts that were given permission to hold the land do not have construction permits, according to the Agriculture Ministry. The ministry stated this in a response to a query by the activist group Peace Now about the funding of groups that guard the outposts and volunteer there.”

Settler Group Loses Control Over Jerusalem Archaeological Park,

“Israel has retaken control of Davidson Archaeological Park, near the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, from the right-wing settler group Elad, which runs the City of David tourist site in East Jerusalem. In 2017, after a three-year legal battle, the state agreed to allow Elad also to run the Davidson Center. But Haaretz has learned that earlier this month, Israel reasserted its authority over the site through the government-owned Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter…Emek Shaveh said: “We welcome the decision by the authorities, which realized the need to prevent a private right-wing association from managing important sites such as the Davidson Center, which is in one of the most sensitive locations in the entire area. … [T]his is a double victory: recognition by the state of the legal problem of Elad operating the site, and the decision to return the site to the state. We hope the state will later take full control of other sites it has placed in the hands of the association. The City of David is doubtless the next site that should return to full state management.””

Israeli forces raid leading child rights organization headquarters in Al-Bireh,

Israeli forces dawn Thursday raided the headquarters of a leading child rights organization in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. Defense for Children International- Palestine said in a press statement that heavily-armed Israeli soldiers smashed the main door of its premises in Sateh Marhaba neighborhood and barged their way inside, tampering with its contents and seizing several computers. DCI-Palestine condemned the raid was conducted in the context of the wider Israeli occupation authorities’ organized criminalization campaign against the local and international human rights organizations operating in Palestine while pledging to continue to carry out its work dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of Palestinian children in the occupied territories, as well as to exposing Israeli human rights violations against children and holding Israeli perpetrators accountable for such violations.”

Occupation forces raid the offices of Bisan Center for Research and Development,

“Early Thursday 07/29/2021, occupation forces raided the headquarters of Bisan Center for Research and development, vandalizing offices, breaking the main entrance door, and shattering the doors of offices inside the center, they also rummaged the center and stole office owned equipment and devices. Substantially, this direct targeting of an academic and research institute by occupation forces is a dangerous breach of academic freedoms.”

Israeli forces quell anti-settlement rally south of Nablus, injuries reported,

“Israeli forces Wednesday evening quelled an anti-settlement rally in Beita town, south of Nablus, injuring eight protestors and causing dozens of suffocation cases, according to medical sources.”

Israel Secretly Detained Innocent Palestinians in Remote Desert Camps in Sinai,

“In 1971, under heavy secrecy, Israel built two detention camps in the Sinai Peninsula where innocent Palestinians were sent. One was used for the families of Fatah members who were suspected of terrorism, one was for unemployed young men. Children, women and men were transported from the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army and put in improvised buildings in the middle of the desert. They spent various stretches there – sometimes even months – in conditions the Red Cross called “unbearable.” Less than a year later, both camps were closed and all the detainees were returned to Gaza….In February 1971, Israel allowed the Red Cross into the camp. Members of the delegation met with representatives of the 23 families being held there – 140 people, of whom 87 were children – all of them Gazans. The Red Cross people wrote to their headquarters in Geneva after the visit: “Their only fault was having a ‘terrorist’ parent. But does a baby of only 7 months, or an old mother of 80, understand the reason for their presence there? … The most important problem is psychological: The people here hoped their deportation would only be temporary.””

Here in Jerusalem, we Palestinians are still fighting for our homes,

“On 2 August, the Israeli supreme court, whose jurisdiction over the eastern part of Jerusalem defies international law, is set to decide whether it will allow the appeal of my family and three others – a last legal obstacle before we can be expelled. There have been postponements before. Palestinians are accustomed to this kind of stalling; it tests our stamina. But we are as stubborn as anyone else faced with the prospect of losing their home – their life, their memories – to those using force, intimidation and biased laws…I have no faith in the Israeli judicial system; it is a part of the settler-colonial state, built by settlers for settlers. Nor do I expect any of the international governments who have been deeply complicit in Israel’s colonial enterprise to intervene on our behalf. But I do have faith in those people around the world who protest and pressure their governments to end what is essentially unconditional support for Israeli policies. Impunity and war crimes will not be stopped by statements of condemnation and raised eyebrows. We Palestinians have repeatedly articulated what kind of transformative political measures must be taken – such as civil society boycotts and state-level sanctions. The problem is not ignorance, it is inaction.”

‘We will return’: the battle to save an ancient Palestinian village from demolition,

“In a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative, activists are bracing for a legal battle to try to save the village, which stands as a reminder of the 1948 expulsions of Palestinians from West Jerusalem. Israel’s land authority announced in May that it planned to issue a tender for Lifta’s redevelopment and bidding is expected to open on Thursday.”

Israel's binding social thread is settler-colonialism,

“From family life, to education, to leisure activities, to politics, to religion and media, Israelis’ social experiences are geared to shape minds and bodies according to a series of well-known dynamics. These include the military obsession with security, a sacrificial relationship with children, the proclivity to self-segregate, a fascination with self-induced paranoia, and an exclusivist relationship with the land. These dynamics originated in the pre-state phase of the settler-colonisation of Palestine, but have since come to resonate across innumerable practices in various social spheres, creating a suffocating social reality. In recent years, we have witnessed some of the excesses of this reality. I’m not referring to the snowballing brutality of the Israeli occupation, but to the grotesque materialisations of Israeli selfhood. By that, I mean the extreme embodiments of the predisposition to maintain the subjugation of Palestinians.”

Does Israel-Palestine need any ‘state’ solution?,

“The state-first approach has, so far, failed to prevent, and, if anything, has enabled the continued abuses of the occupation, asymmetric warfare, authoritarianism within Palestinian institutions, and forcible dispossession and displacement. One- and two-state purists have each had their limitations. Some advocates of the two-state formula have been unimaginative in insisting that new state creation via partition must precede regime change. Some of the voices that have actively pushed for one state have thought about what the regime would look like, but how to get Jewish and Palestinian societies and their political elites to ascribe to this common set of rules remains a stumbling block. I suggest here — with the humility required from a foreign scholar whose life is not at stake in these outcomes  — that a regime-first approach may, despite some definitional and process-related challenges, hold more promise.”


Hamas Reportedly Threatening Violent Escalation if Qatari Cash Is Not Delivered to Gaza Soon,

“According to the reports, Hamas is threatening to again fire rockets at Israel and to resume violent nighttime protests along the border fence with Israel, in addition to floating incendiary balloons over the border into Israel. The Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have relayed this message to Israel via Egyptian intermediaries and the United Nations, the Al-Akhbar daily and other media organizations said. Despite the reports, Hamas officials who spoke with Haaretz said they expected the Qatari funding, which would go to needy families in the Strip, to be transferred next week, in light of the fact that agreement in principle has already been reached on the matter. Hamas officials have rejected an Israeli request that the money to be transferred through the United Nations’ international food aid program. The Islamist group has insisted that the funds be transferred directly to Gaza – to then be withdrawn by the families at bank and post office branches using a special electronic card.”

Israeli navy detains Gaza fishermen, seize their boat,

“Israeli navy today detained two Palestinian fishermen offshore As-Sudaniya area, northwest of Gaza city, and seized their boat, according to WAFA correspondent. He said that the fishermen were sailing within three nautical miles when Israeli naval boats opened water hoses toward them before proceeding to detain them and confiscate their boat.”

PM Bennett meets with Gaza border communities, promises 'peace and quiet',

“We will continue to defeat terror on one hand and improve living conditions in Gaza on the other,” said Bennett. “I am in favor of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, we need to create a situation where they know they have something to lose,” Bennett added. “We are working to give peace and quiet in the long term to the Gaza border communities and all southern Israelis.”

Special UN coordinator: Humanitarian response for Gaza underway, but political solutions still needed,

“She said that while Israel has allowed entry of some goods into the besieged Gaza Strip, including fuel for the Gaza Power Plant, it remains “essential that Israel implement additional measures to allow unhindered entry of all humanitarian assistance, including materials to implement the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan and the Flash Appeal.” Without regular and predictable entry of goods into Gaza, response would be at risk, she said, and livelihoods, as well as the wider economy, would be affected. Improved movement and access is also critical for any durable stability.”

The Palestinian Scene

Palestinian President Abbas to reshuffle government amid growing backlash,

“A senior Palestinian official told me the changes would include appointing a new minister of the interior and a new minister of endowments, the officials responsible for the security forces and for religious affairs and Muslim holy sites, respectively. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh held both roles himself for several years. The Palestinian official, who asked not to be named, added that there will be a limited number of other changes in the Cabinet, all to be announced in the coming days…A European diplomat told me the EU has asked Abbas to set an approximate date to hold legislative and presidential elections and wants “a clear signal and commitment that the elections have been postponed and not canceled.” According to another Palestinian official, the Hamas movement rejected a proposal to form a consensus government that could be acceptable to the international community, and instead it proposed a two-year transitional council.”

Palestinian Authority deletes ‘freedom of expression’ from civil servants code of conduct,

“The Palestinian Authority has abolished an article from the Code of Conduct and Ethics for Public Service that allows employees to express their opinions freely. According to the Official Gazette on Tuesday, a government decision has cancelled Article 22 of Cabinet Resolution No 4 of 2020 related to the code of conduct for civil servants. The repealed article stated that “an employee has the right to express his opinion and publish it verbally, in writing, or by other means of expression or art, subject to the provisions of the legislation.” The same article also stated: “The employee, when expressing an opinion, commenting, or posting on social media, must make it clear that he represents his personal opinion only, and (his point of view) does not reflect the opinion of the government entity.” The decision comes as Palestinians continue to voice anger over the killing of outspoken political activist and PA critic Nizar Banat.”

Palestinian Authority’s standing slides amid growing frustration,

“Discontent with the PA has been compounded by its passive stance during the protests and confrontations with Israeli forces over forced expulsions of Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and over the 11-day war in May between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza, as well as by an investigation into a nixed vaccine swap deal between the PA and Israel. Khalil Shikaki, a political science professor and director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, who has been conducting polls since 1993, told Al Jazeera he has never seen such a high level of frustration with the PA among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Will Abbas Get Tripped Up by the Palestinian Diaspora?,

“But it’s in the Palestinian diaspora that longtime Abbas rivals have been mustering strength. Potential successors include Qatar-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, United Arab Emirates-sheltered Mohammed Dahlan, and perennial Washington favorite Salam Fayyad, a former Palestinian prime minister. When Abbas eventually quits, falls in a coup, or dies, these outsiders will be coming on strong. In the meantime, they’re rubbing shoulders with power and building grassroots support.”

Diplomacy, International News, & Climate Change

Israeli and Palestinian officials are speaking again,

“Relations between the new Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have shifted substantially in recent weeks, with Israeli officials going so far as to call it “a renaissance.” Why it matters: During Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as prime minister, relations deteriorated to the point where there was almost no contact other than security coordination. State of play: In the last month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has held four phone calls with senior Israeli officials — two with President Isaac Herzog, one with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and one with Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev.”

Scoop: Israel weighs a return to UNESCO,

“An Israeli return to UNESCO, which promotes the preservation of cultural sites around the world and holds educational programs, could help pave the way for the Biden administration to rejoin the organization — and help fend off criticism from Republicans. The backstory: Several weeks ago, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid asked his ministry to review the matter. Lapid’s view, the officials say, was that Israel’s withdrawal from international forums over claims they were biased only made Israeli foreign policy less effective.”

In Rare Meeting, Israeli and Palestinian Ministers Agree on Medical Service Cooperation,

“The first meeting since 2018 on Wednesday between Israeli cabinet ministers and their Palestinian counterparts ended in agreements on the recognition of COVID vaccines and easing the transfer of patients from Gaza to the West Bank.”

Can Enemies Become Allies in the Fight Against Climate Change?,

“Many Middle Eastern countries do not possess the knowledge and technology to help them grow food under progressively arid conditions, making them increasingly reliant on imports. This increases food prices, which can cause civil unrest, as happened in Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia prior to the 2011 Arab Spring. Knowledge about building in a way that prevents flooding and is energy efficient is also largely absent. Many countries also lack the resources to single-handedly keep their populations safe and provide relief to areas hit by disasters. Governments are therefore worried about the instability climate change has and is likely to continue to cause. These are all incentives for cooperation, even with adversaries.”

The U.S.

Republican senators seek to codify Trump settlement import-labeling policy,

“The new GOP bill, the “Anti-BDS Labeling Act,” would codify the policy change into federal law, blocking any administration from changing it by executive action. The bill, introduced on Tuesday night, is sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rick Scott (R-FL), John Boozman (R-AR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). “Left-wing activists abuse county-of-origin labels in order to stigmatize products made in Israel,” Cotton said in a statement to JI. “Our bill will defend the integrity of the Jewish State by ensuring that Israeli products may proudly bear the label ‘Made in Israel.’””

New oversight provision passes House alongside $3.3 billion in aid to Israel,

“In a statement, J Street praised the proposal. “J Street lobbied both for the full provision of the $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing security assistance for Israel pledged in the MOU, and for new measures to help ensure that equipment purchased with such aid is not used to support acts of creeping annexation, violations of Palestinian rights, or in other ways contravene longstanding U.S. interests and values,” Debra Shushan, J Street’s director of government affairs, told Jewish Insider. In addition to $3.3 billion in military financing for Israel, the bill provides $50 million for the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act; $2 million for U.S.-Israel development cooperation on water, agriculture and energy; and $6 million for collaborative research between Israeli and Arab scientists — a 20% increase. It also requires the State Department to submit a report on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s efforts to eliminate antisemitic and violent content in its textbooks.”

GOP lawmakers push UNRWA reform bill,

“The GOP lawmakers said they were attempting to institute appropriate oversight to ensure that US taxpayer dollars would not to the organization unless it made far-reaching reforms. The act would freeze aid to UNRWA unless the secretary of state certifies to Congress every 180 days that the organization meets a series of criteria.”

Cruz Clashes with J Street,

“The left-leaning, pro-Israel organization is bashing Sen. TED CRUZ (R-Texas) for blocking a unanimous consent request on passage of the Israel Relations Normalization Act. Cruz declared his opposition to the measure last month after its language was changed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to include support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Senator Cruz’s obstructionist stunt makes one thing clear: he and his right-wing allies are fundamentally opposed to a two-state peace agreement,” DEBRA SHUSHAN, J Street’s director of government affairs, said in a statement. “Cruz has evidently watched years of the endless Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, where Palestinians lack basic rights and dignity while Israelis face the constant threat of violence and instability, and decided that the unjust and destructive status quo suits him just fine.””

Ben & Jerry's, Continued

We’re Ben and Jerry. Men of Ice Cream, Men of Principle.,

“We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel. But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government. As such, we unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which a majority of the international community, including the United Nations, has deemed an illegal occupation…In its statement, the company drew a contrast between the democratic territory of Israel and the territories Israel occupies. The decision to halt sales outside Israel’s democratic borders is not a boycott of Israel. The Ben & Jerry’s statement did not endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The company’s stated decision to more fully align its operations with its values is not a rejection of Israel. It is a rejection of Israeli policy, which perpetuates an illegal occupation that is a barrier to peace and violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people who live under the occupation. As Jewish supporters of the State of Israel, we fundamentally reject the notion that it is anti-Semitic to question the policies of the State of Israel.

Israeli lawmakers urge Ben & Jerry’s to drop settlement ban,

“Three-quarters of the members of the Israeli parliament on Wednesday called on Ben & Jerry’s to reverse its decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and contested east Jerusalem. In a letter to the Vermont-based ice cream maker, the lawmakers said they were “standing together against the shameful actions” of the company. They called the decision “immoral and regrettable,” claimed it would hurt hundreds of Jewish and Arab workers and violated an Israeli law banning boycotts of the settlements. The letter was signed by 90 of the Knesset’s 120 members spanning almost the entire political spectrum. Arab parties and some dovish lawmakers refused to sign.”

llinois seeks Ben & Jerry’s divestment over Israel stance,

“Illinois regulators plan to warn the owner of Ben & Jerry’s to reverse the company’s decision to stop selling ice cream in the West Bank and east Jerusalem or face divestment by the state, an official said Wednesday. The Israeli Boycott Restrictions Committee of the Illinois Investment Policy Board will meet to approve setting a 90-day deadline for Unilever to reverse the decision by Ben & Jerry’s, committee chairman Andy Lappin said. There is no date set for the meeting but it will be called specifically to address the July 19 announcement by the Vermont-based confection-maker that continuing to market its product in Palestinian-sought territories is “inconsistent with our values.” It’s considered one of the strongest condemnations by a well-known company of Israel’s policy of settling citizens on war-won lands. Lappin said that “the egregious nature of the statement is almost unprecedented.”

How McDonald’s took the same stance as Ben & Jerry’s but avoided public backlash,

“Long before Ben & Jerry’s, it was McDonald’s that took a stand against Israeli settlements. In 2013, the fast-food chain’s chief executive in Israel refused an offer to open a branch in the northern West Bank settlement of Ariel, sparking anger from settlers and right-wing lawmakers from the Jewish Home party, who called on Israelis to boycott McDonald’s in response…Similar to Ben & Jerry’s, McDonald’s backs a position against sales beyond the Green Line, not differentiating between Israeli settlements and other West Bank areas under limited Palestinian control. But unlike the ice cream supplier, McDonald’s avoided issuing a press-stopping statement to announce the policy…But dovish Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) president Lara Friedman was less convinced by this defense. “Israel decides to make an issue of people differentiating [between] settlements [and Israel proper] when it feels like it,” she said, referencing economic agreements former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government signed with the EU and South Korea and China that explicitly do not apply to the settlements. “In those cases [Netanyahu] didn’t make a deal of it or accuse them of boycotting Israel.”

NSO Group, Continued

Malinowski says U.S., Israel, other democracies should work to restrict technologies like NSO’s Pegasus,

“Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), the vice chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a former assistant secretary of state, told Jewish Insider on Wednesday that the U.S. must work with allies, including Israel, to prevent the abuse of technologies such as the NSO Group’s Pegasus software. Recent reports revealed that authoritarian regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and Kazakhstan, used the Israel-based NSO Group’s Pegasus hacking software to spy on journalists and activists. Any foreign sales of the software must be approved by Israel’s Defense Ministry. “I do think this needs to be addressed diplomatically,” Malinowski said.”

Israel tells France it is taking NSO spyware allegations seriously,

“Israel is taking seriously allegations that spyware developed by an Israeli company was used against public figures including French President Emmanuel Macron, Israel’s defence minister told his French counterpart during a visit to Paris on Wednesday.”

White House raised NSO spyware concerns with Israel,

“The White House raised concerns with Israeli officials about reports that spyware from Israeli firm NSO was used to spy on journalists, human rights activists and opposition figures in several countries around the world, Israeli officials tell me. Why it matters: The Israeli government gave NSO export licenses to sell its Pegasus spyware to several countries. Media reports about abuse of the technology have already created uproar in Congress and in several European countries, and Israel fears a possible diplomatic crisis.”

NSO and Its Spyware Are Here to Stay,

“For NSO customers, and even more so for future clients, the Project Pegasus expose almost certainly is having the perverse effect of making the company’s spyware more desirable than ever. Pegasus’ reputation as an all-powerful tool capable of even bypassing iPhone security and seemingly unequaled in its hacking capabilities was, if anything, enhanced.”