Top News from Palestine/Israel: October 20, 2020

What We’re Reading

Settlements/Occupation/De Facto Annexation

Settlers flood Palestinian farmland north of Nablus with sewage,

“Israeli settlers today flooded Palestinian-owned land with sewage and wastewater in Sebastia town, north of Nablus city, according to a municipal source. Mayor of Sebastia Mohammad Azzam confirmed that settlers from the illegal colonial settlement of Shavei Shomron were responsible for flooding Palestinian-owned land in the western section of the town with sewage and wastewater, disrupting the olive harvest. He explained that the land is planted with olive and apricot trees, which means that farmers are incurred with heavy material losses.” Also see: Settlers kick Palestinian farmers out of their lands near Nablus (WAFA)

Settlers set up cattle shed in northern Jordan Valley,

“Israeli settlers last night set up a cattle shed to the west of the illegal Israeli colonial settlement of Maskiyot in the northern Jordan Valley. Aref Daraghmeh, a local activist, told WAFA that settlers set up the cattle shed to the west of the settlement, where they kept a number of cows. He slammed the move as part of the settlers’ ‘silent policy of eating up more Palestinian land’.”

Concerned for the life of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Maher al-Akhras, human rights organizations demand his release,

“Maher al-Akhras, in his 86th day of hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention, is at great risk of death, today said four Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, demanding his immediate release. A Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) volunteer doctor visited al-Akhras on Friday, and noted that although he is generally lucid, he is also periodically confused, very dizzy, cannot move his legs, stand, or change position in bed. His vision and hearing are rapidly deteriorating and he complains of severe chest pains. According to international medical consensus on hunger strikes, al-Akhras may die any day, said the four organizations. Al-Akhras, has been on hunger strike since 27 July 2020 following his administrative detention. He has appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding to be released, but the court decided not to cancel his administrative detention – leaving that decision to the security apparatus.” Also see: A Tale of Two Hospital Visits, and Two Sets of Morals (Haaretz)

11 arrested, dozens of weapons confiscated in east Jerusalem,

“Israel Police arrested 11 suspects in possession of dozens of weapons and ammunition in the neighborhood of Shuafat in east Jerusalem on Tuesday. The weapons were confiscated as part of Israel Police’s continuing struggle against violence and illegal possession of weapons in order to prevent the use of arms during criminal actions or celebrations such as weddings during which people have been seriously injured and killed.”

PA/PLO/Palestinian Politics

Fatah is ‘waiting for Hamas to approve Istanbul understandings’,

“Fatah’s Central Committee has approved the understandings agreed after talks with Hamas in Istanbul recently, and is apparently waiting for the Islamic movement’s formal approval, Wafa news agency reported on Monday. Senior Fatah official Rawhi Fattouh told Palestine TV that following Hamas’s approval, the President of Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will issue decrees to hold elections.”

Hamas: the US has told Arab states to stop supporting the PA,

“A senior Hamas official has claimed that the US has told a number of Arab states to stop giving financial support to the Palestinian Authority, Al-Aqsa TV reported on Sunday. According to Saleh Al-Arouri, a number of states have been asked to put pressure on Fatah, which controls the PA, in order to pull out of any reconciliation with Hamas.” Also see: Arab support for PA budget falls by 82% (Middle East Monitor)

Israel Gives Palestinian Authority Control Over Three West Bank Power Stations,

“The move, hailed by Palestinian Authority despite diplomatic standstill, should stabilize power supply in the West Bank, which is plagued by frequent outages.”

Israel-Gulf Normalization -- Palestinian Perspectives

‘Shameful’: Palestinians slam UAE delegation visit to Israel,

“The arrival of a United Arab Emirates delegation in Israel has been slammed as ‘shameful’ by Palestinian officials. The delegation – UAE’s first official visit to Israel – was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Finance Minister Israel Katz at Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday.”

PA condemns UAE for visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque under Israeli protection,

“Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh has criticised a visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem by a UAE delegation under Israeli police protection, Anadolu has reported. ‘Al-Aqsa Mosque should be entered through the gate of its owners, not through the gate of the Israeli occupation,’ Shtayyeh said during the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday. ‘It is sad to see some Arab delegations entering Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Israeli gate, while Israel denies access for Palestinian worshippers to perform their prayers.’ The visit in question happened on Sunday. A video went viral on social media showing Palestinian worshippers pushing the Emiratis out and describing ‘normalisers’ as ‘rubbish’.”

Also see:

Emirati economic delegation visits Temple Mount, is insulted by Palestinians (Times of Israel)

‘Get out!’: Delegation ‘from UAE’ visiting al-Aqsa Mosque asked to leave (Middle East Eye)

Israel and UAE to discuss influx of Gulf tourists to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque (Middle East Eye)

Fatah region [rep] in Jerusalem warns of Emirati money that will support settlements,

“The Fatah region [rep] in occupied Jerusalem warned, on Sunday, of Emirati funds pumped through Israeli channels and used to build settlements. This came in a statement by the Fatah Secretary in Jerusalem, Shadi Mutwar, published on the movement’s official website on Sunday. Mutwar revealed what he described as ‘a new Emirati intrusion,’ in reference to a delegation headed by the UAE’s ministers of economy and finance, which is expected to arrive in Occupied Palestine next Tuesday ‘carrying more arrows to stab Palestinians’. He stated that there are partnership agreements between the occupation municipality in Jerusalem and the UAE government ‘to establish settlements on the lands of Sheikh Jarrah, Musarara and Wadi Al-Joz,’ adding that ‘these projects, which the Jerusalemites have been fighting fiercely, are now being sneaked through other channels that are supposed to be Arab, not Arabised’.”

Arab World/Normalization

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain given ‘Friends of Zion’ award,

“The founder of the Friends of Zion Heritage Centre in Jerusalem announced on Sunday that eleven world leaders have been given the Friends of Zion Award, Al-Quds Al-Araby and news agencies have reported. Among those given the award are the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, as well as Morocco and Oman. Mike Evans made the announcement during the Israeli government’s 4th Annual Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem. The award is given to people adjudged to have helped Jews and Israel. The online event was seen by millions of viewers all around the world. Speakers included US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.”

‘We Are Making History In a Way That Will Stand for Generations,’ Netanyahu Says as UAE Delegation Visits Israel,

“In an historic first visit by a Gulf Arab nation, a United Arab Emirates delegation arrived in Israel on Tuesday to cement the normalization deal signed last month. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other American officials accompanied the delegation on Etihad Airways plane from Abu Dhabi to Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. They were given a red carpet welcome by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Finance Minister Israel Katz. ‘We are making history in a way that will stand for generations,’ Netanyahu said. ‘I think that the visit of such a high-level delegation from the UAE… will show our peoples, the region and the entire world the benefit of having friendly, peaceful and normal exchanges.’”

Also see:

First UAE delegation lands in Israel, agree multibillion-dollar fund for private sector innovation (Arab News)

U.S., UAE, Israel to Form Joint $3 Billion Fund in Jerusalem (Bloomberg)

First ever Emirati passenger flight lands in Israel near Tel Aviv (Al Jazeera)

Israel to sign visa exemption agreement with UAE, its first with an Arab state (Times of Israel)

UAE FM submits request to open embassy in Tel Aviv (YNet)

Emirati FM says Abu Dhabi seeks to open embassy in Tel Aviv as soon as possible (i24 News)

Mossad chief: Israel, Saudi Arabia maintain unofficial peace relations,

“The head of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Yossi Cohen, has said that Israel and Saudi Arabia maintain peace relations, however they remain outside the official diplomatic framework, Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported. The paper quoted Cohen as saying that the normalisation of relations with Arab countries gives Israel a ‘strategic depth’ to confront the axis of evil led by Iran as well as the dangers it poses, especially the nuclear programme, terrorism and regional expansion.”

Trump says US to remove Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list,

“Officials told the New York Times that Sudan’s removal from the terror list could pave the way for normalisation with Israel.”

Israel’s occupation is the main problem, not Iran, says Arab MK,

“The head of the Arab Joint List in the Israeli parliament has said that Israel’s occupation of Palestine is a greater problem than Iran in the region. Knesset member Ayman Odeh made his remark in an interview with a Lebanese television station in which he also slammed the UAE’s normalisation with the Zionist state. The interview followed last week’s vote by the Arab bloc in parliament against UAE-Israel normalisation. When asked to explain the decision of the bloc to criticise the so-called Abraham Accords, Odeh said that they are based on a flawed assumption.” Also see: Israeli-Arab lawmakers reject normalization deal with Emirates (Al-Monitor)


Lawfare/Free Speech

US Envoy Carr: 1.7 Million Antisemitic Posts on Facebook, Twitter So Far in 2020,

“…One of the things I think is fundamentally important is that the social media platforms adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. They haven’t done that yet. We’ve encouraged it publicly and privately. We will continue to push them to do that publicly or privately because I think it’s incredibly important.”


Secretary Pompeo to Host [pre-recorded] Virtual Conference on Combatting Online Anti-Semitism ,

“Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will host and deliver opening remarks during the first-ever U.S. Government conference focused on combatting online anti-Semitism. Organized by the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, the virtual conference aims to explore the threats posed by anti-Semitism on the internet and social media and to consider practical responses for governments and civil society. The [pre-recorded] conference, titled ‘Ancient Hatred, Modern Medium,’ will be on the record and shown virtually on the State Department website on October 21 and 22 from 1:00 pm to approximately 4:00 pm EDT. In addition to Secretary Pompeo, U.S. Government presenters will include Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Senator James Lankford, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr, and Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Cherrie Daniels. The presentations will feature foreign leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen of Israel, Minister Michael Gove of the United Kingdom, Federal National Council Member Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi of the United Arab Emirates, International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance President Ambassador Michaela Küchler, European Commission Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism Katharina von Schnurbein, and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Dr. Ahmed Shaheed.”

Full conference schedule is here, featuring presentations including: 

– “Anti-Semitism Masquerading as Anti-Zionism on the Internet” – Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Israel’s (ex-)Minister of Strategic Affairs
– “The Department of Justice’s Efforts Against Anti-Semitic Acts: What Can and Cannot Be Pursued Under Federal Law?” – Jeffrey A. Rosen, Deputy Attorney General
– “Addressing First Amendment Issues” – Prof. Robert P. George, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University
– “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act” – Alyza D. Lewin, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law


With anti-Palestinian Hostility Surging, Can Israel’s Peace Camp Find Allies in the Gulf?,

“As normalization sweeps the Gulf, Israeli anti-occupation activists face a new fight for relevance, influence and partnerships in an unfamiliar, often dissonant environment. It won’t be easy.”

‘Trump Heights’: A symbol of US shift on Mideast policy,

“Along with backing for normalization deals and green light for settlements, US president has changed dynamics of the dispute between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.”

Trump Is Bullying Sudan Into Embracing Israel. It Won’t End Well,

“Trump has zeroed in on Khartoum for another diplomatic ‘win’ before November. But his maximum pressure campaign is a disaster in the making – both for Sudan and for Israel.”

Turkey Seeks to Replace Egypt in Palestinian Arena – and Israel Should Be Worried,

“The Palestinian Authority has embroiled itself in a power struggle between two rival Mideast coalitions: One comprises Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel. The other includes Turkey, Qatar and, at a distance, Iran.”