Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 1, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation & Human Rights

Israel Is Expected to Approve Surge in Jewish Construction in West Bank,

“About 3,700 settler housing units have already been approved this year, and the addition of 6,800 would push 2019 past the record for approvals in a single year. The news comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is campaigning for support from right-wing voters, including settlers, less than six weeks before a parliamentary election.”

Palestinians Don't Need Israeli Approval to Build in West Bank, Says Abbas Spokesman,

“Palestinians have the right to build in the entire West Bank and they don’t need Israel’s approval to do so, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday, in response to a rare Israeli decision to approve construction permits in Palestinian towns in Area C. Nabil Abu Rudeineh added the Palestinians would not negotiate their right to build in the West Bank.”

Israel ‘being led instead of leading’ in West Bank, ex-security official laments,

“Two months out of his post as Defense Ministry adviser on settlement affairs, Kobi Eliraz is sounding an alarm over what he claims is Israel’s failure to exercise its authority in the strategic parts of the West Bank that it controls. In an interview with The Times of Israel, Eliraz lamented the pace at which illegal Palestinian construction has ballooned over the past decade without any enforcement by state authorities in Area C — the 60 percent of the West Bank over which Israel was granted full military and administrative control under the 1994 Oslo Accords.”

Ex-Shin Bet chief: Israeli annexation of West Bank may cause bloodshed,

“West Bank annexation could cause bloodshed, warned the former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Yoram Cohen on Thursday, urging the government to take ‘steps to minimize the [impact] of the occupation in Judea and Samaria…Annexation could lead to needless bloodshed,’ Cohen told Army Radio. He clarified that his warning also included any sovereignty attempts in Area C, which is under full Israeli control and where all of the Israeli settlements are located.”

Palestinian shot dead after allegedly opening fire on Israeli forces near Gaza,

“A Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops in southern Israel near the besieged Gaza Strip early on Thursday after he reportedly opened fire on them, Israel’s military said. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded during the firefight, while an Israeli tank targeted a Hamas military post in Gaza after the incident, which began at around 2am (23.00 GMT).”

In future Gaza war, Israel said aiming to weaken Hamas — but not topple it,

“The Israeli military’s plan for a potential future conflict in the Gaza Strip is to hit Palestinian terror group Hamas hard, but not to attempt to defeat it entirely, leaving it weakened but still capable of controlling the Strip, military officials told Hebrew-language media on Wednesday at the conclusion of a large-scale drill.”

The Deal of the Century

White House official denies report of Trump summit with Arab leaders,

“No summit with Arab leaders is currently being planned by Washington, a senior White House official said on Wednesday in reaction to a report that US President Donald Trump was planning just such a summit at Camp David sometime before the September 17 election. ‘No summit has currently been planned,’ said the official. ‘The Middle East team will report back to the president, the vice president, the secretary of state and the National Security Council upon returning to discuss the many potential next steps to expand upon the success of the Bahrain workshop.’”

Kushner Meets With Netanyahu After Jordan Visit to Discuss Mideast Peace Plan,

“Kushner, and White House Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, met on Wednesday evening with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The meeting also was attended by U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.”

PA: Camp David summit is ploy to boost Netanyahu before elections,

“The summit, according to the Palestinian Authority, is aimed at strengthening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the September elections, establishing normalized Israeli-Arab relations and pushing aside the Arab League-endorsed Saudi peace initiative of 2002.”

Palestinian Politics

Palestine, Jordan Boost Economic Ties,

“On the sidelines of the meetings of the Joint Jordanian-Palestinian ministerial committee held in Amman on July 6-7, the two sides agreed to establish the logistics zone on the Jordanian side of the border in Shouneh area. The objective is to expand activity and trade between Palestine and Jordan as well as encourage import and export through the Jordanian crossings to and from Palestine.”

PA mulls over importing fuel from Iraq,

“Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visited Iraq July 15 to discuss importing Iraqi fuel. This falls within the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s quest for gradual economic disengagement from Israel.”

Anti-BDS/Pro-Settlement/Anti-Free Speech Lawfare

The Delegitimization of Peace Advocates in Israeli Society,

Gilead Sher, Naomi Sternberg, Mor Ben-Kalifa write, “Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that Israel is to be ‘based on freedom, justice and peace’ and will extend its hand “to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness.” Despite this, delegitimization of peace camp advocates has increased in Israel, and reached the level of demonization. Like a mirror image of Palestinian society, Israeli society has shifted rightward; a radicalization of positions has led to a rejection of the legitimacy not only of moderate opinions that are identified with the political left wing, but also of those who hold these opinions.”

Israeli Politics

Israeli Far-right Makes Final Bid for Unity as Party Registration Deadline Looms,

“Meanwhile, the Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit agreed in principle on Wednesday to run together with the nationalist-ultra-Orthodox party Noam. Over the past several days Otzma Yehudit has been conducting talks about joining up with United Right, but a dispute remains about the placement of Otzma Yehudit’s candidates on the ticket. Despite the agreement with Noam, however, the negotiations between Otzma Yehudit and United Right are expected to continue.”