Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 15, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

How the once-fringe Jewish Temple Movement is going mainstream,

“Matters of religion and state will be a central issue in the upcoming elections, and Jewish worship at the Temple Mount aligns perfectly with the right’s aspirations to strengthen religious elements in Israeli society, including in the education system and the legal establishment. The presence of Jewish worshippers entering the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif during Eid al-Adha signals not only a change in the status quo between Israel and the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the custodian of Haram al-Sharif, but also in the way right-wing voters themselves view the Temple Movement, which just a few years ago was considered fringe, even among the settlers. If the right manages to stay in power after these elections, there is no doubt that the status quo will continue to come undone.”

The Isawiyah Syndrome,

Gideon Levy writes, “What’s happening in Isawiyah now contains everything, the entire landscape of our homeland. There’s the disregard of the main issue and the preoccupation with marginal ones, the abuse and the crimes of the occupation in the guise of protecting security, the belief that it’s possible to solve everything with force, and of course, further proof of apartheid in another Bantustan.”

Police stop bus full of Palestinians en route to Israel to go to the beach,

“Border police officers on Thursday said a busload of Palestinian men, women and children illegally sought to enter Israel from the West Bank, apparently en route to the beach. Guards at the az-Za’ayyem checkpoint east of Jerusalem said they flagged down the private bus for a security check after deeming it suspicious. The bus driver, who is a resident of East Jerusalem, and the passengers, among whom were numerous children, were detained for questioning at the crossing.”

U.S.-Israel/Palestine Relations

Netanyahu appears poised to block Omar, Tlaib from entering Israel ahead of a planned weekend visit,

“Informed Wednesday that Israel would formally deny entry to Omar and Tlaib, Democrats in Congress quietly braced for a new public fight with the long-serving Israeli leader, said several congressional aides familiar with the discussions. It is still  unclear whether Netanyahu will follow through on that decision, however, after a private backlash from the Democratic leadership and some U.S.-based pro-Israel groups, who warned against barring sitting members of Congress from entering Israel because of their political beliefs, said the aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions.”

Israel May Backtrack on Allowing Omar, Tlaib to Enter Over BDS Endorsement,

“Assessments in the United States indicate that Israel was inspired to reconsider its decision due to pressure from the White House. Channel 13 News reported earlier this week that U.S. President Donald Trump had expressed disappointment over Netanyahu’s decision to let the two lawmakers enter Israel.”

Israel said bracing for likely Omar, Tlaib visit to flashpoint Temple Mount,

“The participants at the meeting agreed that if the congresswomen choose to do so, it is vital that the Israel Police not permit their visit to be accompanied by officials of the Palestinian Authority, which would serve as symbolic backing by the US lawmakers for Palestinian claims of sovereignty at the site, the holiest place in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.”

Palestinians deny Abbas snubbed visiting Republican delegation,

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not snub a visiting delegation of Republican members of Congress, Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasma said on Wednesday, noting that they were informed five days ahead of time that he could not meet them.”

Left-wing MKs censure reported decision to ban US lawmakers Omar, Tlaib,

“In response, the leader of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, tweeted, ‘Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a US congresswomen. Rashida Tlaib didn’t even have to land to expose the true face of Israel’s occupation,’ he added of the American lawmaker, whose grandmother lives in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Foqa.”

Israeli Politics

Knesset panel narrowly okays election run by Otzma Yehudit as Labor rep vanishes,

“Blue and White no. 2 Yair Lapid called the vote ‘a scandal. There was a majority in favor of disqualifying Otzma, but the Labor Party representative was nowhere to be found,’ he tweeted shortly after the decision. ‘If their racism reaches the Knesset it will be Labor’s fault.’”

Israel’s state watchdog stands guard for Netanyahu,

“If we are to judge by the initial weeks of his tenure, Engelman is delivering the goods. Rather than taking the time and energy to learn the system, he immediately went about dismantling the state comptroller’s office. He’s disrupted power structures, changed priorities and brought new faces into the body whose duty it is to audit and oversee the public sector and the governing institutions.”

Gilad Erdan rejected U.N. job for political reasons,

“Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan declined a proposal to replace Danny Danon as Israel Ambassador to the UN out of fear that he could miss a Likud leadership race, sources told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. Erdan shared the decision on Twitter, saying: ‘After having considered the proposal to become Israel Ambassador to the UN, I decided that I should continue with my position as Strategic Affairs minister, and remain in Israel in this important time to do everything I can to ensure the victory [in the election] of the Likud headed by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.’”