Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 2, 2019

What We’re Reading

FMEP Resource

Occupied Thoughts: With US Elex on the Horizon, Where’s Isr-Pal Discourse Going? W/ Lara Friedman & Peter Beinart,

In this new episode of Occupied Thoughts (recorded 8/1/19), Peter & Lara discuss how Israel-Palestine is playing into the current political discourse across the political spectrum in the United States.

Occupation & Human Rights

A Deeper Divide in a Divided City: How Development and Tourism in East Jerusalem Has Turned up the Heat,

“All of this has made Silwan a bitterly contested piece of real estate, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in microcosm. Both Jews and Arabs say they were here first and both accuse the other of trying to rewrite history. Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem have few interactions that are not transactional, despite living side-by-side. Fear and suspicion are part of everyday life. And several contested archaeological digs in East Jerusalem, supported by Israeli groups and opposed by Palestinians, together with an influx of Jewish settlers and a boom in tourism, have heightened the tensions in Silwan.”

What Israel's Demolition of 70 Palestinian Homes Was Really About,

Gideon Levy writes, “In the name of security, Israel violated the Oslo Accords, its own planning and construction regulations, and the principles of natural justice. The buildings were too close to the separation fence to Israel’s liking, and the High Court acceded tacitly to the wrongdoing. Abu Tair’s suggestion – to build, at his expense, a high concrete wall to maintain Israel’s security and dot the area with security cameras, also at his expense – was rejected outright by Israel.”

What's behind Israel's approval of construction permits for Palestinians?,

“However, the settlers know full well that Smotrich would not have voted in favor of the Palestinian permits plan without receiving a handsome quid-pro-quo ahead of the upcoming elections. Indeed, along with approving the Palestinian permits, the ministers also approved the construction of 6,000 settlement housing units. In other words, for every Palestinian home, the settlers will be allowed to build eight or more. This is a good deal for the settlers who only put on displays of coordinated anger for the sake of appearance.”

Belgium suspends UNRWA funding over leaked ethics report,

“Belgium is suspending its contribution to the UN relief organisation for Palestinian refugees, becoming the third country to do so after a leaked report alleged mismanagement at the agency.”

Palestinian Politics

Is PA halting all agreements with Israel another toothless decision?,

“Assaf explained that the government has prepared a plan to exercise its role in Area C away from any coordination with Israel, which includes sub-plans to implement a thousand development projects in the area in the agricultural, industrial, construction, development and educational sectors in collaboration with local councils and civil society institutions. In regard to the Palestinian security sovereignty in Israeli-controlled Areas B and C, Assaf said, ‘Since the Israeli army imposes its security control over these areas, the Palestinian security can not be present there. The government, however, will form people’s committees that it will support to provide protection to the residents of towns and villages from attacks by the Israeli army and settlers.'”

Israeli Politics

Israelis Brace for a New Election. The Real Contest May Come Later.,

“But on Thursday, when the deadline passed for parties to register and the final lineup became known, Israelis already seemed to be looking past the do-over election on Sept. 17 to the bruising coalition negotiations that are expected to follow. Polls again show Likud and Blue and White are neck and neck — raising the potential of another unclear outcome two months after Mr. Netanyahu couldn’t form a governing coalition following the first vote.”

Netanyahu Vows Unprecedented Response if Gaza Flares Up - but It's the Last Thing He Wants,

“This week the IDF made sure to publicize, with Netanyahu’s encouragement, details of a broad divisional military exercise held along the border with the Gaza Strip in which they trained for a large conflict in Gaza…Still, we must read between the lines. The IDF briefing for journalists does not speak about conquering the Gaza Strip but about ‘a large-scale ground maneuver’ that will ’cause heavy damage’ to Hamas’ military arm – far from the ideas voiced by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, for example, who fell out with Netanyahu and resigned in November 2018.”

Top Arab MK says open to ‘joining’ Gantz,

“Israel’s top Arab lawmaker, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, said on Thursday that he might ‘seriously consider joining’ with Blue and White chief Benny Gantz if he wins the election, but said the scenario was unlikely because of Gantz’s own reservations. It was not immediately clear from Odeh’s comments if he meant his Joint List could enter a Gantz-led coalition — an idea his spokesman rejected in response to speculation.”

Resisting pressure from Netanyahu, far-right Otzma Yehudit runs alone,

“The far-right Otzma Yehudit party on Thursday filed papers to run in the upcoming elections alone, after announcing the failure of attempts to reach a merger deal with the United Right, despite massive last-minute pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ‘There were officials who, for reasons of ego, blew this matter up and I direct the blame at [United Right candidate] Naftali Bennett. He apparently has an agreement with [Blue and White No. 2] Yair Lapid, and I really hope that he doesn’t establish a unity government with him,’ Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir told reporters outside the Central Elections Committee headquarters in Jerusalem.”

U.S. Politics

Trump’s Orthodox Whisperer,

“Ballabon played a part in making this a reality, working alongside Greenblatt and Friedman to remove support for a two-state solution from the Republican Party’s 2016 platform, a move that set the stage for the Trump “peace plan.” That plan—the “Deal of the Century,” as Trump has called it—is a dream of the territorial-maximalist Jewish right, which views the entire Land of Israel as God’s exclusive gift to the Jewish people.”

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

Editors Apologize After Israel Studies Publication Accused of anti-BDS, pro-Israel Bias,

“Editors of an academic journal specializing in Israel studies have issued a public apology following the resignation of nearly a dozen prominent board members who accused them of serving Israel’s public diplomacy interests and compromising their professional integrity.”

A response to Eric Alterman’s question: ‘Does anyone take BDS seriously?’,

Alice Rothchild writes, “Settler colonialism and manifest destiny do not have credibility in the twenty-first century. There is no such right. That argument is a veiled accusation of anti-Semitism which is used to silence critics of the policies of the Israeli state. It is also important to pay attention to Barghouti’s full statement in which he describes the rights of the indigenous Palestinian population, the system of racial discrimination that exists, and his opposition to any exclusionary state, Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. Because I listen to and work with many Palestinians, I can say quite clearly that it is extremely unlikely that any native people would welcome the creation of a state in what was recently their homes that excludes their inalienable right to self -determination. In fact, Barghouti’s call for a democratic secular state is something we would all support in every country in the world…. Except Israel.  This is a problem.”