Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 21, 2019

What We’re Reading


Gaza Emigration Ploy Suggests Netanyahu Hell-bent on Torching Israel’s Image Abroad,

“What on God’s earth could have driven Netanyahu to play into the hands of Palestinian propaganda and to provide first-hand testimony that supposedly corroborates allegations that Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians have always included and continue to include ‘ethnic cleansing’? Netanyahu knows full well that this is how most of the world will interpret his statement. On the one hand, Israel maintains a strict blockade on Gaza, crippling its economy and impoverishing its inhabitants, and with the other it is prodding Palestinians to leave the hellhole that it has created. Under these circumstances, the difference between the ‘voluntary emigration’ that Netanyahu is touting and the so-called ‘forced transfer’ that extreme right-wingers have been advocating for years is negligible, at best.”

Israel Dreams of Transfer,

“It’s clear this has something to do with Israel’s annexationist goals vis-à-vis the West Bank, an idea that might have once been considered fringe that is fast gaining traction within Israel’s ruling party. Israel would love nothing more than if Palestinians just disappeared, but any sustainable solution to the conflict cannot come at the expense of fundamental human rights and certainly not on the back of war crimes.”

Arab MK calls Israeli efforts to encourage Gaza emigration ‘ethnic cleansing’,

“[Netanyahu] deserves a defendant’s seat at [the International Criminal Court] in the Hague for all the crimes he’s committed and plans to commit,” MK Aida Touma-Sliman said at the Joint List’s Hebrew-language campaign launch in Tel Aviv. “Yesterday we discovered that [Netanyahu] is planning on opening the gates of Gaza in order to carry out an ethnic cleansing, to support the residents [of Gaza] to leave,” she added.

PA: Israel’s encouragement of Gaza emigration ‘extremely dangerous’,

“The PA Foreign Ministry also accused Israel of ‘targeting Palestinians and Gaza’s livelihoods, and squeezing them in order to motivate them to emigrate. Hamas-controlled Gaza suffers from severely inadequate supplies of water and electricity, ailing health services, widespread poverty, and a high unemployment rate. Fifty-three percent of Palestinians in Gaza live in poverty, according to a June 2018 United Nations report.”

Selling the fantasy of ‘transfer’,

“Statements like these are an attempt by Netanyahu to appeal to his right-wing base and even its radical fringe, which has been fantasizing about a transfer enterprise for decades. In reality, however, no other government has done as much for the Palestinians in Gaza or for Hamas, as is clearly evident by the fact that Netanyahu and his ministers were the first to grant an aid package for Gaza – tens of millions of Qatari dollars that help Hamas survive from one month to the next.”

Gaza Stripped: What Normal Life Looks Like in the Least Normal Place on Earth,

“In their award-winning documentary – called simply ‘Gaza’ – Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell attempt to remind us of one simple fact: Those Gazans are people. Their stated goal was to show what “normal life” looks like in one of the least normal places on earth. For the most part, they succeed. At the heart of the documentary, which premiered at the prestigious Sundance Festival, are the people of Gaza. It is their voices and their stories that stay with us, long after the scenes of destruction have faded to black. Rather than get themselves lost (or into trouble) by exploring the causes of the Gaza crisis, and rather than waste everyone’s time by apportioning blame or suggesting solutions, Keane and McConnell have decided to give the people of Gaza a rare platform for, it turns out, their highly eloquent voices. Their documentary tells the story of the people of the Strip through first-person accounts from a wide variety of Gazans.”

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

Israel Education Ministry to fund occupied West Bank school trips,

“Until now Israeli students were forbidden from entering these sites due to their location in occupied territory. However, the Ministry of Education has now overturned this ban and will instruct the Israeli army to accompany the students, Arutz Sheva explained, citing a report by Israel’s Channel 13 yesterday. Though the trips are not compulsory, the ministry will incentivise the trips by making them fully funded, the Israeli daily added.”

What Israeli and Palestinian Activists Had Hoped to Tell Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib,

“When I asked Gvaryahu about the congresswomen’s vocal support of the movement to boycott Israel, he cited that as the very reason that allowing them to hear voices of criticism within Israel would have been powerful. ‘Part of what we bring to the table is to show that there are Israeli citizens who are fighting for the future of this place who don’t buy into this lie that says that supporting Israel equates supporting the occupation,’ Gvaryahu said. It’s a distinction that he and other Israeli activists wished that Omar and Tlaib could see for themselves.”

West Bank Violence Could Erupt Before Israeli Election, Security Officials Believe,

“But Netanyahu’s greatest security challenge in the near future may actually lie in the other Palestinian theater, the West Bank. And in this case, his policies have made a significant contribution to the mess.””

Ignoring or Downplaying Price of West Bank Annexation Is Playing With Fire,

“To ignore or downplay the unacceptable price of annexation – namely, billions of dollars in added security costs, the necessary deployment of tens of thousands of soldiers, additional billions of dollars annually for social services, and the risk of the downfall of the Palestinian Authority which would necessitate Israel’s unwanted takeover of the entire West Bank – is to play with fire.”

The Deal of the Century

Netanyahu willing to stand up to Trump on peace plan, says official,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing to go head to head with US President Donald Trump over his administration’s peace plan if it contains demands rejected by Israel’s government, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday. The official, a member of Netanyahu’s delegation to Ukraine who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the prime minister has proven in the past he can stand up to US presidents and is willing to do the same with Trump, if necessary.”

How the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process Became a Farce,

Thomas Friedman writes, “But let me not pick on Kushner. If Kushner has no Palestinian partner for his leveraged buyout plan, mainstream Democrats have no Israeli partner for their golden oldie — the ‘two-state solution.’ They pretend that Netanyahu is a partner for a two-state solution, even though Bibi’s been openly, gradually but steadily moving Israel toward annexation of the West Bank.”