Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 28, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

PM says he’s ordered new construction at settlement in response to fatal bombing,

“The Peace Now settlement watchdog blasted the move, but for different reasons, calling it ‘saddening that Netanyahu has adopted the morbid conception of the settler right that there is a payoff in the form of settlement expansion for the blood of terror victims. This calculation cynically turns terrorism into a political tool to promote an ideological vision, without bringing the issue up for national debate on whether we want to forever control the West Bank at the cost of our democracy,’ the group said.”

Transfer of Palestinians has always been the Israeli consensus,

Hagai El-Ad writes, “The violent fantasy – ‘those who want to go shall go’ – has been in the headlines recently, after it was quoted from an unnamed senior political figure who spoke to reporters during the prime minister’s visit to Ukraine.”

Face Recognition Lets Palestinians Cross Israeli Checkposts Fast, But Raises Concerns,

“Within an estimated few months, face recognition software will be installed at all West Bank crossings serving Palestinians, Israeli defense officials told NPR. Such screening is not used at separate West Bank checkpoints that Israelis drive through.”

Russia ready to fund Palestinian industrial zone,

“Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh met on Aug. 8 with new Russian Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Gocha Buachidze and discussed the possibility of establishing an industrial city with Russian support in Nablus, which, along with industrial zones in other Palestinian cities, would help support the Palestinian economy and create new jobs.”

Why Netanyahu downplays historic trade agreement with South Korea,

Aviva Eldar writes, “The farce is that Netanyahu pledges to annex “Judea and Samaria” (the West Bank), and at the same time agrees to exclude the West Bank from the State of Israel. The farce is that Netanyahu mounts a relentless war against boycott of the settlements, and at the same time approves boycotting measures. And on the backdrop of this double farce, Netanyahu prefers canceling his participation at the signing ceremony. He lacks the courage and honesty necessary for publicly facing the reality that he himself has created.”


Deadly Explosions Target Hamas Police Checkpoints in Gaza,

“Several reports, citing security officials, said the blasts, which also injured three civilians, were believed to have been the work of suicide bombers aligned with the Islamic State group, but that information could not be independently verified. Other officials said they believed the attackers were either Islamic State members or collaborators with Israel. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said the attacks ‘only serve’ Israel, describing them as ‘suspicious bombings’ that harmed the armed struggle against Israel.”

Gaza Needs Cement to Rebuild, But Israel Dominates the Market,

“To repair war damage, carry out normal upkeep, and build planned projects over the past five years, Gaza needed at least 6 million tons of cement, the chamber says. It’s gotten less than half that.”

Emigrating From Gaza to Our Death, With a Little Help From Israel,

“The drowning of Tamer al-Sultan is a painful incident. His shocked family now confronts the question of what kind of life they will have now without him. It is possible that many others in the Strip would seriously consider an Israeli proposal to emigrate, although apparently it is primarily a gesture designed to woo the Israeli electorate as another Election Day approaches. We haven’t forgotten that in 1967 Israel used the same logic in order to persuade Palestinians to emigrate to other countries, and was also willing to pay for what it considered a strategic step. We all know that it’s impossible to treat a problem by dealing only with its symptoms. What is happening in Gaza is a reaction to a cruel closure that Israel has been conducting for the past 12 years. It was Israel that created the despair and caused us to emigrate to our death.”

Israeli Politics

The Israeli right stopped talking about occupation, and that will hurt it at the polls,

“But it is very likely that Netanyahu’s success in getting rid of negotiations with Palestinians is now threatening his very rule. As long as there was a sense that ‘Israel was in danger’ or that ‘they are going to sell the country to the Arabs’ — as was the case when Netanyahu was elected in 2009 shortly after the Gaza disengagement — the Israeli right stood together. Now that the “danger” has passed, the cracks are beginning to show. Issues like religious coercion, which touch on the day-to-day life of Israeli voters, expose these cracks more than any other issue.”

Who benefits in Israel from increasing security tension?,

“The two big winners in this escalation of tensions in the north are ‘Mr. Security’ Netanyahu and the head of the ‘Chiefs of Staff Party’ Gantz. A security agenda benefits them both. When it comes to the northern front, Gantz is showing that he can act in an official manner after being brought into the loop of the most recent security developments. At the same time, however, the chairman of the Blue and White party has identified the Gaza situation as Netanyahu’s tender underbelly, particularly when dealing with Likud voters, and has therefore adopted a more belligerent position.”

Palestinian Politics

Abbas starts austerity measures by sacking his advisers,

“Jihad Harb, a writer and political analyst, told Al-Monitor that the president’s decision about his advisers is ambiguous, but he cited three possible reasons behind this step. Harb said that this decision would allow Fatah leaders to dominate the Palestinian political scene should they be appointed as advisers in the future. Second, this is a message to Palestinian society that the president has embarked on an austerity plan starting with his own office, ending the benefits of his advisers and reducing their numbers. ‘Also, a third reason might be that some of the advisers have proved to be incompetent, advancing their personal interests over the greater interest,’ Harb said.”

Will a Dahlan party bust the Fatah-Hamas duopoly?,

“Sources close to Mohammed Dahlan are claiming that the former high-ranking Fatah member intends to form a political party with backing from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Such a move would pave the way for the Democratic Reform Current (DRC), the movement Dahlan founded within Fatah, to participate in future Palestinian elections, unidentified sources told Arabi21 in July. The prospect of Dahlan founding a new party to rival Fatah has shed light not only on ongoing Palestinian divisions, but also on the latest manifestation of Arab states’ involvement in Palestinian affairs, which oddly finds archenemies Qatar and the UAE standing together in opposition to Fatah. “

The Palestinian reconciliation that keeps Abbas awake at night,

“One of Dahlan’s friends told Al-Monitor that Abbas’s paranoia had driven Dahlan and Rajoub to reconcile. He said that Abbas has always worried that his colleagues were plotting to depose him and that he is particularly concerned about the recent reconciliation between Rajoub and Egypt, believing that Dahlan was the responsible party. It was actually Abbas’ suspicions that pushed Dahlan to look in Rajoub’s direction and to take an interest in Rajoub’s ailing health, particularly given the political chaos in the PA.”

U.S. Politics

Harvard Student Says He Was Barred From U.S. Over His Friends’ Social Media Posts,

“The student, Ismail B. Ajjawi, 17, landed at Logan International Airport in Boston on Friday, and was turned back by a Customs and Border Protection agent, according to an account he gave The Harvard Crimson, a student newspaper. Mr. Ajjawi, a resident of Tyre, Lebanon, said in the account that his phone and laptop were searched and that he was questioned at the airport about his friends’ social media activity. He wrote that an agent had yelled at him and ‘said she found people posting political points of view that oppose the U.S. on my friend list.'”

Israel's one-state reality is sowing chaos in American politics,

“U.S. politicians and the major Jewish-led organizations that deal with Israel-Palestine have so far failed to adjust in response. Almost all remain committed to a two-state solution, despite the clear intentions of both the Trump and Netanyahu administrations to bury it once and for all. And so, in the gap between their stated positions and the reality on the ground, confusion, hedging, and half-measures pervade.”

State Department Removes ‘Palestinian Territories’ From Website,

“The website is being updated,” the spokeswoman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email. “There has been no change to our policy.”

Republican delegation tours settlement businesses in West Bank,

“The delegation visited Hebron and the Ariel settlement industrial park, among other locations, in a trip designed to undermine the case for a boycott on the basis that West Bank settlements produce economic benefits for occupied Palestinians, an argument refuted by mainstream economists. McMorris Rogers, acting Republican representative to the United Nations General Assembly, said: ‘I will be talking to my colleagues and urging them to see first-hand what is happening in Judea and Samaria [in terms of] economic cooperation’, using the Israeli term for the occupied West Bank.”