Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 5, 2019

What We’re Reading

FMEP Resources

Legislative Round-Up,

This week covering Congressional reactions to the Trump Administration’s move to sanction Iranian FM Zarif, and much more.

Settlement Report,

This week covering Israel’s move to consolidate its ongoing annexation of Area C in the West Bank, and more.

How BDS Became Such A Big Deal in American Politics,

It’s BDS and the idea of boycotting Israel to pressure into changing its policies, however, that has turned into a major wedge issues in American politics. Republicans are pushing radical legislation that would criminalize boycotting Israel, a move opposed by the ACLU and others as unconstitutional, and Democrats are falling into their trap.

Occupation & Annexation

Goodbye withdrawal, hello sovereignty: The triumph of the settlers,

“Netanyahu’s talk of the gradual annexation of all the West Bank’s Jewish settlements — blocs, isolated settlements, illegal outposts and all — which might until relatively recently have been regarded as a sensational victory — is now deemed insufficient. The vision being advocated by his Yesha Council, he said firmly, ‘is sovereignty.’ He repeated for emphasis: ‘Not annexation, sovereignty.’”

At least 2,430 housing units to be promoted; 4 outposts to be retroactively legalized,

“The approval of settlement plans is part of a disastrous government policy designed to prevent the possibility of peace and a two-state solution, and to annex part or all of the West Bank. The linkage of thousands of housing permits for settlers and a negligible number of housing units for Palestinians cannot hide the government’s discrimination policy.”

In East Jerusalem, nightly raids leave Palestinian neighborhood reeling,

Aviv Tatarsky writes, “One must also wonder what exactly is Israel trying to achieve through this unending and deadly campaign. To offer an answer one should zoom out and look at the larger picture of what is taking place in Jerusalem. The campaign against Issawiya signals a new stage in Israel’s oppressive policies in East Jerusalem, and is part of the overall change in Israeli policy toward the Palestinians with the backing of the Trump administration. In the past, Israel primarily focused on settlement construction in the eastern part of the city. By building so-called “facts on the ground,” the government intended to make it as difficult as possible to draw a border along the Green Line and create two capitals in Jerusalem. Today that focus has dangerously shifted to breaking apart Palestinian Jerusalem.”

Palestinian-developed App Helps Drivers Avoid Bottlenecks at Israeli Checkpoints in West Bank,

“Launched in June and designed by Palestinians, Doroob Navigator crowd-sources road closures and traffic data from users. It aims to supplant apps like Google Maps and Waze, which rarely account for Israeli restrictions and struggle to navigate between Palestinian cities.”

Israel's Government Liaisons to East Jerusalem Are Mostly ex-Shin Bet,

“The office, formally called the unit for involving the East Jerusalem public, was set up six years ago by Ofer Or, a former senior official in the Shin Bet’s Jerusalem district. He recently retired and was replaced by Arik Brabbing, a former head of the Shin Bet’s Jerusalem District. In last year’s cabinet decision on allocating more funds to East Jerusalem, the unit was assigned responsibility for maintaining relations with East Jerusalem residents on the government’s behalf. For instance, if the municipality wants to pave a road or expropriate land, the unit solicits input from local Palestinians to ease the process. It also runs independent projects, like a plan to set up for four employment zones in East Jerusalem”

49 Palestinians Wounded, 24 by Live Fire, in Border Clashes, Gaza Health Ministry Says,

“This week’s March of Return protests came a day after the army said three Israeli soldiers had been shot and wounded by a Palestinian who crossed the Gaza border fence. According to the Israel Defense Forces, the Palestinian was subsequently killed by Israeli fire and his body was captured in Israeli territory.”

Patriarchate files new indictment over ongoing land spat in Old City,

In a statement on Monday, the Patriarchate made it clear that its properties located within the walls of Old City Jerusalem “are for the service of pilgrims and visitors of the Holy City, especially those on the pilgrim route to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. ‘The Patriarchate will continue to exercise its right and duty of defending itself, the holy sites and the Church heritage,’ it said. It highlighted that this new evidence confirms that Ateret Cohanim and its companies ‘forged documents and initiated court proceedings based on these forged documents,’ adding that Ateret Cohanim knew all along that they were forged.”

Israeli Politics

AG said to oppose Likud plan to again hide cameras in Arab polling stations,

“At a Central Election Committee hearing next Monday, Mandelblit will present his legal opinion on the surveillance operation, which critics have said is being used as a form of voter intimidation to keep Arabs from the polls, Ynet reported Sunday.”

Netanyahu’s latest 'political bailout plan',

“Netanyahu’s “political bailout plan” is based foremost on efforts to ensure at least enough votes to give his political base a slim, 61-seat Knesset majority. That, however, would still not guarantee his grip on power. Some of the 61 may not be willing to vote in favor of granting the prime minister blanket immunity from prosecution (in his case, on charges of corruption) and in the process crush the Supreme Court and the law enforcement system. For the moment, Netanyahu’s sole focus is on ensuring a hairbreadth majority. He will take care of the rest when the time comes (if it comes).”

U.S. Politics

Why are Democrats afraid to say Israel is occupying the West Bank?,

Nathan Hersh writes, “This is, by any reasonable definition, including that of the United Nations, generations of members of Congress and millions of Israelis and many of their representatives in the opposition, a military occupation. Avoiding saying so directly is not support for Israel — it’s just support for Israel’s current right-wing government. And more important, it’s a move that hinders the U.S. role in mediating a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it removes U.S. barriers to Israel’s stated goal: annexation of the territory.”