Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 6, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation & Annexation

Security forces make deadly use of crowd control weapons in Gaza,

“Firing tear gas canisters directly at protestors is not a stand-alone practice. It is part of the open-fire policy Israel has been implementing along the Gaza border for more than a year. This policy, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 200 protestors and injured thousands is patently unlawful and immoral. Using lethal fire, whether live or otherwise, against protestors the vast majority of whom are unarmed and pose no danger to the lives of armored security forces on the other side of the fence, in the same way for more than a year, despite its well-documented horrific results is yet another expression of Israel’s disregard for the lives and bodily integrity of Palestinians.”

Greek Church Says It Has Evidence of Corruption in Settler Takeover of Jerusalem Properties,

“The new suit relies on an account of events provided to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate by Ted Bloomfield, who in the 1990s managed two Jerusalem hotels including the Petra. He purportedly said that he had accepted money from Ateret Cohanim to persuade Palestinian protected tenants in the Petra to sell their rights to the Jewish non-profit organization. The new lawsuit claims that Bloomfield’s testimony reflects actions on Ateret Cohanim’s part that are ‘extraordinary in their severity’ and that include fraud, forgery of documents presented in court and bribery including alleged attempted sexual bribery. The church’s complaint also alleges that Ateret Cohanim obstructed justice through perjury and the deliberate concealing of documents. Most of the assertions in the new suit have been reported in recent years in Haaretz.”

No Construction Order,

“A thorough examination of the breadth and exact location of areas under [Israel’s] no-construction order, in relation to the [Palestinian] villages and lands adjacent to the barrier, raises questions as to whether the security considerations are as necessary and unequivocal as claimed. It also raises doubts as to [Israel’s] motives for applying and enforcing the construction ban in the manner carried out in Wadi al-Hummus.”

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

‘Delegitimizing Israel’ Is Code For Pointing Out Truths Israel Doesn’t Want To Admit,

Peter Beinart writes, “In the organized American Jewish world, ‘delegitimize’ has become code for ‘truths about Israel that we insist you ignore.’ It’s an epithet hurled by organizations like the ADL, which cocoon themselves off from unpleasant realities by, among other things, holding entire conferences in which they discuss Israel and the Palestinians without hearing from a single Palestinian speaker. Ken Jacobson may consider ignorance a form of Jewish self-protection. Luckily, a new generation of American Jews don’t.”

Distorting the definition of antisemitism to shield Israel from all criticism,

“The government of Israel and its representatives, as well as many pro-Israeli organizations all over the world, are remarkably successful in silencing criticism of Israel’s policies by playing this card. Using the IHRA’s poor definition of antisemitism, they have succeeded in completely changing the discourse: rather than talk about the occupation, the Nakba, or its violation of national, human and civil rights, the dominant public discourse now revolves around what is or is not forbidden when it comes to criticism of Israel, and to what extent said criticism is antisemitic. In this reality, Israel no longer needs to defend itself against allegation — it has a free hand to throw around accusations.”

Palestinian Politics

PA to grant building permits for West Bank area under full Israeli control,

“The Palestinian Authority has for the first time announced its intent to grant building permits in parts of the West Bank known as Area C, which is under full Israeli civilian and security control…Ahmed Ghoneim, the PA’s deputy minister of local government – which is tasked with urban planning, including the issuance of construction permits – said that the latest move effectively extends the PA’s jurisdiction in the West Bank. ‘We are implementing the decision (to cut ties with Israel),’ Ghoneim said. ‘On the order of President Abbas, a committee has been formed to develop mechanisms to follow through.'”

How avocado became king in this West Bank city,

“Speaking to Al-Monitor, Eid said that growing avocados is at the moment limited to 5,000 dunams in Qalqilya and 500 dunams in Tulkarm. Cultivation of them sprang from the personal initiative of Palestinians who had gained experience working with them in Israel. According to Eid, his ministry has been distributing seedlings for free for more than 10 years, given their high price, and providing guidance to growers.”

Israeli Politics

Centrist candidate Yair Lapid seeks to disqualify far-right party from Israeli elections,

“The Yesh Atid party, part of the Blue and White center-left coalition, will ask Israel’s Central Elections Committee to disqualify the far-right Jewish Power party from September’s national elections. Jewish Power, which includes disciples of the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, seeks to annex the West Bank and makes little to no concessions for Arabs living there or in Israel.”

Smotrich says Israel should follow Torah law, drawing ire of Liberman,

“Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Monday spoke out in favor of an Israel governed by religious law, echoing controversial comments he has made in the past and drawing the ire of Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman.”

Blue and White vows to invade Gaza, kill Hamas leaders if it commands next war,

“Party leader Benny Gantz said Hamas, the de facto ruler of the Strip, would be presented with a list of conditions under threat of a ground offensive and a campaign of assassinations if it does not meet them, as Blue and White attempted to capitalize on simmering anger at the government over recurrent rounds of heavy fighting on the border and a series of shaky ceasefires.”

Israel's far right slate makes annexation official policy ahead of September election,

“The former justice minister and head of the United Right, a grouping of extremist religious-Zionist parties, issued on Monday a list of 10 points she demanded people declare loyalty to ahead of Israel’s 17 September elections. Among them is extending Israel sovereignty over ‘the territories of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley’, referring to the West Bank.”

Israel scrambles to avoid Trump blowback over Chinese investments,

“The Foreign Ministry warning, which came on July 24, led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to postpone a vote on forming such a mechanism that was apparently too weak. Chinese investments in Israel have become the main source of tension with the Trump administration over the last 2 years.”

U.S. Politics

Trump And The Evangelicals Define Support For Israel,

Yousef Munayyer writes, “Trump is increasingly deploying Israel in two intertwined ways domestically. The first is classic whataboutism. As Trump’s political project and rhetoric are increasingly criticized for racism and varied attacks on people of color, claims of anti-Semitism levied against Trump’s critics are revived to distract and diminish the critique of his policies. But Israel is also being used in another way: as a dog whistle.”