Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 23, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation & Human Rights

Return of the Outpost Method,

“Quietly, far from public attention, facts on the ground are being created that are changing Israel’s political position in the West Bank, without official decisions and in defiance of the law. Settlement organizations are establishing new outposts, or unauthorized settlements, with the direct assistance of the authorities and often financed by public funds. The government, for its part, encourages such construction by promising support and working to legalize these outposts, while refraining from enforcing the law against them. Since 2012, 32 new outposts have been established, the majority of which after President Trump was elected. All of the new outposts (except one) are located deep inside the West Bank, in areas that Israel will likely have to evacuate within the framework of a permanent agreement.”

Work in Israeli settlements means high risks, no safety net for Palestinian laborers,

“Qaswal is one of approximately 36,000 Palestinians working in Israeli settlements across the West Bank. Settlement construction thrives off systemic labor rights abuses of the Palestinian workers by denying proper wages, insurance and basic personal protection equipment, complain the workers and a handful of organizations who try to protect them.”

International agencies call Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes illegal,

“Israel drew sharp international rebuke Monday after its forces began demolishing residential buildings in a neighborhood of East Jerusalem that, according to a 1993 agreement, is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.”

Israeli Probes Into Deaths of Palestinians Often Go Nowhere,

“The Israeli military has opened investigations into 24 potentially criminal shootings of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip over the past year, The Associated Press has found. Yet none of the cases have yielded convictions or even indictments. In most instances, the army hasn’t interviewed key witnesses or retrieved evidence from the field.”

At Least 16 Israeli Unauthorized West Bank Outposts Established Since 2017,

“The outposts in the report have been established throughout the West Bank – from the regional council in the southern Hebron Hills to the northern West Bank, the Jordan Valley, Mateh Binyamin Regional Council and Gush Etzion. They vary in character; some are farms and some are mainly living quarters. But nobody touches them. In some the local councils operate openly. None are legal – but they were all established on government land.”

The force of law vs. the law of force: a review of Noura Erakat’s ‘Justice for Some’,

Richard Falk writes, “My effort in this review is not to make a calm appraisal of the book’s strengths and weaknesses, but rather to celebrate it as a major scholarly contribution to the critical literature devoted to resolving the Israel/Palestine struggle in line with the dictates of justice rather than by a continuing reliance on muscular weight of subjugation as augmented by geopolitics. And accordingly, to seize this opportunity to urge a careful reading of Justice for Some by all those interested in the Palestinian struggle as well as those curious about the way law works for and against human wellbeing as revealed by its use in a sequence of historical and societal circumstances.”

Palestinian Politics

Oman to Open Embassy in West Bank,

“As of July 21, a source in the Palestinian Embassy in Oman told Al-Monitor that the Omani side is waiting to get permits from Israel to enter the West Bank and complete the necessary measures to open the embassy. Some Palestinians worried that there could be ulterior motives behind the decision to open the embassy. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper June 27, ‘If opening the embassy is even remotely related to recognizing Israel, we will totally refuse it. The Arab Peace Initiative [launched during the 2002 Arab League summit] is based on not recognizing Israel or normalizing with it until it withdraws from the occupied Palestinian territories.'”

Palestinians drive Saudi man out of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound,

“Wearing his traditional Gulf Arab clothing, Mohammed Saud was recorded on Monday being chased out of the Old City of Jerusalem as Palestinians threw plastic chairs and hurled insults at him, accusing him of being a traitor and a Zionist.”

In Bethlehem basement, Palestinian distiller is toasted with global acclaim,

“In his Bethlehem cellar, distiller Nader Muaddi made fewer than 500 bottles of his liquor last year but has won international accolades and now aims to help revive interest at home in the traditional drink…His home is in part of the West Bank under full Israeli control; a road connecting settlements to Jerusalem cuts through the mountain under his home.Farmers working in the area, which he dubs the ‘Bordeaux of Palestine’ for its long history of grape and wine production, are regularly threatened by settlers, he said. ‘A lot of times they themselves are subject to settler violence — sometimes they have their crop fields burned down, sometimes they have them cut up,’ Muaddi said.”

Palestinian Statistics,

“The matriculation is one important area where the institutional split between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has failed, thank God, and identical exams were administered in both places.”

Israeli Politics

Settler Leaders in West Bank Want Israeli Law Applied to Them — Until They See the Bill,

“Settlers leaders are constantly demanding that Israeli law be applied to West Bank settlements, a move that would effectively establish Israeli sovereignty. However, when the application of Israeli law threatens to cost them millions of shekels, their tune suddenly changes. This is exactly what happened in a suit that was brought before the High Court of Justice over the issue of collecting “banned fees” from those homes in one of the new neighborhoods under the jurisdiction of the Hebron Hills Regional Council.”

Israeli Court Rejects Petition to Restore Gov't Funding to Controversial Arab Theater,

“The High Court of Justice denied a petition on Monday filed by an Arab theater challenging the Culture Ministry’s decision to halt funding. The Al-Midan Theater claims the cutoff is a response to the production of a play inspired by the story of a convicted Palestinian terrorist. Justice Hanan Melcer said he found no grounds to interfere in professional judgment of an internal ministry committee that decided to cut off government funding to the theater in Haifa, which made headlines in 2015 over a play that it produced, ‘A Parallel Time,’ which critics claimed glorified Palestinian terrorism.”

U.S. Politics

Republicans sour on two-state solution,

“That skepticism was on full display this week when Democrats on Wednesday advanced a nonbinding resolution, introduced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., reaffirming congressional support for a two-state solution. Although the Lowenthal resolution boasts 151 co-sponsors, not a single Republican has signed on, and several members of the caucus sharply criticized the legislation before the vote. ‘I stand against a two-state solution,’ said Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., pointing to Hamas’ victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections.”