Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 31, 2019

What We’re Reading

The Deal of the Century

US planning to roll out peace plan at meeting with Arab leaders – report,

“The United States is reportedly planning a conference with Arab leaders at Camp David, during which US President Donald Trump will roll out his plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace…During the conference, which is set to be held before the general elections in Israel on September 17, Trump will outline the broad strokes of his plan without making any binding proposals, the newspaper said.”

US Amb: Not ready to talk about Palestinian state,

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman says: “We believe that autonomy should be extended up until the point where it interferes with Israeli security.”

Palestinian businessman: I call it 'US-Israeli occupation',

Michael Holmes reports from a Palestinian brewery struggling with Israeli restrictions, and Christiane Amanpour speaks with Sam Bahour.

Trump Peace Effort Traps Jordan Between U.S. and Palestinians,

“As the Trump administration lays the groundwork for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, neighboring Jordan has been thrust into the awkward position of opposing many of Washington’s policies while depending on its support.”

Occupation & Human Rights

Israel Approves Permits for 715 Palestinian Homes in West Bank Towns,

“Israel’s security cabinet unanimously approved Tuesday construction permits for 715 housing units in Palestinians towns in Area C of the West Bank, the first such decision since 2016. However, it remains unclear whether the plans are for the construction of new units or the legalization of existing structures built without permits. however, no official decisions on the plans have been made. Area C covers parts of the West Bank under full Israeli control, based on the Oslo Accords. Sources familiar with the matter told Haaretz 6,000 housing units in Jewish settlement in the West Bank have also been approved.”

On Israel’s Decision for Palestinian Construction Permits in Area C,

“The most concerning part of the recent statements by some of the cabinet members is that these construction permits for Palestinians are part of a plan toward extending sovereignty over Area C and preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state. If until now it was clear, according to the Oslo Accords, that the designation of Area C is temporarily under the responsibility of the State of Israel until a political agreement is reached, today Israel has made it evident that it will decide where the Palestinians will build and where they cannot, and that any such building will be subject to the whims of the settlement agenda.”

Construction Permits for Palestinians Are an Israeli Move to Boost West Bank Sovereignty, Ministers Say,

“Transportation Minister and Union of Right-Wing Parties MK Bezalel Smotrich confirmed that the move is part of a plan to extend Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank. In a Facebook post, he wrote that the central goal of his political career is ‘to prevent the establishment of an Arab terror state in the heart of Israel, to protect all of our Land of Israel and develop settlement and sovereignty in all its spaces.’ After criticizing 10 years of Israeli ‘abandonment and lawlessness’ and Palestinian building in Area C, Smotrich wrote, ‘Now, finally, thank God, comes the twist in the Israeli government’s approach to the spread of the terrorist cancer within us … Israel is forming a strategic plan to stop the creation of a Palestinian state inside the country.'”

After okaying Palestinian homes, Netanyahu vows Jewish settlements are ‘forever’,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Wednesday that no West Bank settlement homes would be demolished on his watch, after plans he advanced to grant permits for new Palestinian construction raised hackles among settler leaders. ‘No settlement or settler will be uprooted. That is over,” Netanyahu said during a tour of the Efrat settlement, just south of Bethlehem. “What you’re doing here is forever.'”

U.N. Agency for Palestinian Refugees Faces Accusations of Misconduct,

“The United Nations agency responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, already struggling with funding cuts, is bracing for fallout after a highly critical internal ethics report was leaked to international news outlets this week detailing claims of serious mismanagement and misconduct.”

Palestinians are holding weddings, baptisms, burials in villages destroyed by Israel,

“Just over two weeks ago, Khaled Bisharat, son of famed journalist and author Odeh Bisharat, was married in a church in the village of Ma’alul. It was a wedding like any other, apart from one fact: Ma’alul, which lies just four miles southwest of Nazereth, was destroyed by Israel in the 1948 war, and most of its displaced residents fled to the town of Yafa an-Naseriyye. The wedding is part of a trend: third-generation survivors of the Nakba are returning to their destroyed villages to hold religious ceremonies, including baptisms, weddings, and burials.”

Israel Cancels Plan to Put Electric Poles on Private Palestinian Land After High Court Petition,

“The Israel Electric Company had apparently contradicted the state’s argument by telling the court that the land owner’s agreement had not been necessary and that it had the right to expropriate the land. In response, the state adjusted its reply to the court, saying it had initially issued expropriation orders and then canceled them after Kabha agreed to the plan. Kabha’s attorney, Kayis Nasser, denied his client ever agreed to the plan. The state then responded that it was not completely clear whether Kabha was actually the owner of the land in question.”

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

America Joins Israel’s Campaign to Smear and Silence Palestinians,

Salem Barahmeh writes, “The phenomenon of shrinking space is no longer limited to these public smear campaigns but is moving to political and legislative initiatives that aim to criminalize our struggle for freedom and rights.”

Israeli Legal organization files motion to deny Ilhan Omar entry to Israel over BDS support,

“The Shurat Hadin legal organization filed a motion to the Jerusalem District Court Wednesday, demanding that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri prevents American Congress Member Ilhan Omar from entering Israel. The organization said that Omar should not be allowed to enter Israel since she supports the BDS movement.”

Ocasio-Cortez on Israel: Criticizing the Occupation Doesn't Make You anti-Semitic or anti-Israel,

“‘The Right wants to advance this notion that if you engage and critique an Israeli policy you are anti-Semitic,’ she said. ‘But it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Criticizing the occupation doesn’t make you anti-Israel, frankly. It doesn’t mean that you are against the existence of a nation,’ the congresswoman argues. ‘It means that you believe in human rights, and it’s about making sure that Palestinian human rights are equal to Israeli human rights, and there are a lot of troubling things happening there. Jewish people have been persecuted throughout all of human history, but I don’t think that by marginalizing Palestinians, you create safety,’ she added. ‘I believe that injustice is a threat to the safety of all people, because once you have a group that is marginalized and marginalized and marginalized — once someone doesn’t have access to clean water, they have no choice but to riot, right? And it doesn’t have to be that way,’ she concluded.”

Israel: Canada ruling on labeling settlement wines ‘encouraging’ BDS,

“Israel on Tuesday lambasted a Canadian Federal Court ruling that wines produced in Israeli settlements can no longer be labeled as ‘Made in Israel,’ saying the decision will embolden the pro-Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. ‘The Canadian court’s decision concerning labeling of Israeli products encourages and lends support to boycotts and the BDS movement. Israel objects to this,’ the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.”