Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 9, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation & Human Rights

PA tax dispute with Israel leaves its employees struggling with slashed salaries,

“’My son has a skin disease and I need to purchase medicine for him for 800 shekels every month,’ Ahmad, a 31-year-old resident of Nablus who declined to provide his family name, said. ‘I need to pay for that, food, rent and many bills. I simply do not have enough money now to cover my expenses.’ Like Ahmad, tens of thousands of PA employees in the West Bank have been taking home drastically smaller paychecks since March.”

Israeli Court Overturns Conviction of Jewish Settler Documented Hurling Rocks at Palestinian Cars,

“In his decision, Judge Ilan Sela wrote: ‘The accused was almost a minor when he committed the crime … In this case, we should look at the future and not the past, and the convicted shall pay each of the owners of the cars 200 shekels.'”

Years Later, Israel Returns Gaza Fisherman's Boat – Damaged, Without a Motor,

“‘It’s like getting a corpse without a heart,’ said fishermen representative Nazer Ayesh. ‘These boats without motors and nets can’t be put to use by any fisherman.’ According to Ayesh, a motor costs about $7,000 in Gaza, and nets as well as other equipment can cost up to an additional $3,000  at the very least. ‘If the body of the boat is damaged that’s even more expenses. Go find a fisherman who can afford this sum. These are already poor families who can hardly make a living,’ Ayesh said.”

Abdallah, 15, Dreamed of Praying at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque. He Was Shot Dead on His Way,

“’Were the shootings of 15-year-old Abdallah and 20-year-old M.T. [shot earlier that morning] criminal?’ the B’Tselem report asks, in its conclusion. ‘Absolutely. They were entirely unjustified. Neither Abdallah nor M.T. posed any danger. Nor could they have posed any danger as they were: in broad daylight, caught between concertina wire on one side and a high barbed-wire fence on the other, facing Border Police officers who were armed and ready and in protective gear. This is not a case of mortal danger, or in fact of any danger at all. Under such circumstances, the use of weapons capable of causing serious injury and even death – as has been done before and as the officers did here – cannot be justified on any moral or legal grounds. The fact that the predictable and deadly outcome of this egregious conduct is met by public indifference and that the conduct receives the full backing of all official bodies demonstrates just how little worth is accorded to Palestinian lives.’”

Israel's separation wall endures, 15 years after ICJ ruling,

“Tuesday marks the 15th anniversary since the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN judiciary organ, issued an advisory opinion that deemed Israel’s separation wall illegal. While the decision is non-binding, it found the wall violates international law and called for its dismantlement. It also ruled that Israel should pay reparations for any damage caused. Yet 15 years on, the wall has continued to cut through Palestinian communities, taken over natural resources in the occupied West Bank, and has annexed Palestinian land, including areas where Israeli settlements are built on.:

West Bank Grows Calmer as Pocketbook Issues Take Priority Over Protests,

“But for many Palestinians in the West Bank, the lull in grass-roots protests has less to do with economic optimism than despair. They attribute the relative calm that now prevails to a combination of factors, including war weariness and the Israeli military’s harsh response, which resulted in too many killed, wounded or imprisoned and too few achievements.”

Solar, wind projects to help power West Bank,

“‘This project is a decisive initiative that will help grant the Palestinian people the right to water,’ Cochard said in a brief speech at the ceremony. “France and the EU are committed to the implementation of water reform in Palestine,’ he added. Nicholas said, ‘The volume of projects funded by the EU in the water sector in the West Bank and Gaza during the last three years amount to more than 100 million euros [$112.8 million].’ He added that this project aims at ‘supporting the Palestinians’ right to water. Water is a right just like dignity and freedom. We choose to stand by this right, and we choose to be with the Palestinians in their long journey until we reach an independent Palestinian state.’”

The Nakba Isn’t Going Away,

The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “Instead of censoring and concealing things, the history of Israel’s establishment and the Palestinian society that was uprooted should be studied and taught. Commemoration signs should be put up at the sites of destroyed villages, and the moral dilemmas that have accompanied Israel since 1948 should be faced. Such recognition won’t resolve the conflict, but it will place dialogue between Jews and Palestinians in Israel on a foundation of truth instead of lies, shame and concealment.”

U.S. Politics

Religious Fanatics Have Hijacked America's Israel Policy. And They're Not Even Evangelicals,

Or Nir writes, “Let’s face it, folks: America’s Israel-Palestine policy has been hijacked by extremist nationalist-religious ideologues. These mavericks are colluding with the annexationist agenda of Benjamin Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing government, shattering what’s left of America’s credibility in the region, and wrecking prospects for future Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution peace negotiations. Their policy jeopardizes Israel’s future as a democracy and a Jewish state. It undermines both U.S. and Israeli national security interests.”

The New Middle East Peace Plan Promises Projects, Not Peace,

Zaha Hassan writes, “There is no one to pay for this plan, no one to oversee it, and nowhere to implement it. This administration’s Mideast peace efforts will be remembered for only two significant achievements. First, that it managed to find one Palestinian—a petty businessman whose excommunication from his family and Palestinian society predated the Bahrain workshop—willing to sit on stage to express support for the plan–but even he went off script to call for a Palestinian state. And second, that Palestinian leaders and the people are finally united in a way they have not been for a long time. That unity just might ignite serious reconciliation efforts between the authorities in the West Bank and Gaza, so that Palestinian national aspirations and rights can be preserved and protected. Both are things Kushner and his team surely did not bargain for.”

Israeli Politics

The Dangerous Politics of Playing the Victim,

Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “Netanyahu and Vucic each preside over unresolved violent conflicts in which their more powerful countries are widely viewed as the aggressors. Both began as propagandists who learned to portray their countries as victims to the world. And both later leveraged their narrative skills to drive their individual political ascents—by portraying themselves, simultaneously, as victims and saviors.”

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

Department of Justice to convene summit on fighting anti-Semitism,

“The summit’s agenda, to take place July 15, includes sessions on “combating anti-Semitism while respecting the First Amendment;’ ‘anti-Semitism on campus;’ and ‘prosecuting hate crimes;’ and will be rounded out by a ‘fireside chat’ with ‘administration leadership’ on the topic. Participants are not listed on the agenda, but top Trump administration officials who deal with anti-Semitism include Elan Carr, the State Department envoy combating anti-Semitism, and Kenneth Marcus, the top civil rights official at the Education Department whose last job was president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which tracks anti-Israel activity and anti-Semitism on campuses.”

Human rights organizations based in Israel voice concern before Bundestag president over motion defining BDS as antisemitism,

“By equating BDS and antisemitism, the letter states, the motion echoes the position of the Government of Israel, which has been working hard to use false accusations of antisemitism to discredit the Palestinian struggle for freedom – while at the same time cynically associating itself with some of the most ultra-nationalist political parties in Europe, including ones with clear racist roots. Doing so is consistent with the Government of Israel’s unacceptable strategic goal, of maintaining perpetual occupation over millions of Palestinians with no political rights, while silencing any form of opposition to this injustice.”