Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 12, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation/Human Rights

Reversing Israel’s Deepening Annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem,

Israel is advancing new policies to entrench its de facto annexation of parts of occupied East Jerusalem. In 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem but never fully applied Israeli laws: land registration was partial, most Palestinian schools do not use Israel’s curriculum and East Jerusalemites have residency, not citizenship. In May 2018, with the stated aim of reducing socio-economic inequality, Israel adopted a five-year plan allocating $530 million to East Jerusalem. But the plan’s real goal is to assert Israeli sovereignty, including, most dangerously, by cataloguing all East Jerusalem’s lands in the Israel Land Registry and inducing its schools to use Israeli curricula. In parallel, to protect Jerusalem’s Jewish majority, Israeli leaders are thinking about redrawing the Israeli-demarcated municipal boundaries in order to remove Palestinian-populated areas that lie within these boundaries but to the east of the separation barrier.

Israel’s high-tech facelift takes the sting out of checkpoints — but not out of the occupation,

While many Palestinians have welcomed the upgrade, they continue to object that what was once an ad-hoc military checkpoint, which started with a few army jeeps and a handful of soldiers, has developed into a permanent border crossing that keeps Israel in control of their lives. The high-tech makeover only reinforces that reality.

What occupation looks like in the occupied Jordan Valley,

Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley are forced on a daily basis to cope with Israel’s arbitrary military policies, from imposing restrictions on movement to home demolitions to a lack of access to water — all while Israeli settlers living on the same land face none of the same issues.

IDF to cut number of civilian guards in Israeli settlements in West Bank,

The IDF’s Central Command decided not to increase the funds allocated for security of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, effectively cutting the number of civilian guards stationed in the area, according to two memos sent by the military on Tuesday.

The Deal of the Century

How Much Longer Do We Palestinians Have To Put Up With These Clowns?,

Sam Bahour writes in The Forward, “The Palestinian business community has never been as united as it is in opposition to the Trump team’s attempt to beautify the cages Israel has turned our cities into. The Palestinian private sector though does remain concerned that the political and financial pressures placed by the U.S. on the Palestinian leadership may cause them to reconsider and attend this farce event.”

Erekat pleads with Arab states: Do not undermine Palestinian cause for your gain,

Four Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and host-country Bahrain — have all stated that they will be participating in the conference. The US said Tuesday that Jordan, Egypt and Morocco had also confirmed their attendance.

Under US plan, Palestinian refugees will still be refugees,

The United States reportedly plans to unveil this month a proposal to rebuild Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and West Bank as permanent cities and towns, a concept already rejected by Palestinians across the spectrum…[Amer al-Hazeel] explained that the US plan is based on a study conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University in July 2017 to expand nine towns and villages in the West Bank: Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm and Tubas in the north; al-Jiftlik and Jericho in the east; al-Bireh and Bethlehem in central West Bank; and Hebron in the south. The plan also calls for establishing towns near Beitunia west of Ramallah, Tarqumiyah west of Hebron, another north of the Jordan Valley and the Latrun area; and one near Rafah in southern Gaza.

Despite US pressure, expect regional players to phone in Manama meeting,

An Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the way things are shaping up, “even if the conference takes place, it will certainly not be a historic event. Anyone looking at the picture in its entirety understands that it is likely to be a minor event and possibly an embarrassing one.”

Islamic Jihad mulls military action to foil US peace plan,

Armed Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip are determined to stop the US administration’s proposed peace plan for the Middle East and have the means to do so, according to Ziad al-Nakhla, secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.

U.S. Politics

Birthright Trips, a Rite of Passage for Many Jews, Are Now a Target of Protests,

Over the past year, some Jewish activists have protested Birthright, saying the trips erase the experiences of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank. Activists have circulated petitions, staged sit-ins at Hillels on college campuses and blocked Birthright’s headquarters in New York. But no protests have generated more publicity and outrage than the walk-offs from a handful of Birthright trips.

Quashing Free Speech

Mossad Involved in Anti-boycott Activity, Israeli Minister's Datebooks Reveal,

The diaries, which were released in response to a Freedom of Information request, show that Erdan met with Mossad head Yossi Cohen about “the struggle against the boycott.” The request was made by the Hatzlaha movement, an organization promoting a fair society and economy, to all ministers, deputy ministers and ministry directors-general

Israeli Politics

Israel’s religious right plays the merger game,

The next few weeks will bring news of whether the religious Zionist parties decide to continue as the United Right — the alliance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forged from HaBayit HaYehudi, the National Union, and Jewish Power — or whether the more moderate HaBayit HaYehudi will join its former leaders, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, who left it before the April elections to establish the New Right.