Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 18, 2019

What We’re Reading

The Deal of the Century

White House will not invite Israeli officials to Bahrain event: senior U.S. official,

“We’re inviting the Israeli business people and Palestinian business people. We’d like to make it as apolitical as possible,” the official said.

Palestinians take to the streets to protest Bahrain workshop, Trump peace plan,

Following the protest, Fatah, the Palestinian party of President Mahmoud Abbas, declared major actions and protests set to take place across the occupied Palestinian territories on June 24, 25 and 26, coinciding with the Bahrain workshop.

For Palestinian activists fighting corruption, Trump’s attacks are making their work even harder,

The space for criticism consequently tightens when Palestinians feel that opponents of Palestinian self-determination take their critiques – intended to advance the end goal of independence – as evidence against it. “We know very much that some of our reports and information… are misused to attack the Palestinian government and Palestinian Authority not because they are corrupt but because of our government and president’s political position,” vis-à-vis the Trump administration, said Majdi Abu Zaid, the head of Ramallah-based AMAN, the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity.

UNRWA suffers $200 million budget shortfall without US funding,

Despite efforts to encourage the 42 donor countries and institutions who stepped in to attempt to make up the funds, a $211m deficit is projected in the agency’s $1.2 billion budget for 2019. But that is less than half of last year’s $446m budget gap, which nearly forced the agency to close its 700 schools and health centres.


Civilians deliberately targeted in Gaza attacks, reports find,

Two separate investigations by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch determine that the Israeli army and Palestinian armed groups unlawfully targeted civilian populations during the most recent Gaza escalation.

Qatari cash arrives in Gaza, but payouts to Palestinians delayed,

Some $10 million of Qatari money entered Gaza late Sunday, but by the end of Monday, needy Palestinian families had yet to receive any money, leading to frustration for some.

Gantz, Liberman condemn the transfer of Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip,

Qatari envoy to Gaza Muhammad al-Emadi arrived in the Strip on Sunday and delivered the funds to the Palestinian government in charge of the enclave, Hamas. The money will be distributed among 108,000 poor families, according to Palestinian media reports.

Israel re-expands Gaza Strip fishing zone to 10 nautical miles,

Israeli military sources confirmed Tuesday that the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip was to be reopened to a distance of 10 nautical miles from the coast, Hebrew media reported.

Occupation/Human Rights

High Court Allows Demolition of 13 East Jerusalem Buildings Under Palestinian Control,

The High Court of Justice has given the green light to demolish 13 large buildings in East Jerusalem which are under the control of the Palestinian Authority, a ruling Palestinians say sets a precedent that will enable the demolition of thousands of buildings in the West Bank.

Cars Vandalized, Malicious Graffiti Sprayed in Palestinian Town,

Tag Meir said, “four ‘price tag’ attacks in four days should set off a red light. Our sad experience teaches us that price tag attacks do not stop at graffiti and vandalized cars, and endanger Arabs and Jews alike.” The organization added that “what starts with graffiti becomes arson of mosques, and continues to the arson of houses and people.”

U.S. Pressure Behind Israeli Delay in Evacuating Bedouin Village, Defense Official Says,

The Americans want to delay the evacuation of the unauthorized village until the “Deal of the Century” peace plan is presented and to avoid any additional tension, or humiliation, with the Palestinian Authority, the official added. The State Prosecutor’s Office, which informed the High Court of Justice of the delay during Sunday’s hearing on a petition to carry out the evacuation, said the delay was necessary because of both the previous and upcoming elections.

Israeli Politics

Smotrich, Peretz get nods for transportation, education ministries,

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday appointed the top two lawmakers in the Union of Right-Wing Parties as ministers in his interim cabinet, putting Rafi Peretz in charge of the Education Ministry and giving Bezalel Smotrich the transportation portfolio.

‘I work for God,’ not Netanyahu, Smotrich says after being appointed minister,

Newly appointed Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Monday said he “works for God” — and not for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appointed him — after drawing outrage and ridicule for calling for Israel to be governed by Jewish religious law, like in biblical times.

Elections Expose the Pandora’s Box of Israel’s Religious Right,

Yossi Beilin writes, “In the Zionist stream today, there exist at least three streams of the religious right: the modern Orthodox, represented to a great extent by New Right leader Naftali Bennett, who seek full integration into the Israeli governing system; the more ultra-Orthodox version of the devout Zionists, led by Rabbi Rafi Peretz, who emphasize obedience to the rabbis in espousing Jewish law as opposed to secular law and obedience to the decrees of rabbis as opposed to army commanders; and adherents of the far-right nationalist Meir Kahane, a stream that is considered a wayward stepchild, even among most of religious Zionism, but because of its significant number of supporters, the larger movement feels compelled to include. The ideological differences among these groups are significant despite their unceasing efforts to sweep them under the rug.”

Who’s running the show in Israel between elections? An explainer.,

With a new vote now scheduled for Sept. 17, and the likelihood that it will take another six weeks to form a majority coalition, Israel will have been led by a “transitional” government for nearly one year, making it possibly the longest transitional government in the country’s history.

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

West Bank leaders join call to stop McDonald's tender at Ben-Gurion,

“Unfortunately, it appears that instead of denouncing the phenomenon, the State of Israel only encourages it,” they charged. “The boycott is a serious phenomenon designed to harm [the country] economically, academically and culturally.”

Israel Seeks to Erase Archives of Intel Firm Psy-Group Employed in anti-BDS Campaign,

As revealed in a New Yorker article earlier this year, the campaign was paid for by American-Jewish donors. But the project, as Psy-Group internal documents show, was overseen by an advisory of “senior ex-officials and experts from the government, security and legal sectors.” That raises the possibility that the state is trying to prevent information on the anti-BDS campaign from leaking out.

U.S. Says No To BDS,

The battle against BDS is being led by the pro-Israel community in the US, and it is important to note that it remains a bipartisan issue bringing together Republicans and Democrats. Two of its most powerful warriors are Ted Cruz, the Republican senator from Texas who ran for president in 2016, and Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida in the House of Representatives. In exclusive interviews, Cruz and Deutch were clear that they both consider the BDS movement not just anti-Israel, but antisemitic too.