Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 4, 2019

What We’re Reading


Garbage and Poverty: Watchdog Blasts Israel's Services to Palestinian East Jerusalem,

The state comptroller has harshly criticized the Israeli and Jerusalem authorities for their treatment of the city’s Arab residents, including deficient social services and educational opportunities, neglected sanitation and high poverty rates.

The Ones Who Got Away,

The dream of building a better life outside the Strip, a testament to the ever-deepening sense of hopelessness in Gaza, has pushed thousands to take advantage of the relative opening of Rafah Crossing. The opening of the crossing has met the needs of many who seek education, medical treatment, or employment abroad. But Rafah Crossing cannot meet the needs of Gaza’s two million residents for access

Settler leader seeks to fry McDonald’s airport tender over West Bank ‘boycott’,

Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan sent a letter to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Transportation Minister Israel Katz, claiming that Omri Padan, the local franchisee of the monster fast food chain and a co-founder of Peace Now, is breaking anti-boycott laws by not opening branches beyond Israel’s pre-1967 lines.

Contentious Jerusalem cable car plan clears hurdle, requires government approval,

A controversial plan to build a cable car to Jerusalem’s historic Old City passed a major hurdle Monday when the National Infrastructure Committee rejected a battery of petitions against the contentious tourism project. The estimated $55 million project, which is being advanced by the Tourism Ministry, now requires approval by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in order to proceed.

The West Bank is Drowning in Shekels,

The Palestinian territories’ struggling economy faces a major new problem: There are too many shekels in the market due to an Israeli decision limiting cash transactions. An Israeli law passed in 2018 took effect this year, forbidding businesses and employers in the country from paying cash for wages and other financial transactions over a value of NIS 11,000 (around $3,000). In this way, Israel aims to combat tax evasion, money laundering, illegal trade and counterfeit currency trade, in addition to reducing the cost of cash management. All this means the accumulation of cash in bank coffers.

Collapsing Environmental State of Gaza Poses Threat to Israel's National Security, Report Warns,

The report about the environmental state of affairs has implications for Israel’s national security, says Gideon Bromberg, the Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East. “Israel’s people, first and foremost the residents of the south, are exposed as a result of the situation in Gaza to a multitude of threats, not only the ones we already knew about. Without urgent, vigorous action, plagues and infections will break out that could cost a great many lives, both in Israel and in Gaza, and no fence or Iron Dome can thwart them.”

U.S. Relations

Jared Kushner Just Killed the Palestinian Peace Camp,

Muhammad Shehada writes, “Kushner’s red herring proposal pulls the rug from under Palestinian leaders who, for decades, have remained steadfast and faithful to the two-state idea at great personal and political risk. The peace camp is now shamed and silenced for having invested faith in and wasted decades on negotiations that led to Kushner’s deal, while hardliners are now conveniently and gleefully shouting at them: ‘We told you so!'”

God, Gas, and Cash: How Texas Fell in Love with Israel - and Trampled the Constitution,

As the Trump administration maintains the friendliest U.S. relationship with the Israeli right in history, Texas has become one of the most pro-Israel states in the country. It has forged ties with Israeli settlements and aggressively enforced a law targeting advocates of boycotting Israel. Its exports to Israel last year topped $900 million, and its imports from Israel are valued at $1.5 billion, according to the Texas Economic Development Corporation, making Texas the fourth biggest Israeli trade partner in the U.S.

Israeli Politics

Netanyahu forced to appoint justice minister on Tuesday due to probes,

Netanyahu told his Likud faction on Monday that he would postpone the reshuffle until early next week in order to hold consultations in the faction and the coalition. This would mean that Netanyahu would automatically become justice minister on Tuesday. But Justice Ministry officials told the prime minister that he cannot hold the post for even a moment due to his multiple criminal investigations.

Likud says Smotrich can 'forget' about Justice Ministry,

Likud sources have reportedly said there is no chance that MK Bezalel Smotrich will be appointed justice minister after the lawmaker stated he would like to see Israel governed by religious law.

Israeli Policy Toward Syria 2011 - 2019,

One of the key dimensions of the war in Syria has been the role of outside actors. Much ink has been spilt in examining the intervention of the United States and Russia, along with the role of regional actors such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, in shaping the contours and outcome of developments on the ground. There is one Middle East regional power, however, that has not received sufficient attention in terms of its role and policy orientation toward the war in Syria— the state of Israel. In this paper, Elizabeth Tsurkov, a doctoral candidate at Princeton University, seeks to fill this void. Based on a close reading of internal Israeli politics, she examines the debate within Israel on Syria, and the national security concerns that inform this debate. She also documents, based on extensive research, the specifics of Israeli intervention from 2011 to 2019.