Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 5, 2019

What We’re Reading

Marking 52 Years of the Israeli Occupation

Conquer & Divide: The Shattering of Palestinian Space by Israel,

Today – 52 years to the day since Israel began occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and against the backdrop of measures undertaken by the Trump administration to promote its “deal of the century”– B’Tselem launched a new interactive project illustrating Israel’s encroachment upon Palestinian space over the decades, shattering the land into small, isolated units, and keeping Palestinians apart from one another and from Israelis.

Life Under Occupation: Palestinians Face a Land Shortage,

After 52 years of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, land remains at the heart of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians say Israeli authorities are denying them permission to build homes. And with a lack of land for development, their way of life is under threat.

Palestinian Politics

New Palestinian Premier Warns of a ‘Very Hot Summer’,

“We are in a collapsing situation,” the premier, Muhammad Shtayyeh, said in an interview.

Gaza Officials Warn of Escalation Over Israel's 'Foot-dragging' in Implementing Ceasefire Agreements,

A senior official in the organizing committee of the weekly March of Return demonstrations told Haaretz that Palestinian factions, including Hamas, are demanding the transfer of additional funds from Qatar, a further easing on the import of dual-purpose goods from Israel, meaning goods which can be used for civilian or military purposes, and progressing with humanitarian projects. Some in Gaza say that although the security situation is calm, their conditionsת other than added hours of electricity and expansion of the fishing zone in the Mediterranean, have not improved since the last round of clashes ended in early May.

Will Israeli Arabs Come Out to Vote in September?,

…low Arab turnout [in the April elections] stemmed largely from having no hope for change and disappointment at the Joint List disbanding. Former Knesset member Dov Khenin, the only Jewish lawmaker for the communist Hadash in the 17th to 20th Knessets, agreed that internal Arab political divisions kept tens of thousands of Arab citizens from the ballot box. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Khenin said that he expects the rift to be mended ahead of the September elections and for a united Arab party to be formed.

Palestinians angry as PA cabinet revealed to have given itself secret pay raise,

The Palestinian labor market in the West Bank was limping along in 2017, with unemployment stubbornly high and economic growth slowing. But that didn’t stop the Palestinian Authority government from secretly giving itself a series of lavish payouts and perks, highlighted by a 67% salary hike.

The Gaza Gas Deal,

Natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean is a highly-prized commodity. In 1999, geological surveys revealed that there were natural gas fields off the coast of Gaza. But through a series of poor decisions, questionable leadership and regional geopolitics, the so-called Gaza Marine gas field has lain dormant for 20 years.

U.S. Relations

Manifest Destinies,

Rashid Khalidi writes, “Amy Kaplan’s Our American Israel: The Story of an Entangled Alliance… is a tour de force of both history and cultural studies, it is the first work to describe, fully and rigorously, America’s relationship with Israel in terms of the profound cultural ties that bind the two countries so closely together and to examine their evolving relationship over several generations. The title of Kaplan’s book is extremely telling: This is a story of how a national and colonial settler project in a distant and seemingly exotic part of the world was normalized and Americanized to the point that, in the American imagination, Israelis are seen as close kin. In a certain sense, for many Americans, Israel is a part of us.”

Growing Number of U.S. Jews Support Evacuation of All West Bank Settlements, Survey Finds,

Fewer American Jews consider “caring about Israel” an important part of being Jewish, a survey published on Sunday by the American Jewish Committee finds. Those questioned also indicated that they do not believe a thriving state of Israel is “vital” to the long-term future of the Jewish people. A growing number of American Jews, the survey shows, are also unhappy with Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and support a full evacuation of West Bank settlements.

Israeli Politics

West Bank leaders livid over PM’s axing of settlement adviser close to Liberman,

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his adviser on settlement affairs Monday, sparking outrage among settler leaders who viewed the senior aide as their ally in the Defense Ministry, which is responsible for authorizing Israeli construction beyond the Green Line.

Netanyahu, Suspect in Three Corruption Cases, Is Now Israel's Justice Minister,

Netanyahu assumed the education and justice portfolios on Tuesday after the transfer of the ministries went into effect, 48 hours following his announcement. The premier has yet announced a permanent replacement for the two. The prime minister also heads the Health Ministry, as well as the Defense Minstry, since Avigdor Lieberman’s departure from the post in November last year.

Why are Israeli liberals suddenly courting a far-right nationalist?,

Today, Israeli liberals and their intelligentsia are ready to ignore or brush aside Liberman’s racist, hyper-nationalist remarks and polices, while crowning him the savior of Israeli democracy. Writing in Haaretz, the newspaper that represents Israel’s secular liberal elite, Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn calls for Liberman, who torpedoed Netanyahu’s coalition building efforts by refusing to bring his party into the government and pushed the country into another election, to replace the prime minister — or, at the very least, to enter into a power-sharing agreement.