Top News from Israel & Palestine: October 4, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

Annexing the Jordan Valley Doesn't Make Security Sense,

Shaul Arieli writes, “Without renewing negotiations with the Palestinians based on the parameters set by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas in 2008 in the Annapolis talks, canceling the peace treaty with Jordan, which is good for Israel (and on some issues good for Jordan, too), could turn into the worst step in the parade of stupidity of Netanyahu and his successors with regard to Israel’s security and integration into the region.”

Jerusalem Is Becoming a Jewish Disneyland, NYT's Architecture Critic Warns,

“Indeed, as his article indicates, the cable car in Jerusalem is not the functional transportation solution its advocates claim it will be, but a clear-cut product of the political reality in early 21st-century Israel. Kimmelman’s piece also affords a rare opportunity to understand how the situation in Israel appears in foreign eyes. Its author is not content with critiquing what he describes as “a fleet of cable cars crisscrossing the locus of sacred sites known as the Holy Basin,” which he says will turn the area into something of a Jewish Disneyland. As he customarily does, Kimmelman delves into the project’s broader background, which flies in the face of all the accepted rules of historical conservation and has generated an acute protest both in Israel and beyond. With his wealth of experience, Kimmelman grasped that the idea behind the cable car is above all political in nature, with the purpose of hiding the city’s universal character, so that it ‘curates a specifically Jewish narrative of Jerusalem, furthering Israeli claims over Arab parts of the city.’ Nir Barkat, the former mayor of Jerusalem and now a Likud MK, did not hesitate to admit to Kimmelman that the cable car is a Zionist project aimed at bringing visitors to the City of David quarter, ‘which is the ultimate proof of our ownership of this land.'”

Israel combats Palestinians' West Bank rocket-making,

“It’s no secret that the resistance is coming up with new ways of fighting and manufacturing weapons in the West Bank, like personal and light arms and explosive devices. Israel continues to close suspicious lathe workshops, and the resistance is buying explosives and ammunition from Palestinian and Israeli arms traders in exchange for rewarding sums of money.”

How Israel Stopped a Third Palestinian Intifada,

“For advance warnings, a new model had to be developed based on the a’ssailants’ character traits and the study of previous cases. ‘Instead of looking for a model of the adversary’s activity, we switched to locating signs reflecting a modification of behavior,’ Barbing writes. That modification of behavior was seen online. The Shin Bet, he notes, in a first detailed reference to the new methods of operation, “looks for signs indicating preparatory actions (a post on the web, a purchase of a weapon), an increase or decrease in the volume of activity, the creation of new contacts, the joining of a new virtual community and more. Monitoring the web and identifying unusual activity in the ocean of information produced warnings that had not been possible via traditional intelligence.”

Israeli Politics & Elections

Likud appears to back away from leadership primary, hours after floating idea,

“In an apparent about face, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reported to be backing away from the possibility of holding flash primaries for the leadership of Likud Thursday night, mere hours after first floating the possibility. Associates of the prime minister told Channel 12 news that a primary was far from a sure thing, amid reports that several Likud ministers who had met with Netanyahu throughout the day had warned him that he had little to gain but much to lose in such a contest.”

Israeli Arabs have had enough of violence, arms,

“On the one hand, elected Arab officials have persistently conveyed to their people that the Israel Police is a hostile force that must be opposed. On the other hand, they are counting on the police force — and only on it — to wipe out the violence in their communities.”

To the new Knesset members,

“Today members of Israel’s 22nd parliament, the Knesset, were sworn in. The Israeli parliamentary system has been more or less paralyzed for several months, and whether or not the possibility of a third election materializes, there are pressing matters to be addressed. The one matter that is of utmost urgency but most likely to be neglected is the question of Israel’s policy toward two million Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip.”

Gantz, the Hope is a Government without Netanyahu,

The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “As opposed to Yisrael Beiteinu’s statement after the meeting on Thursday, another election might indeed change the political map of Israel. A unity government is not the order of the day. The order of the day is to put an end to Netanyahu’s government.”

U.S. Policy

David Friedman Talks Iran, Annexation, Diplomacy,

Question: Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Netanyahu has now said he will annex the Jordan Valley if re-elected. The US was silent. What is the US position on that?

Amb. Friedman: “We like to approach all these issues holistically, and hopefully we will have a chance to do so. In the interim, the statements made by the prime minister are ones we don’t see as being inconsistent with a political solution, and so we kind of held our tongue because there was really nothing that called for comment beyond what we said. The US could have endorsed it, as it did with the Golan. I would not read much into the fact that we didn’t. From our perspective, we want to deal with all these issues in the context of an overall resolution of the conflict, rather than piecemeal.”