Top News from Israel & Palestine: October 9, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

Israel-Palestinian tax deal has implications beyond economy,

“In the framework of the soon-to-start discussions of the newly established committee, Israel and the Palestinians are expected to reexamine the 1994 Paris Protocol. In the past, Abbas has threatened to withdraw from the agreements with Israel that discriminate against the PA, hand Israel control over its finances and force the PA to depend on third parties. Now, paradoxically, Israel would have to accept what it had repeatedly rejected, and all because of the deduction law, legislation that ultimately did not reduce terrorism but offered the PA a way to free itself of Israel’s suffocating economic hold and take steps toward economic independence.”

Israel hampering Palestinian economy at its own risk,

“The bad news is that the fund transfer is like prescribing an aspirin to cure a cancer patient. Israel freezing the tax revenues is only one cause, and not the chief one, of the severe chronic illness afflicting the Palestinian economy.”

Palestine no longer a safe environment for investment,

“A Palestinian official at the Ministry of Economy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al-Monitor that the increase in Palestinian investment abroad is normal amid the instability of the Palestinian political and security situation. ‘This is despite the incentives offered to investors such as tax exemption and administrative facilities. The political circumstances remain beyond our control. The Palestinian investor fears losing his money in the event of major security developments. This drives him to invest in a safer environment. This is sad but true. Palestinians ought to invest in their homeland and not abroad’.”

Palestinians have a right to demand freedom from torture,

Yara Hawari writes, “Israel’s torture of Palestinians is made particularly easy by its occupying military regime which is ruling over the West Bank. This regime allows Palestinians to be interrogated for 90 days without a lawyer. This initial period of interrogation can then be indefinitely renewed. During interrogation, Palestinian prisoners are routinely subject to various forms of mental and physical torture including beatings, stress positions, sleep deprivation and solitary confinement. Their lack of communication with the outside world often allows for this treatment to continue unchecked. Since the establishment of this military regime over the West bank in 1967, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (an NGO) has reported the deaths of 73 detainees as a result of torture.”

Israel Is Accused of Torturing a Prisoner Until His Ribs Were Broken. Now Palestinians Are Demanding Answers.,

“This isn’t about two or three interrogators who have gone insane. It’s not about rotten apples. This is a whole system,” said Rachel Stroumsa, head of the Public Committee Against Torture, an independent rights watchdog based in Tel Aviv. “What we see here with Samir Arbeed is unusual in its consequences but not unusual in any other sense.”

Israel Condemned This Gazan Fisherman to Life in Eternal Darkness,

Gideon Levy writes, “This is what Israel should have done. A military vehicle should have waited last week for Khader al-Saaidy on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing point from Gaza, waiting to take him to the hospital to examine whether his remaining eye, the one that wasn’t ripped out, could be saved….This is what Israel has done: For months, a blinded Saaidy knocked at Israel’s door, desperately trying to get to the appointment that had been made for him for tests at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where he was operated on after the soldiers shot him. The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, an agency of the occupation, refused for months to approve his entering Israel, so he missed several checkups at the hospital.”

Israeli Politics & Elections

Netanyahu's Day of Atonement,

“According to Israeli Justice Ministry sources, the four-day hearing during which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal team sought to convince Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to dismiss the pending indictments against him, or to at least to lessen the charges, had ended inconclusively. Right after Yom Kippur, which falls on Oct. 9, Mandelblit will embark on a marathon of consultations and summaries before reaching a conclusion about the allegations against Netanyahu by mid-December. Barring unexpected developments, Mandelblit’s decision is expected to make Israeli history, resulting in indictments on charges of corruption against an incumbent prime minister. Leaks from the discussions over the coming month will directly affect Netanyahu’s political future and his prospects for forming a new government.”

The Precarious Position of Benjamin Netanyahu,

“‘It’s unclear to me if what we’re seeing is a real legal battle or a battle over public opinion,’ Mordechai Kremnitzer, a former dean of law at the Hebrew University and senior research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, told me last Wednesday, as the first day of the hearing concluded. ‘There are bad signs, such as his insistence on making the hearing public. It shows that he’s aiming at the people at home, not those in the room.’ Kremnitzer continued, ‘It all seems geared toward public opinion—either that or a play for time. The longer he can keep to the Prime Minister seat, the better it is for him.’ There is no law in Israel against indicting a sitting Prime Minister, but nor is there a precedent for it.”

Palestinian Politics

Palestinians cry foul over Facebook pro-Israel bias,

“A social media campaign rejecting what it calls ‘violations’ of Facebook rules by censoring Palestinian content has been launched by Palestinian journalists and activists.”

U.S. Politics/The Deal of the Century

Trumplomacy: Are we seeing the end of a close Israel-US relationship?,

“The alarm has been compounded by Mr Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of north-eastern Syria to clear the way for a Turkish military operation, apparently abandoning America’s long-time Kurdish allies. Again, that has raised concerns here about how far he is prepared to go to protect other allies: ‘Trump has become unreliable for Israel,’ concludes Mr Shiffer. In fact, there is no suggestion that the United States would reduce in any way its rock-solid support for Israel’s security. But after nearly three years of walking in lock-step with the Trump administration, Israel is facing the reality of an unpredictable and transactional president who has deep reservations about using US military might, is afraid of getting involved in another Middle East conflict, and who, like Mr Netanyahu, is immersed in his own domestic political battles for survival.”

Israelis Watch U.S. Abandon Kurds, and Worry: Who’s Next?,

“Mr. Trump’s openness to talks with Iran has reinforced the idea that he is averse to a new conflict in the region. And his pullout of troops from Kurdish territory has only reinforced the broader perception among Israelis that he wants to withdraw from the Middle East, even at the expense of American influence. ‘There’s a growing sense that Trump is backing away from his commitments to allies,’ said Emily B. Landau, an arms-control expert at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. ‘I’m not sure Israel’s in the same category as Saudi Arabia and the Kurds. At least I’m hoping that we’re not in the same category. But expectations were forged through Trump’s rhetoric and his behavior, and some of his policy decisions. And the question is, to what degree will he follow through with it, if Israel really needs the United States?’ That American dependability is even being questioned by Israelis could embolden Iran at a particularly dangerous time, Israeli analysts said.”

New EU Foreign Envoy: It's not Antisemitic to Favor a Two-State Solution,

“Support for a Palestinian state that lives side-by-side in peace with an Israeli state ‘is not anti-Israeli or antisemitic,’ said Borrell at a pre-confirmation hearing in Brussels at the parliament on Monday in which he laid out some of his thought on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ‘The European position is to defend the two-state solution,’ he said. ‘I hope this continues to be the EU position.’ Borrell, who is the Spanish Foreign Minister, is slated to replace outgoing EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, whose five year term in office ends on October 31.”