Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 11, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

Netanyahu vows to annex large parts of occupied West Bank,

“The prime minister stood in front of a large map on an easel that showed Israeli sovereignty extended over the vast majority of the Jordan Valley. It appeared to display Israeli territory completely encircling the West Bank, slicing off the eastern border with Jordan. Jericho, a Palestinian city, and smaller Palestinian villages were displayed as enclaves that would not be annexed.”

Data on Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley Annexation Map,

Peace Now: “The vision presented by the Prime Minister is, in fact, a vision of apartheid, of one country in which one group of civilians has full rights (Israeli) and another (Palestinians) does not. The autonomy and access roads Netanyahu guarantees to the Palestinians in the Valley are alarmingly similar to the Bantustan formula in former Apartheid South Africa. Even though this is an election promise of the kind that politicians throw around and do not intend to fulfill, we cannot afford to make assumptions. One must say loud and clear to Netanyahu: No!”

Settler leaders lionize Netanyahu for ‘historic’ Jordan Valley annexation pledge,

“A chairman of a settlement’s secretariat who spoke to The Times of Israel on the condition of anonymity said that while he was not entirely convinced by the prime minister’s pledge, it wasn’t in his interest to call Netanyahu out publicly just days before the elections.”

Arab League Calls Netanyahu's Plan to Annex Jordan Valley 'Aggression',

“‘The Arab League’ considers his announcement a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law,” Arab foreign ministers said in a statement after a meeting in Cairo. ‘The league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations,’ the statement said.

Topping off annexation pledge, PM moves to legalize Jordan Valley outpost,

“Ministers will vote and likely pass the motion to legalize Mevo’ot Yeriho at their Sunday meeting, just two days before Israelis go to the polls for an election that could see him ousted from power.”

In a Jordan Valley Village, Palestinians Are Left in the Dark,

“‘Netanyahu wants to annex us?” said Khalil Obayat, 50, a brother of the council head. “He doesn’t even provide us with enough electricity.’ He added that he thought annexation would be bad for the village but said it was up to the Palestinian Authority to decide what should be done. As if on cue, the power went out. For few minutes, the village went pitch dark.”

How would Netanyahu go about annexing the settlements? An explainer,

“’If Netanyahu really wanted to annex all or part of the West Bank, he could do it in an hour, without any Knesset legislation,’ according to Daniel Seidemann, a veteran left-wing analyst of Israeli politics. ‘The Law and Regulation Ordinance empowers the Cabinet to apply the law, governance & administration of Israel in any area in what was British Mandate Palestine by means of a Government Order, adopted by a simple majority,’ Seidemann tweeted on Tuesday. But during his ostensibly ‘dramatic’ presentation Tuesday, Netanyahu said that he wants to ‘apply sovereignty in the next Knesset’ — apparently envisaging seeking majority approval from among all 120 members.”

Illegal for 20 Years, Torture of Palestinians by Shin Bet Goes On,

Dr. Rachel Stromusa writes, “Even as the High Court ruling of two decades ago is being taught in law schools worldwide, the reality in Israel is nothing to brag about. After 20 years, the time has come for what goes on in the interrogation rooms to meet the lofty standards that Justice Barak so eloquently described in the majority ruling of September 1999. The positive change that began back then has not been fully realized. It is time for our security forces to put all their energy into sophisticated measures and intelligence information, and not into breaking an interrogation subject by means of physical blows and sleep deprivation.”

The Deal of the Century

US says peace deal still possible if Israel annexes settlements, Jordan Valley,

“The White House said Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to annex the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements would not foreclose the possibility of a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if enacted.”

Israeli Politics & Election

Why Bibi Fears Arab Voters,

“Even as the Israeli right continues to delegitimize Arab political participation, the Israeli left is taking a radically different approach in an effort to reverse its historic decline. Until this election cycle, center and left-wing parties kept their distance from Arab voters. Taking Netanyahu’s bait, they largely ignored Arab voters in their campaigns for fear of looking like the “weak leftists” Netanyahu made them out to be. But what is happening in this election has never been seen before, Abu Rass told me. ‘The Arab vote actually matters this time,’ he said. That might not sound groundbreaking, but the outreach by Jewish parties to Arab voters represents a sea-change in Israeli politics. ‘Not since Rabin have we witnessed such attention paid to Arab voters.’”

Netanyahu's New Election Message: 'Arabs Want to Annihilate Us All',

“‘Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men’ – that is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new message to voters, which appears through an automated popup message that appears on the screen of anybody accessing his official Facebook page. Followers are urged by the chatbot on Netanyahu’s Facebook page to convince undecided voters to vote for the premier’s Likud. The chatbot calls on users to tell the voters they will attempt to persuade that ‘Israel mustn’t have a left-wing government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all.'”

Israeli Voters May Like Netanyahu’s Promises, but Don’t Necessarily Believe Them,

“But voters on the right and the left are now taking Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign promises with a large pinch of skepticism. He has pledged in the past to build in a particularly contentious and problematic area of the West Bank known as E1, east of Jerusalem, but has apparently backed down under international pressure. Days before the last election, in April — which ended inconclusively — he vowed to annex all of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including the most isolated, in an effort to rally right-wing voters. That has left rightists asking why he has not annexed an inch of West Bank territory over his last decade in office, or 13 years over all. Many noted that Mr. Netanyahu has not even fulfilled a Supreme Court-sanctioned commitment to evacuate the tiny Bedouin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar. Built without Israeli permits in the West Bank hills between E1 and the Jordan Valley, its fate has been at the center of a Palestinian and international campaign.”


Israel Believes Hamas Is Losing Control Over Gaza Youth,

“Israeli security sources believe that Hamas leaders were surprised by the August suicide attacks. The fact that people within Gaza, some of whom had been identified with Hamas in the past, had gotten help from Islamic Jihad to plan an attack that included suicide bombers embarrassed the organization. These security sources say the attacks posed the greatest challenge to Hamas’ leadership since it seized control of the Strip in 2007. Hamas is expected to publish a report on its investigation of the attacks.”

Israel helps Hamas regain control over Gaza, rogue groups,

“Israel understands that Hamas is in crisis and may even lose control over Gaza, and thus is very careful when it responds militarily. In other words: Israel is heedful of Hamas’ precarious position, thus gives its leaders relative peace and quiet to resolve the crisis and return law and order. Israel’s guiding principle is simple: Better one Hamas responsible for law and order in the Strip over a multitude of small, undisciplined groups that will make it even harder for Israel to deal with the Gaza Strip. According to the defense source, one of the salient phenomena in the Strip in the past weeks has been the strengthening of a young leadership that is not directly connected to Hamas; its people are now the main activists in organizing fence demonstrations.”