Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 25, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

Playing the security card: Israeli Policy in Hebron as Means to Effect Forcible Transfer of Local Palestinians,

“For 25 years, Israel has been openly pursuing a policy of segregation in the center of Hebron, in order to allow a handful of Jewish residents to live as though they had not settled in the middle of a bustling Palestinian city, in the heart of an occupied territory. This policy completely ignores the needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and sentences them to an unbearable reality, with the hope that they will leave their homes ostensibly of their own free will.”

My humiliation does not make Israel more secure,

Anas Almassri writes, “Accepted on full scholarship to a graduate program in the United Kingdom, I waited more than six months for Israeli authorities to approve my exit permit, only to be told on the day it was issued that I had five minutes to leave. The 100-mile journey of leaving Gaza took 12 hours, six checkpoints, and interrogations so humiliating that a year later, I am still reliving the trauma.”

Israeli police arrest Palestinian minister of Jerusalem affairs,

“Israeli police say they have arrested the Palestinian minister of Jerusalem affairs for conducting political activity in east Jerusalem. Fadi al-Hadami is charged with allegedly breaking a law prohibiting political activity in Jerusalem by the Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank.”

After 30 Years of Legal Battle, Israeli Court OKs Evacuation of East Jerusalem Family,

“An Israeli court ordered Friday the evacuation of 18 Palestinian family members from their home in East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, ending a decades-long legal battle.”

Was Netanyahu’s controversial visit to Hebron worth election efforts?,

“It seemed clear that Netanyahu’s visit to Hebron under tight military protection was part of his electoral propaganda and an attempt to win the votes of the settlers in the Sept. 17 elections. This also reveals the prime minister’s intentions for Hebron’s Old City, although he has yet to officially declare his intention to impose Israeli sovereignty over it, as he did when he said he would seek to annex the Jordan Valley if he is reelected prime minister. This, however, does not negate the Israeli plans in this direction.”

The teenage runaway stranded in Gaza,

“Upon his arrival in the Strip, Fadi understood immediately that he had made a mistake and asked to return to his family in the West Bank. But here’s the catch. Israel’s restrictions on travel between the parts of the occupied Palestinian territory are not imposed symmetrically. It is relatively simple to relocate from the West Bank to Gaza; the return trip is an entirely different question.”

Israeli Elections & Politics

Final Israel Election Results: Netanyahu Up to 32 Seats, ultra-Orthodox Party Down One,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party won 32 Knesset seats in last week’s election, official results released Tuesday overnight by Israel’s Central Election Committee show, taking it up a seat compared to results released so far. Netanyahu’s party, however, is still one seat behind Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, which maintains 33 out of 120 Knesset seats, as the two parties are in talks over a potential power-sharing deal in a national unity government.”

Ousting Netanyahu isn’t enough for Israel’s Palestinians. They want equality,

Amjad Iraqi writes, “These surprising developments have been praised as major steps towards ‘integrating’ Palestinian citizens into national politics and reigniting the opposition to increasingly hard-right rule. But such claims are seriously flawed. Like much of Israeli politics over the past decade, the value placed on Palestinian voting power has been centred almost exclusively on one issue: ousting Netanyahu. There has been little engagement in Israel or abroad with the community’s larger policy concerns, which include stopping home demolitions and land seizures, eradicating gun violence in Arab towns, revoking dozens of discriminatory laws and ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories. And yet as the Palestinian writer and feminist activist Samah Salaime put it, the Israeli centre-left now thinks that it is the responsibility of Palestinians ‘to take Bibi down – as second-class citizens, but first-class voters’.”

Even if the Settlers' Party Lost, the Settlements Won,

Amira Hass writes, “I wish I could, like Gideon Levy, see the low number of Knesset seats won by Yamina as a defeat for the settlers (‘The mouse that roared,’ September 22). I wish I could share his view of the settlements as a project of the settlers, who are concentrated in this party. I wish I could see them as a minority that craftily created this monster, and is responsible for the ‘most pernicious, destructive project in the history of the state.’ But unfortunately, the settlers are the product, not the creator, of a pernicious policy. It’s the state that holds the copyright on the settlement project.”

Netanyahu’s exit could make it harder to fight occupation from the outside,

“This misplaced optimism contributes to a culture of complacency, which could make Palestinian solidarity much more difficult. To be sure, Netanyahu is a symptom rather than the cause of Israel’s growing contempt for democracy; but through his unabashed racism and embrace of the global far-right, he has become a lightning-rod for anti-occupation activism. Without a cartoon villain to rail against, the energy required to end the occupation is in danger of dissipating. How can we maintain a sense of urgency around the issue?”

Israel Spent Nearly $5 Million on Cameras on Election Day – and Recorded 15 Incidents,

“In response to election transparency concerns that dominated the political agenda – and a Likud campaign warning of mass voter fraud in Arab areas – the committee sent inspectors to nearly every locality in the country on Election Day. Even so, the inspectors only used their body cameras to document 15 incidents.”

Why Bibi’s on Borrowed Time,

“But the prime minister’s political fate and his legal problems will become perilously intertwined on Oct. 2. That’s when a pre-indictment hearing with Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on charges of bribery, breach of trust, and fraud will commence. The hearing will likely overlap with the post-election coalition negotiations—making Netanyahu’s position even more tenuous. ‘The intersection of the judicial and political processes works against Netanyahu,’ said Gayil Talshir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. ‘If Netanyahu is indicted and he fails to create a coalition, then he will be done in the eyes of the Israeli public. For the right wing, Netanyahu, who has always been a magician [of political survival], will become a liability’.”


I was stopped from speaking out against Israel’s crimes – Britain’s complicity in Palestinian repression must end,

“I was set to take part in a Labour Party conference fringe event this weekend talking about my work advocating for Palestinian rights – but was unable to travel to Brighton because of a peculiar delay in the processing of my UK visa application. I suspect that Israel’s far-right government has once again outsourced its desperate war of repression against those supporting Palestinian rights to another western government.”

Supreme Court delays decision on deportation of Human Rights Watch director,

“In a hearing Tuesday, the court appeared to agree with Shakir’s lawyer, who argued that the decision should be postponed until the new government is formed because new officials could have a different perspective on his client’s case.”

U.S. Politics

Can Trump, Evangelicals and Right-wing Jews Really Relate to a post-Netanyahu Israel?,

“A post-Netanyahu Israel won’t quite fit into Trumpworld’s vision of an international alliance of populist conservative governments. Some administration players, like Ambassador Friedman, may also find themselves out of place when forced to be an interlocutor with a government that won’t share his devotion to a Jewish state in all of the land of Israel. But Trump is no more likely to betray an Israel led by Gantz that he was to double-cross Bibi. Nor would a Republican party that is almost unanimous in being lockstep backers of the Jewish state tolerate such a switch. As hard as it is for both right-wingers who love Bibi and liberals who despise Trump to accept it, the president might ultimately be just as comfortable with a Gantz government as he was with Netanyahu.”

At UN, Trump calls on Mideast nations to fully normalize ties with Israel,

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the US president accused Tehran of trafficking in ‘monstrous anti-Semitism’ and engaging in a ‘fanatical quest’ to obtain nuclear weapons. Trump said the rogue regime’s aggression had created newfound regional alliances to counter the Iranian threat. ‘Thankfully, there is a growing recognition in the wider Middle East that the countries of the region share common interest in battling extremism and unleashing economic opportunity,’ Trump said. ‘That is why it’s so important to have full normalized relations between Israel and its neighbors’.”