Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 30, 2019

What We’re Reading

FMEP Resources

Settlement Report,

On September 15th – two days before elections — the Israeli security cabinet voted to start the process of legalizing the Mevo’ot Yericho outpost, located just north of Jericho in the Jordan Valley. If given final authorization by the next Israeli government, Mevo’ot Yericho will be the sixth official new settlement established by the state of Israel since it signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

Backing Benny Gantz Won’t Help Palestinians,

Yara Hawari writes, “While Netanyahu and Gantz had it out over who could do worse things to the Palestinians in the 1967 occupied territories, the Joint List, a coalition of the Palestinian Arab Parties inside Israel, has once again gained traction—finishing as the third-largest party in the country. Unfortunately, by backing Gantz for prime minister, they have polarized Palestinians and given Gantz’s party far more than the voters who backed the Joint List.”

Israel Is Deporting Critics Like Omar Shakir. But It Can’t Hide The Occupation Forever.,

Libby Lenkinski writes, “What’s more, this legal sleight-of-hand, this attempt to hide the occupation and its human rights abuses behind a BDS bogeyman, simply won’t work. Because Israel’s human rights community and America’s progressive Jewish supporters will continue to tell these stories, even if Shakir is no longer able to do so. We care too much about Israel’s future to ignore them.”

Israel Canceled the FIFA Palestine Cup for No Apparent Reason,

“There has been no public reason given by the Israeli government for canceling the permits, although in previous months they have used the opaque phrase “security concerns” without specifying what “security concerns” a soccer team could possibly hold. The treatment of the team however is all too familiar to the 2 million people in Gaza who basically live in an open-air prison, with access to the West Bank on offer only if allowed by the Israeli state.”

The Gazans who will live and die without ever seeing Palestine,

“To unpack this divide and rule paradigm on a more personal level, think about how, since my birth, Israel decided in its population registry that I belong to the Gaza enclave. As a result, I am, by default, never allowed to move to, or even visit (unless I have cancer) the other Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, let alone see or visit Israel itself.”

Open your eyes in Hebron and see the whole of the occupation,

“First-time visitors to the Jewish settlement in Hebron’s ancient city center might feel as though they have stepped into the heart of darkness. This is where the Israeli military occupation’s policies have reached the pinnacle of barbarism: regiments of soldiers are deployed to protect 700 Jewish settlers who live in an enclave that has been turned into a site of urban collapse as a consequence of the army’s security measures. The 200,000 Palestinians residents of the city can do nothing to counter the oppressive measures that make their lives all-but unbearable.”

West Bank terror bombing suspect in critical condition after interrogation,

“According to the Haaretz newspaper, which first reported on him being hospitalized, the Shin Bet was given legal permission to employ ‘extraordinary measures’ in its interrogation of Arbid. Such measures can include forcing prisoners into uncomfortable positions, sleep deprivation, shackling and subjecting prisoners to extreme temperatures.”

Israel displaces Al-Araqeeb villagers for 162nd time,

“Israeli authorities yesterday demolished all the homes and tents in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb in the Negev desert for the 162th time, displacing its residents. According to local sources, Israeli police forces and employees from the Bedouin development authority, which is responsible for such demolitions, stormed the village and forcibly removed the residents from their homes before razing their homes.”

Israel, Hamas work quietly together on development projects for Gaza,

“The contents of these contacts are fascinating. They are not about the timing of a cease-fire, for example, but rather detailed technical plans exchanged between the sides. On one side is Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, and on the other, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar. ‘No one should be shocked at the fact that each side knows exactly with whom it is dealing on the other side while conducting contacts through a third party,’ a Civil Administration security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. According to the official, projects such as water desalination, rehabilitation of Gaza’s water pipelines and sewage system, establishment of industrial zones and upgrading of the power network are being advanced through Israel-Hamas cooperation. Sinwar knows exactly who is behind the plans, and Abu Rokon knows exactly who gives the green light for them to be carried out.”

Donor countries stand by UN Palestinian refugee agency despite corruption probe,

“Safadi said the donors agreed on the need to renew the agency’s three-year mandate when it expires later this year. He said several donors had made financial pledges, but he could not offer a number until the UN officials work out which pledges were new and which were just a reaffirmation of past commitments. The meeting comes at a particularly fraught time for the agency, which has served Palestinian refugees across the region since 1949.”

Palestinian Politics

Abbas Says He Will Announce First Palestinian Elections Since 2006,

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced Thursday that he will set a date for elections in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza during his speech before the United Nations General Assembly.”

Israeli Elections & Politics

No, Israeli Democracy Is Not ‘Fine’,

Peter Beinart writes, “Israeli democracy is not doing fine. It’s not doing fine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where millions of Palestinians who live under Israeli control cannot vote in Israeli elections. (Yes, Israel controls Gaza). And it’s not even doing fine inside Israel proper. The problem isn’t merely Netanyahu. In many ways, he’s a symptom. The deeper malady is that Palestinians — even Palestinians who live inside the green line and can thus vote in Israeli elections — aren’t considered equal citizens. If they were, Netanyahu would likely be gone by now.”

U.S. Politics

As the White House Holds Back on Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Concerned Senators Step In,

“In the absence of White House involvement, AIPAC went into action in an attempt to avert a deterioration in the security situation in Israel and the territories: Officials from the pro-Israel lobby in Washington were in contact with senators from both parties in recent weeks to ensure that U.S. aid to the PA’s security forces would be assured in the next budget – and those moves apparently had the quiet but emphatic support of senior security officials in Israel. The Senate’s annual budget proposal, released this week, includes a $75-million allocation for the PA’s security units – double what the United States transferred to them in the previous year. Signing off on the proposal is Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), who is known for his consistent support of Israel. Graham pushed for this significant allotment for the Palestinian forces despite attempts during the past year by right-wingers in the U.S. to end all American aid to the Palestinians – even at the cost of an economic and security debacle in the West Bank.”

Anti-Free Speech/Anti-BDS/Pro-Settlement Lawfare

Hillel vs. Academic Freedom,

“For years now, pro-Israel Jewish groups have fought to restrict the academic freedom of federally funded international studies programs, all in the name of tamping down scholarly criticism of Israel. The Trump administration’s close alliance with the Jewish right, driven above all by an uncompromisingly pro-Israel foreign policy, has only exacerbated this effort, which now poses a serious challenge to scholars. Hillel’s support for the Department of Education’s intervention in North Carolina is a case study in how mainstream Jewish institutions are aiding and abetting right-wing threats to free speech, in spite of the preferences of most Jewish voters.”