Top news stories from Israel/Palestine: February 8, 2019

What We’re Reading

US-Israeli/Palestinian relations

PeaceCast: The Anatomy of ATCA,

FMEP’s Lara Friedman and APN’s Debra Shushan drill down on the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, better known by its acronym ATCA, a piece of legislation that threatens US humanitarian aid to conflict areas, including the West Bank and Gaza.

The Anti-Terrorism Price Tag,

Clean water and Israeli-Palestinian coexistence efforts become collateral damage of new Trump administration legislation.

Palestinian Authority brands US-led Middle East meeting an ‘American conspiracy’,

The Palestinian Authority rejected Thursday a US-led conference on Middle East peace and security due to take place next week in Warsaw, branding it an “American conspiracy.”

Why these Democratic presidential hopefuls say they voted no on an anti-BDS bill,

The five no voters based their opposition to what has been called an “anti-BDS bill” on free speech concerns about its anti-boycott element, which would provide federal protections for states penalizing boycotters.

Kushner to visit Middle East to garner backing for peace plan,

The trip – which includes stops in Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, is aimed at building support for the initiative which Kushner has been tasked with leading.

Occupation/Human rights

Small Businesses, Big Dreams,

A new report from Israeli NGO (and FMEP grantee) Gisha looks at small businesses operating in Gaza’s private sector against the backdrop of the dire economic situation there.

Israel Builds Settlements While Razing Palestinian Homes. If That’s Not Apartheid, What Is?,

In 16 years Israel approved just 4 percent of Palestinian building requests, while annually issuing 1,000 demolition orders. The High Court of Justice has never debated a Palestinian petition against such an order.

Wiped Off the Map: Railway Plan Skips Arab Towns, Leaves 180,000 Without Transport Solution,

The plan excludes residents of Wadi Ara, most of whom work in other cities and commute daily through heavy traffic.

Russia not planning to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,

Russia is not going to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Russian Ambassador to that country Anatoly Viktorov said in an interview with TASS.

Austrian President Opposes Jerusalem Embassy Move in Ramallah Visit,

Alexander Van der Bellen said following a meeting with Palestinian President Abbas he supports the two-state solution and UNRWA’s activity.

Israeli politics

Gantz's Party Says It Won't Freeze Settlement Construction, Won't Build 'Wildly' to Foil Peace,

Hosen L’Yisrael, the political party of former Israeli army chief-of-staff Benny Gantz, won’t freeze construction in West Bank settlements but will also not build “wildly” in order to foil diplomatic opportunities, and will strive for peace with states in the region, it said Friday in a statement .

Netanyahu whitewashing far-right activists,

The Likud has urged the Jewish Home party to join forces with Otzma Leyisrael to prevent the weakening of the Israeli right in the upcoming elections. Otzma Leyisrael consists of the disciples of Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party platform called for a forceful expulsion of Israel’s Arab citizens.

What We're Watching

Thinking bigger about Israel’s role in a changing Middle East,

The New Israel Fund and the Foundation for Middle East Peace sponsored a conversation on Israel’s role in a changing Middle East with Israeli scholars Elizabeth Tsurkov and Dr. Assaf David. Tsurkov and David are members of the NIF funded organization The Forum for Regional Thinking, working to transform Israeli public discourse on the Middle East.