Trump administration sends mixed messages on Jerusalem

What We’re Reading

US-Israeli/Palestinian relations

Trump's National Security Adviser Refuses Twice to Say Western Wall Is Part of Israel,

Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, twice refused to say whether the Western Wall, which the president is set to visit next week, is part of Israel. Trump is not planned on being accompanied by any Israeli politicians on his visit to the holy site (Ha’aretz). Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the UN Nikkey Haley said on Tuesday that the Western Wall is part of Israel (Jpost).

New US envoy: America won't demand a settlement freeze,

“We have no demand for a settlement freeze,” David Friedman, the new U.S. ambassador to Israel told Israel Hayom in an exclusive interview this week.

Trump Committed to Moving Embassy to Jerusalem by Term's End, U.S. Officials Tell Israel,

U.S. President Donald Trump remains committed to moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, even if he extends at the end of the month the presidential order freezing the implementation of the law calling for it, senior U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts in recent days.

Report: Israel source of intel Trump leaked to Russians,

According to reports, “a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information” has revealed Israel was the initial source of the intelligence (Jpost). Israeli intelligence appears to be reassessing what information they choose to share with the US (ToI).

The Wall, the Embassy and Now the Intel: What Else Can Go Wrong Ahead of Trump's Israel Visit?,

“Trump administration’s flip flops, stumbles, and sins could present an opportunity for Netanyahu in his time of need,” writes Allison Sommer.

Occupation/Human rights

Does Israel Really Need Nuclear Weapons?,

“Fireworks aside, the Israeli nuclear program may not have made much difference at all, either to Israel’s security or to regional nonproliferation efforts,” writes Robert Farley.

Israelis set up new illegal outpost in northern Jordan Valley,

A group of Israeli settlers have reportedly begun setting up an illegal outpost in the northeastern occupied West Bank district of Tubas, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Tuesday.

[Arabic] Israel arrests seven Palestinian customs officers,

Israeli soldiers arrested seven Palestinian customs officers east of Nablus on Tuesday. The arrest occurred after the officers stopped a truck delivering produce from the Israeli settlement of Itamar that lacked transport documents.

Opinion: Teaching Israeli children Arabic should be elementary,

“A new study shows that Jewish Israeli teens who studied Arabic in elementary school have a better appreciation for Arab society later on. As the government continues its attacks on Arabic, it is imperative that teachers and parents fight to ensure children learn the language,” writes Gil Gertel.

Israel is still unable to deal with the catastrophe of 1948,

“The fact that Israel is unable to swallow or get rid of the territories it occupied in 1967, makes it far more difficult for the state to recognize the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians during the 1948 War,” writes Oren Barak.

Israeli politics

Likud activists sign petition calling for West Bank annexation,

Some 800 members of the ruling Likud party’s top decision-making body, its Central Committee, signed a petition Wednesday calling for a vote within 30 days on support for annexing the West Bank.

Israel's anti-BDS Ministry Pushes to Keep Its Activities Secret,

The Strategic Affairs Ministry circulated on Tuesday draft legislation that would exclude its activities from provisions of the Freedom of Information law. The draft legislation is meant to ensure the confidentiality of the ministry’s activities against the BDS movement and foreign groups working to promote a boycott of Israel, also those carried out clandestinely through non-governmental groups for Israel on campuses abroad and elsewhere.

Israeli police probing Uri Ariel,

The Israeli state comptroller has charged that Ariel reallocated funds meant for underfunded periphery communities to religious- Zionist communities in Tel Aviv and other central locations.

Palestinian politics

[Arabic] Palestinian security forces arrest university students demonstrating in front of Israeli checkpoint,

Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank on Tuesday arrested several Bir Zeit students who were demonstrating in front of the “Beit El” checkpoint north of the Palestinian town of Bira. The arrest came on the same day that the Fatah leadership in the West Bank called on Palestinians to go on strike and shut down settler roads [Arabic] (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida) in the West Bank during the ongoing Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.

[Arabic] Fatah official: Hamas must relinquish control of Gaza,

Azzam Al-Ahmad, the Fatah official in charge of reconciliation talks with Hamas, told Voice of Palestine on Tuesday that he hoped Hamas would relinquish control of the Gaza Strip.


Gaza citizens remain biggest losers of decade-long intra-Palestinian political dispute,

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree exempting Gazans from fees for services that the Palestinian Authority provides, and that the Hamas-run treasury collects.

ICRC: 'Crisis is looming' in Gaza amid ongoing fuel and power shortages,

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released a statement on Monday, warning of the “critical” situation in Gaza, caused by the severe power and fuel shortages that have thrown the besieged coastal enclave into political and economic crisis in recent months.

[Arabic] Gaza faces food security crisis,

Civil society groups and development agencies in the Gaza Strip warned on Wednesday of an impending food security crisis.