An abnormal ‘normalization’

Palestine Update 417

An abnormal ‘normalization’
How do you sign a “normalization” deal signifying an end to hostilities with one hand and approve an armament contract even before the ink on the first deal dries?

Diplomacy has assumed outlandish forms. The ‘Deal of the Century’ has gone zigzag all the way. It has now netted three victims by way of arm-twisting and excessive political and economic advantage. The UAE, Bahrain, and The Sudan have fallen right into traps set for them by the US and Israel. The political buzz is that another five countries have been lined up and will sign on the dotted line if only they can somehow push ‘Big Daddy’ Trump into the White House. In fact, an apocryphal story goes thus: if only Trump’s victory had been a certainty, even the Arab League might have merged with Israel and the USA in a deal to thump all other deals. If everything is fair in love and war, everything is fair game in contemporary politics too.  One has seen political ethics touch its lowest ebbs. In the US and Israel, they are fascists. In the Arab countries that have joined in, they are utter dictators with nothing more than contempt for democracy. That saying ‘politics makes strange bedfellows’ has been proven beyond doubt in the Israel-Arab case.

What does it feel to be a Palestinian in these times? Morale-downed! A lack luster Palestinian leadership never showed any real intent to fight back, be pre-emptive or even scare and dare the enemy with counter-offensives. As the puts it, “The key goal of these new alliances is to pressure Palestinians into caving on their central political demands – demands that are rooted in international law and UN resolutions. As far as the Israeli government is concerned, Palestinians, like the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, should settle for “peace for peace”- with no territories handed over, nor a share of Jerusalem, nor an end to military rule, nor repatriation for refugees.”

Much of the news in this issue of Palestine Updates is disparaging. Yet, while the war may not be won by the party that is assaulted, it may well be lost by the party that launched the attack. After all, nothing in the ‘normalization deals’ have any tones of morality in them. Corrupt, cruel dictatorships have now joined hands with fascist-racist Israel and they may all soon find their fingers burned while they hold hands.

Ranjan Solomon

How Israel’s string of peace deals triggered a Mideast arms race

 “Israel has reached three peace agreements over the last six weeks with Arab or Muslim-majority countries. Meanwhile, another five countries are reportedly on their way to signing agreements with Israel, say U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…The agreements are actually being accompanied by increased Israeli defense spending. Perversely, they have created an aggressive new arms race between Israel and its new partners in the Gulf that promises to enrich the U.S. arms industry. Evidence of this will likely emerge on Monday when the ministers committee for procurement meets to discuss what Defense Minister Benny Gantz accomplished during his Washington trip, namely a list of aircraft and other armaments that the United States will generously allow Israel to buy. The shopping list is compensation for Israel’s acceptance of a deal for the U.S. to sell the UAE advanced F-35 fighter jets.”
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Jerusalem mufti says UAE visitors ‘not welcome’
If they come due to normalizing ties with Israel

Visits to the al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem by UAE and Bahraini citizens who have arrived in Israel as part of agreements that exclude Palestinian leaders ”are not welcome”, Jerusalem mufti and Sheikh Muhammed Hussein said Thursday, according to news agency WAFA. He added that they would be considered on a par with ”the soldiers of the occupying power and settlers” and stressed that only pilgrims ”not putting into question Arab and Islamic legitimacy” will be welcomed at the al-Aqsa mosque and not those who come ”through normalisation with the occupying authorities”. With the signing of agreements between Israel and the UAE for direct flights between the two countries, which includes a visa exemption for entering the country, numerous tourists from the Gulf are planning to visit the al-Aqsa mosque complex. Jerusalem’s deputy mayor Fleur Hassan Nahum has recently returned from Dubai and asked the government to increase security measures in that area.

US court grants pro-Palestinian cluster legal win in terror case
“A federal court in Chicago ruled on Tuesday that the two groups – American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Americans for Justice in Palestine (AJP) – are not liable to pay $156m in damages to Stanley and Joyce Boim. The husband and wife were awarded the sum of money after a 2004 court case regarding their son, David Boim, who was fatally shot in 1996 at a bus stop near Jerusalem…Following a three year legal battle, the Chicago court ruled in favour of AMP and AJP, noting that the Boims did not provide concrete evidence that the two organisations were linked to the defunct groups.”

‘Boycott French products’ launched over Macron’s Islam comments
Several Arab trade associations have announced a boycott of French products, in response to recent comments made by President Emmanuel Macron on Islam. Earlier this month, Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France. His backing of satirical outlets publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, has led to a social media campaign calling for the boycott of French products from supermarkets in Arab countries and Turkey.

Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #NeverTheProphet trended across countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In Kuwait, the chairman and members of the board of directors of the Al-Naeem Cooperative Society decided to boycott all French products and to remove them from supermarket shelves. The Dahiyat al-Thuhr association took the same step, saying: “Based on the position of French President Emmanuel Macron and his support for the offensive cartoons against our beloved prophet, we decided to remove all French products from the market and branches until further notice.”

With or without flights to Abu Dhabi, Israel annexed the West Bank long ago
As part of its normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates, Israel has decided, at least for the time being, not to officially annex the West Bank – and remain with the de-facto annexation already in place. The uproar over official annexation subsided, the international community has breathed a sigh of relief, and the Palestinians remain oppressed under occupation, while Israel continues to establish facts on the ground without paying any price.

In “The Annexation That Was And Still Is”, a new position paper issued today, Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem describes how without formal annexation, Israel treats the West Bank as its sovereign territory, acting unilaterally for decades to establish and perpetuate Israeli control over the area. The paper details the many ways in which the West Bank territory has already been annexed de-facto and provides key examples of how Israel continues with its policy even now, after the possibility of official annexation has been shelved.

Supporters of the annexation, and some detractors, maintain that an official annexation will release Israel from the restrictions imposed on it by international law, allow it to apply Israeli law in the West Bank and help it to achieve its goals. Yet even today, for over 50 years, Israel has not considered itself beholden to the provisions of international law – including the basic tenets of the law of occupation designed to protect the Palestinians.

The reality Israel has created in the West Bank cannot be defined as temporary – contrary to the tenets of the laws of occupation. By engineering the space, Israel has radically changed the map of the West Bank to suit its interests, creating contiguity for the settlements and pushing Palestinians into scores of isolated, crowded enclaves.


Ramzy and Zarefah Baroud on Gaza’s History of Resistance
The Gaza Strip has been made into an Israeli combat zone with the decided aim of crushing Palestinian resistance. Israeli weapons, most of which are courtesy of Washington, have for, at least, 14 years turned Gaza into the world’s largest open air prison. Neither prison nor siege has ended the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Palestinians in Gaza, as elsewhere, are determined to claim their rights, no matter how high the price. The discussion touches on the stories of real Palestinians who have paid a high price for their resistance, in all of its forms.
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Israeli High Court’s Ruling on Palestinian Hunger Striker Is No Surprise
“The number of administrative detainees has been more or less constant over the last few years, about 350. It’s a convenient arrangement: It saves the system the headache of convening a military court, the calling of witnesses, providing evidence, moving people around. But this can’t be stated openly. Even in today’s Israel, more complacent than ever with regard to the implications of ruling over another people, the Shin Bet cannot openly declare that this is what security forces do in every military, dictatorial, authoritarian regime that rules over subjects who did not elect it. That’s why the Shin Bet poses as an omniscient god. And with god, you don’t argue. As an omniscient entity, the Shin Bet knew in early October that by November 26 Akhras would no longer pose a danger to security. How? On October 12, it suggested that he stop his strike in exchange for a promise to release him in two months, unless “new information” about him showed up. Akhras rejected the offer, and no miracle happened. Apparently the judges never wondered what kind of security risk includes an expiration date.”

The Israeli right’s new vision of Jewish political supremacy

Many commentators believe that over the past decade, a new trend has emerged within the dominant stream of the Israeli political right: the nation, rather than the land, is now at the heart of right-wing discourse. The territorial discourse concerning Greater Israel — that the State of Israel should control the entirety of the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea — has weakened at the expense of a nationalist and ethnocentric discourse. And although the settler right did not initiate this narrative, it has pushed it along considerably in recent years.

This has manifested in the progression of anti-democratic legislation, incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel and left-wing organizations and activists, and in emphasizing the idea of the “Jewish state.” An array of right-wing organizations — including the Institute for Zionist Strategy (2005), Im Tirzu (2006), The Jewish Statesmanship Center (2007), My Israel (2010), Kohelet Forum (2012), and others which were formed in the wake of the Second Intifada and the Gaza disengagement — contributed to this shift. The culmination of this process was the passing of the Jewish Nation-State Law in the Knesset in July 2018.