The confusions of Israeli politics

Palestine Update 437

The confusions of Israeli politics

Israel’s political character is suddenly moving into a new kind of political opportunism. The spate of ‘normalizations’ with countries with which it had no formal relationships came thick and fast. But it must be said that these Arab countries have, for a while, had some tacit agreements with Israel. The formalization of relationships was only a matter of timing and opportunity. Yet, the logic of normalization does not stand on firm grounds. They have been built on sheer opportunism. Nor have the Arab Streets willingly and wholeheartedly embraced these deals.

Sudan is a case in point. For decades together, Sudan was a sheer enemy to the US and, by extension, to Israel tool. We now hear differently. Israel does not intend to deport Sudanese asylum seekers after signing its normalization agreement with Khartoum. There is contradiction between the head of the Population and Immigration Authority and other senior officials who have asserted over the past few months that an agreement would make it easier to deport them.Moreover, there is strong opposition on- the- ground within Sudan.

To watch Israel’s double standards playing out in the global political arena only to score political points and gain new political capital by advancing its designs for a Greater Israel is dangerously pathetic. It is hard to predict how far the ‘normalizations’ will go and what new crises can potentially emerge from them.  Under Trump’s last minute deals, the countries that have signed ‘normalization agreements’ have also signed deals for armaments.It begs the question : Is a militarized region safer for peace? is it more likely now that dissenters of the regime end up weakened ?

Settlers, for example, will not easily countenance, the Arab even though the business dimensions of the deals bring gains to both sides. Still, nothing is certain. A newly launched ‘Young Settlements Forum’ has called for a hunger strike, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abandon his rapprochement with the Arab public and advance instead the legalizing of 70 wildcat outposts in the West Bank. How can thriving racism co-habit with normalization and the search for authentic peace?

Barak Ravid, a political reporter,  spoke to a liberal Zionist organization and told an audience of American Jews an important political truth: The reason Israel is going to a fourth election in March, and probably a fifth after that, is that Israeli Jewish politicians on the “center-left” refuse to become prime minister with the support of Palestinian voters.

Ravid also the Israel Policy Forum that “Israeli government plans to annex the West Bank are now “dead” because of the opposition of Biden to such plans. This was the achievement of the Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party, when it flexes its muscle”, he added. Indeed, Israeli politics borders on political absurdity. Isa Amrao, an activist who leads the ‘Youth Against Settlement’ Movement has been sentenced and the breaking news reported his words: “I was convicted on 6 military charges. The judge said I am not allowed to protest peacefully without a permit from the occupation forces….they mentioned that to me”.

The stories that follow demonstrate just how Israeli political space is full of contradictions and devoid of ethics and sound democratic standards.

Ranjan Solomon

Ir Amim with Sheikh Jarrah residents submit legal petition

On December 27, Ir Amim, together with the Sheikh Jarrah community association, representing residents of the Um Haroun section of the neighborhood, filed a legal petition to the Israeli High Court against the General Custodian, which sits within the Ministry of Justice. Sheikh Jarrah, along with Silwan on the opposite edge of the Old City Basin, is a site of concerted ideological settler activity, marked by numerous settler-initiated eviction demands against Palestinian families with the assistance of state authorities, including the General Custodian. Approximately 40 families in the Um Haroun section of Sheikh Jarrah and an estimated 35 more families in the Kerem Al’ajoni section are at risk of eviction. The petition concerns the General Custodian’s absence of written and published procedures regarding the management of assets in East Jerusalem and the manner in which it exercises its authority under the Legal and Administrative Matters Law of 1970. In East Jerusalem specifically, the General Custodian is the Israeli body responsible for managing properties which were owned by Jews in East Jerusalem prior to 1948.

Properties which belonged to Jews in East Jerusalem before the 1948 War and subsequently controlled by the Jordanian authorities between 1948 and 1967 were transferred into the management of the General Custodian following the 1967 War and the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem. For decades, ideological settler organizations have exploited these legal mechanisms and the support they enjoy from state bodies like the General Custodian to advance evictions of Palestinians and takeovers of their homes as a means to establish settler strongholds in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods.

Although the petition stresses the implicit discrimination in the law, the petition itself does not address its unconstitutionality, but rather the General Custodian’s obligation to operate in a transparent, fair, and ethical manner within the existing framework. As noted in the petition, in 2017 the East Jerusalem portfolio was transferred with no clear explanation into the Custodian’s economic unit, which was at the time overseen by rightwing activist, Hananel Gurfinkel, known for his support of Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.

In the absence of clear published procedures, the General Custodian can continue to facilitate evictions of Palestinians in favor of settler groups with no accountability, transparency and proper governance, while the rights of Palestinian families, many of whom enjoy protected tenancy status, are severely infringed upon.

The aim of the petition is to therefore challenge, within the existing legal framework, the severe misconduct of the General Custodian in its complicity with settler-initiated eviction lawsuits and to ultimately facilitate the freeze of these eviction proceedings.


PA hopes Biden will shun law deeming PLO ‘terrorist’ –
“With just three weeks until US President-elect Joe Biden enters the White House, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is putting together a strategy for a reset of ties with Washington after three years of boycotting the Trump administration. The centerpiece of the effort will be convincing the Biden administration to designate as unconstitutional congressional legislation from 1987 that labeled the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) “and its affiliates” a terror group, senior Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel. They hope that doing so will set the stage for a renewed bilateral relationship — one in which Ramallah is viewed as a more equal partner, and that isn’t entirely tied to the peace process with Israel.”

Israeli settlers damage land and vandalize homes in West Bank
Israeli settlers launched a wave of separate attacks on Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank on Monday, with cars, homes and farmland vandalised, according to local media. On Monday morning damaged Palestinian vehicles and homes in Sarta village, close to the West Bank city of Salfit. A group of settlers threw stones at several houses and cars, while slashing the tyres of other vehicles in the village. Another group of settlers threw rocks at vehicles with Palestinian registration plates travelling along Road 465, north of Ramallah. Israeli settlers also reportedly uprooted Palestinian farmland in Khirbet Al-Farisiya in the northern Jordan Valley.

Aref Daraghmeh, a local Palestinian activist, told the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official news agency WAFA that settlers used bulldozers to level large areas of agricultural land, owned by local Palestinians, in Al-Farisiya. The Jordan Valley, which is a fertile strip of land running west along the Jordan River, is home to about 65,000 Palestinians and makes up approximately 30 percent of the West Bank. Overnight on Monday, Israeli forces attacked a Palestinian hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem by storming the centre and fired “concussion grenades” into the hospital. Director of the Thabet Government Hospital, Haitham Shadeed, told WAFA that he and the medical staff were left shocked when Israeli forces raided the hospital courtyard and the Outpatient Clinics Section’s waiting room at 3:30am.

In Canada, the IHRA definition is stifling pro-Palestinian voices
In 2019, under the guise of combating racism and bigotry, Canada adopted the highly problematic definition of antisemitism promulgated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which conflates political criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry. Under this working definition, legitimate critiques of Israel and its policies, such as “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” may be condemned as antisemitic. Many critics have rightly warned that these provisions threaten the free speech rights of Canadians and will likely be used to silence criticism of Israel.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month named former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler as Canada’s first special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism. Cotler’s first responsibility will be leading the Canadian delegation to next year’s IHRA conference, where member states will be discussing the alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

 “The IHRA definition will have a deleterious effect on free speech and pro-Palestinian activism because we can already see it happening in the United Kingdom and the United States. And it is no coincidence that, in Canada, the definition is emerging in the context of an increasingly hostile environment toward critics of Israel. Ontario was the first Canadian province to adopt the IHRA definition in October through an Order in Council — a legislative move that skipped the important step of public hearings to debate the decision.

US guns aim at Palestinian kids; Washington won’t take them back
“This worsening pattern of Israeli forces becoming more trigger-prone with live ammunition did not emerge in a vacuum. Since 2013, Israeli authorities have issued indictments against Israeli soldiers in only three out of 155 killings of Palestinian children. And while public pressure calling for Israeli authorities to conduct investigations into killings of Palestinian children are important, we know that Israeli investigations are rarely independent or impartial. This near-complete lack of accountability — such that systemic impunity for Israeli crimes is the norm for Palestinian children — has directly fostered the violent conditions we see on the ground…Congress must not rely on Israeli authorities to investigate themselves, and it is beyond time to end unconditional funding to Israel. McCollum has urged the incoming Biden administration to investigate Ali’s killing and declared, “Committing human rights abuses with impunity and with U.S. taxpayer aid is intolerable and there must be accountability on the part of the U.S. Government.”


Guess who’s in Charge of Whitewashing Israeli Settlements
“Just before they disappear, to become a historical footnote, the explainers of Kahol Lavan are working overtime to try to convince us that liberal voters will “miss us yet,” because they were the only ones who prevented a great harm to Israeli democracy. They don’t see that in fact they repeatedly sugarcoated that harm. Self-deception, as Hannah Arendt once wrote about the Pentagon Papers – “The deceivers started with self-deception” – is a fundamental prerequisite for being able to deceive the rest of us.”


Moroccan Islamists say Western Sahara comes before Palestinian cause 
“The General Secretariat of Morocco’s Justice and Development Party has decided to support King Mohammed VI’s decision to normalise relations with Israel. The Islamist party said that the Western Sahara file comes before the Palestinian cause. According to Hespress, a special meeting of the party secretariat on Sunday evening concluded that the party will stand by the decision of the monarch. The website quoted a senior party official as saying that all members of the secretariat agreed on the slogan ‘The national cause first and the Palestinian cause always’.