Israel, Palestine/Gaza May 2022 –

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14 September 2022
Two years on, what is the state of the Abraham Accords?
By Gerald M. Feierstein, Yoel Guzansky
(MEI) Two years after the Sept. 15, 2020, signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized diplomatic relations among Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and, potentially, Sudan, progress in developing relations has achieved mixed results. As anticipated, normalization has opened new opportunities for defense and security cooperation, especially among Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE, which share a common perspective on the security threat posed by Iran. The subsequent agreement to organize the Negev Forum, which also folded Egypt into the Abraham Accords coalition, offered additional possibilities for cooperation on shared interests, including energy, food and water security, health, and other issues
But there are shortcomings in the level of cooperation as well. Most notably, despite the initial goal of the Arab organizers, cooperation among Israel and its Arab partners has failed to produce tangible improvements in the Israeli-Palestinian calculus.

Israel carries out airstrikes on Gaza Strip
Israeli army confirms ‘striking in the Gaza Strip’ early on Thursday, hours after it said it intercepted a rocket fired from the Palestinian territory
(The Guardian) Israel conducted airstrikes on the central Gaza Strip early on Thursday, according to journalists and witnesses, hours after the military said it intercepted a rocket fired from the Palestinian territory.
New rounds of rockets were fired from Gaza after these strikes, and fresh explosions could be heard from Gaza City about 3.15am local time, Agence France-Presse journalists reported
What did Blinken accomplish in Israel? More stealth progress on Israeli-Arab normalization
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Israel at the end of January was planned in one context, took place in another, and managed to move the ball on yet a third. The US-Israel agenda is broad these days, covering a range of crises, challenges, and opportunities. On this visit, some issues made headlines. Others, such as Israeli-Arab normalization, made progress behind the scenes.

1 February
Netanyahu’s coalition isn’t built to last: Expect high sparks within and fragile prospects for Israel’s incoming government
By Shalom Lipner
Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellow Shalom Lipner examines the conventional wisdom predicting the new ruling cohort will operate as a unified, conservative bloc, arguing instead that such a prognosis denies sufficient attention to the nuanced differences between the various players in the governing bloc. Rather, Lipner’s new Issue Brief contends that the coalition’s divergent priorities reveal an underestimated fragility that will threaten the government’s prospects. Pundits should expect a contest between Netanyahu’s coalition partners over the direction and soul of the government.

31 January
Escalating violence and right-wing provocations are threatening Netanyahu’s Abraham Accords agenda
By Alissa Pavia
(Atlantic Council) Netanyahu has far greater plans for Israel than solely steering the country to the far right on domestic issues. Internationally, Netanyahu’s most ambitious goal is to expand the Abraham Accords’ reach to include Saudi Arabia, a once far-fetched notion that has become more realistic given the two countries’ recent rapprochement. Normalization would be a major diplomatic win for Netanyahu, as it would help define his legacy, bring about enormous economic gains for the region, and pave the way for other Arab and Muslim-majority countries to normalize ties with the Jewish state. Netanyahu has made this point clear time and time again, most recently stating that normalization with Saudi Arabia would be a “quantum leap” for peace with Palestinians and pressuring the Biden administration to move past the murder of Saudi journalist (and US resident) Jamal Khashoggi and “reaffirm” its alliance with Saudi Arabia.
Whether Saudi Arabia also intends to negotiate a peace deal with Israel is the multi-billion-dollar question. The kingdom certainly views the deal as advantageous, first and foremost for security reasons.

Blinken criticises settlements but stresses US support for Israel
(Al Jazeera) After meeting Palestinian President Abbas, top US diplomat says Washington’s immediate priority is to defuse tensions.
In rare — albeit implicit — criticism of Israel, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called out Israeli policies, including settlement expansion and home demolitions, as detrimental to the two-state solution.
Successive US administrations, including that of President Joe Biden, have maintained unconditional support for Israel as they rhetorically back the two-state solution — a prospect that many experts say is no longer realistic because of Israel’s settlement policies.
“I reaffirmed to Israel and its people the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. The rising tide of violence has resulted in the loss of many innocent lives on both sides,” Blinken said on Tuesday.
Blinken Meets With Palestinian Leader After Surge in Violence
Following talks with Israeli officials in Jerusalem, the U.S. secretary of state met the Palestinian leadership in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah amid a sharp rise in tensions in the region.

30 January
(GZERO) In what’s broadly believed to have been an Israeli attack, three drones hit an Iranian ammunition factory in the central city of Isfahan, Iran, on Saturday night. Iranian state media said damage to the site was “minor,” but phone footage suggests that the compound – used to produce advanced weapons and home to its Nuclear Fuel Research and Production Center – took a serious blow. An oil refinery in the country’s northwest also broke out in flames on Saturday, though the cause remains unknown. Then, on Sunday night, a weapons convoy traveling from Syria to Iraq was also targeted by airstrikes. US reports attributed the Isfahan attack to Israel – which has in the past targeted nuclear sites in Natanz and hit Iranian convoys transporting weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. This comes after Russia purchased hundreds of Iranian-made “suicide drones,” which it has used to pummel Ukrainian cities. While the deepening military alliance between Iran and Russia is a growing concern for Washington, it’s unclear whether Uncle Sam played a role in the Isfahan hit – or whether Israel, which has to date refused to deliver heavy arms to Kyiv, agreed to carry out this attack in part to frustrate Iranian drone deliveries to the Russians. The escalation comes just days after CIA Director William Burns flew to Israel for meetings with his Israeli counterparts – and as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Israel and the West Bank this week. Crucially, it highlights the increasing overlap between Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the longtime shadow war between Iran and Israel.
Israel and Palestine: what has caused violence to flare up again?
Deadly attacks in recent days raise fear of spiralling bloodshed, with support for moribund ‘peace process’ at all-time low
Why is this happening now?
Attempting to mark the beginning of a flare-up in a crisis that stretches back over generations is a near-impossible task. Still, current tensions have risen since last spring, when the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) launched Operation Breakwater – one of its most extensive campaigns outside wartime – after a surge in Palestinian knife and gun attacks.
Breakwater, which focuses on Palestinian armed groups in Jenin and Nablus, has so far contributed to the highest death toll in Israel and the West Bank since the second intifada ended in 2005, with about 150 Palestinians and 30 Israelis killed in 2022.
…hope for a resolution for Palestinians living under occupation for more than half a century is at possibly the lowest point it has ever been, especially after the former US president Donald Trump encouraged Israel’s government to solidify its grip on the Palestinian territories. Newly released polling shows that support for the moribund “peace process” has reached an all-time low.
Peaceful Palestinian attempts to end Israel’s occupation have been repeatedly and successfully suppressed, and many young people in the occupied territories believe the only alternative is to take up arms. Meanwhile, Palestine’s political leaders in the West Bank are unaccountable and regularly accused of colluding with Israel.

29 January
Israel Launched Drone Attack on Iranian Facility, Officials Say
While the target’s purpose is unclear, the city of Isfahan is a major center of Iranian missile production, research and development.
A drone attack on an Iranian military facility that resulted in a large explosion in the center of the city of Isfahan on Saturday was the work of the Mossad, Israel’s premier intelligence agency, according to senior intelligence officials who were familiar with the dialogue between Israel and the United States about the incident.

Netanyahu gives Israelis ‘green light to shoot Palestinians’
Israeli PM’s plan to expedite gun permits for Israelis gives the go-ahead to inflict more violence on Palestinians, analysts say.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinians across West Bank as escalation looms
A Palestinian man was killed near a settlement in the West Bank overnight Saturday, and at least 144 Israeli settler attacks were reported on Saturday across the West Bank, the occupied territory that Palestinians envision as part of their future state. In Masafer Yatta, in the south, settlers assaulted a Palestinian man; in two villages near Ramallah, masked attackers torched a house and a car and threw stones; in Nablus, settlers uprooted nearly 200 trees. Outside of the northern village of Akraba, dozens of settlers established a new, unauthorized outpost, then attacked the Palestinian landowners who arrived at the scene and injured a medic who came to assist the injured, according to Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group. The report added that the Israeli military did not intervene.

26-27 January
Gunman kills 7 people in occupied East Jerusalem attack
Shooting follows a deadly Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp that killed nine Palestinians.
A gunman has killed seven people near a synagogue in an Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem before being fatally shot, in an escalation of violence following a deadly Israeli military raid in the West Bank a day earlier.
Israel army kills 10 Palestinians, including elderly woman
At least 20 others were injured with live ammunition during a large-scale raid on Jenin refugee camp.

18-22 January
Netanyahu Fires a Top Minister to Comply With a Supreme Court Ruling
Aryeh Deri, who has a conviction for tax fraud, was deemed unfit to serve in the government, leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a legal and political predicament
(NYT) … Addressing the cabinet after the letter was read out, Mr. Deri said, “I have an iron commitment to the 400,000 people who voted for me and Shas,” according to Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster. “No judicial decision will prevent me from serving them and representing them,” he said, adding, “I intend to continue to contribute with all my might to the public and the coalition.”
A veteran politician, Mr. Deri was one of the most experienced and politically moderate ministers in what has shaped up to be the most far-right and religiously conservative coalition in Israel’s history. The 11 seats that Shas won in the November elections are crucial to the government’s majority in the 120-member Parliament; the coalition parties together control 64 seats.
In another sign of the troubles already facing Mr. Netanyahu’s young government, a far-right party, Religious Zionism, boycotted Sunday’s cabinet meeting in protest against a decision on Friday by the defense minister to demolish a wildcat outpost that settlers had erected in the occupied West Bank. The leader of Religious Zionism, Bezalel Smotrich, demanded authority over such actions as part of his coalition agreement with Mr. Netanyahu, but the transfer of such authority from the defense minister and the military would require legislation and is not yet in effect.

Huge protest in Israel over rightwing government’s judicial changes
Estimated 100,000 people took to streets in Tel Aviv in what protesters described as ‘fight for Israel’s destiny’
The Tel Aviv protest, along with smaller demonstrations in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba, were sparked by fears that the far-reaching proposals undermine democratic norms. Since Israel has no formal constitution, the supreme court plays an important role in keeping government ministers in check.

19 January
Israel’s Judicial Standoff Deepens as Netanyahu Delays Firing Minister
The Israeli prime minister has yet to uphold a decision by the Supreme Court that a key government minister convicted of tax fraud should be dismissed.
(NYT) It was not clear Thursday whether Mr. Netanyahu would ignore the court’s decision, setting off a constitutional crisis, or find a way of upholding it without collapsing his government.
Following the court’s announcement, the leaders of Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition issued an ambiguous statement, promising to “correct the injustice” of the ruling but leaving open the possibility that Mr. Deri might still resign.
18 January
Major Israeli Supreme Court ruling rocks Netanyahu’s coalition
(Axios) The Israeli Supreme Court in a 10-1 ruling revoked the appointment of Aryeh Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and a key ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a senior minister in the government.
Why it matters: The decision could dramatically escalate the constitutional crisis in Israel and accelerate the government’s effort to push forward its plan for weakening Israel’s judicial system.
It could also create a political crisis that would likely destabilize the coalition.

17 January
Over 90 UN Member States Condemn Israel’s Sanctions Against Palestinian Authority
Israel’s new government kicked off the year by slapping a series of sanctions on the PA in response to its request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Israel’s occupation
(Haaretz) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government kicked off the new year by slapping a series of sanctions on the PA following the passing of the resolution, including the freezing of Palestinian construction plans in the West Bank and transferring tens of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenue to the Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks’ families.
Over 90 member states issued a statement to “to call for their immediate reversal.” Germany was notably among four European Union states who signed onto the statement despite voting against the initial UN resolution to refer the question of Israel’s occupation to the ICJ.
Under Existential Threat, Israel’s Attorney General May Finally Rule Netanyahu Unfit to Be PM
The legal foundation for removing Netanyahu from office was laid in 2020 by the previous attorney general. The PM’s escalating efforts to destroy Israel’s rule of law could force his successor’s hand to take an unprecedented step

15 January
Netanyahu defiant despite protests against Israel judicial reform
Opponents say changes would cripple judicial independence, foster corruption, set back minority rights.

14 January
Tens of thousands of Israelis protest Netanyahu’s legal reforms
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, has made reform of the country’s legal system a centrepiece of his agenda.
Saturday’s protests in the cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa present an early challenge to Netanyahu and his ultranationalist national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has ordered police to take tough action if protesters block roads or display Palestinian flags.
12 January
Netanyahu Surges Ahead With Judicial Overhaul, Prompting Fury in Israel
A proposal to weaken the Supreme Court has set off an early backlash against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new hard-right government.
(NYT) The leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, said he feared the government’s plan could lead to the collapse of Israel’s democracy. A former defense minister, Benny Gantz, warned of civil war. A former army general, Yair Golan, called for widespread civil disobedience. In response, a government lawmaker, Zvika Fogel, called for all three to be arrested for “treason.”
Israeli political discourse, rarely calm, has been inflamed this week by the agenda laid out by the country’s new far-right government — and nothing has fueled it more than the government’s flagship policy: judicial change. …
Collectively, the two proposals would give more power to the government of the day, while reducing the influence of the judiciary. They also provide an early sense of the political direction in which the new Israeli government — an alliance of ultraconservative Jewish politicians, settler activists and opponents of a Palestinian state — intends to head, just two weeks after taking office in late December.
Netanyahu’s Betrayal of Democracy Is a Betrayal of Israel
The Netanyahu government is the most politically extreme, the most morally corrupt, and the most contemptuous of good governance in Israel’s history.
By Yossi Klein Halevi
(The Atlantic) The summer of 1982 was one of the lowest points in Israeli history. All of the ambivalence over Israel that would divide the Jewish people in the coming decades began to coalesce then, when Israel was fighting a war in Lebanon that large parts of the Israeli public regarded as unnecessary and deceitful.
These days, as Israel faces another historic internal crisis, I find myself thinking a great deal about the summer of ’82. Then we lost our unity in the face of an external threat. Now we’ve lost our unifying identity as a Jewish and democratic state.
The new governing coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a mortal danger to our internal cohesion and democratic legitimacy—a historic disgrace. Each day seems to bring some new, previously unimaginable violation of a moral and national red line. My ordinarily insatiable appetite for Israeli news has been reduced to skimming the headlines; the details are too painful.
… We have known governments with extremist elements, governments rife with corruption or incompetence, but not all at once and not to this extent.

8 January
Thousands of Israelis protest against Netanyahu’s new government
Crowds rally against Netanyahu’s plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank and weaken Israel’s Supreme Court.
(Al Jazeera) Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to protest plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government that they say threaten democracy and freedoms.
Staunch Israel Defender Alan Dershowitz Slams Netanyahu’s Judicial Reform ‘Tragedy’
‘If I were in Israel I would be joining the protests,’ Dershowitz says, adding that he has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his ‘very strong, negative views’ on the judiciary plans
(Haaretz) The legal reforms were essential to solidifying the current coalition government, headed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and made up of conservative ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties who seek to advance their agenda through less judicial oversight.
Dershowitz said the reforms pose a threat to civil liberties and minority rights in Israel.
Palestinian foreign minister says Israel has revoked his travel permit
Riad Malki says permit rescinded, after hardline government announced series of punitive measures against Palestinians
(The Guardian) Israel’s government on Friday [6 January] approved the steps to penalise the Palestinians in retaliation for them pushing the UN’s highest judicial body to give its opinion on the Israeli occupation. The decision highlights the tough line the government is already taking toward the Palestinians just days into its tenure. It comes at a time of rising violence in the occupied West Bank, with peace talks a distant memory.
… In East Jerusalem, a flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Israeli police said they broke up a meeting of Palestinian parents about their children’s education, claiming it was unlawfully funded by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Police said the operation came at the behest of the national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist with a long record of anti-Arab rhetoric and stunts who now oversees the police.
Withholding millions from PA, Smotrich says he has ‘no interest’ in its existence
$40 million in tax revenues to be transferred to relatives of terror victims as part of new government’s sanctions against Ramallah
(Times of Israel) Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Sunday signed a decree to block NIS 139 million ($39.6 million) in tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority and redirect it to families of terror victims, as part of punitive measures against the PA’s international legal action against Israel, decided upon by the government.

2022

29 December
As Israel’s Netanyahu returns to office, troubles lie ahead
By JOSEF FEDERMAN
(AP) — After five elections that have paralyzed Israeli politics for nearly four years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally returned to power with the government he has long coveted: a parliamentary majority of religious and far-right lawmakers who share his hard-line views toward the Palestinians and hostility toward Israel’s legal system.
Yet Netanyahu’s joy may be short-lived. Putting together his coalition proved to be surprisingly complicated, requiring nearly two months of painstaking negotiations and a series of legal maneuvers just to allow his partners to take office. Among them: newly created Cabinet positions with widespread authority over security and a law allowing a politician on probation for a criminal conviction to be a government minister.
Along the way, he was forced to make generous concessions to allies that include commitments to expanding West Bank settlements, proposals to allow discrimination against against LGBTQ people and boosting subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men to study instead of work.
If these plans are carried out, they will alienate large portions of the Israeli public, raise the chances of conflict with the Palestinians, upset Israel’s powerful security establishment and put Israel on a collision course with some of its closest allies, including the U.S. government and the American Jewish community. Even members of Netanyahu’s Likud Party are grumbling.

21 December
Israel’s Netanyahu says he has formed new government
(AP) — Designated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Wednesday that he has successfully formed a new coalition, setting the stage for him to return to power as head of the most right-wing Israeli government ever.
The move came after weeks of surprisingly difficult negotiations with his partners – who still have need to finalize their power-sharing deals with Netanyahu’s Likud Party.
Even if he is successful, Netanyahu faces a difficult task ahead. He will preside over a coalition dominated by far-right and ultra-Orthodox partners pushing for dramatic changes that could alienate large swaths of the Israeli public, raise the risk of conflict with the Palestinians and put Israel on a collision course with some of its closest supporters, including the United States and the Jewish American community.
Netanyahu, the godfather of modern Israeli fascism
Israel’s next Netanyahu-led coalition government may be the most extremist in its history.
Marwan Bishara, Senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
Fascism has been on the minds of Israel’s friends and foes alike since “the Jewish State” held its latest elections and its former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began negotiations to form a new coalition. Warnings about Israel “heading toward a fascist theocracy” or “sleep walking into Jewish fascism” have multiplied.
But all these warnings appear to fall on deaf ears, as Netanyahu charts a path back to the premiership in coalition with Israel’s fascist parties. He dismisses concerns over the potential demise of Israel’s democracy and its worsening reputation in the West, especially in the United States, insisting that when it comes to the future of the Jewish State, it is he, Netanyahu, who will have the last word – in Israel as in America.
Palestinian fears heightened as Israeli far right heads to power
(BBC) Palestinians in Hebron say they feel increasingly vulnerable to attack after Israel’s recent election.
The vote saw a massive rise in support for the far right, empowering an ultranationalist hardcore of the settler movement in Hebron and elsewhere, and reigniting a culture war within Israeli society over the role of the military in the occupied territories.
Hebron is a city of checkpoints and a flashpoint of the conflict and occupation. At its core are several hundred Israeli settlers who have the protection of an army and full political rights, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have neither.
Many consider it the occupation in its most concentrated form.
Streets in its historic centre are a dystopian mix of civilian homes and shops with doors welded shut amid militarised fences, walls and watchtowers – an area hollowed out of its once bustling Palestinian life, as only residents may enter. The Israeli army refers to these as “sterile” zones necessary for security.
Hebron is a political heartland for the Israeli far right: settlers here voted overwhelmingly for the alliance jointly led by Mr Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, another ultranationalist figure due to be minister of finance and in charge of Israel’s day-to-day running of the West Bank, governing the lives of the Palestinians there.

15 December
Julius Strauss: In Jerusalem’s Putin Pub
On a field trip to Israel last month with students that I teach at university in Budapest we sought out refugees from Russia and Ukraine who have fled the war to make the Jewish state their new home. We found them divided over the rights and wrongs of the war back home even as the Palestinian conflict is nipping at their heels.
…these days few young Israelis seem concerned with the plight of the Palestinians. Unlike their parents’ generation, many of whom supported a land-for-peace deal that seemed within reach in the late 1990s, many say the status quo works well for them and they don’t want to change it.

6 December
Thomas L. Friedman: Climate Change Will Destroy Arabs and Israelis Before They Destroy Each Other
Back in the 1960s, Israel constricted the flow of the Jordan from the Sea of Galilee so it could divert more water through a national water carrier to thirsty Tel Aviv and down to the Negev to make the desert bloom. Syria choked its Jordan River tributary the Yarmouk River, and Jordan limited what was left of its portion of the Yarmouk and other tributaries feeding the river from its territory.
The once mighty Jordan turned into a freshwater trickle, which episodic droughts only exacerbated, leading to a large swath of the Dead Sea drying up. Worse, they used the Jordan as a dumping ground for human waste.
… a treaty fostering resilience among the parties rather than just ending resistance between the parties was initialed by Jordan, Israel and the U.A.E. at a conference in Dubai, with the help of the U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry. Last month, at the Sharm el-Sheikh climate conference, those countries took a step further and signed a new memorandum to complete the feasibility study for this unique collaboration.
The draft deal calls for the U.A.E. to bring investment capital that would enable Jordan to build a 600-megawatt capacity solar plant in its vast desert to produce clean energy that Israel would tap to expand its coastal desalination plants (which will soon provide 90 percent of Israel’s fresh water) and pump some of that desalinated water into the Sea of Galilee and then down the expanded and properly filtered Jordan River, so it can once again be the regional water carrier that nature designed it to be.
If President Biden can help shepherd this concept to fruition, it could be the biggest U.S. contribution to Middle East peace since Camp David.

2 December
Julius Strauss: A New Israel
For the casual observer, then, the holiest city in the world for both Jews and Christians, and the third holiest for Muslims, was enjoying its usual pre-Christmas bustle.
But outside the high ancient walls and twisting alleyways a revolution years in the making is underway in the state of Israel.
In the coming days or weeks a new government is set to be formed that will be the most right-wing in the young country’s history.
Alongside Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s veteran right-wing leader, will be a host of small mostly settler parties ranging from the ultra-nationalist to the ultra-religious. …
The twin engines propelling Israel’s shift to the right, analysts say, have been slowly spooling up for years.
The first is the vigorous growth of the ultra-orthodox population, a once tiny minority, who, thanks to their higher birth rate, are now a million strong. The ultra-orthodox are given exemption from the military and generous child support which means some families, especially those with many children, survive solely on subsidies from the state. … Their children, like their Muslim counterparts in madrassahs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, eschew the study of maths and science and grow up on a diet of strict religious doctrine.
The results is sometimes a deep intolerance of both Muslims and Christians.
The second reason for the sea change in politics is that many Israelis now say that, at least in the short term, they have little interest in making peace with their Palestinian neighbours.
While a moral argument to end the killing may still exist, with the advent of better security and technology the practical impetus for making concessions, and especially the notion of giving up land for peace, has lost much of its force.
With Israeli settlers now at the centre of the new government, any drive for compromise will likely become even weaker.

1 December
Israel strips Palestinian-French rights lawyer of Jerusalem residency
Salah Hamouri expected to be deported after decision on grounds of ‘breach of allegiance’ to state
Israel has stripped a prominent Palestinian-French human rights lawyer of his Jerusalem residency and is expected to deport him to France, a legal first that sets a dangerous precedent for other Palestinians with dual nationality in the contested city.

25 November
Far-right extremist gets Israeli security job as coalition deals struck
Appointment of Itamar Ben-Gvir raises fears of further escalation in Israeli-Palestinian tensions
“We took a big step [last night] towards a full coalition agreement, towards forming a fully, fully rightwing government,” Ben-Gvir said in a statement.
(The Guardian) The leader of the Jewish Power party, who was convicted in 2007 of racist incitement against Arabs and backing a group considered by Israel and the US to be a terrorist organisation, will have an expanded security portfolio that will include responsibility for border police in the occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry said the appointment would have a “potentially catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and hinder the revival of negotiations between the two sides.

23 November
Biden upgrades US-Palestinian relations by naming special representative
Hady Amr, held in high regard by Israeli and Palestinian diplomats, appointed to Washington-based role
Amr will work closely with the assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs and with diplomats at the Jerusalem-based office of Palestinian affairs, the reports said.
The move comes amid deteriorating conditions in the occupied West Bank: 2022 is already the deadliest year for Palestinians living in the territory and in annexed East Jerusalem since 2005, with more than 130 Palestinians killed in fighting.

2-4 November
The new Jewish state in the Levant: A fanatics-led nuclear power
Israel is about to get the most extreme government in the country’s history. But there are limits to what it can do.
Marwan Bishara, Senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
… A majority of religious nationalists and ultraorthodox parties in government, the first in Israel’s history, would want to transform the Jewish state towards a theocracy that lives by the Halacha (Jewish law) and finish colonising the entirety of Palestine, come what may. …
Benjamin Netanyahu, who will likely form and lead the new coalition government, knows from his experience as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister that there is a limit on how far Israel can go before it starts to meet fierce Palestinian and Arab resistance. Any further, and Israel could also lose support in Europe and the United States; support that is indispensable to its security and regional standing.
But then again, it is doubtful whether he will be able to tame these religious fanatics, knowing all too well they have a hold over the survival of his premiership; his only guarantee to stay out of prison, after having been indicted for serious corruption charges.
I think the genie is finally out of the bottle.
The elections have opened a Pandora’s box that may well take Israelis to the dark side. They have exposed the fragility of Israel’s peculiar liberality as a colonial state, and unmasked the pervasive fanaticism among the majority of the electorate after decades of unfettered military occupation.
Thomas Friedman: The Israel We Knew Is Gone
Imagine you woke up after the 2024 U.S. presidential election and found that Donald Trump had been re-elected and chose Rudy Giuliani for attorney general, Michael Flynn for defense secretary, Steve Bannon for commerce secretary, evangelical leader James Dobson for education secretary, Proud Boys former leader Enrique Tarrio for homeland security head and Marjorie Taylor Greene for the White House spokeswoman.
The coalition that Likud leader Bibi Netanyahu is riding back into power is the Israeli equivalent of the nightmare U.S. cabinet I imagined above. Only it is real — a rowdy alliance of ultra-Orthodox leaders and ultranationalist politicians, including some outright racist, anti-Arab Jewish extremists once deemed completely outside the norms and boundaries of Israeli politics. As it is virtually impossible for Netanyahu to build a majority coalition without the support of these extremists, some of them are almost certain to be cabinet ministers in the next Israeli government.
What Netanyahu’s comeback means for Israel
Yossi Klein Halevi, senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. His most recent book is Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.
Special to The Globe and Mail
After four rounds of elections in less than four years that were essentially one long referendum on the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, election No. 5 exposed the real issue motivating the Israeli electorate: fear of our fellow Israelis. Are you with us or with them? Are you with the camp that seeks to empty Israel of its Jewish identity, or with the camp that seeks to empty Israel of its democratic identity?
… a desperate Mr. Netanyahu – seeking to end his trial for corruption and form a parliamentary majority to pass what is known as the “French law,” which forbids prosecution of a sitting prime minister – has incited his supporters against the judicial system, police, media and, most of all, Israel’s democratic ethos. He did so in the name of defending the state’s Jewish identity, supposedly under threat by his opponents – most of whom are no less committed than he claims to be to protecting Israel’s Jewishness.
… Mr. Netanyahu’s greatest offence was breaking the long-standing taboo in Israeli politics against legitimizing the racist far-right. That taboo held for the mainstream right as well as the left. In the 1980s, when the far-right racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who won a single seat in parliament, would approach the podium, Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir demonstratively led his faction out of the plenum.
(The World newsletter) With most of the votes counted in Israel’s fifth parliamentary elections in four years, Benjamin Netanyahu — who still faces multiple counts of corruption in an ongoing investigation — is set to return once again as prime minister. The coalition he’s expected to bring together would be the most right-wing government yet for the country. His far-right allies want to overhaul the justice system to give politicians more control of judicial appointments, while weakening the Supreme Court’s oversight of the parliamentary process. They’re also calling for an end [to] Palestinian autonomy in parts of the West Bank.
Israel’s Netanyahu nears victory, but trouble may lie ahead
His new coalition could create headaches for Netanyahu on the global stage.
(Politico/AP) Israel’s longtime former prime minister and current opposition leader appears to have engineered a surprising victory in the country’s fifth national vote since 2019, thanks to help from an extremist far-right party. This alliance could have profound implications, though — potentially ending his legal troubles at home while antagonizing friends abroad.
Netanyahu faces balancing act after Israel election comeback
By James Mackenzie
(Reuters) If preliminary counts hold, the longest-serving Israeli prime minister, who has dominated national politics for more than a decade, is back and set to form what looks like being one of the most right-wing governments in the country’s history.
Lawbreaker to Israeli kingmaker? Far-right Ben-Gvir surges in vote
(Reuters) – Israeli far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who for years was seen as too much of a firebrand for mainstream politics, swept up votes in Tuesday’s election and may now play kingmaker in Benjamin Netanyahu’s stunning political comeback.

27-31 October
Israeli election too close to call as Netanyahu bids for comeback
(The Guardian) Final polls suggest deadlock, but if rightwing alliance keeps slowly gaining, scandal-plagued former PM may scrape in
Netanyahu’s potential coalition partners, the Religious Zionists, led by Bezalel Smotrich and the popular Itamar Ben-Gvir, have called for the dismantling of the independence of the judiciary, which could help the former prime minister beat the charges in his corruption trial.
Israel deserves better than Netanyahu’s bid to retake power and stay out of jail
Lloyd Green
With days to go, the calm belies what is at stake: the hard right empowered so a beleaguered figure can win and possibly evade justice
As Israel heads to the polls on Tuesday for its fifth election since the spring of 2019, its politics are fractious, but stop short of visceral acridity. The country’s rival tribes are content to jostle each other. It’s an eerie quiet before what could be a terrible storm. With just days to go, Benjamin Netanyahu and the right lead in hypothetical match-ups, but may fall short of the 61 seats needed in the 120-member Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to dislodge Yair Lapid, the current prime minister.
…overarching all of that is a greater concern – that Netanyahu is basically using the re-election as a way of short-circuiting the criminal prosecution he faces on charges of corruption – and that the electorate may let him do so.
The epic contests between Netanyahu and the late Shimon Peres, the successor to Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995, or Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, two decorated generals, remain in the memory but are the stuff of yesteryear. The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is devoid of a pulse, and no one within the Israeli mainstream is clamouring for its resuscitation.

17 October
Palestinian ‘Game of Thrones’? What happens when Mahmoud Abbas leaves office?
Now in the twilight of a controversial reign as president, what comes next is a vexed question
(The Guardian) While nowhere near as charismatic as his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, who had died two months before, Abbas was nonetheless welcomed as a reformer and a man of peace.Abbas, commonly referred to by his kunya, Abu Mazen, won the presidency by a significant majority a few weeks later. A major architect of the Oslo peace process, his win delighted the Israelis and the Americans: unlike Arafat, Abu Mazen had vociferously denounced the violence of what was by then the ebbing second intifada, or Palestinian uprising.
…just a year later, because of Fatah party infighting over candidate lists, the Islamist movement Hamas won the parliamentary elections, leading to a brief civil war in which the Palestinian Authority (PA) lost control of the Gaza Strip. The rest of Abbas’s long tenure has resembled that of a stereotypical regional autocrat, determined to cling on to power.
Nearly two decades later, the Oslo accords no longer address the political reality on the ground; Abu Mazen’s Fatah party and the umbrella Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), riddled with corruption, have little support among younger generations; and the authority he oversees works with Israel to oppress its own people.

21 September
‘It’s going to explode’: young Palestinians look to the gun amid Israeli offensive
Israel’s Operation Breakwater aims to reduce the enemy’s ability to attack, but seems to be galvanising a new generation of fighters.
…the massive 9 August raid, part of Operation Breakwater, a six-month-old campaign of near-nightly IDF sorties, arrests, targeted killings and house demolitions across the occupied West Bank. Designed to flush out militants from al-Aqsa, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the offensive has evolved into one of the biggest Israeli military operations outside wartime for decades.
5-7 August
Israel, Gaza militants agree to cease-fire after deadly weekend kills at least 43
Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip have agreed to a cease-fire after more than two days of airstrikes and rocket attacks that killed 43 people and injured more than 300 in Gaza and forced thousands of Israelis to shelter in bunkers.
Israeli airstrike kills 2nd top Islamic Jihad commander
5 August
Israeli strikes on Gaza kill 8, including senior militant
(NYT) The strikes risk igniting yet another war in the territory, which is ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas and is home to about 2 million Palestinians.
‘No appetite for war’: Palestinians fear new Israeli offensive
(Al Jazeera) After deadly air raids on Gaza, analysts question Israel’s motivation amid political turmoil and with new elections upcoming.
Israel’s attack on Gaza on Friday was weeks in the making, a deliberate act to gain legitimacy with its public, say Palestinian observers, as Israel braces for new elections in November.

16 July
Israel launches air raids on Gaza Strip, no casualties reported
The missile attacks came after US President Joe Biden left Israel to travel to Saudi Arabia.

15 July
United States President Joe Biden has claimed that his government is insisting on accountability for the May killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli army.
“The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand up for media freedom everywhere in the world,” Biden said on Friday in a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

14 July
Health rumours leave Palestinians wondering who will follow Abbas
President Abbas has been in ill health over recent years and is unpopular, but many Palestinians are still apathetic

27 June
U.N. rights body says Israeli soldiers killed American journalist in West Bank
(WaPo) A veteran Palestinian American journalist was killed by Israeli forces while covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank, a spokeswoman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday, summarizing the results of its investigation into the fatal May shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh, a correspondent for Al Jazeera.

10-20 June
Israel to dissolve parliament, call 5th election in 3 years
(AP) — Israel’s weakened coalition government announced Monday that it would dissolve parliament and call new elections, setting the stage for the possible return to power of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or another period of prolonged political gridlock.
The election…will put the polarizing Netanyahu, who has been the opposition leader for the past year, back at the center of the political universe.
The previous four elections, focused on Netanyahu’s fitness to rule while facing a corruption investigation, ended in deadlock. While opinion polls project Netanyahu, who is now on trial, as the front-runner, it is far from certain that his Likud party can secure the required parliamentary majority to form a new government.
… The final blow to the government was the looming expiration of a law that grant Israel’s West Bank settlers special legal status. The law underpins separate legal systems for Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank, a situation that three prominent human rights groups say amounts to apartheid.
Parliament had been set to extend the law earlier this month, as it has done for the past 55 years. But the hard-line opposition, comprised heavily of settler supporters, paradoxically voted against the bill in order to embarrass Bennett. Dovish members of the coalition who normally oppose the settlements voted in favor in hopes of keeping the government afloat.

Israel’s ‘salvation government’ hangs by a thread after one year
(Reuters/Globe & Mail) One year after ending the record reign of Benjamin Netanyahu following months of political turmoil, Israel’s fragile coalition government is teetering on the edge of collapse, raising the prospect of a snap election in the coming months.
Pointing to achievements including boosting economic growth and eliminating the budget deficit, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday vowed to fight for the survival of their unlikely coalition of right-wing, liberal and Muslim Arab parties.
Israeli settlers at risk of losing special West Bank status as deadline looms
(AP/Globe & Mail) Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank may soon get a taste of the military rule that Palestinians have been living under for 55 years.
If Israel’s parliament does not act, a special legal status accorded to the settlers will expire at the end of the month, with wide-ranging consequences. Lawyers who live in the settlements, including two members of Israel’s Supreme Court, will no longer be allowed to practice law. Settlers would be subject to military courts usually reserved for Palestinians and would lose access to some public services.
While few expect things to reach that point, the looming deadline has put Israel’s government on the brink of collapse and drawn dire warnings.
Israel wants “complete control” of Palestinian land: UN report
Independent commission set up by UN human rights council says Israel needs to end occupation, cease violating Palestinians’ human rights.
The report cites evidence that Israel has “no intention of ending the occupation”.
Israel is pursuing “complete control” over what the report calls the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which was taken by Israel in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.
The Israeli government, the commission said, has been “acting to alter the demography through the maintenance of a repressive environment for Palestinians and a favourable environment for Israeli settlers”.
Citing an Israeli law denying naturalisation to Palestinians married to Israeli citizens, the report accuses Israel of affording “different civil status, rights and legal protection” for Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Israel’s coalition on brink of collapse after losing settler law vote
Nationalist party New Hope threatens to exit arrangement after vote on West Bank settlers
Israel’s coalition government is teetering on the brink of collapse after a dramatic Knesset showdown over legislation to extend legal protections for settlers in the occupied West Bank.
In what was variously described by Israeli media as “one of the most surreal votes in Israeli history” and “political suicide”, the first reading of a bill renewing civilian legal rights for Jewish settlers in the West Bank failed to pass on Monday night.
Members of the Knesset had to weigh up their positions on both the bill, and whether it was more important to strengthen or weaken the ideologically diverse coalition, which recently lost its razor-thin majority.
Emergency regulations in place since the occupation of the Palestinian territories began in 1967 and renewed by the Knesset every five years have created two parallel legal systems in the West Bank, where about 500,000 Jewish settlers live in breach of international law but have Israeli citizenship. The 3 million Palestinians in the same area have been subject to Israeli military law for decades, a situation that three major human rights groups have said amounts to apartheid.
If the legislation is not renewed, or a modified version passed by the end of June, Israeli settlers will automatically become governed by military rule – a development that could throw into chaos the tax and policing system for Israelis in the West Bank, bring into question the status of Palestinian inmates being held in Israeli prisons and almost certainly lead to the collapse of the government.

US elections: How pro-Israel spending affects Palestine advocacy
Despite massive AIPAC spending in Democratic primaries, advocates say debate over US support for Israel not going away.
(Al Jazeera) … So far, after primaries in a handful of states – including key races in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas – before the November midterms, the results have been a mixed bag for AIPAC and its allies.
While pro-Israel groups celebrated the election of several candidates, progressives have remained competitive and won a few races. Left-wing activists have been especially jubilant about the victory of Summer Lee in a Democratic House primary in the Pittsburgh area last month. Lee, a Pennsylvania state legislator, survived massive late spending by pro-Israel groups that translated into attack ads against her.
But on the same night that Lee declared victory, AIPAC celebrated the win of three candidates it had backed with millions of dollars in North Carolina, including Valerie Foushee, who defeated Nida Allam, a local politician who was looking to become the fifth-ever Muslim member of Congress.

22 May
In the firing zone: evictions begin in West Bank villages after court ruling
(The Guardian) Earlier this month, Israel’s supreme court finally ruled in a two-decade-old legal case over the area’s fate: the land can be repurposed for military use, upholding the Israel Defence Forces’ (IDF) argument that Palestinians living here could not prove they were resident before the firing zone was established in 1981. The decision – one of the most significant on expulsions since the occupation began in 1967 – paved the way for the eviction of everyone living here.
About 18% of Area C, the West Bank under full Israeli control, has been repurposed since the 1970s as “firing zones” for IDF use. According to the minutes of a 1981 ministerial meeting, the then agriculture minister, Ariel Sharon, who later became prime minister, proposed creating Firing Zone 918 with the explicit intention of forcing local Palestinians from their homes.

19 May
Israel will not hold criminal inquiry into killing of journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh
Military police say they are satisfied with assurances of Israeli troops over death of US-Palestinian despite international demands
(The Guardian) The Biden administration and the UN security council have called for a transparent investigation.
Abu Aqleh was a household name across the Arab world, known for documenting the hardship of Palestinian life under Israeli rule for Al Jazeera. Her killing received widespread international coverage and prompted criticism from the White House.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, promised her family that Washington would demand that her death be properly investigated.

18 May
UN experts say mass eviction of Palestinians a possible war crime
(Al Jazeera) Israel’s decision to evict approximately 1,200 Palestinians from their homes in Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank may amount to a war crime, UN human rights experts said.
The decision to forcibly transfer the Palestinian residents is a serious breach of international humanitarian and human rights laws, and an independent and impartial investigation into the matter should be established, the experts said.
The court decision to permit the forced eviction was “all the more disconcerting”, the UN expert said, as it is being undertaken to allow Israeli military training in the area.
… Some 500 children are among the estimated 1,200 Palestinian residents who are now at imminent risk of forcible transfer from their land following the judgement of the Israeli High Court of Justice earlier this month.

14 May
Israel’s policy: Kill the messenger, attack the mourners
Unfortunately for Israel, however, Palestinian identity cannot be eradicated at the barrel of a gun.
Belen Fernandez, Contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.
(Al Jazeera opinion) On Friday, May 13, The New York Times website ran the headline “Israeli Police Attack Funeral of Slain Palestinian Journalist”, which was then updated to “Israeli Police Attack Mourners at Palestinian Journalist’s Funeral”. The journalist in question, of course, was 51-year-old Shireen Abu Akleh, the veteran Al Jazeera reporter shot in the head and killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank.
As the Times reported, Israeli police officers had commenced “beating and kicking mourners” at the funeral procession in Jerusalem, thereby “forcing pallbearers to nearly drop the coffin”. This, at least, was mercifully straightforward information coming from the same news outlet that had just days before opted to use the noncommittal phrase “Dies at 51” in its announcement of Abu Akleh’s murder.

12 May
Israel approves more than 4,000 settlement homes: Rights group
Peace Now says Israel advances plans for construction in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Israel advanced plans for the construction of more than 4,000 homes in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a rights group has said, a day after the Israeli army demolished homes in an area where hundreds of Palestinians face the threat of expulsion.
The plan to construct 4,000 more homes is the biggest advancement of settlement projects since the Biden administration took office. The White House opposes settlement construction because it further erodes the possibility of an eventual two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli settlements are fortified, Israeli-only housing complexes built on Palestinian land in violation of international law. Between 600,000 and 750,000 Israeli settlers live in at least 250 illegal settlements in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.

Shireen Abu Akleh and the journalists killed by Israeli forces
At least 45 journalists have been killed by Israeli forces since 2000 according to the Palestinian Ministry of Information.
(Al Jazeera) journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed on May 11 by Israeli forces in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank.
The 51-year-old Palestinian-American TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic was wearing a protective vest marked with “PRESS” and standing with other journalists when she was shot dead.

2-5 May
Putin apologizes to Israel for Hitler comments as Zelensky slams Nazi rhetoric
(WaPo)The reported apology came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of using Nazi propaganda and antisemitic tropes to justify the invasion as Russian leaders repeatedly compare Zelensky to Hitler.
How Putin’s Apology to Israeli PM Bennett Unfolded
Mired in problems, Bennett efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine stopped. A Ukrainian request, however, prompted the Israeli premier to call Putin
(Haaretz) Israeli efforts to mediate between Ukraine and Russia ceased a few weeks ago. Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy are not currently interested in attempts bridge between the two sides. Putin is trying with all his might to capture Mariupol, while Zelenskyy, with the help of the west, is heavily arming his forces.

Russia’s Antisemitic Attack on Israel Is Shocking and Deliberate
(Haaretz) Strategic antisemitism: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s tirade on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Jews and Hitler was no slip of the tongue. It was part of a calculated, and escalating, campaign targeting Israel
Russia accuses Israel of backing ‘neo-Nazis’ in Kyiv as diplomatic row grows
Moscow hits back at Israeli criticism of Sergei Lavrov’s claim that Adolf Hitler ‘had Jewish blood’
The dispute over remarks by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said in an interview that Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that the “most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews”, has threatened to unsettle Israel’s careful position over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Israel demands apology after Russia says Hitler had Jewish roots
Zelenskiy accuses Russia of forgetting World War Two
Israel summons Russian ambassador for ‘tough talk’
Germany, Italy, Canada denounce Lavrov remarks
Lavrov made the assertion on Italian television on Sunday when he was asked why Russia said it needed to “denazify” Ukraine if the country’s own president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was himself Jewish.

4 May
Israel weighs expanding military aid to Ukraine after U.S. request
Barak Ravid, author of Axios from Tel Aviv
(Axios) Why it matters: Taking a careful approach to the war, Israel has so far refused Ukraine’s requests for advanced weaponry, and only last month agreed to send thousands of helmets and bulletproof vests for medical teams and first responders. But as Israel takes a more critical public line against Russia, it’s signaling it is increasingly open to supplying Ukraine with certain nonlethal military equipment.
State of play: A senior Israeli official said the Israeli government is considering increasing its military aid to Ukraine and is likely to do it as the war continues. But the official stressed Israel will only provide nonlethal military equipment.
A senior Ukrainian official told me Ukraine doesn’t expect Israel to provide it with lethal weapons, but said it wants to use several pre-existing export licenses from the Israeli Ministry of Defense for communications gear and anti-drone systems.

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