[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Palestine and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Palestine Page co-editors or of Jadaliyya.]
The Occupation Forces
A letter signed by 60 Israeli senior year high school students came out on Tuesday in which they refused their compulsory enlistment in the Israeli military. It is breathtaking, and deserves honorary framing. This is not the first of such letters historically, yet it is historical and novel in that for the first time, it addresses not merely the 1967 occupation, but also the 1948 Nakba, the “continuing Nakba”, and the “violent occupation” of “72 years”. That is, it visions and frames the 1967 occupation as a part of the whole Israeli endeavor since its inception, as in statements like this: ‘The actions of the Israeli military in 2020 are nothing but a continuation and upholding of the legacy of massacre, expulsion of families, and land theft, the legacy which “enabled” the establishment of the State of Israel, as a proper democratic state, for Jews only.’
Israeli military bulldozers on Wednesday destroyed two acres of farmland and dozens of olive trees in the West Bank city of Hebron, according to local residents. At least 80 olive trees were chopped down by soldiers in the town of Beit Ummar, northwest of Hebron, the residents said. Palestinian farmers complain of repeated attacks on their farmlands by Israeli soldiers and settlers. According to the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Camping — a coalition of Palestinian non-governmental organizations –, 2020 was the harshest year for the farmers. More than 8,400 olive trees were uprooted or burned.
Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti confirmed that, thanks to the Palestinian efforts to expose Israeli policies, a major global campaign was launched against the Israeli policy of apartheid and racial discrimination aimed at denying Palestinians access to vaccines against Corona disease.
The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) expressed on Thursday its condemnation and rejection of the "aggressive" Israeli Judaisation of the occupied city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, Anadolu has reported. The scholars called for the city and mosque to be protected in the face of such a "heinous crime". The IUMS made its comments in the wake of local reports about the occupation state's new excavations near the Buraq ("Wailing") Wall in occupied Jerusalem. Such work, the union insists, is part of Israel's efforts to Judaise the square in front of the wall adjacent to the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa.
January 15, 2021 at 10:33 pm Ending a 14-year spell without elections, this spring and summer Palestinians are set to have three elections – parliamentary, presidential and National Council polls – under a decree signed by the Palestinian president on Friday, Anadolu Agency reports. Under the decree, parliamentary elections will be held on May 22, presidential elections on July 31, and Palestinian National Council elections on Aug. 31. Mahmoud Abbas did the ceremonial signing of the decree while meeting with Hanna Nasser, chairman of the Central Elections Commission (CEC), at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestine's official WAFA news agency reported.
Palestinian Authority (PA), PLO, and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas has modified the election law, Palestinian Election Commission Executive Director Hisham Kahil revealed yesterday. Speaking to the official Palestinian Radio, Kahil said Abbas dropped the condition for the candidates to be committed to the PLO's political obligations and raised the quota for female representation from 20 per cent to 26 per cent. Kahil said that Abbas is going to meet with the head of the Palestinian Election Commission on Friday in order to agree on the presidential decrees related to the elections, noting that all changes made to the law would be available to the public within 48 hours.
The Palestinian health ministry has approved the main Russian vaccine against Covid-19, known as Sputnik V, for domestic use, making it "the first country in the Middle East" to do so, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said on Monday. In a statement, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) confirmed that the Palestinians had registered for the vaccine “under the emergency use authorisation procedure without additional clinical trials in the country”, following the footsteps of local regulators in Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia and Serbia.
B’Tselem concludes that “a regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime.” Apartheid, a term coined during white rule in South Africa, is defined by the International Criminal Court as an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.” While a regime of apartheid has “gradually grown more institutionalized and explicit” in the territories under Israeli rule, B’Tselem says, the state has “shattered the facade” of democracy with a temporary military occupation in recent years. The rights group points to the recently passed so-called nation-state law, which stipulates that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” The rights group also says that Israel’s plans to formally annex large swathes of the West Bank demonstrate that the state’s “intention to achieve permanent control over the entire area has already been openly declared by the state’s highest officials.”
While Palestinians citizens of Israel qualify, just as Jewish Israelis do, to receive the vaccine and would not be turned back at a clinic simply because they are Palestinian, rights groups are claiming that there are other sinister mechanisms of discrimination at work when it comes to Israel and its distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel has slammed Israel’s emergency medical service for failing to provide vital COVID-19 information, including facts relating to the vaccine, available in Arabic.
Over the last week the spread of COVID-19 has continued to slow in the West Bank, but in Gaza, where testing and hospital beds are limited, cases are still soaring. On New Year’s Eve, Gaza had it’s most fatal day, with 15 deaths reported. In early December, Gaza accounted for around a third of all active COVID-19 cases. Today, that figure has ballooned to 50% of all active cases in the occupied Palestinian territory. Despite the growth, there were 5% less tests administered to Palestinians in the last week. We’ve tracked on-going shortages of laboratory COVID-19 tests in this newsletter for months. In recent weeks, Gaza has twice run out of tests. The WHO’s latest situation report reveals in less than two weeks, Gaza will again be out of tests.
Adelson helped found an organization called “One Jerusalem” in the 90s, and pushed the move of the Embassy to Jerusalem. He succeeded there, of course, too, under Trump. Adelson was always more frank about his aims than the media that reported on his contributions. “I’m a one-issue person. That issue is Israel,” he said in 2017, per Pro Publica. He was an extremist who maintained that “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian.” They were south Syrians, Adelson said. And he expressed bigotry against Muslims: “Muslims, you want to kill 100 percent of the Jews.” Trump reflected Adelson’s attitudes when he defunded UNRWA.
Many Palestinians were dismayed when the government of Morocco announced that it was officialising diplomatic relations with Israel on 10 December. But few felt disappointment over the news as personally as the small yet longstanding Moroccan community in occupied East Jerusalem. Present in the Old City for centuries, Moroccan Jerusalemites have withstood destruction and displacement, while maintaining ties to their culture. As members of the community reflect on the ordeals they have gone through over the years, they told Middle East Eye of their sorrow at seeing Rabat normalise relations with the state that oversaw the erasure of their homes and heritage in the holy city.
Israel's foreign ministry has been publishing Arabic videos on social media trying to win over the hearts and minds of young Arabs. A recent government report by Tel Aviv found that more than 90 percent of Arab social media did not approve of normalising relations with Israel.
Where does the Palestinian cause stand in this ever-changing political landscape? Can the new-old administration in Washington deliver any substantive support to Palestinians, or will it reproduce the traditional, devastating illusions about the “peace process”? The existing capitalist, imperialist world order is the same one that created the Nakba, the ongoing tragedy of the Palestinian people, after Zionists forcefully displaced the indigenous population of Palestine and Judaised an Arab majority country.
Speaker of Tunisian Parliament Rached Ghannouchi has announced that the Palestinian cause is sacred in Tunisia and a state of consensus prevails in the country regarding the indisputable rejection of normalisation with the Israeli occupation. The statements made by the leader of the Ennahda movement came in an interview with Al Araby TV channel broadcast on Thursday evening. On the Moroccan Justice and Development Party's support for the normalisation of relations with the Zionist entity, Ghannouchi asserted that the decision of the Islamic party that leads the government coalition in Morocco is "unfortunate", according to Al Araby.
Settlers and Illegal Settlements
Just days before US President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office, the Israeli government approved the construction of 800 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank — a move critics have deemed as an effort to take advantage of the final days of the pro-settlement Trump administration. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that it would be advancing plans for some 800 settlement units, which are currently in various stages of planning and development, AP reported.
The Director of the Settlement Monitoring Unit at the ARIJ institute, Suhail Khaliliya said that the approval of the occupation authorities to establish 800 new settlement outposts in the West Bank and to open bypass roads aims to raise the number of settlers to one million by the year 2030. In an interview with Voice of Palestine Radio, Khaliliya said that last year, the occupation authorities approved building 32,000 settlement units, in addition to plans to establishing industrial cities.
Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement
German cultural institutions have criticized the German parliament’s anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions resolution for creating a legal gray area and undermining the right to free expression. The 2019 resolution urges German institutions and public authorities to deny funding and facilities to civil society groups that support the BDS movement. But in December, major German art and academic institutions denounced the resolution as “detrimental to the democratic public sphere” and warned of its negative impact on the free exchange of ideas.
Law & Prisons
Mohammed El Halabi, World Vision's area development programme manager, 8 August 2016 [Mohammad Awed] January 14, 2021 at 9:38 am Former Gaza aid worker, Mohammad El-Halabi, is attending his 154th court hearing in Israel, the Palestinian Prisoners' Club (PPC) said yesterday. The 42-year-old, who was the director of World Vision in Gaza until he was detained in 2016, has attended all the previous court hearings behind closed doors. His lawyer has been prevented from reviewing Israeli prosecution evidence. In a statement, the PPC said: "What is happening with Al-Halabi poses danger on the human rights and humanitarian work as it is an obvious intimidation to aid and human rights institutions in Palestine."
The Secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres has expressed “serious concern” about the continued detention of Palestinian humanitarian manager Mohammad al Halabi. In a January 8th letter to Riyad Mansour- the Permanent observer of the mission of the state of Palestine- Guterres slammed the “undue delays in his trial while he remains under detention.” Al Halabi who was detained in 2016 has undergone a possible record number of court sessions without any proof being presented to the judges. An Israel court in Beir Sheba is expected to convene for the 154th time on January 14th. Mohammad al Halabi won the UN’s humanitarian hero award in 2014.
Paramedics vaccinate elderly people nursing home in Tel Aviv on 13 January 2021 [Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency] January 15, 2021 at 4:18 pm Israel will start vaccinating all prisoners, including Palestinian detainees, from next week as part of its nationwide anti-Covid-19 programme, the Minister of Health has confirmed. "We are adhering to all of the coronavirus committee's guidelines," said Yuli Edelstein during his visit to a vaccination centre in Ramla. "I'm not going to differentiate and check what vaccine was given to a guard or a prisoner." This move comes despite Israel's Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana directing the authorities not to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. He asked health officials only to vaccinate prison staff.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has signed an order to pay the full salaries to more than 900 prisoners and former prisoners, Head of the Prisoners and Ex-prisoners Affairs Authority Qadri Abu Bakr announced yesterday. On the PA's recent proposal to establish a private bank for the families of prisoners and martyrs, Abu Bakr confirmed that the move was: "Unlikely to happen due to Israeli threats and restrictions with obtaining the bank licence. The PA is tirelessly looking for alternative options." "As a result of the current economic and political situation, the Palestinian government was able to pay only 50 per cent of the prisoners' wages," the official noted.
Environment, Economy, and Other
As he enjoys leisurely days on an Israeli beach, Zionist hacker Ulcan has managed to put off for now any rendezvous with justice in his home country, France. But the family of one of his alleged victims remain determined to have their day in court. In June 2019, a judge in Paris ordered Ulcan, whose real name is Grégory Chelli, to stand trial in connection with a 2014 hoax prosecutors say caused the death of Thierry Le Corre, the father of journalist Benoit Le Corre. Chelli terrorized the Le Corre family in retaliation for Benoit’s reporting about him. This culminated in Chelli making a false report to police that triggered an armed raid on the Le Corre home.
An official at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday that Israeli authorities rebuffed a request by the UN agency to help supply vaccines for Palestinian health workers, citing shortages. According to a report by the Independent newspaper, Gerald Rockenschaub, head of the WHO’s mission to the Palestinian territory, said his organisation had requested Israel help to provide the crucial jabs. Nearly 8,000 Palestinian medics have reportedly contracted the virus, dealing a blow to their coronavirus response. He explained that Israel had declined the request, citing shortages for its own population.
Culture & Art
Jerome Slater's new "Mythologies Without End" is an indispensable, compelling guide to the truths behind the myths in Israel, Palestine and the Mideast. Professor Jerry Slater is 85 years old, has taught truths about Israel and Palestine for 50 years, and set himself a monumental task in this book. He does not just cover the Israel-Palestine conflict, but takes on myths about Israel’s relations with the surrounding Arab states, and the role of the United States. The result is a masterpiece, the successful work of a lifetime.