Israel Tightens

Israel Tightens Lockdown, Closes Synagogues as Coronavirus Cases Surge – The Wall Street Journal

TEL AVIV—Israel ordered all nonessential businesses and synagogues to close starting Friday, tightening restrictions a week after imposing a second nationwide lockdown as the government struggles to contain a resurgent coronavirus outbreak.

Under the new measures, which will last at least through Oct. 10, all private businesses except those considered vital—such as supermarkets and pharmacies—will be closed. Residents will also have to remain within a one-kilometer radius from their homes.


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Israel reinstate

Israel to reinstate strict three-week coronavirus lockdown | TheHill – The Hill

Israel will reinstate strict lockdown measures for three weeks amid a surge in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE said Sunday. 

“Our goal is to stop the increase (in cases) and lower morbidity,” Netanyahu said in a nationally broadcast statement, according to The Associated Press. “I know that these steps come at a difficult price for all of us. This is not the holiday we are used to.”

Restaurants, schools and hotels, among other businesses, with shut down starting Friday, the start of the Jewish High Holiday season. Israelis will also face additional restrictions on movement ahead of the holidays when Israelis typically hold large family gatherings and pack synagogues,  the AP reported.

The lockdown comes after Israel lifted restrictions in place with a lengthy shutdown in the spring that is credited with bringing down infection numbers, according to the newswire. 

Israel reported more than 153,000 coronavirus cases and 1,108 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

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Israel Kingdom

Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain to establish ‘full diplomatic relations,’ Trump says – CNN

(CNN)President Donald Trump said Friday that Israel and Bahrain have agreed to the “establishment of full diplomatic relations,” marking the second time in a month an Arab Gulf nation has announced new ties with the Jewish state and further reshaping alliances in the Middle East.

Unveiling the new agreement from the Oval Office, Trump cast the move as a step toward peace in the region. He has worked to broker accords between Arab nations and Israel that he hopes will lead to a broader peace deal.
“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today!” Trump tweeted.
The announcement came less than a week ahead of a White House signing ceremony between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that will bring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati officials to Washington.
As a condition of that agreement, Netanyahu agreed to shelve plans for now to annex sections of the West Bank. He has not ruled out resuming the annexation in the future.
Bahrain’s foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khallaf will join Israel and the UAE for the signing ceremony currently scheduled for next Tuesday, according to the statement from Trump.
The announcement comes two months ahead of the US presidential election, where Trump hopes his efforts to forge foreign agreements will help sway voters. He has touted his support for Israel to Evangelicals in particular.
The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, took part in a phone call with Trump and Netanyahu to discuss the agreement, according to Bahrain’s state-run news agency.
Al-Khalifa “stressed the need to reach a just and comprehensive peace as a strategic option, in accordance with the two-state solution and relevant resolutions of international legitimacy,” according to the report.
The King’s diplomatic adviser Khalid bin Khalifa tweeted that the agreement “is in the interest of the security, stability and prosperity of the region, and sends a positive and encouraging message to the people of Israel that a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinian people is the best way and the true interest for their future and the future of the peoples of the region.”
Netanyahu welcomed the agreement in a statement and claimed more Arab countries would follow suit.
“It took 26 years to get from the second peace agreement with an Arab country to the third agreement, and it took not 26 years but 29 days to go from the third peace agreement with an Arab country to the fourth, and there will be more,” Netanyahu said.
Trump’s top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner described the announcement as sign that a “new Middle East” is emerging.
Kushner who spearheaded the Trump administration’s failed efforts to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians wouldn’t directly address whether Bahrain has asked for any concessions as part of the deal, only saying that Bahrain is a very different country than the UAE.
Earlier this week, Kushner told reporters that they are “seriously” discussing selling F-35 stealth fighter jets to the UAE as part of the agreement to pursue a normalization deal with the Israel. Kushner noted that Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and the US will continue to develop its military ties with the kingdom.
But there was anger from Palestinians. Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi tweeted: “If you really wish to ‘advance the cause of peace, dignity, & economic opportunity for the Palestinian people’ how about ending Israel’s ruthless occupation & its theft of our land & resources? Coercing & cajoling Arabs to normalize with Israel will not bring you peace or dignity.”
Bahrain, a tiny island nation with significantly less natural wealth than most of its Arab Gulf neighbors, is regarded in some ways as an extension of Saudi Arabia, partly because they are physically linked by a causeway but also because the Bahraini monarchy is heavily reliant on Riyadh.
Officials said the agreement with Israel announced on Friday could likely not have happened without Saudi Arabia’s blessing, signaling that Bahrain may serve as a test case for a future Saudi-Israel deal.
Bahrain was home to one of the major popular uprisings during the Arab Spring, leading to a brutal crackdown by Saudi Arabia, which sent tanks over the causeway to crush the protests.
Bahrain, a small nation with significantly less natural wealth than some of its Arab Gulf neighbors, sits only 60 kilometers from Iran. Home to a Shiite majority ruled by Sunni sheikhs, Bahrain sees major benefit in this anti-Iran solidarity effort brokered by the United States.

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Israel Palestinians

Palestinians Rejected Tax Money to Slap Israel. It’s Not Israel That’s Hurting. – The New York Times

Palestinian families are suffering intensely as their government’s tax protest continues, even though the cause — Israel’s push to annex the West Bank — has been suspended.

Credit…Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Furious that Israel was about to annex large swaths of the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, took the painful step in June of refusing to accept taxes collected by Israel that account for more than 60 percent of the authority’s budget.

Then last month, Israel suspended the annexation plan as part of its agreement to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates. Because annexation remains a possibility, though, Mr. Abbas is still refusing to accept the money, in what some Palestinian officials privately say is more an attempt to save face than to force further changes in Israeli policy.

So while Mr. Abbas looks for some kind of gesture from Israel that he can hold up as a victory, and Israel refuses to commit to dropping annexation permanently, salaries in the territory are not being paid, families are enduring hardships, and the Palestinian Authority is careering toward bankruptcy.

Late Friday, the Palestinian leader suffered another setback when a second Gulf state, Bahrain, announced it, too, would normalize relations with Israel. With this, Bahrain defied Mr. Abbas’s longstanding demand that Arab countries normalize ties with Israel only after the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Diplomats have implored Mr. Abbas to relent on the tax issue and even some senior Palestinian officials are grumbling about the futility of his position.

But in the meantime, Abu Qusay, a schoolteacher in Hebron paid by the Palestinian Authority, has stopped buying meat for dinner. He has canceled his internet service, skipped neighborhood events where he would be expected to bring gifts, avoided using his car, and pleaded with his wife and four sons to turn off lights and take shorter showers.

“I could barely make ends meet on my usual salary,” said Abu Qusay, 37, who asked to be identified only by his nickname. Along with tens of thousands of other authority employees, he said he received none of his monthly salary — $1,030 — in June, and only half of it since. “Now, I feel like I can’t breathe,” he said. “I’m struggling to put food on the table for my kids.”

Rejecting the financial transfers from Israel meant forgoing more than $100 million a month in import taxes that Israel collects on the Palestinians’ behalf. It was one of the more drastic elements of a desperate strategy by Mr. Abbas to try to block annexation by cutting off all forms of coordination with Israel.


Credit…Pool photo by Alaa Badarneh

When annexation appeared likely, many Palestinians accepted the salary cuts as a necessary national sacrifice. But then, Israel backed away.

Frustrating the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel insisted to his right-wing supporters that he had not actually abandoned his plan to impose Israeli sovereignty over much of the West Bank, he had merely suspended it. So Mr. Abbas could not simply declare victory.

The deal with the U.A.E. was not made in coordination with the Palestinians and was part of a normalization deal that they adamantly oppose. And from the Palestinian perspective, suspending annexation wasn’t enough: They wanted it to be canceled.

As a result, Mr. Abbas has refused to go back to the way things were.

Diplomats who have met with him say that Mr. Abbas is intent on extracting some new concessions from Israel with which to assure the Palestinian public that his rejection of the money, and their summer-long hardship, were not all in vain.

Mr. Abbas’s office and several of his most senior aides all declined to comment.

When the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, encouraged Mr. Abbas to take the money in a meeting in Ramallah last week, Mr. Abbas responded, “In return for what?” according to a person familiar with details of the exchange.

In the meantime, however, Palestinian experts are warning that Mr. Abbas’s administration could soon go broke.


Credit…Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock

“I don’t think they have much tucked away,” said Raja Khalidi, an economist who runs a research institute in Ramallah. Local banks will soon reach a point at which they will be unable to lend money to the authority, he said. “It’s not as if there’s some slush fund they’re able to pull from.”

The Palestinian Authority has survived without the tax transfers for stretches of several months in the past, but doing so while a pandemic was battering its economy has made the situation even more precarious, Mr. Khalidi said.

The European Union, the United Nations, Britain and several Arab countries have all urged the Palestinian Authority to resume accepting the transfers from Israel, according to officials briefed on the talks.

“The fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority is overstretched and clearly unsustainable without the acceptance of transfers of the tax revenues collected by Israel,” Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, the European Union’s representative to the Palestinians, said last week.

“Those revenues are Palestinian and should be transferred and accepted irrespective of political tensions,” he said. “If no solution can be found, the entire system may collapse.”

Mr. Abbas told a group of Palestinian officials last week that he remained opposed to accepting the tax money under the decades-old economic agreements with Israel that governed those transfers. That opened the door to accepting the money on new terms. But he did not propose any.


Credit…Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

Mohammed Shtayyeh, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, has suggested that Mr. Abbas is refusing to accept the transfers because Israel is demanding that the Palestinians first deal directly with Israeli officials.

But Israeli security officials deny that Israel has placed any conditions on transferring the taxes to Ramallah, and say that the Palestinians need only decide to accept them.

The longer the standoff grinds on, the more it is straining the patience and fortitude of the Palestinian Authority’s work force.

While some employees said that they continued to value “national considerations” above financial ones, others contended that it highlighted a disconnect between Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian rank-and-file.

“He made the decision, but he’s not paying the price for it,” said Abu Qusay, the teacher in Hebron. “I’m the one paying the price. The president’s life hasn’t changed at all. He still has cars, bodyguards and everything he would ever need.”

Some criticism has stirred within Mr. Abbas’s own faction. As early as June, Nasser al-Kidwa, a Fatah central committee member, questioned the rejection of the transfers in a briefing with journalists. And in recent weeks, senior Fatah leaders have privately described Mr. Abbas’s position as counterproductive, officials say.

Nabil Amr, a former Palestinian Authority information minister, said he thought the authority should accept the tax transfers as long as Israel does not try to extract anything in return, repeatedly calling it “our money.”

The dissent has not yet boiled over, in part because Palestinians who work for the authority are generally leery of openly criticizing the leadership for fear of reprisal.


Credit…Samar Hazboun for The New York Times

An officer in the Palestinian security forces, who insisted on anonymity, said his financial predicament had deteriorated so much that he had sold his only car, made his family go without air-conditioning despite the sweltering heat and made his daughter walk to school to save bus fare. His monthly salary has been cut to $515 from $735.

“I feel totally incapacitated,” said the 31-year-old officer, based in Hebron. “My heart was broken the other day when I told my son I couldn’t afford a $7 toy he asked me to buy him.”

And in Ramallah, a civil servant named Maher, who withheld his last name and the ministry where he works for fear of retaliation, said his life had been turned upside down.

Not only was his salary of $2,060 slashed in half, but he has also lost a side job translating at international conferences because those have all been canceled over the coronavirus. He said he was overwhelmed with debt and struggling to afford the bare necessities.

“I used to be a well-to-do person,” said Maher, 52, a father of three. “Now, I feel helpless. Totally helpless.”

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condemns Israel

Iran condemns UAE deal with Israel, saying it’s a ‘huge mistake’ – Fox News

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani condemned this week’s agreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, saying in a heated speech Saturday that the UAE made a “huge mistake.”

Rouhani called the new diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel a “betrayal of the will of the Palestinian people and the will of Muslims.”

In a historic move, the UAE became the third country in the Middle East to officially establish diplomatic ties with Israel, in an alleged attempt to stop Israel from annexing the West Bank – a policy Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long pushed for.


“We are warning them [UAE] do not invite Israel into this region, they will have a different agenda you may be treated in a different way to now,” Rouhani said in a speech translated by Global News.

“They have made a huge mistake and committed a treacherous act,” he added.

Netanyahu has since made it clear that Israel has not ended any plans for the annexation of the West Bank, but rather the policy has been “temporarily” put on hold.

Palestinians also have said this new alliance is not a show of increased peace or security in the region, but rather a move the further legitimizes Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

“I never expected this poison dagger to come from an Arab country,” a senior Palestinian official and veteran negotiator, Saeb Erekat said Friday. “You are rewarding aggression.”

“You have destroyed, with this move, any possibility of peace between Palestinians and Israelis,” he added.

Western nations and Israel deemed the new agreement between the two Middle Eastern countries a success story — an alliance that has been sought after since the establishment of Israel in 1948.

But Palestinians, along with some other Arab nations view the move as an indicator that Israel is no longer receiving pressure to recognize the 1967 borders dictated by the United Nations.

The U.N. recognizes Israel as having illegally occupied Palestine since 1967 – a policy that Netanyahu has refused to acknowledge.


“Today we usher in a new era of peace between Israel and the Arab world,” President Trump said this week. “There is a good chance we will soon see more Arab countries joining this expanding circle of peace.”

But Iran believes that counter to this agreement showing stabilization in the region, it exemplifies that Israel no longer needs to broker peace with Palestinians in order to grow its diplomatic ties in the Middle East.

“They think that if they bring themselves closer to the United States or the Zionist regime, their security will be ensured and their economy will grow, and this is completely wrong,” Rouhani said Saturday.

Palestinian officials called on the Arab League and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to urgently gather for a meeting to condemn the new relationship.

Though Turkey and Iran are the only members of the OIC that have so far denounced the new ties.

Wealthy nations within the OIC, like the UAE and Saudi Arabia have taken great strides to distance themselves from Iran and Iranian proxies operating under state sponsored terrorism in the region.

Saudi Arabia also has been working with the U.S. in the Middle East to oust terrorist networks linked to Iran – a nation that the Trump administration has increasingly been at odds with.


Egypt and Jordan are the two other countries in the Middle East that have established official diplomatic relations with Israel. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia also have strong ties with Egypt and Jordan, suggesting that as the oil-powerhouses in the region align with the U.S. and Israel, Palestinian sovereignty is looking less likely.

Iran further threatened to purposefully disrupt peace in the Middle East. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard released a statement that said the UAE-Israel deal would “accelerate the process of the destruction of the child-killing Zionist regime,” Reuters reported Saturday.

Iran has claimed this new found alliance is merely a political move to garner votes for President Trump during an election year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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debates Israel

As Israel debates West Bank annexation, here’s what two former peace envoys think – NBC News

Almost 27 years ago, two officials — a Palestinian and an Israeli — thought their respective sides had found a path to peace. Now, as Israel debates plans to annex land the Palestinians envisage for a future state, their hopes for a shared future, with two states co-existing side by side, seem to be slipping further away.

Nabil Shaath clearly remembers the day the Oslo Accord was sealed with a handshake on the White House lawn in 1993, raising hopes that Palestinians would soon have a state alongside Israel.

“I felt that it was absolutely possible that within 20, 25 years there would be a totally different Middle East with prosperity and peace and stability,” said Shaath, who is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser on foreign affairs and international relations.

“But what do I predict today? Chaos,” said Shaath, who helped lead Palestinian efforts to implement the 1993 accord in further peace negotiations with Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres signs the initial Oslo Accord as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat look on at the White House on Sept. 13, 1993.J. David Ake / AFP – Getty Images file

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Cabinet discussions would begin as early as July 1 on his plan to extend Israeli sovereignty to territory in the West Bank that Palestinians seek for a future state. Annexation was one of his major campaign pledges to right-wing voters before the election in March.

The exact land Netanyahu plans to annex remains unclear, but he has indicated that it will fit within the Trump administration’s plan for peace in the region, which was announced in January. The United States’ so-called deal of the century would allow Israel to annex about a third of the West Bank, including major settlement blocs, as well as the strategic and fertile Jordan Valley, the region’s breadbasket, on the border with Jordan.

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However, the Palestinians, who were not involved in developing the Trump plan, have rejected it and annexation, which would leave them with scattered territorial enclaves. The proposal would also impose conditions for statehood, including law enforcement control, free and fair elections and demilitarization.

The other official, the Israeli, is Yossi Beilin, who as Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs was one of the chief architects of the historic 1993 Oslo peace process with the Palestinians. He has also warned against unilateral annexation, saying it could lead to a de facto one-state scenario rather than two independent states.

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Yossi Beilin, then a member of the Israeli Parliament, speaks to the media after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2007. Loay Abu Haykel / Reuters file

In that situation, it would become difficult to deny Palestinians Israeli citizenship without Israel’s being accused of creating an apartheid state and jeopardizing the Jewish majority in Israel.

“The world will move from the support of the two-state solution to one-person, one-vote,” Beilin said. “If on the 1st of July there is annexation, the threat against the Jewish state is huge.”

By contrast, Shaath said the Palestinians would accept a democratic, secular state for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Annexation would violate international law, peace agreements and the Oslo Accord, said Shaath, who negotiated with Beilin, directly and indirectly, for years.

“It will make what remains of Palestine totally incapable of developing an economy and developing a unified society, building the institution of the state,” he said.

Over the years the pair became good friends, and Beilin even attended Shaath’s wedding.

Together, they have watched as the prospect of peace has slowly faded.

Nabil Shaath, then the Palestinian foreign minister, is mobbed by journalists in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in June 2003. Nicholas Kamm / AFP file

Beilin, however, is optimistic that even if the government proceeds with annexing parts of the West Bank, it will not permanently spell the end of a two-state solution, because Israelis will ultimately reject a one-state solution.

What’s more, he added, while it would be difficult, it is not impossible for lawmakers to reverse a decision to extend Israeli sovereignty over land in the West Bank if 80 out of 120 agree in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

Israel captured the West Bank, a kidney-shaped territory dotted with olive trees, stone walls and biblical towns, from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Since then, the construction of Israeli settlements has ballooned, and the territory is now home to more than 425,000 Israelis, as well as almost 2.7 million Palestinians, according to figures collated by Peace Now, an Israeli organization that advocates for a two-state solution.

The settlements, which range from small outposts to cities with tens of thousands of people, are considered illegal by most of the international community. However, last year the U.S. reversed its decadeslong position that they violated international law.

Israeli soldiers sit at a watchtower in the Jewish settlement of Otniel in the occupied West Bank on June 3, 2020. Menahem Kahana / AFP – Getty Images

The extension of Israeli sovereignty to those settlements, however, is a final step toward Israel’s being able to keep the land.

Last week, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned that if Israel proceeds with annexation, the Palestinian Authority will declare a Palestinian state based on the armistice lines before the 1967 war, with East Jerusalem as its capital, according to the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds.

It remains unclear whether the U.S. will greenlight the annexation if there is no sign of Israeli negotiations with the Palestinians. Israel’s agreeing to negotiations was one of the conditions for the U.S. to recognize Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, a senior administration official told NBC News this year.

Netanyahu has faced increasing international pressure to call off the annexation, including urgings from the European Union, the Arab League and Norway, which helped broker the 1993 and 1995 Oslo accords. The king of Jordan, which Israel has a peace agreement with, has warned Israel of a “massive conflict” if it proceeds.

Shaath hopes the outcry and warnings of the international community will persuade Israel not to proceed — the hope being, he said, that if the Palestinians can survive five or 10 more years of the status quo, leadership in the U.S. and Israel will have changed and the prospects of a peaceful settlement will have been revived.

“The period 1994 to 1999, this was paradise,” he said wistfully. “There was a real possibility of peace then. Today, I don’t see it.”

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Annexation Israel

As Israel Vows Annexation, Palestinian Leaders Embark On Risky Form Of Protest – NPR

Palestinians demonstrate against Israel’s annexation plans in Rafah, Gaza, on June 11. Palestinian leaders have begun refusing to coordinate with Israel on matters of daily Palestinian life, from tax collection to policing to medical treatments — a move some Palestinians see as self-defeating.

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Palestinians demonstrate against Israel’s annexation plans in Rafah, Gaza, on June 11. Palestinian leaders have begun refusing to coordinate with Israel on matters of daily Palestinian life, from tax collection to policing to medical treatments — a move some Palestinians see as self-defeating.

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex parts of the occupied West Bank next month, with support from the U.S., Palestinians find themselves with no recourse to stop Israel from grabbing the land they seek for a state. So Palestinian leaders are embracing a risky method of protest.

They declared last month they’re no longer bound by the 1990s-era peace accords that govern Israeli-Palestinian relations, and have begun refusing to coordinate with Israel on matters of daily Palestinian life, from tax collection to policing to cancer treatments — arrangements they’ve found humiliating.

As Palestinian leaders see it, Israel — by moving to annex territory instead of negotiating its fate — is not holding up its side of the peace agreements. So the Palestinians will stop holding up theirs.

“This is an issue in which we cannot be silent on,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said in a June 9 briefing with reporters. “Annexation is an existential threat for our future.”

Shtayyeh said the threat of annexation requires Palestinians to make sacrifices, but vowed not to resort to violence.

By disrupting the status quo, Palestinian leaders want to seize the world’s attention and scare Israel into abandoning annexation plans. But international donors have criticized the Palestinians for shirking their commitment to the peace accords, and ordinary Palestinians are paying the price for the disruptions in funds, policing and medical care.

“We put our finger in our mouth, bit ourselves, and are waiting for the Israelis to scream,” a Palestinian security official says, speaking on condition of anonymity to criticize government policy.

Hospital visits blocked

Palestinians who received transplants in Israeli hospitals say they now cannot get post-operative care because Palestinian bureaucrats refuse to arrange their travel permits to Israel or guarantee they’ll pay for the treatment. Palestinian authorities also refuse to coordinate with Israel to allow Palestinian patients to travel outside the impoverished Gaza Strip for life-saving treatments, according to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

Souad Abdel Hadi, 49, was diagnosed last month with leukemia but is unable to travel from Gaza to a West Bank hospital for a bone marrow transplant.

“This is a human situation. This is a medical situation. We are sick people who need treatment and should not be hostages to this political situation,” she tells NPR by telephone.

The Palestinian Authority called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to serve as an intermediary with Israel for medical and security matters now that the Palestinians are suspending their ties with Israel, but the organization said it does not have the resources to administer medical referrals.

“We got calls from families of patients, but basically, we had to sort of clarify that we are not in a position to take that on right now,” says Dan Waites, a spokesperson with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Breakdown in taxes and policing

Palestinian officials are now refusing to accept any of the tax revenues Israel collects on their behalf, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinian civil servants unlikely to get full paychecks this month. The $145 million a month Israel transfers to the Palestinians is estimated to make up about 60% of the Palestinian Authority’s budget.

Officials have also stopped updating Israel when they’ve renewed a Palestinian’s car registration or driver’s license, so Israeli police have erroneously issued some drivers heavy fines on West Bank highways, the Palestinian security official says.

Palestinian security officers usually coordinate their movements with Israel, a joint security mechanism to keep the West Bank calm, but officers have been ordered not to speak to their Israeli counterparts.

Security officials claim the suspension of security coordination with Israel has prevented Palestinian police from intervening in deadly cases of domestic violence. In one case though, there are allegations police used that as an excuse for its failure to prevent a killing.

On May 31, three Palestinians were killed in a family dispute, apparently concerning gold rumored to be stored in a relative’s home. Ordinarily, Palestinian police would have needed to ask Israel’s permission to pass through Israeli-controlled areas to intervene in the village. Palestinian police claimed it was unable to dispatch officers to defuse the dispute, due to suspended security ties with Israel, and that officers living in the area unsuccessfully tried to intervene. A relative of the family, who spoke to NPR on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of discussing a killing in his family, disputed the police account, saying a police officer detained suspects but later freed them, leading to the shooting.

“We’re living annexation anyway”

Over the years, Palestinians have fought uprisings against Israel, and they’ve signed peace accords — but none of it has won them independence, and years of international condemnation have not stopped Israeli settlements from growing in the West Bank.

Some Palestinians are calling for a whole new approach — not to fight to preserve the possibility of an independent Palestinian state, but to acknowledge its impossibility.

“It’s a waste of time if we keep using the same tools and repeating the same statements and relying on the international community to put pressure on Israel,” says Dalal Iriqat, a professor of conflict resolution at the Arab American University in the West Bank. “The number of settlements, expansion, it left no space, geographically speaking, for our Palestinian state … we’re living annexation anyway, de facto. So why don’t we sit back, watch it happen, and have Netanyahu declare the end of the two-state solution?”

The growing consensus among Palestinian intellectuals is that Jewish settlement growth in the West Bank has left no room left for a viable Palestinian state, and that the only option is one state for Israelis and Palestinians, with equal rights for all. That would mean ending the idea of a Jewish state. Though Israel would oppose it, Iriqat is confident that in the distant future, it will prove to be the only realistic option for two peoples inextricably linked in the same small land.

“Universal values, universal human rights and civil rights will definitely prevail,” says Iriqat. “Even if it takes time.”

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'strawberry' Israel

Rare ‘strawberry moon’ lights up sky in Israel and around world – The Times of Israel

Skies in Israel and around much of the globe were lit up Friday night with what is affectionately known as a “strawberry moon.”

The name for the penumbral lunar eclipse comes from the full moon’s reddish color that is a result of the earth coming between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the latter. The title was donned by Native Americans as it takes place during the short season for harvesting strawberries in the northeastern United States.

The eclipse was visible in the Middle East, eastern Africa, southern Asia and Australia, according to NASA, which said that other parts of the world will see the full moon, but not with a red hue.

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However, North America will be able to see the strawberry moon next month, NASA said.

People watch the “Strawberry Moon” rise over the ocean on Narrawallee Beach on the South Coast of New South Wales on June 6, 2020. (David Gray/AFP)

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Court Israel

Israel’s High Court Clears Way for Benjamin Netanyahu to Form Next Government – The Wall Street Journal

TEL AVIV—Israel’s top court ruled that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a government while under indictment, removing a final hurdle in the incumbent’s bid to remain in power as he goes on trial later this month on corruption charges.

The High Court this week reviewed eight separate petitions challenging a deal between Mr. Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz to form a unity government after three inconclusive elections in a year. The two politicians said the coronavirus pandemic necessitated an end to continued political…

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