Purpose: to provide a varied selection of articles from Arabic, Hebrew and English mainstream media outlets so readers get a flavour of what is being said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different perspectives. The content and opinions of these articles do not reflect our aims or opinions. Please BE RESOURCEFUL and research for yourself a diversity of sources for everything you read or hear about Israel-Palestine.
Political Update: May 14th-20th
Arabic News Sources (English versions):
PNN: IOF demolish Palestinian’s home to connect two settlements, Jerusalem
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Wednesday morning have demolished the home of a Palestinian family in Jerusalem, to open a road that connects two illegal Israeli settlements. Soldiers broke into the Shuafat neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, evacuated the house and formed a military cord around the area, then prevented the Palestinians from approaching it before the demolition. The demolition came under the usual pretext of having no building permit, which Israel refused to give it to the family even though they have been trying to get it for years.
Al Jazeera, Zena Tahhan: 'We are the generation that will return to Palestine'
Palestinian youth hailing from refugee camps across historic Palestine and Lebanon have launched a joint campaign to commemorate the 68th year since Nakba - or the "catastrophe" that befell the Palestinian people when Israel proclaimed statehood in 1948. Titled #Campaign68, the initiative is distinctive for its unprecedented level of coordination across camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the 48 territories and Lebanon, where activities are being held in conjunction with one another. The descendants of those expelled Palestinians, which now number five million, are still living in camps across the region and within Palestine itself. "We want to send the message that the camps are the token of the Right of Return…We are the generation that will return to Palestine," Ziad Mekdadi, a Palestinian refugee living in Lebanon and an organiser from the Palestinian Youth Network, told Al Jazeera.
Ma’an News, Lily Leach: Jewish extremist arrested in Dawabsha murders case to be released in two weeks
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Jewish extremist Meor Ettinger, who was arrested in the wake of a deadly arson attack that killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family in the West Bank last summer, is to be released from Israeli custody. Israeli state prosecutors decided not to extend his administrative detention when his remand expires at the end of May, Israeli media reported. Two Israeli suspects were indicted for murder for the incident in January, five months after suspects belonging to a Jewish terror organization set the home of the Dawabsha family ablaze, killing 18-month-old Ali Saad immediately. The infant’s parents, Riham and Saad, later died from severe burns, leaving 4-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha the only surviving member of the family. Police said he was suspected of "nationalist crimes," but did not accuse him of direct involvement in the attack in which the toddler died. His coming release has is viewed by many as an example of what activists and rights groups have called a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians, while also providing a unique example of administrative detention being used against an Israeli.
Al Arabiya: Sisi offers mediating role in Israel-Palestinian peace talks
On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised Israel warmer ties if it accepts efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, urging Israeli leaders not to waste an opportunity to bring security and hope to a troubled region. In an impromptu speech at an infrastructure conference in the southern city of Assiut, Sisi said his country was willing to mediate a reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions in an effort to pave the way toward a lasting peace accord with the Israelis. “If we are able to solve the issue of our Palestinian brothers it will achieve warmer peace ... I ask that the Israeli leadership allow this speech to be broadcast in Israel one or two times as this is a genuine opportunity,” Sisi said. French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday an international conference due in late May in Paris to relaunch peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis had been postponed but would take place this summer. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told France’s foreign minister on Sunday that Israel remained opposed to a French initiative for an international conference to try to revive peace talks.
Al Jazeera, Jonathon Cook: Annexing archaeology: Will UNESCO take on Israel?
Palestinian and Israeli archaeologists warned this week that Israel is stepping up its efforts to seize control of Palestinian heritage sites and antiquities in the occupied territories, in violation of international law. The experts echoed criticisms levelled against Israel in a recent resolution passed by the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO, that accused Israel of interfering with major holy sites in occupied areas. Ahmed Rajoub, an archaeologist in the Palestinian tourism and antiquities ministry, said Israel was preparing to turn a dozen important heritage sites in the West Bank into Israeli national parks. Rajoub noted that more than half of the occupied territories' 7,000 archaeological sites were located in Area C, which was placed temporarily under Israeli control by the Oslo accords in the 1990s. "We have reached the point where Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem - even though everyone is agreed it was done in violation of international law - has been airbrushed out of the public discourse," the UN official said.
Hebrew News Sources (English versions):
Haaretz, Jonathan Lis: Citing 'Lack of Faith' in Netanyahu, Ya'alon Quits Knesset and Political Life
On Friday morning, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announced that he is quitting the government and the Knesset. "I notified the prime minister this morning that following his conduct in the latest developments and in view of the lack of trust in him, I am resigning from the government and the Knesset and taking time out from political life," Ya'alon wrote on Facebook. He added he will deliver a statement to the media at the IDF's headquarters in Tel Aviv later on Friday. The latest confrontation between Netanyahu and Ya'alon, which took place at the beginning of the week, was over the public backing Ya'alon gave senior IDF officials to express their opinions. His remarks followed Netanyahu's criticism of comments made by IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Haaretz, Sharon Pulwer: Palestinian Convicted After Admitting to Killing Israeli Soldier, Despite Pleading Not Guilty
On Wednesday, a Palestinian man was convicted of murder despite contradicting his own not-guilty plea. Nur a-Din Hashiya stabbed Israel Defense Forces Sgt. Almog Shiloni, 20, at a Tel Aviv train station in November 2014 and was found guilty of committing premeditated murder. Shiloni died of his wounds some hours after the attack. At the start of his trial, Hashiya denied the charges. The court was therefore surprised when he stated during his testimony that he had killed Shiloni “because of what your rabbis are doing on Al-Aqsa.”
Jerusalem Post, Dana Somberg and Maariv Hashavua: Netanyahu, Liberman agree on death penalty for terrorists in negotiations
Coalition negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu chair Avigdor Liberman were almost complete, after Netanyahu agreed to the condition of setting the death penalty for those who commit terror activities. Members from both parties exchanged a final draft of the agreement on Thursday agreeing on the death penalty, however both have not agreed on the specific conditions. Liberman accepted Netanyahu’s offer of the defense and immigration and absorption portfolios on Wednesday afternoon.
Ynet News, Itamar Eichner: Suspect in 1980 Paris synagogue bombing released
Hassan Diab, who has been accused of a 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that claimed the lives of Israeli citizen Aliza Shagrir and three French nationals, was released from prison to house arrest on Saturday. Diab, 61, a Canadian citizen of Lebanese origin, was extradited a year and half ago from Canada to France after having fought the extradition for six years. The judge who released him argued that there are doubts surrounding the fundamental question of whether Diab was even in France at the time of the attack. Diab, a sociology professor, has been accused of being part of the PFLP-EO terrorist cell (the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine-External Operations) that carried out the attack.
The Times of Israel, Raoul Wootliff and Agencies: Abbas welcomes Egyptian president’s peace push
On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s bid for new peace talks, while the Hamas hailed his call for internal Palestinian reconciliation. In a rare direct appeal to Palestinians and Israelis, Sissi had urged the two peoples to draw hope from the “real and stable peace” between Israel and Egypt. In a live televised statement, Sissi said he saw a “real opportunity” for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement that would also lead to warmer ties between Egypt and the Jewish state.
Jerusalem Post, Tovah Lazaroff: Palestinians want French initiative to set timetable for Israeli West Bank withdrawal
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told reporters on Monday in an English-language peace conference that ‘[t]he new French peace initiative should set a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967’ and that perhaps those involved in the initiative could ‘set a time limit for the withdrawal of the Israeli troops’ in addition to ‘the establishment of the Palestinian sovereign independent state over the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as our capital’, he added. Netanyahu told Ayrault he opposes the two-phase initiative involving a Paris meeting on the grounds that such a conference would only embolden Abbas to refuse to hold direct talks with Israel, further emphasising that face-to-face negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict.
US-UK News Sources:
The Guardian, Peter Beaumont: Israel action threatens to close down rights group and 'chill' free speech
Breaking the Silence, a high-profile Israeli human rights group that publishes the anonymous testimonies of soldiers in the Palestinian territories, is facing a court hearing that threatens to shut down its work in what is being viewed as a crucial test case for civil society. The case, which will be heard in court next week, is being brought by the Israeli government, which is demanding that the organisation identify anonymous serving military personnel who have given it testimony relating to alleged crimes in the 2014 Gaza war. The group says this is likely to deter future potential testifiers coming forward. The move follows months of attacks on the group by leading politicians as well as right-wing activists and it was publicly accused of treason by Israel’s Defense Minister. Breaking the Silence staff and its legal team say the legal moves not only pose a threat to the group but also threaten to “chill” both free speech and human rights activism in Israel.
Reuters, Jeffrey Heller: Netanyahu pulls off coalition surprise to upend Israeli politics
On Wednesday, Netanyahu crushed the opposition, shored up his support in his narrow, rightist coalition and put himself more firmly on course to become Israel's longest-serving leader. However, Netanyahu's surprise pact with Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, widely expected to be finalised by the weekend, and dashing talks with the centre left was already raising Palestinian and international concern. Lieberman, a settler in the occupied West Bank, has stirred controversy by questioning Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's commitment to peace and the loyalty of Israel's Arab minority, while pushing for stronger military action against Gaza's Hamas rulers. "It's already an extremist government and now it will get even more extreme. This government will block any horizon for peace," said Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. An Egyptian official told Reuters: "We're shocked, we're really shocked." He noted that the Lieberman appointment came just a day after a speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised Cairo's help to try to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Washington Post, William Booth: Israel tells France it’s not interested in multilateral peace talks
French officials said Sunday that they will continue to press ahead with plans to host a multilateral Middle East peace conference later this year, despite hearing, in blunt language, that Israel doesn’t like the idea. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to promote what diplomats are calling the “French Initiative,” a still evolving and vague diplomatic project that seeks to bring global attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and find consensus among the international community on how to move forward with a two-state solution. The French are planning to host about 30 foreign ministers — from Europe and the Middle East as well as Russia, China and India — at a preparatory meeting at the end of this month, which could lead to a peace conference later this year. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians, who support the French Initiative, will attend the May meeting in Paris. Israeli officials have been pressing Washington to pour cold water on the French effort, which seeks to fill the vacuum left behind by the Obama administration, which declared that it would not be making any major move to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
The New York Times, Isabel Kershner: Benjamin Netanyahu Seeks Ultranationalists for Coalition in Israel
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to bring the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party into his governing coalition by offering to name its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, defense minister, according to politicians across Israel’s political map. Just hours before meeting Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Netanyahu seemed to have been closing in on a coalition agreement with Isaac Herzog, the leader of the center-left Zionist Union and the head of the opposition in the Knesset. After days of intense back-room negotiations, Mr. Herzog, whose party advocates accommodation with the Palestinians, had been expected to serve as foreign minister, an appointment that was partly intended to ease international pressure on Israel. Mr. Lieberman is widely perceived as a controversial figure: he demands the death penalty for Palestinians convicted of acts of terrorism; he has called in the past for the toppling of Hamas and once suggested that Israel could bomb the Aswan Dam in any future military confrontation with Egypt.
The Times of Israel, Avi Issacharoff: Is Israel trading Bogey for a bogeyman? Not so fast
Issacharoff tries to relieve the reader of any panic stirred by the appointment of Avigdor Liberman as the new defense minister by insisting that ‘pragmatism may end up saving the day’. He dedicates the first half of his piece to giving Moshe Ya’alon the credit that he deserves for being ‘a partner to Arab states and the Palestinian Authority on untold operations’ and contrasts him with his successor, who is ‘known mostly for brow-beating Arabs’ and once promised to kill Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh within 48 hours if the bodies of two Israeli soldiers were not returned from Gaza. Nonetheless, he reminds us that whilst Liberman is famous for his hawkish positions and extremist views, he is also ‘a pragmatic politician and opportunist’. Issacharoff speculates that Liberman’s first move will be to try to stabilise the defense establishment in a bid to prove he’s a responsible political figure with the country’s interests at heart.
Haaretz, Haaretz Editorial: Israelis Will Pay Dearly for Their Prime Minister's Reckless Appointment
The author brands Netanyahu’s appointment of Lieberman as the new defense minister as incredibly ‘reckless and irresponsible’ and for the sole purpose of staying in power. He has chosen, in the author’s eyes, to veer Israel towards ‘an ideological, racist coalition that aims to entrench the occupation, expand the settlements in the territories, oppress the Arab minority and undermine Israeli democracy’. Elevating an individual who Netanyahu described only a month ago as a ‘lazy amateur…unworthy of a military analyst position’ to such an influential position makes even less sense, he/she argues. The article ends on an ominous note warning that ‘[t]he high price will be paid by Israel’s citizens and their Palestinian neighbours’.
Ynet News, Ben-Dror Yemini: Lieberman isn’t so bad
Yemini puts forward the argument that the Labour Party are mainly to blame for Herzog losing out on the chance to be included into a coalition government as they were waging ‘a battle of epic proportions’ against him’ only to denounce Netanyahu’s appointment. Yemini concedes that Lieberman occasionally ‘says something ghastly’ but brands him as a ‘serious and responsible statesman’ pointing to his support for John Kerry’s peace proposal when serving as Foreign Minister. In the end, Yemini’s diagnosis is that the Labour Party has ended up shooting itself in the foot by trying to get rid of Herzog.
+972 Magazine, David Sarna Galdi: Jewish education’s sin of omission
Galdi discusses his ‘quintessential Zionist Jewish-American upbringing’ and the notable omission of any discussion of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank throughout his entire Jewish schooling. It was only when he moved to Israel that he became aware of the history and status-quo of life for Palestinians. He argues that failing to openly discuss thorny issues in Jewish institutions such as school is ‘about as irresponsible as teaching American history without mentioning slavery’. He then outlines the moral dilemma faced by Jewish educators and politicians, who wish to advance a nationalist ideology for the Jewish diaspora but do not know how to reconcile this with explaining the reality of Israel’s policies in the West Bank. The usual resort to this, Galdi argues, ‘is equating any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism’. However, the author assures us that addressing the elephant in the room is the only way to ‘make Israel great again’.