Palestine 2018 Part 4


Islamic jihad changes leader

September 27th

Terror-stamped Islamic jihad has changed leaders. Ziad al-Nakhala, who was born in Gaza but has Syria as his base, replaces Ramadan Shalah who has led the organization for 20 years but is now alleged to be in a coma. Islamic jihad, which opposes the peace treaties concluded between Palestinians and Israelis in the 1990s, has ties to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

The US forces the PLO to close offices

September 10

The PLO’s representative office in Washington must be closed, states the US State Department. The decision is justified by the fact that the PLO – which has international diplomatic recognition as a representative of the Palestinian people – does not offer to achieve peace with Israel. The PLO has rejected a yet-to-be proposed U.S. peace proposal, emphasizes the US Department of Foreign Affairs, which also criticizes Palestinian attempts to get Israelis indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The PLO office in Washington was opened in 1994, the same year that Palestinian and Israeli leaders received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Paraguay regrets Jerusalem decision

September 5

Paraguay’s newly appointed President Mario Abdo Benítez announces that the country’s Israeli embassy will be moved back to Tel Aviv, just a few months after it followed the US in its tracks and moved its mission to Jerusalem. Israel replies with the message that the Israeli embassy in Paraguay will be closed (see December 6, 2017).

Israel’s HD: Beduin Village gets demolished

September 5

The Supreme Court in Israel gives the sign of demolishing the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on the West Bank, which is close to Israeli settlements a few miles from Jerusalem. HD refuses attempts to prevent the demolition, as housing is considered the black building. From the Palestinian side, it is claimed that it is impossible to obtain a building permit on the land, which Israel occupies (see May 24, 2018).


Palestinians boycott Jerusalem elections

October 30th

As a state located in Asia continent defined by politicsezine, Israel holds elections for municipal councils and mayor posts, every five years. In occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinians have the right to participate in Israel’s local elections, but most seem to boycott the elections. However, there is a list of Arab candidates, topped by Ramadan Dabash. He has Israeli citizenship, as few of the 300,000 Arabs in East Jerusalem have.

Threats to terminate cooperation on security

October 29th

The Palestinian Central Council – one of the governing bodies of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) – is ready to withdraw recognition of Israel and end security cooperation with the Israelis, unless Israel recognizes a Palestinian state. The Council empowers President Abbas and the PLO leadership to make decisions. Security cooperation is largely directed at the Islamist movement Hamas, which is rejected by both Israel and the Abbas community. But Palestinians are now worried that Israel is seeking better contacts with Arab countries that traditionally party to the Palestinians. Israeli ministerial visits to Oman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been reported this past week.

US closes consulate in Jerusalem

October 18

The US closes its Consulate General in Jerusalem, which handles Palestinian affairs, and allows the new Israeli embassy to take over the affairs of the Palestinian territories. Palestinian representatives see the decision as another sign that the United States no longer supports a two-state solution. “The Trump administration is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” said PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erakat, who is also a longtime peace negotiator (see May 14 and September 10).

Israeli HD lets in student

October 18

The Supreme Court in Israel decides that an American-Palestinian student must be admitted into the country. Lara Alqasem has been admitted to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and landed on October 2, but she was denied entry citing a contentious law from 2017. According to the law, a person may be refused entry if she supports boycotts against Israel based on how Palestinians are treated. Lara Alqasem was previously chair of a student association at the University of Florida in Students for Justice in Palestine.

Qatar pays for electricity to Gazabor

October 10

Qatar promises $ 150 million in aid to the Gaza Strip. The day before, Gaza’s only power station received fuel for which the Qatarians paid. The United Nations Development Program UNDP has been commissioned to monitor the transfer of aid. For several months, the Gazans have had access to electricity for only four hours a day on average. Lack of clean water is one of the problems that arises. The Gaza Strip is being held under block by Israel since the Islamist party Hamas took power in the 2007 strip.


Housing services in political hot air

20th of November

Settlers are upset that the American site Airbnb, which is booking accommodation in private housing, has decided not to list rentals offered in Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank. Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls on other booking companies to note, pointing out that Palestinians are discriminated against: they are not accepted as guests. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in turn, calls for a boycott of Airbnb. Israeli tourism ministers say settlers will get help if they want to go to court to try to get the ban lifted.

Mobilization around UNRWA after US departure

November 19

A number of countries – most notably Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and EU countries such as Sweden – have expanded their contributions to UNRWA to cover the holes created in the UN’s budget since the US withdrew its $ 300 million grant to Palestinian refugees. The shortfall this year has been reduced to $ 21 million, announces UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl. Donald Trump’s government has also withdrawn $ 200 million in bilateral US aid, which would have gone to Palestinian projects on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Milestone in clearer US support for Israel in the UN

November 16

The United States is voting for the first time against an annual resolution in the UN General Assembly condemning Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967. Up to now, the United States has always abstained. The occupation has never had international support, but the United States has been milder in its criticism of Israel than other countries. In this vote, no country other than Israel and the United States votes against the condemnation and 14 countries abstain. The resolution is not binding on the member states.

Arms rest and Israeli ministerial defection

November 14

An armistice is announced between Israel and Hamas following the recent outbreak of violence in the Gaza Strip. In protest, Avigdor Lieberman leaves the post of defense minister. He opposes Israeli agreements with the Islamist movement, which has local power in Gaza. If Lieberman sticks to the message, his party Yisrael Beiteinu also leaves the Netanyahu government, which without that party has a single vote majority in parliament.

Invasion of the Gaza Strip triggers a spiral of violence

November 11

An Israeli elite force enters the southern Gaza Strip in a civilian vehicle. The action is aimed at a commander of the Islamist Hamas armed branch. Shotgun exchanges. Seven Palestinians and one of the Israeli military lose their lives. The incident triggers a rain of over 400 grenades from militant Palestinians against Israel and Israeli aerial bombings against 150 targets in Gaza.

Money for wages from Qatar

November 9

Palestinian officials begin to pay outstanding salaries to Gaza public servants. The money for the Hamas-controlled administration comes from Qatar. The transfer of $ 15 million has been approved by Israel – and banknotes are being brought into suitcases, witnesses say. In total, Qatar has pledged $ 90 million, with payouts in six months. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah dislikes its rivals in Hamas being strengthened in this way, the circle around President Abbas believes it is undermining attempts at reconciliation talks between the Palestinian factions. According to the reports, Israel must have approved the banknote transport in exchange for Hamas stepping down protests against Israel at the Gaza Strip border.

Refugees return to Syrian camp

November 6

Palestinian refugees are expected to return to the Yarmuk camp in southern Damascus, which was severely ravaged during the Syrian civil war. Before the war broke out in 2011, Yarmuk housed 160,000 Palestinians, who were refugees from the time of Israel’s founding in 1948. From Yarmuk, most fled again in 2012 and the Islamic State (IS) entered Yarmuk in 2015, but in May 2018 the government army expelled the jihadists. The Assad regime’s Deputy Foreign Minister now states that the government plans to move the Palestinians back to the ghost town. The minister opens for the UN or the Palestinian Authority to build schools and more in Yarmuk.

Palestine 2018 Part 4