On Thursday, the Israeli government formally passed the “Jewish nation state”law. With the Knesset’s summer recess on the horizon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to pass the law ahead of the break.
“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Knesset after the vote. Read more
During his recent Middle East trip, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “In Jordan, I went to Baqa’a, one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps. We must work for a real two state settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which ends the occupation and siege of Gaza and makes the Palestinian right to return a reality.”
UK-based pro-Israel groups were, to put it mildly, unimpressed. Read more
Last week, a Knesset committee approved a final version of the controversial “Jewish nation state” bill, sending it to the plenum for its three readings before becoming law.
Some Israelis have claimed that the law does not really change much, and stems more from the desire of current ultra-nationalist coalition members to make a point and curry favour with their base – the law, according to this view, is more symbol than substance. Read more
The pending demolitions of Khan Al-Ahmar and Susiya, two Palestinian communities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, along with the forced expulsion of their inhabitants, have been attracting international concern and protests.
Similarly, the recent eviction of a Palestinian family to make way for Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, prompted widespread condemnation (though, of course, no practical steps of censure or sanction).
In all three cases, the Israeli authorities and settlers deploy a variety of legal tools to dress up displacement and colonisation as merely “respect for the law” and “due process”. Read more
Hundreds of Jewish Israelis demonstrated on Saturday in the northern city of Afula, after construction tenders issued for new housing were won by Palestinian citizens from nearby villages.
The demonstrators, who are calling for the tenders to be revoked, included “senior officials” from the Afula city council, as well as David Suissa, chief of staff to Israel’s Housing Minister. “The fight in Afula has set off many warning bells”, said Suissa, adding that the protest was on behalf of “anyone who grew up in the city and wants to safeguard its character.” Read more
Earlier this month, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that any nuclear agreement reached between the P5+1 group and Tehran must include “unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist”.
President Barack Obama repudiated such a demand as “a fundamental misjudgement”, but that did not dissuade Israel’s allies on Capitol Hill from backing Mr Netanyahu.
There are parallels here with Mr Netanyahu’s insistence that the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a “Jewish state” in any potential peace deal.
This demand to recognise Israel’s “right to exist” is much more, however, than a negotiations spoiler: it is intended to police the boundaries of acceptable debate, to conceal certain parts of the past and present – and to narrow the options open to Palestinians and Israeli Jews for the future. Read more
There was outrage last week when the University of Southampton cancelled a forthcoming conference on Israel and international law, ostensibly on the grounds of “health and safety”.
The university had been under pressure from pro-Israel advocacy groups, and organisers have begun legal efforts against what they see as a concession to outside interference and bullying. The story of the campaign to shut down the conference should not, however, distract from why Israel’s supporters found the topics scheduled for discussion so objectionable. Read more
On Monday, newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regretfor his now notorious remarks on polling day last week, when he warned that Israel’s Palestinian citizens were coming out to vote “in droves.”
Netanyahu did not actually say sorry; he merely noted that what he had said “hurt some Israeli citizens”, and added that he sees himself as the prime minister of “each and every one of you…without differentiating between religions, races and sex.”
In the words of one journalist, Bibi’s comments were “like publishing a one-column-inch apology on the obituary page for deliberately libelling a person on Page 1.” The Joint List also rejected the non-apology, noting the prospect of further “racist and marginalising legislation” in the next Knesset. Read more
Gaza burns while the international community sits quietly, doing nothing about it. Israel has bombarded the territory for two weeks, killing more than 700 Palestinians and wounding well over 3,000. As I write this, I am aware that the death toll will only increase.
A massacre appals, disgusts, leaves one short of breath. It is a time for mourning, protest, but also education. Without an understanding of what is taking place in Palestine, we cannot put an end to this horror. Read more