Honduran President Juan杭州夜生活网 Orlando Hernandez and new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett inaugurated Honduras’ new embassy in Jerusalem June 24. “The Jewish people have a long memory, and you will be written in the pages of history as someone who took a courageous action and the right action for the State of Israel. Thank you,” said Bennett. In a tweet later, Bennett welcomed Hernandez “to our eternal capital.’’
Bennett thanked Hernandez for consistently supporting Israel in international organizations “even when it is not always popular and even when it has a cost.” He said, “That is a sign of friendship: the wil杭州夜生活网lingness to take action even when it has a price. I want to thank you and the public in Honduras for this support. We saw it recently in Operation Guardian of the Walls, when the Hamas terrorist organization shot thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians while cynically using the Gaza population — women, children and adults — as human shields.”
Israel now plans to open an embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
During the ceremony, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Honduran counterpart Lisandro Rosales signed memoranda of understanding relating to health, agriculture, water management, education, information sharing, development and innovation. After the ceremony, Lapid tweeted, “I congratulated the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, on the inau杭州夜生活网guration of the embassy today in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. The opening of the embassy in Jerusalem is further proof of the warm and good relations that the State of Israel and the Honduran people share. I thank you, the President of Honduras, for your efforts to strengthen the ties between our countries and peoples.’’
Honduras is the fourth country to open an embassy in Jerusalem. The United States under President Donald Trump relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, and was followed by Guatemala and Kosovo. In the past year, Serbia, the Dominican Republic and Malawi said they would also open embassies in Jerusalem, though none of them have done so yet. Last February, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he had spoken on the phone with Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Mbasogo, who informed him that he would transfer Equatorial Guinea’s embassy to Jerusalem. The government of Equatorial Guinea did not confirm this information. The Czech Republic and杭州夜生活网 Hungary have each opened diplomatic offices in Jerusalem while keeping their embassies in the Tel Aviv area. Several countries, including Brazil and Colombia, have opened trade or cultural offices in the capital, in what is seen by Israel as first steps toward their embassies’ future relocation.
The opening of the Honduras embassy in Jerusalem is the first such event to take place under the Bennett government and after Trump left office. Foreign Ministry officials said the move was probably not related to the change of governments in Israel. Hernandez has long been a strong supporter of Israel and has been committed to opening an embassy in Jerusalem for 杭州夜生活网some time. He had participated in 1991 in Israel’s international leadership development program at the International Institute-Histadrut and visited again as honorary guest of Mashav, Israel’s agency for international development cooperation.
man is hopeful that the 杭州夜生活new government in Israel will take “concrete steps” toward establishing an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, the Omani foreign minister told his new Israeli counterpart on Thursday.
Oman’s chief diplomat, Badr al-Busaidi, spoke on the phone with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, according to the Omani state news agency. Lapid also serves as Israel’s alternate prime minister in the govern杭州夜生活ment that unseated former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month.
Despite the inclusion of an Arab party, the fragile coalition government is not expecte杭州夜生活d to advance an agreement with the Palestinians. Ultraconservative Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a former settler leader, is steadfastly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state and his right-wing Yamina party backs expanding the Jewish settlements in the West Bank that much of the international community says threaten prospects for a political solution.
Oman remains a strong supporter of a two-state solution and despite being floated as a possible candidate, has not signed onto the Abraham Accords normalizing relations between Israel and Muslim-majority countries. Palestinians described the US-brokered deals as a betrayal by longtime Arab allies.
Oman has no formal ties with the Jewish state but enjoyed a brief period of rapprochement in the mid-90s. The two countries have grown close杭州夜生活r in recent years, as underscored by Netanyahu’s surprise trip to Muscat to meet with late Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in 2018. Shortly after Netanyahu’s landmark visit, Israel’s flagship carrier, El Al, was granted permissi杭州夜生活on to fly into Omani airspace.
Asked about the potential for formal ties with Israel, bin Alawi told Al-Monitor in September 2019 that “everything is on the table.”
li reports suggestinghz 杭州夜生活网 the United States had agreed to “suspend” negotiations on a return to the nuclear deal with Iran in order to delve into Israel’s reasons for opposing it were exaggerated. “The Americans are not withdrawing from negotiations and not delaying them,” a senior Israeli diplomatic source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “But they will hear us intensively in the coming weeks, which they have n杭州夜生活网ot done before, and they are approaching this process willingly and with an open heart.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told Al-Monitor June 24, “The prime minister and I have changed Israeli policy regarding this process and the Americans were happy to accept it.” Asked how this change is manifesting itself, Lapid said, “Up to now, Israel screamed that the agreement was no good; the Americans screamed back that there is no better alternative and moved quickly ahead. Now, Israel will try to explain, demonstrate and prove its case to the Americans through intimate clandestine contacts. After all, we do agree on the fundamental principle that Iran must not be allowed to achieve military nucl杭州夜生活网ear capabilities. We believe this way is effective, correct and serves Israel’s national security better than the previous way.”
This new tack Lapid talks about is nothing short of a dramatic shift for Israeli security and diplomacy in the wake of this month’s regi杭州夜生活网me change. As former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu insisted for years that by even entering into concrete discussions with the United States on agreement with Iran, Israel would be legitimizing the nuclear negotiations and any past or future agreements. He wanted no part of such a process. Netanyahu, who views current events in historic perspective, wanted to isolate and sever himself and Israel from anything to do with the process that resulted in agreement between world powers and Iran. He has compared the 2015 nuclear agreement to the 1938 Munich Agreement between European powers and Nazi Germany.
Netanyahu is no longer in power, but his spirit hovers over closed-door discussions with杭州夜生活网 officials who adopted Netanyahu’s line over the years. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Lapid had their work cut out making clear to the security and intelligence agencies that the rules of the game had changed.
Former Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Tamir Heyman, the Atomic Energy Commission and other influential officials and agencies were convinced of Netanyahu’s thesis that there was no way to deter the Americans from their course. They believed Israel would be better off positioning itself as an outspoken opposing force and iss杭州夜生活网ing loud, clear warnings against the impending deal rather than trying to influence the process from within.
This has all changed. The Mossad is now led by David Barnea, who has adopted a totally different approach. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), including its Intelligence Directorate, has also accepted the new policy and shifted gears accordingly. The Israel Atomic Energy Commission has also come around.
Netanyahu brought out three heavy guns in a bid to sway the Americans and the media against Iran — his former Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer, and two former heads of the National Security Council — Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror and Brig. Gen. Yaakov Nagel. All three are no longer in positions of influence and the arena is now under the control of the newly installed premier and foreign minister.
IDF Chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who delivered a particularly aggressive attack this past January against a return to the nuclear agreement, is now on the same page with the new leadership. In fact, Kochavi held a round of intimate talks with top brass in Washington this past week, presenting his interlocutors with intelligence information described by senior Israeli sources as highly significant. Kochavi met with national security adviser Jake Sullivan, CIA Director Bill Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, among others.
Israel is now mulling how best to move ahead its dialogue with the Americans. Should discussions be led by the political echelons, or would having professionals at the helm be more beneficial? The most interesting proposal under consideration is to establish an interagency team comprising representatives of Military Intelligence, Mossad, National Security Council, Atomic Energy Commission, Foreign Ministry, prime minister’s office and the IDF’s Planning Directorate. The team would be led by the directors of the Mossad and Military Intelligence and would devise effective methods to exert its influence. A decision on this idea is pending.
Israel has already launched its campaign. In addition to Kochavi’s Washington talks, Lapid will meet in Rome with his US counterpart Antony Blinken June 27 for the new government’s first high-level confab with the Biden administration. Israel’s outgoing President Reuven Rivlin, who is held in great esteem in Washington, is on a farewell visit to the United States and will meet next week with President Joe Biden. Prior to his departure, Rivlin met with Bennett, Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to prepare for his talks in Washington.
Meanwhile, it’s business as usual on the military front. Israel has avoided any reference to this week’s drone attack on a centrifuge production facility in Karaj, deep in Iran. According to Iranian sources, the unmanned craft took off from within Iran and did not penetrate its air space from another country. This has prevented Iran from blaming Israel for the attack as it usually does.
If this was an Israeli or Israeli-directed operation, it would constitute nothing short of a dramatic change similar to the shift in policy vis-a-vis the Americans. Bennett toyed in the past with changing the paradigm and rules of the game in Israel’s war with Iran. Diplomatic sources had quoted Bennett as saying in internal discussions there is no reason that Israel should sustain blows from Iranian proxies and fail to respond to Iran within its own territory. He had said that when something from an Iranian proxy blows up here, there’s no reason why something should not blow up there, in Tehran. It’s time to stop focusing on the tentacles of the octopus and strike its head.
Bennet was not prime minister at the time, but a member of the government’s security Cabinet under Netanyahu. Today, he sits in Netanyahu’s former chair. If, indeed, he ordered an aerial attack within Iran on only the second week of his term, it would constitute a real drama. The timing of the attack at a highly sensitive juncture of nuclear negotiations between world powers and Iran has also drawn widespread attention. Israel’s assessment in recent weeks that the United States and Iran are on the verge of signing an agreement has undergone a change. “Up to now, we thought the current round of talks in Vienna would be the last,” a senior diplomatic source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Now it appears not to be the final round. The difficulties are real and everything is open.”
er Knesset membe杭州夜生活/品茶网r Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh met this week with the outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog, who is about to assume his new position as Israel’s next president. At the end of their meeting, they announced that Kamal-Mreeh had just been appointed to the position of Jewish Agency emissary to college campuses in the United States and to the Jewish community of Greater Washington. She will be working with the Jewish Federation there and with Jewish student organizat杭州品茶网ions in campuses across the United States through Hillel International.
Kamal-Mreeh already made history by becoming the first Druze woman elected to the Knesset. Now she is about to become the first Druze long-term representative of the Jewish Agency. 杭州品茶网hile there have been other non-Jewish representatives of the Jewish Agency overseas, they only served at Jewish summer camps for a few weeks at most. Kamal-Mreeh will serve for two years, with an option to extend her term.
As she bustled about with last-minute preparations, the former Knesset member wrote in a Facebook post, “I am proud and excited to be part of a process that is setting a new precedent, and in which a new voice will be heard — a different, important and much needed voice — over the next few years, mediating all the many aspects of the reality of Israel to Jewish and non-Jewish communities in North America.”
Kamal-Mreeh made a point of stressing her belief that her identity as a Druze woman will help her in her task, saying, “My unique identity as a woman from the Druze community will contribute significantly to my mission and lead to very meaningful work. Acting in the name of pluralism and diversity, we杭州品茶网 will take steps to bring people together, bridge differences and shine a light on all that we have in common, for the sake of our country and our future.”
Kamal-Mreeh’s brief career in politics was marked by enormous breakthroughs. It began in 2019, when she joined Defense Minister Benny Gantz’ Blue and White Party. As she tells it, the peop杭州品茶网e surrounding Gantz were googling “successful Druze women,” and they came across her. When the Blue and White Party split up over Gantz’ decision to join the Netanyahu coalition, she refused to join him there, tweeting, “I went into politics to replace the government of racism and division, the government of the nationality law, not to become its partner.” Then, on the eve of the most recent election, she retired from politics altogether.
She has been best known for her scathing criticism of Gantz over his decision to join Netanyahu’s government and for her fiery speeches to the Knesset opposing the nationality and the kaminitz laws targeting Israel’s Arab population, so her decision to serve as a Jewish Agency representative oversees is raising many eyebrows in the Arab sector.
The Jewish Agency was founded in 1929 as the executive branch of the World Zionist Organization. Its objectives included encouraging Jewish immigration to the country and strengthening local杭州品茶网 Jewish communities. When Israel became a state 1948, the Jewish Agency took responsibility for settling the country, often by creating new Jewish towns and villages on lands that were declared abandoned by their previous owners. In other words, it occupied and settled properties belonging to Arabs who left — or were forced to leave — the country during the 1948 war.
Much of Arab society, both Christian and Muslim, responded with apathy and disinterest to her appointment. That was not the case, however, among her own Arab Druze community. There has been quite a bit of criticism, most of it focusing on her shift from fighting fiercely against the nationality law to representing the Jewish Agency.
Rabah Halabi, who teaches at the Hebrew University and Oranim College, openly wondered what exactly the former lawmaker is so proud of.
Halabi told Al-Monitor, “The overall impression [in the Druze community] based on th杭州品茶网e responses she is receiving is that that there is a tangible sense of disappointment over her appointment. She was a new voice who initiated a new discourse. Lots of young [Israeli Druze] people believed in her, especially when she came out against the nationality law and the kaminitz law. Yet now she is joining the Jewish Agency, a group with clear objectives that have nothing to do with us. On the other hand, it is important to remember that she always played both sides, coming out against the nationality law while saying that she has no problem with the Jewish character of the state, its symbols and its anthem, all of which exclude us as citizens. This could explain her latest step.’’
Despite the criticism, Kamal-Mreeh has also received support for her decisi杭州品茶网n, lauding how she managed to break through yet another barrier as a Druze woman.
Fadi Maklada, a social activist from the predominantly Druze town of Daliat al-Carmel, told Al-Monitor, “For years, the Jewish Agency was one of the most influential bodies in the State of Israel. Kamal-Mreeh’s new position will allow her to represent the totality of Israel, including its minorities, rather than just the Jewish perspective.’’
When asked if this might hurt her political career if she decides to run again for the Knesset, Maklada said, “The distinction between being an emissary of the Jewish Agency or the state itself does not seem very clear to many people. In the end, many people will probably react to her as if she were an emissary of the Foreign Ministry.”
There have been quite a few supportive comments from the Jewish sector, too. Ofir Dayan, a pro-Israel activist at Columbia University in New York and the daughter of Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, told Al-Monitor, “What she will do as an emissary will focus mainly on the internal dialogue among pro-Israel students and not necessarily on opponents of Israel. What interests these students is their interaction with Israel. I think it is a good idea to send her, even if I don’t agree with her about the nationality law.”
ny in Washington and the杭州夜生活 region hoped that the Palestinian issue would return to the back burner after the Egyptian-mediated cease-fire between Hamas and Israel on May 20 and promises of reconstruction aid and assistance to Gaza
Well, one month later, it’s probably time to think again.
Let’s start in the West Bank, where popular discontent with President Mahmoud Abbas and the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) may have reached a tipp杭州夜生活ing point following the death of Nizar Banat in police custody after a brutal beating during an arrest at his home in Hebron.
Banat’s crime seems to have been nothing more than his frequent criticism of the PA, as Daoud Kuttab reports.
Demonstrators chanting “the people want the downfall of the regime” were repelled by PA security forces in Ramallah as they approached Abbas’ compound June 24, while protests and riots continued throughout the day.
Tor Wennesland, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, has 杭州夜生活called for an independent investigation into Banat’s death. Nobody is putting much stock in the PA’s own inquiry.
Abbas infuriated many Palestinians by canceling elections April 29 after it appeared that support for his ruling Fatah party coalition the West Bank had hollowed out. Abbas and Fatah faced likely losses both to former Fatah leaders who had broken with Abbas and set up new parties, and to Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement which governs in Gaza and which until now had only had a smattering of support in the West Bank.
Abbas justified the cancellation by accusing Israel of not allowing Palestinians living in Jerusalem to vote, which most Palestinians didn’t buy; they saw through his calculation, whatever their grievances with Israeli actions in Jerusalem, where protests were already on high boil over Israeli evictions of Palestinians from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
No need to recount the even杭州夜生活ts that followed; Israel and Hamas, seeking to capitalize on the confrontations in Jerusalem, were on full war footing by May 10.
Over the next 10 days, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad fired more than 4,300 rockets from Gaza into Israel, killing 12 people, including two children. Israeli fire and other violence killed 243 Palestinians, including 66 children. As many as 72,000 Palestinians were displaced. In addition, the Israeli strikes caused severe damage to Gaza’s already inadequate health, education and public works infrastructure, as we reported here.
Yet the crisis bolstered Hamas’ standing. Recent polling shows a precipitous drop in support for Abbas and Fatah, and a corresponding rise for Hamas, as Daoud Kuttab reports. There is widespread discontent over perceived PA corruption, the cancellation of the elections, the poor state of governance and the economy, and Abbas’ handling of the confrontation with Israel, where he was mostly a bystander, despite a call from US President Joe Biden.
The Biden administrati杭州夜生活on, unwilling to work with Hamas, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization, threw Abbas a lifeline by saying it would coordinate aid and assistance to Gaza via the PA.
Meanwhile, “the combination of a more involved Biden administration and a newly established Israeli government … whetted the appetite of the Ramallah leadership that was desperately looking for ways to become relevant and improve its standing,” Kuttab writes.
Israeli policies in the West Bank have compounded Palestinian frustration with the PA. Palestinians have adopted “night confusion” tactics, inspired by Hamas, to harass settlers in the West Bank, as Ahmad Melhem reports. The protests in Sheikh Jarrah has given renewed attention to Israeli settlement policy (check out the article by Aziza Nofal on the Palestinian short film “The Place” about Sheikh Jarrah).
In Hebron, another West Bank flashpoint, the decision to install an electric elevator and build a road to facilitate access for settlers with 杭州夜生活special needs to the Ibrahimi Mosque (the Cave of the Patriarchs) may entail seizing Palestinian lands surrounding the mosque, Melhem reports.
Prisoner exchange complicates Gaza assistance
Hamas has so far rejected Abbas’ efforts, through Egyptian mediation, to discuss a unity government, as Adnan Abu Amer reports. Hamas senses it is riding a wave of support at Abbas’ expense, and wants concessions to further strengthen its own position, including regarding the distribution of international reconstruction assistance to Gaza.
So far there is a lack of clarity on the process for reconstruction assistance, in杭州夜生活cluding who controls which funds, since Hamas is not in the loop, as Hana Salah reports. Gazans whose homes were partially or totally destroyed worry that the political dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority will further delay assistance, as Mai Abu Hasaneen writes.
The World Bank notes that Gaza’s contribution to the already fragile Palestinian economy has declined by half in the last three decades. Prior to the damage caused by the latest escalation, Gazans suffered from the lingering costs of previous wars, “prolonged closures, restrictions on economic activities, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the recent hostilities, Gaza suffered from 48% unemployment, and half of the population lived in poverty.”
A recent high-level World Bank delegation to Gaza noted the impact of mental trauma on children resulting from the 10-day bombing campaign, in addition to the loss of life and heavy toll on Gaza’s economy and infrastructure.
Entsar Abu Jahal reports杭州夜生活 from Gaza City on how parents and children are making out after dealing with the trauma of the bombing campaign. Mai Abu Hasaneen reports here on how women have suffered increased increases in violence since the start of the COVD-19 pandemic.
Abu Jahal also observes that pets have not been spared the effects of the bombing campaign.
Assistance to Gaza is also complicated by Israeli insistence on a prisoner swap with Hamas before further restrictions are lifted, as Hana Salah reports here.
“Hamas is demanding that Israel allow Qatar to deliver large sums of monetary aid to the Strip, while Israel says it won’t enable large-scale reconstruction until Hamas returns two Israeli civilians held in captivity and the remains of two fallen IDF soldiers,” Rina Bassist reports.
“A prominent Hamas leader told Al-Monitor that the movement’s chief, Ismail Haniyeh, promised Fadwa al-Barghouti, the wife of senior Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghouti, that her husband’s name will be on top of the list of released prisoners in any swap deal between Hamas and Israel,” Rasha Abou Jalal reports.
Marwan Barghouti is the most popular Palestinian leader, according to numerous polls and surveys.
Hamas has also been testing the new Israeli coalition government by sending incendiary balloons into Israel which, as Ben Caspit reports, ignited dozens of fires and burned hundreds of acres of farm and forest land in Israeli border communities.
In response, Israeli planes bombed Hamas targets in Gaza the night of June 17, and is preparing for the possibility of a resumption of hostilities.
Biden administration now has “serious concerns”
State Department spokesman Ned Price said June 24 that the United States has “serious concerns about Palestinian Authority restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and harassment of civil society activists and organizations.”
Abbas and the PA are under siege by their own people, Hamas is on the ascent, and the new Israeli government, like the previous one, has little interest in reviving peace talk with the Palestinians. US Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, is holding up US assistance to Gaza promised by the Biden administration.
The roles of US partners — Egypt, Jordan and Qatar in particular — take on even greater weight in helping prevent a complete breakdown of
l is restoring require杭州夜生活网ments on indoor masks following a jump in COVID-19 cases and concerns about the fast-spreading Delta variant.
Beginning at noon Friday, masks are required in all indoor spaces, with the exception of homes. Children under the age of 7 do not have to wear a mask, nor are they required during physical exercise.
The mandate comes just 10 days after Israel lifted its face-covering requirement, citing a decline in cases. But on Thursday, Israel recorded 227 new coro杭州夜生活网navirus infections, its highest daily case count in more than two months. An additional 150 infections were recorded Friday, the Health Ministry said.
“We are seeing a doubling every few days,” Israel’s coronavirus czar Nachman Ash told public radio Friday.
“Another thing that’s worrying is the infections are spreading,” he said.杭州夜生活网 “If we had two cities where most of the infections were, we have more cities where the numbers are rising and communities where the cases are going up.”
Despite the uptick in cases, Ash noted that there has not been an increase in hospitalizations or deaths. He added that he did not expect a fourth wave, but there is the “potential” for the virus to spread further.
“It’s clear it’s a factor of time, that not enough time has passed,” Ash said. “But we hope the vaccines will protect us from a rise in hospitalization and difficult cases.”
The Health Ministry also called on Israelis to wear masks even in crowded outdoor spaces, including the Pride march in Tel Aviv on Friday afternoon. Those who are not yet vaccinated are encouraged to stay home from large public gatherings.
Israel is a world leader in vaccinations, and as a result, reopened its economy in May. More than half of Israel’s population of 9 mi杭州夜生活网llion people is fully vaccinated, and the government recently expanded vaccine eligibility to include children 12 years and older.
But the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in India, is threatening to undermine Israel’s virus response. Officials said that as of Wednesday, some 50% of the nearly 900 people infected with the coronavirus in the past month had been fully vaccinated.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett described the recent uptick in infection as a “new outbreak” in Israel, saying the “goal at the moment, first and foremost, is to protect the citizens of Israel from the Delta variant.”
Israeli officials have said international travel is a source of the Delta variant’s sp杭州夜生活网ead. The country announced this week it would be pushing back the date for which vaccinated tourists are allowed to enter Israel from July 1 to Aug. 1.
Israeli declaration杭州夜生活 of independence announced on May 14, 1948, includes a call “to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.”
Now, 73 years since the founding of Is杭州夜生活rael and after decades in which Palestinians were ignored, bypassed and had their national identity denied, a Palestinian citizen of Israel — the head of the United Arab List party (Raam), Mansour Abbas — has added his signature to a coalition government agreement cobbled together by Yair Lapid, the head of the Yesh Atid party.
While the new government is to be headed by an ultra-right-wing Israeli, Naftali Be杭州夜生活nnett, and is unlikely to take a stand on the Palestinian conflict, many Palestinian citizens in Israel are hailing the new government as “historic” and saying they feel the development will help legitimize Palestinians in Israel.
While Abbas has not succeeded in snatching any government position either at the ministerial or deputy ministerial level, he has proclaimed that joining the coalition will have long-term results, especially in the economic and development sectors. According to Abbas, the new Israeli government will earmark 52 billion shekels (about $16 billion) to be spent in the Arab community over the next four years. Unrecognized Bedouin villages and towns are to be gradually recognized and the law fast-tracking the demolitions of homes are to be reviewed with an eye toward ensuring that demolitions for homes built without a license should be suspended until there are approved zoning plans for any particular town or village. Palestinian citizens of Israel (like Palestinians in Jerusalem) say that they are forced to build without a license because of the restrictions on issuing housing permits due to the absence of approved zoning plans.
The success of Abbas and his party will be measured by whether it gives cov杭州夜生活r to further Israeli human rights violations or instead ushers in a new era in which Palestinian citizens of Israel are recognized and granted their due as citizens of the country.
On the larger political level, the only issue that appears to unite the coalition parties appears to be their hatred of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is unclear whether Netanyahu and his hard-core Likud supporters will ease off their pressure on the new coalition members, especially those on the right-wing side, with the aim of influencing the vote of confidence due to take place by June 14.
When it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it appears that the coalition agreement makes little reference to any change in policy despite the 11 days of violence between the Israeli army and the Palestinian resistance in Gaza last month.
Ahmad Deek, director-general of the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, told Al-Monitor the Palestinian government has three criteria when dealing with any Israeli government. They are, “Is it a legitimate 杭州夜生活Israeli government; is it interested in peace and willing to be a genuine partner for peace and justice; and, finally, is it willing to curb activities that are contrary to international law such as settlements, house demolitions and the attempts to make Jerusalem an exclusively Jewish city.”
Other Palestinian officials said that they have not seen anything in the ne杭州夜生活 government that will be different from the previous governments insofar as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is concerned and that it is unlikely to be a stable government that will last four years.
Ziad Aby Zayyad, a former minister in the Palestinian government, sounded more skeptical. “The new government, with the support of Mansour Abbas’s Islamic list, may succeed in getting some cosmetic improvements in the Arab affairs. It had asked for the abolishing of the Kiminst [house demolition] law but was not taken seriously. Let’s wait and see, especially considering that the life of this government may be shorter than expected.”
The focus by the Raam party on economic and developmental issues of the Arab community in Israel rather than on national issues has been a source of criticism by some; the recent developments took place only after the Joint Arab List was splintered and weakened. Palestinian nationalists in Israel are even more unhappy with the timing of Arab inclusion in the coalition as it comes when there is a heightened feeling of unity between Palestinians in Israel, the occupied territories and the diaspora. This was evidenced by the one-day strike Arab and Palestinian communities held in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza on May 18 in protest of the Israeli attacks on Gaza and the attacks in many mixed Arab-Jewish towns in Israel. Diana Butt, a former legal representative to the Palestinian negotiating team who lives in Haifa, told Al-Monitor that the new coalition agreement involving the participation of an Arab party is “idiotic.”
Although many see the inclusion of Arabs in the latest coalition agreement as historic, the true test will only be measured on the ground as the public assesses whether the decision will improve their lives and those of fellow Palestinians in the occupied territories.
ter Palestinian President 杭州夜生活论坛Mahmoud Abbas made his decision to postpone the legislative elections that he had earlier decreed, it at first appeared that his political career was doomed. Officially, his decision was made because Israel had refused to allow a few thousand Palestinians to use Israeli-run East Jerusalem post offices for absentee ballots. But few Palestinians boug杭州夜生活论坛ht the excuse and they felt he had made the decision as it became clear his own Fatah party would not be able to muster a majority of the 132 seats of the Legislative Council. This, in turn, would have meant he would have to create a coalition with some of his most hated former Fatah leaders, like Mohammed Dahlan and more recently Nasser al-Qudwa.
But as the stock of Abbas was hitting near bottom, a violent escalation took place in Jerusalem when Israeli troops repeatedly stormed into Islam’s third-holiest Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in an attempt to subdue the Palestinians. The rough Israeli efforts to put down the protests eventually were the reason that the Islamic Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip decided to join 杭州夜生活论坛in by launching a few rockets that hit the outskirts of West Jerusalem. The unprecedented attacks from Gaza to Jerusalem resulted in the 11-day retaliatory airstrikes by Israel, a kind of near hell for both Gazans as well as Israeli communities in the south and in the Tel Aviv area. The main Israeli airports were shut down and most Israelis spent their nights in shelters.
The Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip raised significantly the public profile of Hamas and further damaged Abbas’ public standing as he stood by doing nothing.
During those 11 days of a vicious violent cycle, the international community, and especially the United States, all of a sudden started to p杭州夜生活论坛ay attention to the Middle East’s longest conflict. However, the attention was not given to Hamas, but rather to the PLO leadership. Phone calls and visitors offered Abbas help. US President Joe Biden and his secretary of state called and the latter even visited Abbas. As a cease-fire decision was suggested, Abbas and his top aides began preparing for the post-conflict reconstruction phase.
The hatred and rejection to work with Hamas and its leaders was a bonanza for Abbas. Visitors, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were to visit the region and — unlike during the Trump administration — they spoke to everyone but Hamas or their supporters. Blinken was dispatched by Biden to the region and met with all leaders as well as some Palestinian local civil society activists. He did not travel to Gaza nor did he meet with anyone closely aligned with Hamas. The United 杭州夜生活论坛States and others said that the reconstruction funding should not go to or through Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization and was specifically blamed for having started the latest round of violence, totally ignoring the context of what the right-wing Israeli government under the cornered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was doing.
The absence of legitimacy was not lost on Hamas, which did not take a solo victory run after the cease-fire but tried to put out a conciliatory and unifying message talking about the need for national unity. In an important post cease-fire press conference, Yahya Sinwar said that Hamas will not touch a single penny from the United States and other donors, and that they will make sure the reconstruction efforts face no bureaucratic or any other restrictions. And in an unexpected gesture toward the PLO leadership, Sinwar praised the late Yasser Arafat and his deputy Khalil al-Wazir.
The olive branch to the PLO was not lost on the Ramallah-based leadership. They were happy to host visitors and the potential of mone杭州夜生活论坛y flowing in to and through their beleaguered government coffers. But they also realized they need to produce a change in government to cover up for the election fiasco and the success of the Hamas rockets that shook up Israel.
The logical move for Abbas would be to establish a national unity government with Hamas, but this would certainly cause major problems as at least two members of the Quartet — the United States and European Union — are not even talking to Hamas. Russia and the United Nations are in contact with Hamas, but can’t easily convince the Americans to come around to their position. The issue is further complicated by the Egyptians who feel that they were successful in delivering the cease-fire and wanted to be the kingmaker in helping establish a new national unity government that includes some elements of Hamas or individuals that are close to the Islamic movement.
The Egyptians wanted to hold a set of meetings with all Palestinian leaders and wanted Abbas to speak at that meeting, but the latter, possibly feeling pressure from the United States, refused to come to Cairo. Eventually that effort appears to have failed and the leaders who arrived in Cairo June 9 were sent back as the national unity meeting failed to materialize.
The success of Hamas on the military front has given them a huge popularity surge, but has not yet been translated to any tangible power, especially in terms of their coveted desire for international legitimacy. No doubt Hamas will have to make some deep political compromises if they are to be allowed into a recognized national unity government. Certainly, Hamas in 2021 is much more mature politically than Hamas in 2007, and this might make their efforts to legitimacy more possible. Much will depend on the new Israeli government and on Washington. But for the time being it appears that Abbas seems to have pulled one more rabbit out of the bag in order to survive politically and remain as the main Palestinian reference point for the international community.
hile the new Israeli杭州夜生活网 government headed by right-wing, pro-settler Naftali Bennett starts to settle in, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is hoping to engage with them and with the Biden administration.
Reports that the Palestinian government has established a negotiating team has been denied to Al-Monitor by senior officials in Ramallah, but the fact that a story to that effect was published tends to indicate that certain elements within the entourage of President Mahmoud Abbas are looking for ways to be relevant.
Ali Jarbawi, a political science professor at Birzeit University, told Al-Monitor the issue is connected to the calls by the Biden administration for a return to the negotiations track in order to fulfill the two-state solution plan. “But everyone knows there is no solution on the horizon and all this will do is manage the conflict and possibly make it less costly and with less regular conflict.” Jarbawi also believes the Palestinian leadership is looking for 杭州夜生活网ways to remain relevant. “The Palestinian Authority (PA) is interested in a public role, and the return to negotiations can be one that will help give it relevance.”
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh spoke of the challenge to the new Bennet/Lapid Israeli government. “The opportunity is there for the new Israeli government to show they are ready for peace and the end of occupation and not for the continuation of the settlement policies, land confiscations, death and destruction,” he said.
The latest public opinion poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research Surveys in the second quarter of 2021 shows significant downward changes in public attitudes toward President Abbas and his leadership while showing a marked spike upward in popularity for Hamas.
According to poll director Khalil Shikaki, there were two driving factors that seem to have杭州夜生活网 triggered the change: the popular confrontations in East Jerusalem, the Israel-Hamas war, and the public perception of their outcomes on one hand; and the postponement of elections on the other.
“The findings show a semi-public consensus that Hamas had won the confrontation with Israel and that Hamas’ launching of rockets at Israeli cities has been motivated by its desire to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah,” said Shikaki.
The findings also show widespread public discontent with the performance of the Ramallah-based government and leadership as well as Fatah during the confrontations and the war. A two-thirds majority reject Abbas’ decision to postpone the elections. And two-thirds of the public believe Abbas postponed the elections because he was afraid of their outcome — not because Israel prevented the holding of elections in East Jerusalem.
As a result, support for Hamas and a willingness to vote for it increased dramatically, while support for Fatah dropped significantly. Moreo杭州夜生活网er, Hamas’ leader, Ismail Haniyeh, would deliver an unprecedented victory over Abbas in a presidential election if one were held today. Perhaps most importantly, a majority of Palestinians think Hamas is more deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people, while a small percentage think Fatah under Abbas’ leadership is the one that deserves to do that.
The combination of a more involved Biden administration and a newly established Israeli government has whetted the appetite of the Ramallah leadership that was desperately looking for ways to become relevant and improve its standing. This was also demonstrated when Abbas refused to attend a meeting called for by the Egyptian leadership with the aim of consolidating the Palestinian position in preparation for the flow of funds to help in the reconstruction of Ga杭州夜生活网za, again, after the devastations caused by 11 days of heavy Israeli bombings.
While negotiations seem far away for a variety of external forces, there are a number of internal factors that must be dealt with. Ever since the passing of chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in 2020, the Palestinian leadership has not appointed a chief negotiator or even a secretary of the PLO’s executive committee. Senior Fatah leaders are vying for that position, including Minister of Civil Affairs and liaison with the Israelis Hussein Sheikh, but no decision has been made yet. Others being suggested for that position include the senior diplomatic adviser to Abbas, Majdi Khalidi, and, if a new gov杭州夜生活网ernment is formed, current Prime Minister Shtayyeh is seen by some as being appropriate to take that position because he is familiar with all the issues related to it.