News Roundup for June 23, 2023

June 23, 2023

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Top News and Analysis

Spiraling Violence in the Occupied West Bank Signals a Loss of Control, The New York Times
The northern West Bank was once viewed by Israeli, Palestinian and international authorities as a kind of pilot program for Israeli disengagement from the occupied territory, and by some even as a potential prototype for a future Palestinian state. But a sharp escalation of violence in the region in recent days involving Palestinian militants, Israeli security forces and extremist Jewish settlers underlines the failure of that vision.

US Ambassador: We Will Not Stand Idly by and Watch Settler Violence, Haaretz
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides condemned on Thursday the latest riots by settlers in the West Bank saying that Washington will not abide such actions. “We do not stand and watch settler violence. I’ve been very clear and very specific that we will not stand by, and we’re pushing the Israelis to take whatever action they need to take to stop those people. At the same time, my heart breaks for the families that lost a loved one 48 hours ago. My heart breaks for all these families,” Nides said.


IDF Spokesman Slams Settler Riots That ‘Create Terror’; Far-right MK: It Was a Protest, The Times of Israel
The chief spokesman for the IDF denounced the settler rampages in the West Bank towns of Turmus Ayya and Urif, which saw hundreds set homes, cars and fields on fire and terrorize residents, as well as the death of a Palestinian man in unclear circumstances. Meanwhile, Religious-Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, the far-right chairman of the Knesset Constitution Committee and one of the judicial overhaul’s leading proponents, compared the violent rioters to anti-government protesters.

Israel Arrests 3 Settlers Suspected in Violent Attacks in Palestinian Towns, AP
Israel’s security agency said Friday it had detained three Israeli settlers on suspicion of involvement in mass rampages through Palestinian towns in the occupied West Bank this week following the killing of four Israelis. While rights groups welcomed the arrests, the small number of suspects given the scale of the attacks have revived criticism of the wider lack of accountability for Israeli settlers.

‘Run to the Hilltops’: Ben-Gvir Calls on Settlers to Establish More Illegal Outposts, Haaretz
Settlers have set up several unauthorized outposts in the West Bank during the past few days, following a deadly shooting attack by a Palestinian in the settlement of Eli and settler attacks on Palestinian towns this week. The outposts were established with the knowledge of political officials.

Palestinian Authority Reports 310 Attacks by Israeli Settlers in West Bank, Al-Monitor
A Palestinian Authority official said in a press statement on Wednesday that Israeli settlers in the West Bank conducted 310 attacks against Palestinians and their properties since Tuesday. An outbreak of violence continued into the week as Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian school in the village Urif in Nablus governorate and attempted to torch homes and a mosque Thursday.

With West Bank in Turmoil, Uncertainty over Palestinian Leadership Intensifies, Reuters
With the Israeli-occupied West Bank once again in turmoil after the latest bloodshed, uncertainty has deepened over the position of 87-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a negotiated peace looking as unlikely as ever. A gunbattle on Monday in which seven Palestinians were killed and over 90 wounded, followed a day later by the killing of four Israelis and a rampage by Israeli settlers through Palestinian towns, again underscored the West Bank’s volatility.

Opinion and Analysis

New Weapons, Tactics Further Entangle US in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Washington Post
Shira Rubin writes, “In a week that saw US-made attack helicopters strafing a Palestinian city and Israeli settlers rampaging through a village filled with American citizens, the Biden administration finds itself caught up in a rapidly escalating conflict. Both sides are also introducing new and more powerful weapons and tactics that hark back to the all-out war of the second intifada more than 20 years ago, when Israel reoccupied much of the West Bank.”

This Decision by Israel Is as Dramatic as Attempts at Constitutional Change, Haaretz
Michal Saliternik and Ronit Levine-Schnur argue, “This week’s decision, which followed a commitment to Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party in the coalition agreements, is designed to prevent or significantly reduce not only the government’s but also the public’s and international community’s oversight of settlement construction. It could be that now they will only be informed after the fact of the initial planning approval, which will now also be the final approval, from the politicians.”

What It’s Like in the Palestinian Town Attacked by Israeli Settlers, Time
Yasmeen Serhan notes, “Like many residents of Turmus Ayya, Abdelhalim, 52, is a dual Palestinian American citizen. Though she resides in Chicago, IL, she returned to Turmus Ayya with her family for the summer. She was at a doctor’s appointment in Ramallah, the administrative West Bank capital roughly 15 miles south of her hometown, when she received a call from her kids. Israeli settlers were trying to break into the home and set it on fire.”