“J Street welcomes the signing this week of an historic new electricity agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The agreement sets the parameters for the supply of electricity to an underserved area, inaugurates an important new electric substation for the Jenin region and will allow Palestinians to control the flow of electricity to their own cities and communities in the West Bank. Palestinian workers will operate, maintain and repair the substation. This is a welcome and important step from the Israeli government, giving Palestinian authorities more supervision of a vital aspect of their economy and the quality of life of their citizens, and could pave the way for a more comprehensive agreement covering the entire Palestinian territory. While economic measures alone will not bring about a two-state solution or end the occupation, this is an example of precisely the kind of proactive cooperation and problem-solving that is needed to strengthen the foundations for a Palestinian state and build trust between the two sides. Many more steps of this nature are needed to end the repressive restrictions of the occupation and to allow Palestinian communities the vital infrastructure, services and freedom they need. Last week, Israeli soldiers destroyed and confiscated internationally funded solar panels and equipment that had brought electricity to an impoverished Palestinian village. This type of punitive and destructive measure must stop.”
Peter Beaumont reports, “Gaza requires 430 megawatts of power to meet daily demand, but receives only half that. Sixty megawatts are supplied by its solitary power station, now short on fuel, while the rest is supplied by Israel and funded by Abbas’s West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA). Abbas’s move to cut supplies to Gaza, which is already under a joint Israeli and Egyptian blockade – now in its 11th year – has quickly made him a hate figure among many Gazans, who question why he is punishing 2 million fellow Palestinians in what appears to be an attempt to force Hamas to relinquish control of the territory….Gaza requires 430 megawatts of power to meet daily demand, but receives only half that. Sixty megawatts are supplied by its solitary power station, now short on fuel, while the rest is supplied by Israel and funded by Abbas’s West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA). Abbas’s move to cut supplies to Gaza, which is already under a joint Israeli and Egyptian blockade – now in its 11th year – has quickly made him a hate figure among many Gazans, who question why he is punishing 2 million fellow Palestinians in what appears to be an attempt to force Hamas to relinquish control of the territory.”
“A day after Avi Gabbay won the Labor Party primary to become the new party leader, Channel 2 and Channel 10 polls find that his party jumps in popularity, passing Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud would still win the greatest number of seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. According to the Channel 10 poll, if elections were to take place today the Likud would win with 29 seats, the Zionist Union, which includes the Labor Party, would receive 24 seats, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid would receive 16 seats, the Zionist-religious Habayit Hayehudi would receive 14 seats, the mostly-Arab Joint List party would receive 8 seats, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu would receive 7 seats, Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party would receive 6 seats, United Torah Judaism would receive 6 seats, and Shas and Meretz would each receive 5 seats.”
Israeli forces carrying out a raid in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin early Wednesday came under attack by residents armed with firebombs, the Israeli army said. The forces responded by firing back, it added. Palestinian sources said two Palestinians were killed and two others were wounded as a result of the clashes.
Newly elected Labor party chairman Avi Gabbay on Tuesday kicked off his election campaign to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power, pledging to double membership in the one-time powerhouse and win 30 Knesset seats in the next election.
Clashes broke out late Monday night between young Palestinian men and Israeli forces who stormed the village of Kifl Haris in central occupied West Bank district of Salfit to escort hundreds of Israeli settlers on a visit to pray at a Jewish holy site. Local activist and lawyer Izzat Shaqour told Ma’an that Israeli troops closed all of the village’s entrances and restricted the movement of residents.
Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, met with the families of Israelis believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza. Greenblatt, who arrived in Israel this week, met Monday evening with the families of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed to discuss the situation of the two men, a statement from the White House said.
A new version of a bill defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people would force the High Court of Justice to favor Israel’s Jewish character over its democratic character should the two conflict. The draft bill, which was crafted in recent days, defines the country as “a Jewish and democratic state” but requires the court to interpret the law based on Israel being the Jewish nation-state. Last week a ministerial committee drafting the bill considered deleting a reference to a democratic form of government. The governing coalition is having problems bridging differences over the draft of the bill, one source told Haaretz.
Ex-PA minister says he quit over rampant corruption in Ramallah, Times of Israel
An ex-Palestinian Authority minister on Sunday slammed the government in Ramallah for corruption, and said dirty practices were what caused him to quit his post. Shawqi al-Issa, who served as minister of agriculture and minister of social affairs in the Palestinian unity government sworn in in June 2014, resigned from his post in October 2015. At the time he did not reveal why he stepped down. On Sunday, in post on Facebook, Issa said the reason he quit was the high level of corruption in the Palestinian government.
Former Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog agreed on Wednesday to stay on as opposition leader, despite his recent loss to newcomer Avi Gabbay in the party’s leadership race. Gabbay, who is not a member of Knesset, cannot serve as opposition leader.
“President Trump has tapped his attorney, Jason Greenblatt, to help him negotiate the ‘ultimate deal’ for Israeli-Palestinian peace. We look at whether he can succeed where many others have failed.”
Chemi Shalev writes, “Many Europeans, including some of Soros’ harshest critics, can clearly identify blatant anti-Semitism in these campaigns. Netanyahu apparently believes that his anti-Israeli positions justify throwing Soros to the anti-Semitic dogs….The more that Israel turns nationalistic, xenophobic and insular, the more it deepens its ties and identification with similar countries that think and behave the same way. It is increasingly tolerant of dark regimes that support Israeli policies and increasingly critical of liberal countries that criticize them. Small wonder that Netanyahu will stand besides Orban next week at a welcome ceremony near the Danube, where Hungarian fascists murdered thousands of Budapest’s Jews, despite Orban’s recent praise for Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s pro-Nazi leader, and notwithstanding Orban’s problematic campaign against Soros, which is anti-Semitic by outcome if not by design.”
“‘Israel and Hamas are closer than ever to a deal on the release of the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, and Israeli civilians Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayad, but there are still fairly large gaps to be closed,’ a source in Gaza close to former senior Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. According to the source, now that Dahlan has become Gaza and Hamas’ possible savior through his attempts to save the Strip from total collapse, an Egyptian effort is also underway to seal an overall deal that both Israel and Hamas can accept.”
Rami Hod argues, “The lesson is clear: Liberal American Jews need to give up on the faith a rightwing government ruled by rightwing ideology will advance anything resembling a two-state solution, social justice or Jewish pluralism. It just won’t happen. No matter how many government ministers attend Reform movement conferences. Or if Conservative Judaism helps build community centers in the Israeli periphery. It won’t happen because to really change Israel, the Israeli left must win power. And for the Israeli left to win, we must build a political civil society, not one that serves as a provider of social services the government privatizes, or merely advocates abstract values of solidarity and partnership between peoples. We need a civil society with think tanks, pre-military academies, educational programs, journals, local communities, unions and campaigns- all working to promote progressive solutions and to build power. Just like the rightwing does in partnership with conservative American Jews.”
An interview with Khalil Shaheen, director director of the Economic and Social Rights Unit at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.