Amira Hass writes, “On Monday, Judge Ofer Grosskopf issued a restraining order in response to the new petition. The order bars the state from evicting the residents and requires it to respond to the petition’s arguments by July 16. In its response on Tuesday to the first petition, the state asked the court to issue a ruling quickly, since ‘forces are already deployed in the field’ to carry out the demolition….The Civil Administration, the police and other agencies are making final preparations for razing Khan al-Ahmar, the brief continued, in line with the court’s ruling on May 24. It said these preparations are aimed at carrying out the demolition ‘within a few days.”
David Wainer, Jonathan Ferziger and Donna Abu-Nasr write, “A reinforced deployment of tanks and heavy guns is parked along Israel’s frontier with Syria as the civil war that transformed the balance of power in the Middle East appears headed into its final stretch. The fighting in Syria has come full circle as its army sets its sights on retaking Daraa province, where the regime’s brutal reaction to anti-government graffiti on a school wall sparked the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. The offensive against one of the last two major opposition strongholds has brought Syrian forces close to the Israeli-held section of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.”
Jewish or democratic? Israel debates its founding principles., Washington Post
Ruth Eglash reports, “On Thursday, the Israeli government edged closer to approving the so-called “nation-state bill” aimed at boosting Israel’s Jewish character. Proposed by members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and supported by much of his right-wing coalition, the bill clarifies in about a dozen points Israel’s purpose as “a national home for the Jewish people” and pinpoints its national symbols. It could be voted into law as soon as next week….[The] nation-state bill, which if approved would be a basic law with constitutional status, downgrades the status of that minority group’s language, Arabic, to a “special status,” instead of an official language alongside Hebrew. Arabic is spoken by 20 percent of the population. The bill also includes a particularly problematic clause enabling the creation of homogenous communities based on religion and nationality.”
Israeli Minister Planned Eviction of West Bank Bedouin 40 Years Ago, Document Reveals, Haaretz
Forty years ago Uri Ariel, now agriculture minister, was already planning the eviction of Bedouin living east of Jerusalem. This emerges from a document signed by him titled, “A proposal to plan the Ma’aleh Adumim region and establish the community settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim B.
Israel shot down a Syrian drone that penetrated its airspace on Wednesday, the Israeli military said, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow to for talks with Damascus’s biggest ally about a Syrian advance near the volatile frontier.
Putin and Netanyahu meet for Syria-focused talks in Moscow, Associated Press
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday for talks focusing on Iranian presence in Syria — an issue that is expected to top the agenda of the upcoming U.S.-Russian summit.
Netanyahu says Assad regime not Israel’s concern, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is not Israel’s concern, but it will not tolerate the presence of Iranian forces, backed by Assad, to operate in Syria. “We had no problem with the Assad regime,” Netanyahu told reporters at a briefing before returning to Israel from Russia. “For 40 years, not a single bullet was fired in the Golan Heights.”
UN says Israeli closure will worsen conditions in Gaza, Associated Press
The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says new Israeli restrictions on Gaza will worsen living conditions there. Agency spokesman Chris Gunness said Thursday it could have ‘profound and far-reaching consequences for already desperate civilians.’
The Real ‘Deal of the Century’, Haaretz
Jack Khoury writes, ”If any proposal deserves the name “deal of the century,” it’s the one that’s been on the table for 18 years. In 2002, at the height of the second intifada, the members of the Arab League passed the Saudi peace initiative. Yasser Arafat was under siege in his presidential compound in Ramallah, but even as isolated as he was, no Arab leader dared challenge the Palestinians’ national principles, as the Arab Peace Initiative proved. Trump and his gang of advisers, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman cannot reinvent the wheel, dictate a new script, especially in light of their lack of diplomatic experience. These are not the sort of people who can lead a difficult, momentous process where far more experienced diplomats have failed.”
D’var Torah: Khan al-Ahmar, J Street Blog
Rabbi Suzanne Singer writes, “The lesson of the daughters of Zelophehad should guide us in recognizing that justice is served by supporting the claims of those who are powerless. Last week’s injunction from the Israeli Supreme Court gave the state until July 16 to respond to the villagers’ contention that they had been unfairly denied building permits. In the meantime, we need to encourage our elected officials to speak out about this issue, and oppose the destructive policy of demolitions.”
Believe the autocrat, and fight for your democracy, Times of Israel
Libby Lenkinski writes, “Creating chaos is part of the playbook employed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and other rulers who are intent on remaining in power by destroying their country’s democracies. If those of us who are working to defend democracy do not take these politicians at their anti-democratic word, then we have forfeited the game — and our future.”