“In April 2018, Ahmed Abu Hussein was shot in the abdomen while covering Gaza border protests, in which demonstrators demanded the right to return to their ancestral homes in Israel. Hussein died from his wounds two weeks later.
A day later, Yaser Murtaja was fatally shot in the abdomen by Israeli snipers while covering the same protest. He, like Tal’at, was wearing a vest marked clearly marked with “PRESS.” The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in Gaza said five more Palestinian journalists covering the event were wounded.
In November 2019, Muath Amarneh was blinded in one eye after Israeli Border Police opened fire to disperse protesters at a demonstration near the West Bank city of Hebron. Other journalists at the scene said Amarneh was hit by a bullet that ricocheted off a demonstrator. Again, Amarneh wore a clearly marked “PRESS” vest.
Two months later, Israeli troops fractured Abdul Mohsen Shalaldeh’s skull while he reported on demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s Israel-Palestine peace plan. He feels he was targeted “as a clear message to journalists that they had to leave the field,” he told AlAraby.
Clearly, there is a sustained pattern. But if Tal’at’s case is any indication, there is little hope for change or recourse.”
“The West Bank’s Palestinian residents, who live under the grinding realities of occupation, are not Israeli citizens and don’t have a voice in the policies that profoundly shape their lives. The Israeli settlers, many of whom moved to the West Bank with the explicit ideological purpose of seizing control of Palestinian land, do.
Israel is a democratic country within its internationally recognized borders, but it maintains a military occupation of land on which millions of people live while denying those people the right to vote. Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this inherent instability has started to tip toward outright authoritarianism throughout the territory under Israeli control. In a 2019 poll conducted by the nonpartisan Israeli Democracy Institute, a majority of Israelis (54 percent) said their democracy was “in grave danger.”
Since Netanyahu took office in 2009, the nationalist right has mounted an assault on liberal institutions and eroded democracy in Israel. The Israeli parliament has passed a bill formally defining Israel as a state for its Jewish citizens, implicitly slotting the sizable minority of Arab Muslim Israeli citizens into a form of second-class citizenship.”
“Netanyahu allegedly struck a deal with a major newspaper to exchange political favors for favorable coverage.
When this scandal was exposed, Netanyahu was indicted on bribery charges; his response has been to attack the media that reported on the scandal, demonize the prosecutors who brought the case, and attempt to pass a law immunizing himself from prosecution while in office.
Israel is heading down a path already trod by countries like Turkey, Hungary, and Venezuela: former democracies whose elected leaders have, gradually and through mostly legal processes, twisted the state’s institutions to the point where the public no longer has a meaningful choice in who rules them. The signs are subtle, but I found them striking during my trip last fall”
“Some of the causes of this anti-democratic drift are uniquely Israeli. No advanced democracy maintains anything like the occupation of the West Bank. The foundational Zionist vision, a state that’s both meaningfully “Jewish” and “democratic,” leads to a constant high-wire act in a country whose citizens are around 25 percent non-Jewish.”
““bad civil society.” These relatively new organizations — the big ones were founded in the 2000s — use the tools of a free society, like court filings and free speech, to attack and shut down people and groups that disagree with them. “These [NGOs] view differences in perceptions of society and the state as being sufficient justification for silencing or delegitimizing others,” as Jamal puts it.
Such “bad civil society” groups are well-funded allies of the right-wing parties in power; they sometimes even share personnel. One prominent far-right MK, Bezalel Smotrich, is a co-founder of the pro-settlement group Regavim. They perform tasks that official members of government can’t or won’t, helping to hollow out Israeli civil society while claiming to be part of it.”
“About 500,000 Israelis live in the settlements, of which there are about 130 scattered around the West Bank. Roughly 75 percent of settlers live on or near the West Bank border with Israel. Some of the settlements are vast communities that house tens of thousands of people and look like suburban developments. Some look like hand-built shanty outposts.
Settlements create what Israelis and Palestinians call “new facts on the ground.” Palestinian communities are split apart and their connection to the land weakened, while Jewish communities put down roots in territory meant for Palestinians.
In effect, it shrinks the area of land left available for any future Palestinian state to exist on and chops it up into pieces, destroying its potential viability as a real, contiguous state. For some settlers, this is the point: They want the West Bank fully incorporated as Israeli territory and are trying to make that happen.”
“Instead of coming up with a plan that would see those settlers relocated or finding some other solution, Kushner’s plan just takes the huge chunk of land where most of the settlements are located and gives it to Israel. In return, Palestinians get some pockets of land far away in the desert on the border with Egypt and not much else.”
“There’s a lot to this document, but there are four major elements of the new political proposal in particular you need to know about: 1) Israel keeps the vast majority of Jerusalem as its sovereign capital; 2) Palestinians get no right of return; 3) it redraws borders mainly between Israel and the West Bank; and 4) doesn’t allow for Palestine to create a fighting force to defend itself.”
“The president released the long-awaited political framework of his “Peace to Prosperity” plan on Tuesday afternoon after a White House ceremony featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The proposal is missing a signature feature of every prior peace plan: a path to a viable Palestinian state. It divides up the Palestinian territories and surrounds them by Israel, and gives Israel total control over Palestinian security — allowing a future Palestinian government to exercise full control over its own land only when Israel deems it acceptable. It’s a kind of state-minus: a Palestine without much of its land and subservient to Israel for basic functions.
“Trump can try to make this a Palestinian state by calling it a state. But it ain’t ever gonna whistle,” writes Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy.
Needless to say, the Palestinians cannot and will not agree to such humiliation, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already ruled it out.”
“the Palestinians didn’t even have a role in writing the plan: It was put together primarily by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in consultation with the Israeli government. The notion that this is a good-faith effort to make peace is laughable.”
“it doesn’t seem like an accident that the plan was released on the same day that Israel’s attorney general formally indicted Netanyahu on bribery and corruption charges.”
“Prior to the Trump plan, the basic framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations had been relatively fixed. There would be two states, with the Palestinians taking control of the overwhelming bulk of the Palestinian-populated West Bank and Gaza Strip, and with Israel largely retreating to its current internationally recognized borders.
The two sides would come to agreement on thorny issues like which Israeli settlements in the West Bank could become part of Israel, and how exactly to share Jerusalem (a holy city for Judaism and Islam that both sides claim as their capital).
The Trump plan pretty much throws out this framework entirely.
Instead of allowing the two sides to negotiate solutions to these core disagreements, the plan lays out a detailed vision for final terms before negotiations have even begun.”
“Such a land grab would force Israel down one of two dangerous one-state paths.
Option one would be to give the vote to Palestinians and make them full citizens of Israel, leading to an Arab demographic majority and thus ending Israel’s status as a Jewish state. This is not only a recipe for violence between Muslims and Jews but also unacceptable to Israel’s current leadership, who care much more about the state’s Jewish character than its democratic one.
The other option is indefinite Israeli rule over Palestinians without granting them citizenship. There’s a word for keeping an ethnically defined part of your population in permanent second-class citizenship: apartheid.”
“In diplomatic terms, it’s dead. Once the Palestinians and the Arab states take a clear position, then the Europeans will follow suit, and the Russians would come on board, and in the end we’re likely going to end up with a plan that is only truly supported by the US and Israel, and maybe some marginal countries.”