The fighting in Gaza is over. The humanitarian crisis isn’t.

“Gaza is no longer an active war zone, but the emergency hasn’t fully abated. Israeli airstrikes have toppled high-rise buildings and turned homes and apartments to rubble. Israel said it was targeting Hamas and its networks, including rocket launchers and tunnels, but those targets are often intertwined with schools, clinics, and residential buildings.”

The Israel-Hamas ceasefire stopped the fighting — but changed nothing

“The ceasefire announced Thursday between Israel and Hamas will hopefully end the worst of the violence that in the course of 11 days killed well over 200 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

In the narrowest sense, Hamas and Israel have both accomplished their immediate goals. Hamas got to portray itself as the defender of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, where much of the unrest began in recent weeks, and prove its capacity to hit most of Israel with its rockets. Israel, meanwhile, can say it has degraded Hamas’s military capabilities, in particular the underground network of tunnels from which it operates.

Yet the ceasefire does nothing to address the underlying conditions that have fueled the decade-and-a-half standoff between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, nor the issues that sparked this latest round of fighting.”

“Sheikh Jarrah is an East Jerusalem neighborhood located just outside the old city that for weeks has been the site of mass demonstrations by Palestinians protesting the imminent evictions of six Arab families from their homes by Israeli courts, to make way for Jewish activists who claim ownership of the land.

The homes in question were built by the Jordanian government in the 1950s for Palestinian refugees from Israel, after Jewish residents fled the neighborhood during the 1948 war and found refuge in Israel.

Israeli law provides Jewish Israelis the chance to reclaim property lost during that conflict — including in Sheikh Jarrah. But it offers no reciprocal right to Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, who lost their homes. In general, Israeli authorities and right-wing NGOs have been working for years to change the demographic balance of the city in favor of Jewish Israelis.

Aryeh King, a far-right activist who is currently deputy mayor of Jerusalem, told the New York Times last week that installing “layers of Jews” throughout East Jerusalem is specifically aimed at making its division impossible. “If we will not be in big numbers and if we will not be at the right places in strategic areas in East Jerusalem,” he said, then future peace negotiators “will try to divide Jerusalem and to give part of Jerusalem to our enemy.”

Naturally, the Palestinians who have lived there since the 1950s strongly oppose these attempts to evict them. The Sheikh Jarrah case has gone all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court, which was originally scheduled to announce its ruling on May 10.

“To avoid further inflaming the situation, the Supreme Court delayed its ruling the day before it was scheduled, but by that point it was too late. Demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah already included violent clashes with police and extreme right-wing Israeli activists had come to provoke the clashes further.”

“Combined with the simmering tensions fueled by the Damascus Gate crackdowns and then images of a violent police raid on al-Aqsa, a central religious and national symbol, Palestinians across the West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel, and Gaza shared a sense of national and religious outrage.
And then Hamas got involved.”

“This is the fourth major conflict between Israel and Hamas since 2006”

Israeli forces shot a Palestinian journalist in the leg. He got no compensation.

“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 war on Israeli democracy

“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.”

Jared Kushner, architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, still doesn’t get 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.”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine peace plan, explained

“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.”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine “peace plan” is a con

“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.”

What will Palestinians do now?

“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.”