Churches for Middle East Peace
Israel protests on covid response

Protests Rock Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Amid Calls for Netanyahu to Go
A look at protests to the response to the pandemic, continuing discussions around the proposed annexation, and more news in this week’s bulletin.

Image: Around a fifth of Israel's population of nine million is currently unemployed as the nation reels
from the coronavirus crisis. (Reuters)

Israel protests on pandemic response

Protests rock Tel Aviv and Jerusalem amid calls for Netanyahu to go
Middle East Eye

“Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Jerusalem residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday (July 18), demanding his resignation over alleged corruption and his government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. Hit by high unemployment, a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and reimposed coronavirus restrictions, Israelis have taken to the streets in almost daily demonstrations against the government. Public anger has been compounded by corruption alleged against Netanyahu, who went on trial in May for bribery, fraud and breach of trust - charges he denies. In Jerusalem, the demonstrators marched through the streets, calling for Netanyahu's resignation as police used tear gas, water cannons and mounted units to disperse the crowds.” 

Image: Around a fifth of Israel's population of nine million is currently unemployed as the nation reels from the coronavirus crisis. (Reuters)

Palestinian clinic demolished

Israel demolishes Palestinian coronavirus testing centre in Hebron
Middle East Eye

“Israeli authorities have demolished a Palestinian drive-through coronavirus testing centre in the city of Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank. The West Bank is struggling to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections, after appearing to successfully ward off the pandemic with a strict weeks-long lockdown implemented in March. Hebron, the territory's largest city and powerhouse of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) economy, has been hit particularly hard. The PA recorded 65 coronavirus-related deaths in the Palestinian territories on Tuesday (July 21). Hebron municipality has set up a coronavirus crisis centre, but social stigma and the difficulties caused by the Israeli occupation have hindered its response. Raed Maswadeh, a 35-year-old engineer whose family owns the land in which the drive-through test service was being built, told Middle East Eye that three months ago the municipality had appealed to Palestinians to raise funds to build the facility. ‘My family decided to donate our land at the northern entrance of Hebron for the purpose of constructing a Covid-19 test clinic,’ Maswadeh said. It was built in the memory of his grandfather, who died recently due to coronavirus, and Maswadeh said the project cost his family around $250,000.”

Image: Palestinian engineer Raed Maswade inspects the rubble of the testing centre after it was demolished by Israeli authorities in Hebron. (AFP)

Colombia and Israel

In Colombia, it took courage to make peace. I worry Israel is choosing conflict, instead

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has scarred the Middle East for over 70 years. My country, Colombia, endured a similarly long-running and bitter conflict, seen as intractable and self-perpetuating. The path to peace took courage and magnanimity. As a friend of Israel, I am deeply concerned that these values are wholly absent from its government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank. When I was President of Colombia, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela called my country ‘the Israel of Latin America.’ I took this as a compliment! There is much to admire in Israeli resilience, entrepreneurship and technological innovation. I still admire the values of the founders of the State of Israel and the commitment in its Declaration of Independence to ‘ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.’ But today I fear this vision is under attack from a hyper-nationalist government that openly scorns human rights and international law. The threat of annexation is just the latest example, which risks creating an apartheid-style regime where two different sets of laws apply to different population groups on the same land.” 

Image: FARC leader Rodrigo Londono Jimenez (right) handing the pen to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to sign the peace agreement between the government and FARC. Sept 26, 2016. (Luis Acosta, AFP)

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Jordan could support Israeli-Palestinian binational state, its PM says
Times of Israel

“Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said his country could possibly back a single Israeli-Palestinian state, if it offered equal rights to all citizens. Speaking to the UK Guardian newspaper in an interview published Tuesday (July 21), Razzaz said a binational state could, under those circumstances, be an alternative to the two-state solution that currently forms the basis of international expectations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The proposed one-state format comes as Israel plans to extend sovereignty to areas of the West Bank, as allowed under US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal, which envisions Palestinian rule and eventually a state on the remaining territory. Critics say Israeli intentions to unilaterally annex settlements in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley, some 30 percent of the territory, would end the possibility of a viable two-state solution.”

Image: Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz speaks at the Jordan Growth and Opportunity Conference in London, February 28, 2019. (Toby Melville/PA via AP)

Beit Jala demolished restaurant

Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian lands near Bethlehem for settlement expansion
Middle East Eye

“Israeli bulldozers on Monday (July 20) razed Palestinian agricultural lands east of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, with the intention of expanding an illegal outpost, Ibei HaNahal. The land belongs to Palestinian residents of Kisan village, on which Ibei HaNahal was built in 1999, and is located south of the West Bank, near the Hebron Road and within the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Kisan village council said in a statement that the Israeli bulldozers have been razing and destroying agricultural lands for past six days, and that settlers had installed caravans in the area. Last week, Israeli bulldozers razed 100 hectares (10 dunams) of Kisan, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa. Almost 800 Palestinian live in Kisan, east of Bethlehem, and are surrounded by two major Israeli settlements, Maale Amos and Avi Menahem, and a quarry."

Image: Israeli forces stand guard as bulldozers prepare to demolish a Palestinian family restaurant in the town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, 4 March. (AFP)

former Israeli security officials thank Dems

41 former Israeli security officials thank Dems for opposing annexation
Times of Israel

“A group of 41 former Israeli security officials sent a letter to four Democrats from the US House of Representatives Tuesday (July 21), thanking them for authoring a letter opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stalled plan to annex parts of the West Bank. The Congressional missive, unveiled last month, implored the Israeli leader to halt his plan and preserve the possibility of a two-state solution, warning that Israel annexing West Bank territory would hurt the Jewish state’s relationship with the United States. It was signed by 191 House Democrats. ‘We commend you on building such a broad coalition of Members of Congress to join you in signing this letter,’ the ex-officials said. ‘We consider it a further manifestation of the broad-based support for the kind of Israel we have fought for on the battlefield and continue to strive for, one that is strong and safe, maintains a solid Jewish majority for generations to come, all while upholding the values of democracy and equality as enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.’”

Image: Top row: Former Mossad chiefs from L to R: Danny Yatom, Tamir Pardo, Zvi Zamir, Shabtai Shavit, Nahum Admoni and Efraim Halevy. Bottom row: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and President Reuven Rivlin host a candle lighting ceremony for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah at the President's residence in Jerusalem on December 18, 2014. (Haim Zach / GPO)


CMEP's Bulletin is a weekly round-up of news from the Middle East and represents an array of perspectives on the issues we cover. CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the articles, and they do not speak on CMEP's behalf.

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