Israel's parliament, the Knesset, awarded itself a draconian new power last week: A three-quarters majority of its members can now expel an elected politician if they do not like his or her views. According to Adalah, a law centre representing the fifth of Israel's population who are Palestinian citizens, the so-called expulsion law has no parallel in any democratic state.
The grubby underside of US electoral politics is on show once again as the race for the US presidency begins. And it doesn’t get seamier than the battle to prove how loyal each candidate is to Israel. Donald Trump has hailed his Republican party platform for breaking with decades of US policy and effectively denying the Palestinians any hope of statehood.
Israel is waging a campaign of incitement against human rights groups as it tries to hamper efforts by the international community to monitor abuses of Palestinians under occupation. A new Transparency Law compels some two dozen Israeli rights organisations to declare publicly that they receive a majority of their funding from foreign governments.
There were no tears shed in the Israeli government over Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right blame Europe for many of Israel’s woes. But Brexit ought be a wake-up call to Israel. It is the latest symptom of a backlash among western voters against political elites seen as distant and unaccountable – and that can only be harmful to Israel.
The conventional wisdom holds that the narrow vote in favor of leaving the European Union is evidence of a troubling resurgence of nationalism and isolationism across much of Europe. That wisdom is wrong, or at least far too simplistic. The outcome attested to a key failing of modern politics, not only in Britain but in most of the developed world: the re-emergence of an unaccountable political class.
In a little-noticed move last week, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman barred an official close to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas from entering Israel. Mohammed Madani is accused of "subversion" and “political terror” for meet the wrong kind of Israeli Jews – those with an Arab heritage.
Wearing a T-shirt, chanting songs at a demonstration or donating clothing could be enough for Israel's large Palestinian minority to fall foul of a newly passed anti-terrorism law, civil rights groups have warned. The legislation, applied in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, dramatically broadens the range of offences to include sympathising with, encouraging and failing to prevent terrorism.
Israel is locking away millions of official documents to prevent the darkest episodes in its history from coming to light, civil rights activists and academics have warned as the country's state archives move online. They claim government officials are concealing vital records needed for historical research, often in violation of Israeli law, in an effort to avoid damaging Israel's image.
In a familiar muddying of the waters, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spent the past week talking up peace while fiercely criticising Friday’s summit in France – the only diplomatic initiative on the horizon. He dusted off the tired argument that any sign of diplomatic support for Palestinians would encourage from them “extreme demands". Netanyahu, it seems, is keen on any peace process, just so long as it’s not the current one launched in Paris.
In a surprise move, Benjamin Netanyahu forced out his long-serving defence minister, Moshe Yaalon. As he stepped down, Yaalon warned: “Extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel." He was referring partly to his expected successor: Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose trademark outbursts have included demands to bomb Egypt and behead disloyal Palestinian citizens. But Yaalon was also condemning extremism closer to home, in Netanyahu’s Likud Party.
"I am sure one day I will return to Saffuriya," Ameen Muhammad Ali says of a Palestinian village only two kilometres outside Nazareth that Israel destroyed during the Nakba in 1948. He pauses, then chuckles as he injects a note of realism: "If not me, then my son - and if not my son, then my grandson." Unlike the majority of refugees from the 1948 war, 81-year-old Abu Arab lives near his former village, in a neighbourhood of Nazareth whose residents are all refugees from Saffuriya or their descendants.
Israel is stepping up its efforts to seize control of Palestinian heritage sites and antiquities in the occupied territories in violation of international law, Palestinian and Israeli archaeologists warned this week. The experts echoed criticisms levelled against Israel in a recent resolution passed by the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO, that accused Israel of interfering with major holy sites in occupied areas.
There is no bigger taboo in Israel than comparing the state of Israel to Nazi Germany. And yet that is precisely what Yair Golan, the deputy head of the Israeli military, did during a speech to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. There is now a palpable fear among army commanders like Golan that they are losing control over their soldiers - and with it any hope of holding on to their much-cherished claim to be the "most moral army in the world".
Israel and its supporters would prefer we forget that, before the rise of the Nazis, most Jews deeply opposed a future in which they were consigned to Palestine. What they feared was that the creation of a Jewish state in a far-flung territory in the Middle East, as the Balfour Declaration promised, dovetailed a little too neatly with the aspirations of Europe’s anti-Semites, then much in evidence, including in the British government.
In Israel’s evermore tribal politics, there is no such thing as a “good" Arab – and the worst failing in a Jew is to be unmasked as an “Arab lover". Or so was the message last week from Isaac Herzog, head of Israel’s so-called peace camp. In the current climate, Herzog and his opposition party Zionist Union have found themselves highly uncomfortable at having in their midst a single non-Jewish legislator.
A jabbing pain in his shoulder and thigh roused Obada from his sleep at 3am. In the half-light, the 15-year-old could make out eight masked men surrounding his bed, their rifles pointed at him. "I felt terrified," he said of the experience. Obada is one of more than 100 Palestinian children who in recent months have found themselves dragged from bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, according to children's right groups.
There is mounting evidence that Israeli ambulance crews are withholding treatment from Palestinians injured during a wave of attacks over the past six months. Physicians for Human Rights in Israel found that wounded Palestinians had been left untreated for as long as two hours. In some cases, it is believed medical teams failed to tend to the injuries of suspected attackers as revenge, in the expectation that they would die from their wounds.
If revenge is a dish best served cold, then Meir Dagan must have relished his retribution on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu – it was delivered from beyond the grave. In damning posthumous remarks, the former Mossad chief described Netanyahu as a man trapped in self-delusion, and “the worst manager I knew". Their falling out centred on Netanyahu’s belligerent posturing over Iran.
As Israeli authorities declare “national parks” over residential areas in East Jerusalem, thousands of Palestinians living in overcrowded neighbourhoods close by the Old City are being trapped in a planning nightmare. Human-rights group accuse the officials of increasingly using such parks as a tool to grab control of Palestinian land and demolish homes, under the guise of archaeological preservation and tourism development.
Israel's one in five citizens whose mother tongue is Arabic are increasingly fearful of using it in public as hostility has mounted towards the language from both officials and the Jewish public, human rights groups have warned. The alert comes as lawyers have threatened the municipality of Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city, with a contempt of court action for failing to include Arabic on most of the city's public signs - 14 years after the Israeli supreme court ordered it to do so.