Often described as the Palestinians’ Nelson Mandela, Barghouti led the recent prisoners’ hunger strike. Paradoxically, his incarceration has served only to make him more visible, a Palestinian national icon. And now he is said to be developing a new model of resistance, to replace the failed strategies of Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.
One can understand why making the Palestinians invisible is the tactic of choice for Israel’s supporters. But a new report suggests it would be wise for them to keep Israel in the shadows too. The Brand Israel Group found that the more US college students knew about Israel, the less they liked it. In the six years to 2016, support for Israel among the next generation of Jewish leaders dropped precipitously.
Israel’s quiet agreement to the transfer from Egypt to Saudi Arabia of two islands guarding the Gulf of Aqaba, and access to the southern Israeli port of Eilat, has surprised observers. The benefits include increasing normalisation with Riyadh, a chance to bring into the daylight an Israeli-Arab military and diplomatic front against Iran, and full-spectrum pressure on the Palestinians to sign up to a disastrous ‘peace deal’.
Israel is seeking to exploit the rift between a Saudi-led bloc of Arab states and Qatar to advance its strategic interests in the region, against the Palestinian movement Hamas and against Iran, according to analysts. Israel added fuel to the fire this week by threatening to close down Al Jazeera’s bureau in Jerusalem.
Israeli and US officials are jointly pre-empting Donald Trump’s supposed “ultimate deal” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They hope to demote the Palestinian issue to a footnote in international diplomacy – and it can be achieved by dismembering the framework of international laws and institutions established after the Second World War.
The Trump administration is using unprecedented threats and financial “blackmail” against the United Nations and its agencies to end their focus on human rights abuses by Israel, according to analysts and Palestinian leaders. They accuse the US of leading the campaign of intimidation to forcibly rehabilitate Israel’s international standing.
Palestinian leaders have denounced new construction projects they say will further tighten Israel’s grip on occupied East Jerusalem and its holy places, including the incendiary site of Al-Aqsa mosque. The most elaborate plan is for a cable car intended to bring thousands of visitors an hour to the Western Wall and its Jewish prayer plaza, immediately below the compound containing Al-Aqsa.
On Thursday Donald Trump must decide whether to join his predecessors in signing a presidential waiver on moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognising it as Israel’s capital. But the only real question to be decided is whether the US president prefers to take the fast or protracted route to failure.
A display of Israeli-style community policing before an audience of hundreds of young schoolchildren was captured on video. It shows four officers staging a mock anti-terror operation. As the “terrorist” lies badly wounded, the officers empty their magazines into him from close range. In Israel it is known as “confirming the kill”. Everywhere else it is called murder.
New legislation to cement the definition of Israel as a state belonging exclusively to Jews around the world is a “declaration of war” on Palestinian citizens of Israel, the minority’s leaders have warned. Critics are also concerned that the Jewish Nation-State Bill is intended to stymie prospects of reviving peace talks with the Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is due to meet Donald Trump in the White House this week to discuss reviving the long-cold corpse of the peace process. Back home, things are heating up. There is anger in the West Bank, both on the streets and within the ranks of Mr Abbas’s Fatah movement. The trigger is a two-week-old hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.
Israel received three F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States at the weekend – a new generation of “near-invisible” planes that critics fear will free Israel’s hand to launch air strikes and spying operations against neighbouring states undetected. In total, Israel has bought 50 F-35s from Lockheed Martin, and claims it will have the first squadron combat-ready before the end of the year.
Israel is to hold lavish celebrations over the coming weeks to mark the 50th anniversary of the occupation. The jubilee is a potent reminder that for Israelis, most of whom have never known a time before the occupation, Israel’s rule over the Palestinians seems as irreversible as the laws of nature. But the extravagance of the festivities also underscores the growth of Israel’s self-assurance as an occupier.
The annual “March of Return” by Palestinians in Israel, commemorating the Nakba – the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948 – has been blocked by the Israeli police for the first time in its history. The police have denied the organisers a permit, saying there is a shortage of officers to oversee the march. But Palestinian leaders in Israel accuse the government of Benjamin Netanyahu of being behind the decision.
The current obsession with BDS reflects a changing political environment for Israel. Concealment at source of damning information is no longer easy, so the battle must be taken to those who disseminate this information. The urgency has grown as artists refuse to visit, universities sever ties, churches pull their investments and companies back out of deals.
The one-man show “Taha” receives its English-language premiere this week in the United States. It offers not only a rare chance to learn about Taha Muhammad Ali, one of Palestine’s finest poets, but provides a visceral account of what it was like to live through the Nakba – the Catastrophe that befell hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were expelled from their homeland in 1948.
The choice of US ambassador to Israel has never before incurred such scrutiny or provoked such controversy. David Friedman’s confirmation by the Senate’s foreign relations committee last week followed a petition signed by tens of thousands of American Jews opposing his nomination. Major Jewish organisations and hundreds of rabbis also objected. But then, Donald Trump’s envoy to Israel is no ordinary ambassador.
Israel has given itself almost complete immunity from paying compensation in cases where its soldiers have killed, injured or disabled Palestinian civilians, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem warned in a new report this week. It said changes to Israeli law over the past 15 years meant Israel now denied many thousands of Palestinians redress in its civil courts, even for harm caused in non-combat situations.
Arabs and Muslims have always struggled to gain entry to Israel. Palestinians are routinely abused at the borders, and thousands, especially from Jerusalem, have been stripped of the right to return home after living abroad. But new figures show entry denials have increased nine-fold in the past five years. Among those increasingly turned away are political activists.
The Israeli leadership shows no signs of heeding the lessons of an official report into the 2014 Gaza war that led to massive destruction and loss of life in the tiny coastal enclave, Palestinians warned this week. In particular, Israel’s State Comptroller faulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to address the mounting humanitarian crisis in Gaza – conditions that made hostilities ever more likely, according to the report.