The Intersectional Syria website has issued a "Statement of Free Syrians in Solidarity with the Palestinian People," opening: "We, Syrians united in the revolutionary struggle against the Assad regime and its imperialist sponsors, stand firmly and unequivocally with the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank and across historic Palestine, in their fight for liberation from Israeli colonisation, occupation and apartheid." In addition to drawing parallels between bombardment and repression by Israel and the Bashar Assad dictatorship, the statement emphasizes the historical and cultural links between the Syrian and Palestinian peoples—and accuses the Assad regime of hypocritically exploiting the Palestinian cause in rhetoric while betraying it in actual deeds:
At least 13 people, nine of them civilians, were killed in Russian air-strikes within the so-called "de-escalation zone" in northern Syria's Idlib province June 25. The raid struck the village of Basbat, west of Jisr al-Shughur, according to the White Helmets rescue group and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). At least 30 people were also injured in the strike, with the death toll likely to rise. The three Russian warplanes took off from Khmeimim air base in Latakia province. Some of the strikes hit a crowded vegetable market.
Israel's right-wing nationalist government announced new plans June 18 to approve the construction of thousands of new buildings in the occupied West Bank, despite pressure from both the US and EU to halt settlement expansion. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has just been granted authority over approval of West Bank settlement construction in a cabinet decision, tweeted in explicitly annexationist language: "The construction boom in Judea and Samaria and all over our country continues."
The Israeli cabinet on April 2 authorized plans for a paramilitary "National Guard" sought by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to target violence and unrest in Palestinian communities within Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said that a committee comprised of Israel's existing security forces is to determine the guard's responsibilities, and whether it will be subordinate to the Israel Police or take orders directly from Ben-Gvir, as he demands. Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded by calling the plan an "extremist fantasy of delusional people," and slammed a decision to cut budgets from other ministries "to fund Ben-Gvir's private militia." (Al Jazeera)
The UN General Assembly on Dec. 31 passed a resolution referring Israel's 55-year occupation of Palestinian territories to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a legal advisory. The vote, which followed approval of a draft resolution by the Special Committee on Decolonization, was 87-26, with 53 abstentions. Israel, the US, the United Kingdom and Germany voted against, while France abstained. Russia and China joined most of the Muslim world in voting in favor. The Palestinian Authority welcomed the vote, saying in a statement: "The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to law, and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people." (Al Jazeera, AP)
The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, on Oct. 20 released its second report, stating there are "reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government's de-facto annexation policies." The commission called for the UN Security Council to bring to an end the "illegal situation resulting from the permanent occupation imposed by Israel" and require Israel to bring "its permanent occupation to an end immediately."
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced Oct. 29 that "the State Department will allow US citizens born in Jerusalem to request either 'Jerusalem' or 'Israel' as their place of birth on consular documents," including passports. The announcement is the latest in US pro-Israel policy shifts that began with President Donald Trump's December 2017 presidential proclamation recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. The proclamation reversed decades of US policy and drew criticism from the international community. In May 2018, the US Embassy in Israel was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
To nobody's surprise, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's bloc won a majority of seats in the country's parliamentary election, dismissed as a farce by the exiled opposition. Assad's "National Unity" list won 177 seats in the 250-member parliament, the electoral commission announced July 22. As in the presidential elections that just as predictably confirmed Assad's hold on the presidency in 2014, millions of people displaced by the war were not able to vote. "Simply put, these are illegitimate elections. The regime chose the candidates, even the independent ones, and they elected them," said Yahya al-Aridi, a member of the opposition committee at UN peace talks in Geneva. "The people in Syria did not have the freedom to vote... This was a theater play by the regime." (Al Jazeera, DW)