New Israeli admin in West Bank propaganda ploy
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Jerusalem Jan. 18 with President Isaac Herzog, signaling continued US support for Israel's new far-right government—despite the Biden administration's supposed opposition to its policies such as settlement expansion and annexation of the West Bank. The trip coincided with Israel's eviction of a wildcat settler outpost in what Israeli authorities call the "Samaria" region of the West Bank.
Israel: protests mount against far-right government
Anti-government protests have been mounting in Israel each week since the new far-right administration led by Benjamin Netanyahu took power at year's end. The night of Jan. 21 saw over 100,000 march in Tel Aviv, while thousands more took to the streets in Jerusalem, Haifa and other cities. The protests have won support from pillars of Israel's traditional political establishment as well as the left opposition. The formerly ruling Blue & White coalition of ex-defense minister and Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz declared on its official Twitter account: "We will continue to take to the streets and demonstrate in favor of democracy and against the coup d'état."
Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions
Israel's new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a brief visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Jan. 3, flanked by a heavy security detail and a fellow Orthodox Jewish worshipper—eliciting immediate outrage from both the Palestinian leadership and the Jewish state's own allies. The Palestinian Authority called the move "an unprecedented provocation," with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing Ben-Gvir of staging the visit as part of an agenda to turn the site "into a Jewish temple." He called on Palestinians to "confront the raids into al-Aqsa mosque." Hamas warned that Israel is approaching a "red line."
UN seeks World Court opinion on occupation of Palestine
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)
Chile to open embassy in Palestine
Chile is planning to open an embassy in Palestine, President Gabriel Boric announced Dec. 23. Speaking at a private ceremony hosted by the local Palestinian community in the capital Santiago, Boric acknowledged that he is "taking a risk" with the move, but added: "We are going to raise our official representation in Palestine from having a charge d'affaires. Now we are going to open an embassy." The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately commended the decision, saying it "affirms the principled position of Chile and its president in support of international law and the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state."
UN report: occupation of Palestine 'unlawful'
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."
Catalan parliament recognizes Israeli 'apartheid'
The Parliament of Catalonia passed a resolution June 16 recognizing Israel's actions in the Palestinian Occupied Territory as "against international law and...equivalent to apartheid as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court." The resolution was approved with support from all the left parties in the regional body: Esquerra Republicana (ERC), Candidatura d'Unitat Popular (CUP), En Comú Podem (ECP), and the Socialists (PSC). The pro-independence Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) voted against it, while the center-right Ciudadanos and far-right VOX abstained. In a tweet celebrating the resolution, the ECP said that the regional parliament is "the first European institution to recognize that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people, as noted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch." (Middle East Eye, Catalan News, BDS Movement, AhlulBayt News Agency)
Israel high court approves Temple Mount development
The Israeli Supreme Court on May 15 ruled in favor of the government's planned cable car over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The ruling was met with approval by proponents such as Jerusalem's mayor, Moshe Lion, who claimed the project will "reduce air pollution in the area, solve the transport and parking distress and allow comfortable and efficient access to the Western Wall and the Old City." However, the decision has been met with condemnation by many, including city planners and architects, environmental groups, and Karaite Jews, a minority sect with a cemetery located along the proposed cable car's path. Palestinian groups have especially criticized the proposed path, as it would travel over East Jerusalem, an area ceded to Arab control in the 1949 armistice but occupied by Israel in 1967. Ir-Amim advocacy group tweeted: "Folks will hop in in WJ [West Jerusalem] and have no idea they're cabling over the heads of occupied Palestinians."
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