Economic and Military War between PA and Israel, while the US cuts aid to the PA:
On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet ordered a stop to all agricultural imports from the Palestinian territories. This comes a month after dozens of Israeli farmers protested against a recent PA ban against calves imported from Israel into PA territory. Then, on Monday, the Trump Administration released its 2021 budget plan, which did not include any funding for the PA, even though the budget in 2020 allotted $75 million to the PA.
Violence in the region:
Meanwhile, violence in the region continued. Throughout the week, multiple explosive balloons were launched from Gaza and detonated in Israeli territory. No injuries or damages were reported.
Late on Thursday, multiple targets were struck by airstrikes near Damascus in Syria by missiles reportedly fired from the Golan Heights in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not confirm nor deny the attack, saying instead that “maybe it was the Belgian Air Force.”
The Peace Plan:
Mahmoud Abbas expressed his displeasure with the US Peace Plan at the United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday, likening the potential PA State to “Swiss Cheese”. Abbas had threatened to end security coordination with Israel, but so far has not followed through. On Monday, Egypt, Saudia Arabia, and other Arab countries called for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to start “calming things down,” fearing that criticism against the Trump Peace Plan “would cause instability.”
Israel debates when to annex territory:
On Sunday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman warned Israel in a tweet that any annexation would need to be approved by an Israel-US joint committee, and “Any unilateral action in advance of the completion of the committee process endangers the plan and American recognition.” Despite the fact that Netanyahu had indicated that he would immediately begin annexing territory after the release of the Trump Peace Plan; he now appears to be going along with the American request to delay the move, saying on Saturday that Israel has started mapping out the plans for annexation.
The apparent decision to delay annexation has angered many on the right in Israel. After Netanyahu’s speech Saturday, Defense Minister and Yamina Party Leader Naftali Bennet responded by saying “There will never be a more fitting time to extend sovereignty on our land,” and called for an immediate vote in the Knesset. On Thursday, a group of activists demonstrated in front of Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem.
UN releases blacklist of companies that operate in West Bank:
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a list of companies that operate beyond the pre-1967 borders of Israel. The report lists 112 companies that the UN Human Rights Council claims violate international law. On Thursday, Palestinian officials in Ramallah said it was an “appropriate response” against Israel. Israeli officials condemned the response.
All strip clubs in Tel Aviv closed as the country nears the implementation of an anti-prostitution law:
Following a ruling by the State Attorney that strip clubs may be technically violating prostitution laws, police in Tel Aviv shut down all the city’s strip clubs. In December 2018, a law to make procuring prostitution services illegal was passed, and the law comes into effect this year (the State delayed the implementation of the law in order to give itself time to create rehabilitation services). However, the rehabilitation methods have not yet been implemented because the funding has not yet been disbursed.
Blue and White Party open to Arab Joint List support, the right-wing coalition appears strong, Liberman willing to sit with left-wing Meretz:
Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz said that the Arab Joint List may be an outside-supporter of a future government headed by Blue and White, but that the party would not be inside the coalition. Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz responded by saying that the Blue and White Party would definitely need Arab support since nobody on the right would join Gantz. Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennet indicated his agreement.
Avigdor Liberman, leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, and considered the “kingmaker” in Israel because his secular nationalist party could provide the swing vote, indicated that this time around he would be willing to join a government with the left-wing Meretz party, which he had ruled out in the last election.