Israel. Settlements in the occupied area continued during the first two to three months of the year, despite the condemnation of the outside world. Both the EU and the US criticized and called for restraint on Israel. In January, Israel approved 2,500 new settlements on Palestinian land on the West Bank and nearly 600 homes in East Jerusalem. Reportedly, construction laws should have waited until US President Donald Trump took over after Barack Obama to mitigate any criticism. In February, 3,000 new homes were approved at the West Bank. According to Countryaah.com, the EU Foreign Secretary is critical and says the new settlement policy “directly challenges a two-state solution”.
Just a few days later, 4,000 new settlement homes were announced on privately owned Palestinian land on the West Bank; the previous owners would be compensated either financially or with new land. This happened in connection with the dismantling of a settlement north of the city of Ramallah which had been declared illegal by the country’s highest court. The new settlements on privately owned land are in violation of international law, and according to UN Secretary-General Ant車nio Guterres, it will “have significant legal consequences for Israel”.
In the same month, President Trump spoke about the settlements. This happened during a press conference in connection with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s US visit: ※I would like you to hold back the settlements for a while. We will find a solution. ” Trump also argued that a two-state solution was not the only solution, saying that UN criticism of Israeli settler policy was “one-sided and unfair.” The day after the meeting, however, United States Ambassador Nikki Haley said that the United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution.
Despite the UN and US pressure, settlements continued to increase. In October, 2,600 new Israeli settlements were decided on occupied territory on the West Bank.
A conflict that in many ways showed Jerusalem’s symbolic value flared up in mid-July after two Israeli policemen were killed by three armed Palestinians near al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City. The Israeli police closed the mosque and seized Jerusalem’s great Muhammad Hussein. A few days later, the mosque and Temple Mount were opened, but protests erupted since the Israeli authorities placed metal detectors at the entrances. Several Muslim leaders urged the world’s Muslims to boycott the area, which every true Muslim should visit at some point in their lives. After that, Israel prevented all men under the age of 50 from visiting the walled old city. In the violence that followed in the eastern part of Jerusalem, three Palestinians were shot dead and 300 people injured. The day after, three Israeli settlers were stabbed to death north of Ramallah by a Palestinian. On July 25, the Israeli government decided to remove the metal detectors and later also recently installed surveillance cameras, but still the decision was made that no men under 50 could participate in Friday prayers.
In January, a conference was held in Paris for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The 70 participating countries agreed that the two-state solution must be kept alive. Britain reserved itself in the final document; According to analysts, it was due to Brexit and the opportunity to get the US as a new trading partner.
When the US entry ban on a number of Muslim countries was introduced in January, Israeli Jews born in one of the seven countries covered by the ban were exempted. In Israel, there are currently 140,000 Jews born in the forbidden countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). The condition, however, was that they had valid US visas and did not have a valid passport from their home countries. Most come from Iraq and Iran, are over 65 and have escaped persecution.
In February, IKEA received criticism for having produced a special edition of its catalog for strictly Orthodox Jews (Haredim). In the catalog there were no pictures of women, only fathers and sons and in the bookshelves only religious writings. The catalog was created by Israeli IKEA, who later apologized.
In early May, Israel convened Sweden’s ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser to stage a protest. This, after Sweden approved a UNESCO resolution that rejects Israel’s right to sovereignty over Jerusalem. Sweden must have been the only European country that voted in favor of the resolution. In October, Israel (like the United States) decided to terminate its membership of the UN agency UNESCO because of, it is believed, its anti-Israeli stance.
In early December, the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with the aim of moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv. This led to violent protests and clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians. At the end of December, at least eight Palestinians had died in the unrest.
About 50 attacks against Syria in 2020
An annual report by the Israeli Armed Forces, which covers events until December 20, states that Israel carried out military attacks on about 50 targets in Syria by 2020. Israel rarely comments on details or individual attacks, but it is well known, also through statements by Israeli politicians, that it is primarily about targets with suspected links to Iran and the help the Syrian regime receives from the rulers of Tehran. The Lebanese Shiite guerrilla Hezbollah, which is also taking part in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad regime, is also being attacked.
Split in Blue and White
Benny Gantz loses one of his most important party comrades: Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi announces that he is leaving the party ahead of the forthcoming new election. Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn has also resigned to join a new center-right party: the Israelis, formed by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. Even behind Likud leader Benjamin Netanyau, the trail has been sparse (see December 9), but the situation looks more difficult for Gantz. According to opinion polls, Blue and White can not count on getting more than a handful of seats in the next election.
Budget crisis ends with new elections
The two largest governing parties – Likud and Blue and White – are failing to agree on a budget for the coming years. When the time limit for adopting a budget is passed at midnight between 22 and 23 December, the Knesset will be dissolved automatically, which means that Israel will go to new elections in three months. The election date is set for March 23. It will be Israel’s fourth election in two years. The collaboration between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, who leads Blue and White, has cracked at the seams since the coalition government was formed in May 2020. Netanyahu and Ganz blame the situation that has arisen on each other. Gantz wanted Likud to approve a two-year budget in accordance with the agreement that laid the foundations for government cooperation, but Netanyahu said no, citing the pandemic.
Normalization between Morocco and Israel
Morocco and Israel are normalizing their relations, US President Donald Trump announced. Morocco is the fourth Arab country since August to recognize Israel and thus the sixth overall. Egypt and Jordan made such decisions in connection with peace agreements in the 20th century and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan were added in 2020. The United States has in exchange promised to recognize Morocco’s supremacy over the occupied Western Sahara. Both Western Saharans and Palestinians react with disappointment.
Rival to Netanyahu forms a new party
Gideon Saar, who in 2019 failed to become the conservative Likud’s prime ministerial candidate, leaves his seat in the Knesset and forms the party New Hope to challenge Benjamin Netanyahu. This is happening in a situation where cooperation is cracking in a coalition government led by Netanyahu and the result could be another new election. Saar has been a minister in several Netanyahu governments but is seen as a close relative of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties. Saar is on important issues to the right of Netanyahu, which in Israeli contexts means, among other things, that he wants land on the occupied West Bank, where Jewish settlements have been built, to be annexed by Israel.
Emirates buys into Israeli club
The Beitar football team in Jerusalem has a new half-owner: Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, royalty from Abu Dhabi. It is a deal that has become possible thanks to the new, ever closer contacts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It also attracts attention for another reason: Beitar is the only one of the top Israeli teams that has never had an Arab / Muslim player contracted. Among the team’s fans is also a hard-line clique that has made itself known for shouting anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slogans.
Billion transfer to Palestine
Israel has transferred the equivalent of more than $ 1 billion to the Palestinian Authority as a result of the resumption of cooperation between the parties (see November 17). The money is, among other things, taxes that Israel has collected on behalf of Palestinians. During the time the amounts were withheld, Palestinian civil servants did not receive their full salaries. From the Palestinian side, the freeze is seen as economic warfare. The total amount corresponds to just over a third of the Palestinian Authority’s annual tax revenue, but according to the World Bank is not enough for there to be a balance in the state budget. Israel does not release certain sums, on the grounds that the Palestinian Authority uses the money to support families who have a relative in Israeli prison.
Budget quarrel under threat of new elections
A majority in the Knesset is tentatively voting in favor of a proposal by opposition leader Yair Lapid to dissolve. But a new election, in which case the fourth in two years, is even more votes away. In the balance is the state budget. In order for Likud leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid another election, Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, expects Likud to approve a two-year budget in accordance with the May agreement that laid the groundwork for their government cooperation. In fact, both Netanyahu and Gantz are believed to want to avoid re-election, as their popularity has plummeted. Gantz in particular would have little chance of making a winning choice.