Annexation discussions heat up; ICC efforts scrutinized: Israel Update

June 12, 2020

Discussions over planned Israeli annexation of West Bank territories on July 1, 2020 continue to ramp up. Netanyahu seeks to follow through on his campaign promise to unilaterally extend Israeli sovereignty over some 30 percent of the West Bank. The plan would pave the way for the eventual creation of a Palestinian state by designating certain Palestinian-majority towns on the Western border to be under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Over 100 international law experts—allied in their opposition to West Bank annexation plans—have signed a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders. On Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that Israel must face consequences if it proceeds with the annexation. Against the opposition, Netanyahu continues to meet with leaders of Israeli communities in the West Bank as he attempts to outline his annexation plans.  


Israel announced Thursday that they would be imposing stricter limitations for new virus ‘red zones’ (high-risk neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and Bedouin villages in the Negev) as the country attempts to manage the resurgence of the virus. On Thursday, Netanyahu called a meeting with top ministers to discuss the continued uptick in coronavirus infections, and to assess the possibility of reimposing select measures to counter the renewed outbreak. Israel’s coronavirus death toll hit 300 this week, as infections continued to spike. Earlier this week, Netanyahu stepped-up enforcement of social distancing orders, empowering city officials with the authority to enforce mask-wearing and disrupt large gatherings. However, amid pressure from privacy rights groups, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency chose to halt a controversial program that used digital-surveillance technology to track down potential COVID-19 patients.


The Trump administration on Thursday announced economic sanctions and visa travel restrictions against staff of the International Criminal Court investigating possible war crimes by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised US President Donald Trump for leveraging these sanctions, saying that the move by the US president showed he was a friend of Israel. In a press conference, Netanyahu said the ICC was a “politicized court [...] obsessed with conducting witch hunts against Israel, the United States, and other democracies that respect human rights.” A report indicates that the Trump administration coordinated these ICC santions with Israeli officials, as both countries have voiced concerns with the institution. In spite of the sanctions, the ICC has vowed to carry on with their investigationssaying it amounted to “an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings.”


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a controversial video on his Facebook page, Wednesday night, criticizing Channel 13 investigative reporter Raviv Drucker of carrying out a "criminal court martial" against the prime minister. The video also accused Drucker of "disrupting legal proceedings and threatening state witnesses to change the minds of the judges.” Many have interpreted the video as an attack on the free press. Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz responded to Netanyahu's post by stating "the role of journalists is to criticize us politicians.” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said, "the statement that a journalist must sit in prison for a publication is outrageous and unacceptable in a democratic state.” The animosity between Drucker and Netanyahu began years ago, and dramatically escalated in 2016 when Drucker published numerous high-profile, investigative reports on Netanyahu. 


The safety, health, and well-being of all community members is a priority for the Jewish Federation. Like many of you, we are closely monitoring the evolution of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This page has been developed to help our community stay informed and provide the resources needed to maintain a sense of connection. As more resources are curated, this page will be continually updated. 



Shabbat Shalom,


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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