Violence in East Jerusalem; Opposition gets latest mandate: Israel Update

May 7, 2021

A long-existing land dispute between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has erupted in violence and chaos. Two nights of rioting has seen 15 Palestinians arrested after clashing with police. Recent tensions have been fueled by a long-running legal case regarding the ownership of homes occupied by four Palestinian families. The case is due to go before the Supreme Court of Israel on Monday. Israeli settlers claim that Sheikh Jarrah is an historically Jewish neighborhood. The battle over Sheikh Jarrah is part of a much broader effort by settlers to expand Jewish presence in East Jerusalem's Palestinian neighborhoods.


Opposition leader Yair Lapid has received a mandate from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to form a new government after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition before his mandate expired. Lapid’s path is challenged by the disparate nature of his anti-Netanyahu bloc, which is made up of many small parties with conflicting agendas. Right-wing elements of the bloc view Lapid as too left-wing to lead a government. This has led Lapid to seek a power-sharing agreement with Naftali Bennett. The proposal would see Bennett serve as prime minister for two years, after which Lapid would step into the leadership position. A Lapid-Bennett government appears to have the support of only 58 members of the 120-seat Knesset, with the Arab parties likely to abstain. If Lapid fails to form a government in the 28-day timeframe, that would be followed by a 21-day period, during which any member of the Knesset could receive the mandate if they could get 61 member signatures. Failing that, Israel will have its fifth national election in under three years.


Three Palestinians fired weapons at the Salem Border Police base in Israel territory, near the northern West Bank on Friday. Two of the attackers were killed and the other was wounded when Israeli officers returned fire. An investigation is underway to determine if the gunmen reached the base through a breach in the border fence. The attack came amid rising tensions in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and along the Gaza border. Police increased their presence in Jerusalem on Friday, ahead of prayers marking the final weekend of Ramadan. The shooting came just one day after the funeral of Yehuda Guetta, a 19-year-old yeshiva student who was shot in the head in a drive-by attack in the West Bank earlier in the week. Guetta died of his injuries on Wednesday night. The recent clashes have raised fears of wider conflicts developing with the Hamas terror group and other factions in Gaza.


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Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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