Tuesday, March 23, 2021

In the West Bank, Israeli settlers uprooted 25 olive seedlings, stealing 22 of them in Tell. Israeli forces sealed off 8 villages near Ramallah, leading to clashes with Palestinians in 1 of the villages, Dayr Abu Mash‘al, causing tear-gas related injuries. Israeli forces also violently dispersed an anti-settlement protest in Beita, injuring 1 Palestinian with a rubber-coated bullet to his head, and others suffered tear-gas related injuries. 2 Palestinians were arrested, including 1 during a late-night raid in Anata, and 1 at a checkpoint in Halhul. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces demolished 1 house in Shu‘fat refugee camp. Israeli police physically assaulted and arrested 3 Palestinians in Silwan after stopping their car. 2 others were arrested during late-night raids in Issawiyya and al-Tur. In Gaza, rockets launched from Gaza landed in an open area near Beersheba, where Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting during his election day campaign; no injuries or damage were reported. Israel subsequently attacked Gaza with fighter jets and helicopters, firing 5 missiles at sites near Gaza City and at 1 site in Dayr al-Balah, causing severe damage. Off the coast of Gaza, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen within 3 nautical miles west of Gaza; no injuries were reported. (HA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 3/23; AJ, WAFA, WAFA 3/24; PCHR 3/25)

Israel closed all crossings for the Israeli elections. (WAFA 3/21)

A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that a single Fatah list would get 43% of the votes for the parliamentary elections while Hamas would win 30%; 18% were undecided. However, within the population of Fatah supports, some 10% would vote for a party headed by Mohammad Dahlan and 7% for a party head by Nasser al-Kidwa. (AP, HA, PCPSR 3/23)

Israelis voted in the general elections for the 4th time in 2 years. This time, there was not an obvious coalition to formed either, as many right-wing parties had promised not to support a government with Benjamin Netanyahu as its prime minister. Netanyahu, who had convinced the Palestinian-Israeli party Ra’am (United Arab List) to break with the Joint Arab List, also relied on religious Zionist parties, to the right of his Likud party, to be able to form a government. Those parties, including a significant majority of Likud, were vocally opposed to being in a governing coalition with Palestinian-Israelis. Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas said after the election that he was not wedded to either the right wing or left wing at that point. Meretz (Vigor) and Labor both had a better election than anticipated and went over the electoral threshold. So did the terrorist-supporting Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), made up by followers of Meir Kahane. The Joint Arab List ended up with 6 mandates, down from 15, partially a result of lower Palestinian-Israeli voter turnout and because Ra’am received 4 mandates that previously would have gone to the Joint Arab List. (REU 3/22; AJ, AP, AP, GDN, HA, HA, HA 3/24; ALM, HA, HA, REU 3/25; AJ 3/26)

The Middle East Quartet members met for the 1st time since 2018 to discuss “meaningful negotiations” between Israelis and Palestinians. PA president Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the statement made by the Quartet. (AP, REU 3/23; HA, WAFA 3/24; WAFA 3/26)

The Dutch foreign ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to the country for clarification as to why PA foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki had his VIP travel card confiscated after meeting with ICC personnel in the Hague. The Dutch foreign ministry said that “the ICC must be able to carry out its work without interference.” (HA, MEMO, REU, WAFA 3/23)