October 26, 2021

In the West Bank, 6 Israeli settlers attacked 3 Red Cross workers monitoring the olive harvest with pepper spray in Burin. Israeli settlers also uprooted 25 olive saplings in al-Masara. Israeli forces demolished 4 Palestinian stores under construction in Deir Qaddis. Israeli forces also delivered stop-work orders for 4 houses under construction in Idhna. 8 Palestinians were arrested, including 6 during late-night raids in Dheisheh refugee camp, Hebron, Beit Umar, and Dura; 1 was arrested at the Container checkpoint and 1 in his shop in Arrabah. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinians protesting the demolition of graves at al-Yusufiya Muslim cemetery; 1 was arrested. (HA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 10/26; MEMO 10/27; PCHR 10/28)

Israel’s public security minister Omer Bar-Lev ordered a ban on a cultural festival put on by the Catholic Church, claiming it was connected to the PA. The festival funded by Austria and France was set to take place for 3 days at Beit Abraham at the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. Israeli forces closed a performance attended by the French consulate general. The organizer Bernard Thibaud said he was shocked by the Israeli behavior and would speak to the French foreign ministry to complain and possibly take Israel to court. (HA 10/26; I24 10/27; WAFA 10/28)

The U.S. state department said it was “deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s plan to advance thousands of settlement units, many of them deep in the West Bank. In addition, we are concerned about the publication of tenders on Sunday [10/24] for 1,300 settlement units in a number of West Bank settlements.” Haaretz reported that U.S. officials secretly had conveyed to Israel that the main concern for the U.S. is construction deep within the West Bank. When asked about the state department’s harsher tone toward Israel, state department spokesperson Ned Price said, “our public messaging on this is consistent with what we are seeing transpire so far. It only stands to reason that our public messaging may shift over time.” It was later reported by Axios that secretary of state Antony Blinken had a “tense” phone call with Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz over the issue of settlements. According to an Israeli official, the Israeli understanding was that the U.S. gave Israel a “yellow card,” a soccer reference for a warning. (AJ, AX, DW, FOX, HA, HILL, REU, TOI, TOI 10/26; ALM, AX, MDW, TOI 10/27)

Israel rebuked the U.S. statement that the U.S. had not been informed about Israel’s decision, from 10/22, to designate 6 Palestinian rights organizations as terrorists. The Israeli deputy director-general of strategic affairs in the foreign ministry Joshua Zarka said that he had told the U.S. about the Israeli decision when he visited the U.S. the week of the announcement. Deputy Director Zarka said that Spokesperson Price probably had not been updated on the issue. UN human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet also condemned the terrorist designations by Israel, saying they should be overturned immediately. The Swedish foreign ministry said Israel had made such allegations before but never provided evidence. (HA 10/25; HA, HA, MEMO, WAFA 10/26)

An Israeli private jet landed in Saudi Arabia, marking the 1st time a direct flight from Israel landed in the country. On 10/25, the 1st ever direct flight from Saudi Arabia landed in Israel. It was an aircraft registered in the UAE. (JP, MEMO 10/27)

Israel launched a 2-day military drill, Southern Storm, simulating war with Hamas in Gaza. (TOI 10/26)

The U.S. secretary of homeland security Alejandro Mayorkas said Israel was among 4 countries the U.S. is considering for its visa waiver program. The subject of an Israeli visa waiver was discussed when Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett met President Joe Biden in August. (REU 10/26; HA, TOI 10/27)

It was announced by Israel that the country will join the EU Horizon Europe research program. The program provides funding for research and innovation and has a budget of $110 billion. Israel will be prohibited from using program funds to invest in East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, according to the deal with the EU. Israel will formally join the EU program in December. (HA 10/26; MEMO 10/27)

Republican senators in the U.S. congress introduced a bill co-sponsored by 35 senators seeking to block the Biden administration from reopening the U.S. mission to Palestinians in Jerusalem. The bill “Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law of 2021” was introduced by Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN). (TOI 10/27)