Tuesday, December 21, 2021

In the West Bank, Israeli settlers uprooted 50 olive trees in Tarqumiyah as part of an effort to make a road to the Telem settlement. Israeli forces shot and killed 1 Palestinian man near a checkpoint in the Nablus area; Israel claimed that the man had attempted ramming soldiers with his car; no soldier was injured. Israeli forces demolished a 2-story house in Nahalin; Israeli forces also violently dispersed Palestinians protesting the demolition, causing tear-gas related injuries. 1 Palestinian was arrested during a house raid in Jericho. In East Jerusalem, 1 Palestinian family demolished their own home in Jabel Mukaber, displacing 5. Israeli forces detained 3 Palestinian minors and seized their Palestinian flags after they had raised the flags on the Haram al-Sharif compound. 4 others were arrested in the Old City. In Israel, the Israeli member of the Knesset from the Religious Zionist party Itamar Ben-Gvir threatened 2 Palestinian Israeli parking garage employees with a gun when the 2 told Ben-Gvir not to park in a prohibited zone. (AP, HA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 12/21; MEE, MEMO, WAFA, WAFA 12/22; MEMO, PCHR 12/23)

Israeli media reported that Israel had handed over 2 Palestinians to the PA. The 2 were allegedly wanted by the PA when they were arrested in Israel. (MEMO 12/23)

PA president Mahmoud Abbas met with U.S. acting assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs Yael Lambert in Ramallah. (WAFA 12/21)

The Fatah central committee convened without making any significant announcements. (WAFA 12/21)

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas supports reconciliation talks with Fatah sponsored by Algeria. The talks were 1st announced by Algeria during a meeting between president Abdelmadjid Tebboune and PA president Mahmoud Abbas in Algiers on 12/6. (MEMO 12/22)

United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas said during a conference hosted by the Hebrew newspaper Globes that “Israel was born as a Jewish state. And that was the decision of the Jewish people, to establish a Jewish state. The question is not ‘what is the identity of the state?’ That’s how the state was born, and so it will remain.” Leader of the Joint List coalition Ayman Odeh criticized Abbas’s remarks, saying that “the state’s identity should interest every citizen.” PA president Mahmoud Abbas also criticized Mansour Abbas for his comments, saying that he has abandoned his own people to side with the “Zionist colonial project.” (JP, TOI 12/21; ALM, WAFA, WAFA 12/22; HA, MEMO 12/23; HA 12/25)

U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan met with Israeli president Isaac Herzog. President Herzog had said before the meeting he would raise with Security Advisor Sullivan his desire to have the yeshiva in the evacuated settlement outpost Homesh remain. 1 Israeli settler was killed at the Homesh outpost on 12/16. Meanwhile, Israeli Channel 13 reported that U.S. president Joe Biden ignored a request from Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett for a phone meeting. (TOI 12/22; ALM 12/28)

AP reported that former head of the Israeli military intelligence directorate Tamir Heyman acknowledged that Israel took part in the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qassim Soleimani on 1/2/2020. (ABC, HILL, MEMO 12/21)

The Washington Post reported that the UAE had planted NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware on Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s then-fiancée’s phone prior to the killing of Khashoggi. The Post reported that Hanan Elatr’s devices were hacked while she was in Dubai airport due to her job as a flight attendant. While in Dubai airport, Elatr was detained and questioned as agents planted the Pegasus spyware on her devices. The Citizen Lab research group confirmed that the Pegasus spyware had been planted on her phone prior to the killing of Khashoggi. AP also reported that Citizen Lab had found Pegasus spyware on phones belonging to a Polish lawyer and a Polish prosecutor known to publicly oppose the right-wing Polish government’s attempts to undermine the judicial branch of government. (AJ, AP, HA, WP 12/21)

UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Tor Wennesland called on Israel to cease settlement activities and displacement of Palestinians in East Jerusalem during a UN security council meeting. Special Coordinator Wennesland also warned that an increase in settler violence in the West Bank could ignite tensions between Hamas and Israel. (MEMO, MEMO 12/22)