Wednesday, September 20, 2023

In the West Bank, masked gunmen fired 12 shots at Hebron deputy mayor Asmaa Hatem Nasser al-Shurbati’s car parked in front of her house and later fired shots at her husband’s clinic in Hebron, causing damage. Israeli settlers set up tents and sheep pens on Palestinian land in Shaab al-Butum in the Masafer Yatta area. Israeli forces shot and killed 1 Palestinian during a raid in Aqabat Jaber refugee camp, 2 were arrested. Israeli forces also raided Jalbun, leading to tear-gas related injuries. Elsewhere, Israeli forces issued 23 stop-work orders for homes in Qarawat Bani Hassan. In East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers toured the Haram al-Sharif compound. In Gaza, Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinians protesters near the Gaza fence east of Gaza City, injuring 4 with live ammunition and others with tear gas. (AP, HA, MDW, MEE, MEMO, PCHR, REU, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 9/20; PCHR, PCHR 9/21; UNOCHA 9/26)

Israeli settlers from the Im Tirtzu organization harassed and threatened a delegation of foreign diplomats touring Palestinian communities experiencing settler violence with members of B’Tselem near Ramallah. 1 settler were arrested by PA forces in Taibeh in Area B and transferred to Israel after PA forces fired warning shots at the settlers when they entered Taibeh. 1 of the settlers waived a gun at the PA forces when they arrived. EU high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrel spoke to Israel foreign minister Eli Cohen about the incident. A diplomat told Haaretz that the delegation had informed Israel about the tour beforehand but when they contacted the Israeli army to request assistance they did not show up. (HA, WAFA 9/21)

1 Palestinian prisoner held in administrative detention suspended his 49-day long hunger strike after an Israeli military court said it would not extend his detention beyond 12/2. (QDS, WAFA 9/20)

U.S. president Joe Biden met Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York. According to a White House statement, Biden cautioned Netanyahu about further advancing his judicial overhaul without gaining a broad consensus and invited Netanyahu to the White House later in 2023. Israeli officials said the Biden-Netanyahu conversation mostly concerned the Israeli-Saudi normalization deal. U.S. national security council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk and presidential envoy on energy security Amos Hochstein, who have been leading the U.S. negotiations with Saudi Arabia on normalization, also attended the meeting. It was the first time Biden and Netanyahu met since Netanyahu took office in December 2022. According to an Israeli official, Netanyahu told Biden that there can be a Palestinian component to the deal but the Palestinians cannot have veto power. Netanyahu also met with UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, telling him that the UN should condemn Iran and Palestinian ‘terror.’ (AJ, AX, AX, HA, HA, MDW, MEE, NYT, PCN, REU 8/20; HA, HA 9/21; HA, HA 9/22)

Israeli government ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, along with 11 members of the Likud Party, sent Prime Minister Netanyahu a letter demanding that Israeli-Saudi normalization not be tied to improvements for the Palestinian people. (HA 9/21; HA 9/22)

Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman told Fox News in an interview that normalization with Israel is moving closer every day. Bin Salman said “[f]or us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part,” later saying “[w]e hope that it [the normalization talks] will reach a place that will ease the life of Palestinians and get Israel as a player in the Middle East.” Lastly, bin Salman said that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, then Saudi Arabia will “have to get one.” One of the Saudi demands for normalization is that the U.S. aids the country in creating a nuclear program. (AJ, AX, HA 9/20; AJ, ALM, MEE, REU 9/21; HA, MEE 9/22)

UN envoy for the Middle East Tor Wennesland issued a report warning that the economic crisis in the West Bank and Gaza could threaten regional stability. The report called for investment in health, education, social support, employment opportunities for youth and women, and infrastructure. The report was issued ahead of a donor conference for Palestine which will take place on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting. (HA 9/20)

Norway contributed $2.9 million to the World Food Programme in support of vulnerable Palestinians in Gaza. (WAFA 9/20)