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Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News:
30th October 2020

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Note: "Welcome to the SNS News Update! We have developed this resource over the years into its current form: a shorter, sharper weekly update with a focus on an important story, as well as context and, where possible, comment from our Partner Organisations. We think this provides a good opportunity for students & young people to analyse, debate and discuss how the media covers politically charged topics such as Israel-Palestine. Further down this News Update you'll find be a few other suggested articles to read. We also hope you like our new look - check out our social media pages for more on this! As always, if you want to share comments, questions or suggestions for future Updates, please email laurence@solutionsnotsides.co.uk. Thank you."
Composite image of Trump over the Israeli and Sudanese flags. Source: Getty Images
This Week's Story: Sudan becomes latest Arab country to normalise relations with Israel
 
The Guardian: Sudan and Israel agree US-brokered deal on normalising relations Israel and Sudan have agreed to work towards normalising relations in a deal brokered by the US that would make Sudan the third Arab country to set aside hostilities with Israel in the past two months. Donald Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call on Friday with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, his Sudanese counterpart, Abdalla Hamdok, and Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council. “The leaders agreed to the normalisation of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations,” a joint statement by the three countries said. […] Though Khartoum has been largely marginal to Middle Eastern politics in recent decades, the normalisation has significant symbolic value. After the 1967 war, Arab powers met in Khartoum to pledge three “noes”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel. Netanyahu said Sudan was now saying the opposite. “Yes to peace with Israel, yes to the recognition of Israel, and yes to normalisation with Israel. This is a new era.”
 
Al-Araby: Netanyahu lauds Sudan normalisation deal, while Palestinians lament
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday lauded the US-brokered normalisation of relations with Sudan while Palestinian Islamists Hamas lamented what they called a "political sin". After weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, which went into high gear Wednesday with the secret visit of an Israeli delegation to Khartoum, President Donald Trump announced the accord Friday in the White House. "What an amazing turnabout!" Netanyahu said in a Hebrew-language statement. "Today Khartoum says yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel and normalisation with Israel." […] Hamas, however, lambasted the deal branding it a "political sin". The accord, "harms our Palestinian people and their just cause, and even harms the Sudanese national interests," Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said. “It benefits only Netanyahu," he added. An official Hamas statement called on the Sudanese people to reject what it called a "shameful deal".The presidency of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, joined the condemnation. "The Presidency of the State of Palestine expressed today its condemnation and rejection of the deal to normalise ties with the Israeli occupation country which usurps Palestinian land," a statement said.
 Read more

The Jerusalem Post: Jewish politicians, organizations laud Israel-Sudan peace deal
Jewish and pro-Israel politicians and organizations have praised the US-brokered normalization agreement between Israel and Sudan. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) called Friday’s announcement “a historic milestone.” […] “Fifty-three years ago, Arab leaders gathered in Sudan to declare ‘no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with [Israel].’ Today’s announcement is a major breakthrough in eroding tired, old shibboleths that have led to division and conflict,” the statement added. […] “Sudan is the third Arab country to make peace with Israel in the past two months, the significance of which cannot be overstated, as these landmark diplomatic agreements represent the dawn of a new age for the relationship between the Jewish state and the Muslim world,” the statement reads. […] World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder welcomed the announcement that the State of Israel and the Republic of Sudan have agreed to normalize ties. […] Lauder thanked Trump and his administration for facilitating this “important step in the Middle East,” adding that, “the forthcoming establishment of bilateral Sudanese-Israeli ties, following on the heels of Israel’s agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, is emblematic of shifting societal attitudes toward Israel and toward Jews in the region – and I hope that this move will encourage other Arab and Muslim governments to follow their lead and pursue peace.” He added that the World Jewish Congress is ready to work with the Sudanese government to weave Jewish voices and experiences into Sudan’s “already rich and diverse cultural tapestry.”
Read More

See also: 
Some Questions/Ideas: 
  • Why are these peace & normalisation deals happening at (almost) the same time?
  • Should the Palestinians launch their own international initiative to try and take back some element of control?
  • Take some time to read different sources and come to your own conclusions about the peace/normalisation deals being made with Israel from across the Arab world.

Context: Why has Sudan agreed to a peace deal with Israel?

Sudan has become the latest Arab state to agree to a normalisation of diplomatic relations with Israel, a move that sees the country following closely in the footsteps of both the UAE and Bahrain who struck their own deals with the Israelis back in September. While the Israel and UAE-Bahrain peace agreements have been widely praised as historic milestones in the process of ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, they have also drawn intense condemnation from Palestinians who view it as a betrayal of their cause.
 
The deal with Sudan has been no less controversial and as David Halbfinger and Ronen Bergman write in the New York Times this week, it comes with additional layers of symbolism that will no doubt stir the emotional sentiments of both sides. As the site for the Arab League’s uncompromising declaration in 1967 that there would be no peace with Israel, no recognition, and no negotiations without justice for Palestine—the “three noes” as they came to be known— Khartoum’s reversal in policy marks a highly significant moment, one that Israelis have celebrated as a “new era of peace” but that Palestinians have decried as a “new stab in the back”.
 
So why has Sudan decided to make such a dramatic policy shift, and why now? There are a number of factors to consider but perhaps the most significant is that Sudan is in dire economic need. Decades of international economic sanctions resulting from Sudan's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism combined with the fall out of a bitter civil war has left the country in financial ruin. In making this deal with Israel, Sudan was able to secure a pledge from the United States that would see its name removed from the terrorism blacklist and would therefore allow it to claim desperately needed economic aid as well as the ability to negotiate the lifting of sanctions. The involvement of the United States is also an important factor and could account for the timing of the deal. As the upcoming Presidential election looms, Trump will be looking for ways to boost support among his base for whom his pro-Israel policies have proven popular, and with Sudan on the verge of a nationwide food crisis due to its financial instability, it is likely that he recognised an opportunity to stimulate his re-election campaign by adding another Arab state to the growing list making peace with Israel during his tenure as president. 

SNS Partner Update - The Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP)
This week, ALLMEP have been celebrating the release of a group activists belonging to one of its member organisations, the Gaza Youth Committee (GYC), from a prison in Gaza where they had been illegally detained by Hamas for over six months. Rami Aman, the group's leader, was imprisoned alongside a number of other GYC activists after they participated in a Zoom conference call with Israelis where they discussed routes to peace and how to bring an end to the blockade against Gaza. ALLMEP have produced a video about the injustice of Rami's imprisonment that you can watch here and in a statement posted to Facebook said: 

"We are so pleased that Rami and his colleagues are with their families. Yet they should have never been arrested in the first place. As our video makes clear: their activities are time-proven conflict resolution tools that are protected under international law, and we will continue to defend their legitimacy and efficacy, and our members' right to engage in them freely, without intimidation or censure."
Recommended Reading:
 
Labour broke equalities law over anti-Semitism, BBC News
  • A report into allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour found the party was "responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination". The Equality and Human Rights Commission identified "serious failings" in the party leadership's attempts to tackle anti-Jewish racism. | Read more

Hamas uses secret cyberwar base in Turkey to target enemies, Anshel Pfeffer, The Times
  • Hamas has set up a secret headquarters in Turkey for carrying out cyberwarfare and counter-intelligence operations, western intelligence services have learnt. | Read more
Hamas releases Palestinian peace activists arrested after Zoom call with Israelis, Reuters 
  • Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas convicted three Palestinian peace activists of “weakening revolutionary spirit” for having held a Zoom call with Israelis peace campaigners, but ordered the release of two of them after six months in jail. Hamas arrested Rami Aman, 39, and seven other activists in April after the conference call, describing it as “treason”. | Read more
Ahead of U.S. election, Trump ends a U.S. restriction applying to Israeli settlements, Reuters
  • The Trump administration lifted a decades-old ban on Wednesday that had prohibited U.S. taxpayer funding for Israeli scientific research conducted in Jewish settlements in occupied territory, drawing Palestinian condemnation. | Read more
[Photo Essay] The Occupied West Bank, Newlines Magazine, Claire Thomas
  • The images in this series highlight the difficulties and realities of daily life for Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank.
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