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Gaza Erupts, Migrant Flip Flop, Saudi On Board


Israel Courts Catastrophe in Gaza Protests

The New York Times, April 2nd 2018

Recap:

30,000 Palestinians converged along the Israeli-Gaza border as part of a six-week demonstration to protest Israel’s 70th anniversary [1]. 17 Palestinians were killed, the majority of which were from the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing [2].

The Context:

  • Israel and Egypt restrict the flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza since Hamas began governing the strip a decade ago. The Palestinian Authority also imposed punitive measures on Gaza, including salary cutbacks, in an attempt to end Hamas’ control of the area.

  • The Israeli army stated that its sharpshooters targeted only those committing violence against Israeli troops or trying to break through the security fence [3]. ZOA President Morton Klein defended Israel's actions asking “what country on earth would not use military force against an enemy who comes to their border with guns, bombs, and burning tires [4]?”

  • Palestinian leaders insist that the protests are peaceful while Amnesty International called on Israel to immediately end its “heavy-handed, and often lethal, suppression of Palestinian demonstrations.”

  • In addition to an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, Palestinians demand, a “right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees who left or were forced to leave upon Israel’s establishment in 1948. Israel holds that Palestinian refugees and their descendants would become citizens of a future Palestinian state just as Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern countries became citizens of Israel [5].

Conversation Points:

  • How should Israel balance protecting itself vs. protecting people’s right to protest?

  • What is the point that transforms a peaceful protest into a confrontation?

  • Would Arab countries repatriate Jewish refugees if Israel affords the right of return to Palestinians?

After Flip-Flop, Netanyahu Formally Cancels Deal to Let 16,000 Migrants Stay Times of Israel, April 3rd 2018

Recap:

A day after announcing the plan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled an agreement with the United Nations (UN) that would have given thousands of African migrants temporary status in Israel. “Every year I make thousands of decisions benefiting Israeli citizens. Occasionally a decision is reached that has to be reconsidered,” said Netanyahu.

The Context:

  • Most of the 40,000 African migrants in Israel are from Eritrea and Sudan. Migrants say they fled danger at home while Israel considers the majority of African asylum seekers economic migrants [6].

  • The UN agreement was meant to replace a controversial Israeli plan that offered migrants forced deportation to Africa or prison – a program that collapsed after Rwanda announced that it would only accept those who left Israel voluntarily [7]. The UN plan suggested settling 16,250 African migrants in Western countries and a similar number in Israel.

  • Netanyahu's coalition partners chastised the arrangement as a "total surrender to the false campaign in the media [8].” Following the about-face, thousands of activists took to the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to protest the reversal. Netanyahu's opposition described the decision as embarrassing [9].

Conversation Points:

  • Can Netanyahu accomplish anything of significance under his current coalition arrangement?

  • Should illegal immigrants be afforded amnesty when fleeing persecution?

  • Should illegal immigrants be afforded amnesty when seeking economic advancement?

Saudi Crown Prince: Israelis Have Right to their Own Land

Reuters, April 3rd, 2018

Recap:

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recognized Israel’s right to exist in an interview published on Monday. “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land,” said Salman.

The Context:

  • Israel and Saudi Arabia have no official relations, and the kingdom does not recognize the Jewish state. Israel has hinted at clandestine ties with Saudi Arabia in recent years, stressing a shared interest in containing Iran. A Saudi general visited Jerusalem in 2016 and in March, Air India began flying to and from Tel Aviv via Saudi airspace [10].

  • Salman reinforced the threat to the Middle East posed by Iran, comparing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, to Adolf Hitler. Salman condemned Khamenei for not investing the $150 billion windfall afforded by the deal into the Iranian economy [11].

Conversation Points:

  • Would Saudi Arabia tow its line of tolerance for Israel if Iran didn’t pose such a significant threat to the kingdom?

Notes:

  1. Gaza Toll Rises to 18, Israel Rejects Excessive Force Claims, USNEWS, April 2nd 2018

  2. ZOA HEAD: ‘ARAB NAZI-LIKE' HAMAS RESPONSIBLE FOR VIOLENCE ON GAZA BORDER, DANIEL J. ROTH, JERUSALEM POST, APRIL 3RD 2018

  3. IDF: At least 10 of the 15 killed at Gaza border were members of terror groups, JUDAH ARI GROSS AND TOI STAFF, TIMES OF ISRAEL, MARCH 31ST 2018

  4. ZOA HEAD: ‘ARAB NAZI-LIKE' HAMAS RESPONSIBLE FOR VIOLENCE ON GAZA BORDER, DANIEL J. ROTH, JERUSALEM POST, APRIL 3RD 2018

  5. IDF: At least 10 of the 15 killed at Gaza border were members of terror groups, JUDAH ARI GROSS AND TOI STAFF, TIMES OF ISRAEL, MARCH 31ST 2018

  6. Israel suspends plan to send African migrants to West, BBC, April 3rd 2018

  7. Israeli Leader Reaches Deal With U.N. on African Migrants, Then Backtracks, ISABEL KERSHNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 2ND 2018

  8. Israel suspends plan to send African migrants to West, BBC, April 3rd 2018

  9. Israeli Leader Reaches Deal With U.N. on African Migrants, Then Backtracks, ISABEL KERSHNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 2ND 2018

  10. Saudi crown prince recognizes Israel’s right to exist, talks up future ties, Times of Israel, April 2nd 2018

  11. Ibid.


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