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TOP STORIES TODAY

Israel says Pakistan not among states it may have ties with (Al Jazeera) 

"Israeli minister says more countries lined up to normalise relations with Israel but ruled out Pakistan being one of them."

"In recent months, the Trump administration has brokered rapprochements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco."

"Ofir Akunis, Israel’s regional cooperation minister, told Ynet TV on Wednesday that there were two more countries lined up to normalise ties with Israel before US President Donald Trump leaves the White House next month."

"He did not name either but said one was in the Gulf but would not be Saudi Arabia."

"The other, further to the east, is a “Muslim country that is not small” but is not Pakistan, Akunis said."
Gideon Saar: The right-winger who could unseat Netanyahu and remake Israel (Middle East Eye)

Meron Rapoport writes: "He's pro-settler, against a Palestinian state and targets asylum seekers. But centrists and left-wingers are flocking to the man likely to become Israel's next prime minister."

"As foreseen, Israel's parliament did not extend the deadline for the government's adoption of its next budget, triggering its automatic dissolution. At the end of March 2021, Israelis will be voting again, in the fourth national election in under two years."

"The main beneficiary of this chain of events is Gideon Saar, a Likud MP who quit the party two weeks ago and announced the formation of his New Hope party."

"Although the bad blood between Saar and Netanyahu is common knowledge, his exit from Likud and public commitment not to sit in a government under the premier was unexpected. Recent polling gives his party a probable 19 seats, meaning that if Saar keeps his promise not to serve with Netanyahu, the latter's chances of forming a new government are exceedingly slim."
Boston students reject Israeli training of campus cops (Electronic Intifada) 

Nora Barrows-Friedman write: "Students at Tufts University in Boston have voted in favour of ending all foreign military training of the college’s police department."

"Members of Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and more than 40 allied campus groups launched the referendum campaign after documents revealed that Tufts’ police chief attended a “counter-terrorism seminar” in Israel, funded by the Anti-Defamation League."

"The referendum passed with the support of 68 percent of voters, and in spite of smear campaigns by Israel lobby groups to try and influence the outcome."

"Tufts SJP says it is the first student group to adopt the national End the Deadly Exchange campaign, a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, which seeks to end ties between US and Israeli police forces."
Building a Nation without a State: Civil Society in Palestine (Arab Center Washington DC) 

Yara M. Asi writes: "As imperfect as the PA may have been, it serves as the de facto representative of the Palestinian people and, for better or for worse, the face of Palestinians to the world. However, Palestinians are also portrayed in perhaps a more vibrant and dynamic part of their life, and that is in civil society organizations (CSOs)." 

"There are many active and influential organizations in Israel that are administered by Palestinians and Israelis––such as Gisha, focused on freedom of movement, Adalah, which advocates for the Palestinian minority in Israel, and B’Tselem, a human rights center––as well as regional and international ones that work in Palestine. But there are also a number of them that operate within the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

"In a healthy state, civil society can help fill gaps that are not adequately served by government actors, or advocate for minority groups or causes. However, in a fragile state, such as the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT), civil society fills roles that would otherwise be duties of a functioning government. They also serve an important role in giving voice to minorities and can build coalitions to confront the powerful entities that control their lives."

"In the event of a political resolution to the question of Palestine, as far-fetched as it may seem at the moment, CSOs must be cautious to avoid the pitfalls of the Oslo era, as many CSOs disbanded or were co-opted by the PA or global actors. Regardless of how a resolution is achieved, marginalized groups and causes will still need grassroots support to avoid being overlooked in the name of political stability or seen as irrelevant in the presence of intractable issues, especially ending the siege and occupation."

GO DEEPER

Worlds apart: Edward Said and Amos Oz on Palestine (Middle East Eye)

Gabriel Polley writes: "While Oz became an increasingly lonely voice in Israel calling for a two-state solution, Said was a spokesman for the cause of Palestinian liberation." 

"Initially supportive of a two-state solution and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in later years Said turned to a one-state solution to reconcile Palestinian and Israeli claims, recognising that “so tiny is the land area of historical Palestine, so closely intertwined are Israelis and Palestinians, despite their inequality and antipathy, that clean separation simply won’t, can’t really, occur or work”.

"On the other hand, Oz, hailed as a “dove” of the mainstream Israeli left, resolutely advocated a two-state solution. Yet this position came with caveats...Regardless of his antipathy towards Israeli settlers on occupied Palestinian land, Oz maintained that the occupation was necessary for Israeli safety, ignoring both the right of Palestinian self-determination and the fact that the injustice of occupation constitutes a primary Palestinian grievance leading to resistance."

"Said wrote trenchantly of Oz and others “whose views are routinely aired in the western media as representative of the peace camp, and do a brilliant job of concealing their real views of Palestinians (not so different from Likud’s) beneath a carpet of conscience-rending, anguished prose”.

 
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