The Israeli government this week continued to stall a so-called “muezzin bill” that if passed would criminalize mosques for playing the call the prayer over loudspeakers. Critics say Netanyahu’s support for the bill is an effort to counterbalance internal political pressure he faces over the future dismantling of the illegal outpost of Amona, a decision that continues to spur mass controversy with many in the far-right settler bloc. “This law is not about noise, it’s not about quality of life, Netanyahu doesn’t care about these issues. The bill is about inciting against the Arab population in a time that Netanyahu doesn’t look ‘right’ enough for his right-wing settler base because of everything going on with Amona,” says Reut Mor, spokeswoman for Joint List head MK Ayman Odeh.
Israel’s human rights NGOs pushed back this week after the Knesset passed a transparency law that critics say was the most recent attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition to persecute the country’s left. Leading Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now vowed to wage legal war against the new law, which requires NGOs that receive more than half of their funding from foreign donors to declare their funding sources prior to addressing Knesset committees, speaking with public officials, as well as on publications and websites.
The Israeli parliament on Wednesday passed a law expanding the power of the state to label individuals or groups as “terrorists,” in what critics said will be exploited to criminalize legitimate Palestinian political activity. Among its most controversial tenets is an expanded definition of “terrorism” as well as official procedure for declaring a group a “terrorist organization.” The law also enables the state to outlaw charity groups “indirectly” contributing to “terrorist organizations,” imprison its members by association and issue a life sentence to those who “support” but are not directly involved in “terrorist acts.” MK Hanin Zoabi of the Joint List said the new legislation is not intended to indict “real terrorists.” but has a different aim. “It aims to prevent citizens from being critical and express their views, from being involved in a popular political struggle against the [Israeli] occupation, to talk about the boycott, and in general to think outside the box,” Zoabi tells Mondoweiss.
Amid mass political upheaval this week, the Israeli prime minister’s government reshuffle has brought in the creme de la creme of Israel’s far-right and raised the hackles of those fearing an apparent rise in extremism among Israel’s political leadership. “The question now is: what is the world going to do?” Joint List MK Aida Touma-Souliman tells Mondoweiss. “The world until today still believes what Netanyahu says about his willingness to talk to the Palestinians. To have Lieberman as defense minister…I think this is a very clear message Netanyahu is sending to the world over his goals for the future.”
The detention by Palestinian Authority security forces of three Palestinians who allegedly planned to carry out an attack inside Israel this week brought renewed public criticism of the PA amid a slew of political disputes. The PA finds itself pitted between a need to appease the Israeli authorities through security coordination and the mass upheaval such coordination brings among political rivals and the wider public.
The UN removed portions of an Israeli exhibition at the international body’s headquarters in New York this week that alleged Israel’s equal treatment of Palestinian citizens and touted Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, claims deemed by the UN as falling out of line with international law. Two panels out of 13 in the display were barred in order that it “conform with the purposes and principles” of the UN, Farhan Haq, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told Mondoweiss.
Israeli authorities claim that 19-year-old Maysoon Mousa carried out a knife-wielding attack on an Israeli soldier earlier this week, but her family says Israel’s account makes no sense and that Maysoon is being held with false evidence. Emily Mulder talks with the Mousa family as they try to determine what happened and deal with the repercussions of the arrest on the entire family.