News Roundup for June 8, 2018

June 8, 2018

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J Street in the News

Why is Israel Hugging Hungarian Strongman Viktor Orban?, Times of Israel

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “In recent months, we have witnessed a strange and disturbing phenomenon: Israel’s top officials, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu down, going out of their way to embrace Hungary’s authoritarian strongman, Viktor Orban, a man whose party has used clear anti-Semitic messages to solidify power. This week, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer hosted an event for the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and took the opportunity to praise Orban as a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people who has ‘zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.’ Really?”

 

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Video Portrays Medic Killed in Gaza as Tool of Hamas, The New York Times

“The Israeli military published a brief video on Thursday aimed at showing that a Palestinian medic killed by Israeli forces last week was not the neutral health care worker she has been portrayed as. The tightly edited video shows a woman identified as the medic, Rouzan al-Najjar, throwing what appears to be a tear-gas canister. The video does not appear to have been taken the day Ms. Najjar was killed, and the canister does not appear to be aimed at anyone.”

As aid dries up, Gaza families pushed deeper into poverty, PBS

“Large numbers of Gaza families have been pushed deeper into poverty in recent months by Palestinian political infighting and the freezing of U.S. aid. Life is tougher than ever for most of the 2 million Palestinians locked into tiny, blockaded Gaza, where electricity is off most hours of the day, unemployment approaches 50 percent and the Islamic militant group Hamas rules with a tight grip.”

Can Palestine be Transformed into an Investment Hub? Al-Monitor

Entsar Abu Jahal reports “Palestinians officials are planning to meet soon to address ideas for attracting more foreign investment and working to make Palestine an investment hub. Saleh Rafat, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, confirmed June 4 to Voice of Palestine that the PLO Central Council would meet after Eid al-Fitr to discuss the economic disengagement from Israel. The Executive Committee had originally been scheduled to meet June 3 to implement the decisions taken during the 23rd session of the four-day Palestinian National Council (PNC) meeting April 30, on developing mechanisms to define relations with Israel, supporting national products and increasing investments in Palestine. No new date has been set for the next Executive Committee meeting.”

 

News

Two Palestinians Reportedly Wounded by Israeli Fire as Gaza Protest Clashes Begin, Haaretz

Two Palestinians were reportedly wounded Firday by Israeli fire as thousands participated in what was expected to be the largest march on the Israeli border fence in weeks.

Israel’s Ehud Barak: ‘We must ease the humanitarian situation in Gaza’, France 24

France 24 interviews former Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.

Israeli drones downed over 350 incendiary terror kites, balloons — report, Times of Israel

The most effective method to date of countering helium balloons and kites fitted with flammable materials that are being sent over the border from Gaza to set fire to Israeli fields and nature reserves has proved to be — drones. More than 350 of the airborne incendiary devices have been felled by drones during the last two weeks, Hadashot News reported Wednesday.

Israel blames Iran for Gaza border violence, BBC

Israel has accused Iran of fuelling recent violence on the Gaza border that has seen more than 100 Palestinians killed amid protests against Israel. Israeli military aircraft dropped leaflets on Gaza on Thursday, warning Palestinians not to approach the border fence for their own safety.

Netanyahu confronted over Gaza deaths by prominent UK politician, CNN

A former leader of the UK Conservative Party challenged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday over the use of live ammunition against Palestinians during recent protests along the Gaza-Israel border fence. Michael Howard, who led the Conservatives between 2003 and 2005, asked Netanyahu why Israeli forces didn’t use alternatives like rubber bullets.

Report: Kushner reproached Kuwait over pro-Palestinian proposal at UNSC, Middle East Monitor

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner has had “a very brief and stormy meeting” with Kuwait Ambassador to America, Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Sabah, during which he conveyed the US administration’s annoyance with Kuwait’s position at the United Nations Security Council on the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories”, Al-Rai newspaper reported informed US sources as saying.

 

Opinion and Analysis

The riddle of Hamas’s new Gaza leader: extremist or pragmatist?, Christian Science Monitor

Dina Kraft writes, “A founder of Hamas’s military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam, Sinwar has long been considered a hard-liner who, like the charter of the organization he now leads, regards the Jewish State as an enemy that must one day be eradicated….Evidence of his more practical side is Hamas’s overture to Israel for a truce last week after tensions peaked with rocket attacks into Israel and Israel striking targets inside Gaza. His pragmatism, analysts say, arguably is shaped less by an ideological pivot by Hamas than its own dire financial straits and a public weary of another conflagration after three recent wars with Israel.”

Bernie Sanders, focusing on foreign policy, blasts Israel on Gaza, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Ron Kampeas reports, “”Since the launch of the protests in late March, Sanders’ office has posted three videos to social media criticizing Israel for what he deems is its excessive use of force and the Trump administration for not intervening. He brought up the Gaza protests at a foreign policy town hall he convened in Washington, D.C., that was meant to focus on Iran….The senator’s embrace of the Gaza issue is not merely a corrective to what for decades has been his overwhelming focus on domestic economic issues. Sanders has noticed a change in Israel and doesn’t like it; he really doesn’t like Israel’s coziness with the Trump administration.

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