News Roundup for April 28, 2017

April 28, 2017

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J Street in the News

Republican Congress members launch pro-Israel caucus seeking Palestinian acknowledgment of defeat, JTA

“A number of conservative Republicans in Congress have launched a pro-Israel caucus predicated on getting the Palestinians to acknowledge defeat. The co-chairs of the new Israel Victory Caucus, Reps. Bill Johnson of Ohio and Ron DeLantis of Florida, were among those on hand for Thursday’s launch. A number of other Republicans stopped by to express support; no Democrats spoke….Liberal groups slammed the Israel Victory Caucus, with the Southern Poverty Law Center saying its recommendations were ‘extreme’ and J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby, advising Congress members to ‘stay as far away from such savage and dangerous ideas as possible.’”

J Street Welcomes State Department’s Recognition of Civil Society Organizations’ Importance, J Street

“We welcome the US State Department’s reminder this week that civil society groups have an important place in democracies. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to cancel a meeting with the German Foreign Minister over the latter’s meeting with anti-occupation watchdogs Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem was just the latest effort by the Israeli government to demonize civil society groups that dissent from their policies in the West Bank. We applaud the State Department for stating when asked about this issue that ‘we would regard it as important that any functioning civil society has these types of groups and the diverse viewpoints. That’s a vital part of any functioning democracy.’ Demagogic attacks on civil society groups undermine the basic values on which democracies are based. The State Department’s statement is a clear and necessary recognition of that fact.”

Top News and Analysis

Syria Blames Israel for Attack on Damascus Airport, The New York Times

“Syrian and rebel officials blamed Israel for several explosions Thursday morning at warehouses near the Damascus airport that the Israeli news media said were housing weapons bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Israel, which has carried out attacks on precision missiles and other forms of advanced weaponry in the past, did not directly confirm or deny the attack, in keeping with its policy. But Yisrael Katz, the Israeli intelligence minister, seemed to acknowledge his country’s involvement, saying the attack was ‘consistent’ with Israel’s policy of not allowing Hezbollah to obtain such weaponry.”

Israel Shoots Down Aircraft That Entered Airspace From Syria, Haaretz

An Israeli Patriot missile intercepted an unmanned aircraft that entered Israeli airspace from Syria on Thursday evening, the Israel Defense Forces said, following reports of an attack in Damascus attributed by Syria to Israel. The drone was shot down over the Israeli Golan Heights.

Israel Believes Trump Will Not Seek to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem for Now, Officials Say, Haaretz

Israel believes that President Trump will not seek to move the US embassy to Jerusalem at this time, despite his possible visit to the country in a few weeks, senior Israeli officials with knowledge of the issue told Haaretz.  In an interview with Reuters overnight, Trump was asked about moving the embassy to Jerusalem. Trump avoided answering the question, saying: “Ask me in a month on that.” Trump also told Reuters that, “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever.”

News

Israeli Culture Minister Seeks to Shut Down Private Anti-occupation Event, Haaretz

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev has sent an urgent letter to Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, asking him to urgently intervene and cancel a private event hosting members of Breaking the Silence, which was scheduled to take place on Thursday. The event was planned in a private studio that is not connected to the municipality. In her Wednesday letter, Regev noted that the Jerusalem municipality had prevented a similar event from taking place, but that one took place at a gallery in a building owned by the city.

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner will accompany president on Israel trip, JTA

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are expected to accompany President Donald Trump on his first visit to Israel next month. It is not clear whether first lady Melania Trump will join the delegation at the end of May, the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot reported Thursday. Ivanka Trump, the president’s Jewish daughter, and Kushner, his son-in-law, are among the president’s closest advisers. The visit reportedly will come as part of Trump’s first trip abroad as president at the end of May, when he is scheduled to be part of a summit of leaders of NATO nations in Brussels. The White House has told Israel the visit will be held on May 22, Yediot reported, and that the president will spend one night in the country.

Israel destroys pipelines providing water to village in Jordan Valley, Ma’an

Israeli bulldozers destroyed all the water pipelines providing services to the village of Bardala on Thursday morning in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas. Mutaz Bisharat, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the Jordan Valley, told Ma’an that four Israeli bulldozers, escorted by Israeli military jeeps and officials from Israel’s Civil Administration, destroyed all the main lines providing Bardala with water, leaving some 3,500 residents of the village without access to any water.

Russia condemns alleged Israeli missile strike in Syria, Times of Israel

The Kremlin on Thursday called for restraint after Syria accused Israel of firing several missiles at a military position near Damascus airport.

Israeli Cabinet Minister to U.S. Lawmakers: U.S. Must Recognize Israeli Sovereignty on Golan Heights, Haaretz

In light of the civil war in Syria and the growing Iranian presence in the country, the United States must recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yisrael Katz told senior members of the Congress’ intelligence committees in Washington on Thursday.

Israel’s intelligence minister urges US to team up with Russia against Iran, Times of Israel

The Israeli government wants the United States to negotiate with the Russians to ensure Iran does not gain a permanent military foothold in Syria, Israel’s Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said. In meetings with senior-level administration officials and high-ranking members of Congress, Katz urged the US to get the Russians to remove Iranian forces from the country, which is in the sixth year of a devastating civil war.

Opinions and Analysis

Are the Adelsons Behind Dark Money Targeting Ossoff in Georgia?, LobeLog

Eli Clifton writes, “[A] super PAC with ties to Trump’s biggest campaign backers, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, is making a $6.5 million investment in the campaign against Ossoff. Three million was spent before an April 18 special election and the group has pledged another $3.5 million to support Handel before the June election….The attack ads have made a series of accusations against Ossoff, many of which are xenophobic and inaccurate but reflect the Nevada billionaire’s hawkish views.”

Israeli And Palestinian Women Must Raise The Banner Of Revolt, Huffington Post

Alon Ben-Meir writes, “Israeli and Palestinian women should use their formidable power to demand an end to the conflict. They will have far greater sway than men if they join hands, go out in force, and remain consistent with the message to end the occupation. After 70 years, the tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must come to an end. Israeli and Palestinian women have the power to raise the banner of peaceful revolt, and ought to use it now to bring peace to the land that both sides must inevitably share.”

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