“Netanyahu’s cancellation of the migrant agreement is an act of cowardice and a moral disgrace.”
Bolton pick shakes up foreign policy establishment, Washington Jewish Week
“In replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster with John Bolton, Trump has elevated two Iran hawks and spurned two cabinet officials who had urged caution in moving forward with his campaign promise to rip up the multilateral deal….’The feeling here is the same feeling that we’re seeing across the foreign policy establishment, which is alarm and a real deep, deep concern about the turn that the White House is taking,’ said Logan Bayroff, the director of communications for J Street, the dovish Jewish Middle East policy lobby. ‘It looks like they’re preparing what you’d call a war cabinet.’”
Israel Courts Catastrophe in Gaza Protests, The New York Times
The editorial board writes, “Israel has a right to defend itself and maintain civil order, but it also has an obligation to respect peaceful protests and not use live ammunition on unarmed demonstrators. Israel’s response appears to have been excessive, as human rights groups have asserted….Neither Mr. Netanyahu nor Mr. Trump has shown serious interest in a two-state solution that would give Palestinians their own country and resolve central questions about land, refugees, borders and security, even though Mr. Trump says a peace deal is a priority. Under Mr. Netanyahu, Israel has expanded its claims to land that Palestinians seek for their own state….Palestinian leaders have also failed their people. Hamas leaders who run Gaza have waged war against Israel, exploiting their people in the process….Unless someone steps up to end Gaza’s humanitarian disaster, ensure Israel and the Palestinians act with restraint during the protests and set a credible peace process in motion, both sides could face a new catastrophe.”
Israel falls into Hamas’s trap, Washington Post
The editorial board writes, “Israel certainly has a right to defend its border from militant attacks, or even a mass peaceful invasion. But it willingly fell into Hamas’s trap by using military forces, rather than border police skilled at dispersing rioters by nonlethal means. Though tear gas and rubber bullets were also employed, the use of live ammunition ensured a high casualty rate — which, in turn, guaranteed that human rights groups and other outside observers would blame Israel, rather than Hamas…. Hamas is seeking to revive itself by having Israel create new ‘martyrs.’ The Netanyahu government should do its best not to cooperate.”
Anticipating Trump’s Next Move, Aides Prep Iran Deal Pullout, The New York Times
“Anticipating an unpredictable president’s next moves, U.S. officials have started actively planning for the likelihood that Donald Trump will announce next month that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. But no one knows exactly what would happen next or how Iran would respond. Still, with less than five weeks until President Donald Trump’s deadline, national security officials are exploring various “day after” scenarios. Those include how to sell a pullout as the correct strategy, how aggressively to reimpose U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the agreement and how to deal with Iranian and European fallout from such a step, according to officials, diplomats and outside advisers to the administration.”
Noa Landau and Chaim Levinson report, “The agreement was signed, a celebratory press conference was called, and the rest is sad history. The first to personally launch an attack was a minister who had not been invited at all: Education Minister Naftali Bennett. After him, the dam burst, and dumbfounded Likud ministers joined in attacking Netanyahu – a very unusual step. For years he has encouraged them to mark the asylum seekers as enemies, and now he makes a joke out of them with such a U-turn?”
Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed Tuesday that the New Israel Fund, a US-based human rights organization, was behind the Rwandan government’s decision to pull out of a previous agreement to deport African asylum seekers from Israel to Rwanda. “The main source that applied European pressure on the Rwandan government to pull out of the agreement to remove the infiltrators from Israel is the New Israel Fund,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page.
Israel vows tough response to Gaza protests, Washington Post
“Israel’s defense minister said Tuesday that the military will not change its tough response to Hamas-led mass protests near Gaza’s border with Israel, warning that those who approach the border are putting their lives at risk…Lieberman’s comments raised the possibility of more bloodshed this Friday, when another mass protest is expected. The international group Human Rights Watch accused Lieberman and other senior Israeli officials Tuesday of unlawfully calling for the use of live fire against Palestinian protesters who posed no imminent threat to life.”
Netanyahu, Trump talk amid Israel fears over US plans to leave Syria, Times of Israel
US President Donald Trump spoke early Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed “recent developments in the Middle East,” amid Israel’s fears that the US plans to withdraw its military presence from Syria. A short statement from the White House did clarify not what developments were addressed or what was said.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says his country has many shared interests with Israel, and that the two countries could share “a lot of interests” if there is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. In a lengthy interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, which was published on Monday, Prince Mohammad stated that both “the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”
The Israeli military shot a 25-year-old Palestinian man to death in the central Gaza Strip Tuesday, the coastal enclave’s Health Ministry reported. The man, who was identified as Ahmed Omar Arfa from the city of Deir al-Balah, was injured in his chest after being targeted by live fire near the border fence, just east of the refugee camp of Bureij.
Young Jewish activists affiliated with the leftist group IfNotNow locked themselves to the doors of the office building where Israel’s Boston consulate is located on Tuesday morning to protest last week’s killing of protesters in Gaza, the group said in a statement. Eight activists physically locked themselves to each other and to the doors of the building. The protest took place on the fourth day of the Passover holiday.
Preparations are underway for renewed protests near the Gaza Strip border fence this weekend, protest organizers said in a statement Tuesday. The various Palestinian factions are once again planning to enlist tens of thousands of people of all ages to come to the tent camp near the fence, as they did last weekend. According to the statement, clear directives were given to all participants to maintain the principle said to have been set last week of a nonviolent march as part of a popular uprising against the occupation and blockade of Gaza.
Gaza Screams for Life, The New York Times
Rawan Yaghi writes, “I left the protest thinking of the rest of Gaza — shellshocked for years, its borders closed and its United Nations-funded infrastructure in decay. I thought of the kids in my neighborhood who play football in what used to be the ground floor of a tall residential building, with bare concrete columns and poking iron rods as their only audience. And I thought: Once again, Gaza the Injured has come out to protest, and to scream for life.”
Julian Borger reports, “The European signatories of the JCPOA have been meeting a senior state department official in Berlin recently, trying to come up with a formula that would address Trump’s two main stated objections to the deal – the unstated one is that it was signed by the Obama administration. They are apparently close to an agreement on how to address Trump’s main complaints – the expiry after a number of years of some of the limits on Iran nuclear activities, and the absence of restrictions on missiles….The Europeans would agree to a commitment to a follow-on agreement when the JCPOA elements begin to expire and to push for sanctions on Iran for long-range missile development. But there would be no change to the JCPOA. Britain, France and Germany agree it is non-negotiable and represents a commitment to the international community. But Trump insists on the JCPOA being ‘fixed’, and failing that he wants it destroyed.”
Jane Eisner writes, “Netanyahu’s confusing handling of this issue has telegraphed a different message: Pleas to do the right thing don’t seem to matter. Neither do principled stands. In this, he reminds me of another world leader, who continually backs away from his own avowals when they put him at odds with his core, extremist followers, be the issue sensible gun control or citizenship for Dreamers or a tax policy that truly helps those in need. The more Benjamin Netanyahu acts like Donald Trump, the more I worry deeply for Israel — and for America. Courage and character are what we deserve most in our leaders; right now, they are virtues in dangerously short supply.”
Chemi Shalev writes, “What a joke. What a farce. Even if the evaporation of the illusion was expected, its rapid pace was almost slapstick. Netanyahu jumped head first off a pedestal of sound and sensible policy into his more familiar cesspool of division and strife….Netanyahu’s base had reared its head and roared. The world found out that while many countries are facing the challenge of absorbing millions, right-wing, Jewish Israel couldn’t even cope with 20,000. As in other cases, including this weekend’s bloodshed in Gaza, an internal debate that sounds reasonable and acceptable to Israeli ears comes across to others as cold, condescending and, often, downright racist.”
Noam Sheizaf observes, “Netanyahu told the entire country that there is a clear, practicable, and better alternative to his policies. The work of those who opposed the deportations will be easier now because the alternative is within arm’s reach — and we know precisely why Netanyahu first accepted it but then reneged. It has nothing to do with the refugees or with the neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv. Rather, Netanyahu’s political fate rests in the hands of a certain segment of the far-right.”
Israel’s Gaza nightmare, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “The cost is the essential issue that makes Israel’s achievement on Friday problematic. The far left was critical of what transpired, while the leaders of the center-left Zionist Camp expressed their support for the IDF and the measures taken by the government. That aside, the security establishment is well aware that the high number of casualties helps Hamas keep its fires burning. It may even be fanning the flames. Israel has a clear interest in minimizing the number of casualties, since this would help lower the flames and restore calm. While the IDF considers that it contained the number of fatalities to 16, that is still a high number. It is more than either side has suffered in a day, with the exception of when actually fighting.”