News Roundup for August 1, 2019

August 1, 2019

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J Street in the News

What I saw after Israel’s highlight reel, Washington Jewish Week
“Rather than simply showing me Israel’s highlight reel, Let Our People Know opened my eyes to my own biases and privilege, while redefining my Jewish identity and fostering a healthy connection to not only the land of Israel, but also to the Palestinian and Israeli people I was fortunate enough to meet along the way.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Is Expected to Approve Surge in Jewish Construction in West Bank, New York Times
About 3,700 settler housing units have already been approved this year, and the addition of 6,800 would push 2019 past the record for approvals in a single year. The news comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is campaigning for support from right-wing voters, including settlers, less than six weeks before a parliamentary election.

Trump administration sanctions Javad Zarif, who brokered Iran deal with John Kerry, JTA
The Trump administration sanctioned Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister who led the negotiations with the United States and other major powers that led to the Iran nuclear deal. The U.S. Treasury release Wednesday cited Zarif’s role in advancing the agenda of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader, whom the U.S. sanctioned last month. Zarif on Twitter scoffed at the sanctions. “The US’ reason for designating me is that I am Iran’s ‘primary spokesperson around the world’,” he said. “It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran. Thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda.”

Don’t give up on a two-state solution: The Trump administration’s rhetoric is deeply worrying, New York Daily News
Guy Ziv and Benjamin L. Shaver write, “If the Trump administration’s Middle East plan envisions only ‘Palestinian autonomy,’ rather than a Palestinian state, as U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggested earlier this week, it would be a devastating blow not only to Palestinian aspirations, but also to those concerned about the future of Israel as a Jewish and a democratic state. Just ask the Israeli security community.”


Kushner returns to Middle East as Trump envoys accuse Iran of profiting from Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Washington Post
President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is visiting Israel and Arab states this week as part of a push invoking the threat from Iran as a reason for Arab governments and other world powers to back a forthcoming peace proposal.

White House denies plans for summit with Arab leaders to roll out peace plan, Times of Israel
A White House official on Wednesday evening denied a report by an Israeli newspaper that the United States was planning a conference with Arab leaders at Camp David, during which US President Donald Trump would be rolling out his plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Palestinian shot dead after wounding Israeli soldiers, The Guardian
Israeli forces killed a Palestinian Hamas member after he crossed the Gaza fence overnight and shot and wounded three soldiers, the Israeli military said.

Israel bars Spanish lawmaker of Palestinian descent from entering the country, JTA
Israel barred entrance to a member of Spain’s ruling party who is of Palestinian descent, labeling him a security threat. Fouad Ahmad Assadi, who was born in Lebanon and is the son of Palestinian refugees, arrived in Israel to attend the Socialist International annual conference, taking place in Tel Aviv and Ramallah in the West Bank. He was supposed to lead the Spanish delegation.

In future Gaza war, Israel said aiming to weaken Hamas — but not topple it, Times of Israel
The Israeli military’s plan for a potential future conflict in the Gaza Strip is to hit Palestinian terror group Hamas hard, but not to attempt to defeat it entirely, leaving it weakened but still capable of controlling the Strip, military officials told Hebrew-language media on Wednesday at the conclusion of a large-scale drill.

Vandals target Israeli-Arab town in what police say might be a hate crime, JTA
The tires of 21 cars were slashed and pro-settler graffiti was sprayed in an Israeli-Arab town in northern Israel, the second such incident this week.

Likud doubles budget for program placing hidden cameras in Arab polling stations, Times of Israel
The Likud party has doubled its budget for a surveillance operation targeting balloting stations in Arab towns on election day in September, expanding a program critics have said is being used as a form of voter intimidation to keep Arabs from the polls.

Opinion and Analysis

The road to annexation runs through Area C, Times of Israel
Avi Issacharoff writes, “If anyone is wondering why the Israeli government was so eager to approve the construction of 715 homes for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli security and civilian control, just as senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is about to visit the Middle East, the answer is becoming clearer by the minute. The move means to push the Palestinian Authority out of Area C and cement Israel’s control over it. Israel will determine where, who, and how many will live in said homes — not the Palestinian Authority or the Palestinian people. Moreover, the cabinet approved the construction of several thousand homes in Jewish settlements in Area C. To be clear: this was the first step on the road to future Israeli annexation of Area C.”

Congressman Lewis Is a Friend to Israel, Atlanta Jewish Times
Rabbis Joshua Lesser and Peter Berg write, “As rabbis, leaders in the Atlanta Jewish community and proud supporters of the state of Israel, we want to applaud our Congressman John Lewis for the recent positions that he has taken in support of Israel, in opposition to the Global BDS movement and in defense of the First Amendment […] As the congressman noted in his statement on this bill, ‘I want to make it very clear that I disagree strongly with the BDS movement. Economic, educational, and cultural interaction with Israel, America’s democratic ally, is not only in the best interest of Israelis and Americans, but it improves the climate for peace with Palestinians, which is in everyone’s interest to encourage.’”