News Roundup for August 20, 2019

August 20, 2019

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J Street in the News

Ambassador Friedman’s Cheering for the Ban of US Congresswomen Is Outrageous, Unprecedented and Must Be Addressed, J Street
“It is outrageous and unprecedented for an American ambassador to use his position to cheer an allied nation’s ban of two elected members of Congress. Since his appointment, David Friedman has repeatedly violated his commitment to act in a non-partisan manner and to uphold bipartisan US policy precedent. We urge Congress to take action to review this latest corrosive conduct and to hold Ambassador Friedman to account.”

Top News and Analysis

Omar, Tlaib blast Israel for blocking their visit, Washington Post
Speaking to reporters at the Minnesota state house in St. Paul, Omar called into question the millions of dollars in U.S. aid given to Israel each year and encouraged other lawmakers to visit in their stead to see first-hand the humanitarian conditions of Palestinians on the ground, a top goal of their upended trip. “We give Israel more than $3 [billion] in aid every year. This is predicated on them being an important ally in the region and the only democracy in the Middle East,” said Omar (D-Minn.). “But denying a visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally, and denying millions of people freedom of movement or expression or self-determination is not consistent with being a democracy.” 

Omar: Go to Israel, see ‘cruel reality of the occupation’, AP
“I would encourage my colleagues to visit, meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear,” Omar said at a news conference. “We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us.”

Hamas threatens escalation in violence on Gaza border, JTA
The Hamas terror organization has threatened an escalation in violence on Israel’s southern border unless Israel allows financial aid from Qatar and an increase in electricity in to Gaza. He said that the situation in Gaza is “heating up.” “The factions have given the interlocutors a direct threat: If the enemy does not implement the understandings, allowing entry of the Qatari funds and increasing the quantity of electricity by this weekend, they will move to escalate on the ground,” the Hamas source told the newspaper.


Palestinian Authority Bans Activities by Gay Rights Group, New York Times
A Palestinian gay and transgender rights group vowed on Monday to continue its activities after the Palestinian Authority police barred the group from holding events in the West Bank and threatened to arrest participants.

Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib Respond to Palestinian Authority’s LGBTQ Ban, The Jerusalem Post
“Pretending that this act somehow balances or mitigates Israel violating the dignity & rights of Palestinians – or undermines case for defending Palestinian rights – is deplorable!” Omar tweeted earlier, in response to a post about the ban.  “LGBTQ rights are human rights and we should condemn any effort to infringe upon them. But we should also condemn any effort to equate this with the occupation or use this as a distraction.” — “Right wing media asking us about this, can you listen up and amplify it correctly!” wrote Omar along with the post.

Israel’s US envoy Ron Dermer did not consult anyone when he said congresswomen could visit, FM says, JTA
“It was not with the prime minister’s blessing; it was not a decision of the Israeli government… It was not with my blessing. He gave his opinion,” Yisrael Katz said Saturday night on “Meet the Press” on Israel’s Channel 12.

US Jewry Feel Betrayed by Netanyahu Following Omar, Tlaib Debacle, The Jerusalem Post
“The scores of heated and furious calls I received as the head of the [WZO] Department of Diaspora Affairs, as well as the harsh condemnations from Jewish bodies known for their unqualified support for the State of Israel, indicate that a red line has been crossed,” said Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman, chairwoman of the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Diaspora Affairs.

Israel actively pushing Palestinian emigration from Gaza, official says, Times of Israel
Israel is actively promoting the emigration of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, and is working to find other countries who may be willing to absorb them, a senior Israeli official said Monday.

Shaked Relayed to Netanyahu: I Control Israeli AG, Will Make Sure You Get Immunity, Haaretz
Intermediaries on behalf of Ayelet Shaked told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the former justice minister would be willing to try to influence the attorney general to be lenient with Netanyahu, a suspect in several corruption cases.

Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu ink vote-sharing deal, drawing fire, Times of Israel
The Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu parties signed a surplus vote-sharing agreement Monday, drawing instant rebuke from both left and right.

Palestinian president fires advisers, orders return of bonuses, Al Jazeera
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sacked all of his advisers and ordered a former prime minister and other past cabinet ministers to return tens of thousands of dollars from a pay rise he secretly approved two years ago.

Opinion and Analysis

Bipartisan Support For Israel Is Dead. That’s A Good Thing., The Forward
Peter Beinart writes, “The test of American policy toward Israel should be not whether it is bipartisan but whether it serves national interests and democratic ideals. The United States has a national interest in ensuring that Israel does not make permanent its brutal occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

A lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair, Brookings
Hady Amr writes, “But seriously, can a country whose per capita wealth is higher than that of Japan or France, a country that has nuclear weapons, a country that gets over $3.8 billion in annual assistance from the United States, really feel threatened by a visit by two novice members of Congress? Netanyahu’s cabinet reportedly knew better, but Trump and Netanyahu seemingly wanted to play politics with the situation.”

Is Israel a vassal state now?, Washington Post
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “[The Israelis] cultivated wide public sympathy in the United States; they wooed both Democrats and Republicans; and they developed strong ties with Congress as a counterweight to the White House. The Israeli policy choices that turned a temporary occupation into permanent rule over Palestinians contradicted this strategy, especially the bipartisan part. But it has taken a surprisingly long time for the Democrats to notice that the occupation doesn’t jibe with their principles.”

Israel’s ‘humanitarian’ offer to Tlaib made me cringe. Here’s why, +972 Mag
Tania Hary writes, “As the director of an organization that promotes the right to freedom of movement in Gaza, when I heard that Israel is offering you the chance to make a ‘humanitarian’ visit to your family, I felt a familiar cringe.”

Meet Israel’s New Kingmaker, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick asks, “Avigdor Lieberman could determine whether Benjamin Netanyahu gets another term. What does he want?”