News Roundup for August 21, 2018

August 21, 2018

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J Street in the News

J Street Mourns Loss of Peace Champion Uri Avnery, J Street

“J Street mourns the death of the Israeli peace activist, journalist and politician Uri Avnery, who has passed away at the age of 94. ‘We have lost a true champion of the Israeli peace movement, a man who left an indelible mark on Israel and whose inspiration, positive drive and humanist vision we will never forget,’ said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.”


Top News and Analysis

Uri Avnery, Veteran Peace Activist and Among First Israelis to Meet Arafat, Dies at 94, Haaretz

Ofer Aderet writes, “Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv. A founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, Avnery was also one of the first Israelis to actively advocate for the establishment of a Palestinian state, more than 70 years ago…The eternal peace activist never shirked controversy and was involved in fateful events in the country’s history, some of which he documented and others he actively took part in shaping.”

In first, IDF opens criminal probes into pair of deaths in Gaza border clashes, Times of Israel

Jacob Magid reports, “For the first time since weekly Gaza border protests began four months ago, the IDF announced Tuesday that it would be opening criminal investigations into the deaths of two Palestinians killed during clashes with Israeli forces. Military Advocate General Sharon Afek ordered probes be opened into the March 30 shooting of Abdel Fattah Abdel Nabi, 18, and the July 13 shooting of Othman Helles, 15, ‘in light of the suspicion that the shootings were not in accordance with the rules of engagement,’ the IDF said in a statement.”

How Did a Youth Group Rabbi Become David Friedman’s Top Aide at Embassy in Israel?, Forward

Aiden Pink reports, “David Friedman’s nomination as President Trump’s ambassador to Israel raised a lot of eyebrows last year — not only due to Friedman’s harsh condemnations of liberal Jewish groups and his financial support for Israeli settlements, but also because his background was in bankruptcy law and not international relations or diplomacy, as was true of all ambassadors before him. Friedman’s choice of Aryeh Lightstone as a senior adviser drew less attention a few months later, but if anything, Lightstone came even more out of left field — a Yeshiva University-ordained rabbi who has variously worked as a Jewish youth group leader, educational technology consultant and would-be casino developer. By comparison, Dan Shapiro, the ambassador to Israel for Barack Obama, told the Forward that the two people who served under him in Lightstone’s position both had extensive prior diplomatic experience.”

Uri Avnery, Shaper of the Israeli Consciousness, Haaretz

Aluf Benn writes, “MK Uri Avnery insisted on taking on the system, participating in every Knesset session and presenting bills that had no hope of passing. One of his first was to turn the Declaration of Independence into a law. It was defeated, of course, by a coalition majority. I recalled that bill in recent weeks in connection with the debate over the nation-state law, when similar bills were presented by politicians such as opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni. Avnery realized more than four decades ago what the essence of Israeliness is and the fear of the establishment – then led by those we now call the ‘center left’ – of adopting it into law.”



Palestinian leader mourns passing of peace activist Uri Avnery, Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas praised Israeli writer, peace activist and former lawmaker Uri Avnery, who died overnight at the age of 94.

President Rivlin: Uri Avnery Was a Fighter for Freedom of Expression, Haaretz

President Revuen Rivlin said on Monday that Uri Avnery, the veteran peace activist who died at the age of 94, was “the eternal opposition figure” whose fight for freedom of expression “paved the way of Israel as a young country.”

Attorney: Khan al-Ahmar Not Illegal, Built in Designated Desert Area, Jerusalem Post

The Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar was not built illegally because its tents and shacks were erected in a desert zoning area, attorney Tawfiq Jabareen told the Civil Administration on Sunday.

Iran tells EU to speed up efforts to save nuclear deal, Reuters

Iran urged Europe on Monday to speed up efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in May, saying French oil group Total has formally pulled out a major gas project.

Hamas will not disarm as part of ceasefire with Israel: official, i24NEWS

Hamas will not disarm or “pay any political price” as part of a ceasefire agreement with Israel, an official from the Gaza ruler said on Monday.

Israeli Ministry to Fund Evangelical Bible Program in West Bank Settlement, Haaretz

The Education Ministry has begun to provide state funding for a Bible-based leadership training program developed by Christian evangelicals in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Trump envoy held secret meeting with Palestinian President’s son, Axios

President Trump’s special envoy for Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, held a secret meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s son last September on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, [according to] Israeli officials.

Netanyahu Tells Bolton Israel Values ‘All Manner’ of U.S. Aid, Bloomberg

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told White House National Security Adviser John Bolton that Israel appreciates “all manner” of U.S. aid, outlining how he is seeking to boost the country’s defense budget.

Yedioth Ahronoth editor quits amid probe into Netanyahu quid-pro-quo, Times of Israel

The editor-in-chief of one of Israel’s most popular newspapers quit Sunday, amid an investigation into suspicions the tabloid’s publisher and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to negotiate a deal for positive coverage in return for political favors.


Opinion and Analysis

How Uri Avnery, the First Champion of the Two-state Solution, Laid the Foundations for Political Dissent in Israel, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer writes, “While his own political career as a Knesset member was intermittent and he was too radical, too outspoken, too selfish, to become one of the revered leaders of the Israeli left, he did more than anyone else to make the two-state solution the accepted formula for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And in recent years, when many of those who admired him abandoned faith in a two-state solution and began supporting one-state ideas, he rejected them out of hand. Israelis and Palestinians were both too ‘nationalistic’ he said, for such a state ever to be viable in the foreseeable future.”

Israel-Hamas talks isolate Abbas, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “In the 25 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, Israel stuck tenaciously to a single, clear policy. It would engage in negotiations with the PLO (and later with Palestinian Authority [PA] leadership) and wage a relentless war against Hamas terrorism, which was seen as being the greatest foe of the two-state solution. For the first time ever, Israeli policy is changing right before our eyes and becoming the exact opposite of what it once was. The current government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett may be the most right-wing government in Israeli history, but now it is isolating the PA and conducting negotiations with Hamas. Israel is punishing the entity with which it signed a long list of agreements and ‘rewarding’ Hamas — even though it still does not recognize Israel and remains committed to its underlying goal of destroying the Jewish state and expelling its Jewish population to “wherever they came from.’”