News Roundup for August 27, 2018

August 27, 2018

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J Street in the News

Trump Administration Cuts More Than $200 Million in Aid for Palestinians, The New York Times

“The Trump administration announced on Friday that it would not spend more than $200 million set aside for Palestinian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, the latest in a series of measures that have infuriated the Palestinians….J Street, a liberal Jewish organization that advocates better relations between Israel and the Palestinians, denounced the aid cuts as ‘a moral outrage and a major strategic blunder.’ This is just the latest move by this administration to cruelly punish Palestinian civilians and marginalize and undercut Palestinian leadership,’ the organization said.”

Trump administration cuts more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians, Washington Post

“Critics have charged that the administration is working on behalf of Israel and trying to push the Palestinians into submission. J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group, called the new cuts ‘a moral outrage and a major strategic blunder.’

Trump administration slashes humanitarian aid to Palestinians, Los Angeles Times

“’This is just the latest move by this administration to cruelly punish Palestinian civilians and marginalize and undercut Palestinian leadership,’ said Dylan Williams, vice president of government affairs for J Street, a liberal Jewish group that advocates for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ‘These cuts will undermine Israel’s security by exacerbating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and further destabilizing the difficult situation in the West Bank — increasing the prospects for violence and unrest.’”

Trump cuts more than $200 million in U.S. aid to Palestinians, Reuters

“J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group, called the Trump administration’s move a ‘moral outrage and a major strategic blunder.’”

Trump Administration’s Massive Cuts to Humanitarian Aid for Palestinians Will Increase Suffering, Put Region at Greater Risk, J Street

“The Trump administration’s decision to ‘redirect’ over $200 million in humanitarian aid that was appropriated by Congress and intended to help Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank is a moral outrage and a major strategic blunder. This is just the latest move by this administration to cruelly punish Palestinian civilians and marginalize and undercut Palestinian leadership. These cuts will undermine Israel’s security by exacerbating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and further destabilizing the difficult situation in the West Bank — increasing the prospects for violence and unrest. The cuts will have a devastating impact on innocent women, children and families. Some of the programs that are expected to end or be significantly scaled back include those providing food assistance services for tens of thousands of families; clinical breast cancer treatment for thousands of women; preventive and nutritional health services for 3,000 children and their caregivers; and youth engagement for over 50,000 young people intended to stem radicalization.”


Top News and Analysis

Palestinians Blast Trump’s Aid Cut as Political ‘Blackmail’, The New York Times

Isabel Kershner reports, “Palestinian officials denounced the Trump administration’s cancellation of more than $200 million in aid, accusing Washington of ‘weaponizing’ humanitarian assistance by using it as a tool to coerce political concessions….The Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state, expressed defiance this weekend, accusing the Trump administration of forsaking the role its predecessors had long sought as an honest broker in the dispute with Israel. ‘This administration is dismantling decades of U.S. vision and engagement in Palestine,’ Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s general delegation to the United States, said in a statement. ‘This is another confirmation of abandoning the two-state solution and fully embracing Netanyahu’s anti-peace agenda,’ he added.”

Mounting U.S. Economic Pressure on Palestinians Could Re-ignite Israel-Gaza Violence, Haaretz

Amos Harel writes, “[The] picture painted by Israeli intelligence officials isn’t encouraging. Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been cooperating closely on security and there have been relatively few terrorist incidents. But UNRWA is now preparing to fire thousands of teachers in the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan due to the American funding cuts. And if the school year doesn’t open on time in the West Bank, this could affect the behavior of teens in the refugee camps and worsen the friction with Israeli soldiers. In Gaza, Hamas is hoping for a boost in the form of an indirect agreement with Israel on a cease-fire, after which Egypt has promised to ease transit through its border and Qatar has promised a new financial-aid package. This deal hasn’t been implemented yet because the PA refuses to take part in it and no alternative has been found through which money from the Gulf can be sent to Gaza.”



US will seek to exclude descendants from Palestinian refugee status: report, i24NEWS

Following its recent decision to cut aid to the Palestinians, the United States is expected to advance the view in September that rejects UNRWA’s extension of refugee status to progeny ad infinitum, according to a report by Israel’s Hadashot television news station.

Hamas official says factions postpone Cairo talks on ceasefire, reconciliation, Times of Israel

Palestinian factions have postponed talks in Cairo on a long-term ceasefire with Israel in the Gaza Strip as well as on inter-Palestinian reconciliation, Hamas official Husam Badran said Sunday.

Israeli Minister: Arab Lawmakers Should Be Tried for Treason After Turning to UN, Haaretz

Minister Yariv Levin said on Monday that Israeli Arab lawmakers who turned to the United Nations over the recently passed Jewish nation-state law should be tried for treason.

Israel to reopen Gaza crossing after week of calm on the border, Associated Press

Israel’s defense minister has announced he will reopen the country’s main personnel crossing with the Gaza Strip following a week of relative calm along the border.

Left-wing activists injured in reported assault by settlers, Times of Israel

Police launched an investigation Saturday into a reported assault of left-wing activists by a group of some 15 Jewish settlers near Mitzpeh Yair, south of the West Bank city of Hebron.


Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s Hardball Policy on the Palestinians Will Blow Up in Israel’s Face, Haaretz

Peter Lerner writes, “Who stands to gain from the bankruptcy and demise of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank? A leadership vacuum will always be filled. And it’s Hamas in Gaza and other one-staters – who have no vision of coexistence alongside Israel – who will rush to fill that vacuum. When the Palestinian Authority collapses, who is likely to pick up the pieces? Israel? Israel has no interest in the international, financial or security burden of re-enforcing a civil-military administration over Gaza. Hamas? Hamas would love to gain full control and solidify its power over the West Bank. I would suggest the Trump White House pause to consider a much more strategic attitude towards the conflict, a roadmap that uses aid not as blackmail, not as a rushed dictation of terms, but to build an infrastructure for a Palestinian civilian life worth living, and a peace process worth engaging in.”

The West Bank Model Is a Failure, The New York Times

Martin Peretz writes, “In July, the government enacted an odious nation-state law, which pretends to be a codification of existing Israeli reality. Actually, it makes a crucial change that upsets Israel’s Jewish-democratic balance. It says that ‘development of Jewish settlement’ is a ‘national value’ — settlement including in the West Bank. Why not change this clause to exclude the hyper-controversial West Bank settlement project? This would be a small exclusion involving a small percentage of settlements actually inside the West Bank itself and not involving the settlements outside of it where the vast majority of inhabitants are Jewish. To me, the inclusion of the West Bank settlements points to what the law truly represents: A small minority is trying to make Israeli society as a whole resemble the model of Israeli government in the territories.”

Middle East Diplomacy Didn’t Save Nixon. It Won’t Save Trump, American Prospect

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “In a week of political earthquakes, Donald Trump’s riff at a rally of the faithful about the “higher price” that Israel will one day pay for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem didn’t move the seismograph needle much in America. For obvious reasons, in Israel it created more headlines and inspired more commentary. In part, that’s because no one knows what Trump meant, or knows if he knew what he meant—as is so often the case. Still, I think it’s worth attention in Trump’s home territory, if only because it adds to the sense that Trump is working from the script of The Tragical History of Richard Nixon—but performing it as farce. For practical purposes, Trump is now an unindicted co-conspirator. And he is playing with the delusion that he’ll save himself with brilliant Middle East peacemaking.”

When will Binyamin Netanyahu call an election in Israel?, Economist

The Economist writes, “Mr Netanyahu insists he will not resign. But if an indictment is handed down, the Supreme Court might weigh in on whether he can remain in office—that is, if his coalition partners don’t abandon him. Despite his troubles, polls show Mr Netanyahu’s coalition beating the opposition in an election. Holding the vote now might bolster his case to remain in office even if he is indicted. Moreover, it would pre-empt the attorney-general’s decision, allowing Mr Netanyahu to run a campaign that is not overshadowed by his legal affairs. But he has [reasons] to hesitate. The first is discord within his coalition. Under Mr Netanyahu, the Likud party has never held more than a quarter of the seats in the Knesset, putting him at the mercy of his partners. He could face a challenge from the right, which is upset by his decision to seek a ceasefire with Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls Gaza.”

The Conspiracy Memo About Obama Aides That Circulated in the Trump White House, New Yorker

Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow report, “In early 2017, some of Donald Trump’s advisers concluded that they faced a sophisticated threat responsible for “coordinated attacks” on the new Administration. They circulated a memo, titled “The Echo Chamber,” which read like a U.S. military-intelligence officer’s analysis of a foreign-insurgent network. Instead of being about enemies in a distant war zone, however, the network described in the memo consisted of former aides to President Barack Obama….Some of the same conspiracy theories expressed in the memo appear in internal documents from an Israeli private-intelligence firm that mounted a covert effort to collect damaging information about aides to President Obama who had advocated for the Iran deal. In May, 2017, that firm, Black Cube, provided its operatives with instructions and other briefing materials that included the same ideas and names discussed in the memo. The Black Cube documents obtained by The New Yorker referred to Rhodes and Kahl, arguing that they were using allies in the media to undermine the Trump Administration.”