News Roundup for August 29, 2019

August 29, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Security officials warn Israel against annexation of occupied West Bank, The National
Dozens of former Israeli security officials have called on the country’s hard-right government to not annex the occupied West Bank, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted he might do before next month’s repeat election. In a letter sent to the government on Tuesday, 25 former senior defence figures said that the move would endanger Israel’s security, rather than bolster it. “Any unilateral annexation of territory or extension of sovereignty to the West Bank will put Israel’s security and safety along with the well-being of its citizens at risk,” the letter said. The signees of the letter included former leaders of the Mossad spy agency, the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service and three former advisers to Mr Netanyahu.

Most Voters Condemn Trump’s Comments About Jewish ‘Loyalty’, Morning Consult
59% of voters disapproved of Trump’s remarks, including 86% of Democrats, 56% of independents and 25% of Republicans. 62% of Jewish voters “strongly” disapprove of Trump, while 79% of Jewish Republicans approve.

Rep. Ilhan Omar decries hate after death threat in which writer vowed to shoot her at Minnesota State Fair, Washington Post
In her tweet, Omar shared an image of the death threat she said she had received. The writer states that “you will not being going back to Washington, your life will end before your ‘Vacation’ ends.” The letter also claims that the congresswoman “won’t die alone” and that “a very capable person with a very big ‘Gun’ ” will target her at the Minnesota State Fair {…] Omar also on Tuesday hit back at the Alabama Republican Party after it approved a resolution calling for her expulsion from the House of Representatives that cited the freshman lawmaker’s controversial comments on Israel and 9/11.


U.S. will not release Middle East peace plan before Israeli election, Reuters
The United States will not release the long-delayed political portion of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan before Israel’s elections next month, White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said on Wednesday.

IDF: Gaza rocket fired at Israel lands in Strip, triggering sirens in south, Times of Israel
Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket toward southern Israel on Wednesday night, the army said, prompting a retaliatory Israeli raid.

Russian hackers hit Benny Gantz’s cellphone in ‘unprecedented attack,’ Israeli intelligence firm says, JTA
Russian hackers struck the cellphone of Benny Gantz, the chief rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in what an Israeli intelligence firm called an “unprecedented attack.”

Hamas makes mass arrests in Gaza following killing of 3 policemen said by IS, Times of Israel
Hamas has declared a state of emergency and on Wednesday morning began arresting supporters of Islamic State and other Salafist organizations in the Gaza Strip en masse, hours after three policemen were killed in a series of blasts in the coastal enclave, according to Palestinian reports.

State Witness Says Netanyahu Urged Him to Fire Senior Official to Accommodate Telecom Giant, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged ex director-general at the Communications Ministry Shlomo Filber to fire one of his deputies who was opposed to a proposed reform in the cellphone market, which would have favored the Bezeq telecommunications company, according to Filber’s testimony, Channel 12 news reported.

Feiglin and Netanyahu meet, close in on deal that would see Zehut drop out, Times of Israel
The rght-wing party that is predicted to come up short in September elections may drop out of the race in exchange for cannabis legislation and a cabinet post.

Iraq’s future in balance because of ‘proxy conflicts’, says UN envoy, The National
Appearing to allude to recent air strikes blamed on Israel, Ms Hennis-Plasschaert, the UN secretary general’s special representative for Iraq, told the Security Council that regional politics had created “a perilous context” for ensuring a peaceful future.

Days after deadly West Bank bombing, father of slain teen released from hospital, Times of Israel
Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, who was wounded in an explosion at a natural spring near the Dolev settlement that killed his teenage daughter on Friday, was released from the hospital on Wednesday.

340 Arrests and Only Five Indictments: Summer-long Police Sweep Strikes Fear in Isawiyah, Haaretz
More than two months have passed since the Israel Police stepped up their presence in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah. So far, they have made 340 arrests, but Haaretz has found that criminal charges were only filed against five suspects, with charges also expected to be filed against three more. Most of those arrested have been released shortly after their arrest. The police declined to provide data challenging these figures.

Opinion and Analysis

A Palestinian Lawyer on Netanyahu’s Strategic Errors, The New Yorker
Isaac Chotiner writes, “Since Trump took office, he has supported Netanyahu’s hard-right agenda, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Netanyahu, in turn, has increased settlement construction and has promised that, if he wins the next election, on September 17th, he will annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank. To discuss what Trump and Netanyahu’s alliance means for Israelis and for Palestinians, I recently spoke by phone with Raja Shehadeh, a Palestinian lawyer, writer, and activist who co-founded the human-rights organization Al-Haq, and who has written extensively about the history of the conflict and the daily reality of life in the West Bank”

The Israel-Iran Shadow War Escalates and Breaks Into the Open, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger, Ben Hubbard and Ronen Bergman write, “Israel has carried out a series of attacks across the Middle East in recent weeks to prevent Iran from equipping its Arab allies with precision-guided missiles, drones and other sophisticated weapons that could challenge Israel’s defenses. The attacks represent a new escalation in the shadow war between Iran and Israel, which has broken into the open and threatens to set off a wider confrontation.”