Glenn Grothman vs. Dan Kohl: Donald Trump is key figure in hotly contested House race, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“In an election year that could swing control of the U.S. House to Democrats, Republican incumbent Rep. Glenn Grothman is facing non-profit and business executive Dan Kohl who leads in fundraising but is trying to win a seat long dominated by the GOP. …A lawyer, [Kohl] also served four years in Washington, D.C. as vice president of political affairs for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group.”
Young professionals: not too late for two-state solution, Jerusalem Post
“Earlier this month, [the Israel Policy Forum] selected the inaugural class of Charles Bronfman IPF Atid Conveners, 25 young Jewish professionals selected “to advance the vision of a Jewish, democratic and secure Israel.” The conveners boast affiliations with a range of organizations, including the left-wing Mideast policy group J Street, the centrist Zionist organization Hadassah and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which liberals often cast as right wing but which remains committed to the two-state solution.”
Peter Beaumont and Oliver Holmes report, “Sweeping new US cuts in humanitarian aid to Palestinians are already hitting hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people, amid accusations that the Trump administration is using the issue to “blackmail” Palestinians into accepting a peace deal that critics say will favour Israel….One agency operating in the coastal enclave, Catholic Relief Services, said the withholding of this year’s US funding for its projects had seen the number of Palestinians it could support in Gaza – largely in food aid and employment assistance – drop from 150,000 to just 200 since January, forcing it to lay off most of its programme staff. Other agencies hit by the cuts include Mercy Corps and International Medical Corps (IMC), who jointly provide a USAid-funded medical programme in Gaza.”
David Kenner writes, “If you want to understand Israel’s ambivalence about the outcome of Syria’s war, look no further than Avigdor Lieberman. In 2016, Lieberman, Israel’s hawkish defense minister, condemned Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, as a ‘butcher.’ He asserted Israel’s moral imperative to oppose genocide, born from the Holocaust, as a reason to oppose the Syrian government’s massacres. It is in Israel’s interest, he added, that Assad and his Iranian allies ‘be thrown out of Syria.’ Fast forward to earlier this month. While touring Israeli air-defense units, Lieberman struck an optimistic note about Assad’s gaining strength, saying it means ‘there is a real address, someone responsible, and central rule’ in Syria. Asked whether he believed this would decrease the possibility of clashes on Israel’s northern border, he said: ‘I believe so. I think this is also in Assad’s interest.’”
Contrary to a number of recents reports in Israel and the U.S., a State Department official said on Thursday that the Trump administration has no plans at the moment to change its policy regarding the Palestinian “right of return.” The official said, in reply to a question on the subject from Haaretz, that there is “no change at this time.” Just hours after the official made this statement, a new report in the Washington Post said that the administration is in fact planning to cut all U.S. funding to UNRWA, the UN agency in charge of assistance to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.
UN: Ceasefire violations may spark Lebanon-Israel Conflict, Associated Press
The U.N. Security Council warned Thursday that violations of the cease-fire agreement between Lebanon and Israel could lead to a new conflict and urged international support for Lebanon’s armed forces and their stepped up deployment in the south and at sea.
Police suspect that both Sara Netanyahu and her husband, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, knowingly accepted bribes in a corruption case linked to the Bezeq telecommunications firm, Haaretz newspaper reported Thursday.
Iran has remained within the main restrictions on its nuclear activities imposed by a 2015 deal with major powers, a confidential report by the U.N. atomic watchdog indicated on Thursday.
Iran “cannot avoid” talks on thorny issues like its ballistic missile program and role in Middle East conflicts, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Thursday, as European powers work to rescue the beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran.
Jordan can’t afford to lose UNRWA battle, Al-Monitor
Osama Al Sharif writes, “The row over UNRWA may strain bilateral relations, as Jordan rallies international partners to step in and compensate for the suspension of US funding. In the view of Jordanian analysts, the attempt to defund UNRWA is as crucial as the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It is one more step toward dismantling, and eventually liquidating, the Palestinian issue, enacting it from existence. For Amman, the stakes have never been higher. Its only choice now is to confront US moves through diplomacy, even at the risk of annoying its closest ally.”
Ilan Goldenberg writes, “With every crisis, the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens. There will come a moment when basic order collapses altogether, or Israel is forced to invade and retake Gaza. The only way to avoid this terrible outcome in the long-term is a sustainable political arrangement that should include both a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that includes major economic opening of Gaza combined with a Palestinian reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas that slowly brings the Palestinian Authority back into Gaza. Ultimately, the biggest winners of a new ceasefire will be the civilians in Gaza and southern Israel who will avoid the immediate misery of more violence. But unless everyone can move beyond the cycle of the past ten years, they will also be the biggest losers – as inevitably, over time, this agreement too will break down.”