News Roundup for August 6, 2018

August 6, 2018

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J Street in the News

Why It’s Now Every American Jew’s Duty to Oppose Israel’s Government, Haaretz

“The reflexive support of the AIPAC crowd for Israel’s government was soon countered by J Street, an organization more willing to be critical of Israeli leaders. And then as the abuses against the Palestinians were compounded by the Netanyahu administration, other more aggressively critical groups emerged.”

This Young Progressive Could Become the First Palestinian-American Member of Congress, Haaretz

“[W]hile Tlaib hasn’t issued any position papers regarding any other aspects of foreign policy, she has done so on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because she ‘sought out the support and received the endorsement of J Street.’ The J Street PAC fundraising page on Tlaib says she is ‘personally familiar with the costs that the conflict has brought to Israelis and Palestinians.’ As a result, she advocates the United States being ‘directly involved with negotiations to reach a two-state solution’ and ‘supports all current aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.’ In addition, she ‘does not support the expansion of settlements and believes that they make it difficult to reach a sustainable two-state solution.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump and Allies Seek End to Refugee Status for Millions of Palestinians, Foreign Policy

Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer report, “Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, has quietly been trying to do away with the U.N. relief agency that has provided food and essential services to millions of Palestinian refugees for decades, according to internal emails obtained by Foreign Policy. His initiative is part of a broader push by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress to strip these Palestinians of their refugee status in the region and take their issue off the table in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, according to both American and Palestinian officials….’It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,’ Kushner wrote about the agency in one of those emails, dated Jan. 11 and addressed to several other senior officials, including Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt.”

At least 50,000 partake in Druze-led protest against contested nation-state law, i24News

“Some 50,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday against a controversial law declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people, in a protest led by the country’s Druze minority. According to organizers, the aim of the protest was to show the ‘importance in preserving the democratic character of the State of Israel’ for all of its citizens.”

Uproar Over Israel’s Definition of Itself Crosses Ethnic Lines, Bloomberg

Gwen Ackerman writes, “It’s taken a backlash by Israel’s staunchest Arab supporters to spark one of the biggest outpourings of discontent with the Netanyahu government in years. In a country where distrust between Arab and Jew runs deep, Israel’s Druze community, which practices a secretive offshoot of Islam, has bridged the two worlds by integrating more than any other minority into the Jewish state and sending its sons to serve alongside Jewish soldiers. Their exclusion from a contentious law enshrining Israel’s Jewish character has provoked a sense of betrayal, and an uncharacteristically powerful response.”

U.S. Jewish Activist Simone Zimmerman Held by Shin Bet at Border, Questioned on Work With Palestinians, Haaretz

Noa Landau reports, “Simone Zimmerman, an American Jewish activist, was held by the Shin Bet security service at the border between Israel and Egypt for at least three hours on Sunday evening, Israel’s Immigration Authority confirmed. Shin Bet agents asked Zimmerman which places she had visited in the West Bank and what she thought of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she said.”


Abbas: Kushner’s anti-UNRWA Actions Prove U.S. Wants to Erase Palestinian Issue, Haaretz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ office responded Saturday to a report by U.S. magazine Foreign Policy claiming that U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner pressured Jordan to strip the refugee status of the two million Palestinians residing in the country. The Palestinian president’s office said Friday’s report proved that Kushner’s attempt, as well as his disparaging comments about UNRWA, the UN refugee agency aiding Palestinians, were proof that the U.S. administration is plotting to push the Palestinian refugee issue off the negotiations table.

Israel seizes Swedish activist ship en route to Gaza, Associated Press

The Israeli navy seized a Swedish-flagged sailboat attempting to breach a blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip on Saturday, the military said.

Israel says Gaza truce talks focus on easing closure in return for calm, Reuters

Israel set out limited goals for Gaza truce talks on Sunday, saying the focus was on a proposal to ease its blockade of the Islamist Hamas-controlled territory in return for the Palestinians calming their side of the frontier.

Israeli PM defends Jewish nation-state law after protest, Associated Press

Israel’s prime minister is defending a divisive new law enshrining the country’s Jewish character after tens of thousands of people demonstrated against it in Tel Aviv.Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting that the law doesn’t harm any citizens, and is needed to ‘ensure the future of Israel as the state of the Jewish people for generations to come.”

War of words between Israeli government and families hoping for return of their sons’ remains, Los Angeles Times

On the day Israel’s Cabinet met to discuss a possible truce with Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, the government got into a war of words with two families whose sons’ remains have been held by Hamas for four years.

European allies uneasy as US restores Iran sanctions, Associated Press

As the Trump administration readies to re-impose sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear accord, America’s European allies fear greater regional instability.

Opinion and Analysis

“Demands rise for Arab Knesset members to resign in wake of Nationality Law, Al-Monitor

Daoud Kuttab writes, “One of the Israeli Labor Party’s most well-known members, a popular sports radio host named Zuhair Bahloul, resigned July 29 in protest to the law that discriminates against all non-Jewish citizens in Israel. With Bahloul’s resignation, the number of Knesset members who have resigned during the 20th Knesset has reached an unprecedented 28 out of 120 members…. Knesset member Issawi Frej of Meretz told Israel Radio on July 30 that he was not surprised that Bahloul had decided to resign. ‘He is not the last Arab who will leave the Knesset because of the nation-state law, I have no doubt about that,’ Frej said.”

Palestinian Officials: Israel, Egypt Advancing Gaza Deal Behind Abbas’ Back, Haaretz

Jack Khoury reports, “Israel and Egypt have been advancing a deal to improve living conditions in the Gaza Strip without involvement by the Palestinian Authority, official sources in Ramallah say. According to a senior Palestinian official, an Israeli official visited Qatar during the visit of Egypt’s intelligence chief, General Abbas Kamel, to Washington, in an attempt to push the proposal forth.”