News Roundup for August 8, 2018

August 8, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Israel, Hamas to Agree on Cease-fire by End of August, Report Says, Haaretz

“Israel and Hamas are expected to sign a cease-fire agreement by the end of August, a Hamas official told the Turkish state news agency Anadolu. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the first stage of the deal would include a two-week trial. The deal would lift restrictions on the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip and at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the coastal enclave. According to the source, the cease-fire would last for at least five years, and include the release of Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham Sayed, as well as the remains of soldiers 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.”

Ambassador David Friedman’s top aide keeps financial ties to anti-BDS group, Forward

Justin Elliott and ProPublica report, “A top aide to the U.S. ambassador to Israel has financial ties to entities involved in Israel policy or that could have business with the government, according to newly released disclosure forms. One of the groups, an anonymously funded nonprofit called Shining City Community that has been involved in U.S. and Israeli politics, owes perhaps as much as $50,000 to Aryeh Lightstone, a senior adviser to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, according to his financial disclosure forms.”

EU foreign policy chief calls on firms to defy Trump over Iran, Guardian

Daniel Boffey and Saeed Kamali Dehghan report, “The EU is set on a collision course with Donald Trump after its foreign policy chief called for Europeans to increase their business dealings with Iran in defiance of bellicose statements from the US president. As Trump vowed to block those trading with Iran from the US market, the EU stepped up efforts to save the Iran nuclear deal by encouraging its companies to ignore the White House. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, said Brussels would not let the 2015 agreement with Tehran die, and she urged Europeans to make their own investment decisions.”

Who Will Last Longer: Trump or Iran’s Theocrats?, New Yorker

Robin Wright writes, “As the two nations face off over the next three months, the broader question is not how much sanctions will hurt Iran but, rather, the strategic context in which they are being applied, Daniel Glaser, a former Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, told me. ‘Sanctions are a tool. They are not a policy. Despite U.S. protestations to the contrary, U.S. goals remain unclear, and the strategy by which it intends to achieve those goals remains unclear.”


Khan Al-Ahmar rejects relocation plan to Jericho Site, Jerusalem Post

The Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar rejected a state plan to relocate its 52 families to an area east of the Mitzpe Yeriho settlement. The families “reject the plan of the State of Israel and wish to continue living in Al Khan al-Ahmar,” their attorney Tawfiq Jabareen said on Tuesday.

With Primary Win, Rashida Tlaib Set to Become First Palestinian-American Congresswoman, Haaretz

Former Democratic state representative Rashida Tlaib won her primary in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Tuesday, bringing her closer to becoming the first Palestinian-American woman to hold national office.

UN agency urges Israel to allow emergency fuel into Gaza, Associated Press

A U.N. aid agency is calling on Israel to let emergency fuel into the Gaza Strip to avert the shutdown of hospitals and sanitation facilities.

Netanyahu: EU to Stop Funding Israeli Civil Liberties Umbrella Group, Haaretz
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau announced Tuesday that following the premier’s efforts, the European Union would stop funding the Freedom Protection Council, a consortium of civil society organizations.

Germany warns US Iran sanctions could cause Middle East ‘chaos’, i24NEWS

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Wednesday that US President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran could further destabilize the Middle East and boost radical forces in the region.

Israel sees Syrian army growing beyond pre-civil war size, Reuters

Israel’s defence minister said on Tuesday that Syria was building up its ground forces beyond their pre-civil war size, an assessment that suggests President Bashar al-Assad’s army has recovered from a critical manpower shortage earlier in the war.

Abbas tightens grip on Palestinian governmental bodies, Al-Monitor

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has tightened his grip on the PLO after he officially approved the distribution of tasks and departments among the Executive Committee’s members on Aug. 1.

Opinion and Analysis

UNWRA Under Attack: Trump Tries to Destroy a Palestinian Achievement to Force a Deal, Haaretz

Amira Hass writes, “Like every other declaration of intent by U.S. President Donald Trump or his aides, the recent statement about the need to change UNRWA’s mandate sounded at first like a gut reaction voiced without having studied the issue thoroughly, or perhaps a trial balloon. But on second thought, it meshes well with other administration steps to undermine and dismantle existing international arrangements – the nuclear deal with Iran, America’s relationship with other NATO countries, trade agreements. Like its withdrawal from the Iran deal, America’s attitude toward UNRWA – which cares for Palestinian refugees – has clear Israeli fingerprints. Last year, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely urged Washington to move to close the agency in order to abolish the Palestinians’ refugee status.”

The Guardian view on Iran and sanctions: the EU stands firm, Guardian

The Guardian editorial board writes, “Europe’s leaders are well aware that they are in treacherous waters. There are serious doubts about whether the EU’s use of a “blocking statute” – designed to mitigate the impact of the US’s secondary sanctions on European companies doing business in Iran – will have much effect. An EU plan to use the European Investment Bank to keep money flowing has already been questioned by the bank itself, which fears it would be unable to raise money in US markets. Finding ways to give businesses the confidence and ability to trade and invest is extremely challenging, but political commitment will be ineffective unless backed by such concrete measures.”

Randi Weingarten wants the teachers’ union to love Israel. That’s why she is criticizing it publicly., Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Ben Sales writes, “[In] an era when a growing number of unions back the movement to boycott Israel, [American Federation of Teachers President Randi] Weingarten says supporting a progressive vision of the Jewish state is part of her union’s mission. And in recent years, AFT’s position on Israel sounds like that of a liberal Zionist group: Rather than boycott Israel or disengage from it, the teachers’ union is embracing left-wing Israeli activists — and criticizing the country from a place of love. ‘I think that Bibi and his followers are moving in the wrong direction just like I believe that Trump is moving in the wrong direction,’ Weingarten told JTA on Monday.”

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