News Roundup for February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

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J Street in the News

Dems gunning for Trump fear 2020 split over Israel, Politico

“With an energized progressive base increasingly supportive of Palestinian rights, and a president who is stridently pro-Israel in his policy moves, Democrats are starting to grapple more than ever with the party’s once-reflexive support for Israel….Democratic pro-Israel activists have stepped up lobbying since Democrats recaptured the House last November. In January, for instance, a group of national security experts, some of whom may join Democratic campaigns, visited Israel to get a lay of the political landscape, meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The weeklong trip was organized by J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel group that has battled for primacy with the more conservative and established AIPAC…A big Democratic concern: how to handle the issue of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem?…One campaign platform proposal being floated among Democratic consultants is to keep the embassy in Jerusalem but reestablish a diplomatic mission — possibly something beyond just a consulate general — in a part of East Jerusalem that Palestinians claim for a future capital. ‘There are discussions taking place about how to recognize the Palestinians’ connection to the East Jerusalem, to rebalance the ledger after Trump’s attempt to take the issue of Jerusalem off the table,’ said Dylan Williams of J Street.”

Top News and Analysis

The Next U.S. President Should Rejoin the Iran Nuclear Deal, Foreign Policy

Ilan Goldenberg and Eric Brewer write, “The first question a hypothetical 2020 election victor (not to mention candidates on the campaign trail) will face is whether or not the United States should re-enter the deal. The answer should be a resounding yes. The Iran nuclear deal is one of the most robust and detailed nuclear agreements ever achieved, and when the United States withdrew, the deal was working exactly as designed: Iran’s nuclear program was drastically curtailed, and the U.S. ability to detect any Iranian attempt to build a bomb—should its ambitions ever change—was significantly improved. Most importantly, Iran was adhering to the deal and continues to do so. If the United State re-enters the deal, these benefits will persist. The nuclear deal was an international agreement, reached with European allies, China, and Russia, and endorsed by the U.N. If, under a new administration, the United States wants to reassume its mantle as a global leader that upholds its international commitments, reentering the agreement is essential.”

The Sick Double Standard In The Ilhan Omar Controversy, Forward

Peter Beinart writes, “The following two things are true. First, Representative Ilhan Omar was wrong to tweet that the American government’s support of Israel is “all about the Benjamins.” Secondly, she’s being judged by a grotesque double standard. Her fiercest critics in Congress are guiltier of bigotry than she is….Were the Republicans denouncing Omar sincerely opposed to bigotry, they would not reward bigotry against American Muslims and celebrate bigotry against Palestinians in the West Bank….If you denounce Ilhan Omar but support Donald Trump, you don’t really oppose bigotry. You don’t even really oppose anti-Semitism. What you oppose is criticism of Israel. That’s the real reason Republicans are so much more outraged by Omar’s tweets than by Trump’s. They’re not trying to police bigotry or even anti-Semitism. They’re using anti-Semitism to police the American debate about Israel.”


Russia Says Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan Will Foil All Palestinian Gains, Haaretz

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has attacked the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that the Trump administration is working on, saying it would destroy the Palestinians’ achievements to date in the Middle East. Speaking on Tuesday at a meeting in Moscow with representatives of Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, Lavrov said President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century, a plan that has not been formally presented yet, does not include a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

European powers to present cool front at Warsaw summit, Guardian

Key European powers will offer only limited participation in a high-profile Trump administration summit on the Middle East starting on Wednesday, reflecting their growing anger over unilateral US policymaking on Iran and Syria. The UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, will leave the Warsaw summit early, pleading Brexit Commons business, while France is sending a civil servant and Germany its junior foreign minister. Federica Mogherini, the EU external affairs chief, will boycott the event, originally conceived by the US as a way to press EU countries to adopt a more aggressive stance towards Iran.

Labor Party Primary Gives Party 2 or 3-seat Bump in the Polls, Haaretz

Monday’s primary, in which the Labor Party put on a new face, has given it a modest bump in the opinion polls. The primary results have handed women three of the top five spots on the party’s slate for the Knesset election on April 9. The results of opinion polling reported on Tuesday by Channel 13 News found that, if the election were held today, Labor would win eight seats – two to three more than it received in earlier polls.  If the center-left Labor Party ran on a joint ticket with left-wing Meretz, the slate would capture 14 seats, one more than the parties’ combined total running separately.

UN set to publish blacklist of Israeli companies operating over Green Line, Times of Israel

The UN High Commissioner for Human rights is set to publish a blacklist of Israeli companies operating over the Green Line, including some of the country’s largest corporations, potentially exposing them to possible legal action abroad. The list will be released next month at the 40th meeting of the UN’s Human Rights Council, according to a report on the Ynet news site.

Gantz Videos Accuse Netanyahu of Paying Off Hamas, Evicting Jews, Haaretz

Hosen L’Yisrael leader Benny Gantz published videos on social media on Tuesday slamming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies toward Hamas in Gaza, his support for the 2005 Gaza pullout, Israel’s high cost of living and the country’s health system troubles.

Meeting Abbas, MBS backs Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, Times of Israel

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave Saudi Arabia’s support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on Tuesday, the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa reported.

Right-wing Parties Will Merge Within Hours or Days, Israeli Far Right Leader Says, Haaretz

The chairman of the National Union party, Bezalel Smotrich, said on Tuesday that unification of Israeli right-wing parties is a matter of “hours or days.” Speaking at a conference hosted by right-wing station Arutz 7 in Jerusalem, Smotrich said: “The news is that we are running together. The news is that we are making every effort, and you know why? I’ll say it clearly: Both us and Habayit Hayehudi represent a strong backbone, but it has to be with Otzma and Eli Yishai’s Yahad.”

Opinion and Analysis

Why residents of Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah face eviction, Al-Monitor

Ahmad Melhem reports, “About 36 Palestinians, including six children from the Sabbagh family in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, live in constant fear of the Israeli Execution Office’s decision regarding their eviction in favor of Israeli settlers….Palestinians feel that Israel wants to benefit from the current political conditions, especially in light of the unmatched US support, and from the stalemate in the peace process in order to systematically implement the settlement projects in Jerusalem, with the aim of further weakening the Palestinian presence. What is happening in Sheikh Jarrah now could be seen as a prelude to complete demolition and replacement with a settlement neighborhood.”

On Election Battlefield, Netanyahu Blurs Line Between Security and Propaganda, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “It appears…that in the heat of the battle against Gantz and the effort to portray the election campaign as a “strong right wing against a weak left,” and perhaps also under the approaching threat of an announcement by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit regarding criminal charges against the prime minister, the boundaries between security and election publicity are blurring for Netanyahu.”