News Roundup for August 12, 2020

August 12, 2020

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!


J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

Top News and Analysis

In Kamala Harris, a Choice at Once Safe and Energizing, New York Times
In naming Kamala Harris as his running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. made a groundbreaking decision, picking a woman of color to be vice president and, possibly, a successor in the White House someday. Yet in some ways, Mr. Biden made a conventional choice: elevating a senator who brings generational and coastal balance to the Democratic ticket and shares his center-left politics at a time of progressive change in the party […] She is also a thoroughly establishment-friendly figure, as is Mr. Biden: Both have hewed closely to their party’s mainstream for years, shifting left with the times but always with an eye on the broader electorate and higher office. He long said he wanted someone “simpatico” with him and, in Ms. Harris, he found that person, at least when it comes to ideology.

All 3 Democrats vying for House Foreign Affairs Committee chair support restricting Israel from using for annexation, JTA
All three of the Democrats seeking to become the next head of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee have said they do not want U.S. money to aid Israel’s potential annexation of parts of the West Bank. Reps. Brad Sherman of California, Joaquin Castro of Texas and Gregory Meeks of New York are vying for the role with the defeat of the current head, longtime pro-Israel voice Eliot Engel, in his New York primary in June. “I oppose any use of American taxpayer dollars to implement the Annexation Plan or to build any permanent Israeli installation in the West Bank or Gaza,” Sherman said in a statement.

Political novices drawn to anti-Netanyahu protests in Israel, AP
Josef Federman writes, “In a summer of protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the accusations of corruption and calls for him to resign could be accompanied by another familiar refrain: ‘I’ve never done this before.’ The boisterous rallies have brought out a new breed of first-time protesters — young, middle-class Israelis who have little history of political activity but feel that Netanyahu’s scandal-plagued rule and his handling of the coronavirus crisis have robbed them of their futures. It is a phenomenon that could have deep implications for the country’s leaders.”


Knesset okays election-averting bill to delay budget in a preliminary reading, Times of Israel
The Knesset passed in its preliminary reading Wednesday a bill to grant the government more time to pass the national budget, helping avert a fourth round of elections by pushing off the approaching deadline.

Squad’ sweep as U.S. congresswoman Omar holds off primary election challenger, Reuters
U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar held off a well-funded challenger Tuesday and won the Democratic primary in her congressional district, putting her on track for re-election in November along with other members of the “Squad” of four liberal freshmen.

Netanyahu said to be demanding changes to deal with Gantz to keep coalition intact, Times of Israel
With a standoff over the state budget threatening to send Israel to new elections, a report Tuesday evening said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was demanding that Defense Minister Benny Gantz agree to several changes to the coalition deal on matters unrelated to the budget as a condition for keeping the government intact.

Netanyahu Blasts Opposition Bill to Prevent Indicted PM From Forming Gov’t: ‘An Iranian Law’, Haaretz
In a surprise speech at the Knesset, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the opposition bill seeking to prevent a candidate under indictment from forming a government, calling the bill an “Iranian law.”

Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza after over 60 fires sparked by arson balloons, Times of Israel
Israeli helicopter gunships and tanks attacked at least three sites in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday in response to rash of airborne arson attacks sparked more than 60 fires in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said.

‘A rare chance’: Palestinians cross breach in separation barrier to enjoy the sea, +972 Mag
Thousands of Palestinian families are traveling through large holes in the West Bank barrier to visit the coast, while the Israeli army largely turns a blind eye.

Far-right extremist settlers injure cop in clash at flashpoint West Bank outpost, Times of Israel
A Border Police officer was lightly injured in clashes with a group of ultra-nationalist “hilltop youth” settlers during the demolition of illegal structures at an outpost in the northern West Bank on Wednesday.

Opinion and Analysis

How Biden VP Kamala Harris Could Tip U.S.-Israel Ties, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer and Amir Tibon write, “Like Biden, Harris strongly supports a two-state solution, and she has pleased AIPAC and other ‘pro-Israel’ circles by speaking out in favor of Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ from Hamas attacks from the Gaza Strip, and saying that she didn’t think the United States should pressure Israel on peace with the Palestinians because a resolution ‘cannot be imposed by outside parties.’ Those circles are surely less excited by her statements during the primary race endorsing the idea of the United States rejoining the Iran nuclear agreement under a new administration, but ‘look toward expanding it.’”

In Harris, Biden chooses a traditionally pro-Israel Dem as his veep candidate, Times of Israel
Eric Cortellessa writes, “When it comes to US policy on Israel, her positions more or less reflect mainstream Democratic thinking over the last 10 years.”

What are vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ views on the Middle East?, Al-Monitor
On Iran, a spokesman for Harris told Al-Monitor last year that she would rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if elected president. (She dropped out of the presidential race in December). US President Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president, negotiated the deal aimed at ending Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon diplomatically. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Harris has also voted against US military sales to Saudi Arabia and opposes the Gulf country’s war on Iran-backed forces in Yemen.

MK Bezalel Smotrich: ’The Left Made Israel More Moral, but Their Mistakes Made Them Irrelevant’, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “Ideological right-wing MK Bezalel Smotrich devoted his life to destroying the two-state solution. In an interview he says the left’s fixation with it is ‘like getting addicted to drugs to escape reality’ […] There were two camps around Trump, he says – the one led by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the one led by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, ‘who is farther right than I am. Okay? What happened was that Kushner’s camp won, at least for now.’”