News Roundup for August 17, 2020

August 17, 2020

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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.

J Street in the News

Triggering JCPOA Snapback Would Isolate US, Hamper Future Diplomacy, J Street
“The administration’s sabotaging of diplomacy with Iran has led to a self-inflicted security crisis presenting myriad dangers to the United States and our partners. Iran is no longer fully complying with the agreement that had successfully blocked its pathways to a nuclear weapon and its hardliners are emboldened and operating with a freer hand. US troops in the region have been subjected to bombardment by Iranian missiles and key allies like Israel face increasing threats from Iran and its proxies near their borders. The international consensus achieved during the Obama administration has been shattered to the point that we are unable to find agreement with European allies – let alone Russia and China – to jointly address Iran’s conventional arms activities. The administration is reportedly contemplating doing even more damage by attempting to trigger the ‘snapback’ mechanism that would reimpose previous multilateral constraints on Iran, including the arms embargo, by formally killing the Iran deal.”

Top News and Analysis

US sees embarrassing UN defeat over Iran arms embargo proposal, The Guardian
The US has suffered a humiliating defeat at the United Nations as its proposal to extend an arms embargo on Iran won support from only the Dominican Republic at the security council vote. The US resolution was never likely to be passed in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition. It was proposed as a ploy by the Trump administration to open the way to more drastic action against Iran. But the scale of the defeat on Friday underlined US isolation on the world stage ahead of a major diplomatic confrontation that threatens to consume the security council and further sap its authority.

The Israel-UAE deal is an important step. But enduring peace must include the Palestinians, Washington Post
The Editorial Board writes, “The undeniable losers in the deal are the Palestinian authorities. Until now, they had counted on the carrot of peace with the Arab world as Israel’s main incentive to end its occupation of the West Bank and lay the ground for a Palestinian state. Now Israel has peace with a key Gulf Arab player — and the prospect of others to follow — while maintaining its troops, checkpoints and settlers in the West Bank.”

For Palestinians, Israel-U.A.E. Deal Swaps One Nightmare for Another, New York Times
Isabel Kershner and Adam Rasgon write, “If the pullback from annexation was presented as some kind of a balm for the Palestinians, many of them considered it, instead, a stab in the back. The deal was a diplomatic coup for Israel, but it ruptured decades of professed Arab unity around the Palestinian cause. It swapped one Palestinian nightmare — annexation, which many world leaders had warned would be an illegal land grab — for another, perhaps even bleaker prospect of not being counted at all.”


Netanyahu says West Bank annexation ‘remains on the table’ following Israel-UAE agreement, JTA
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his plan to annex part of the West Bank “remains on the table,” despite agreeing to suspend the move as part of an agreement to establish formal ties with the United Arab Emirates on Thursday. “There is no change in my plan to apply sovereignty, our sovereignty, in Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the U.S. I’m committed to it, this hasn’t changed. I was the one who put sovereignty in Judea and Samaria on the table. This issue remains on the table,” Netanyahu said at a news conference in Jerusalem after the agreement was announced.

Israeli Guards Shoot Palestinian With Hearing and Speech Impairment at West Bank Checkpoint, Haaretz
A 60-year-old Palestinian was shot and wounded on Monday by Israeli private security contractors at the Qalandiya checkpoint, a busy crossing between Jerusalem and the northern West Bank, hours after a separate shooting incident in Bethlehem.

Israel’s coronavirus czar apologizes after likening spread of virus among Arabs to ‘mass terror attack’, JTA
Israel’s coronavirus czar criticized what he said was the Arab community’s failure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, likening the spread there to a “mass terror attack.” Cases of the coronavirus have risen in the Arab sector in recent days, some two weeks after a holiday that brought families and communities together.

Polls show slight gains for Netanyahu from UAE deal, as coalition crisis lingers, Times of Israel
Opinion polls on Sunday gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud a slight bump after Israel’s normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates was announced, as a budget crisis threatened to topple the government and bring the country to a fourth round of elections in under two years.

Israel shuts Gaza fishing zone after overnight fighting, AP
Israel closed the Gaza Strip’s offshore fishing zone Sunday following a night of cross-border fighting with Palestinian militants, the most intense escalation of hostilities in recent months.

Settler chiefs say PM betrayed them, is ‘adopting rhetoric of extreme left’, Times of Israel
Leaders of the settlement movement on Sunday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of betraying them in pursuit of ties with Gulf states, following his announcement that he was putting annexation of portions of the West Bank on hold, in exchange for full formal relations with the United Arab Emirates.

Erekat: Israel-UAE deal is a ‘killer’ to 2-state solution, Kushner is arrogant, AFP
The agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize ties would kill the two-state solution, strengthen extremists and undermine the possibility of peace, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday.

Israel Strikes Hamas Posts as Flare-up Persists; Egyptian Delegation Expected in Gaza, Haaretz
Israeli tanks struck Hamas observation posts on Sunday night in retaliation for the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza and disturbances at the border, the army said in a statement.

Opinion and Analysis

For the Israeli Army, Palestinian Life Is Cheap and the Excuse Is Always the Same, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “Three months’ community service: That’s the punishment in Israel for a soldier who shot to death a Palestinian whose only crime was that he’d come to the aid of another Palestinian, who had himself been mistakenly shot by the same soldier. That’s the plea agreement that will come before the Jaffa Military Court on Monday for approval. Three months’ community service and a demotion for the killing of an innocent person.”

The UAE-Israel Agreement Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be, Foreign Policy
Albert Wolf writes, “The deal defers the idea of annexation rather than burying it, and could exacerbate tensions between Iran and the Gulf States.”

Shifting Dynamics of the Mideast Pushed Israel and U.A.E. Together, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger and Ronen Bergman write, “When he sealed a deal to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates this week, it was not because he had suddenly become more persuasive. What had changed, analysts and former aides to Mr. Netanyahu said, was the dynamics of the region and the world.”

Israel-UAE deal shows how the very notion of Middle East peace has shifted under Trump, Washington Post
Anne Gearan and Souad Mekhennet write, “Middle East analysts agreed with Trump that the accomplishment is genuine and historic and probably could not have happened now without the U.S. imprimatur. But it also fits a pattern for Trump of claiming more credit than may be deserved.”

Israel and the UAE: A reality check, Times of Israel
Naomi Chazan writes, “Removing the specter of imminent annexation in no way implies an end to the occupation. In fact, the UAE-Israel deal totally bypasses the Palestinians. At best, it normalizes occupation; at worst, it might, by removing any impetus for change on the ground, actually entrench Israel’s long-term rule over Palestinians and their territories.”

Bibi’s digital warriors take on Arabia: How Israel won over the Gulf states, +972 Mag
Katie Wachsberger writes, “Israel has been using a web of social media accounts to produce a more favorable image among Arabs in the Gulf. With the UAE agreement, it seems these efforts are bearing fruit.”