News Roundup for August 18, 2020

August 18, 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

Heard last night: Rep. Jan Schakowsky still concerned over annexation, Jewish Insider
“Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said during a Zoom call hosted by J Street on Sunday that she remains ‘concerned’ that Israel will still try to push annexation. The congresswoman pointed to Netanyahu’s remarks that he agreed only to temporarily postpone the plan at the behest of the Trump administration. ‘Now I think the one hopeful thing is that there’s not a lot of time left,’ Schakowsky added. ‘We hope that we are going to have a very different administration that will begin… with-a two state solution and be able to incorporate the UAE and the new developments that we’re having in the region and make hay out of that and make it as a really positive thing. And so when [Netanyahu] says it’s temporary, so is the presidency — I believe Donald Trump — temporary.’”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Says Moved Embassy to Jerusalem ‘For the Evangelicals’, Haaretz
US President Donald Trump said Monday that he moved the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem “for the evangelicals,” marveling that “Christians are more excited by that than Jewish people.”

The Trump administration suffers a humiliating — and telling — loss on the Middle East, Washington Post
The Editorial Board writes, “Two days after taking credit for the opening of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Trump administration suffered a humiliating reverse at the U.N. Security Council that was, in some ways, more telling about the results of its Middle East policies. The United States asked the council to approve an extension of the 13-year-old embargo on arms trade with Iran — something that matters greatly to Israel and U.S. Arab allies, and which most of the democratic world favors. Yet only one member of the 15-member council, the Dominican Republic, sided with Washington. Russia and China opposed the motion, while 11 countries — including Britain, France and Germany — abstained.”

Pompeo set to double down on failure to extend Iran arms embargo, Responsible Statecraft
Mark Fitzpatrick writes, “Undeterred by its humiliating failure to win U.N. Security Council extension of the arms embargo on Iran, the Trump administration has vowed to double down by pushing an equally unpopular snapback of pre-2016 U.N. sanctions. In the August 14 tally on the arms embargo extension, the U.S. gathered only one vote besides its own. And the Dominican Republic may have lent its support only to act as a polite host for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s August 16 visit to the Caribbean nation. Almost every other Security Council member, 11 in all, including western allies of the U.S., abstained, while China and Russia voted no.”


After UAE-Israel deal, Kushner slams Palestinian leaders, AP
Top White House adviser Jared Kushner said Monday that the Palestinian leadership’s credibility has fallen to an “all time low” and that the Trump administration wouldn’t “chase” the Palestinians over a peace deal if they continue to reject American overtures.

US will not consent to West Bank annexation ‘for some time,’ Jared Kushner says, JTA
“That land is land that right now that Israel, quite frankly, controls,” Kushner said. “Israelis that live there aren’t going anywhere. There shouldn’t be any urgency to applying Israeli law.”

Dismissing PM’s claims against him, AG says Netanyahu can’t appoint top cop, Times of Israel
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s office dismissed on Monday allegations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is in a conflict of interest, after Mandelblit instructed the premier, who is under criminal indictment, to recuse himself from making senior law enforcement appointments.

Israeli Police Officer Wounded in Suspected Stabbing Attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, Haaretz
Israeli soldiers entered the village of Sawahira al-Sharqiya overnight Monday and arrested the mother and two brothers of the suspect in the Monday night stabbing of a Border Police officer, local residents reported.

Virus czar said planning High Holiday restrictions as death toll climbs to 692, Times of Israel
Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu will reportedly recommend far-reaching restrictions to stem the spread of the virus at Thursday’s coronavirus cabinet meeting.

Israel’s Secret Envoy to the UAE and How Its Arms and Cyber Dealers Do Business There, Haaretz
The evidence shows that, unlike with previous peace agreements, the step with the UAE wasn’t preceded by staff work to draw up annexes on things like security, visas and aviation ties.

Netanyahu denies reports UAE deal includes okay for sale of advanced US jets, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday denied reports that the agreement with the United Arab Emirates to normalize ties in exchange for freezing plans to annex parts of the West Bank included a green light for the US to hand Abu Dhabi the most advanced fighter jets and UAVs.

Water in Gaza: Scarce, polluted and mostly unfit for use, B’Tselem
Some two million Gazans suffer from a constant shortage of water, which gets worse in summer. The tap water is salty and polluted and is not fit for drinking. In the absence of other alternatives, residents are forced to use this water for bathing and washing, yet the supply is irregular and unpredictable. For drinking and cooking, they no choice to buy water privately – despite severe financial hardship – and even then it is usually substandard.

Opinion and Analysis

There’s no question about Harris’s citizenship. So why is Trump questioning it?, Washington Post
Rachel E. Rosenbloom writes, “In questioning the citizenship of Harris — the first woman of color on a major party ticket and the second woman of color ever to run for vice president, after Charlotta Bass in 1952 — Trump is once again reaching into the traditional playbook of American White supremacy. Throughout the country’s history, debates over citizenship have always been deeply entwined with racialized notions of who should be considered a ‘real’ American.”

Israel’s High Court Seeks ‘Balance’ in Turning Palestinian Villages Into Army Training Zone, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “A compromise is better than a ruling. In the end, as in many cases, the answer is some kind of balance,’ the judges said to the parties involved. This wasn’t said regarding divorce proceedings or a neighbors’ dispute. The hoped-for compromise is supposed to be made between an invader who has taken over about 30,000 dunams (around 7,400 acres) of land, and a civilian population that has lived and earned its livelihood there for generations.”

Netanyahu set aside West Bank annexation to do the UAE deal. But will the plan revive?, Washington Post
Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash write, “The announcement that Israel and the UAE would exchange ambassadors and forge tourism, business and security ties has won overwhelming support among Israelis. But as Israeli officials prepared to travel to the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, to negotiate details of the new relationship, it has become clear that the future of West Bank annexation — now halted under the deal — remains unresolved and much disputed, threatening to sow tensions within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political base.”

The UAE-Israel deal will make a two-state solution even less likely, The Guardian
Ian Black writes, “Part of the explanation is generational change: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the state, was a renowned supporter of the Palestinian cause, which is marginalised among Gulf elites these days. His son’s calculations include pleasing the man currently occupying the Oval Office – and keeping the US engaged in the Middle East.”

The Real Deal for Israel and the UAE Is Weapons, Haaretz
Hagai Amit writes, “The Emirates spend billions of dollars a year on arms procurement. Now Israel stands to get in on the action.”