News Roundup for August 21, 2020

August 21, 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.”

J Street in the News

Trump Admin’s Doomed Effort to Trigger JCPOA ‘Snapback’ Underscores Total Failure of ‘Maximum Pressure’ Iran Policy, J Street
“Today’s announcement by Secretary of State Pompeo was just the latest damning evidence of this administration’s fecklessness and bad faith in the international arena. Over two years after President Trump’s destructive decision to formally ‘end the participation of the United States in the JCPOA,’ he and Pompeo are now absurdly pretending that they have the authority to trigger the snapback clause of an agreement which they no longer participate in or abide by […] It is essential to re-establishing US credibility and the international consensus regarding Iran’s dangerous activities – both nuclear and conventional – for the United States to come back into compliance with the JCPOA alongside Iran. Lawmakers should make clear that they strongly oppose the attempt by the Trump administration to trigger snapback and believe that it has no standing to do so. They should stand with former Vice President Joe Biden against Trump’s disastrous moves and in favor of renewed diplomatic engagement with Iran.”

Top News and Analysis

Iran nuclear deal: European nations ‘siding with ayatollahs’ says Pompeo, BBC
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused European allies of “siding with the ayatollahs” after they said the US could not reimpose sanctions on Iran. The UK, France and Germany said the US did not have the legal right to trigger “snapback” sanctions because it pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. The US has controversially initiated a process at the UN Security Council to reinstate the UN sanctions. They were lifted under the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement. “No country but the United States has had the courage and conviction to put forward a resolution. Instead, they chose to side with the ayatollahs,” Mr Pompeo said after formally submitting a complaint accusing Iran of non-compliance with the deal.

The US puts ‘maximum pressure’ on the Security Council, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “The current spat brims with irony. After spending much of the Trump presidency attacking the UN system and unilaterally sanctioning Iran against the wishes of their allies, Pompeo and other US officials are now trying to invoke the terms of the agreement they rejected to ensure that some of the constraints it put in place on the Iranian regime don’t disappear.”

Statement by the United Kingdom, France and Germany on the JCPOA, UK Government
A joint statement reads, “France, Germany and the United Kingdom note that the US ceased to be a participant to the JCPoA following their withdrawal from the deal on 8 May, 2018.  Our position regarding the effectiveness of the US notification pursuant to resolution 2231 has consequently been very clearly expressed to the Presidency and all UNSC members. We cannot therefore support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPoA.”

EU Statement on Trump Administration’s ‘Snapback’ Proposal, EU
EU High Representative Josep Borrell writes, “As I have repeatedly recalled, the US unilaterally ceased participation in the JCPOA by presidential Memorandum on 8 May 2018 and has subsequently not participated in any JCPOA-related activities. It cannot, therefore, be considered to be a JCPOA participant State for the purposes of possible sanctions snapback foreseen by the resolution. As coordinator of the JCPOA Joint Commission I will continue to do everything possible to ensure the preservation and full implementation of the JCPOA by all. The JCPOA remains a key pillar of the global non-proliferation architecture, contributing to regional security.”


As Deadline Nears, Israel’s President Warns Heading to Election Would Be ‘Inconceivable’, Haaretz
President Reuven Rivlin said on Thursday that he has consulted with the leaders of the parties in the government coalition in an effort to head off the automatic dissolution of the Knesset at the end of the day Monday, if a budget is not passed by then. If the deadline is missed, a fourth round of elections in less than two years would follow.

After night of rockets and Gaza strikes, Hamas says Israel will ‘pay price’, Times of Israel
The Hamas terror group warned on Friday that Israel will “pay the price” for its actions against the Gaza Strip, after a night that saw 12 rockets fired toward Israel and three rounds of reprisal airstrikes by Israeli warplanes.

Gaza militants fire 12 rockets, Israel strikes Hamas targets, AP
Palestinian militants fired 12 rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip overnight, nine of which were intercepted, and Israel responded with three airstrikes on targets linked to the territory’s militant Hamas rulers, the Israeli military said early Friday. It was the most serious exchange of fire along the Gaza frontier in months, but there were no reports of casualties. Police said buildings and vehicles in Israel were damaged, and that bomb-disposal units had been dispatched to pick up shrapnel and rocket parts.

UAE envoy: With Israel deal done, we’ll directly advocate for Palestinian state, Times of Israel
In his second op-ed for an Israeli newspaper, the United Arab Emirates’s ambassador to the US said the new normalization agreement with Israel would allow for “direct” advocacy for the Palestinian cause, including the establishment of a sovereign state, now with “stronger” tools.

Here’s how a rabbi created a prayer for the Democratic convention, The Forward
“When I was invited to offer part of an interfaith benediction, with a 40-second time allotment, I definitely struggled with how to best contribute a meaningful spiritual message that would reflect Jewish values and also speak to all Americans across religious and political differences,” she said.

Netanyahu to Attorney General: You Cannot Bar Me From Appointing Judges, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit had no authority to bar him from dealing with law enforcement issues because of what Mendelblit regards as a conflict of interest due to Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial.

Thousands protest nationwide over alleged gang rape of teen by 30 men in Eilat, Times of Israel
A 16-year-old who was allegedly raped by 30 men in an Eilat hotel reportedly told police on Thursday that one of the men offered to send her videos of the incident, as thousands of Israelis protested in support of the girl across the country.

Palestinian dies after being shot, detained by Israeli army, Al Jazeera
Mohammad Damir Matar, 16, was among three Palestinians shot by Israeli forces near the Deir Abu Meshal village, close to Ramallah, late on Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry in the occupied West Bank said.

Soldiers assault Hebron resident at flying checkpoint, mocking and beating him severely, B’Tselem
When he fell down, they demanded he get up. When he could not get up, three of the soldiers pounced on him, hitting him with the butts of their rifles and kicking his back.

Opinion and Analysis

The Middle East Plays Hardball, and the Palestinians Always Lose, Foreign Policy
Steven Cook writes, “Last week’s deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is the latest reminder that countries are always out for their own interests—and the weak suffer what they must.”

Trump, not Israel, is the biggest divider among Jews, The Forward
Abe Silberstein writes, “If polls and our constitutional tradition of peaceful transfer of power hold up, then the Trump presidency is in its final months. A healthy majority, certainly two-thirds or more, of American Jews will support the Democratic ticket in November. But a 25% minority is not trivial. It’s one in four people. Institutions that purport to represent a cross-section of the Jewish community, as well as individual Jews looking to build or rebuild their communities in a post-covid world, will struggle to heal the wounds created and exacerbated by the Trump years.”

No Tsunami, No Problem: What Bibi’s Denialism Means for the Occupation and Peace, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Netanyahu always denied not only the real existence of the Palestinians as a separate nation, but also the existence of a problem for Israel in the existence of millions of Palestinians under its rule.”

Netanyahu fears that Biden as president would renew Iran deal, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains a friendly relationship with US presidential candidate Joe Biden, but fears that if elected, President Biden would return to talks with Iran.”

Netanyahu’s Campaign Against Law Enforcement Has Paid Off. Now He Wants to Complete It, Haaretz
Gidi Weitz writes, “The coalition crisis has made it clear that what’s really the concern for Netanyahu is the appointment of the the attorney general, state prosecutor and police commissioner.”