News Roundup for August 24, 2020

August 24, 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.

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu Says He Will Accept Compromise to Avoid Election, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted a compromise Sunday to push the deadline for passing a state budget to late November, staving off a fourth election in less than two years, saying that this was a “time for unity.”

Despite pandemic, East Jerusalem on track for record number of home demolitions, Times of Israel
Israeli authorities have significantly accelerated the number of home demolitions in East Jerusalem this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis. Around 89 residential units have been demolished since the beginning of 2020, compared with 109 through all of last year. In the first three weeks of August alone, 24 homes were demolished, according to Ir Amim, a nonprofit that focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jerusalem.

How this year’s primary season demonstrated the waning influence of pro-Israel hawks, Responsible Statecraft
Mairav Zonszein writes, “Hawkish pro-Israel groups that poured millions of dollars into Democratic races this year have thus largely failed to deliver on their investment. The very formation of so many new PACs — DMFI, Pro-Israel America, NORPAC and Americans for Tomorrow’s Future — whose primary mission is to maintain the bipartisan pro-Israel consensus in the halls of power, is an agitated response to the increasing willingness by Democrats to question and challenge the status quo of U.S. policy on Israel […] Aligning with AIPAC used to be considered good politics — unquestioned politics, even. Most candidates would simply follow AIPAC talking points on Israel without much thought. And when they didn’t, they could be marginalized or demonized, some having had their careers destroyed. Not so much anymore. This was clear when almost all senators vying for the Democratic nomination for president voted against the Combatting BDS Act pushed by AIPAC in 2019, and when several, among them Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Julian Castro (D-TX), decided to skip its annual policy conference last year.”


Stirring controversy, Pompeo to address Republican convention from Jerusalem, Times of Israel
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will address the Republican National Convention Tuesday from an “undisclosed location” in Jerusalem, officials said Sunday, in a move that breaks decades of precedence in not using the office for partisan purposes. Pompeo will speak to the virtual confab while he’s on an official trip to the Middle East to push for broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement after Israel and the United Arab Emirates struck an agreement to fully normalize relations.

Pompeo Arrives in Israel, First Stop in Tour Promoting Deepening Gulf Ties, Haaretz
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Israel on Monday for a trip that is part of U.S. efforts to enlist additional Muslim countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, in the wake of the normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates.

Fearing targeted killings by Israel, Hamas leaders said to go into hiding, Times of Israel
The entire leadership of Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, has gone underground in anticipation of possible targeted killings by Israel, a report said Saturday night.

Kushner plans trip to Middle East to encourage more Gulf states to normalize with Israel, Axios
President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and White House envoy Avi Berkowitz are expected to travel to the Middle East and visit Israel along with several Gulf states during the first week of September to check on the U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Israeli and Arab officials tell me.

Iran’s nuclear agency says blast at Natanz facility was result of sabotage, Times of Israel
An Iranian official said on Sunday that the mysterious blast at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility last month was the “result of sabotage.”

Bill to Avoid Israeli Election Cleared for Final Vote, Haaretz
The Knesset Finance Committee gave its approval to legislation that would extend the deadline for passing a state budget on Monday, setting the stage for the proposal to be put before the Knesset for a second and then final vote in the hopes of preventing the country from going to its fourth election in less than two years.

New clip shows cops striking female protester, amid outrage over rally violence, Times of Israel
Amid accusations of excessive use of force by police during Saturday night’s protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near his official residence in Jerusalem, a new video has emerged from the rally, showing police officers striking in the face, shoving, and pulling off to the side of a street a protester who was filming the proceedings.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Joe Biden Will Win the Biggest Jewish Vote Ever, Haaretz
Eric Yoffie writes, “Under Donald Trump, America is a failed state. It’s no accident that anti-Semitism is at its highest levels since World War II. Against such a contemptuous president, U.S. Jews will back Biden in record numbers”

When our leader, in his wisdom, graciously lifted the threat of a 4th election, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “The current non-crisis, apparently averted by the PM at the eleventh hour, shows Israel is a nation held politically hostage to Netanyahu’s personal calculations.”

Instead of peace with the Palestinians, Israel makes peace with the UAE [Podcast], Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit speaks this week with former National Security Adviser Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eilad, who provides behind-the-scenes details on the historic agreement signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. In Eiland’s view, by signing an agreement with Israel, the United Arab Emirates turned its back on the 2002 Arab Initiative, which conditions advancement of ties with Israel on advancing on the Palestinian file. He also claims the UAE might be expecting now to purchase sophisticated, Israeli-made weapons. 

Once taboo, LGBTQ rights take center stage in Palestinian society, +972 Mag
Fady Khoury writes, “Despite pushback from conservatives and caution from politicians, queer Palestinians are gaining new ground in their fight for legitimacy — and they are here to stay.”

Our Israel: Save a Child’s Heart, J Street
Ben Winsor writes, “Over the last 25 years, Save A Child’s Heart has performed more than 5,400 pediatric cardiac surgeries for children from over 60 developing nations, with approximately half their caseload consisting of Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank. ‘Although we’re a purely humanitarian organization, we’ve found that our impact has really extended beyond just the humanitarian side,’ says Executive Director Rabbi David Litwack. ‘We always knew intuitively that we were having an impact upon Palestinian attitudes towards Israelis and visa versa.’ For children with cardiac issues in Gaza and the West Bank, it’s urgently needed support. Dana Moss, International Advocacy Coordinator for the Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights, told J Street that the 54-year occupation and ongoing blockade of Gaza ‘has resulted in a fragmented health system that cannot meet the needs of the local population, especially, but not only, in the Gaza Strip.’”