News Roundup for August 31, 2020

August 31, 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

Israeli, U.S. officials on historic flight to UAE to formalize normalization deal, Reuters
Top aides to U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic first flight from Tel Aviv to the United Arab Emirates on Monday to finalize a pact marking open relations between the Gulf power and Israel.

Anti-Netanyahu protests swell yet again, with Hasidic Uman pilgrimage hopefuls joining the crowds, JTA
Some 20,000 people lined the streets of Jerusalem calling for Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation on Saturday night, in the largest gathering outside the Israeli prime minister’s official residence in 10 weeks of protests. The protesters were joined this week by members of the Bratslav Hasidim sect, who were protesting Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent them from flying to Uman, Ukraine, for Rosh Hashanah. The protesters are calling for Netanyahu’s resignation over his handling of the coronavirus crisis and the resultant economic crisis, as well as due to his corruption trial.

Mike Pompeo is the worst secretary of state in history, Washington Post
Jackson Diehl writes, “As secretary of state, Mike Pompeo has presided over the collapse of negotiations with North Korea, the failure of a pressure campaign against Iran and an abortive attempt to oust Venezuela’s authoritarian regime. On his watch, China has carried out genocide in its Xinjiang region and the suppression of Hong Kong’s freedoms without resistance from Washington until it was too late […] Last week, Pompeo crossed yet another ethical line by speaking before the Republican National Convention, thereby disregarding the State Department’s explicit legal guidance against such appearances. The speech he delivered was weak and littered with false or simply ludicrous claims, such as that the recent diplomatic accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is ‘a deal that our grandchildren will read about in their history books.’ Maybe if they major in Middle Eastern affairs.”


IDF strikes Hamas targets as Haniyeh demands end to blockade, The Jerusalem Post
IDF tanks targeted military positions belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning in response to the continued launch of incendiary and explosive balloons from the Strip, according to the IDF Spokespersons Unit. On Saturday night, the head of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haniyeh warned that the terrorist movement intended to completely end economic restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

U.S. pro-Israel groups failed to disclose grants from Israeli government, The Forward
More than half of all American states have passed laws designed to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. No advocacy group was more important to this push than the Israel Allies Foundation, an American non-profit that supports a network of pro-Israel legislators across the globe. Public records obtained by The Forward show that the Israeli government approved a grant of more than $100,000 to the Israel Allies Foundation in 2019. The IAF has not disclosed this or any previous Israeli grants to the United States government, in possible violation of laws requiring American political advocacy groups to disclose foreign-government contributions.

IDF rebukes troops seen not responding as they’re pelted with rocks in Hebron, Times of Israel
The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday denounced the apparent inaction of a group of soldiers who were captured on video not responding as a Palestinian teenager threw rocks at them in the West Bank city of Hebron over the weekend.

Ambassador Poised to Be Designated Lebanon’s New Prime Minister as President Calls for Reform, Haaretz
Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany Mustapha Adib is poised to be designated prime minister on Monday after winning the support of major parties to form a new government facing a crippling financial crisis and the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion.

Treasury budget chief quits, lashes government for ‘shattering red lines’, Times of Israel
The Finance Ministry’s top professional official resigned Sunday as head of the Treasury’s budget department in protest of the government’s recent economic policies, after months of infighting with Finance Minister Israel Katz.

Soldiers plant explosives on outskirts of Palestinian village day before weekly protests, B’Tselem
On Thursday, 20 August 2020, residents of the village of Kafr Qadum in the West Bank discovered camouflaged improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted in an area where weekly protests take place, on the outskirts of the village. A group of women and children strolling in the area came upon a suspicious object covered in stones and fabric and alerted a relative.

Opinion and Analysis

The New Normalization: What’s Behind Israelis’ ‘Indifferent Support’ for Historic UAE Deal, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “Despite Netanyahu’s efforts, ties with the UAE, kicking off with a direct Tel Aviv-Abu Dhabi commercial flight on Monday, have not been met with the enthusiasm you’d expect from Israelis.”

Israel halted annexation plans, but Palestinians are not ready to restore ties, Washington Post
Hazem Balousha and Steve Hendrix write, “When Palestinians cut off long-standing security, financial and civil ties with their Israeli counterparts in May, they pledged not to resume them until Israel gave up its plans to unilaterally annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The end of that threat — for the foreseeable future, anyway — could have counted as a rare victory for the beleaguered and aging Palestinian leadership. But when annexation plans were halted as part of a diplomatic breakthrough between Israel and the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, Palestinian leaders did not celebrate. Instead, they condemned the Persian Gulf sheikhdom for normalizing relations with Israel. Weeks later, they still will not restart cooperation, rebuffing European and Arab allies that pushed them to end a policy that seemed to be hurting everyday Palestinians more than Israel.”

The Settlers at This Outpost Hoped Israel Would Come Through. Now They Feel Deceived, Haaretz
Hagar Shezaf writes, “Mitzpeh Kramim’s residents tell Haaretz they have no intention of leaving ahead of a three-year deadline to evacuate their outpost built on privately-owned Palestinian land.”