News Roundup for August 6, 2020

August 6, 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

Foreign minister: Annexation ‘right now not on the agenda, everyone’s busy’, Times of Israel
Plans to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank are currently not on the government’s agenda, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said Wednesday, two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told lawmakers from his Likud party the move could still take place if the US administration gave it a green light. “Right now it’s not on the agenda, because everyone is busy,” Ashkenazi told a group of ambassadors from Latin American countries hosted by the Foreign Ministry.

Netanyahu: Protesters Against Me Are Anarchists, Not Victims of Pandemic, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the ongoing protests against him “are being organized at luxury hotels towers” and doubled down on his claims that they are being led by “anarchists.” Netanyahu spoke at a special question-and-answers session at the Knesset, after 40 lawmakers gathered a requisite 40 signatures requiring him to be present. The protests, which have been occuring regularly for nearly two months and attract thousands of anti-Netanyahu demonstrators, “are funded by left-wing foundations and receive disproportionate support from the media,” Netanyahu claimed.

1,751 new virus cases found in 24 hours as death toll climbs to 569, Times of Israel
The Health Ministry on Thursday recorded 1,751 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, and an additional four deaths since the previous evening.


Beirut Death Toll Rises to 135, Around 5,000 Injured in Massive Blast, Haaretz
A day after a massive explosion shook Lebanon’s capital Beirut, dozens of people are still missing, trapped under the rubble as the death toll from the blast hit 135, the Lebanese Red Cross and Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan said on Wednesday.

4 men arrested for hanging ‘Hitler Was Right’ banner on bridge in Arizona, JTA
The men were seen hanging the banner on the bridge on Saturday morning, the NBC affiliate KPNX 12News reported. They were caught posing and taking pictures with the sign.

Only Half of Requests to Exit Gaza for Medical Care Approved by Israel, Haaretz
Just half of urgent requests by Palestinians asking Israel to let them leave Gaza for medical treatment are being approved, according to Physicians for Human Rights Israel, two and a half months after the Palestinian Authority stopped issuing such permits when it halted coordination with Israel over plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

Pompeo says UN Security Council to vote next week on extending Iran arms embargo, Reuters
The United Nations Security Council will vote next week on a U.S. bid to extend an international arms embargo on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, despite the warnings of some diplomats that the measure lacks support.

Thousands said to attend Jerusalem Hasidic wedding in violation of virus rules, Times of Israel
Thousands of people reportedly attended a wedding for the grandson of the leader of the Belz Hasidic sect in Jerusalem on Wednesday night in violation of coronavirus restrictions.

Opinion and Analysis

Israeli Democracy Is Facing a Stress Test, Bloomberg
Zev Chafets writes, “The Covid crisis has been a clarifying moment. After so many years in office, many citizens — even those who don’t like Bibi personally — have come to regard the prime minister as Israel’s indispensable man. Indeed, his tenure has been a time of prosperity and relative peace. Israelis routinely report high levels of happiness and satisfaction on international surveys, and they’ve rewarded him at the polls.”

Netanyahu May Have Just Kicked Off His New Election Campaign, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Victimizing, demonizing and throwing shots at protesters and the media, Netanyahu looks more than ever ready to get back on the campaign trail – and not to answer questions about his actual job.”

‘I’ve no idea how we’ll survive’: Pandemic pushes Palestinians into poverty, +972 Mag
Suha Arraf writes, “Poverty, hunger, and the raging virus have driven Palestinians in the occupied West Bank into frustration and uncertainty, with many of them now unemployed and bereft of any financial support. Growing numbers are reliant on food assistance.”

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid warns of potential for civil war, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit talks this week with former Finance Minister and head of the opposition Yesh Atid Party in the Knesset, Yair Lapid. Lapid explains why he blames Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for incitement against demonstrations and why Israel’s political salvation won’t be coming from Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

Lebanon, Engulfed in Chaos and National Mourning, Will Rise From the Ashes Once Again, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “The devastation is enormous, and the challenges that have torn apart Lebanon’s economy are still there. One can only rely on the ‘Lebanese spirit’ that has already seen the country through so much.”