News Roundup for December 3, 2019

December 3, 2019

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J Street in the News

Leading progressive groups endorse Rep. Henry Cuellar primary challenger, NBC News
“A coalition of prominent progressive groups has endorsed Jessica Cisneros, a 26-year-old immigration lawyer who is trying to unseat Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar in a Democratic primary, NBC News has learned […] The new coalition of groups supporting Cisneros Tuesday includes some of the leading reproductive rights groups in the country — Planned Parenthood Action and NARAL Pro-Choice America — along with the political arm of the deep-pocked environmental group League of Conservation Voters, the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, and the grassroots organizing group MoveOn. ‘I’m proud to stand alongside so many incredible organizations leading the fight against the Trump administration’s hatred and bigotry,’ Cisneros said in a statement shared with NBC News.”

Top News and Analysis

Prosecution in Israel lines up over 300 witnesses in Netanyahu case, Reuters
An indictment submitted to Israel’s parliament on Monday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu names more than 300 prosecution witnesses, including wealthy friends and former aides, in three graft cases against him. By formally sending the indictment to the legislature, after announcing charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud on Nov. 21, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit set the clock ticking on a 30-day period in which Netanyahu can seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

Netanyahu mocks long witness list in charge sheet, claims it shows he’s innocent, Times of Israel
“When there’s a real case, you don’t need 333 witnesses, and when there’s no real case, even 333 witnesses won’t help,” Netanyahu argued in a Twitter post.

$48 billion is the estimated revenue loss by Palestine from 2000-2017 due to occupation, UNCTAD
The fiscal cost of occupation for the Palestinian people, over the 2000-2017 period, is estimated at US$47.7 billion, or thrice the size of the Palestinian economy in 2017, and it continues to rise, according to the latest UNCTAD report to the United Nations General Assembly […] This estimated cumulative fiscal cost of occupation would not only have eliminated the Palestinian budget deficit estimated at $17.7 billion during the same period but would have also generated a surplus nearly twice the size of the deficit. Alternatively, it would have increased more than tenfold the Palestinian government’s development spending, pegged at $4.5 billion during the period under review.


After Netanyahu Indictment, Israel’s Attorney General Prepares for His Next Battle, Haaretz
After announcing that he was indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery and then having to fend off attacks on the law enforcement system, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is preparing for his next battle: Choosing a replacement for State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who retires in less than two weeks.

Gantz opposes mutual defense pact with US, warns it could ‘tie hands’ of IDF, Times of Israel
Blue and White party chairman MK Benny Gantz on Monday criticized the prospect of an Israel-US mutual defense pact, warning it would endanger Israel’s freedom of military action and breaks with decades of defense policy.

Right-wing Lawmaker Says Bloc Will Stick With Gantz if Netanyahu Breaches Rotation Pact, Haaretz
All of the leaders of the right-wing bloc in the Knesset are committing to ensure that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abides by any rotation agreement reached with Kahol Lavan leader MK Benny Gantz, Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Hayamin Hehadash said on Monday. Shaked was referring to a proposed arrangement to break the current deadlock in forming a government. It would have Netanyahu serve as prime minister for six months, after which Gantz would take over.

For third time, ICC prosecutor refuses to open probe into Gaza flotilla incident, Times of Israel
The chief prosecutor of International Criminal Court on Monday refused for the third time to open an investigation into the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, saying any crimes allegedly committed during the raid were not severe enough to merit such a probe.

Washington’s Sixth & I synagogue vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, JTA
Michelle Eider, the synagogue’s communications manager, said the vandalism contained swastikas and anti-Semitic language and was discovered on Monday morning.

Iran state TV says ‘rioters’ shot and killed amid protests, AP
Iranian state television on Tuesday acknowledged security forces shot and killed what it described as “rioters” in multiple cities amid recent protests over the spike in government-set gasoline prices — the first time that authorities have offered any sort of accounting for the violence they used to put down the demonstrations.

‘Why did they attack us’: Gaza’s Noor al-Sawarka asks, Al Jazeera
“Why did they attack us? We didn’t do anything to them.” Twelve-year-old Noor al-Sawarka speaks to Al Jazeera about the Israeli air raid on November 14 that killed eight members of her family.

OECD finds record educational gulf between Hebrew, Arabic-speaking Israeli kids, Times of Israel
A report released Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that the gap between the abilities of Hebrew-speaking students and their Arabic-speaking peers in Israeli schools is the largest between socioeconomic groups in the 79 countries that participated in a periodic assessment.

Opinion and Analysis

If New Elections Are the Only Way of Pushing Netanyahu Out, So Be It, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Netanyahu’s blatant corruption only makes his ensuing campaign to defame his investigators and prosecutors and to compel Israel to go to two-going-on-three election campaigns even more outrageous and unforgivable. He concocted a blood libel, essentially, alleging that Israel’s top law enforcement officials were active participants in a sinister leftist plot to depose him by legal means.”

Withholding Palestinians’ remains not befitting Israel, Al-Monitor
Yossi Beilin writes, “Israel’s caretaker defense minister, Naftali Bennett, appointed Nov. 10 after eyeing the post for several years, has probably asked himself how he can make his mark in the short time at his disposal, before a new government is formed and he finds himself out of a job. This appears to explain why he declared on Nov. 27 that Israel would no longer return the bodies of assailants to their families unless the Palestinians hand over the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza. An exception for the bodies of minors might be considered, Bennett said.”

First-strike nation, Times of Israel
Zaki Shalom and Jacob Aaron Collier write, “Preemptive strikes have long played a key role in Israeli strategic doctrine due to its lack of strategic geographical depth, small population, and small standing army in relation to its Arab neighbors. These factors make fighting a war inside its own borders highly disadvantageous for Israel. Furthermore, for many years, Israeli leaders firmly believed that since its enemies repeatedly call for its destruction, it has full moral justification to carry out a preemptive strike even during periods of calm and without any direct provocation by its enemies.”

For Hebron Settlers, New Neighborhood Announced by Israel Is Only the Beginning, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “With Defense Minister Bennett’s backing, they aim to Judaize the city’s historic old market.”