News Roundup for December 4, 2019

December 4, 2019

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J Street in the News

Why Israel isn’t a top consideration for US Jewish voters, JTA
“On the day of last year’s midterm congressional elections, J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, asked Jewish voters to name their two most important issues. Just 4 percent chose Israel. The same survey found that 65 percent said they were somewhat or very emotionally attached to Israel.”

Top News and Analysis

As unity talks falter, details of proposed pact show annexation, 30 ministers, Times of Israel
A Channel 13 news report Tuesday claimed that the parties were nearing a unity deal that would bring an end to a political stalemate that has all but frozen Israel’s political system since April, and gave some details of the alleged terms. But the deal was stalled over several key issues, and thus elections still look likely, the report said […] Perhaps most controversially, the sides reportedly agreed that Israel would annex the Jordan Valley under the new government, a key Netanyahu campaign promise, but one that is opposed by much of Israel’s security establishment. Gantz has said Israel must retain the Jordan Valley as a security border, but has not backed unilateral annexation.

Lieberman Threatens to Join Right-wing Gov’t if Gantz Doesn’t Let Netanyahu Serve as PM First in Rotation Deal, Haaretz
Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman has told Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan that he would join a narrow right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the party doesn’t agree to let Netanyahu be first to serve as premier in a rotation agreement.

Israeli officials said to warn Jordan Valley annexation would imperil Amman ties, Times of Israel
Israeli military officials are reportedly warning that Jordan may take drastic steps if Israel continues to push for annexation of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, including possibly freezing a quarter-century-old peace treaty between the nations.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September vowed that if reelected he would immediately annex the Jordan Valley, a swath of land linking the West Bank to Jordan that Israel views as a vital security asset, in what was widely seen as a bid to attract support from right-wing voters. In recent days, Netanyahu has repeatedly called for a unity government to be formed so that Israel could take the step, citing a supportive US administration which recently said it doesn’t view settlements as “inconsistent with international law.”


No progress on unity as Netanyahu-Gantz meeting breaks up after 45 minutes, Times of Israel
A meeting between Blue and White chief Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Tuesday lasted only 45 minutes, as the sides apparently failed to make progress on an elusive unity deal.

Israeli PM escapes domestic woes to meet Pompeo in Lisbon, AP
Looking to escape his legal and political woes at home, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed Wednesday toward a warmer embrace in Portugal for a meeting with like-minded ally U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

State Prepares to File Indictments in Netanyahu Associates’ Submarine Affair, Haaretz
State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit held consultations in preparation for filing indictments in the submarines affair, known as Case 3000.

2 settler leaders back Sa’ar as cracks in Netanyahu’s armor begin to show, Times of Israel
A prominent settler leader declared his support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud rival MK Gideon Sa’ar on Tuesday, calling for the scheduling of a party leadership primary in light of the ongoing political stalemate which has prevented the formation of a government.

Iran VP admits US pressure hitting economy hard, Al-Monitor
In a series of remarks rarely heard from Iran’s political elites, First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri lamented Washington’s onerous sanctions and how they are tightening the noose around Iran’s economy. “The Americans have in the true sense blocked the key bottlenecks of our country’s economy,” Jahangiri told an exports conference in Tehran Dec. 2.

Six European countries announce backing of Iran barter system, The National
Six European countries have joined INSTEX, the bartering system created to enable Iran to side-step US sanctions, but they urged Tehran to stop violating the landmark 2015 deal enacted to limit its nuclear prowess.

AP Interview: New IAEA head seeking answers from Iran, AP
The United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency is still waiting for information from Iran on the discovery of uranium particles at a site near Tehran, the agency’s new director general told The Associated Press on Tuesday in an interview.

Palestinian rivals Haniyeh, Abbas hold rare phone call, Times of Israel
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday and offered his condolences to him on the death of a well-known Fatah member, the official PA news site Wafa reported, marking a rare sign of contact between the two.

Opinion and Analysis

This Israeli City Has 25% Arab Residents, but Won’t Open a School for Them, Haaretz
Or Kashti writes, “There are four Arabic-speaking preschools in Nof Haglil, but nowhere for children to go afterward. Frustrated by false promises, these families are taking the case to the Supreme Court.”

Conversation: Turning Possibility into Power, Jewish Currents
Libby Lenkinski speaks with Dov Khenin, former MK and the sole Jewish member of the Joint List, to ask about the occupation, the current political landscape and how to push for change in a conservative climate.