News Roundup for February 1, 2018

February 1, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Israel Presents $1 Billion Rehab Plan for Palestinians, but Demands the Palestinian Authority Take Over Gaza, Haaretz

“Representatives of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United States participated in an emergency conference in Brussels on Wednesday of countries and organizations that provide financial support for Palestinians. Israel presented humanitarian assistance plans at the gathering for the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip with a focus on desalination, electricity and natural gas infrastructure projects in addition to upgrading of the industrial zone at the Erez border crossing with Israel….Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who represented Israel at the conference, presented the plans but noted that carrying them out would require that the PA take responsibility for civilian life in Gaza, which has been under the control of Hamas since the Islamist movement forcefully ousted the PA there in 2007.”

German FM After Meeting Netanyahu: Is Israel Prepared to Pay the Price of Perpetual Occupation?, Haaretz

“In a highly critical speech, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel expressed concern Wednesday about the growing distance within Israel’s current government from the two-state solution, saying that it exhibits ‘at best mixed signals [which] do not go unnoticed in Europe, where there is growing frustration with Israel’s actions.’ Gabriel noted the difficulties violence, incitement and settlement building pose to the success of two states living side by side in peace, but asked those who oppose the two-state solution: ‘How do you want Israel’s future to look like? Are you prepared to pay the price of perpetual occupation and conflict – a price that will continue to grow if there is no hope for self-determination on the Palestinian side? Are you willing to bear the consequences of fully fledged annexation – a one-state reality of unequal rights? Or are you ready to accept a single democratic state between the sea and the river?’”


Netanyahu interrupts German FM to downplay 2-state support, Times of Israel

“When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday, he publicly corrected him over Israel’s stance on a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians. Netanyahu interjected to reiterate his position that Israel would have to maintain security control in the Palestinian territories under any peace arrangement. ‘No, that we will control security west of the Jordan (river)… that is, I think, the first condition,’ Netanyahu said.’Whether or not it’s defined as a state when we have the military control is another matter, but I’d rather not discuss labels, but substance,’ he added.”

Netanyahu Corruption Investigations ‘In Final Stretch,’ Attorney General Says, Haaretz

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said Wednesday that the criminal investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were close to completion. He emphasized that they have not been influenced by extraneous considerations, including political ones.

US puts Hamas chief Haniyeh on terror blacklist, Times of Israel

The United States on Wednesday put the head of Palestinian terror group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, on its terror blacklist and slapped sanctions on him. The 55-year-old Haniyeh was named head of Hamas in May 2017.

Israel ‘Adamantly Opposes’ Polish Parliament’s Approval of Controversial Holocaust Bill, Haaretz

Israel said on Thursday it “adamantly opposes” a bill that was passed by the Polish Senate overnight, which would criminalize accusing the Polish nation of complicity in Nazi crimes. Israeli officials criticized Poland, with some demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recall the ambassador to Poland over the legislation.

Israel summons Irish ambassador over proposed West Bank boycott, JTA

The Irish ambassador to Israel was summoned for a “clarification meeting” over a legislative initiative in Ireland calling for a boycott of trade in West Bank settlements. The summons to meet with officials of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday came at the order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in a statement Tuesday condemned the initiative.

Right-wing Activists Arrested After Scuffle With Police Near West Bank Outpost, Haaretz

Five right-wing activists were arrested near the illegal outpost of Havat Maon in the southern West Bank on Wednesday on suspicion that they assaulted police officers. Some of those arrested are said to be minors. The five were arrested when security forces evacuated a temporary structure built without a permit in the outpost.

Israeli Lawmaker Oren Hazan Temporarily Removed From Knesset Over ‘Offensive Statements’, Haaretz

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) on Wednesday was suspended by the Ethics Committee from the Knesset and its committees for six months over a series of sexist, chauvinist and otherwise offensive statements against his colleagues. The committee, which gave Hazan the harshest punishment it can impose, also docked his pay for a week. The committee also suspended MKs Michal Biran and Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) from the Knesset for a week.

Opinions and Analysis

BDS Opponents Want Israel Held To A Lower Standard, Forward

Lara Friedman argues, “With U.S. values and rights hanging in the balance, self-described progressive politicians and groups like the ADL are betraying their own values and principles when they embrace illiberalism-in-defense-of-Israel, leaving them standing with the likes of Christians United for Israel, the Zionist Organization of America, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and hardline Israelis, and standing against the ACLU,, and CREDO, not to mention J Street, Americans for Peace Now, IfNotNow and, of course, Jewish Voice for Peace. In so doing, they are contributing to the diminution of support for Israel among Americans who are repulsed by the notion that support for Israel demands the sacrifice of the values and rights that are at the core of what it means to be a progressive.”

Can Europe save the Palestinian Authority?, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes, “[A]s it appears the United States will no longer be the principle diplomatic mediator between Israel and the Palestinians or even a key economic donor — the door is wide open for the EU to take the regional stage. This does not mean that Netanyahu will agree to accept the EU as an alternative mediator to Washington, as Abbas would like, but the greater Europe’s economic involvement is, the more it will seek to expand its influence to the diplomatic arena as well.”