News Roundup for February 10, 2020

February 10, 2020

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J Street in the News

AIPAC apologizes for ads that called some Democrats ‘radicals’ pushing ‘anti-Semitic’ policies, JTA
“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee apologized for and removed at least two Facebook ads that slammed ‘radical’ Democrats in Congress, and altered a petition that said Israel’s harshest critics in Congress pose a threat ‘maybe more sinister’ than ISIS and other terror groups. In a statement posted Saturday on Twitter, the lobby offered its ‘unequivocal apology to the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress who are rightfully offended by the inaccurate assertion that the poorly worded, inflammatory advertisement implies.’ […] Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal Middle East policy group that vies to replace AIPAC’s influence among Democrats, said the ads were further evidence of AIPAC’s identification with Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ‘Spending millions of dollars on progressive outreach can’t distract from the fact that a surrogate group it has helped set up has been attacking Democratic candidates and progressive voices who are seeking peace, justice and rights for both Israelis and Palestinians,’ he said.”

Top News and Analysis

After rocket fired into Israel, aircraft strike Hamas targets in Gaza, Times of Israel
Israeli warplanes attacked several targets in the Gaza Strip after midnight Sunday, the army said, several hours after terrorists in the enclave launched a rocket into Israel.

Israel blocks Palestinian exports in escalating trade crisis, AP
The Israeli military blocked Palestinian agricultural exports on Sunday in the latest escalation of a monthslong trade war that comes amid fears of renewed violence as well. Following Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s instruction, the military said it would not allow the Palestinians to transfer their products through their land crossing to Jordan, the West Bank’s only direct export route to the outside world. The Western-backed Palestinian Authority said Israeli forces at checkpoints blocked vegetable shipments that were in their way to export abroad. The Ministry of Agriculture statement said vegetable exports to Israel were worth $88 million last year, comprising 68% of the West Bank’s overall vegetable exports.

Israel drawing up map for West Bank annexations: Netanyahu, Reuters
Israel has begun to draw up maps of land in the occupied West Bank that will be annexed in accordance with U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed peace plan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.


Clarifying, US envoy Friedman cautions Israel against ‘unilateral’ annexation, Times of Israel
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Sunday said that any “unilateral” Israeli decision to annex parts of the West Bank would endanger Washington’s Middle East peace plan, unveiled last month, reversing his previous stance on the matter.

App Used by Netanyahu’s Likud Leaks Israel’s Entire Voter Registry, Haaretz
The Likud has uploaded the full register of Israeli voters to an application, causing the leak of personal data on 6,453,254 citizens. The information includes the full names, identity card numbers, addresses and gender of every single eligible voter in Israel, as well as the phone numbers and other personal details of some of them.

‘People are afraid’: Malcolm Hoenlein says anti-Semitism is changing US Jewry, Times of Israel
The heads of American Jewry’s main umbrella group said that rising anti-Semitism in the United States is sowing fear among Jewish communities, changing the nature of what it means to be a Jew in America, and shaping a new discourse on US Jewish identity.

Netanyahu: Ready to Land ‘Crushing Blow’ on Gaza if Aggression Continues, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel would not agree to any aggression emanating from the Gaza Strip, and is prepared to hit the enclave with a ‘crushing blow.’

Settler leaders call on PM to ‘put US in its place,’ swiftly annex W. Bank land, Times of Israel
Settler leaders reacted in fury to US Ambassador David Friedman’s Sunday clarification that the White House would not support immediate and uncoordinated annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel, with one prominent West Bank mayor calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ignore the warnings from Washington and put the Trump administration “in its place.”

Buried in Trump’s peace plan, a proposal that could strip thousands of Israeli Arabs of their citizenship, Washington Post
A single paragraph in the 181-page document proposes the potential redrawing of Israel’s borders such that a cluster of 10 Arab towns north of Tel Aviv, known as “the Triangle,” would be subsumed by a future Palestinian state.

Overturning Knesset decision, court narrowly okays candidacy of Joint List MK, Times of Israel
The High Court of Justice on Sunday narrowly upheld the candidacy of hardline Joint List MK Heba Yazbak, overturning a January decision by the Central Elections Committee to bar her from running in the March 2 election over her alleged support of terror.

Legacy of South African Bantustans hangs over Trump deal, +972 Mag
The patchwork map attached to Trump’s plan is a striking reminder of South Africa’s “Bantustans.” During apartheid, 10 self-governed territories were created within the country’s borders: four of them were nominally independent, and the others were semi-autonomous. These territories were modeled by the government in Pretoria as tribal homelands for the black population whose South African citizenship it had revoked.

Opinion and Analysis

The IDF Troops Weren’t at Risk, but They Shot a Palestinian Boy in the Head Anyway, Haaretz
Gideon Levy and Alex Levac write, “Despair, pain, agony are etched on Mohand’s face, whose aloneness is heightened by the cavernous space around him. No one else from his village of Qaddum, west of Nablus, has a permit that will allow them to join him here in his time of anguish. He’s been here a week now, sleeping on the floor and praying for his son’s life.”

Rouhani faces winter of Iran’s discontent, Al-Monitor
Staff reporters write, “Iran’s parliamentary elections on Feb. 21 are already a done deal. The 12-member Guardian Council, which vets candidates and legislation to assure revolutionary, constitutional and Islamic orthodoxy — and the prerogatives of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — have assured a victory for the hard-liners and a massive setback for Reformists.”

Netanyahu Just Set the New Starting Point for Future Israeli-Palestinian Talks, Haaretz
Tamir Pardo writes, “Despite the basic impossibility of its implementation, the plan does set two dangerous precedents.”

The Two-Way Street | Tu Bishevat: Coming in From the Storms, J Street
Rabbi Fredi Cooper writes, “The flow of life in Israel’s political system can be restored, and we have a crucial role in encouraging and supporting this possibility.”