News Roundup for February 12, 2020

February 12, 2020

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J Street in the News

Trump’s Proposed Aid Cuts to PA Security Forces Endanger Israelis and Palestinians in Order to Push Failed ‘Plan’, J Street
“‘Palestinian security forces have long worked closely with Israel to combat terrorism. President Trump’s decision to condition vital assistance to these Palestinian forces on congressional funding of his sham ‘peace vision’ shows a dangerous disregard for the safety of both Palestinians and Israelis,’ J Street Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams said.”

Top News and Analysis

Palestinian Leader Denounces Trump’s Mideast Plan at U.N., New York Times
The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, delivered an angry rejection of President Trump’s plan for peace between Palestinians and Israelis at the United Nations on Tuesday, describing it as an illegitimate, one-sided proposal that rewarded Israel for decades of occupation and turned his people’s land into “Swiss cheese” riddled with Israeli settlements.

Palestinian chief and ex-Israeli PM show 2 sides can talk, AP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sat beside former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday and said he is ready to resume negotiations under an international umbrella on the peace deal they made significant progress on in 2008 — not on the Trump administration’s plan that he said destroys a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Olmert said he thinks Abbas made a mistake in not accepting his 2008 peace plan. But he said now there is a plan put forward by President Donald Trump based on a two-state solution, and if that is a U.S. commitment, it “must be pursued further by all sides, including the Palestinian side.”

Twenty Days Until Israel Election III, the Campaign Is Comatose and Voters Apathetic, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Theoretically, Israel’s March 2 election is no different from the previous two ballots held in September and April: dramatic, fateful and too close to call. In practice, however, the election campaign is comatose, voter fatigue is rampant and the overriding consensus of Israelis seems to be that enough is enough.”


Gantz: Joint List won’t be part of my coalition, which will implement Trump plan, Times of Israel
Blue and White Party chief Benny Gantz on Tuesday ruled out including the predominantly Arab Joint List in any future coalition and declared that he would implement the Trump administration’s peace plan if elected in the upcoming national vote.

PA’s Mahmoud Abbas says Trump plan offers ‘Swiss cheese’ state, Al Jazeera
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reiterated the Palestinians’ rejection of United States President Donald Trump’s so-called Middle East plan, telling the United Nations Security Council that the recently unveiled proposal would bring neither peace nor stability and would leave Palestinians with a state resembling “Swiss cheese”.

Olmert and Abbas meet in New York, urge direct talks as Trump plan rejected, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with former premier Ehud Olmert Tuesday and committed to restarting peace talks where they left off with the former Israeli leader over a decade ago, while rejecting a current US-backed peace effort.

Gantz Says He Will Not Include Arab Party in Future Government, Haaretz
Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz said Tuesday that the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties “won’t be a part of my government,” should he be recommended to form a government after the March 2 election, adding, “I will act to implement President Trump’s peace plan.”

Israeli opposition co-leader: PM makes Trump plan a ‘stunt’, AP
Co-leader of the Blue and White party Yair Lapid insisted he was against unilateral steps endangering what he described as President Donald Trump’s promising Mideast plan. He expressed hope that the Palestinians would come around to negotiating based upon the U.S. blueprint.

U.S. Envoy at UN: Trump Mideast Peace Plan Is Subject to Changes, Haaretz
The Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan is a basis for negotiations and could be subject to changes, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said Tuesday as the UN Security Council convened to discuss to the plan.

Vandals damage dozens of cars in Arab village in Israel, Associated Press
Vandals slashed the tires of dozens of vehicles in an Arab village in northern Israel and spray painted slogans on buildings warning of Jewish-Arab ‘assimilation,’ Israeli police said Tuesday.

PM threatens Hamas with dire ‘surprise’; Gaza answers with fresh rocket attack, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday threatened Hamas leaders with “the surprise of their lives” if a spate of attacks from the Gaza Strip didn’t come to an end. Minutes later, yet another rocket was fired from Gaza at Israel’s south.

Far-right party claims Netanyahu offered to help it enter Knesset, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to aid the extremist Otzma Yehudit party enter the Knesset, with his aides offering to help it pass the electoral threshold in the upcoming election in exchange for the far-right leader promising not to run if the party’s effort was nevertheless unsuccessful and if an additional election was called, Itamar Ben Gvir said Wednesday.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Isn’t New. It Plagiarized a 40-Year-Old Israeli Initiative, Foreign Policy
Yehuda Shaul writes, “Kushner claims to want new ideas, but the Trump plan has nothing new to offer. The plan ensures there will never be a Palestinian state in the West Bank, which has been the core principle underlying Israeli policy since 1967. What is new is the audacity of calling the leftover bits and pieces of land not taken up by settlements a state.”

AIPAC Falls Victim to Polarizing Politics, Moment
Nathan Guttman writes, “For decades, AIPAC has maintained its bipartisan status (critics would argue it is no more than a bipartisan veneer) by appointing board members from both sides, working hard to welcome Democrats and Republicans alike, and avoiding unnecessary partisan battles. That is no longer sufficient.”