News Roundup for February 3, 2020

February 3, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Israel Puts Brakes on West Bank Annexation Plan, New York Times
The Trump administration sought the delay, prompting fears among Netanyahu allies that it may cost them votes in the March election.

Abbas threatens to cut security ties with Israel, US, AP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened Saturday to cut security ties with both Israel and the U.S. in a speech at an Arab League meeting in which he denounced the White House plan for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the West Bank, Trump’s plan has validated settlers’ dreams — and crushed the hopes of Palestinians, Washington Post
“I’m full of frustration,” Hajar said, sipping coffee with neighbors in a butcher shop. To them, the boost of legitimacy for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank was a blow to their dreams of ever living outside the growing shadow of the Jewish settlements. “We thought [the settlers] were going to leave and we would be able to farm our land again,” he said.


Capital in Trump Mideast Plan Makes ‘a Joke’ of Palestinian Aspirations, New York Times
Part of the proposed capital, far from Jerusalem’s holy sites, would encompass a gang-ridden slum. “These areas are not a symbol for anybody,” said one Palestinian.

Arab League rejects Trump’s Middle East plan, Al Jazeera
In a statement on Saturday, the pan-Arab bloc said it “rejects the US-Israeli ‘deal of the century’ considering that it does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.”

Kushner: Palestinians welcome to propose alternative to borders set out in plan, Times of Israel
He declared that if the PA did not agree to work with the Trump administration’s peace proposal, Israeli settlements would continue to expand, thereby making it impossible to establish a Palestinian state.

Pro-Netanyahu media turns on Jared Kushner, Axios
Pro-Netanyahu commentators in the Israeli media started on Sunday what looked like an orchestrated campaign against President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner, attacking him for stopping the Israeli prime minister from annexing parts of the West Bank after the unveiling of the White House peace plan last Tuesday.

Hundreds of Arab Israelis protest US plan, blast bid to transfer villages, Times of Israel
Hundreds of Arab Israelis demonstrated in northern Israel on Saturday against the recently released US peace plan, blasting its inclusion of a clause which proposes redrawing the borders to include minority towns in the so-called Triangle in a future Palestinian state.

Half of Israelis: Trump plan intended to help Netanyahu win, The Jerusalem Post
The poll found that among the general public, 49:9% see the plan’s presentation at the current time as deliberate interference in Israeli politics, 22.2% said they do not agree so much, 13.5% do not agree at all, and 14.4% said they did not know or refused to answer.

Israel rejects Trump’s idea of redrawing borders, moving Arab towns to Palestine, Times of Israel
Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said that even if a Palestinian state is established under the Trump peace plan there will not be a redrawing of Israel’s borders to see Arab towns in the so-called Triangle area included in the future Palestine, Channel 12 television news reported Sunday.

Palestinians protest Trump plan, Gaza militants fire rockets, AP
Palestinians held demonstrations across the region Friday to protest President Donald Trump’s Middle East initiative, while militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets and mortar rounds at Israel, drawing retaliatory strikes.

Palestinians fire rocket from Gaza at southern Israel for fourth day in a row, JTA
At least one rocket was fired by Palestinians in Gaza at communities in southern Israel for the fourth day in a row.

Oman sought to broker Israel-Iran talks in 2013; Netanyahu said no, Times of Israel
Oman offered to mediate direct negotiations between Israel and Iran in an initiative that Israel’s Mossad chief thought was worth serious consideration, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the idea, Israeli television reported on Sunday night. Israelis familiar with the initiative believe Iran was ready to cooperate, the report said.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump is no friend of Israel, even if he says otherwise, Washington Post
Jackson Diehl writes, “Trump imagines that the Arab dictators he has cultivated will strong-arm the Palestinians into swallowing this deal. They won’t. Instead, they are quietly betting that the plan will go nowhere, and they are probably right. That, however, won’t stop the territorial annexations Trump has endorsed, which will turbocharge the already-robust international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — and perhaps endanger its fragile peace with Jordan.”

Sign Up for Trump’s Peace Plan, Sign Away Israel’s Special Status in America, Haaretz
Philip Gordon and Ilan Goldenberg write, “By giving Israel a green light to do whatever it wants, the Trump plan threatens its very future as a democracy. That will change how Democrats view Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship – possibly profoundly.”

Jews are divided on Trump’s Israel plan but evangelicals bless it — why?, The Forward
Ilene Prusher writes, “Israel is at the center of a mutually beneficial relationship between the White House and evangelicals, who make up about 25% of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center. And while the Jewish reaction to the plan was varied, evangelicals blessed it right away.”

How Trump’s Middle East plan would violate international law, Al Jazeera
Mia Swart writes, “Experts say the US proposal opens door to violations of international law and resembles apartheid policies.”

The two states in Trump’s peace plan look a lot like one state, Washington Post
William Simonds writes, “Under this one-state framework, Palestinians would rightly ask why they are not deserving of full civil rights and the freedoms enjoyed by their Israeli neighbors. “