News Roundup for January 22, 2020

January 22, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Trump to decide in coming days on when to release Middle East peace plan, Axios
President Trump is expected to decide in the next several days whether to present the White House’s Middle East peace plan before Israel’s March 2 elections, Israeli and U.S. sources told me. If the plan is presented before the Israeli elections, it could influence the campaign and possibly provide a boost to embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If Trump decides to wait, it could become difficult to present the plan at a later stage because of the presidential campaign in the U.S. There have been intense deliberations over the past several days among the Trump advisers tasked with dealing with this issue. Trump himself still hasn’t had a discussion with his team on whether to present the plan before the Israeli elections.

Launching campaign, Netanyahu vows to annex all settlements ‘without exception’, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday vowed to annex not only the Jordan Valley if he wins the upcoming elections, but also all the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The comments in a speech launching his Likud party’s election campaign, came hours after Netanyahu’s main rival, centrist leader Benny Gantz, promised to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. Addressing a mostly young crowd of enthusiastic supporters at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, Netanyahu said his government would “immediately” extend Israeli sovereignty over all West Bank settlements “without exception.”


White House opposes Jordan Valley annexation before peace plan roll out, The Jerusalem Post
Senior White House officials told Channel 13 on Wednesday that the Trump administration is opposed to any unilateral moves by Israel, including annexing the Jordan Valley, before America rolls out its “Deal of the Century” peace plan.

Committee sets January 30 as start for Netanyahu immunity hearings, Times of Israel
The Knesset will discuss Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for parliamentary immunity from corruption charges on Thursday next week, the head of a key committee announced Tuesday.

Israel Rejects Over 98 Percent of Palestinian Building Permit Requests in West Bank’s Area C, Haaretz
The Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank approved only 21 of 1,485 applications from Palestinians for construction permits in Area C, the portion of the West Bank under full Israeli control, between 2016 and 2018.

Netanyahu calls for sanctions over ICC war crimes investigation, The Guardian
Benjamin Netanyahu has called for sanctions against the international criminal court and people who work for it, a month after its chief prosecutor announced she intended to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes.

Hamas official threatens more explosive balloons into Israel, Times of Israel
Incendiary balloons Palestinians launched from the Gaza Strip recently were a signal to Israel to accelerate unofficial “understandings” meant to ease the crippling blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, a senior official from the terror group said Tuesday.

Three Palestinians Shot Dead by Israeli Forces After Crossing From Gaza, Haaretz
Three Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers after crossing 400 meters into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, an army spokesman said. No Israeli casualties were reported.

This time around, Arab MK Heba Yazbak could be barred from Knesset run, Times of Israel
In the only petition against a serving lawmaker from a major party, Joint List MK Heba Yazbak will likely be disqualified from running again for the Knesset, after senior Blue and White lawmaker Yair Lapid confirmed that his party would join Likud and others in backing a petition to blacklist her.

Illegal Settlement Growth, Widespread Hopelessness among Youth Eroding Middle East Peace Prospects, Under-Secretary-General Tells Security Council, UN Security Council
Negative trends continue to undermine prospects for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs told the Security Council today, citing a deadlocked political process, illegal settlement expansion and a pervasive hopelessness among young people that peace will ever be achieved.

Labor MK files petition to block party that seeks freedom for Rabin assassin, Times of Israel
Labor MK Itzik Shmuli filed a petition Tuesday with the Central Elections Committee calling on it to ban a political party founded by the family of Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at a peace rally 24 years ago.

Opinion and Analysis

Palestinian Prime Minister to Haaretz: ‘The Fact That We Even Survive Is a Miracle’, Haaretz
Palestinians must ‘disengage from our colonial dependence on Israel,’ strengthen their economy and assert their political will, Mohammad Shtayyeh says in an interview. He explains the four wars Israel is waging against the Palestinians, and why the alphabet soup cooked up in the Oslo Accords needs to be scrapped.

The Joint List aims for 15 seats in the March elections, and could pull it off, Times of Israel
Adam Rasgon writes, “If the Joint List — which currently has 13 seats — were to win two more in the March 2 elections, it would mark a record high for the alliance.”

By Evicting East Jerusalem Palestinians, Israeli Courts Sweep Historic Injustice Under the Rug, Haaretz
Nir Hasson writes, “Justices who ruled to evict families in response to right-wing organization’s petition weren’t comfortable kicking people out of their homes after so many years, but by doing so paved the way for further evacuations.”

Why do Palestinians love Bernie Sanders? He reconciles our narrative with the Zionist one, The Forward
Muhammad Shehada writes, “Senator Sanders perfectly embodies a progressive Zionist spirit, and his popularity amongst Palestinians, especially in Gaza, reveals how much power is embedded in recognizing the Palestinian narrative.”