News Roundup for January 28, 2020

January 28, 2020

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J Street in the News

Trump’s Mideast Plan Could Give Israel Sovereignty Over Much of Jordan Valley, New York Times
“President Trump said Monday that he would release his long-awaited Middle East peace plan on Tuesday. The plan, which includes a map outlining proposed new Israeli borders, provides for Israeli sovereignty over much of the Jordan Valley, a strategic area on the eastern frontier of the West Bank abutting Jordan, a person familiar with the proposal said […] many analysts say the plan is relevant mainly for its potential effect on Israel’s March 2 election, which is likely to decide the fate of the embattled Mr. Netanyahu, and as a distraction from the Senate’s impeachment trial of Mr. Trump […] Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the liberal advocacy group J Street, said it was unlikely that the plan would win strong Arab support. ‘We don’t expect what we’re going to hear tomorrow to be an actual plan for peace,’ said Mr. Ben-Ami, who supports greater Palestinian rights. ‘This is really an effort to shift longstanding U.S. policy into alignment with the hardest-right positions that Israel has ever taken on these issues — It’s not an effort to resolve this conflict,’ he added. ‘It is an effort to redefine what is the baseline of U.S. policy.’”

J Street’s political action committee to raise $1 million to oust Trump, JTA
“For the first time, J Street’s affiliated political action committee will raise money for a presidential candidate, arguing that any of the Democrats running is preferable to President Donald Trump. Ben Shnider, J Street’s vice president for political affairs, said the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group’s affiliated PAC would raise $1 million for whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee. In addition, the PAC also plans to raise $5 million this election cycle for 2020 congressional candidates that J Street endorses, matching its total from the 2018 races. ‘We feel an incredible sense of urgency about doing everything we can to remove Trump from office and replace him with somebody who shares our values and who is ready to lead on the international stage,; Shnider told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last week in an interview that was embargoed until Monday.”

Top News and Analysis

Prosecution proceeds against Benjamin Netanyahu after he withdraws request for immunity, Washington Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hours before facing a likely defeat in the Israeli parliament, withdrew his request Tuesday for official immunity from prosecution on corruption charges, giving up a controversial gambit to shield himself from legal peril a month before a national election. Within hours, Israel’s attorney general filed criminal indictments against Netanyahu in Jerusalem’s District Court, kicking off legal proceedings that will unfold over coming months.

Gantz Makes the Best of Being a Third Wheel at the White House, New York Times
Despite the disadvantages of traveling as a member of Parliament, rather than as a prime minister, Mr. Gantz managed to make the best of playing second fiddle to his opponent. (The two face off in their third contest on March 2.) And by showing off some unexpected political dexterity in his dealings with the White House, he avoided falling into a political trap that Mr. Netanyahu tried to set for him.

IDF sends more troops to Jordan Valley ahead of Trump plan release, Times of Israel
The Israel Defense Forces announced it was deploying an additional infantry battalion to the Jordan Valley on Tuesday, hours before the release of US President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Palestinian Leaders Call for Protests as Trump Sets to Release Mideast Plan, Haaretz
The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza called on Palestinians on Monday to protest the Trump administration’s plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which is to be presented in Washington on Tuesday.

Abbas: Trump is a dog and son of a dog, I won’t become a traitor, The Jerusalem Post
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas commented on Monday to US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” that “Trump is a dog and the son of a dog,” Fatah officials confirmed.

Gantz hails Trump’s peace plan, but tells him it should wait for after election, Times of Israel
Addressing reporters in his Washington hotel afterwards, Gantz said his Oval Office sit-down with Trump was “important and exceptional,” and praised the president as a “true and courageous friend” of Israel.

Trump to reveal ‘Deal of the Century’ map, The Jerusalem Post
US President Donald Trump will release his peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday and for the first time publicize a map outlining the borders of a proposed Palestinian state.

Abbas calls emergency meeting as PA urges Arabs to boycott peace plan launch, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called an emergency meeting of Palestinian leadership the following day, shortly before the US formally announces its long-anticipated Middle East peace proposal.

Islamic State announces ‘new phase’ of attacks mainly targeting Israel, AFP / Times of Israel
The Islamic State group vowed Monday to shift its focus from the remnants of its “caliphate” toward making Israel the main target of its attacks. It also called to sabotage a peace plan US President Donald Trump is due to unveil, according to a purported audio message from its spokesman.

AG says he is against disqualifying Arab MK Yazbak, prompting right-wing outrage, Times of Israel
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Monday issued a statement saying he opposed the disqualification of MK Heba Yazbak of the predominantly Arab Joint List party, over statements she has made that some have claimed condone violence against Israeli soldiers.

Jared’s peace plan finally arrives, AXIOS
The White House has reached out to the Jordanians, Egyptians, Emiratis, Saudis and a number of European countries to encourage them to issue supportive statements when the plan is finally released. It’s unclear how much they have told them about the plan, but it’s not believed to be much detail, per sources familiar with the outreach.

Trump plan will ‘finish off Palestinian cause’, PM warns, Al Jazeera
US president’s proposal will dash hopes for an independent state, Palestinians officials say.

Israel steps up campaign against Bedouin village it demolished 173 times, +972 Mag
Israeli forces have demolished the village of Al-Araqib 173 times. Now, in an effort to push the residents off their land, Israel is stepping up its harassment through arrests, raids, and fines.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump thinks ‘supporting Israel’ means letting it do whatever it wants, Washington Post
Mairav Zonszein writes, “The evangelical-heavy Trump administration is the most fervently Christian Zionist government the United States has ever had, making it a driving force of pro-Israel attitudes in Washington. U.S. support for Israel these days doesn’t mean just championing the idea of a Jewish state — it means supporting the idea of Greater Israel, the Israeli far right’s dream of a single state.”

Politics weigh heavily in Trump’s Mideast peace plan, AP
Deb Riechmann writes, “A blueprint the White House is rolling out to resolve the decades-long conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is as much about politics as it is about peace.”

Peace plan could reignite a fire on the Palestinian street, The Jerusalem Post
Anna Ahronheim writes, “Suspending security cooperation is one of the Palestinian’s strongest cards. If Abbas follows through on his threat, Israel’s security will be greatly affected, as Palestinian security forces have prevented many attacks in the West Bank against IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians.”

In Israel’s Endless Elections, Female Candidates Have Been the Biggest Losers, Foreign Policy
Carmiel Arbit writes, “Party mergers and other systemic problems have buried the country’s once-vaunted female political leadership.”

Two Jews Walk Into a Presidential Primary, The Atlantic
Edward-Isaac Dovere writes, “In a country where anti-Semitic attacks have spiked and the president has sometimes hesitated to condemn neo-Nazis, two men who celebrated their bar mitzvahs in the 1950s suddenly want to talk about their Jewishness.”

For Netanyahu, Trump’s White House Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “Trump announced last Thursday that he would reveal the plan to Netanyahu and Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz in meetings in Washington this week. If getting the peace train back on track was the goal, the timing appeared to be less than ideal. Netanyahu is in the midst of a reelection campaign—the third in less than a year—while he also fights corruption charges. Trump faces his own challenge, with ongoing impeachment hearings in the U.S. Senate.”

Netanyahu’s woes mirror those of his ally Trump, AP
Joseph Krauss writes, “He was accused of using his high office to advance his personal political interests. He derided the investigation as a “witch hunt” fueled by “fake news” — an “attempted coup.” He counted on his right-wing base, his hand-picked attorney general and his media savvy to weather the crisis. Not U.S. President Donald Trump, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was indicted Thursday on corruption charges.”