News Roundup for January 7, 2020

January 7, 2020

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J Street in the News

Congress Must Pass War Powers Resolutions to Stop President’s Threatened War and War Crimes, J Street
“In the wake of the administration’s reckless targeted assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the president has made truly horrifying threats to attack Iran with ‘disproportionate’ violence and to target sites ‘important to Iranian culture.’ We face the nightmare of an out-of-control president brazenly threatening to carry out war crimes. It is vital for the maintenance of our democracy, the security of our country and the safety of the world that Congress take urgent, decisive action to prevent the president from carrying out a disastrous, unauthorized war of choice with Iran. Congress must swiftly pass these war powers resolutions and other measures that reassert their constitutional authority to decide whether, when and where our country goes to war.”

Top News and Analysis

To keep his promise to kill an achievement of Obama’s, Trump has been willing to break his promise to get us out of wars in the Middle East., The Atlantic
Ben Rhodes writes, “To keep his promise to kill an achievement of Obama’s, Donald Trump has been willing to break his promise to get us out of wars in the Middle East. In doing so, he has tragically proved Obama right: The choice all along was between the Iran deal or an unconstrained Iranian nuclear program and some form of war.”

Netanyahu tells Security Cabinet Israel must not be dragged into Soleimani killing, Axios
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Security Cabinet ministers Monday that the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani was carried out solely by the U.S. and that Israel was not involved in any way and must not be dragged into the escalating conflict, two ministers who attended the meeting told me.

Iran Unlikely to Act Against Israel Over Soleimani Assassination, Defense Officials Tell Ministers, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also told ministers during the cabinet meeting that the Friday killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was an American event, and should be left as such, urging them to focus on supporting the American argument of self-defense.

News

Soleimani’s funeral procession in Iran sees massive crowds and calls for revenge, Washington Post
The funeral in Tehran, marked by calls for revenge, underscored the emotions unleashed by President Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani in a Baghdad airstrike. The ceremony rivaled the one held after the passing of the Islamic republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989, analysts said.

US and Iran must protect cultural sites, says UNESCO, Al Jazeera
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has said that both the United States and Iran must observe conventions obliging states to protect cultural sites after US President Donald Trump threatened to target Iran’s cultural heritage.

Stampede kills 40 at funeral for Iran general killed by US, AP
A stampede on Tuesday at a funeral procession for a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike last week killed 40 people and injured 213 others, two Iranian semi-official news agencies reported.

U.S. Has No Plans to Leave Iraq, Esper Says After ‘Poorly Worded’ Coalition Letter, Haaretz
A leaked letter from the U.S. military to Iraq that created impressions of an imminent U.S. withdrawal on Monday was instead a poorly worded draft document meant to only underscore increased movement of forces, a top U.S. general told reporters.

Hamas Chief Attends Soleimani Funeral in Tehran: ‘He Is a Martyr of Jerusalem’, Haaretz
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh joined tens of thousands of Iranians who thronged the streets of Tehran on Monday for the funeral of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. air strike Thursday night.

Hamas chief meets slain Iranian general’s successor in Tehran, Times of Israel
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and other senior officials in the terror group met in Tehran on Monday with Esmail Ghaani, the newly appointed commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

Israel advances nearly 2,000 settlement homes, watchdog says, AP
Peace Now said nearly 800 housing units received the final approvals needed for construction to begin. It said initial approvals were given for an additional 1,150 homes. Settlement projects require several rounds of approvals.

Top Israeli think tank warns: Potential for war with Iran is growing, Times of Israel
There is a growing risk of large-scale war along Israel’s northern borders in the coming year, in large part due to Iran’s increasing “determination and daring,” one of Israel’s leading national security think tanks warned Monday.

Palestinian, Israeli and diaspora Jewish activists reclaim spring seized by settlers, +972 Mag
A coalition of groups, led by local Palestinian communities, restored access to the Ein Albeida spring in the South Hebron Hills, 15 years after an illegal settlement outpost had barred Palestinians from accessing the site.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump, after Soleimani killing, may finally get his wish to end the Iran nuclear deal, Washington Post
Anne Gearan writes, “The escalating tensions now make it difficult for Iran to leave the threat of further enrichment as a mere option, a familiar tactic for Tehran, analysts said. It also reduces the leeway for Iranian moderates to argue that even the shell of the deal should remain, and may sour the ground for a new agreement, Johnson said.”

How tensions escalated with Iran since Trump withdrew US from nuclear deal, USA Today
George Petras, Jim Sergent, Janet Loehrke, Karl Gelles and Javier Zarracina write, “President Trump’s decision to leave the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was followed by an escalation of rhetoric, sanctions and attacks between the countries.”

Trump lit a fire by exiting the Iran Deal and poured gasoline on it by killing Soleimani, Responsible Statecraft
Gary Sick writes, “This escalation was utterly unnecessary. It was triggered by the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.”

U.S. strike gives Netanyahu a chance to shift focus from legal woes, but not for long, Washington Post
Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash write, “When a U.S. strike killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani last week, it gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three things he dearly wanted: a strong blow against Iran, relief from growing fears that President Trump was backing out of the Middle East and a change of subject from the corruption indictments dogging him two months before a national election.”

Israel Has a Silent Centrist Majority. Benjamin Netanyahu Is Blocking It., Foreign Policy
David Rosenberg writes, “As long as the prime minister remains in power, the electorate’s true preference—a centrist, secular, national unity government—will remain unfulfilled.”

After Soleimani Killing, Hamas Caught Between Gaza Calm and Iranian Support, Haaretz
Jack Khoury writes, “His death came at a delicate time for Hamas, which is in the midst of negotiations with Israel over a long-term agreement regarding the Gaza Strip. The decision by the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, to go to Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran on Monday could lead to some unexpected responses by Egypt and Israel.”

Palestinians in Gaza are bringing their stories of siege to Israelis, +972 Mag
Orly Noy writes, “A new site aims to bring the experiences of Palestinians under siege in Gaza into Israelis’ homes — by translating their stories into Hebrew.”

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