News Roundup for July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

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J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

J Street in the News

Biden Faces Two Dueling Approaches on Israel, Moment Mag
“J Street—along with a group of rabbis and former Obama administration officials— is leading the drive to include a clear rejection of Israeli annexation of all or parts of the West Bank and a recognition of Palestinian rights […] Will Joe Biden, if elected, launch a maximum pressure campaign to stop Israeli annexation, or will he stick to a non-committal approach of condemning both sides if they take unilateral steps? Will a Biden administration use America’s $3.8 billion annual aid package to convince Israel not to annex, or will it accept the Obama-era notion that conditioning aid (or even restricting its use) is off the table? The outcome of the platform debate over Israel will give Biden a good sense of how the party views the issue and where he may want to stand in order to avoid conflict with the base.”

Top News and Analysis

Think tank simulation of annexation predicts ‘escalating events’ would halt it, Times of Israel
A leading Israeli think tank held a war game this week simulating a decision by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank, predicted that the annexation move would be suspended amid a series of escalating repercussions, and summed it up by warning of the potentially dramatic negative security and diplomatic ramifications of such a move […] It predicated a wave of violence and the freezing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and warned that Israeli decision-making on the issue is motivated by short-term tactical thinking rather than strategy. Unilateral annexation, it warns in summary, could prompt ‘dramatic steps that change the rules of the game.’

11 European Foreign Ministers Urge EU to List Options to ‘Deter’ Israeli Annexation, Haaretz
Eleven European foreign ministers have demanded that the European Union quickly formulate a list of possible responses to an Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank. In a letter sent to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday, they wrote that doing so is essential, because “the window to deter annexation is fast closing.” The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, was signed by the foreign ministers of France, Italy, Holland, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Malta.

Back to square one, as the Iran deal turns five, Responsible Statecraft
Adnan Tabatabai writes, “Democrats in Washington, who have signaled their willingness to return to the JCPOA should Joe Biden become President in November, will need to develop very concrete signals to be sent to Tehran before and immediately after November 3. Only then, the government of Hassan Rouhani will be in the position to buy further time at home, and do its part to safeguard an agreement that Rouhani would still like to be the major accomplishment of his presidency.”


Coronavirus crisis: Israel breaks daily new cases record: 1,681, The Jerusalem Post
Israel hit a new record for the number of people diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in a single day: 1,681 people on Monday, the Health Ministry reported on Tuesday. Some 27,514 people were screened, making the infection rate 6.5%. “I do not think we have lost control of the epidemic,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said during an interview with Army Radio Tuesday morning.

Israel Claims Security Cameras Where Police Shot Autistic Palestinian Were Not Working, Haaretz
The Justice Ministry said Monday that there is no video footage of the police shooting of an unarmed autistic Palestinian man, Eyad Hallaq, in May in Jerusalem, raising concerns that the Israeli authorities’ investigation will end with no clear conclusion in the case that sparked outrage and protests across Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Iran executes defense ministry staffer as alleged CIA spy, AP
Iran has executed a former employee of the defense ministry who was convicted of spying on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency, the country’s judiciary said Tuesday. It was the second such execution in the past month.

Health Ministry raises flag over suspected virus spread in prisons, Times of Israel
The Health Ministry has warned that the coronavirus may be spreading rapidly among prisoners in detention facilities, urging stronger adherence to hygiene rules and social distancing.

Palestinians ‘arrested for backing annexation’ on Israeli TV, AFP
The Palestinian Authority has arrested several people who said they would favour Israeli annexations in parts of the West Bank, corroborating sources say, despite Ramallah’s denial. In an Israeli television report aired in early June, several Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are heard expressing the hope of becoming Israelis if annexation under a US-Israeli plan moves forward.

Ultra-Orthodox hold 3rd straight night of protests in Jerusalem against lockdown, Times of Israel
Ultra-Orthodox men and boys in Jerusalem staged protests against government lockdowns for the third evening in a row on Monday, with police arresting 16.

LGBTQ rights group names longtime Israel advocate as director amid movement’s growing criticism of government, JTA
A Wider Bridge announced the appointment of Ethan Felson, formerly executive director of the Israel Action Network, on Monday. The network is the Israel advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of North America. Felson is a longtime leading pro-Israel professional with roots in Jewish community outreach to other minorities.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Can’t Divert Attention From the Coronavirus Protests. It Could Be the Beginning of His End, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “For now, the demonstrators are the usual center-left suspects. But what if the unrest spreads to Netanyahu’s base?”

“How can a Palestinian feel a sense of equality in a Judaizing state?”, +972 Mag
In a wide-ranging interview, Prof. Amal Jamal talks about the exclusion of Palestinian citizens from Israel’s COVID-19 response, Netanyahu’s consolidation of power, and the possibility of a different Israeli identity.