News Roundup for July 15, 2020

July 15, 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

DNC platform on Israel expected to reflect Biden, not Bernie, Jewish Insider
“In May, a group of 32 former diplomats and national security officials sent a letter urging party officials to draft a platform that spells out ‘what a comprehensive effort to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should look like under a future Democratic administration.’ The letter was backed by J Street, whose leaders have met with foreign policy advisors on the Biden team and held discussions with members of the committee. ‘I think it’s vital that the platform on Israel-Palestine reflects where the party is, and I do think there’s an emerging consensus within the party about how to best address these issues,’ Ben Shnider, vice president of political affairs at J Street, told JI. Shnider said J Street recommended that the platform stress support for the alliance between Israel and the U.S. while acknowledging the rights and national aspirations of the Palestinian people — a ‘call for an urgent end to the occupation, and strong opposition to annexation,’ Shnider said […] Shnider expressed hope that the final language will include the points J Street advocated for ‘and sidestep any sort of public fight’ over the Israel plank of the platform at a time where ‘the party is making an additional effort to give voice to racial justice issues and concerns.’”

Top News and Analysis

Fifty Protesters Arrested at Jerusalem Rally Calling for Netanyahu’s Resignation, Haaretz
Some 50 protesters were arrested Tuesday night following clashes with police at a rally in Jerusalem demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resign over his corruption charges. The clashes erupted after several thousand Israelis gathered outside Netanyahu’s official residence. Following the demonstration, protesters began marching toward the city center, with hundreds blocking the light trail tracks on Jaffa Street and nearby streets. Police used water cannons and mounted officers to disperse the crowd. 

Virus cases reach daily high of 1,718 as ministers deadlocked over restrictions, Times of Israel
The Health Ministry reported late Tuesday that 1,718 coronavirus infections were diagnosed since Monday, the highest number seen in any 24-hour period as the government appeared deadlocked over new steps to halt the spread.

The JCPOA: A bittersweet anniversary for Iran, the US and the wider world, The Atlantic Council
Barbara Slavin and Holly Dagres write, “Utilizing the JCPOA as a confidence-building measure, the US and its European allies could perhaps work with the government of President Hassan Rouhani to end the wars in Syria and Yemen and promote the long-frustrated human potential of so many millions of people in the Middle East. There could be talks on missiles, even a regional security architecture, and equally important, human rights. Instead, we are back to a US-Israeli shadow war against Iran, which restarted its nuclear program following US withdrawal from the JCPOA and re-imposition of sanctions.”


Netanyahu aide said to admit US in no mood for annexation, so PM won’t go ahead, Times of Israel
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin has acknowledged in private conversations that no attention is currently being given in Washington to Israeli plans to annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank, according to a Tuesday Army Radio report.

UK PM Boris Johnson condemns Israel’s West Bank annexation plans in call with Mahmoud Abbas, The National
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday night, in which he reaffirmed the UK’s opposition to Israel’s planned annexation of part of the occupied West Bank.

Family of autistic Palestinian man killed by Israeli police told there is no security camera footage of incident, JTA
The family of an autistic Palestinian man shot dead in error by Israeli Border Police officers is calling for an investigation after being told there is no security camera footage of the incident.

Support for Netanyahu dropping, Bennett soaring in new poll, The Jerusalem Post
As support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to fall, former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party has seen rising popularity amid the coronavirus crisis, with a poll by 103FM finding that the party would garner 14 seats if elections were held today (eight more than in the March elections), while Likud would earn 34 seats (two less than in the March elections).

After settlers establish outpost, Israeli army blocks road to Palestinians, +972 Mag
The IDF Spokesperson told +972 that the army had made a “tactical” decision to block off the area with the dirt mound following “ongoing clashes and repeated disturbances in the Mount Ebal area” — the word “clashes” referring to the weekly Palestinian protests. The army further claimed that the mound would be removed soon.

Opinion and Analysis

Long-Planned and Bigger Than Thought: Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Program, New York Times
Some officials say that a joint American-Israeli strategy is evolving — some might argue regressing — to a series of short-of-war clandestine strikes.

Biden’s New Jewish Outreach Director Says Trump Is Dangerous for Israel, Haaretz
Keyak expects Trump’s supporters in the Jewish community to invest “significant resources” in trying to broaden the president’s level of support among Jewish voters. “They’re going to have a hard time, though, because they’re trying to push a fabrication that people just aren’t buying,” he says, referring to attempts by the Republican Jewish Coalition and other pro-Trump groups to attack Biden on the issue of support for Israel.

Is Netanyahu in a free-fall; trapped between COVID-19 and annexation?, The Jerusalem Post
Tovah Lazaroff writes, “Netanyahu so suppressed his rivals, it was hard to imagine how anyone else could possibly outdo him when it came to leading the country. Not even his criminal trial on corruption charges tarnished his mythic image. So it seems almost symbolic, for such a larger-than-life politician, that it has taken a pandemic to threaten his rule and quite potentially lead to his undoing.”

Bitter Brouhaha Proves Beinart Struck Raw liberal-Zionist Nerve, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Whether or not his proposals are utopian, naive, simplistic or completely detached from reality on the ground, as claimed, Beinart’s treatise exposes the current excruciating angst of liberal Zionists in the U.S. as well as center-left Israelis. His formulae might be fanciful, but it is nonetheless creeping into the hearts and minds of Zionists who concur with Beinart’s overall assessment of the current dead end, even if they won’t admit it, even to themselves.”

Bella Hadid’s deleted Instagram post shows how Palestinians are silenced, The Guardian
Arwa Mahdawi writes, “In the US, rightwing activists have tried to push laws on public university campuses that would suppress any criticism of Israel; some states have tried to prohibit the boycotting of Israel as a condition of public employment. Personally, I’ve found that talking about Palestine can be so fraught and exhausting that sometimes I just end up self-censoring; erasing my own history by silencing myself. Good on Hadid for refusing to do that. She’s not just a supermodel she’s a role-model.”

China Is Winning the Middle East and Trump Is Helping It, Haaretz
David Rosenberg writes, “China is now emerging as a competitor to the United States in the Middle East. It is not a rusting Sparta like Russia. China is the world’s second-largest economy. It can supply countries with technology, finance deals and provide the labor and engineering skills to build ports and highways, and it can leverage its insatiable demand for Middle East oil gain preference over rivals.”