News Roundup for July 6, 2020

July 6, 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.

Top News and Analysis

The Democrats’ New Policy That Could See Bernie and Biden Find Middle Ground on Aid to Israel, Haaretz
The issue of U.S. military aid to Israel has divided the Democratic Party over the past year, but a new policy that could unite the party on this thorny issue has been presented over the weekend – to continue transferring assistance to Israel in the billions of dollars, but preventing it from using the funds to boost the settlement enterprise and advancing West Bank annexation. A group of Democratic senators led by Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen – including Sanders, but also several senators who supported Biden in the primary – submitted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that states that the $3.8 billion in annual military aid earmarked by former President Barack Obama will continue to go to Israel, but that none of it should be used for advancing the cause of unilateral annexation of West Bank settlements.

Recognizing the state of Palestine is the only appropriate response to Israeli annexation, Washington Post
Ilan Goldenberg writes, “If annexation does occur, however, and it is recognized by the Trump administration, the two-state solution will stand on the precipice of irrelevance. In such a world, it will be critical to take steps to bolster its renewal and establish a new set of facts on the ground that shape a two-state environment. The most effective and meaningful response by U.S. supporters of a two-state solution — especially in Congress — is to advocate formal recognition of the state of Palestine.”

Iran Admits Serious Damage to Natanz Nuclear Site, Setting Back Program, New York Times
A fire at Iran’s main nuclear fuel enrichment site caused significant damage, setting back the country’s nuclear program by months, the government acknowledged on Sunday, after initially saying the destruction was minor. A Middle Eastern intelligence official with knowledge of the episode said Israel was responsible for the attack on the Natanz nuclear complex on Thursday, using a powerful bomb. A member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps who was briefed on the matter also said an explosive was used.


13 Senate Democrats: US assistance shouldn’t be used for annexation, The Jerusalem Post
A group of 13 Senate Democrats has filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit Israel from using US security assistance funds for the annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Israel, Palestinians face new restrictions amid virus surge, AP
Israel said Sunday it has ordered thousands of people into quarantine after a contentious phone surveillance program resumed while Palestinians in the West Bank returned to life under lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases in both areas.

‘We’ve lost control’ of pandemic, top Israeli adviser says as active cases spike, Times of Israel
The head of the advisory panel helping to craft the government’s response to the latest coronavirus outbreak warned on Sunday that Israel had “lost control of the pandemic.”

Israel Has Days to Contain Coronavirus Outbreak, or Health Services Could Collapse, Haaretz
A panel of experts advising Israel’s National Security Council on the coronavirus pandemic recommended Saturday that Israel immediately announce a state of emergency, amid a spike in new cases.

Prominent Israeli journalist, Netanyahu critic, loses TV job, AP
A prominent Israeli journalist known for breaking diplomatic scoops and critical coverage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received notice Sunday he was being dismissed.

IDF strikes Hamas targets in response to Gaza rocket fire, Times of Israel
The Israel Defense Forces bombed a number of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night after terrorists in the enclave fired three rockets into southern Israel earlier in the evening, the military said.

‘Not every incident in Iran is connected to us,’ Gantz tells Israelis about explosions at Iranian nuclear sites, JTA
After several explosions in recent days at sites associated with Iran’s missile and nuclear program, Israel’s defense minister told a worried nation that Israel had nothing to do with the events.

With Iran in its sights, Israel launches new spy satellite into orbit, Times of Israel
Israel is one of a small number of countries in the world that operate reconnaissance satellites, giving it advanced intelligence-gathering capabilities. As of April, this cadre included Iran, which successfully launched a spy satellite into orbit after years of failed attempts.

Opinion and Analysis

US Jews Are Clear: We Won’t Back Bibi’s Conspiracies, Colonial Inclinations or Corruption, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “If annexation comes—and most American Jews think that it still might, in some form or another—the result will be an anti-Israel tsunami on the diplomatic front, an erosion of America’s long-term support for Israel, a mortal blow to pro-Israel advocacy on campus, a major setback to Israel’s warming ties with the Sunni states, a likely crisis with Jordan, serious danger of renewed violence in the territories, incentive for Iranian surrogates in Syria to make trouble for Israel, and on, and on, and on.”

It’s bad politics for Democrats to be hawkish on foreign policy, Responsible Statecraft
Stephen Miles writes, “Members of Congress who voted for the Iraq war were, over time, more likely to have been given the boot by their voters than those who opposed it. Meanwhile, despite the fever dreams of many political prognosticators in the summer of 2015 as attack ads about the Iran deal hit the air, no incumbent Democrats lost an election because of their support for the JCPOA.”

Israel Will Continue Its Campaign of Dividing and Conquering Palestinians, Annexation or Not, Haaretz
Tania Hary writes, “Israel doesn’t even bother hiding behind the sacred cow of ‘security’ anymore to justify controlling Palestinians’ lives. Even three year-old kids are a threat to its demographic and political goals.”

How Bibi’s Friends in the Settlements and in Washington Helped Scuttle His Annexation Move, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “Despite the delay, the annexation could still go forward at a later date. Netanyahu appears to have the support he needs in parliament to pass an annexation bill even without Gantz. And Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, speculated that Trump might give Netanyahu the green light if he believes it would help his reelection campaign.”

“The Palestinians Got Screwed. They Are Now a Non-issue Around the World”, Haaretz
Former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon talks to Haaretz about the occupation, Netanyahu’s cowardice and why he laughs when people call him a leftist: “I’ll tell you what should have been done. The occupation should have been ended. The occupation is the mother of all evils.”

Israeli leader’s son takes center stage in corruption sagas, AP
Aaron Heller writes, “A favorite of the prime minister’s nationalistic base and far right leaders around the world, Yair Netanyahu has become a fixture in the news, clashing with journalists on social media, threatening lawsuits against his father’s adversaries and posting online content deemed so offensive that Facebook briefly suspended his account.”

When My Daughter Called Israel an Apartheid State, I Objected. Now, I’m Not So Sure, Haaretz
Katie A. Weiner and Allen S. Weiner write, “In the shadow of annexation, the embodiment of power prevailing over justice and international law, I am running out of counter-arguments. This is how Israel is losing America.”