News Roundup for June 15, 2020

June 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

Klobuchar and Smith join growing list of Democrats cautioning against annexation, Jewish Insider
“Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) have joined more than two dozen Senate Democrats publicly warning Israeli leaders of the implications of efforts to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the government could start annexing territory as early as July 1. Twenty-eight senators have so far spoken out against the annexation proposal […] On Monday, eight Senate candidates in battleground states are expected to join the list expressing their strong opposition to such a move. In statements provided to J Street and shared with Jewish Insider, the candidates — Cal Cunningham (North Carolina), Sara Gideon (Maine), Teresa Greenfield (Iowa), Al Gross (Alaska), Jaime Harrison (South Carolina), MJ Hegar (Texas), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Amy McGrath (Kentucky) and Jon Ossoff (Georgia) — emphasized that annexation would put the future of a two-state solution at risk. “

U.S. Lawmakers Urge Ambassador to Israel to Denounce Settler Violence, Haaretz
“More than 50 Members of Congress signed a public letter calling on President Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to denounce violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, in the same manner that he condemns violence committed by Palestinians against Israelis […] The letter was supported by J Street, which put out a statement saying that ‘Settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank is an affront to the values we aspire to uphold as Americans. It’s harmful to interests of the United States, Israel and the Palestinians and further erodes the prospects for a negotiated end to the conflict.’”

Top News and Analysis

Israel OKs plan for new Golan settlement named after Trump, AP
An Israeli cabinet minister on Sunday said the government approved plans to build a new settlement in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights named after President Donald Trump.

Arab Envoy Warns Israelis That Annexation Threatens Warming Ties, New York Times
In a watershed article in a leading Israeli newspaper, a top diplomat from the United Arab Emirates warned the Israeli public on Friday that unilateral annexation of West Bank territory would endanger Israel’s warming ties with Arab countries. Writing in Friday’s Yediot Ahronot, Yousef al-Otaiba, the Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, appealed directly to Israelis in Hebrew to deter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from following through on his promise to annex occupied territory as early as next month. “It’s Either Annexation or Normalization,” the headline over his op-ed declared.

Netanyahu hits up rich friends to fund corruption trial defense, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on trial for accepting gifts from wealthy friends. But that has not stopped him from seeking another gift from a wealthy friend to pay for his multimillion-dollar legal defense. The awkward arrangement opens a window into the very ties with billionaire friends that plunged Netanyahu into legal trouble and sheds light on the intersection of money and Israeli politics.


Arab Israeli Diplomat Says Security Guards Attacked Him, Knelt on His Neck, Haaretz
A Bedouin diplomat filed a police complaint Sunday alleging that security guards in Jerusalem tackled him to the ground and knelt on him until he couldn’t breathe.

2 more Israeli suspects arrested over Hebron beating of Palestinian man, Times of Israel
Two more people were arrested early Monday on suspicion of attacking a Palestinian man and the Israel Defense Forces soldier who came to his aid in the West Bank city of Hebron last week, the Israel Police said Monday.

As Israel Vows Annexation, Palestinian Leaders Embark On Risky Form Of Protest, NPR
They declared last month they’re no longer bound by the 1990s-era peace accords that govern Israeli-Palestinian relations, and have begun refusing to coordinate with Israel on matters of daily Palestinian life, from tax collection to policing to cancer treatments — arrangements they’ve found humiliating.

Second Supreme Court judge gets threats, apparently from right-wing activists, Times of Israel
A day after the judiciary said Justice Anat Baron had received two threatening messages, Justice Uzi Vogelman reportedly filed a police complaint after stickers saying “Jewish blood isn’t cheap” were plastered on his mailbox.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel has a lot to lose by annexing West Bank territory, CNN
Robert Satloff writes, “It is precisely because of my appreciation of the importance of this relationship that I now oppose a prime example of it — coordination between the Trump administration and the new Israeli government to enable Israel to annex up to 30% of the West Bank. What no Israeli government since the Six Day War has ever contemplated, the current government may formally consider as soon as July 1.”

Trump Rushes to Kill Off Iran Nuclear Deal Before Election, Foreign Policy
Keith Johnson and Colum Lynch write, “The battle between the United States and the remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal is heating up, with huge stakes not just for the survival of the near-moribund accord but for the entire future of the U.N. Security Council and its ability to rein in bad actors.”

Annexation Could Be Netanyahu’s Prelude to Dismantling Israeli Democracy, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The proposed West Bank land grab is so patently unhinged it sparks suspicions of more ambitious and sinister designs.”

JNF-Israel – Don’t uproot the Sumarin family from its home in Silwan!, Times of Israel
Rabbi John Rosove writes, “JNF-Israel is an organization known throughout the world for its efforts to plant trees in Israel, help build vital infrastructure projects within Israel’s Green Line, and offer international donors an opportunity to give voice to their Jewish values and support of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state. However, JNF-Israel’s Himanuta is also effectively advancing in this case the radical right-wing agenda of parts of the Israeli government and extremist settler organizations (e.g. ELAD) to evict a Palestinian family from its long-time home in Silwan, East Jerusalem, just walking steps south of the Old City walls.”

One Day We’ll Thank Mahmoud Abbas, Haaretz
Odeh Bisharat writes, “The whole world thinks Trump is crazy, and in America the masses, apparently even those who voted for him, see in him the embodiment of evil, stupidity and arrogance. But here? Here they bow down to him and treat him with awe because of the legitimacy he has conferred on occupation and annexation. They don’t want to anger him.”

The US protests are precisely the time to link Black, Palestinian oppression, +972 Mag
Gabriel Khoury writes, “Highlighting shared experiences of deadly state violence is meant to complement the Black Lives movement’s goals, not detract from them.”