News Roundup for June 16, 2020

June 16, 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

House Democrats Draft Letter Addressed to Netanyahu Warning Against West Bank Annexation, Haaretz
“The letter is being circulated by four Democratic lawmakers, who usually represent different viewpoints within the party regarding Israel: Reps. Ted Deutch of Florida, Brad Schneider of Illinois, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and David Price of North Carolina. While Deutch and Schneider are considered close to AIPAC, Shackowsky and Price tend to lean closer to J Street, which is more critical of the Israeli government on issues related to settlements and the occupation. The purpose of their joint letter is to try and create a broad consensus within the party on the issue of annexation.”

Eight Democratic Senate hopefuls speak out against annexation, Times of Israel
“As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s start date for annexing parts of the West Bank nears, a growing list of Democrats is speaking out against the move and warning that it would severely weaken the prospects for peace. Among those Democrats are eight US Senate candidates in battleground states who could remake Capitol Hill’s partisan balance should enough of them win in 2020 […] In statements given to the liberal Mideast advocacy group J Street, those candidates each voiced staunch opposition to Israel’s proposed unilateral annexation of West Bank territory, starting on July 1.”

J Street initiative calls on Democrats to oppose ‘occupation, annexation’, The Jerusalem Post
“More than 70 College Democrat and Young Democrat leaders have supported a Jewish students organisation in calling for the Democratic Party to formally commit to upholding Palestinian rights within its manifesto, including clear opposition to what they describe as the ‘ongoing occupation’ of the West Bank. ‘The actions of the Trump administration have upended decades of bipartisan US support for a negotiated  two-state  solution  to  the  Israeli-Palestinian  conflict. They  have  provided  the  Israeli government with a green light to permanently reject Palestinian statehood, legitimize settlement expansion, entrench the occupation, and pave the way for annexation in the West Bank,’ reads the statement signed by the student leaders, which differs marginally in wording but not in message from that endorsed by 18 College Democrat chapters.”

House Democrats push new letter aimed at unifying the party behind an anti-West Bank annexation message to Israel, JTA
“Four Congress members who are frequently involved in Israel policy — two seen as aligned with the centrist American Israel Public Affairs Committee and two seen as aligned with J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group — worked together to draft a letter that would be seen as acceptable to the entire caucus.”

Battleground state Democrats warn against annexation after AIPAC greenlights criticism, Al-Monitor
“A slew of Democratic Senate candidates hoping to unseat Republican incumbents in key battleground states came out today against Israeli efforts to annex parts of the West Bank. The left-leaning lobby group J Street touted their warnings as part of its ongoing campaign to deter annexation […] Hickenlooper, who has historically boasted warm ties with AIPAC, joins 28 Democratic senators who have issued similar warnings. The confluence of AIPAC-friendly centrists, such as Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, adapting J Street’s position on annexation illustrates the extent to which annexation has become a partisan issue within both the United States and Israel.”

Top News and Analysis

Majority of Senate Democrats Speak Out Against Israeli Settlement Annexation, Haaretz
More than half of the Democratic senators currently in office haves poken out in recent weeks against Israeli annexation of settlements in the West Bank. Together with the opposition to annexation expressed by former Vice President Joe Biden, the senators’ statements on the subject show that annexation could harm Israel’s standing with Democratic politicians and voters.

For Israel, annexation is saying the quiet part loud, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “Netanyahu could endanger the paramount control Israel already maintains over the Palestinian territories, as well as the relative international quiescence over its actions there, including its expansion of settlements over the past couple of decades.”

Israel builds new Jerusalem road that will link settlements as government weighs West Bank annexation, Reuters
Construction is under way on a major new ring road for Jerusalem that Israeli officials say will benefit all of its residents, but critics of the project say is another obstacle to Palestinian hopes to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future state. The bypass, called The American Road, will connect Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank that are north and south of Jerusalem.


Gaza rocket strikes field in Israel as Hamas urges ‘resistance’ to annexation, Times of Israel
Terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into southern Israel on Monday night, striking an empty field, causing no injuries or damage, the military said.

Netanyahu to Ask Greek PM to Soften European Reaction to Annexation in Tuesday Visit, Haaretz
The two sides are expected to discuss President Donald Trump’s plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to ask the Greek leader for assistance in moderating the European Union’s response to Israel’s upcoming annexation plans in the West Bank.

Knesset passes stimulus bill to pay businesses thousands to bring back workers, Times of Israel
The Knesset in the early hours of Tuesday morning approved a stimulus bill to grant funds to businesses that bring back workers who were placed on unpaid leave due to the coronavirus crisis.

Israeli Defense Officials Say Government Isn’t Sharing Information on West Bank Annexation, Haaretz
Defense establishment officials who have attended closed security forums say the political leadership is not giving them important information, or a timeline, to enable them to ready security forces for the expected consequences of an annexation in the Jordan Valley or elsewhere in the West Bank.

EU urges US to join new Mideast peace effort, AP
European Union foreign ministers on Monday urged the United States to join a new effort to breathe life into long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but they rejected President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan as the basis for any international process.

Archaeologists said to pause East Jerusalem dig due to fears of home collapse, Times of Israel
The Israel Antiquities Authority halted an underground excavation in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem due to fears of a structural collapse in the area, according to a Monday report.

Opinion and Analysis

Despite US sanctions, the International Criminal Court will keep investigating alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, Washington Post
Kelebogile Zvobgo and Stephen Chaudoin write, “Trump likely considers the sanctions a move with some possible benefits — a distraction from troubles at home, or a way to hinder the Palestinian or Afghan investigations — and minimal costs. The administration team has grown accustomed to condemnation from abroad over ‘America First’ policy. But ordinary citizens may disagree.”

Rivlin uses it, many pro-Israel advocates hate it: Is ‘annexation’ a dirty word?, Times of Israel
Raphael Ahren writes, “Perhaps surprisingly, Israel’s head of state does not appear to have any qualms with this a-word, which is generally defined as the acquisition of territory by force. In a statement urging a more civil discourse about the plan issued earlier this month, President Reuven Rivlin repeatedly used the term ‘annexation.’”

Chance of West Bank Annexation Is Fading, but Limited Move Still Possible, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “There’s still no final map, still no green light from the United States and still no agreement between Likud and Kahol Lavan.”

How the GOP brought antisemitism from the margins to the White House, +972 Mag
Natasha Roth-Rowland writes, “A new website tracking incidents of right-wing antisemitism finds that rarely a week goes by without the Republican Party boosting white nationalism.”