News Roundup for March 1, 2018

March 1, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Why a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians is closer than you think, Washington Post

Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher and Orni Petruschka argue, “In a Catch-22 finding, the most significant reason people oppose a two-state solution is their perception that it is not feasible. So, if the Trump administration’s plan is demonstrably realistic and feasible, Palestinians and Israelis will support it. These findings demonstrate that flexibility and open attitudes still exist on both sides and that the right policies can reverse rejection of a two-state package by Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides have shown a complete absence of political courage for a decade, and if the Trump administration hopes to surmount this cowardice, it will need proposals that allow the leaders to attract popular support while still making hard choices.”

Kushner’s security downgrade will hinder but not halt his Mideast peace role, CNN

Jeremy Diamond reports, “The United States’ efforts to broker an elusive peace to end the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict are now being led by a White House official who has been stripped of his access to top secret information. The access of President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner to top secret and sensitive compartmented information was — for now, temporarily — revoked amid a series of reforms to the security clearance process led by the White House chief of staff. But five former top US officials who have tackled Middle East peace before Kushner told CNN they believe he will be able to continue overseeing the US peace efforts and to engage in direct negotiations — even if it makes his task more difficult.

An economy in ruins leaves Gazans with hard choices, Reuters

Nidal al-Mughrabi reports, “A combination of war, isolation, and internal rivalries has left Gaza in its current state. Last year Abbas cut the salaries of 60,000 government employees in Gaza by 30 per cent, leaving them with little to spend in shops and markets after paying off bank loans. The sums of bounced checks in Gaza nearly doubled from $37 million to $62 million between 2015 and 2016, and then again to $112 million in 2017, according to the Palestinian Monetary Authority. This lack of buying power contributed to a drop in imports through the one remaining commercial crossing with Israel, with just 350 truckloads per day compared with 800 in the last quarter of 2017.”


IDF opens probe as group alleges troops abused shot Palestinian attacker, Times of Israel

The IDF has questioned eight soldiers in connection with the death of a Palestinian man killed while trying to attack troops, as a video released Wednesday appeared to raise new questions about how the Jericho man was killed.

Report: US Peace Plan Divides Jerusalem, Keeps Israeli Settlement Blocs, Jerusalem Post

Two days after EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini warned the US against taking false steps on the peace process, the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat report Wednesday that the plan Washington is hammering out calls for a demilitarized Palestinian state with limited sovereignty and borders that do not match the 1967 lines.

Israel said frustrated with US inaction on Iran entrenchment in Syria, Times of Israel

A rift between Israel and the United States regarding Iranian entrenchment in Syria appears to be widening, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting on Monday with US President Donald Trump.

Palestinian youth shot, critically injured during Israeli raid on refugee camp, Ma’an

A Palestinian youth was critically injured with two live bullets, one in the chest and another in the shoulder, during clashes that erupted with Israeli forces in the al-Amari refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Ramallah.

US, EU officials will reportedly meet in March over Iran deal, Times of Israel

A delegation from the United States is to hold discussions on the future of the Iran nuclear deal with a European Union team later this month, Reuters reported Thursday, citing an unnamed German source.

Sara Netanyahu to be questioned Friday at same time as PM — report, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara will reportedly both be interrogated in the Bezeq corruption case on Friday, a day before the prime minister embarks on a week-long diplomatic trip to the United States.

Allies Have Not Seen Draft of Mideast Peace Plan, US Officials Say, Jerusalem Post

Two days after EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini warned the US against taking false steps on the peace process, a pan-Arab newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat, reported Wednesday that the Trump administration’s plan to jumpstart peace talks calls for a demilitarized Palestinian state with limited sovereignty and borders that do not match the 1967 lines.

Opinions and Analysis

Israel must aid African migrants, not deport them, J Street

Alan Elsner argues, “Early this year, the Netanyahu government announced that the asylum seekers had three months to leave the country or face detention. In early February, the government began issuing deportation notices.  Last week, seven asylum seekers were transferred from the Holot facility, a desert detention center near the Egyptian border, to Saharonim Prison. Hundreds of asylum seekers detained in Holot began a hunger strike in response. The situation is reaching a crisis point. Israel has a chance to act with justice and compassion, to dispel charges of racism and to alleviate the concerns raised by the Congressional Black Caucus and other friends around the world. But to do so, it must reverse this awful policy.”

Explainer: Gaza’s economic troubles – 70 years of woe, Reuters

Reuters Staff writes, “Gaza is a coastal strip of land that lay on ancient trading and maritime routes along the Mediterranean shore. Held by the Ottoman Empire until 1917, it passed from British to Egyptian to Israeli military rule over the last century and is now a fenced-in coastal enclave inhabited by two million Palestinians. Here are some of the major economic milestones in its recent history.

The weakening of Israeli democracy, Times of Israel

David Horovitz argues, “What we cannot afford is for ours to be destroyed from within. The nature of the suspicions against the prime minister and his alleged efforts to cement himself in power, the intervention in and (partly self-)compromising of our media, the sullying of our legislature, the efforts to weaken our already overstretched and troubled police force, and the discrediting of our judiciary, including by its own hand — these all suggest that the weakening process is well underway.”