“Liberal Jewish groups condemned the appointment of US President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser on Wednesday, casting him as an Islamophobic warmonger who would pose a danger to the security of the United States and Israel….’His long record shows him to be a fierce advocate for belligerent policies that would endanger the national security of the US, Israel and our allies around the world,’ said the Wednesday statement, which was jointly issued by J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Ameinu, T’ruah, the National Council of Jewish Women and the New Israel Fund….Chief among their complains was Bolton’s record of encouraging an armed confrontation with Iran to curtail its nuclear ambitions while proclaiming the death of the two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, J Street, National Council of Jewish Women, the New Israel Fund and T’ruah issue a joint statement of opposition to John Bolton. “This appointment should serve as a clarion call for all those who support the pursuit of peace and reject the march to wars of aggression. We cannot stand idly by while President Trump empowers extremists and moves to assemble a ‘war cabinet.’ This is a moment when we must take a stand and speak out.”
“Six former Israeli spymasters accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday of jeopardizing the country’s future as it prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding next month. The surviving ex-Mossad intelligence agency chiefs voiced their opinion of the fourth-term, right-wing leader in a joint interview excerpted on the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s best-selling newspaper and a regular Netanyahu critic….Danny Yatom, who headed the Mossad during Netanyahu’s first stint in office in the late 1990s, called for his ouster, accusing him and his aides of ‘putting their interests ahead of national interests’ as corruption investigations deepen….Yatom also voiced concern about ‘the inertia in the diplomatic sphere, which is leading us toward a bi-national state (with the Palestinians), which would spell the end of (Israel as) a Jewish and democratic state’.”
“Nearly 200 former U.S. ambassadors and veteran diplomats have signed a letter expressing alarm over the slide in US leadership in the world and urging senators to grill Mike Pompeo about his plans to reverse the corrosion of the State Department if he is confirmed as secretary of state. The letter is addressed to the Republican chairman and the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is expected to hold confirmation hearings for Pompeo next month. The CIA director has been tapped to replace Rex Tillerson, who was unceremoniously fired by President Trump two weeks ago.”
“The defense establishment believes that the army will succeed in preventing Gazans from crossing the border into Israel during the March of Return scheduled for Friday, even if that means Palestinian deaths. Defense officials said Gaza residents do not seem eager to take part in the event, but Hamas is making efforts to bring as many of them as possible to the fence on Friday. As a result, the troops may have to deal with a particularly large demonstration. Over the last few days the Israel Defense Forces has warned that it would open fire on anyone who tries to breach the border fence and enter Israel.”
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday clarified comments he made during a media interview in which he appeared to suggest that Washington was working to replace Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “I was misquoted in various reports stemming from an interview that published today,” Friedman tweeted. “The United States is not seeking ‘to replace’ Mahmoud Abbas. It is for the Palestinian people to choose its leadership.”
The Israeli army struck two Hamas obvervation posts in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, after two Palestinians set fire near the border fence. The suspects did not cross into Israel. On Tuesday, the Israeli army arrested three Palestinians armed with grenades and knives who infiltrated into Israel through the border from the Gaza Strip. The three were arrested more than 12 miles inside Israeli territory, near the Tze’elim army base in the south.
PA stages ‘campaign of arrests’ against Fatah dissidents, critics, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority security forces have arrested several supporters of Mohammad Dahlan, a deposed senior Fatah official and arch-rival of President Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan, who is based in the United Arab Emirates, heads a group called the Democratic Reform Trend. It consists of scores of disgruntled Fatah leaders and activists who are strongly opposed to Abbas and his policies. The dissident Fatah group complained that officers belonging to the PA’s Preventive Security Service have been raiding homes of Dahlan loyalists and tightening inspections over their activities and movements.
Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot has warned the army has been given authorisation to open fire ahead of mass protests on the Gaza border planned for Friday. Eisenkot said reinforcements, including special forces snipers, had been deployed to the border to counter what he said was the most serious risk of conflict since he took up his post in 2015.
Germany on Wednesday rejected claims that it violated a supposed decades-old agreement to let Israel run unopposed for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Pro-Israel activists in the United States have accused Berlin of not honoring an agreement struck almost 20 years ago when the Jewish state joined the Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group at the UN. The deal purportedly included a promise to let Israel run uncontested for one of the non-permanent seats reserved for the regional group, but Germany denies that such a pledge was made. Israel, Germany and Belgium are vying for the two seats reserved for the regional group in elections at the General Assembly on June 8.
Border Police officers detained a three-year-old Palestinian boy for a few minutes in Hebron on Tuesday. The police say the boy was sent to throw stones at the officers and then ran at them with a screwdriver and peeler in his hands, calling it a planned provocation.
Army announces 9-day closure of West Bank, Gaza for Passover, Times of Israel
The army on Wednesday announced it would impose a nine-day closure on the West Bank and Gaza for the entirety of the Passover holiday, beginning on Friday.
Q&A: Why Bolton’s pick adds to obstacles for US Mideast plan, Washington Post
“Contentious relations between the Trump administration and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are bound to deteriorate further with incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has said Palestinians would be better off being absorbed by Egypt and Jordan than having their own state. Meanwhile, U.S.-backed efforts to negotiate a deal sidelining Hamas in the Gaza Strip appear to have collapsed, raising new questions about the territory said to be at the center of any U.S. plan. Coupled with Abbas’ refusal to engage with the Trump administration, these developments exacerbate fundamental challenges to any proposals coming from Washington.”
Tell Old Netanyahu: Let These People Stay, American Prospect
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “Judicial rulings in recent days have forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to delay the mass deportation. Whether the plan is cancelled altogether is formally a question of law, in the hands of the court alone. In reality, public opinion and protest inside and outside Israel could influence the decision.”
As Abbas blows out 83 candles, Palestinians left grasping for heir, Times of Israel
Avi Issacharoff writes, “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas turned 83 on Monday, and with his health rumored to be on the decline, speculation mounted over the leadership struggle that will ensue when he is no longer in power….Even now, it is difficult to predict who will take over from Abbas.”