News Roundup for May 11, 2020

May 11, 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

Pompeo confirms plans to visit Israel next week, Washington Post
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make a brief visit to Israel on Wednesday, ignoring his own coronavirus travel advisory at a time when Israel is laying the groundwork to unilaterally annex large parts of the West Bank.

The United States Doesn’t Get Israel Anymore, Foreign Policy
Steven Cook writes, “Over the last five decades, successive Israeli governments have invested in the development of cities and towns in the West Bank as well as the infrastructure necessary to link them to cities and towns in Israel. The unstated, but clear to the naked eye, goal was to render such places as Ofra, a town of 3,000 near Nablus, no different from Ramat Hasharon, a suburb of Tel Aviv—meaning an unquestioned and uncontested part of Israel. It defies logic to believe that Israel would ever give up on this long-term project. Yet that is exactly what folks inside the Beltway, including long-term Israel watchers, former officials, and opinion writers, have been doing for years.”

Netanyahu-Gantz Coalition Government to Be Sworn in Thursday, Haaretz
Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz informed the Knesset on Monday that the swearing in of the new coalition government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be held this Thursday, May 14 at 1:00 P.M., according to an announcement by the Knesset’s spokesperson.


UN chief warns that Israel’s annexation of West Bank areas will destroy two-state solution, Middle East Monitor
The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that Israel’s annexation of areas in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley will destroy the two-state solution and put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Israel demolishes homes of 2 alleged Palestinian attackers, AP
The Israeli military on Thursday said its forces demolished the homes of two Palestinians accused of being behind a deadly blast in the West Bank last year.

Israel Set to Approve $230m Loan to the Palestinian Authority for Its Coronavirus Response, Haaretz
Israel will approve an 800 million shekel (about $230 million) payment to the Palestinian Authority Sunday evening to help it cope with the coronavirus, Finance Ministry officials confirmed Sunday.

Israeli convicted of smuggling supplies to Hamas for tunneling, weapons-making, Times of Israel
An Israeli citizen was found guilty Sunday of heading a cross-border smuggling ring that transferred thousands of tons of concrete, piping, metals and electronic equipment directly from Israel to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip.

Bennett’s Right-wing Party: We Will Not Join ‘Leftist’ Netanyahu Government, Haaretz
The right-wing Yamina alliance, headed by Naftali Bennett, announced on Sunday it was heading to the opposition and will not join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Israel eases isolation hotel requirement for incoming travelers, reopens parks, Times of Israel
Israel is easing its requirement for all arrivals from overseas to quarantine for 14 days at state-overseen isolation hotels, and instead will allow returning Israelis and others whose lives are centered in Israel to self-quarantine if they can do so, the cabinet announced after midnight Sunday. An entry ban on nationals from other countries whose homes are not in Israel remains in force, as the country keeps up its battle against COVID-19.

Iran friendly fire missile strike in drill kills 19 sailors, AP
An Iranian missile fired during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman struck a support vessel near its target, killing 19 Iranian sailors and wounding 15, Iran’s military and state media said Monday, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Foreign intelligence officials say attempted cyberattack on Israeli water utilities linked to Iran, Washington Post
Iran is being linked to an attempted cyberattack last month that authorities believe was aimed at disrupting water supplies in at least two locations in Israel as that country was seeking to contain a covid-19 outbreak, according to foreign intelligence officials familiar with the matter.

Israel Cracks Down on Banks Over Payments to Palestinian Inmates, New York Times
Even as Israel is collaborating with West Bank officials to fight the coronavirus, a new Israeli military order taking effect on Saturday forbids banks in the occupied territory from processing payments that the Palestinian Authority distributes to the families of thousands of Palestinians who have spent time in Israeli jails.

Opinion and Analysis

If Israel proceeds with annexation, American Jews will socially distance – from Israel, The Forward
Brad Brooks-Rubin writes, “Annexation ends the prospects for peace as we have understood them. It forces a confrontation with a reality American Jews will either not understand or not accept. Many will not be able to have any relationship with a Jewish state that ratifies the unequal situation in the West Bank. But even more simply will not understand why or how we got here, what it really means on the ground for Palestinians and Israelis, or what alternatives exist.”

Palestinians Under the Israeli Boot: A Formula for Tyranny in Cheap Makeup, Haaretz
Avner Gvaryahu writes, “Will we continue to control the economy and the currency, the air space, the water supply, the cellular channels, the population registry? Will we continue to engage in the massive surveillance project on social networks? What are the security arrangements that will prevent the Bantustans of Goodman and Trump from turning into future hotbeds of radicalism?”

How will Hamas respond to Israel’s annexation plan?, The Jerusalem Post
Khaled Abu Toameh writes, “What is certain is that Hamas does not want the Palestinian response to the Israeli plan to come from the Gaza Strip. Hamas leaders have stressed in recent months that, for now, they are not interested in another military confrontation with Israel.”

Why Israel’s Attorney General Believes Netanyahu Is Out to Destroy Him, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “Bibi loyalists are reportedly marshaling a whirlwind of conspiracy theories and dredged-up tapes from a fraught affair a decade ago to delegitimize the man who indicted the PM.”