News Roundup for May 13, 2020

May 13, 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

Israel’s Netanyahu, armed with a new mandate, sets his sights on West Bank annexation, Washington Post
Israel’s new government, which will be sworn in Thursday, could soon confront renewed political upheaval over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed annexation of dozens of Jewish settlements built in the West Bank over recent decades. With Israel’s longest-serving premier having secured a fifth term, the Middle East is bracing for an explosive turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if Netanyahu makes good on his campaign promise to extend Israeli sovereignty to large parts of the occupied West Bank. Uncertainty about the extent of any annexation has set off a scramble by officials and activists from Washington to the West Bank to influence the process. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected during a visit here Wednesday to discuss annexation with Netanyahu and former army chief Benny Gantz, his rival-turned-governing partner, who will serve as alternate prime minister and defense minister.

Pompeo in Israel for Meetings on Annexation, Virus, Iran and China, New York Times
With Israel preparing to annex territory in the occupied West Bank and a flurry of clashes claiming the lives of an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian teenager, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday promising to push ahead with the Trump administration’s proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “There remains work yet to do, and we need to make progress on it,” Mr. Pompeo said of the administration’s “vision for peace” at the start of a lightning-quick, seven-hour visit. It is the first official trip to Israel by any country’s diplomats since the coronavirus pandemic shunted face-to-face meetings onto videoconferences.

I was Bernie Sanders’ Jewish outreach director. Our progressive future depends on electing Joe Biden., JTA
Joel Rubin writes, “During the campaign, Sanders spoke boldly through the Jewish language of inclusivity and tolerance. He fought for everyone to have health care, to stop the climate crisis in its tracks, to transform our criminal justice system, to make a fairer economy that works for everyone, and to work relentlessly for peace. His campaign was embraced by young and ethnically diverse voters at inspiring levels. He fought for our better angels and called on all of us to love instead of hate. That’s why it’s easy for me to now wholeheartedly support and endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States. I’m confident that Biden will be able to advance the progressive American Jewish priorities I fought for on behalf of Sen. Sanders.”


13 new virus cases recorded over 24-hour period, lowest since March, Times of Israel
The Health Ministry said the number of confirmed coronavirus cases grew by 13 between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, the lowest increase recorded over any 24-hour period since the beginning of the outbreak in March.

Palestinian towns ‘hemmed in’ by Israel’s discriminatory policies, Al Jazeera
Israeli government has for decades been enforcing discriminatory land practices inside Israel, Human Rights Watch says.

In Israel, Pompeo calls for ‘progress’ on Trump peace plan, assails Iran, Times of Israel
The US administration has said it would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire Jordan Valley and all Israeli settlements across the West Bank in exchange for assurances that Jerusalem would be ready to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians based on President Donald Trump’s plan.

U.K. Lords Committee Calls to Limit Israel’s Economic Access if Annexation Goes Ahead, Haaretz
In a strongly worded letter to the foreign office minister, International Relations Committee says annexation, as described in Netanyahu-Gantz deal, warrants economic consequences.

Father of fallen IDF soldier: I have nothing, he was my whole world, The Jerusalem Post
“He was my only son. I have nothing else, he was my whole world,” the father of Sergeant First Class Amit Ben Yigal cried hours before his son was laid to rest on Tuesday, Israel’s first soldier killed this year.

317 ultra-Orthodox men freed after breaking into holy site, defying virus rules, Times of Israel
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men arrested Tuesday evening after breaking into a shuttered holy site at Mount Meron were released Wednesday morning to their homes, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

Opinion and Analysis

How Palestinian citizens are putting Israel’s coronavirus powers in check, +972 Mag
Meron Rapoport writes, “From Shin Bet surveillance to women’s employment, one Palestinian NGO has been at the forefront of defending civil rights for all during the pandemic.”

Why Mike Pompeo Is an Immediate Threat to the Middle East, Haaretz
David Rothkopf writes, “Smart sycophant Pompeo is visiting Israel this week mid-pandemic in a transparent attempt to avert the End Times for a desperate Trump. From the Palestinians to Iran, the Middle East will pay the price.”

Slammed by COVID-19, ultra-Orthodox Jews try to understand what God hath wrought, Times of Israel
Sam Sokol writes, “Why would the heavenly power permit such evil? Posters see punishment for gossip and women’s immodesty; rabbis spy signs of messiah’s coming; others say they just don’t know”

Biden’s Biggest Battle: Winning Over Bernie Sanders Fans and Other Young Voters, Haaretz
Amir Tibon writes, “Millennials will be the largest voting bloc in November’s presidential election. And although few young Jewish voters are expected to vote for Donald Trump, the concern for Joe Biden is that they may not turn out for him, either.”