News Roundup for May 20, 2020

May 20, 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

Will Annexation Be a Death Blow for American-Jewish Support of Israel?, Haaretz
“Ethan Kahn, a student in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University, has been rather preoccupied with the issue of annexation recently. For Kahn, 22, who also heads his campus’ J Street U chapter, annexation represents ‘the most serious threat to peace in the region between Israelis and Palestinians that we faced at least in my lifetime.’ Kahn makes clear he supports Israel, but finds ‘the definition of support is often a little bit ‘woolly.’ Supporting Israel means supporting the security and safety of its citizens – and also remaining true to democratic values and the Israeli declaration of independence,’ he says. ‘So for me, annexation is very worrying because it is a threat to all of those values.’”

American Jewish Organizations Reject Netanyahu-Gantz Annexation Plans, Support Us Lawmakers Speaking out, NIF
We are frustrated and alarmed by the intention of the new government, formed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank. We join with all Americans who refuse to sit idly by as Israel’s new government, with the encouragement of the Trump administration, contemplates action blatantly at odds with any commitment to democracy and the pursuit of peace […] The network members signed on to this statement are Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair, J Street, The New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, and T’ruah.

Top News and Analysis

Biden Calls Out ‘Anti-Semitism’ on the Left and Criticizes Israeli Policies, New York Times
“Criticism of Israel’s policy is not anti-Semitism,” Mr. Biden said. “But too often that criticism from the left morphs into anti-Semitism.” […] Mr. Biden himself said he was disappointed in Mr. Netanyahu for having moved “so, so far to the right” and called for Israel to “stop the threat of annexation” of West Bank territories. “It’ll choke off any hope of peace,” Mr. Biden said, according to a pool report.

Netanyahu Asks Court to Skip Opening of His Corruption Trial, Citing Coronavirus Restrictions, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu filed on Tuesday a request with the Jerusalem District Court for permission to be absent during the first session of his corruption trial, claiming that his and his bodyguards’ presence would violate Health Ministry coronavirus instructions.

Abbas Says Security Cooperation Will End, Raising Stakes for Israeli Annexation, New York Times
Raising the stakes over Israel’s drive to annex land the Palestinians have long claimed, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday angrily declared it free of its commitments under the Oslo peace process, including security understandings that have protected Israelis and preserved the authority’s political hold over the occupied West Bank. For a change, several senior Palestinian officials insisted, Mr. Abbas was not making a mere threat.


Biden warns against West Bank annexation as Israel lobbies Trump for green light, Al-Monitor
“We also have to make clear I do not support annexation,” the presumptive Democratic nominee said at a virtual fundraiser with Jewish Democrats. “Israel needs to stop the threats of annexation and stop settlement activity because it will choke off any hope of peace. Today neither [Israel’s] present government or the Palestinians want to take steps thanks to President Trump’s unilateralism.”

Palestinians doubt Abbas’s threats will stop Israeli settlement annexation, The Jerusalem Post
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s latest threat to renounce all agreements with Israel mainly aims to send a “warning” to the new Israeli government and the international community, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

20 years after withdrawal, Israel and Hezbollah brace for war, AP
Twenty years after Hezbollah guerrillas pushed Israel’s last troops from southern Lebanon, both sides are gearing up for a possible war that neither seems to want.

In first, direct commercial flight from UAE lands in Tel Aviv, Times of Israel
United Arab Emirates-based Etihad Airways made history on Tuesday, flying a plane loaded with virus aid for Palestinians on a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv, marking the first known direct commercial flight between Israel and the UAE.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s annexation of Palestinian land will be the result of U.S. policy, not a betrayal of it, Washington Post
Noura Erakat writes, “The reality on the ground already reflects de facto annexation of Palestinian lands. Trump and Netanyahu’s plan for de jure annexation is based on decades of harmful U.S. policy in the region, including the bilateral peace process, constructed by political centrists.”

How Israeli Annexation Talk Is Already Reshaping the Middle East, Foreign Policy
Neri Zilber writes, “Palestinians withdraw from peace deals, and Jordan could be next, as Israel edges closer to appropriating land outright.”

Iran Struck First. ‘Israel’ Retaliated Massively. Behind the Cyber War Rattling the Middle East, Haaretz
Yossi Melman writes, “The retaliation attributed to Israel by Washington Post aimed neither to cause physical damage nor casualties, but to send a warning: We can harm you tenfold”

Seven ways to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month in quarantine, The Forward
Irene Connelly writes, “Whether you’re looking to celebrate your ancestry or just hammer it into your brain that we’re living in May and not the 150th day of March, here are the best ways to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month from home.”

Despite Despair, Israel’s Left Must Pick Up and Move On, Haaretz
Rami Livni writes, “What hasn’t the left tried in recent years? It’s tried to have a sharper focus, with a social-democrat agenda led by Shelly Yacimovich and a sharper diplomatic focus with Tzipi Livni, on both occasions faltering at the ballot box. It has tried the converse, moderating and blurring its stand (with Isaac Herzog and Yair Lapid), also ending in failure. It tried appealing to centrist and right-wing voters (Avi Gabbay and Benny Gantz), a move that ended in a fiasco. It then tried again to emphasize its leftist principles (through Meretz), but this too had no takers.”