News Roundup for May 21, 2020

May 21, 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

Netanyahu’s major goal is annexation and the securing of his legacy, The Jerusalem Post
“Among American Jewry, J Street, the Israel Policy Forum and the peace camp are strongly opposed; AIPAC and most mainstream organizations are trying to dodge the issue, and out on the extreme right fringe leading the cheering is the Zionist Organization of American, which probably would support annexing everything to the Euphrates.”

Top News and Analysis

Abbas, Cornered by Israeli Annexation, Opts for ‘Judgment Day’ Scenario, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger, Adam Rasgon and Mohammed Najib write, “As long as he has led the Palestinian national movement, Mr. Abbas has opposed violence and espoused negotiations with Israel. But Israel’s push, with the Trump administration’s support, to annex occupied territory that the Palestinians have counted on for a future state may be steering Mr. Abbas’s strategy to a dead end. On Tuesday, citing the new Israeli government’s determination to annex West Bank territory as soon as July 1, Mr. Abbas declared an end to security cooperation with Israel — a move that Palestinian officials have referred to as a “Judgment Day” scenario because of its potential to lead to conflagration.”

Court rejects Netanyahu’s request to skip opening of his corruption trial Sunday, Times of Israel
The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to skip the start of his corruption trial, requiring him to appear for the opening hearing on Sunday.

EU Members at UN Security Council: Israeli Annexation Would Violate International Law, Haaretz
The United Nations Security Council is holding a closed-door session on the Middle East on Wednesday. At the start of the session, European Union representatives addressed the formation of a new Israeli government and expressed concern over its declared intent to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, saying it would be a violation of international law.


Russia, UN and Vatican condemn unilateral Israeli annexation plan, Times of Israel
International opposition to Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank continued to gain momentum Wednesday as representatives of the UN, Russia and the Vatican all expressed strong objections to the plan that could be implemented as early as July.

UN Envoy Urges Israel to ‘Abandon Threats of Annexation’ of West Bank, VOA
“The continuing threat of annexation by Israel of parts of the West Bank would constitute a most serious violation of international law, deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution, close the door to a renewal of negotiations, and threaten efforts to advance regional peace and our broader efforts to maintain international peace and security,” U.N. envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council during a virtual meeting.

Pompeo hopes Israel-Palestinian security ties persist, despite Abbas declaration, Times of Israel
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he hopes security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians will continue, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians were no longer bound by its agreements with Jerusalem and Washington.

France, UN envoys warn Israel against partial annexation of West Bank, France 24
France is working with other European nations to dissuade Israel from a partial annexation of the occupied West Bank, its foreign minister said Wednesday, as the UN’s Mideast envoy warned Israel against “closing the door” to negotiations.

Israeli websites hacked in cyberattack: ‘Be ready for a big surprise’, Times of Israel
Numerous Israeli websites were targeted Thursday morning in a cyberattack, with hundreds of websites estimated hit, including some belonging to major firms, political groups and other organizations and individuals.

Days Before Netanyahu’s Trial, Likud Minister Says Israel’s Attorney General Is ‘Alleged Criminal’, Haaretz
A minister from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party said Thursday that there is no doubt that Israel’s attorney general is “an alleged criminal,” adding to growing attacks by Netanyahu supporters against Avichai Mendelblit ahead of the premier’s corruption trial, which is set to open on Sunday.

4-year-old critically wounded, 3-year-old hurt in 2 East Jerusalem shootings, Times of Israel
A four-year-old girl was critically injured overnight Wednesday when she was shot in the head, apparently by a stray bullet, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu in the dock: How the first day of the PM’s trial is set to play out, Times of Israel
Raoul Wootliff writes, “Sunday’s opening hearing will mark the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister faces criminal charges in court. Here’s what’s expected to take place…”

Annexation Means AIPAC Can Pack Up and Go Home, Haaretz
Keith Kahn-Harris writes, “Annexing the West Bank punctures useful delusions about Israel and Zionism which have, until now, kept together otherwise fractious Diaspora Jewish communities – and their proudly ‘big tent’ organizations.”

Could the Pandemic Jump-Start National Reconciliation in Palestine?, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Zaha Hassan and Nathan Brown writes, “Up until now, few believed Palestine’s two main political parties, Fatah and Hamas, were sincere about their commitment to reconciliation. However, their calculus may be altered by Palestine’s battle to contain the coronavirus’s spread in the occupied territories, the potential annexation of the West Bank, and the looming financial collapse of the PA.”

Playing Along With Netanyahu’s Annexation Fantasy, Gantz Is Rebranding Apartheid, Haaretz
Zehava Galon writes, “They know that ‘annexation’ is nothing more than new branding for an apartheid regime and unilateral withdrawal, and that Israel is risking turning the Palestinian enclaves into areas of escalation, which will make Gaza pale in comparison.”

Cries of racism, profuse apologies and a petition: A debate about Jews of color heats up, The Forward
Helen Chernikoff writes, “The publication of an article by two professors about how to count American Jews of color has spurred a passionate outcry in the latest flare-up of longstanding tension around the subject of how to count Jews of color, and discrimination against them.”