News Roundup for May 22, 2020

May 22, 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

Senate Democrats: Annexation puts Israel’s security, democracy at risk, The Jerusalem Post
A group of 18 Senate Democrats sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, on Thursday, urging them not to move forward with annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Senators Chirs Murphy, Chris Van Hollen and Tim Kaine drafted the letter, and senior senators such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders joined it […] The progressive Jewish group J Street asked supporters earlier this month to urged their respective senators to sign the letter.

Top News and Analysis

18 Democratic senators warn annexation will damage, erode US-Israel relations, Times of Israel
In a letter to Israel’s leaders, a group of 18 Democratic senators have warned of the detrimental consequences of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank to the Jewish state’s “bilateral and bipartisan relationship” with the United States. The senators, who included Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin and Tim Kaine, expressed “grave concern” at the prospect of Israel annexing its settlements and the Jordan Valley, saying it “would have a clear impact on both Israel’s future and our vital bilateral and bipartisan relationship.” They warned it would “betray our shared democratic values by denying Palestinians’ right to self-determination in a viable, sovereign, independent and contiguous state,” and said it would likely “erode” the special relationship between the nations.

AP Interview: Opposition leader says PM embarrassing Israel, AP
Israel’s new opposition leader said Thursday that Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming corruption trial is “embarrassing” the country and that he believes the only reason the long-time prime minister is still in office is because lawmakers never imagined a scenario in which an indicted premier would not have the decency to step down himself. In his first English-language interview since assuming the post, Yair Lapid said he was uncomfortable addressing Netanyahu’s troubles before a foreign audience. Despite their rivalry, he said he takes no joy in watching a sitting prime minister walking into a courtroom defendant’s dock and said he felt bad that it would attract worldwide attention when the trial begins Sunday.

Israelis, drop your denial and recognize the Nakba, +972 Mag
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “Israeli recognition of its role in the Palestinian catastrophe is essential for both communities to survive. Other societies in conflict already figured that out. As an American and a Canadian, it seemed obvious to me why the destruction of indigenous populations required acknowledgment, remembrance, and redress. Perhaps for these reasons, I used to think that Israel’s denial of its own dark past would come to a natural end.”


Trump lauds notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford’s ‘good bloodlines’, Times of Israel
US President Donald Trump lauded the “good bloodlines” of notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford on Thursday, drawing immediate rebuke from American Jewish groups.

Russia floats summit to get U.S. and Palestinians talking, Axios
Russia has offered to facilitate a meeting in the next few weeks between the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority, Western diplomats briefed on the Russian initiative tell me.

Palestinians Notified CIA About Stopping Security Coordination With Israel, Senior Official Says, Haaretz
The Palestinian Authority has notified the Central Intelligence Agency it is halting security coordination with Israel and the United States, according to Saeb Erekat, the chairman of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Cutting security ties, Abbas shows he’s serious — even if it risks everything, Times of Israel
Israelis, particularly Israeli politicians, tend to be dismissive of grandiose pronouncements made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. And perhaps they are justified.

Ban on non-Israelis entering the country extended to at least mid-June, JTA
The ban on non-Israelis entering the country in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended at least two weeks into mid-June.

Netanyahu and Gantz meet as tensions bubble in new coalition, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz met Thursday afternoon as the first tensions in their disparate coalition began to emerge.

Israeli military says Iran is slowly pulling out of Syria, AP
Iran is slowly pulling out of Syria in response to Israeli strikes, as well as growing domestic discontent linked to the economy and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli military said Thursday.

On Quds Day, Iran’s leader says Zionism ‘a virus that must be eliminated’, Times of Israel
Marking Iran’s anti-Israel Quds Day on Friday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel’s establishment was an unequaled “crime against humanity,” repeated his characterization of the Jewish state as “a cancerous tumor” and said it was the creation of “Westerners and Jewish corporation owners.”

EU Foreign Policy Chief Condemns Iranian Pledge to Support Any Entity That Fights Israel, Haaretz
The High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell on Thursday condemned a pledge by Iran’s supreme leader to support any country that will fight Israel, and stressed that Israel’s security is of “paramount importance to the EU.”

Opinion and Analysis

How fast will Israel’s new government proceed with annexation?, The Economist
Mr Netanyahu’s supporters want him to push ahead while Mr Trump is still in office. Lately, though, the White House, under pressure from Arab leaders, has sounded less gung-ho about annexation.

Biden the ‘Mensch’ Fires Annexation Warning Shot Across Bibi’s Bow, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Trump’s four years of pampering have induced Israeli complacency – but annexation could exact a steep price, especially if he loses.”

Is Netanyahu hoping for an ‘out’ from annexation?, The Jerusalem Post
Herb Keinon writes, “The longer Israel waits on the fateful move, the more opposition it will face from the international community.”

Former Israeli Soldiers Seek Answers on Facebook, 20 Years After Lebanon Withdrawal, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “A massive group therapy session is taking place on social media, with thousands of soldiers and commanders sharing their stories.”

How an indicted Netanyahu put his attorney general on trial, Times of Israel
Haviv Rettig Gur writes, “As his corruption trial begins, the PM’s supporters go on the offensive and Avichai Mandelblit finds himself embroiled once more in a decade-old scandal.”