News Roundup for May 5, 2020

May 5, 2020

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J Street in the News

National Security Veterans Urge Democrats To Go Farther In Opposition To Israel’s Trump-Approved Land Grab, Huffington Post
“The Democratic Party should use its 2020 platform to encourage a fair end to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and to condemn unhelpful moves by Israel, more than 30 former national security officials said in a Monday letter to the Democratic National Committee. Such language would be a big shift for the Democratic Party, which has been reluctant to criticize Israel, a U.S. ally. But adding it now is vital both to guide policy and to contrast with President Donald Trump, whose administration has greenlighted hardline Israeli policies, the foreign policy experts argue in their message, an advance copy of which was shared exclusively with HuffPost. The group wants the party and its presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden to loudly oppose unilateral Israeli annexation of land in the West Bank, the area that would be integral to a full-fledged Palestinian state, as well as Israel’s military occupation of that region and its policy of building Israeli settlements there […] The Monday message echoed a petition circulated by J Street, a liberal Jewish organization that promotes a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians. In March, the campaign secured signatures from more than 200 Jewish leaders for the same message and sent it to both the Republican and Democratic national committees.”

J Street welcomes letter urging DNC to oppose annexation on Party platform, The Jerusalem Post
“The progressive Jewish group J Street posted the letter on its website, saying it ‘welcomed’ its content. ‘This important and timely letter comes as a new Israeli governing agreement has likely opened the door to illegal, unilateral annexation in the West Bank — with the approval of the Trump administration — as soon as July 1,’ J Street said in a statement. “

Leading Foreign Policy Professionals Urge DNC to Make Critical Updates to 2020 Party Platform Section on Israel/Palestine, J Street
“J Street, the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans, welcomed today the release of a new letter in which 32 leading US foreign policy professionals urge Democratic leaders to ensure that the party’s 2020 platform includes an explicit commitment to Palestinian rights alongside Israeli security, and explicit opposition to ongoing Israeli occupation and potential unilateral annexation in the West Bank.”

Top News and Analysis

American Jews: You are desperately needed in the fight against annexation, The Forward
The most serious setback to peace in the Middle East has taken place under the cloud of the coronavirus and the internal Israeli political scene. A chance, however, still exists for a unified Arab coalition with action by American Jews to create a firewall that will help preserve a chance for Israeli-Palestinian peace […] Pro-peace American Jewish groups, who strongly oppose annexation, must vociferously ramp up their efforts to foil the plan, making common cause with other Americans who support the two-state solution. These groups have partners in Israel, including a coalition of five Israeli peace movements, who vociferously oppose the Gantz-Netanyahu annexation plan.

In marathon hearing, Israel’s top court debates Netanyahu’s fate, legalities of his coalition, Washington Post
Israel’s democratic process and the fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have come under legal scrutiny this week as the country’s highest court weighs whether a person charged with serious crimes should be allowed to form a government and whether a deal between Netanyahu and his main rival to end a year-long political stalemate is legal. The proceedings could have serious implications — not only for the long-serving Israeli leader but also for the judiciary and the political system in general — if the final verdict derails the government that Netanyahu is trying to form with onetime challenger Benny Gantz.

After hearings, Likud, Blue and White set to announce coalition deal revisions, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White were due to announce revisions to their three-year coalition deal by 2 p.m. Tuesday, a day after the High Court indicated there were some clauses it could strike down if they aren’t altered and gave the parties 24 hours to introduce changes.


Netanyahu: Court’s Intervention in Deal With Gantz Could Lead to Fourth Election, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday evening that the High Court of Justice’s intervention in the coalition agreement between his Likud party and Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan “could increase the likelihood of a fourth election.”

Israel eases coronavirus rules: It’s back to the malls and visits with the grandkids (but no hugs), JTA
In a nationally televised address Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in Israel. The new rules permit visits by first-degree relatives – without hugs — and cancel the restriction on movement beyond the immediate vicinity of one’s home. This means that grandchildren and their grandparents to get together for the first time in weeks.

Gaza life lightens up for Ramadan as lockdown eases with epidemic at bay, Washington Post
Ramadan, Islam’s month-long celebration of daytime fasts and nighttime feasts, has lent a meager measure of normality to an abnormal spring in Gaza. For residents who know they will struggle for months with the economic upheaval that the pandemic has already brought, the holiday has meant a glimpse of easier living and the cautious hope that protective measures are working.

Abbas extends state of emergency in West Bank by 30 days, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday night extended by an additional 30 days the state of emergency in the West Bank areas under the PA’s control, concerned by a potential widespread outbreak amid the holy month of Ramadan.

14 dead, including Iranians, in Syria strikes attributed to Israel — report, Times of Israel
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, all of the fatalities in the bombardment of militia bases in the Deir Ezzor region were Iranian or Iraqi nationals.

Opinion and Analysis

Under Cover of COVID-19, Israel Seems to Intensify Its Attacks Against Iran in Syria, Haaretz
Haviv Rettig Gur writes, “With Tehran still reeling from Soleimani’s assassination, harsher U.S. sanctions and an economic crisis, the coronavirus outbreak may have dictated a change in Israel’s regional strategy.”

The coronavirus crisis is a ‘pressure cooker’ for domestic violence, +972 Mag
Henriette Chacar writes, “Directives to shelter at home may be flattening one curve, but they have led to a spike in domestic and gender-based violence, and the Israeli government is yet to offer timely solutions.”

Let the People of Israel Remember the Soldier Who Shot a Palestinian in the Back, Haaretz
Gideon Levy writes, “The IDF is proud of Shomer and his actions. It views him as a hero. This is his moral legacy to soldiers: Shoot fleeing teenagers and represent the IDF.”