News Roundup for October 19, 2020

October 8, 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

Right-wing, ultra-Orthodox Parties Accused of Plotting ‘Hostile Takeover’ of Key Zionist Institutions, Haaretz
“The non-Orthodox Jewish movements are teaming up with the center-left parties in Israel in a last-ditch effort to prevent the takeover of key international Zionist institutions by right-wing and rigidly Orthodox political parties. On Tuesday, the World Zionist Congress will be asked to approve an agreement that would effectively hand over control of key positions at the World Zionist Organization and its affiliate organizations — The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael in Hebrew) — to these parties”.

Saudi FM pushes Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, nixes imminent normalization, Times of Israel
“Saudia Arabia’s top diplomat on Thursday called for direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, while again suggesting the kingdom won’t normalize ties with the Jewish state until the decades-old conflict is resolved. In an interview with a US-based think tank, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud underlined the kingdom’s support for the Arab Peace Initiative, which sees a Palestinian state as a prerequisite to rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world.”

Iran sees no arms buying spree as it expects U.N. embargo to end, Reuters
“Iran said it was self-reliant in its defense and had no need to go on a weapons buying spree as a United Nations conventional arms embargo was due to expire on Sunday despite strong U.S. opposition…In August, the Trump administration triggered a process aimed at restoring all U.N. sanctions, after the U.N. Security Council rejected a U.S. bid to extend the conventional arms embargo on the country.”


Top PLO official Erekat, sick with COVID, hospitalized in Israel, Times of Israel
Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, was hospitalized Sunday in Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.

Israel and Bahrain Sign Joint Declaration – but Not Yet a Peace Deal, Haaretz
“An Israeli delegation led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Foreign Ministry director general Alon Ushpiz flew to Bahrain on Sunday where they signed a joint communique on establishing diplomatic relations with the Bahraini government….It is not anticipated that the declaration to be signed will be a full-blown peace agreement like the one Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates last month, in part due to fierce opposition in Bahrain to the normalization of relations with Israel.”

Poll: Israelis believe politics leading virus decisions, pan PM’s performance, Times of Israel
Most Israelis believe political considerations are the leading factor in the government decision-making process as it seeks to bring the country out of its latest national lockdown, according to a poll published Sunday. The Channel 12 survey found 63 percent of those questioned cited politics as the main concern for leaders, while only 26% believed professional considerations were guiding decisions.

Adelson dumps $75 million into flagging Trump campaign, Forward
In a last-ditch effort to save his ally and fellow real estate developer before November 3, Jewish-American Casino Mogul Sheldon Adelson has injected $75 million dollars into Trump’s election effort by funding a super-PAC that flooded battleground states with anti-Biden ads in September.

Joint List chief: Israel’s occupation, not Iran, is region’s main problem, Times of Israel
MK Ayman Odeh, head of the majority-Arab Joint List Knesset faction, said Israel’s normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were based on a “twisted logic,” and insisted that the Palestinian issue, rather than Iran, should be the region’s main concern. On Thursday the Joint List was the sole Knesset faction to vote against ratifying the peace deals.

Brad Schneider: Resolution will ‘remind’ lawmakers of QME guarantee to Israel, Jewish Insider
Amid discussion on Capitol Hill over the potential sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) is working to remind lawmakers of Washington’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu off the hook on submarine affair, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “For now, Netanyahu can breathe easy on the submarine front. Had he been indicted in that affair, his name would have been tainted forever as a traitor and his legacy besmirched. As long as he manages to distance himself from it, Netanyahu can continue to fight for his place in history and also for the prime minister’s seat, which he has no intention of giving up.”

Netanyahu Is Giving the Thugs a Wink, Haaretz
The Haaretz editorial board writes, “Netanyahu has sent a clear message to the thugs: The prime minister is turning a blind eye to your acts of violence. And this message that bloodshed is permissible has been understood by his supporters very well. In recent days, demonstrators at several locations around the country have been cursed, spat at, shoved, hit and sprayed with tear gas.”