News Roundup for October 29, 2020

October 29, 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

When a candidate met the ex-Israeli PM who killed his grandparents, Jewish Insider
“Ammar Campa-Najjar never imagined that he would come face-to-face with the man who, nearly 50 years ago, led the team of Israeli commandos that killed his grandparents. But last October, he found himself shaking hands with Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister who carried out the covert mission during his time in an elite unit of the Israel Defense Forces. […] Their discussion took place behind the scenes during a J Street conference in Washington, D.C., according to Campa-Najjar, who said he requested the meeting and that Barak courteously obliged. “

Extending Us-Israel Agreements to Settlements in Occupied Territory, Trump Admin Hands Another Outrageous Gift to Israeli Right, J Street
“By signing an agreement at Ariel University today that removed an explicit restriction that had prevented US-Israel scientific research cooperation agreements from including Israeli institutions located in occupied territory beyond the Green Line, the Trump administration has yet again handed a major gift to the settlement movement while discarding decades of bipartisan US policy. Even while the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE has put de jure annexation of the West Bank on hold, steps like these show that the administration is fully empowering the ongoing process of de facto, creeping annexation of occupied territory.”

Top News and Analysis

Two years after the Tree of Life shooting, the world feels dark. We must be the light., JTA
Joe Biden writes, “If I am elected, we will fight the evil that is anti-Semitism, address domestic extremism and maintain our unbreakable bond with Israel.”

Palestinian Leaders Are Banking on Biden Win Next Week, New York Times
A Biden victory could bring economic relief for Palestinians and friendlier relations with Washington, though not a return to 2016. A Trump win? They’d rather not think about it.

Mnuchin’s awkward encounter with former Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin’s daughter, Axios
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was confronted by Yitzhak Rabin’s daughter last week after a speech on the Arab-Israeli peace process in which he seemed to overlook the role of the late Israeli prime minister. A surprised Mnuchin told her, “This was my speech and I don’t owe you any explanations.” Mnuchin didn’t realize he was speaking with Rabin’s daughter, according to assistant secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs Monica Crowley.


Why These Jewish Republican National Security Experts Are Endorsing Joe Biden, Haaretz
Two senior Republican national security figures endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden over U.S. President Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential race, citing the latter’s “coddling of dictators,” “inability to work with allies” and flawed character at a virtual event on Wednesday night.

Israel and US to extend their scientific cooperation to West Bank and Golan, Times of Israel
The US and Israel will expand their scientific cooperation agreements to include the West Bank and the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced Tuesday.

Jewish Voters in Maine Like Sen. Susan Collins – and Can’t Wait to Vote Against Her, Haaretz
This year Sue Garson – a registered independent who had always vowed to vote for “the person, not the party” – cast her early ballot for Collins’ Democratic opponent, Sara Gideon. She says it wasn’t an easy decision but she had no choice.

At memorial for Pittsburgh shooting, Bernie Sanders includes Israel in list of countries where authoritarianism is rising, JTA
Sanders spoke about how relatives of his were murdered in the Holocaust, and how he understands the threat posed when white supremacists gain power. He then spoke about how white supremacy targets Jews and all minorities, and how it poses a threat to liberal democracy. He then segued to speaking about how illiberalism and authoritarianism were on the rise around the world, including in Israel.

Palestinian international peace conference gaining traction, Al-Monitor
The idea presented by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold an international peace conference in early 2021 appears to be gaining traction in major international capitals. In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, sounded upbeat about the interest of the world community in participating in the suggested conference due to take place after the inauguration of a new US president in 2021.

Israel to Allow Palestinian Farmers More Access to Their Lands Near Green Line, Haaretz
Israel has informed the High Court of Justice that it will revoke certain regulations issued last year that restricted Palestinian farmers’ ability to access their lands located between the separation barrier and Israeli territory, and in particular, the annual quota limiting the number of entries.

Gantz claims ‘positive voices’ in Lebanon talking about peace with Israel, Times of Israel
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday signaled optimism about the prospect of an eventual peace deal between Israel and Lebanon, as the two countries hold rare indirect talks on demarcating their maritime border.

Opinion and Analysis

Stop saying Biden will restore bipartisanship on Israel. There’s no going back., The Forward
Abe Silberstein writes, “American Jewish leaders committed to nonpartisanship will find themselves confronted with tense political dramas over Israel. In the end, it may be better to acknowledge that the era of bipartisan support is gone rather than keep it on life support.”

U.S. election result will shake up Israeli politics, Axios
Barak Ravid writes, “If Trump wins, Netanyahu will likely use his close relationship with Trump to recover domestically. He may try to cash in through early elections, telling voters he can accomplish many things if he gets another four years of working with Trump. If Trump loses, it will be a big blow at a time when he can hardly afford it. Netanyahu has a long-standing, friendly personal relationship with Joe Biden, but nothing like the ideological and political alignment he has with Trump.”

Israeli zeal for second Trump term matched by Palestinian enmity, The Guardian
Oliver Holmes writes, “Anyone in any doubt about Benjamin Netanyahu’s preferred candidate in the US presidential election need only visit his personal Twitter account. Right at the top, behind the headshot of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, is a banner photo of him with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, their eyes fixed on each other.”

Is Netanyahu dumping Trump?, The Jerusalem Post
Douglas Bloomfield writes, “The Israeli government has much work ahead rebuilding relations with Washington if Biden and the Democrats prevail next week. Netanyahu is not the man for that job. Choosing Israel’s leaders is a job for Israel’s voters, who often rank stewardship of the American alliance a leading priority.”

The Middle East has been too absent from US election debates, The National
Gerald Feierstein writes, “Despite the low incidence of debate over foreign policy in general and on US relations in the Middle East in particular, the outcome of the 2020 election will undoubtedly be significant for the region.”