News Roundup for September 3, 2020

September 3, 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

Trump Administration’s Sanctioning of ICC Officers Is an Appalling Attack on the Rule of Law and International Human Rights, J Street
“Secretary of State Pompeo’s announcement today that the US is imposing sanctions on officers of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an appalling new milestone in the administration’s rogue behavior on the world stage. This is the latest sign that Pompeo and President Trump have contempt for the rule of law and for rules-based international institutions. Not satisfied with merely defaming and undermining the institutions tasked with enforcing key international human rights laws, the administration has now turned to intimidating and penalizing their personnel […] We call on lawmakers to denounce this outrageous move, which is disastrous both for the United States’ international credibility and influence, and for the cause of democratic values and the rule of law around the world.”

Top News and Analysis

International Criminal Court officials sanctioned by US, BBC
The US has imposed sanctions on senior officials in the International Criminal Court, including chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the court of “illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction”. The Hague-based ICC is currently investigating whether US forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The US has criticised the court since its foundation and is one of a dozen states which have not signed up. Balkees Jarrah, senior counsel at the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch, condemned the sanctions as a “shameful new low for US commitments to justice for victims of the worst crimes”.

International Criminal Court condemns US sanctions on officials, Al Jazeera
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has condemned “unprecedented” sanctions imposed by the United States on prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and one of her top aides in retaliation for a probe into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. The Hague-based tribunal said the sanctions announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against Bensouda and another senior official, Phakiso Mochochoko, were “serious attacks” against the rule of law.

In record, over 3,000 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in a day, Times of Israel
Setting a new record for daily cases, the Health Ministry on Thursday said over 3,000 new COVID-19 diagnoses were confirmed the previous day, as ministers were set to meet to discuss additional restrictions in highly infected areas.


IDF: Palestinian who entered Israel from Gaza had bomb, knife, Times of Israel
The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday said a Palestinian man who crossed the border from the southern Gaza Strip a day earlier was in possession of a bomb and knife.

Iran’s Khamenei singles out Jared Kushner as the ‘Jewish member of Trump’s family’ in tweet decrying ‘filthy Zionist agents’, JTA
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called out Jared Kushner as “the Jewish member of Trump’s family” in attacking the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia Opens Airspace to Israeli Flights for First Time, New York Times
Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday that it would allow any flights going to and from the United Arab Emirates to fly over its territory, a move that would give Israel access to some of the kingdom’s airspace for the first time.

Their beloved Chabad house destroyed, University of Delaware students vow to rebuild, bigger, The Forward
Jewish students at the University of Delaware whose Chabad house went up in flames have made their fundraising and rebuilding goals more ambitious after an initial success.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to mentor students at Harvard’s Kennedy School for international affairs, JTA
Erekat will mentor students and give virtual seminars as a fellow in The Future of Diplomacy Project at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden has always sided with Israel. He will be the last Democratic leader to do so, The Forward
Zaid Jilani writes, “There are signs that Americans in general and Democrats in particular are increasingly supportive of using the U.S. government’s leverage to push the Israeli government to make peace. One poll from 2018 found that 40% of Americans and 56% of Democrats support imposing sanctions on Israel if it continues to expand its settlements in the West Bank.”

The Real Peacemaker This Week Was Qatar, Not UAE. Here’s Why, Haaretz
Marc Owen Jones writes, “The Trump-brokered Israel-UAE love-in was a nauseating publicity stunt that the media obediently promoted and amplified. It is not a peace deal.”

Toward a More Proliferated World?, CNAS
Eric Brewer, Ilan Goldenberg, Joseph Rodgers, Maxwell Simon and Kaleigh Thomas write, “U.S. policy must adapt unless Washington wants to be faced with a more proliferated world in the future. Nevertheless, the structural and systemic changes that are driving many of these trends mean that it will be difficult to arrest or reverse them. The best and most durable solutions are also ones that, because of the very nature of these trends, would be extremely challenging to implement over any sustained time frame. Thus, to be effective, sustainable, and realistic, U.S. policy needs to work with—rather than against—these trends. The United States should endeavor to pursue nuclear deals with Iran and North Korea in a way that limits the risk of follow-on nuclear proliferation and broadens the application of enhanced nuclear monitoring and verification practices.”

The anti-Semitic backstory of QAnon, The Forward
David Livingstone Smith writes, “QAnon is one of the strangest developments on the current political scene. Originating in 2017 on the often racist imageboard website 4chan, its members believe that the world is really being run by a secret cabal of devil-worshiping pedophiles, who include billionaires like Bill Gates, celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, and high-profile Democratic politicians like Hilary Clinton, who traffic children, and rape, torture and murder them, to satisfy their depraved appetites. These monsters drain children of their blood and drink it during Satanic rituals — and President Trump is their arch-nemesis. ”

Opening Saudi Skies to Israel May Pave the Crown Prince’s Way Back to Washington, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “MBS seeks to restore his standing in the U.S. after Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed overshadowed him as a leader who shapes the new Middle East policy by normalizing ties with Israel.”

Refugee camps have avoided the worst of the pandemic. That could be about to change, Washington Post
Miriam Berger writes, “Nearly six months into the pandemic, advocates warn, the coronavirus has started to find new footholds in some camps, or in dangerous proximity, threatening some of the world’s most vulnerable populations […] Last week, the Gaza Strip, one of the poorest and most densely populated places on Earth, reported its first official cases of community transmission. Within days, more than 250 covid-19 patients and four deaths were confirmed in the blockaded coastal enclave, where clean water, electricity and medical care are in critically short supply.”