News Roundup for January 23, 2019

January 23, 2019

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J Street in the News

Congress in no hurry to act as Palestinians reject security aid, Al-Monitor

“Palestinian officials today announced that they will no longer accept US security assistance amid fears that doing so could open them up to terrorism-related lawsuits. The concerns stem from the consequences of a law Congress passed last year. The White House has asked Congress to amend the law before it goes into effect at the end of the month, but lawmakers appear in no hurry to do so….The liberal lobbying group J Street has also joined the chorus of calls to amend the law, faulting the Trump administration for a government shutdown that has distracted Congress from fixing it. In a statement today, J Street wrote that ‘congressional leaders have expressed a desire to resolve the issue and allow the security assistance to continue’ but blamed the shutdown for ‘jeopardizing a vital component of Israeli security.’”

Government Shutdown Jeopardizes Vital US Support for Palestinian Security Coordination with Israel, J Street

“The news that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will soon stop accepting US funding for vital Palestinian security cooperation with Israel is deeply concerning and could be extremely damaging to Israel’s security. The decision by the PA comes in response to unresolved complications resulting from the “Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act” (ATCA) signed into law last year. While congressional leaders have expressed a desire to resolve the issue and allow the security assistance to continue, President Trump’s ongoing, outrageous shutdown of the federal government has prevented lawmakers from taking the necessary action. The shutdown, which has already harmed thousands of federal workers and impacted millions of other Americans, is now jeopardizing a vital component of Israeli security.”

Top News and Analysis

Gaza Escalation: ‘Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Strip, Withholds Qatari Cash’, Haaretz

“The Israel Air Force began striking targets is the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinians reported on Tuesday night. The alleged strikes came hours after an Israeli official said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided not to allow a Qatari money transfer into the Strip following Tuesday’s escalation along the Gaza border, which saw one Israeli soldier lightly wounded and one Palestinian killed. Israel’s security cabinet is expected to convene Wednesday morning to discuss the deterioration on the border with the coastal enclave.”

US aid cuts hit Palestinians, further dimming hope for peace, USA Today

“Tens of thousands of Palestinians are no longer getting food aid or basic health services from America, U.S.-funded infrastructure projects have been halted, and an innovative peace-building program in Jerusalem is scaling back its activities. The Trump administration’s decision last year to cut more than $200 million in development aid to the Palestinians is forcing NGOs to slash programs and lay off staff as the effects ripple through a community that has spent more than two decades promoting peace in the Middle East.”


Netanyahu threatens Gaza, Iran after flareups on two fronts, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday threatened the Gaza Strip after an escalation of violence on the border, saying that Israel was ready for all possible scenarios. Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, also threatened Iran and vowed to fight the country’s forces in Syria.

Poll: Likud to Lose Four Knesset Seats if Netanyahu Is Indicted for Bribery, Haaretz

Likud is forecast to lose four Knesset seats if Attorney General Avichai Medelblit announces his intention to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for accepting bribes ahead of the election, according to ta poll published Tuesday. The poll, conducted for Army Radio, says Likud would win 29 seats if the election is held today – before an indictment is announced – but only 25 if Netanyahu is indicted.

In veiled criticism of Netanyahu, president says rule of law in Israel ‘eroding’, Times of Israel

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday warned that respect for the rule of law is declining in Israel, in remarks seen as critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attacks against the attorney general and the police.“Law enforcement is not always a pleasant job; sometimes it means using force against citizens, not against foreign enemies,” the president said at an award ceremony for police officers in Jerusalem. “Respect for the rule of law has been eroded over the years,” he said according to remarks released by his office. “The law is seen as artificial, onerous, limiting and irritating.”

Airbnb will delist areas in Georgia republic in addition to West Bank Jewish settlements, JTA

Airbnb, which has taken heat for removing listings in West Bank Jewish settlements, has updated the areas it would delist, adding two contested autonomous areas in the republic of Georgia. South Ossetia and Abhkazia has been added to the places where Airbnb will not offer rooms and homes for rent.

Shas leader vows party will back Netanyahu for PM, even if he’s indicted, Times of Israel

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Tuesday said his Shas party will support Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister after the upcoming April elections, even if the Israeli leader is indicted in any of the three corruption cases against him. Speaking at a meeting to launch the ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s election campaign, Deri said Netanyahu can stay in office as long as he legally allowed to — which some have argued may be until he is convicted.

Opinion and Analysis

Why the Israeli Right Hates the State of Israel and Is Bent on Demolishing Its Democracy, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “The right’s decades-old campaign to impose its political will on the legal system was once seen as a direct outgrowth of the occupation and as a specific tactic focused on freeing the military and the Jewish settler movement from the shackles of Israeli and international law. Netanyahu has now added his personal prestige and his knack for manipulating the right wing’s obsessive sense of victimhood to the overall assault on courts that question the legality of land seizures in the West Bank, military jurists who impose limitations on the army’s license to kill and an internal security service that continues to investigate, detain and, in rare cases, prosecute Jewish terrorists as if they were no different, perish the thought, from Arab terrorists who carry out identical acts of violence.”

How the Jewish Left and Palestinian Arabs Can Remake Israeli Politics, Foreign Policy

Mikhael Manekin and Ameer Fakhoury write, “In the long run, those who desire to create a political and ideological response to Netanyahu’s fear-mongering must ask themselves: What does it mean to be a liberal or progressive in Israel today? Not only do we need to call for ending the occupation within a framework of two states, but we must also address the fundamental political inequalities of the Arab minority in Israel. The Jewish left and the Arab Palestinian parties in Israel must be able to seek a more common political and ideological ground; otherwise Netanyahu’s claim of Arab citizens as a political threat to the Jewish state will remain without an ideological and political alternative. An alliance based on political interests does not mean shelving forever a longer conversation on political and national identity. The need to work together—due to practical political weaknesses—can also be a crucial first step for mutual understanding of what a shared society can look like. If Jews and Arabs within Israel desire to see themselves in positions of leadership, the road lies through creating a stronger common civic identity, not through the heightening of differences.”

Israeli left’s ideas are winning; why aren’t its politicians?, Times of Israel

Liat Schlesinger and Orni Petruschka write, “With the April elections taking place while Netanyahu is under a cloud of serious criminal investigations and the US is reducing its involvement in the Middle East, this is the time to learn from past mistakes. The left must replace ambiguous campaigns with a strong political infrastructure and positioning and long-term consolidation. The left will not win the upcoming or future elections until parties, politicians and civil society organizations vigorously commit to comprehensive progressive policy, effective media messages and a coherent political identity, enabled by a strong and dedicated progressive infrastructure.”