News Roundup for January 4, 2019

January 4, 2019

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J Street in the News

New Congress, New Battle for Israel: From One-staters to pro-Israel Dems, a ‘New Reality’ Begins in D.C., Haaretz

“Dylan Williams, J Street’s senior vice president for government affairs, told Haaretz his organization is concerned about support for a one-state solution on both the left and right. He noted that while Tlaib will be the only Democrat in Congress who openly supports the one-state solution, there are dozens of Republicans who have endorsed the Israeli right’s version of a one-state solution – which is basically annexation in the West Bank without providing citizenship and equal rights to the Palestinians.”

Top News and Analysis

PM: Mandelblit facing ‘thuggish, inhumane’ pressure to announce indictment, Times of Israel

“In increasingly combative comments as corruption probes against him come to a head, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out Thursday at ‘the left’ and at ‘the media,’ claiming they were coordinating a ‘thuggish’ campaign to pressure Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to announce an indictment against him in order to ‘steal’ the April 9 elections. Mandelblit, meanwhile, warned of attempts ‘to undermine the public’s trust in the professionalism and impartiality” of the justice system’s decisions.’”

A Panicked Netanyahu Is Bracing for the Inevitable, Haaretz

Yossi Verter observes, “Until the past week, when talk turned to parties in a future coalition that would refuse to serve under a prime minister who, following a hearing, had been indicted – it was about Kahlon’s Kulanu. The finance minister has declared time after time that the place of a prime minister who has been charged is in the courtroom, not in the security cabinet conference room….According to Netanyahu, adding Kahlon to Likud is an insurance policy against being deposed. An independent Kahlon heading his own party will keep his word and leave the coalition – but with Kahlon and a few of his MKs embedded in Likud, they’ll be committed and trapped…From the campaign to wear down Kahlon wafts the pungent fragrance of panic.”

As U.S. Tolerates Israeli Settlements, More Are Planned For The West Bank, NPR

Daniel Estrin reports, “An Israeli anti-settlement group says plans for settlements on occupied territory in the West Bank have increased dramatically during the Trump administration compared to the Obama administration.”


In first political comments, Gantz says certain settlements to remain ‘forever’, Times of Israel

“After a long period in which public knowledge of his political views remained scant, a clip from an interview released Thursday shows former IDF chief of staff and chairman of the new Israel Resilience Party Benny Gantz offering a taste of what his vision for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might look like. In the Channel 12 interview — which he gave last February, but was broadcast Thursday for the first time — Gantz said settlements like ‘the Etzion bloc, Ariel, Ofra and Elkana will remain forever.’ ‘But [the question is] how we arrange that they will remain forever,’ Gantz added.” The former IDF chief said what most concerns him about the current state of Israeli society “is its fragmentation, its radicalization.”

Netanyahu Orders Hearing for Military Secretary After West Bank Outpost Eviction Goes Ahead, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused his military secretary of failing to relay his order to prevent the evacuation of a West Bank outpost in time, and asked Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Thursday to hold a disciplinary hearing for the officer. Eisenkot agreed, and the hearing for Col. Avi Bluth is slated for Friday.

Netanyahu’s Likud said seeking to merge with Kulanu party, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly eyeing a political union with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, which was founded by the former Likud lawmaker as a more socially oriented alternative to the ruling party. According to a report Wednesday by the Kan public broadcaster, Netanyahu’s aides over the last week have contacted Kahlon and urged him to join forces with Likud ahead of the April 9 elections. The offer to Kahlon includes a promise to reappoint him finance minister in the next government and reserve several spots on the Likud slate for Kulanu members, according to the report.

More Than Half Of New Immigrants To Israel In 2018 Were Not Considered Jewish, Forward

More than half of the immigrants to Israel in 2018 were not recognized as Jewish under religious law. According to end of the year data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, of the 30,300 immigrants who arrived in Israel last year under the Law of Return, some 12,600 were recognized as Jewish and 17,700 were not. That means 54 percent of the new immigrants are not Jewish. Some 39 percent are recognized as Jewish and 7 percent are Arab. Under the Law of Return, anyone with a Jewish grandparent can immigrate to Israel. But he or she must have a Jewish mother in order to be registered as Jewish.

Labor Party Members Move to Unseat Leader Gabbay After Livni’s Ouster, Haaretz

“Labor Party members have begun collecting signatures with the goal of ousting party head Avi Gabbay. Sources in the party said that the move comes after Gabbay dismantled the Zionist Union and ousted Hatnuah head Tzipi Livni live on TV. They added that Gabbay has turned his back on security and diplomatic issues and pointed to the party’s drop in the polls.”

Abbas to meet Sissi for talks on reconciliation with Hamas — PA official, Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Egypt within the next two days to discuss reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah, a senior Palestinian official said on Thursday.

Opinion and Analysis

Unseen Enemy: Doctors in Gaza Battling Superbug Epidemic, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

“Doctors in Gaza and the West Bank warn they are battling an epidemic of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, a growing problem in the world’s conflict zones and one that risks spilling over borders and diminishing the global medical arsenal against serious illness. The rise and spread of these virulent infections adds to the devastation of war, increasing medical costs, blocking hospital beds because patients need longer care and leaving people whose injuries might once have been healed with life-changing disabilities….Shortages of water, power and fuel for generators mean doctors often cannot meet even basic hygiene standards. Staff sometimes can’t even wash their hands, sterilising machines are unreliable, and there are shortages of gloves, gowns and chlorine tablets for sanitising the hospitals, medical professionals say.”

My Father Amos Oz Left Us With World-changing Words, Haaretz

Fania Oz-Salzberger writes, “[F]ather insisted and said, even at the end, toward the end, that men and women can become better with time, more complex and better, thanks to some touch of the proximate other, and of the pain of the far-off and foreign other, through the ability to tell each other stories and to hear stories and to live for a brief moment in the foreign skin of the heroes of the stories. And father said to me: All the moral instructions and the Ten Commandments and the good characteristics I can bring down to one commandment: Do not cause pain. That is all. Do not cause pain. And if that is impossible, at least cause less pain. As little as possible.”