News Roundup for January 7, 2019

January 7, 2019

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J Street in the News

5 Jewish facts to know about Elizabeth Warren, JTA

“Warren accepted the endorsement of J Street, the liberal Jewish pro-Israel policy group, and has joined Sanders, who has become a lead critic of its current government’s policies, in some of his initiatives. She was one of 10 senators to write Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to demolish Palestinian villages in the West Bank. At the launch of at times violent Palestinian protests on Israel’s Gaza border, she urged Israel to show restraint….Warren voted for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that J Street championed and that Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee vigorously opposed. She did not show up to listen to Netanyahu’s controversial March 2015 speech to Congress aimed at shutting down the emerging deal.”

Top News and Analysis

Fratricide in Full Bloom as Israeli Election Campaign Heats Up, The New York Times

“With elections a few months away, it is political fratricide season in Israel: From left to right, candidates are sticking knives in the ribs of their natural allies in hopes of elevating their own chances of succeeding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu….For the moment, the biggest beneficiary of the infighting appears to be Mr. Netanyahu, whose conservative Likud party stands like a giant in Lilliput. But the atomizing parties could come back to haunt him in the April 9 election, said Gideon Rahat, a political scientist at Hebrew University and the Israel Democracy Institute. A comfortable Likud lead could encourage voters to get behind smaller alternatives — but if too many small parties compete, some could fail to enter Parliament and so could not join a governing coalition.”

Decision Whether to Charge Netanyahu in Multiple Corruption Cases Expected Next Month, Haaretz

“Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to make a decision on whether to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the three criminal investigations pending against the prime minister before the April 9 Knesset elections and will announce his decision next month, a source close to Mendelblit has told Haaretz.”

Bolton: US withdrawal from Syria depends on Isis fight and safety of Kurds, The Guardian

“Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said Sunday the US military withdrawal from north-eastern Syria is conditioned on defeating the remnants of Islamic State, and on Turkey assuring the safety of Kurdish fighters allied with the US. Bolton, who traveled to Israel to reassure the US ally of the Trump-ordered withdrawal, said there is no timetable for the pullout of American forces in northeastern Syria, but insisted it’s not an unlimited commitment.”


Air force hits Gaza targets after rocket fired into Israel, Times of Israel

The Israeli Air Force Struck several targets in the Gaza Strip before dawn on Monday, after terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into Israel, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome system. “Air force fighter jets and helicopters attacked several terror targets at a Hamas training camp in the northern Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces said, noting the attack was in response to the rocket fired into Israel.

U.S. Government Shutdown Endangers American Aid to Palestinian Security Forces, Haaretz

US aid to Palestinian Authority security forces is under threat due to the ongoing government shutdown in Washington, according to two sources familiar with the details. Initiated by US President Donald Trump as a result of a dispute with Democrats in the House of Representatives over the financing of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the shutdown also hinders Congress’ ability to amend a law signed in by the president in October, one which directly threatens the PA’s ability to receive funding from Washington.

Hosting top Trump aide, PM asks US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan, Times of Israel

Hosting a senior aide to US President Donald Trump in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on the administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Top Trump aide Bolton visits Western Wall, stoking Palestinian fury, Times of Israel

US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday visited the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the adjacent Western Wall tunnels, raising the ire of a senior Palestinian official. Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, took to Twitter to denounce the visit, arguing that it undermines international law and will “only lead to lawlessness.”

Israeli bus comes under fire in West Bank, injuring driver, JTA

An Israeli public passenger bus came under fire while travelling in the West Bank from Jerusalem to Beit El. The attack after midnight on Sunday morning shattered the bus windshield and injured the river.

IDF strikes Hamas posts in Gaza after explosive flown into Israel, Times of Israel

The Israeli Air Force struck two Hamas positions in the eastern Gaza Strip on Sunday in response to an explosive device that was flown into southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said. On Sunday morning, a bomb was flown into Israel using a large cluster of balloons and a drone-like glider device, landing in a carrot field in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel shortly before noon.

Shin Bet: Jewish Terror Suspects Are Dangerous anti-Zionists, Haaretz

The Shin Bet security service rejected on Sunday claims it had violated the rights of five Jewish minors suspected of involvement in the murder of Aisha Mohammed Rabi last October, calling the criticism “a de-legitimization campaign by people with interests.” According to a Shin Bet statement, evidence points to the “anti-Zionist and extreme” nature of the suspects, as well as to the danger they pose.

Trump peace plan rollout to be delayed by several months, US envoy says, Times of Israel

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Sunday that although the Trump administration’s long-anticipated Middle East peace plan is “pretty much completed,” the rollout of the proposal will be delayed by several months. Israel’s April elections “are a factor, but not the only factor” in the postponement, Friedman told reporters.

Opinion and Analysis

American Jews and Israeli Jews Are Headed for a Messy Breakup, The New York Times

Jonathan Weisman writes, “The events of the past year brought American and Israeli Jews ever closer to a breaking point….Part of the distance between Jews in the United States and Israeli Jews may come from the stance that Israel’s leader is taking on the world stage. Mr. Netanyahu has embraced the increasingly authoritarian Hungarian leader Victor Orban, who ran a blatantly anti-Semitic re-election campaign. He has aligned himself with ultranationalists like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and a Polish government that passed a law making it a crime to suggest the Poles had any responsibility for the Holocaust….Israeli politicians — and citizens — are increasingly dismissive of the views of American Jews anyway. Evangelical Christians, ardently pro-Israel, give Jerusalem a power base in Washington that is larger and stronger than the American Jewish population. And with Orthodox American Jews aligned with evangelicals, that coalition has at least an interfaith veneer — even without Conservative and Reform Jews, the bulk of American Jewry.”

How Israeli senior officials deal with an unpredictable Trump, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit reports, “If one sets aside the settlers and the impressive control wielded by Ambassador Ron Dermer over Trump’s circle and Netanyahu himself — who calls Trump “my friend” at every opportunity — one finds other views, too. These are especially evident within Israeli defense, intelligence and diplomatic circles, where people examine Trump’s conduct from up close on a daily basis, try (to no avail) to understand his modus operandi and policies, and are extremely worried about things to come…..Israel is not at ease and finds hard to accept the US withdrawal from Syria. From a military standpoint, the American presence is marginal….Some in Netanyahu’s circle believe Israel should apply more aggressive pressure, including the mobilization of the president’s evangelical political base, to reverse Trump’s decision.”

Amid Trump Pressure, Israel Mulls Cooling Burgeoning China Ties, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “America’s concerns about the strengthening of Israel’s trade and technology ties with China are a central focus of the talks that U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is holding in Israel.”