Jonathan Lis reports, “Israel’s president issued a public call against new legislation that could allow separate communities to be established for Jews only, calling it discriminatory. In a letter published Tuesday, President Reuven Rivlin expressed concern that approving the contentious article of the so-called Nation-state Bill would harm Jews around the world. According to Rivlin, he is ‘concerned that the broad nature of this article, that has no balance, could harm the Jewish people and Jews around the world and in Israel, and could even be used by our enemies as a weapon.”
Adam Entous reports, “While America’s closest allies in Europe viewed with a sense of dread Trump’s interest in partnering with Putin, three countries that enjoy unparallelled influence with the incoming Administration—Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E.—privately embraced the goal. Officials from the three countries have repeatedly encouraged their American counterparts to consider ending the Ukraine-related sanctions in return for Putin’s help in removing Iranian forces from Syria.”
Israel shuts primary Gaza crossing over border violence, Associated Press
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the immediate closure of the main cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday in response to Palestinians launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israel. Netanyahu vowed to use a “heavy hand” against Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, and said more steps would be taken, without elaborating.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on July 11 where the two leaders are expected to “ensure security coordination and discuss regional developments.
Israel said on Monday it was closing the Gaza Strip’s main commercial crossing and limiting the Palestinian coastal enclave’s fishing zone in a crackdown targeting Hamas Islamists whom it blames for border protests now in their fourth month.
Liberman vows ‘strong response’ if Syrian military enters Golan DMZ, Times of Israel
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened Syria Monday with a “strong response” should it violate a delicate decades-old ceasefire agreement on the Golan heights as it looks to reclaim pockets of rebel-held territory.
UN agency for Palestinians warns of cuts ahead, Al-Monitor
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees has warned that cuts to key programmes in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank are planned over the coming weeks if a US funding freeze cannot be overcome. Figures were not yet available on the cuts being planned if the major gap in financing is not resolved, but a letter sent to agency staff at the weekend and seen by AFP on Monday highlights areas targeted.
The false logic of slashing funds for Palestinians, Times of Israel
J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “The idea that Palestinians would be rewarded for committing terrorist acts is of course disgusting and unjustifiable. It should be halted. But this legislation is unlikely to fulfill its goal. The money to the so-called “martyrs” will continue to flow. Other programs that build democracy and civil society will be hurt instead. This will stoke more bitterness and hatred and pave the way for more violence and more casualties on both sides. And it should be remembered that the money Israel is withholding belongs to the Palestinians, not to Israel.”
Michael Barnett writes, “It’s a shocking thing for the Prime Minister of the Jewish State to be accused of aiding Holocaust revisionism. And yet, this episode is only the latest in a string of events in which the Israeli government has given comfort to anti-Semitism. On June 4, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer praised Hungary for being a great friend of Israel, saying the country had a “zero tolerance policy” regarding anti-Semitism. And yet, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and many of its leading politicians have trafficked in anti-Semitism, blaming Hungary’s ills on the Jewish philanthropist George Soros and making speeches that are laden with anti-Semitic tropes.”
Adam Entous writes, “[Frank] Lowenstein was the Obama Administration’s special envoy on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a position that exposed him to hundreds of maps of the West Bank….Typically, those maps made Jewish settlements and outposts look tiny compared to the areas where the Palestinians lived. The new map in the briefing book was different. It showed large swaths of territory that were off limits to Palestinian development and filled in space between the settlements and the outposts. At that moment, Lowenstein told me, he saw “the forest for the trees”—not only were Palestinian population centers cut off from one another but there was virtually no way to squeeze a viable Palestinian state into the areas that remained.”
Anne Gearan reports, “With President Trump’s promised Middle East peace plan stalled, administration officials are focusing on improving conditions in the impoverished Gaza Strip — a move that could put political pressure on Palestinian leaders to come to the negotiating table. The larger peace proposal has been stymied by the Palestinian Authority, which would negotiate any settlement but remains incensed at Trump’s decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A group of U.S. officials led by Jared Kushner came away from what had appeared to be a crucial trip to the region last month without breaking the impasse.”