News Roundup for July 12, 2019

July 12, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

‘Only the Strong Survive.’ How Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu Is Testing the Limits of Power, Time
Brian Bennett profiles Prime Minister Netanyahu. “Inside the country, many Israelis have been alarmed by Netanyahu’s efforts to remain in power. Israel’s Attorney General has said he plans to indict Netanyahu after a hearing in October….Netanyahu rejects the charges, but since the last election, his allies have floated plans for legislation that would provide him immunity from prosecution and bar Israel’s Supreme Court from revoking it. The moves compound the impression, already articulated by critics, that Israel’s Prime Minister has embraced the same populist authoritarianism rising elsewhere around the world…..Yascha Mounk, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University who studies populist leaders, says Netanyahu follows a familiar playbook—suppressing dissenting views, attempting to take political control of public broadcasters and creating a loyal propaganda outlet for himself, led by Israel Hayom, a free tabloid established by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson in 2007, which has consistently supported Netanyahu.”

House votes to end US role in Yemen, poised to block Trump from launching Iran strike, USA Today
“The House approved a measure Thursday that would force President Donald Trump to end U.S. military support of Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen. Next up is a proposal that would bar Trump from launching a military strike against Iran, which supporters predict will pass in a vote set for Friday. The twin legislative actions represent a new level of congressional push back against Trump’s foreign policy, as Democrats use their House majority to rebuke the president over his aggressive stance toward Iran and his cozy ties with Saudi Arabia.”


Biden, in Foreign Policy Speech, Castigates Trump and Urges Global Diplomacy, The New York Times
“In broad but unequivocal terms, Mr. Biden delivered a scathing assessment of Mr. Trump’s leadership, saying his judgment has tarnished the country’s reputation abroad and undermined its ability to achieve its foreign policy goals. As a counterpoint, Mr. Biden set forth his own foreign policy vision that includes putting diplomacy first and working with other countries — rather than unilaterally — toward collective goals.”

Former Meretz leader Zandberg takes No. 2 slot in party vote, Times of Israel
The left-wing Meretz party placed its recently deposed leader Tamar Zandberg second on the party’s Knesset slate ahead of the September election, in an internal primary vote Thursday.

EU Cites Progress on Iran Barter System to Get Around Trump Sanctions, Haaretz
The European Union says it is making some progress on its controversial barter-type system to trade with Tehran and get around U.S. sanctions as part of its efforts to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive. EU foreign policy secretary general Helga Schmid said Thursday that beyond the 10 EU nations that are already part of the system, she could “share with you that more, also non-EU member states, will join.”

Trump’s pick for top general plays down Iran war talk, Al-Monitor
In the wake of months of tensions between the United States and Iran, President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as the Pentagon’s top military official downplayed the potential for conflict with Tehran in his confirmation today.

Exclusive: U.S. will not blacklist Iran’s foreign minister, for now, Reuters
The United States has decided not to impose sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for now, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday, in a sign Washington may be holding a door open for diplomacy.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump is strangling Iran. It’s sowing resentment across the Middle East., Washington Post
Fareed Zakaria writes, “The Trump administration has created a humanitarian crisis in Iran and a geopolitical crisis in the Middle East with no strategy for resolving either. The Iran pact had forced Tehran to commit that it would never develop nuclear weapons, to ship away 98 percent of its enriched uranium, destroy its plutonium reactor, and agree to limits and intrusive inspections for 10 to 25 years. The international inspectors — as well as the intelligence agencies of the major powers — confirmed that Iran was adhering to the deal. By withdrawing from the pact, the Trump administration has allowed Iran to start moving away from these limits.”

Israel in Efforts to Keep Gaza Calm After Killing ‘Misidentified’ Hamas Member, Haaretz
“The Israeli army on Thursday shot a Hamas member acting to turn away Palestinians who approached the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, prompting threats of retaliation from militant groups in the Strip….Mediation attempts between Israel and Hamas have already initiated following the incident, and ahead of Friday’s weekly border protests, but the Defense Ministry remains uncertain whether or not Palestinian factions will still choose to respond. Israeli forces along the border have been instructed to exercise extreme caution out of fear Hamas will attempt to harm soldiers or military vehicles operating near the fence.”

Why Hamas changes strategy, privileges arrangement with Israel, Al-Monitor
Shlomi Eldar reports, “Since the IDF began using advanced technology to unearth the terror tunnels, Hamas has abandoned its flagship project in which it had invested millions of dollars. Even if some undetected tunnels remain, as far as Israel knows they are inactive and Hamas would have a hard time using them and overcoming the new Israeli barrier. The Hamas decision to forgo its tunnel enterprise has significant implications for the military doctrine of the organization’s armed wing and the movement’s diplomatic path.”