News Roundup for July 3, 2019

July 3, 2019

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J Street in the News

J Street’s First ‘Birthright’ Alternative Trip Arrives In Israel, Jerusalem Post
“’Let Our People Know’ arrived in Israel on Tuesday, for the first of its kind ‘Birthright’ alternative trip. Sponsored by J Street, it is free for 40 American Jewish students. The students will visit the Galilee, Yad Vashem, the Dead Sea and the typical heritage sites of Jerusalem – just like normal Taglit groups. But they will also have the chance to meet with Israeli settlers and Israeli/Palestinian peace activists while visiting Ramallah and Hebron.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Labor Voted for Gravitas Over Young Blood, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer observes, “As old politics go, you can’t get older than Amir Peretz, the new leader of the Labor Party, who won 47 percent of the vote on Tuesday. He is currently the longest-serving Knesset member – the only one to have served in Israel’s parliament for over 30 years….That Labor has turned back to its leader from 12 years ago is a sign not only of the party’s drastically reduced fortunes and fear of extinction, but of the lack of any other heavyweight politician interested in taking on the thankless job….It seems that the long-suffering party members felt that appointing 30-year-olds whose experience, beyond their six years apiece as MKs, was literally as social-justice warriors was a bit too much for the party that founded Israel and ruled it for half its history.”

The Welcome Humiliation of John Bolton, New York Times
Michelle Goldberg writes, “On the surface, he seems an excellent fit with Trump, who is also uninterested in human rights and contemptuous of multilateral institutions. Both are bellicose nationalists, dismissive of climate change, eager to empower the Israeli right, hostile to Islam but solicitous of Saudi Arabia. But the uber-hawk Bolton, who still refuses to admit that the Iraq war was a mistake, has long believed that America’s most implacable enemies include North Korea, Russia and Iran. One multilateral organization he appears to value is NATO, a counterweight to Russia that he once called ‘the most successful political-military alliance in human history.’ Now, at the summit of his career, he’s part of an administration that makes a mockery of his longtime foreign policy philosophy.”

Broken Wall Under East Jerusalem Village Should Give Us All Pause, Haaretz
Nir Hasson writes, “That photo op with the sledgehammers confirms all the Palestinians’ concerns over Trump not only not being an impartial mediator, but having the same positions as those of the Israeli extreme right. Even worse, the wall-breaking demonstrates a total disconnect from reality. Despite the high emotions of the participants and the large banner behind them, in which the houses of Silwan have been effaced, they were after all in a large Palestinian village of 20,000 – and no more than 500 Jewish residents.”

Trump’s envoys take a hammer to Mideast peace, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “In reckoning with the challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians, President Trump and his allies aren’t guilty of subtlety. Their heavy-handed approach has infuriated and alienated one side (the Palestinians) and bestowed upon Israel — and, in particular, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a number of political gifts, including the unilateral recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. There were many doubters before, but absolutely no one now can believe that the United States is an impartial or honest broker in mediating one of the most intractable conflicts in the Middle East. And so, for good measure, Trump’s lieutenants decided to hammer the message home — literally.”


Hundreds Protest Fatal Shooting of Ethiopian Israeli Teen by Off-duty Police Officer, Haaretz
Over a thousand Israelis are protesting in several cities on Tuesday, two days after an off-duty police officer shot and killed an Israeli teen of Ethiopian descent, reigniting anger over law enforcement’s treatment of the minority community.

To Evade Sanctions on Iran, Ships Vanish in Plain Sight, New York Times
As the Trump administration’s sanctions on Iranian oil and petrochemical products have taken hold, some of the world’s shipping fleets have defied the restrictions by ‘going dark’ when they pick up cargo in Iranian ports, according to commercial analysts who track shipping data and intelligence from authorities in Israel, a country that backs the Trump crackdown.

Israel says it is bracing militarily for possible U.S.-Iran escalation, Reuters
Israel is preparing for its possible military involvement in any escalation in the Gulf confrontation between Iran and the United States, the Israeli foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Congratulating new Labor chair Peretz, center-left leaders eye potential unions, Times of Israel
Leaders of centrist and left-wing parties on Tuesday night congratulated Amir Peretz on his election as Labor party chairman, turning their attention to potential alliances now that the identities of the bloc’s leaders ahead of the September elections has been made clear. “The first and most important thing to do is to unite the [center-left] bloc,” Peretz said.

Syria accuses Israel of ‘heinous aggression’ after airstrikes, The Guardian
Syria has accused Israel of ‘heinous aggression’ after alleged Israeli airstrikes killed several civilians.’Israeli authorities are increasingly practising state terrorism,’ the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official Sana news agency on Tuesday. ‘The latest heinous Israeli aggression falls within the framework of ongoing Israeli attempts to prolong the crisis in Syria,’ it added.

In First, Arab Israeli Appointed Chairman of Board at Israel’s Biggest Bank, Haaretz
The banking world has undergone substantial changes in recent years, and we will take steps to continue to position Leumi as a leading, innovative and successful bank,’ the new chairman said.Haj-Yehia joined the board of directors of Leumi, Israel’s largest bank by market capitalization, in 2014. Since Leumi has no controlling shareholder group, the rules allow him to serve as chairman for roughly four and a half years.

Oman denies Mossad chief’s claim it’s establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, Times of Israel
Oman on Tuesday denied it was establishing ties with Israel, a day after the head of the Mossad intelligence service publicly touted the forging of diplomatic relations between Muscat and Jerusalem.

Some army cadets listen to rabbis over military commanders, former Israeli defense minister says, JTA
Religious pre-military academies are creating “private militias” that listen to their rabbis over their military commanders, Avigdor Liberman charged. Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party and formerly defense minister, made the statement during an address at the annual Herzliya policy conference.

Barak vows not to sit in Netanyahu government ‘under any circumstances’, Times of Israel
Former prime minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday pledged his dovish, as-yet unnamed political party would not sit in the same government as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud after the September elections. “Our goal is to bring Israel back on track and topple the Netanyahu regime,” said Barak at a press conference in Tel Aviv.

U.S. Warned Israel Over Deals With China, Top Pentagon Official Tells Haaretz, Haaretz
“John Rood, the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, claimed Tuesday the Chinese leadership has chosen to challenge the existing world order that has emerged since World War II in a way that threatens the national security of the United States…’Our main concern is that we’ve seen China engage in predatory economics elsewhere in the world, in behaviors that are not purely commercial, where China’s security services make use of economic dealings. There’s a pretty close relationship between the state and the so-called private sector. We’ve told our friends in Israel about some of the experiences other states have had.’ said Rood.”

Opinion and Analysis

Lindsey Graham to urge Trump to base peace plan on two-state solution, Axios
Barak Ravid reports, “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of President Trump, said on Tuesday in a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) that he plans to talk to Trump and urge him to base the White House’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan on a two-state solution. ‘I want everybody to understand there is no one-state solution. I will not invest a dime in a situation that results in one state. It is a bad deal for America. If you believe in a democratic Jewish state, it is lost over time from the demographics of merging the two peoples. … If you absorb all the Palestinians and they can vote, the Jewish states gets eroded and if you absorb all the Palestinians and they can’t vote, that’s South Africa and it’s not going to happen.’”

How Israel, Hamas reached a truce, Al-Monitor
“’This time, what has been agreed on between Israel and Hamas — call it understandings or an agreement — is different,’ an Israeli security official told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. Israel, added the source, has maneuvered the campaign away from the border into the center of the enclave, meaning Hamas realized that unless it stops the wave of violence it instigated, such as the violent border clashes and explosive balloons, Israel would shut down the passages into Gaza and the supply of fuel and raw material would dry up.”

The Iran Crisis Is Exposing a Far Deeper Conflict Between Trump and Europe, Haaretz
Wyn Rees writes, “U.S. unilateralism has depleted the reservoir of trust on which the Atlantic relationship was built and is sustained. Whilst the EU regarded the Iran deal as a critical contribution to international order, the Trump administration doesn’t hide its contempt for multilateralism and is wedded to acting unilaterally in – what it argues – is America’s best interests.”