News Roundup for July 30, 2018

July 30, 2018

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J Street in the News

With Bullying Letter to European Allies, GOP Senators Embrace Trump’s Drift Toward War With Iran, J Street

“The Senators’ new letter, clearly intended to intimidate our allies, is a full embrace of President Trump’s reckless ‘America Alone’ foreign policies that are isolating our country and potentially leading it down the path to another costly and bloody war of choice. It exacerbates the serious damage stemming from the president’s abrogation of a highly effective non-proliferation agreement that has been fully implemented by its other parties. It echoes his shameful bullying of close allies whose most essential security interests have been bound up with ours for decades….Those in Congress who enable this president and his war cabinet as they seek to drag the country into another disastrous and avoidable conflict will be responsible for its consequences.”

Top News and Analysis

As U.S. pushes for Mideast peace, Saudi king reassures allies, Reuters

“Saudi Arabia has reassured Arab allies it will not endorse any Middle East peace plan that fails to address Jerusalem’s status or refugees’ right of return, easing their concerns that the kingdom might back a nascent U.S. deal which aligns with Israel on key issues. King Salman’s private guarantees to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his public defense of long-standing Arab positions in recent months have helped reverse perceptions that Saudi Arabia’s stance was changing under his powerful young son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, diplomats and analysts said…. ‘In Saudi Arabia, the king is the one who decides on this issue now, not the crown prince,’ said a senior Arab diplomat in Riyadh. ‘The U.S. mistake was they thought one country could pressure the rest to give in, but it’s not about pressure. No Arab leader can concede on Jerusalem or Palestine.’”

Netanyahu Attacks Left as Criticism Mounts Against Nation-state Law, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu called on ministers on Sunday “not to be apologetic” about the nation-state law amid the uproar that the controversial legislation, which formally defined Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, has sparked. ‘The attacks from the left, which calls itself Zionist, reveal how low the left has sunk,’ Netanyahu added. ‘The Israeli left has to do some soul-searching,’ he said. ‘It must ask itself why a basic tenet of Zionism, a Jewish nation-state for the Israeli people in its country, has become for it a rude term, a dirty word, a principle that one should be ashamed of.’”

Egypt Signals Cautious Optimism as It Mediates Hamas-Israel Talks Over Gaza, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “Reading between the lines, it seems the effort to cling to this crumbling cease-fire is due to developments in the indirect talks between the parties, which are being conducted through Egyptian and UN mediation. Hamas is enforcing relatively quiet along the border, and like Israel, it seeks a long-term arrangement in Gaza that would spare both sides a war. This week, Cairo sounded somewhat optimistic. During a visit to Washington, Gen. Abbas Kamel, the head of Egyptian intelligence, told U.S. officials that there were initial signs of a breakthrough in the talks. Nevertheless, it could still come to nothing.”


Abolish This Sin’: Amoz Oz, David Grossman and Hundreds of Israeli Intellectuals Slam Nation-state Law, Haaretz

Hundreds of Israeli artists, authors and intellectuals released a petition Saturday calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abolish the nation-state law, which formally defined Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and a law on surrogacy rights that excluded gay men. The signatories, among them David Grossman, Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, Eshkol Nevo, Etgar Keret and Orly Castel-Bloom, wrote: ‘There are transgressions that are for the court to judge. But there are sins that touch at the core of the Jewish people and its homeland, which merit the attention of intellectuals and of the judgement of history.’”

UN peace envoy ‘positive’ after talks with Egypt’s foreign minister on Gaza, Times of Israel

The United Nations envoy for Middle East peace met Sunday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and other officials for talks on calming tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, relieving the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and reviving the long-stalled peace process. After the meetings in Cairo, Nickolay Mladenov described the discussions on the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians as “positive.”

Arab-Israeli lawmaker from Labor Party resigns over nation-state law, JTA

An Arab-Israeli lawmaker resigned from Knesset in protest of the nation-state law. Zouheir Bahloul of the Zionist Union announced his resignation on Saturday during a live appearance on Israel’s “Meet the Press” television show. “The law oppresses me and oppresses the population that sent me to the Knesset,” he said during his announcement.

Israel Expelling Two Italian Artists Who Painted Mural of Ahed Tamimi on Separation Wall, Haaretz

Israel is expelling two Italian graffiti artists who were painting a mural of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager released Sunday from Israeli prison, on the separation barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The two, arrested Saturday, were questioned and then transferred to the Interior Ministry, which decided to revoke their tourist visas and to order them to leave the country within 72 hours, the Border Police said.

Fresh out of prison, Ahed Tamimi vows to keep on fighting, Times of Israel

In her first public appearance since being released from prison Sunday morning, Ahed Tamimi vowed to continue her struggle against Israeli military rule. “My message here is that our resistance will continue, particularly our resistance for equal rights,” she said through a translator at a press conference in her village of Nabi Saleh.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Incitement on Nation-state Law Heralds Approach of Israel’s Day of Reckoning, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Netanyahu’s statements will inevitably accelerate polarization, increase tensions and, in extreme cases, as witnessed by the weekend beating of a Breaking the Silence activist in Hebron, spark violence. Nonetheless, by accident or design, a public debate has started that touches on the rawest nerves of the Israeli entity, sparks renewed questions about the essence of Zionism, that were supposedly settled, or at least repressed, long ago. The brouhaha over the surrogacy law and the nation-state law has compelled Israelis to look at their state in the mirror; many were shocked to suddenly learn they could hardly recognize it any more.”

If You Don’t Speak Out Now, Haaretz

Avner Gevaryahu writes, “The opposition must fly a black flag over the campaign of destruction waged by the government of occupation and settlements, making the public aware that we’re in a state of emergency. We have to ignite protests in the streets, to bravely defend human rights groups and to stop thinking in terms of electoral benefits. The centrist parties must understand that there is no advantage in distancing themselves from ‘the left’ and in evading admitting the fact that the right’s success in destroying democracy stems from decades of occupation and the wish to preserve it.”

Israeli protesters seek return to destroyed West Bank settlements, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar reports, “HaBayit HaYehudi lawmakers are hoping to nullify the 2005 Disengagement Law, the legal framework for the evacuation of Jewish settlements, also called the eviction-compensation law. The bill set out the compensation to those evicted from their homes and banned them from returning to the area, which was declared a closed military zone. The settlers who took part in the recent protest at Sa-Nur thus violated the law, with the support of Knesset members Moalem-Refaeli and Bezalel Smotrich.”