News Roundup for June 11, 2019

June 11, 2019

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J Street in the News

U.S. Ambassador David Friedman reportedly says Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank, NBC
“‘By essentially giving the Netanyahu government a green light to begin unilaterally annexing Palestinian territory in the West Bank the Trump administration is endorsing a flagrant violation of international law,’ said J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami.”

Palestinians dub US envoy ‘settler spokesman’ after he backs partial annexation, Times of Israel
“Jeremy Ben Ami, president of the American liberal Israel lobby group J Street, said the remarks make it clear that Friedman ‘is acting not as the US ambassador to Israel but as the settlement movement’s ambassador to the United States.’”

U.S. Senate Resolution Insists Peace Plan Include Two-State Solution, The Jerusalem Post
“‘This resolution is an important warning to the Trump administration against any attempts to encourage annexation or undercut the ultimate prospects for a two-state solution,’ said J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami. ‘It’s vital that the Senate recommit to long-held, bipartisan principles – and reject a path that leads Israel down a path towards permanent occupation and endless conflict.’”

US Ambassador condemned for saying Israel has right to annex part of West Bank, The Independent
“Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J-Street, a US-based pro-Israel group, echoed the same words saying that Mr Friedman made It clear ‘he is acting not as the US ambassador to Israel but as the settlement movement’s ambassador to the United States’.”

No longer comfortable with legacy pro-Israel groups, many Jewish Americans are looking elsewhere, Think Progress
“‘American Jews are still 70, 80 percent Democratic,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, a progressive pro-Israel organization that lobbies for a peaceful two-state solution. ‘A lot of it has to do with Netanyahu throwing his lot in with the Republican Party, Evangelical Christians, that side of the global political universe. But most American Jews are opposed to that, and support liberal democracy, and tolerance, and inclusion.’”

Ambassador Friedman’s Support for Annexation Indicates Trump Administration’s Dangerously Extreme Intentions, J Street
“Over the past few weeks, both the House and Senate have introduced resolutions opposing annexation and rejecting any US effort that would accept or promote it. All Members of Congress who genuinely care about Israel’s future and support a two-state solution should immediately add their names to those resolutions and hold this administration accountable for its disastrous policies.”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. Ambassador Says Israel Has Right to Annex Parts of West Bank, New York Times
Israel has a right to annex at least some, but “unlikely all,” of the West Bank, the United States ambassador, David M. Friedman, said in an interview, opening the door to American acceptance of what would be an enormously provocative act. “Under certain circumstances,” Mr. Friedman said, “I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

Washington Not Asking Friedman to ‘Walk Back’ Comments About Annexation, The Jerusalem Post
Though the comments incensed the Palestinian Authority and led to calls for his dismissal by the Israeli Left, inquiries by The Jerusalem Post indicate that there is no intention in Washington to ask for him to issue any type of retraction.

With One Word, Trump’s Envoy Sets Stage for Israeli Annexation of West Bank, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “Washington distanced itself from David Friedman’s comments on Israel’s ‘right’ to annex parts of the West Bank, but history teaches that the ambassador is a much better barometer for which way the wind is blowing in the Oval Office.”


Iran has accelerated production of enriched uranium, IAEA says, Reuters
Iran has followed through on its threat too accelerate its production of enriched uranium, the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s chief Yukiya Amano said on Monday. Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers caps the amount of low-enriched uranium Iran can produce. Given fluctuations in production, it was not clear when Iran might reach that limit, Amano told a news conference, declining to elaborate further on the production rate.

German FM arrives in Iran as race to save nuclear deal continues, Al-Monitor
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrived in Tehran June 10 to meet with Iranian leaders and discuss ways to reduce tensions with the United States amid efforts to save the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

Palestinian Authority Pressing for Jewish-Arab Political Alliance Ahead of New Israeli Election, Haaretz
The Palestinian Authority is trying to foster Jewish-Arab political cooperation in Israel, either by setting up a new party or by bolstering the Meretz party.

Netanyahu’s lawyer to attend pre-indictment hearing in fall, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer says he will attend an October pre-indictment hearing after his request to further postpone it was rejected.

Israel’s Labor Chief Gabbay Announces He Won’t Seek Reelection, Haaretz
The chairman of Israel’s Labor party, Avi Gabbay, announced Tuesday morning that he will not try to get reappointed as the party’s chief ahead of the new election.

Germany says two states ‘only solution’ to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, France24
“We are still in agreement that reaching a two-state solution through negotiations is the only solution,” Heiko Maas said during a press conference in Amman with his Jordanian counterpart.

Iran accuses Israel of threatening to destroy it, JTA
Iran’s foreign minister accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of threatening to destroy the Islamic Republic and warned that Tehran would not remain passive.

Israeli and Palestinian forces exchange fire in West Bank, AP
The Israeli military said its soldiers identified a group of armed suspects that they realized only later were Palestinian security. Media reports said the soldiers opened fire mistakenly.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s Man in Jerusalem Is Harming the Peace Process, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “The remarks by U.S. Ambassador David Friedman last week, implying that the United States is giving Israel’s government the go-ahead to unilaterally annex part of the West Bank, are tantamount to spitting in the face of the Palestinians. And they augur ill for anyone who seeks a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the division of the land and the recognition of both peoples’ right to self-determination.”

Why Jared Kushner’s Approach to Middle East ‘Peace’ Is Doomed to Fail, Newsweek
Hanan Ashrawi writes, “Such a lethal combination of religious fundamentalist and nationalistic bias, as well as direct investment in the Israeli occupation, with views that align with the far right in Israel, cannot be trusted with the mammoth task of peacemaking, let alone spearheading a credible and trustworthy political process with the required qualities of integrity and respect.”

With Annexation Comment, Friedman Just Made Netanyahu’s Life More Difficult, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “For years, the prime minister has cited U.S. pressure to stymie settlement-building in the West Bank. The American ambassador just took away that excuse.”

Uncertainty clouds Kushner’s Bahrain conference on Middle East peace, The National
Mariam Berger writes, “With just two weeks to go until President Donald Trump’s economic conference in Bahrain, a cloud of doubt still hangs over who will be attending the event, what will be discussed and the feasibility of the Middle East peace plan.”

Restore the Joint List, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “Such a move could expedite other unions and give a tailwind to the bloc defined as center-left, which could naturally lead to a rise in the voting rate for this bloc and perhaps a change in Israel’s political map.”