News Roundup for June 14, 2017

June 14, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Israel in Talks With Egypt, Europeans in Bid to Solve Gaza Electricity Crisis, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “Israel has known for several months now about PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ intention to hurt Hamas by stopping payments for the electricity Israel provides to the Gaza Strip. As far as is known at this time, though, it was not a joint Israeli-Palestinian move, but rather a decision at the political level in Jerusalem (to which the army and Shin Bet security service agreed) not to interfere with the PA’s move….Cutting off coordination between Hamas and ISIS is important to Egypt and could even lead to Egyptian assistance in providing electricity. Israel apparently also hopes that an achievement for the PA in its struggle against Hamas will encourage Abbas to impose the PA’s authority over the border crossings in the Gaza Strip, which he could not do after the 2014 war in Gaza, despite feelers sent out by Israel and the United States….Despite the relative confidence conveyed by Netanyahu and the Israeli army, and despite Tuesday’s calming efforts, the possibility cannot be ruled out that things will get out of hand. When a population of 2 million receives so little electricity in the sweltering heat of summer, it’s hard to guarantee the Gaza Strip remaining calm for long.”

Senate Narrowly Backs Trump Weapons Sale to Saudi Arabia, The New York Times

“The Senate narrowly backed President Trump’s proposed arms sale to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, in an unexpectedly close procedural vote that reflected mounting concern over the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s war. Senators voted, 53 to 47, to pave the way to sell $500 million in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, batting back an effort to block the deal and saving Mr. Trump from what would have been a major embarrassment just weeks after he traveled to Riyadh and announced plans for $110 billion in arms sales.”

A New Truman Doctrine, Foreign Affairs

Senator Tim Kaine writes, “The country, and the world, needs a new, twenty-first-century version of the Truman Doctrine: a sustained U.S. national security strategy that is proactive rather than reactive and sets a course for this administration and those that follow it. At a time when countries such as Russia are attempting to subvert other nations’ democratic institutions, the world needs a reinvigorated campaign to peacefully and forcefully promote the virtues of democracy over authoritarianism or extremism. The United States is best suited to lead that campaign, and failure to do so will hurt both the United States and people around the world….The U.S. government currently spends less than one percent of its annual budget on foreign aid, yet the return on this investment—in terms of security and goodwill—is enormous. Carrying out the administration’s intention to slash funding for diplomacy and foreign aid, announced in its 2018 budget blueprint, would therefore be a huge mistake.”


Tillerson Says Palestinian Authority Will No Longer Pay Families of Convicted Terrorists, Haaretz

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority has changed its policy of paying families of convicted terrorists, and intends to stop supporting them as a result of pressure from the Trump administration. Tillerson made these comments during a public hearing on the State Department’s budget in front of the Senate.

Rebuffing U.S. Claims, Palestinians Vow to Continue to Pay Terrorists’ Families, Haaretz

Palestinian officials have denied Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s claim that they will stop financial support for the families of convicted Palestinian terrorists. Issa Karaka, head of prisoner affairs for the Palestinian Authority, told Haaretz that no such decision could ever possibly be made, since it would spell the end of the PA with the Palestinian public.

Amid boycott of Qatar, Israel mulls expelling al-Jazeera, Times of Israel

Israel is reportedly considering closing down the al-Jazeera news bureau in Jerusalem alongside a broader Sunni Arab campaign to pressure the Gulf nation of Qatar over its close ties to Iran and backing for terror groups.

Israeli culture minister walks out on performance based on Palestinian poet’s work, JTA

Israel’s minister of culture and sports, Miri Regev, walked out on an awards ceremony during a song based on a work by a Palestinian poet that the official said “hoped … for the death of the Jewish state.” Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad was performing the Mahmoud Darwish piece that sent Regev out of the Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers ceremony on Monday evening. Awad received an award for promoting Arab creativity within Israeli culture.

West Bank Rabbi to Stand Trial for Incitement to Violence Against Arabs, Haaretz

A prominent West Bank settlement rabbi was indicted on Tuesday for incitement to violence for online articles praising perpetrators of hate crimes against Palestinians. The indictment of Rabbi Yosef Elitzur of the settlement of Yitzhar comes after a two-year delay by the state, which filed charges only after a High Court petition demanded as much. The allegations relate to articles that Elitzur wrote on the website Hakol Hayehudi, which is identified with the extreme right, in which the rabbi called for violence against Arabs.

For one top settler leader, a single state is no solution, Times of Israel

A top settler leader spoke out Monday against annexing the West Bank, warning it could lead to a system of “apartheid.” “The one-state solution has very difficult questions that we need to be aware of and we need to be willing to answer,” said Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy of the pro-settlements Yesha Council. “I can’t see in the modern world having an apartheid state,” he told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the Haaretz Peace Conference in Tel Aviv. “And if that means giving equal rights to all the Arabs who live between the Jordan [River] and the [Mediterranean] Sea, we need to understand the implications. I am not sure that those who are advocating for a one-state solution understand those conditions.”

Israel and New Zealand fully restore diplomatic ties, JTA

Israel and New Zealand have restored diplomatic ties following the island nation’s sponsorship last year of an anti-settlement United Nations resolution. Following monthlong discussions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English several days ago, according to a statement by the Israeli government released Tuesday. Netanyahu also ordered Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand to return to his post in Wellington.

Opinions and Analysis

Living in the Dark: Gazans Talk About the Electricity Crisis, Jerusalem Post

“Muhammad Azaizeh, a father of three from Gaza City, said the electricity crisis has complicated life for his children. ‘They are sweating throughout the night and are not able to get a good night of sleep,’ said Azaizeh, who works as a field researcher for Gisha, an Israeli human rights group. ‘We have a subscription to a small generator, but it only gives us electricity for the lights and television.’ Many Gazans have turned to back-up generators to deal with the frequent power outages, but the cost of a subscription can be burdensome. Azaizeh added that the electricity crisis has compelled his family to buy small amounts of food. ‘We cannot depend on the fridge and freezer to store our food,’ he remarked. ‘So we have resorted to purchasing food daily.’”

The Creeping Fascism of Israel’s Right-wingers, Haaretz

Bernie Avishai writes, “The Israeli right….is not concerned about economic freedom or educational rigor. It wants social discipline. The activists of Im Tirtzu, Bennett’s Jewish Home, and others, want their world to make sense; they want their leaders to be strong and noble, their ancestors to be mythic, their God to be magic, their sexual desires contained, their enemies defeated. They want reverse trigger-warnings: from students and government watchdogs to faculty. What is creeping fascism in Israel if not the values of sweet, faithful children projected onto our politics—the idea that country is a kind of family, good means loyal and self-sacrificing, our leaders protect us, and there’s no place like Jewish Home?”

Palestinian official comes under fire over Jerusalem comments, Al-Monitor

“Senior Palestinian leader Jibril Rajoub has found himself in hot water for comments he made June 3 on Israeli TV Channel 2. Rajoub, a top leader in Fatah, the main faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization and head of the Palestinian Football Association, came under ferocious attack for apparently suggesting Israeli oversight of the Western Wall as part of any peace treaty.”

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