News Roundup for June 18, 2018

June 18, 2018

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J Street in the News

Meet the national security expert who is leading the charge to keep Jews voting Democratic, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

“The political action committee affiliated with J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group that is consistently critical of the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announced last week that more than half of the Democratic caucuses in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate accepted its endorsements….Matt Brooks, who directs the Republican counterpart to the JDCA, the Republican Jewish Coalition, told JTA that J Street figures large in the challenges facing Soifer. ‘Currently J Street is raising millions of dollars for Democrats and is seen as the dominant presence in the Democratic Party,’ Brooks told JTA.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump ambassador blocks scrutiny of Israel, Politico

Nahal Toosi reports, “Department officials had recently asked U.S. embassies in the Middle East to more carefully examine American military assistance to governments in the region, including Israel. The goal was to ensure the department wasn’t violating a law barring U.S. security aid to foreign military units that commit serious human rights abuses. Some Democrats in Congress have questioned whether Israel’s military — which receives an annual $3.1 billion from the United States, more than any other nation — might be guilty of human rights infractions against Palestinians. Friedman dismissed the possibility. In [an] email to colleagues, he rejected the idea that his embassy needed to enhance its scrutiny of military aid, saying he did ‘not believe we should extend the new [guidelines] to Israel at this time.”

IDF Brass to Ministers: Unjustified to Attack Gazans Sending Burning Kites to Israel, Haaretz

Yaniv Kubovich reports “Senior officials in the defense establishment made it clear to politicians on Sunday that they believe the way to cope with incendiary kites and balloons is to attack Hamas targets and not to harm those launching the flammable objects. The army believes that attacking groups launching the kites and balloons will result in too many casualties and another round of violence it would prefer to avoid. According to the army, attacking Hamas targets will be more effective as it will extract a price from the organization and pressure it to stop the arsons in the south on its own.”


Israeli aircraft strike Hamas targets in Gaza Strip: military, Reuters

Israeli jets struck nine targets belonging to the Islamist Hamas group in the northern Gaza Strip early on Monday in response to incendiary kites and balloons Palestinians sent from the territory that have damaged Israeli property, the military said….The Israeli military has fired warning shots from the air and destroyed property belonging to the kite launchers but has refrained from targeting them.

Palestinian Killed Trying to Cross Border Hours After IDF Strike, Gaza Rockets, Haaretz

A 24-year-old Palestinian man was killed by Israeli army gunfire when a group of Palestinians tried to breach the Gaza border fence, reports in the Strip said Monday. In addition, an explosion was reported in the vicinity of a different group of Palestinians near the Israeli community of Zikim.

Palestinians throw cold water on ‘meaningless’ US peace push, Times of Israel

Ahead of a visit to the region next week by the Trump administration’s Middle East peace team, the Palestinian Authority on Saturday dismissed the expected US peace plan as “meaningless” and said the series of meetings being held were “a waste of time” because they did not have the support of the Palestinians.

US expected to quit UN human rights panel over perceived anti-Israel bias, Guardian

Talks over how to reform the United Nations human rights council have failed to meet US demands, activists and diplomats said, suggesting the Trump administration will quit the panel, whose session opens on Monday.

Israeli Cabinet Members Back Revocation of PM’s Newly Expanded War Powers, Haaretz

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation endorsed Sunday a draft law that would revoke the prime minister’s power to declare war under certain circumstances in consultation with the defense minister alone.

Israel extends detention of female Palestinian lawmaker, Associated Press

Israel on Sunday said it has extended the detention of a female Palestinian lawmaker held without charge over the past year for an additional four months. Khalida Jarrar had been scheduled to be released on June 30. But the army said a military court had determined that the 55-year-old woman continued to pose a security threat.

Israel’s deportation of African asylum seekers labelled ‘cruel and unlawful’ by Amnesty International, Independent

Israel’s deportation of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers is “cruel and unlawful”, Amnesty International has said in a report calling for an end to the practice….It claims immigration officials routinely offer an ultimatum to asylum-seekers: to go back home, to leave voluntarily for Rwanda or Uganda, or to face indefinite detention in Israel.

New Colombian president open to moving embassy to Jerusalem, Times of Israel

The newly elected Colombian president said recently he would be open to moving the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, potentially becoming the fourth country, and third from Latin America, to do so.

Opinion and Analysis

A Bedouin village can model the peace process, Times of Israel

Naomi Chazan writes, “Clearly, Khan al-Ahmar is not just a local dispute: its resolution cannot be divorced from the conflict as a whole. Following the Supreme Court’s edict, Israeli annexationists appear to have the upper hand, while those favoring a two-state solution are being systematically stymied at every turn. The ground under the residents of the School Community, however, is burning. The inequitable treatment of the Jahalin may serve as yet another in a long list of obstacles towards Palestinian self-determination; it cannot — as the persistent voices of protest demonstrate — impede its long-term realization.”

US-Kuwait ties strained over Israel’s response to Gaza protests, Al-Monitor

Adnan Abu Amer writes, “While security tension is ongoing between Palestinians and Israel along the Gaza border, diplomatic and political tension continues between Washington and Kuwait. The political strain is likely to drag on between the two sides as long as there is no calm in the Palestinian territories, although both sides are not likely to escalate their dispute to not harm their common interests.”