News Roundup for June 18, 2019

June 18, 2019

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J Street in the News

U.S. Pressure Behind Israeli Delay in Evacuating Bedouin Village, Defense Official Says, Haaretz
“A representative from Khan al-Ahmar, Eid Abu Khamis, was invited in April by American-Jewish left-wing NGO J Street for a three-week visit to the United States. As part of the visit, Abu Khamis participated in a number of the group’s conferences and met with members of Congress, who promised to act to prevent the evacuation – at least until the peace plan is released.”

Political Turmoil Puts Israeli, Palestinian Peace Plan on Hold, Regional News Network
“For years the key to any peace plan in the Middle East has been a two-state solution. That involves keeping Israel separate from a Palestinian nation, but Jared Kushner’s upcoming peace plan may push that proposal aside. Andrew Whitman speaks with Logan Bayroff, Director Of Communications at the moderate pro-Israel group J-Street.”

Before and After Bar Ilan: Did Bibi Ever Support a Two-State Solution?, J Street
Ben Winsor writes, “While the pro-peace movement welcomed Netanyahu’s endorsement of a two-state solution as a solid step forward at the time, on its ten year anniversary it’s worth examining whether Bar Ilan should be viewed as some kind of key pivot point and a lost opportunity, or merely a temporary shift in rhetoric form a leader whose views have been remarkably consistent.”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, Reuters
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were “defensive purposes,” citing concerns about a threat from Iran. “The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said in a statement.

White House will not invite Israeli officials to Bahrain conference, Axios
The White House has decided not to invite the Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon or other Israeli government officials to the Bahrain conference in Manama on June 25, where it plans to launch the economic part of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, U.S. officials told me.

Tensions rise as Iran speeds up enrichment, US sends troops, AP
Iran will surpass the uranium-stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, an official said Monday, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the accord a year after the U.S. withdrawal lit the fuse for the heightened tensions now between Tehran and Washington. Hours later, the two countries seemed locked in a standoff when the Pentagon announced it was sending about 1,000 additional American troops to the Middle East to bolster security in the region in the face of what U.S. officials said was a growing threat from Iran.


Iranian president: Iran isn’t seeking war against any nation, AP
Iran is not seeking to wage war against any nation, the country’s president said Tuesday while at the same time stressing that Iranians will withstand mounting U.S. pressure and emerge victorious.

Iran announces it will soon exceed nuclear deal limits, Al-Monitor
In an apparent last-ditch attempt to force Europe’s hand in preserving the nuclear deal and showing Iranian resolve to step away if their interests are not guaranteed, Iran has announced it will continue to scale back its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Arab-Jewish Meretz leadership candidates exit race, endorse Zandberg, Times of Israel
A pair of Meretz members who just last week launched a “shared Arab-Jewish leadership” bid to head the left-wing party announced on Monday that they were dropping out of the race and throwing their support behind incumbent Tamar Zandberg.

UNRWA suffers $200 million budget shortfall without US funding, The National
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, responsible for the welfare of Palestine refugees, announced on Monday it is facing a US$211 million (Dh775m) budget shortfall following the US’s decision to cut six decades of funding. Despite efforts to encourage the 42 donor countries and institutions who stepped in to attempt to make up the funds, a $211m deficit is projected in the agency’s $1.2 billion budget for 2019.

‘I work for God,’ not Netanyahu, Smotrich says after being appointed minister, Times of Israel
Newly appointed Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Monday said he “works for God” — and not for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appointed him — after drawing outrage and ridicule for calling for Israel to be governed by Jewish religious law, like in biblical times.

Cars Vandalized, Malicious Graffiti Sprayed in Palestinian Town, Haaretz
Tires were slashed and malicious graffiti was sprayed on walls overnight Monday in the Palestinian town of Deir Istiya, near the Israeli settlement of Ariel.

Opinion and Analysis

The Trump-Fox feedback loop could cause a war with Iran, Media Matters
Matt Gertz writes, “President Donald Trump tweeted about a Fox News segment Monday morning that urged a U.S. military strike against Iran, a worrisome development as experts warn that rising tensions between the two nations could quickly spiral out of control.”

For Palestinian activists fighting corruption, Trump’s attacks are making their work even harder, The National
Miriam Berger writes, “The space for criticism tightens when Palestinians feel that opponents of Palestinian self-determination take their critiques – intended to advance the end goal of independence – as evidence against it.”

The Trump administration is really, really bad at organizing conferences, Washington Post
Daniel W. Drezner writes, “This event is scheduled for next week. At this rate, what was supposed to be an ambitious effort to cobble together the ‘deal of the century’ will devolve into some poster sessions and the Jared Kushner TED talk that no one has ever wanted to hear.”

Who’s running the show in Israel between elections? An explainer., JTA
Mary Oster writes, “With Israel coming up on its second election in five months with no ruling coalition in power, some may be asking who is actually running the government. They needn’t worry — at least not very much.”

Iran has invested in allies and proxies across the Middle East. Here’s why they matter now, Washington Post
Claire Parker writes, “Many — though not all — of the groups Iran sponsors are Shiite. While ideology plays a role in Iran’s foreign policy, experts say the regime’s primary goal is to project power throughout the Middle East to counter American, Israeli, and Saudi influence.”

Welcome to Trump Heights, the Israeli Town That Doesn’t Exist, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “The sign with gilded letters and the dramatic ceremony, just as the president likes, hides the fact that the proposal to establish the new Golan Heights community does not include any actual steps toward building it.”