News Roundup for June 19, 2018

June 19, 2018

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J Street in the News

Friedman Resisted State Department Inspector General’s Call to Apply New Human Rights Guidelines, J Street

“A disturbing new report by Politico has provided further evidence that David Friedman is using the office of US ambassador to Israel to advance his own right-wing ideological agenda, undercutting longstanding US policy and law. We call on the Senate to investigate the ambassador’s conduct and call him back to Washington to answer for his actions.”


Top News and Analysis

Israel behind mysterious Syria airstrike that killed dozens – US official, Times of Israel

“An airstrike that killed more than 50 pro-regime fighters in eastern Syria, most of them foreign, was carried out by Israel, not the United States, a US official said Monday. Damascus has accused the US-led coalition of carrying out the strike on Al-Hari, a town near the Iraqi border controlled by regional militias fighting in the complex seven-year war on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad.”

Abbas Rejects Trump’s Plan for Gaza: An Attempt to Divide Palestinians, Haaretz

“The Palestinian leadership rejects U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s plan to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip, because they believe it is intended to create a diplomatic rift between Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday.

The statement issued by Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, accused the U.S. administration of working with Israel to separate Gaza from the West Bank under the guise of ‘humanitarian aid or rehabilitation,’ with the goal of destroying the Palestinian battle to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state. The Palestinians added that Washington seeks to turn Gaza into a humanitarian issue rather than a political one.”

Where Jared’s words came from, Politico

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Jared Kushner was widely credited for the content and unusual style — a rare-at-the-time teleprompter moment — of his father-in-law’s speech in front of the hard-line Jewish lobbying group AIPAC. But writer Emily Jane Fox, whose book “Born Trump” is set for release Tuesday, writes that it was Dermer who essentially dictated the speech for Kushner, who then loaded it into the teleprompter for Trump.”

How Trump and Three Other U.S. Presidents Protected Israel’s Worst-Kept Secret: Its Nuclear Arsenal, New Yorker

Adam Entous reports on the process through which successive US administrations have helped protect the Israeli nuclear program over the decades.



UN Chief ‘Shocked’ by Israel’s Use of Live Fire During Gaza Border Protests, Haaretz

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the escalation of violence in Gaza is “a warning to all how close to the brink of war the situation is,” and he is urging Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers to recommit to the cease-fire that ended their 2014 war. The UN chief said in a report to the Security Council obtained Monday by The Associated Press that he is “shocked” by the Israel Defense Forces’ use of live fire since border protests began in Gaza on March 30.

Israel carries out fresh airstrike after Gazans launch fire balloons, Times of Israel

An Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday night, after a group of Palestinians launched incendiary balloons at southern Israel, the army said. The attack came after the Israeli Air Force conducted a series of airstrikes inside the coastal enclave, aimed at deterring Palestinian terror groups from continuing to launch incendiary and explosive kites and balloons at Israel.

Israel charges ex-minister Gonen Segev with spying for Iran, BBC

Israel has charged a former cabinet minister with spying for Iran, the Shin Bet internal security service says. Gonen Segev, a medical doctor who served as energy minister in the 1990s, was allegedly recruited by Iranian intelligence while living in Nigeria. He was detained during a visit to Equatorial Guinea in May and extradited following a request by Israeli police.

Palestinian killed in Gaza border fence blast: Israeli army, Reuters

A Palestinian was killed on Monday when a part of Israel’s fortifications on the Gaza border blew up as he tampered with it, the Israeli military said. The 24-year-old man’s death in northern Gaza followed a more than two-month surge in tensions along the frontier, where Israeli troops have killed at least 125 Palestinians during sometimes violent mass demonstrations.

Israel PM, Jordan King meet after months of strained ties, Associated Press

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jordan’s King Abdullah II that he is committed to the status quo at holy sites in contested Jerusalem, trying to reassure the monarch in a rare meeting after months of strained relations.

Israeli use of live fire in Gaza triggers ‘unprecedented’ crisis: Red Cross, Al-Monitor

Israel’s use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters in Gaza has left health workers struggling to cope with an unprecedented crisis, with more than 13,000 wounded, a senior Red Cross official said Monday.


Opinion and Analysis

Present Evidence or Free Palestinian Lawmaker Khalida Jarrar, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board writes, “Jarrar is an elected representative of her people. The fact that she’s a member of parliament ought to give her immunity from political charges. But when it comes to Palestinians, Israel thumbs its nose at diplomatic immunity and treats members of parliament the same way it treats every other Palestinian – that is, it views them first and foremost as terrorists. If there is valid evidence against Jarrar, it must be made public. If not, she should be freed immediately.”

They’re calling it the Kite War. How a simple plaything became a potent weapon in the Gaza Strip, Los Angeles Times

Hana Salah and Noga Tarnopolsky report, “Kites trailing burning rags, and booby-trapped balloons carried aloft by winds heading inland from the Mediterranean, have caused the worst damage inside Israel since the wave of protests known as the Great Return March started….Within Gaza, the kites’ success in harming Israel is seen as an unlikely triumph in a dark season in which about 130 protesters have been killed by Israeli troops, with thousands more injured in weekly Friday demonstrations at the border. On Monday, the Gaza Ministry of Health announced the death of 13-year-old Zakaria Beshbash, who was reportedly shot in the stomach during Friday’s protests.”

Abbas agrees to end death penalty, but Hamas objects, Al-Monitor

Ahmad Abu Amer reports, “Palestine is joining 102 countries that have abolished the death penalty and 33 others that have suspended it. On June 6, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed documents to accede to seven international conventions and treaties, including one on abolition of the death penalty. Abbas instructed Foreign Minister Riad Malki to handle the procedures to implement these conventions….The proposed death penalty ban faces obstacles in the Palestinian territories where the PA lacks control, specifically in the Gaza Strip. Ahmed Abu Halabiya, who represents Hamas on the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza, has rejected the protocol because, he told Al-Monitor, it violates laws the PA had passed since it was founded.”