News Roundup for June 20, 2018

June 20, 2018

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J Street in the News

PM delays razing of West Bank Bedouin village ‘following international pressure’, Times of Israel

“A group of 74 Democratic lawmakers from the US last month urged Netanyahu to halt the demolition of Sussiya and another village, Khan al-Ahmar. A group of 74 Democratic lawmakers from the US last month urged Netanyahu to halt the demolition of Sussiya and another village, Khan al-Ahmar….J Street, a liberal Jewish Mideast lobbying group that helped promote the appeal on Capitol Hill, welcomed the letter at the time, calling it the most significant criticism of Israeli settlement expansion by Congress ever. It followed a similar letter to Netanyahu signed by 10 Democratic senators, including such prominent figures as Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Dianne Feinstein of California.”

Stephen Miller, the 32-year-old Adviser Behind Trump’s Hardline Immigration Policy, Haaretz

“In February 2018, 17 Jewish groups, including the left-leaning J Street, called on the White House to dismiss Miller as its senior policy adviser.”

Top News and Analysis

Hamas Changes Tactics: Even Non-lethal Israeli Strikes Now Met by Rockets, Haaretz

Yaniv Kubovich reports, “Hamas is changing the pattern of its response to non-lethal Israeli attacks on Gaza, Israeli army sources said Wednesday after dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel overnight in retaliation for IDF attacks on the Strip. Top Israeli army brass conferred Wednesday morning over Israel’s policy toward the rocket attacks. According to military sources, in the past, Israeli attacks on Hamas targets that did not cause fatalities passed without a reaction from the militant Islamist group. As a result, the sources say, the IDF has taken care in recent months not to harm members of Hamas or Palestinians launching incendiary kites and balloons.”

Israel’s three-way deal on Iran in Syria and Russia in the G-7, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “Netanyahu and Putin talked by phone on June 15. Their actions suggest they are coordinating these days more than ever. In the background are persistent reports about a scheme involving Washington, Moscow and Israel. Accordingly, Trump demanded that the Europeans readmit Russia to the G-7 forum of highly industrialized nations, because the Russians had agreed in general to Israel’s request to distance Iran from its borders. Jerusalem strongly denies the three-way coordination but does concede that with regard to Iran being on its border, Washington and Jerusalem see eye to eye.”


Gaza rocket barrage triggers Israeli air strikes, BBC
Israeli jets have struck Palestinian militant positions in the Gaza Strip after rockets and mortars were fired into Israel, the Israeli military says. Twenty-five targets linked to the Hamas movement were hit overnight in response to a barrage of about 45 projectiles.

U.S. quits U.N. human rights body, citing bias vs. Israel, alarming critics, Reuters

The United States withdrew from a “hypocritical and self-serving” United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday over what it called chronic bias against Israel and a lack of reform, a move activists warned would make advancing human rights globally even more difficult.

National security adviser in Russia for talks on Iran troops in Syria — report, Times of Israel

Israel’s national security adviser secretly traveled to Moscow on Monday, an Israeli TV report said, where he met with Russian officials regarding Iran’s military presence in Syria. According to Channel 10, Meir Ben-Shabbat met with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev and other Russian officials.

White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king, Associated Press

President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, kicked off a swing through the Middle East on Tuesday, meeting with Jordan’s king as part of a broader effort to lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Kushner and White House envoy Jason Greenblatt held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, a key U.S. ally.

Attorney general says Gazan fire kites a ‘legitimate military target’, Times of Israel

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Monday flaming devices flown toward Israel from Gaza were a “legitimate military target,” but would not comment on the legality of firing at those behind the launches.

Opinion and Analysis

How to Keep The Two State Solution Alive When No One Cares, Forward

Former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro writes, “A two-state solution is not going to happen under President Trump, barring dramatic Israeli and Palestinian leadership changes. It may never happen — leaving Israel struggling to maintain its Jewish and democratic identity, Palestinians permanently without self-determination and a conflict that festers and from time to time produces spikes in violence, likely squandering the real opportunity for full Israeli normalization of relations with the Sunni Arab states. But it is still in our interests to keep a two-state solution alive and viable for when the right leaders emerge and make what seems impossible suddenly possible. That’s less ambitious than the ultimate deal, but it’s realistic, it serves our interests and it’s what the moment calls for.”

Vying for minds in East Jerusalem schools, Al-Monitor

Aziza Nofal reports, “The Israeli and Palestinian governments both want to infuse East Jerusalem schools with money in what many see as a tug of war for curriculum control. Palestinian Education Ministry spokesman Sadiq al-Khadour told Al-Monitor that in late May, the cabinet in Ramallah approved $30 million to support and improve the level of education in East Jerusalem. The National Plan for the Support of Education is designed to counter Israel’s efforts to impose its curriculum and undermine the use of the Arab language in Palestinian schools, Khadour said. Israel recently announced it will allocate 2 billion shekels (roughly $560,000), most of it for introducing the Israeli curriculum in East Jerusalem educational institutions.”