News Roundup for June 21, 2018

June 21, 2018

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J Street in the News

Trump Administration’s Withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council Undermines US and Israeli Interests, J Street

“By withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Trump administration has taken another disturbing step toward abdicating the United States’ longstanding role as a principled leader in the international system, advocating for the rights and freedoms of people across the globe.”

Top News and Analysis

Sara Netanyahu Charged With Fraud for Ordering $100k Worth of Meals From Gourmet Chefs, Haaretz

“Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on Thursday for alleged ‘systematic fraud’ involving hundreds of thousands of shekels in connection with meal expenses incurred at the Prime Minister’s Residence. Sara Netanyahu was charged along with Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office. The two are charged in an indictment filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court with aggravated fraudulent receiving of an item or items, fraud and breach of trust. Saidoff was also charged with falsification by a public servant.”

Israeli officials concerned by U.S. pullout from Human Rights Council, Axios

Barak Ravid reports, “Israeli foreign ministry officials tell me they are concerned that U.S. withdrawal from the UN human rights council will make it harder to block anti-Israeli initiatives on the council. The officials say that even though they feel the council is extremely biased against Israel, U.S. membership helped to soften or fend off some anti-Israeli steps.”

Israel may follow US in freezing out UN rights body, to some diplomats’ dismay, Times of Israel

“This week, the US administration announced it was withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, citing, among other things, its anti-Israel bias. Jerusalem welcomed the move, with Netanyahu once again hailing it as ‘courageous,’ calling the Council a ‘biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights.’ While Israel, which is not a member of the 47-nation council, cannot follow suit even if it wanted to, sources maintained Wednesday that it was possible and even likely that Netanyahu would soon announce that Israel was ceasing all contacts with the council.”


Militants’ rockets, Israeli air strikes heat up Gaza border, Reuters

Several dozen rockets and mortar bombs launched at Israel by Palestinians in Gaza, and Israeli air strikes on the enclave’s dominant Hamas militant group, raised the heat along the border on Wednesday. Despite the biggest flare-up in weeks in the area, no deaths were reported. But pledges by Israel and Palestinian militants to continue to respond to any attacks against them held the potential for broader conflict.

Erdan warns ‘very high chance’ of Gaza op in coming months, Times of Israel

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Thursday added his voice to the growing number of politicians warning of the possible need for broad military action in Gaza. Speaking with Army Radio, Erdan said there was “a very, very high chance” that “there will be no choice and in the coming months we will have to enter a widespread operation in the Gaza Strip.”

Top Democratic Donor Saban Blasts Party’s Senators for Supporting U.S. Aid to Gaza, Haaretz

Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban, one of the largest donors to the Democratic party, recently sent an email to six of the party’s senators, in which he criticized them for signing a letter that called on the Trump administration to increase humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Saban accused the Senators of blindly following the lead of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the issue.

White House adviser Kushner, Saudi crown prince meet on Middle East, Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, met on Wednesday with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud about Israel and the Palestinian territories, as Kushner readies the administration’s Middle East peace plan.

Jordanian King Says No Peace Without Jerusalem as Capital of Palestine, Days After Meeting Netanyahu, Haaretz

Jordanian King Abdullah II said Thursday that there will not be peace in the Middle East without establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. King Abdullah spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to Amman.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump walks away from the U.N. Human Rights Council — and rewards the oppressors, Washington Post

The Washington Post Editorial Board writes, “The performance of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council is quite mixed. It has proved a useful platform to air the plight of the injured and dispossessed, but it has also been vulnerable to manipulation by the oppressors. That said, the United States’ decision to withdraw from the council is a counterproductive step and another sign of President Trump’s retreat from global leadership. The administration is picking up its marbles and leaving rather than staying to fight for human dignity.”

The Government Should Take the IDF’s Advice on Gaza, Haaretz

The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “It seems that the government should adopt the IDF’s recommendations from before the most recent rounds of combat. Senior military officers have asserted repeatedly that the dangerous situation in Gaza stems first and foremost from the ignominious poverty, severe unemployment, terrible overcrowding and lack of basic services. All these are generating frustration and rage among the residents. The fact that Hamas is in distress and cannot cope with the economic burden of running the Strip makes things even worse.”