News Roundup for June 22, 2018

June 22, 2018

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J Street in the News

Jews Gather To Pray And Protest Immigration Crackdown At New York ICE Building, Forward

“Hundreds of people holding purple placards with messages including “This is what ‘Never Again’ looks like,” gathered outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in lower Manhattan Thursday evening to protest President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. The protest — organized by T’ruah and co-sponsored by groups including J Street NYC and Bend the Arc Jewish Action — comes one day after Trump buckled to pressure and signed an executive order reversing his administration’s actions to separate immigrant families. Hundreds of advocates flooded LaGuardia Airport hours after the announcement in an effort to greet migrant children being sent to New York.”

Top News and Analysis

Kushner’s ties to Israeli firms at issue as he visits region on peace mission, Washington Post

“As White House senior adviser Jared Kushner travels in the Middle East this week seeking a peace deal, his financial connections to Israeli banks and companies are raising concerns among Palestinian officials about his ability to impartially broker an agreement that calls for delicate diplomacy. Kushner and his family company have made substantial investments over the years with Israel-based banks and companies, and his financial interests expanded over the past year, according to a disclosure report released last week. It showed that he and his father increased their line of credit with an Israeli bank to as much as $25 million, up from a maximum of $5 million in a previous report.”

Iran scores PR win in intelligence wars with Israel, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “Anti-Israel espionage entities occasionally try to recruit a high-quality agent from a minority group, or someone in the context of an academic conference, but with little success. Thus, the fact that Gonen Segev, a former energy and infrastructure minister and member of Israel’s Security Cabinet (1995-1996), allegedly served as an Iranian agent since May 2012 constitutes a harsh slap in Israel’s face. However, no significant damage apparently was accomplished through this prestigious recruitment because Segev had been removed from Israel’s hubs of information and decision-making for more than two decades.”


Netanyahu’s Choice Rejected: Opposition Leader Herzog Tapped as Next Jewish Agency Chief, Haaretz

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog is slated to replace Natan Sharansky as the head of the Jewish Agency, after a search committee decided to back his candidacy and reject Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s candidate.This is the first time in 23 years that the prime minister’s choice for the position was rejected. Sources said Netanyahu has decided not to contest the nomination, and would instead nominate a candidate from his Likud party for the post of Jewish National Fund chairman.

Netanyahu to extend term of US envoy Dermer for sixth year, Times of Israel

In an unusual move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will extend the term of Ambassador Ron Dermer, Israel’s envoy to the United States, for a sixth year. The extension will be brought to the cabinet for confirmation on Sunday.

Iran, Hezbollah Pull Back From Israeli Border at Russia’s Request, Syrian Watchdog Group Says, Newsweek

Iran, Hezbollah and other Tehran-backed militias in Syria have begun withdrawing from the disputed Golan Heights border with Israel, a watchdog group announced Thursday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the militants were headed 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the border, in response to Russian demands following previously reported negotiations between Moscow and Israel.

Kushner, Greenblatt meet with Netanyahu on peace push, Gaza, Times of Israel

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and his special envoy Jason Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in Jerusalem, on the final leg of a Middle East tour aimed at promoting the US administration’s as-yet-unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and securing humanitarian relief for Gaza.

U.S. close to releasing Mideast peace proposal that Palestinian leadership may immediately reject, Washington Post

The Trump administration is close to releasing a long-awaited Middle East peace proposal that officials said would present U.S. goals for a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, despite the Palestinian position that President Trump cannot be an honest broker.

Opinion and Analysis

Hamas prepared to make ‘comprehensive deal’ with Israel – report, Times of Israel

Times of Israel reports, “The Hamas terror group is prepared to make a “comprehensive deal” with Israel that will include returning the Israelis it is holding in the Gaza Strip in exchange for an airport and seaport, the Lebanese-based Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Thursday. The pro-Hezbollah news site said that Hamas leaders have been speaking with officials in Cairo in efforts to ease the dire economic situation in the coastal enclave. The talks reportedly became more urgent as tit-for-tat attacks between Israel and Hamas have escalated in recent days.”

Netanyahu’s warning: No news but my news, Washington Post

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “On Sunday, a committee of cabinet ministers  (half from Netanyahu’s Likud party) voted to support a bill that would outlaw photographing confrontations between soldiers and Palestinians…The bill, let me stress, fits a larger context. The core right-wing parties in Netanyahu’s coalition have waged a long, public and legislative campaign against groups whose original and primary aim is to inform Israelis about what their government is doing in the occupied territories. Netanyahu personally has sought control over the media to ensure flattering coverage of himself. The combined goal is to protect policies and politicians by limiting or distorting what voters know.”