News Roundup for June 24, 2019

June 24, 2019

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J Street in the News

Kushner’s Mideast Peace Gamble Puts Economics Ahead of Strife, Bloomberg
“There are deep doubts that an investment-first approach, without a political solution, can lead to peace. ‘Even an ambitious vision of much-needed economic development cannot substitute for a political agreement that will finally resolve the core issues driving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’ Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the progressive Jewish group J Street, said in a statement.”

Cut out of the process, Palestinians reject Trump’s economic plan for Mideast peace, NBC News
“At home the U.S. plan, released quietly on the Sabbath, was met with a muted response but some criticism. ‘Even an ambitious vision of much-needed economic development cannot substitute for a political agreement that will finally resolve the core issues driving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a Washington-based liberal advocacy group.”

We Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian Parents Will Not Be Pawns in Kushner’s Peace Plan, Haaretz
“It should also be noted that the Palestinian father in these pictures has been to America many, many times as a guest of members of the House or Representatives, the Senate, AIPAC, J Street, USAID and the U.S. State Department — yet he is no longer able to obtain a visa to the United States.”

Economic Investment Is No Substitute for Serious Negotiations Towards Real Israeli-Palestinian Peace, J Street
“No amount of promised investment will convince the Palestinian people to surrender their legitimate aspirations to civil rights, equality and self-determination in an independent state of their own. No showpiece economic conference can make up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance that this White House has already cruelly cut.”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. plan for Palestinian economy envisions $50 billion investment, Reuters
The following are some facts about the “economic vision,” drawn from White House documents reviewed by Reuters and described exclusively by Kushner and his aides, who are hoping to gain traction for their proposals during the June 25-26 gathering…

‘Get Israel off our backs’: Palestinians react to Kushner plan, Al Jazeera
When the document was released, many noticed that the 40-page plan was void of any political context with the words “occupation”, “freedom”, “equality”, “blockade” missing. “The absence of those words is actually quite glaring and it’s very indicative of what they see is the issue,” Diana Buttu a Haifa-based analyst and former legal adviser to Palestinian peace negotiators told Al Jazeera.

Bolton Warns Iran Not to ‘Mistake U.S. Prudence and Discretion for Weakness’, New York Times
President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, warned Tehran on Sunday not to “mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness,” saying that military action against Iran remained very much an option even though the United States last week called off one military strike.


White House Unveils Economic Portion of Middle East Peace Plan, New York Times
The Trump administration said on Saturday that it hoped to raise more than $50 billion to improve the lot of the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors, releasing an economic plan titled, “Peace to Prosperity,” that reverses the actual sequence of its peacemaking efforts in the Middle East.

We need the money, but won’t be slaves to Trump peace team, Abbas says, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he was confident a peace conference this week in Bahrain would fail. “We are certain that the workshop in Manama will not be successful,” Abbas, who is boycotting the US-led conference focused on the Palestinian economy, told journalists.

Palestinian Leader Abbas Brushes Off Trump Plan for Investment, New York Times
The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, on Sunday dismissed a new effort by the Trump administration to encourage investment of more than $50 billion to jump-start the Palestinian and regional economies in hopes of building a foundation for a future peace.

Commentators in Arab world reject US economic plan for Palestinians, Times of Israel
Critics say $50 billion scheme predicted to fail because it doesn’t offer political answers to conflict and assumes Palestinian national aspirations can be bought.

AP sources: US struck Iranian military computers this week, AP
U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday.

Trump’s Mideast Plan: $50 Billion for Palestinian Projects, Travel Corridor Between West Bank and Gaza, Haaretz
The Trump administration’s $50 billion Middle East economic plan calls for creation of a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighboring Arab state economies, and construction of a $5 billion transportation corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza, according to U.S. officials and documents reviewed by Reuters.

US uses pics from programs it cut to promote its new Palestinian economic plan, Times of Israel
Experts say Kushner team’s reliance on images from projects the administration has defunded underlines that new plan’s ideas are either pie-in-the-sky or have already been tried.

Israeli, Palestinian Bereaved Families Slam White House for Using Their Picture After Aid Cut, Haaretz
Activists from an organization for bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families expressed ire at the White House’s use of their picture for the economic component of the Trump administration peace plan, which the White House published on its website on Saturday.

Opinion and Analysis

Something Stopped Trump From Striking Iran, and It Wasn’t 150 Lives, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “The US president says he aborted an attack on Iran out of concern for civilians, but his real fear is what one attack could spiral into.”

With Iran, Trump Wants to Be Arsonist and Firefighter, Politico
Jack Shafer writes, “Proving his excellence once again at serving as an arsonist and the leader of the fire brigade at the same time, President Donald Trump, who has been publicly spoiling for a military scrap with Iran, took credit this morning for both ordering a military strike on three of the country’s military installations and then canceling the mission 10 minutes before go time. Crisis averted!”

Aborted U.S. Attack Exposes Fatal Flaw in Netanyahu’s Iran Strategy: Trump’s Problematic Personality, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Trump’s abrupt volte-face inflicted a series of blows on Netanyahu in particular and on Israel in general. It further undermined the already limited confidence of other Western leaders in Trump’s judgment, it cast the U.S. president as a paper tiger and provided a moment of triumph for the ayatollahs in Tehran and it raised new doubts about the rationale behind Netanyahu’s drive to persuade Trump to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and to bring Iran to its knees through harsh sanctions and military threats.”

Palestinians have every right to reject another Oslo, +972 Mag
Sam Bahour writes, “With the Bahrain workshop, the Trump administration is relying on the same old Oslo model of economy before politics. What needs to be done is to hold Israel accountable.”

Economic Side of ‘Deal of the Century’ Holds Some Surprises, but It’s More Vision Than Blueprint, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “Israeli officials also see other proposals, in the fields of technology and education, for instance, as unrealistic considering the fact that currently the United States is not funding even simpler and more pressing humanitarian projects, such as a desalination plant for Gaza, which for the most part is now being funded by European taxpayers.”