News Roundup for June 26, 2018

June 26, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Jared Kushner’s Middle East Fantasy, The Atlantic

Philip Gordon and Prem Kumar write, “On Sunday, in his first-ever interview with a Palestinian newspaper, the U.S. president’s son-in-law and Middle East peace envoy said that despite appearances to the contrary, “prospects for peace are very much alive”…Kushner’s desire to move forward even in the face of long odds is understandable. Unfortunately, his interview also revealed that he is living in a fantasy world and preparing an approach more likely to compound the current problems than to resolve them. The assumptions on which he appears to be basing his plan—whatever its precise contents turn out to be—are so flawed that it is fair to wonder if his aim is really to start serious negotiations, or simply to please President Trump’s base by gearing up to blame the Palestinian side for the failure to come.”

Protesters say support for Gaza Strip continues to grow, Al-Monitor

Adnan Abu Amer writes, “Organizers of the ‘Lift the Sanctions’ campaign in the Gaza Strip say the movement is gaining international momentum….It has been only a few weeks since the anti-sanctions campaign began, and it has already created a buzz inside and outside the Palestinian territories. More public and official mobilization against the PA’s measures is expected. At the same time, this campaign could provoke an internal Palestinian confrontation among the PA, young activists and influential civil society groups, rather than a row with Hamas.”


Syria state media: two Israeli missiles hit area near airport, Associated Press

Two Israeli missiles struck an area near the Damascus International Airport early Tuesday, Syria state media reported, but didn’t name a specific target.

It was the latest strike on Syrian territory blamed on Israel. Such strikes have increased in frequency amid soaring tension between Israel and Iran, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Putin invites Netanyahu, Abbas to World Cup final, Times of Israel

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to attend the World Cup final in Moscow next month. Netanyahu is considering attending the July 15 game if Israeli security requirements can be met, according to reports in Hebrew-language media Monday.

Trump claims “a lot of progress” made in the Middle East, Associated Press

President Donald Trump claimed Monday that a “lot of progress” has been made in the Middle East, but he did not identify specific areas of improvement. Trump commented as he welcomed King Abdullah II of Jordan to the White House for a working visit.

Prince William starts first British royal visit to Israel, Palestinian Territories, Reuters

Prince William began the first official visit by a British royal to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Monday, facing the challenge of navigating deep political and religious divides in a Holy Land once ruled by Britain.

Citing ‘new spirit,’ Israeli envoy wants to rethink UNESCO withdrawal, Times of Israel

Israel’s envoy to UNESCO on Tuesday suggested a rethink of the country’s planned exit from the world cultural body, citing a “new spirit” in the organization after it agreed to delay a series of resolutions critical of the Jewish state.

Opinion and Analysis

The US ambassador to Israel is a boon to the far right. He must be stopped, Guardian

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “It’s been over a year since David Friedman – long-time settlement movement benefactor and opponent of the two-state solution – took office as the US ambassador to Israel.  In that time, Friedman has used the embassy as a personal bully pulpit to reshape US policy and advance his personal far-right agenda – precisely the course he pledged to the Senate foreign relations committee he would not follow. It is time for the Senate to bring Friedman back to DC for tough questioning. They should start by asking how it’s appropriate for the US ambassador to Israel to act more like the lawyer and spokesperson for Israel’s settlement movement than a representative of American interests.”

Netanyahu seemingly unfazed by wife’s fraud indictment, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “Almost 20 years have elapsed since the first criminal investigation was opened into Benjamin Netanyahu (2000). Now, an indictment has been filed for the first time against a member of the family that has ruled Israel for almost a full decade. It comes after an endless series of investigations and testimony from around the world (including Australia, the United States, Europe and elsewhere), the recruitment of state’s witnesses and much indecision. True, Sara Netanyahu is not Israel’s prime minister, but anyone familiar with the goings-on in the official residence knows that she is a full partner in the ruling enterprise.”

Mohammed bin Salman Has Thrown the Palestinians Under the Bus, Foreign Policy

Dalia Hatuqa writes, “Though Mohammed bin Salman has paid lip service to the Palestinians in public — claiming that closer ties between Riyadh and other Gulf states and Israel could only happen with significant progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — he has demonstrated a willingness to leverage the region’s various conflicts and Riyadh’s fear of Iranian influence to shift the focus away from their cause. Palestinians now realize that they can no longer depend on their traditional allies in the Arab world. Palestinians now realize that they can no longer depend on their traditional allies in the Arab world. The asymmetry of power between Israelis and Palestinians, coupled with the Palestinians’ internal divisions and utter dependence on external aid, has also left them with very little leverage.”