News Roundup for June 26, 2019

June 26, 2019

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J Street in the News

Jared Kushner’s Middle East Plan Slammed by Former Clinton, Bush Negotiator: ‘Expectations Are Extremely Low’, Newsweek
“Most former peace plan negotiators share Ross’s view that Kushner’s plan takes the wrong approach and is worse for Israeli-Palestinian relations because it does not offer a two-state solution with independent states of Israel and Palestine, which the U.S. has long advocated for. ‘Yeah, doing something different — but it has to make sense what you’re doing,’ Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street which is advocating for a two-state solution, told CNN. ‘I don’t think anybody who’s been involved with this will say what we did worked … but that doesn’t mean that this is the right approach.’”

Does Elizabeth Warren Have a Plan for Israel?, Haaretz
“While she has appeared at local American Israel Public Affairs Committee events and there are AIPAC activists among her supporters, most of the positions she has taken hew more closely to those of J Street (the ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ lobby that emerged in the Obama era).”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Threatens ‘Obliteration’ of Iran, as Sanctions Dispute Escalates, New York Times
President Trump warned on Tuesday that any attack Iran might carry out “on anything American” would result in the “obliteration” of parts of Iran, responding angrily to comments by President Hassan Rouhani that the White House was “mentally handicapped.”

Netanyahu to Consider Proposal to Cancel Upcoming Israeli Election, Party Says, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will consider an initiative to call off the September 17 election after it was proposed by the speaker of the Knesset, the party announced on Tuesday. Speaker Yuli Edelstein, also a member of Likud, believes there is a legal mechanism that would permit calling off the election, but a proposal has not been put before Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon.

Forget peace. Trump and Israel want Palestinian surrender, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “Many analysts expect that a White House so closely aligned with Netanyahu’s right-wing camp may never put forward anything that demands serious Israeli concessions, let alone a proposal to formally end the occupation. Instead, it may be paving the way for quite the opposite.”


Opposition seethes as Netanyahu mulls bid to nix September elections, Times of Israel
Opposition leaders were outraged Tuesday night by the news that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was looking into the possibility of calling off the elections he himself called last month, alternately casting the reports as “spin” or a desperate political gambit.

Lapid Rejects Netanyahu-Gantz Rotation for Prime Minister, The Jerusalem Post
Blue and White’s number two candidate, Yair Lapid, turned down an offer from Likud on Wednesday to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz rotate as prime minister.

Iran says it will abandon more nuclear deal commitments and Trump threatens ‘obliteration’ if Iran attacks, JTA
After Iran announced that it will abandon further commitments agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal, President Donald Trump threatened “obliteration” in “some areas” of the country if Iran attacked U.S. interests.

Liberman: PM seeking minority coalition with Haredim propped up by Arab parties, Times of Israel
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman claimed on Monday that after the next election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will work to form a minority coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties, which will rely on outside support from the Arab Israeli factions.

In Bahrain, Air of Israeli-Arab Normalization and a Message to Iran, Haaretz
Under strict security arrangements and despite the absence of official Israeli and Palestinian representatives, the biggest public event indicating the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world was held on Tuesday evening in the Four Seasons Hotel in Manama, the capital of the tiny island of Bahrain.

As US holds economic confab, UN chief seeks funds for Palestinian refugees, Times of Israel
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on United Nations member states Tuesday to fund the agency that works to help Palestinian refugees as he opened a donors conference for the body, which is boycotted by the US.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump puts the cart before the horse in Palestine, Brookings
Hady Amr writes, “As the U.S government official who from 2013-2017 was responsible for curating John Kerry’s economic initiative for the Palestinian people, I thought I would share some thoughts. First, and amazingly, instead of building this plan alongside the Palestinians, Trump and Kushner have chosen to release this plan after spending 18 months deeply offending the Palestinian people. As a result, the Palestinian leadership refused to attend the meeting.”

Trump’s so-called economic plan views the illegal occupation of Palestine through the eyes of a real-estate agent, The National
Saeb Erekat writes, “The US now seeks the normalisation of the Israeli occupation and settlements, and is attempting to buying Palestinian rights by presenting us with its so-called economic plan. The Trump team is composed of bankruptcy lawyers and real-estate agents, not diplomatic experts, and our response is this: ‘Palestine is not for sale’.”

Kushner plan leaves Middle East deal seeming further away than ever, The Guardian
Martin Chulov writes, “The ‘Peace to Prosperity’ conference on Tuesday marked the moment where the new mantra was imposed, demanding that Palestinians put a price on their surrender or risk losing even more ground under the most accommodating US administration that Israel has ever known.”

An Open Letter To My Fellow American, Civil Servant Jared Kushner, Medium
Sam Bahour writes, “I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry, so instead of doing either, I thought it would be best to share my thoughts by way of the following open letter to Jared Kushner, the architect of the plan, and President Trump’s son-in-law.”

Economic Band-Aids Won’t Bring Peace to the Middle East, Foreign Policy
Hugh Lovatt and Muriel Asseburg write, “European leaders should not lend support to a Trump administration plan that dangles economic carrots to Palestinians while entrenching the Israeli occupation.”

The Only Reason Netanyahu Would Try to Nix the New Election, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “After hiding for a number of days, as he usually does, behind the backs of unnamed ‘sources’ in Likud, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu realized Tuesday evening that if he doesn’t immediately come out of the closet and put all his weight behind the initiative to call off the September election – it would perish.”

Jared Kushner launches Bahrain workshop on economic plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, JTA
Jared Kushner, the key architect of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, launched a conference in Bahrain to advance the economic portion of his plan.

Trump moves show him to be unreliable partner, AP
Lisa Mascaro writes, “Trump won his job partly on his claims to be a great dealmaker. But the celebrity businessman-turned-president’s negotiating style — repeatedly pushing toward a brink only to pull back at the moment of action — leaves the U.S. lurching from crisis to crisis. On trade tariffs, immigration raids and now the standoff with Iran, his course reversals confound allies as well as adversaries, and his own party in Congress.”

The Trump administration’s workshop for the Palestinian economy is set to be a dud, Washington Post
Daoud Kuttab writes, “The details that have emerged of the workshop reflect poor planning and a failure to understand the regional context. The draft program for the workshop, which is being hosted by Bahrain in partnership with the United States, lists a cocktail reception as the first event — in a Persian Gulf country where public consumption of alcohol is frowned upon. The entire program rarely mentions the Palestinian people, and when it does, it talks about the ‘Palestinian population’ — an inherently political message.”

The Billion-dollar Question in Trump’s Peace Plan, Haaretz
Amir Tibon writes, “The ‘Peace to Prosperity’ vision offers $50 billion fund for investments in Palestinian economy. How does the administration think it will get the money?”