News Roundup for June 27, 2018

June 27, 2018

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Upcoming Briefing: Keeping Tabs on the Israeli Far Right
Today, June 27, 3pm Eastern
Join us for a Facebook Live briefing (available on our website as well for those without Facebook) with Ran Cohen, founder of a new Israeli watchdog group, the Democratic Bloc. The group is dedicated to probing the tactics and funding of the Israeli far-right.

J Street in the News

Trump Travel Ban Remains an Affront to Core American Ideals, J Street

“As descendants of immigrants and refugees who came to this country seeking a life free from persecution and danger, we see in this ban the same kind of prejudice and fear that threatened our own ancestors. By seeking to turn the United States away from its proud legacy of welcoming people of all faiths and origins, the Trump administration is attacking our country’s most precious and fundamental ideals.”

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.”

Top News and Analysis

Assad’s Drive to Retake Southwest Syria Tests Israel’s Aid Policy Toward Villages, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “The Syrian civil war is apparently entering a new phase. After having scored numerous military successes over the last two years, the Assad regime, with Russian air support, is preparing to retake the country’s southwest. This is an area with symbolic importance (the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in Daraa in 2011), but also practical importance, since it abuts both Jordan and Israel.”

Voices in Hamas call for dialogue with Israel, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar reports, “A Hamas source told Al-Monitor that the idea of direct talks to end the Israeli blockade comes up in the movement all the time, but that Israel has so far rejected every proposal conveyed to it by mediators. ‘Unfortunately, your side only understands force,’ he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. ‘That’s why no offers have been made of direct meetings and only unrealized thoughts and ruminations have been expressed.”


Israel targets Gaza militant’s car, rockets launched into Israel: army, Reuters

Israeli aircraft and a tank struck a vehicle belonging to an operative of the Islamist Hamas faction that dominates the Gaza Strip, as militants launched rockets into Israel, the Israeli military said on Wednesday.

Hamas Delegation Heading to Egypt to Discuss Gaza Relief, Haaretz

A Hamas delegation will be leaving shortly for Cairo at the invitation of Egyptian intelligence officials to discuss the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.

U.S. pushes allies to cut oil imports from Iran as sanctions loom, Washington Post

U.S. officials are warning allies that they should prepare to cut oil imports from Iran to zero by November and that Washington will grant no waivers from secondary sanctions against foreign companies that continue to do business with Tehran, a State Department official said Tuesday.

Netanyahu accuses media of spreading ‘Bolshevik propaganda’ against his family, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out Monday night against reports of his family’s financial impropriety, slamming media coverage of him as “Bolshevik propaganda” spread by left-wingers bent on bringing him down.

Israel confident U.S. to keep protections in any Saudi nuclear power deal, Reuters

Israel’s energy minister said on Tuesday after meeting Trump administration officials he is confident that the United States will not relax non-proliferation standards in any nuclear power deal it agrees with Saudi Arabia. Israel vehemently opposes any effort by the Saudi Arabia to relax “gold standard” non-proliferation limits on enriching uranium or reprocessing nuclear fuel in any deal between the two countries, Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, told Reuters in an interview.

Opinion and Analysis

Like Putin and Erdogan: Netanyahu’s Plan to Cripple Israeli Media, Haaretz

Gur Megiddo writes, “After he was elected in 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to restructure and cripple the Israeli media much the same way Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan did in their own countries. That is what a source, who asked not identify, said he took from the testimony of Nir Hefetz, the key Netanyahu aide who has turned state’s evidence in three separate investigations that police are pursuing against the prime minister.”

The UN’s refugee agency for Palestinians is running out of cash, Economist

The Economist writes, “You may think that after a dozen years of blockade by Israel, three devastating wars and the rule of a harsh Islamist government, life in Gaza could hardly get worse. But the prospect of another war and a dire shortage of cash to pay for the UN’s Relief and Works Agency, better known as UNRWA, mean that it can. Last year President Donald Trump’s administration said it would withhold $305m of the $365m that has annually serviced the agency, which has supported most of Gaza’s 2m people for the past seven decades. Now the cash is running out.”