News Roundup for June 4, 2019

June 4, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Nechama Rivlin, Wife of Israeli President, Dies at 73, Haaretz
Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, died on Tuesday at the age of 73. Mrs. Rivlin, who had suffered from a pulmonary illness for a number of years, underwent a lung transplant in March. She passed away at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva a day before her 74th birthday.

In about-face, PM expected to drop Justice Ministry post due to legal woes, Times of Israel
After firing justice minister Ayelet Shaked and education minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday, Netanyahu initially said he would fill their positions immediately. But by Monday morning, his spokesman told reporters that the prime minister would wait until next week to make the appointments in order to consult with colleagues in the Likud and other right wing-parties.

Radical Settler, ‘Proud Homophobe’ and Wunderkind: Meet the New Leader of Israel’s Far Right, Haaretz
Bezazel Smotrich, the blue-eyed bearded settler who has become the country’s youthful face of unrepentant political and religious extremism and intolerance is ready for his close-up, after being elected leader of the National Union party, Israel’s furthest-right faction, on Monday night by the party’s central committee.


Supreme Court in Israel freezes deportation order against Human Rights Watch director there, JTA
Israel’s Supreme Court has frozen the expulsion order against the local director of Human Rights Watch, who was ordered deported over his past involvement in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Omar Shakir was ordered expelled from the country a year ago. The deportation order was accepted by a district court and upheld by a lower appeals court before heading to the country’s high court.

Smotrich says he wants to be justice minister so Israel can follow Torah law, Times of Israel
The Israeli justice system should adhere to religious Jewish law, MK Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URWP) has insisted, doubling down on his position despite drawing rebuke, and asserting that the country should aspire to run itself as “in the days of King David.”

Israel Will Not Be Governed by Jewish Law, Netanyahu Tweets After Political Ally’s Remarks, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday Israel will not be governed by Jewish law, brushing off controversial comments made earlier by a far-right leader that caused an uproar.

Rejuvenated Hamas Tests Israel in High-Stakes Brinkmanship, Wall Street Journal
Palestinian militant groups have restocked an arsenal of rockets to levels reached just before the last war with Israel, current and former Israeli officials say, part of a pressure campaign to ease Israel’s punishing blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Iran to US: Stand by commitments and we’ll talk, Al-Monitor
The day before Pompeo’s comments, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif remarked, “Some people think we have a problem with Trump. It is not so.” Rather, he said, the main obstacle to negotiations is the United States not sticking to its “commitments,” meaning the JCPOA.

Palestinians wary of Israel’s checkpoint changes, Al Jazeera
Workers and analysts told Al Jazeera that despite the easing of conditions, they believe the new policies are part of an Israeli propaganda campaign aimed at enhancing its own image in the rest of the world and pacifying the Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank.

Trump Lowers Expectations on Mideast Peace Plan, The Jerusalem Post
US President Donald Trump downgraded his administration’s long-awaited Mideast plan from “Deal of the Century” to “Let’s wait and see.”

Mossad intelligence helped link Iran to UAE tanker sabotage — report, Times of Israel
Intelligence materials collected by Israel’s Mossad agency played a role in linking Iran to the sabotaging of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last month, prompting the United States to accuse Tehran of carrying out the attack, according to a report on Monday.

Opinion and Analysis

Self-governance is the right of Palestinians, The National
The National’s Editorial Board writes, “The reality is that political machinations do not justify stripping an entire population of their basic rights. Wherever the Palestinian diaspora has been given the chance to thrive, its members have excelled and made names for themselves. There is no doubt they could do the same in their homeland, given half a chance.”

Israel’s ‘do-over’ election brings new threats to Netanyahu, AP News
Aron Heller writes, “Netanyahu, who has been prematurely eulogized countless times over the years, still has many things playing in his favor. In April, tens of thousands of favorable votes were lost when they were cast for smaller allied parties that did not win enough support to enter parliament. That’s unlikely to happen again, as efforts are being made to unite the various factions.”

The price Mizrahim pay for serving in the Israeli army, +972 Mag
Orly Noy writes, “Mizrahim are forced to carry out the dirty work of the occupation, coming face to face with their Palestinian subjects in the West Bank. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

After Locking This Palestinian Out of His Home, Israel Revokes His Entry Permit, Haaretz
Nir Hasson writes, “Omar Hajajla’s family lives in the only home on the Israeli side of a Jerusalem-area village which straddles the West Bank border – and Israel locked the family out of its home due to ‘security threat.’”

Why can’t an Arab Israeli couple find a home in Jerusalem?, Al-Monitor
Shlomi Eldar writes, “The final straw that led Saliba to tell all was a text message from a Jerusalem landlord that made her realize that even if they somehow managed to find a non-racist property owner, the neighbors might make their lives miserable. ‘Hi. Your name tells me you are an Arab,’ the woman wrote. ‘I have no problem with it. On the contrary. I am in favor of encouraging ties between Jews and Arabs. However, I once had two Arab tenants and the neighbors really abused them.’”