News Roundup for May 17, 2019

May 17, 2019

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J Street in the News

National Survey of Democratic Voters on Israel, Times of Israel
“A clear majority of likely Democratic primary voters have favorable views of Israel and believe it is compatible to hold these views and be critical of the Israeli government, according to a new poll. The poll found that most Democrats believe that the US should act as a fair and impartial broker for Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

J Street poll: Most Democrats haven’t heard of BDS, Times of Israel
“The survey, released Wednesday evening, found that 63.6 percent of Democratic respondents said they were unaware of the BDS movement that has stirred debate on college campuses over the last several years and which is starting to penetrate the halls of Congress.”

Latest poll shows Joe Biden leading Democratic primary field, Sun Sentinel
“Former Vice President Joe Biden is the overwhelming favorite of Democratic primary voters in the latest nationwide poll […] Israel was viewed favorably by 41% of Democrats interviewed and unfavorably by 16%. Netanyahu was viewed favorably by 12% and unfavorably by 39%.”

Where do top 2020 Democratic hopefuls stand on Israel?, Times of Israel
“‘We have an overwhelming obligation — notwithstanding our sometimes overwhelming frustration with the Israeli government — we have an obligation to push them as hard as we can toward what they know in their gut is the only solution: a two-state solution,’ Biden told J Street in April 2016.”

Top News and Analysis

Who actually supports military strikes against Iran?, Washington Post
Adam Taylor writes, “The prospect of U.S. military action against Iran has notably little international support […] But there are an alliance of countries who may be more sympathetic to the idea. Among them, the trio of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It’s no coincidence that these countries have courted the White House since Trump entered office in January 2017 — they saw the incoming administration as an ally against Iran.”

If the U.S. Goes to War With Iran, Netanyahu Will Be the Prime Suspect, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the only world leader to openly express support for the escalating US campaign against Iran, but his statement is an exception to the general Israeli rule.”

Israel Presses the Case Against Iran, but Not for War, New York Times
[Analysts] and former Israeli military and intelligence officials say the Israeli government is not angling for a full-blown war between the United States and Iran. Such a war, Israeli officials fear, could plunge Israel into a mutually destructive conflagration with Iran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. The insistent pressure on Iran, analysts said, is instead aimed at either forcing Iran to agree to a nuclear deal far stricter than the existing one, or creating conditions dire enough for fed-up Iranians to overthrow their government.


Europeans Promise Political and Economic Steps to Salvage the Iran Deal, Atlantic Council
Europe will provide Iran with concrete economic and political support over the next two months in an effort to keep Iran compliant with the 2015 nuclear agreement. Europeans will also try to stave off the threat of war in or around the Persian Gulf and are rejecting US claims of an enhanced threat from Iran or Iran-backed forces in the region.

Opposition rallies around Likud’s Sa’ar for criticizing PM’s immunity bid, Times of Israel
Opposition figures hailed Likud MK lawmaker Gideon Sa’ar for breaking ranks within the party and openly criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to pass a special law that would grant the premier immunity from prosecution while in office.

Saudis blame Iran for drone attack amid calls for US strikes, AP
Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of being behind a drone strike that shut down a key oil pipeline in the kingdom, and a newspaper close to the palace called for Washington to launch “surgical” strikes on Iran, raising the specter of escalating tensions as the US boosts its military presence in the Persian Gulf.

Second Likud MK comes out against ‘wrong and unnecessary’ Netanyahu immunity bid, Times of Israel
Likud MK Michal Shir on Friday joined Gideon Sa’ar and became the second lawmaker from the ruling party to openly criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to pass a special law that would grant him immunity from prosecution while in office.

Facebook Busts Israeli Campaign to Disrupt Elections in African, Asian and Latin American Nations, Haaretz
Facebook says it has identified a private Israel-based influence campaign aimed at disrupting elections in various countries and has canceled dozens of accounts that engaged in spreading disinformation.

TV report: Netanyahu briefs Likud MKs on ‘how to sell’ immunity law to public, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided conclusively to advance legislation that will ensure he cannot be prosecuted so long as he remains in office, and has begun briefing his Likud party’s Knesset members on how to “sell” the move to the Israeli public, a TV report claimed on Wednesday.

Ireland vs. Hungary: Report Charts Rising Support for Netanyahu Among EU States, Haaretz
Their study, published in advance of next week’s elections for the European Parliament, found that Hungary is the country that works hardest to block EU decisions critical of Israeli policies, while Ireland is the EU’s most active critic of these policies. France, meanwhile, is the country most supportive of resuming international peace efforts.

Opinion and Analysis

Iran’s regional proxies ensure it will never fight alone, AP
Zeina Karam writes, “From Lebanon and Syria to Iraq, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip, Tehran has significantly expanded its footprint over the past decade, finding and developing powerful allies in conflict-ravaged countries across the Middle East. Hezbollah is one of the most prominent members of the self-styled ‘axis of resistance,’ armed groups with tens of thousands of Shiite Muslim fighters beholden to Tehran.”

Should Trump Administration Be Trusted on Iran? , Newsweek
Tom O’Connor and James LaPorta write, “[A] U.S. military official who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, cautioned that the [National Security Council’s] warnings of heightened threats posed by Iran-aligned Iraqi militias such as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) did not appear to match the Pentagon’s own observations. ‘The threat stream I’ve seen doesn’t line up with what the NSC is leaking, let me put it that way,’ the second official told Newsweek. ‘The PMF is no more or less a threat than before all this bullshit began.’”

A Netanyahu rival’s eminently reasonable attempt at political assassination, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “In an earnest, passionate interview on Israeli television, Sa’ar said what no other prominent Likud figure has been prepared to say publicly these past few days: Netanyahu’s behind-the-scenes bid to galvanize immunity legislation, tailored to protect him from prosecution in the three criminal cases he faces, is an effort unworthy of the prime minister, damaging for the Likud, and bad for Israel.”

Netanyahu and Lieberman Are in a Standoff Over Gaza. The Government’s Fate Is at Stake, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Amid the danger that lurks for us, the darkness that envelops us, the stench that’s smacking us, a rather delightful comic moment was recorded this week: Benjamin Netanyahu was caught in a lie. In interviews he gave on the eve of the election, he had denied – vehemently, contemptuously, even angrily – the brazen allegation that he was planning to push through an immunity law tailored specifically to his personal and felonious measurements. But now, alas, suddenly it’s actually taking shape before our very eyes.”

With Trump’s help, Netanyahu is making the occupation permanent, +972 Mag
Susie Becher writes, “Netanyahu may have succeeded in convincing Israelis that facts on the ground can defeat Palestinian national aspirations. He forgot to tell them that holding millions under endless occupation is unsustainable.”

Hey Everyone, Let’s Wave to Hamas’, Haaretz
Judy Maltz writes, “[A] sincere effort is made on this tour of Israel’s Gaza Strip border area to present the perspectives of both Israelis and Palestinians. And given the built-in constraints — namely, the ban on Israelis and tourists crossing the border from Israel into Gaza— its organizers do a commendable job of it. “