News Roundup for May 23, 2018

May 23, 2018

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J Street in the News

In Letter to Netanyahu, 76 Members of Congress Oppose Israeli Demolitions of West Bank Palestinian Communities, J Street

“J Street welcomed an important new letter, signed by 76 Members of Congress, which calls on Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to bring a halt to the ongoing demolition and evictions of Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Led by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and John Yarmuth (D-KY), the letter notes that the destruction and displacement of these communities pose a serious threat to the human rights of Palestinians, to the prospects for a two-state solution and to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. This letter follows a similar letter sent to the prime minister by ten senators last November. ‘This is the latest sign that US lawmakers are increasingly concerned by the alarming consequences of the Israeli government’s policies in the West Bank,’ said Dylan Williams, J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs. ‘Demolitions, evictions and settlement expansion clearly imperil the prospects for a peaceful two-state solution.’”

Top News and Analysis

Mike Pompeo sets the stage for perpetual conflict with Iran, Washington Post

The Washington Post editorial board writes, “Rather than meekly comply with Mr. Pompeo’s demands, the regime can be expected to look for ways to retaliate, such as by sponsoring attacks on U.S. troops in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. That could draw the United States deeper into the regional conflicts Mr. Trump has said he wants to avoid. In laying out maximal goals, the administration has set the stage for perpetual conflict with Iran, barring a revolution it is powerless to bring about.”

Pompeo’s Iran Plan: Tell Them to Give Up, The New York Times

Carol Giacomo writes, “Although Mr. Pompeo said the administration’s aim was a comprehensive agreement with Iran, the real goal seems to be to break the regime or force it to resume the nuclear program, thus giving the United States and Israel an excuse for military action. The world’s experience with regime change in Iraq should make clear why this is a terrible idea. Along with waging war on a false premise, causing tens of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars in wasted funds, and enabling the spread of Islamist militants, it’s a major reason Iran has gained a foothold in Iraq today. It’s no coincidence that John Bolton, one of the George W. Bush administration’s architects of that disaster, is now at the center of American policymaking as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser.”

Pompeo’s Iran Plan Is a Pipe Dream, Foreign Policy

Jon Wolfsthal and Julie Smith write, “[T]he entire so-called strategy is a wish list built on a pipe dream — the idea that the Trump administration is going to get the rest of the world to sign on to a sanctions regime as tough or tougher than the one that existed from 2009 to 2012. The same administration that can’t do simple things like vet nominees, fill government positions, enact executive orders, or avoid alienating the United States’ oldest and closet allies is now going to recreate the most penetrating and effective sanctions system in human history? And they are going to do this with a president whom most U.S. allies don’t trust and who has proved that he will not abide by agreements negotiated in good faith?”


Israel’s security cabinet to start meeting in underground bunker, Times of Israel

Israel’s high-level security cabinet will meet in a new, specially built underground bunker in Jerusalem for the foreseeable future. The change of venue — meetings of the security cabinet usually take place in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem — may signal the heightened sensitivity of upcoming discussions, with some observers in the Hebrew-language media suggesting it could point to preparations for a possible escalation of hostilities with Iran.

Iran tells Europe to step up and save nuclear deal, Reuters

The head of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy committee in parliament said that the only way to salvage the nuclear deal would be for the European signatories to stand up to the United States.

Erdogan says he will reevaluate economic ties with Israel, Times of Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he will review economic and trade ties with Israel, and urged Islamic countries to uphold a recent decision calling for economic sanctions against any country that follows the US in moving its embassy to Jerusalem or recognizes the city as Israel’s capital.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Receives Picture of Jerusalem With Third Temple Replacing Muslim Mosques, Haaretz

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was photographed Tuesday receiving a picture of Jerusalem bearing a simulation of the Third Temple instead of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Israel says Palestinian request to ICC has no legal validity, Reuters

Israel on Tuesday questioned the legal validity of a Palestinian request to the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged human rights violations linked to Israeli settlement policies in occupied territories.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump and Netanyahu Expose the Weak Immune System of Israeli and American Democracy, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “In an age of nationalist populism broadcast on myriad independent social media platforms, checks and balances are no longer enough to protect democracy. But perhaps they never were. The vigor and vitality of democracies depend, first and foremost, on accepted norms of conduct and on the willingness of all actors, primarily leaders, to uphold them. When leaders such as Trump and Netanyahu decide to openly and flagrantly break the rules, the walls that protect democracy begin to tumble down.”

Israel faces the unknown in post-Abbas era, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit observes, “When I recently asked five Israeli Cabinet ministers who will take over after Abbas, not one could offer a name or even a well-thought-out assessment of what might happen. The situation is the same among members of Israel’s intelligence community. When Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat was dying, there was no doubt that Abbas would succeed him. Now, with Abbas, the most common response is, ‘Anything can happen.’ As far as anyone knows, the Israeli Cabinet has not held serious discussions about who the next partner for peace will be. Perhaps it is because most Cabinet members are not interested in such a partner.”

Pompeo’s Crude Threat to ‘Crush’ Iran Hides Crisis in Trump’s Mideast Strategy, Haaretz

Daniel Amir analyzes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent remarks on Iran, describing Pompeo’s demands to the Iranian government as counterproductive for US interests, reckless and unrealistic.