News Roundup for May 24, 2018

May 24, 2018

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J Street in the News

Over 70 Democratic Lawmakers Urge Netanyahu: Don’t Demolish West Bank Village of Susya, Haaretz

“A group of 76 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking the Israeli government not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susya in the South Hebron hills. The letter, dated May 21, was hailed by the left-wing Jewish group J Street…The members of Congress wrote in the letter that “the forcible eviction of Palestinian communities and the expansion of settlements in areas of the West Bank which would become part of a future Palestinian state, abandon our two countries’ shared values of justice and respect for human rights. ‘These actions unilaterally change facts on the ground and jeopardize the prospects for a two-state solution,’ the letter continued. The lawmakers also asked Netanyahu “to fairly re-evaluate” the requests made by Susya residents for building rights.”

74 Democratic lawmakers urge Netanyahu not to raze Palestinian villages, Times of Israel

The letter sent to Netanyahu Monday said that the “destruction and displacement of such communities would run counter to shared US and Israeli values, while further undermining long-term Israeli security, Palestinian dignity and the prospects for peacefully achieving two states for two people.” It said demolishing Sussiya and Khan al-Ahmar “endangers Israel’s future as a Jewish democracy,” and urged the government to “fairly re-evaluate” Palestinian requests for building rights. J Street, a liberal Jewish Mideast think tank that helped promote the appeal on Capitol Hill, welcomed the letter, calling it the most significant criticism of Israeli settlement expansion by Congress ever. “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, in a statement. “Demolitions, evictions and settlement expansion clearly imperil the prospects for a peaceful two-state solution.”

76 Members of Congress write to Netanyahu over Israel demolitions, Middle East Monitor

“Seventy-six Members of Congress have co-signed a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to end the demolitions and evictions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. According to J Street, a Washington DC-based liberal Zionist pressure group, ‘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 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.”

Top News and Analysis

Exclusive: Israeli minister says U.S. may soon recognize Israel’s hold on Golan, Reuters

Israel is pressing the Trump administration to recognize its sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, an Israeli cabinet minister said on Wednesday, predicting U.S. assent could come within months. Interviewed by Reuters, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz described endorsement of Israel’s 51-year-old hold on the Golan as the proposal now “topping the agenda” in bilateral diplomatic talks with the United States.

U.S. ambassador to Israel says Trump’s peace plan is months away, Axios

Barak Ravid interviews US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.


Germany tells U.S.: Iran nuclear deal keeps us safe, must be preserved, Reuters

Germany told U.S. President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser on Wednesday that Europe remained “very, very united” in supporting a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran because it feared a proliferation of atomic weapons on its doorstep….Scrapping the deal would allow Iran to resume its nuclear program and this would “massively jeopardize” Europe’s security, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters after talks with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Israeli Military Strikes Hamas Tunnel, Boats in Gaza, Haaretz

The Israeli military on Wednesday struck a Hamas tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as two boats belonging to the organization’s naval forces….According to Palestinian reports, the targeted boats were due to depart from the port in an attempt to break the naval blockade on the Strip.

Israel court halts immediate expulsion of Human Rights Watch head, Washington Post

An Israeli court issued an interim injunction on Wednesday temporarily preventing Israel’s Interior Ministry from deporting Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.

Erdogan pushes Abbas to reconcile with Hamas, Al-Monitor

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was hospitalized in the West Bank city of Ramallah and was unable to attend the May 18 Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Istanbul. The host, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was thus obliged to tell Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah what he had planned to tell Abbas: that the Palestinian Authority (PA) must take an active part in saving the Gaza Strip.

Amid Tensions With Turkey, Israeli Government Won’t Object to Debate on Armenian Genocide Recognition, Haaretz

The Israeli government informed the Knesset on Wednesday that it will not submit a response to a motion to hold a debate at the Knesset on recognizing the Armenian genocide. The government in the past objected to hold such debates at the Knesset.

Israeli Energy Minister Blasts EU: Can ‘Go to a Thousand Thousand Hells’, Haaretz

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz attacked the European Union on Wednesday, saying the EU can “go to a thousand thousand hells” over its call to investigate Israel police brutality against Israeli Arabs.

Opinion and Analysis

More Palestinians Will Die Unless Gaza Becomes Livable, Haaretz

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn) and Carol Hutner Winograd write, “Real change can only be created by opening Gaza to the outside world, which must be done carefully with the full participation of the Palestinian, Egyptian, and Israeli authorities. Crossing points must be secured and the tunnels should be destroyed. The possibility of constructing a port for Gaza should also be explored. These actions would weaken Hamas’s ability to strike at Israel and diminish Hamas’ resources, while also mitigating some of the desperation among the residents of Gaza.”

Trump’s Talk of Sanctions Is a Dead-end. What He’s Really Pushing Is War Against Iran, Haaretz

Steven Klein writes, “Netanyahu and Trump envision reinstating and augmenting sanctions and ramping them up to such a painful point that the Iranian people will rise up against and overthrow their tyrannical leaders. Such an aspiration is a dangerous pipe dream. It has never worked.”