News Roundup for May 24, 2019

May 24, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Benjamin Netanyahu rejects generals’ warning against West Bank annexation, The National
Israel’s prime minister doubled down on his pledge to annex parts of the occupied West Bank this week after Israeli media reported that a group of retired generals had warned him against any such move because it would endanger the country. “Swaths of land in Judea and Samaria are not just a guarantee of Israel’s security – they are also our patrimony,” Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted in response on Tuesday, using his preferred Biblical Hebrew names for the West Bank.

Netanyahu Aims for Narrow Coalition as Talks Hit Snag, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the heads of the coalition government Thursday and decided to create a narrow coalition of only 60 seats, but called on Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman to “stand by his obligation to the voters” and join the coalition, in order to create a solid majority.

UN agency for Palestinians UNRWA rejects US call to close it down, Deutsche Welle
“I unreservedly reject the accompanying narrative that suggests that somehow UNRWA is to blame for the continuation of the refugee-hood of Palestine refugees, of their growing numbers and their growing needs,” the UNRWA Commissioner General said at a Gaza news conference on Thursday.


Israel’s Opposition to Hold First Joint Rally Saturday, but Arab Parties Aren’t Invited, Haaretz
Israel’s opposition parties will join forces for the first time since the April 9 election to organize a demonstration on Saturday night against the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to legislate himself immunity from prosecution, but Arab parties will not be participating.

Senior German diplomat in Tehran for nuclear deal talks, AP
Germany’s Foreign Ministry sent its political director, Jens Ploetner, to Iran to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi to try to salvage the nuclear deal signed in 2015 in Vienna. The accord has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal, re-imposed and escalated U.S. sanctions on Tehran last year.

Germany to mediate in Iran, Deutsche Welle
Germany’s Foreign Ministry has called the political situation in the Persian Gulf “decidedly serious,” with regard to the tension building up between Washington and its Arab allies, and Tehran, since US President Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the nuclear deal last year

The Latest: Iran’s top diplomat warns of anarchy in Mideast, AP
Iran’s foreign minister has lashed out during a visit to Islamabad at Donald Trump, assailing the American president for his tweet this week warning Iran not to threaten the U.S. again or it would face its “official end.”

Israel braces for fresh fire flare-up as temperatures set to skyrocket, Times of Israel
Firefighters were bracing Friday for a fresh outbreak of wildfires, with temperatures expected to soar across the country a day after hot and dry conditions caused a rash of brushfires that consumed buildings and forced thousands from their homes.

Palestinians officially reject economic summit, JTA
The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization made it official: They will not be attending the Trump administration’s economic summit next month in Bahrain. The Palestinians said they were not consulted on the plan to hold the conference in Manama as part of the overall peace proposal of the Trump administration.

Palestinian Authority: Israeli Archaeological Digs in West Bank a ‘Crime’, The Jerusalem Post
In a statement released Tuesday, the PA ministry warned archaeologists around the world against taking part in such excavations, arguing such a move “would expose them to legal accountability” and mar their academic record. The PA further asked museums and international institutions to examine all artifacts originating in Israel and refuse to accept any piece “stolen from occupied Palestinian land.”

Israel shrinks Gaza fishing zone in response to fires set by incendiary balloons, JTA
The Israel Defense Forces cut down the fishing zone for fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip in response to incendiary balloons sent from Gaza that sparked several fires in southern Israel.

Opinion and Analysis

The Jewish Community Shuts Down Extremists On The Left. Why Tolerate Them On The Right?, The Forward
Russel Neiss writes, “We see this when mainline community umbrella organizations are willing to deny membership to groups if they partner with others who don’t hew to pro-Israel orthodoxy, and yet Mort Klein and the ZOA who call the two-state solution ‘a myth,’ continue to have a seat at the Conference of Presidents of Jewish Organizations. We see this when our Jewish Federations and JCRC’s around the country continue to promote and partner with right-wing Christians and radical Islamophobes because they’re seen as pro-Israel, while simultaneously funding secret organizations that demonize and attack politically progressive Jewish college students.”

Adios, democracy? How Netanyahu’s proposed legislation would damage rule of law, Times of Israel
Nati Yefet writes, “Plans being drafted by the incoming government to curb the power of the courts, including a bid to grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution in the various corruption cases he faces and prevent from the Supreme Court from intervening, would be ‘a constitutional step backward’ to ‘the pre-state era,’ according to Dr. Yaniv Roznai, a senior lecturer at the Radzyner School of Law at IDC Herzliya and one of the country’s leading experts on international constitutional law.”

Trump’s Palestine Investment Conference Is a Cynical Farce, Bloomberg
Hussein Ibish writes, “It’s hard to imagine a more pointless exercise than a Palestinian investment conference without Palestinians. Talk about staging Hamlet without the prince! But that’s exactly what the Trump administration is cooking up, to be held June 25-26 in Bahrain. And it’s emblematic of the predetermined, intentional failure of its approach to brokering Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Palestinians expect lame payoff attempt at Bahrain conference, Al-Monitor
Akiva Eldar writes, “For over two years, the Trump administration has been ‘striking the pockets’ of the Palestinians in an effort to force them to accept its unilateral measures that benefit Israel — chief among them US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the relocation of the US Embassy there last year. The administration has cut US aid to the Palestinian Authority and revoked its support for UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency dedicated to humanitarian aid for the Palestinians. It has also used defunding to undermine activities by humanitarian organizations and initiatives promoting Israeli-Palestinian coexistence.”

Mark Your Calendars, Netanyahu’s Indictment Is Coming. Afterward, Nothing Will Be the Same, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Senior sources in the legal establishment said this week that the attorney general wants the state prosecutor by his side not only at the hearing but also when the final decision on indictment is handed down. And that’s a judgment that, as is known by both Netanyahu and his team of lawyers – who are falling by the wayside like autumn leaves on the sidewalks of Paris – can only go one way.”