News Roundup for May 31, 2018

May 31, 2018

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J Street in the News

Democratic Candidate Who Criticized Israel Faces Charges of Anti-Semitism, The New York Times

“Ms. Cockburn told the group on Monday that she was being critical of government policy from a fact-based perspective, not out of animus toward Jews. In the interview, she said she was seeking the endorsement of J Street, a Jewish political group that has set itself up as a progressive alternative to other American Jewish organizations more uncritical of Israeli government policies.”

Amidst Latest Escalation, Urgent Leadership Is Needed To Prevent Further Spiral In Gaza, J Street

“J Street welcomes reports that an informal ceasefire has now been reached along the Gaza border — and we fervently hope that it will hold. We have been alarmed by the rapid escalation in violence between Gaza Strip militants and Israeli forces over the past several days, which has included indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians living in communities along the border….Faced with an already-explosive situation, all actors and leaders must understand the extraordinary devastation and destruction that could follow from further escalation. All must avoid actions that would push the region into a further spiral of violence and chaos.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Greenlights Hundreds of New Settlement Homes in Isolated West Bank Outposts, Haaretz

“The Israel Civil Administration approved on Wednesday the construction of some 300 new homes in isolated settlements in the West Bank. Hundreds of homes within the main settlement blocs also received the go-ahead.”

The Thin Line Between War and Peace in Gaza, Atlantic

David Kenner writes, “Despite their differences, Hamas officials are well aware that they cannot afford to ignore Egyptian wishes. Geography, in this case, is destiny: Egypt controls the southern crossing with Gaza, and also has the power to destroy tunnels used to smuggle goods that run under the border. For this reason, Hamas’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, visited Cairo shortly before this month’s ‘March of Return’ protests in a bid to assuage Egyptian concerns about the demonstrations. And it may account for Egypt’s success so far in reestablishing the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.”

Still Hoping to Leverage Gaza Protests, Hamas Lacks Enthusiasm for War With Israel, Haaretz

Jack Khoury reports, “The decision by Hamas’ leadership to respond almost immediately to a call for restraint and a cease-fire after a very tense 24 hours didn’t stem solely from deterrence, or out of an Israeli military response. Also at play were strategic considerations that are quite congruent with the policy of Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.”

Bolton Installs Anti-Muslim Wingnut As NSC Chief of Staff, New York Magazine

Eric Levitz writes, “When Trump first brought Bolton into the West Wing, some sought hope in the thought that he would serve as the most belligerent voice on a team of rivals. But the hiring of Fleitz — combined with the president’s recent moves to withdraw from the Iran deal and open a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — raise the prospect that this might now be John Bolton’s foreign-policy team; James Mattis just works on it.”


Ex-Mossad Chief Says He Questioned Legality of Netanyahu’s Order to Prepare Iran Strike, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Mossad and the military to prepare for an attack on Iran in 2011, a former spy chief has revealed. Tamir Pardo, the Mossad’s chief at the time, also disclosed on the Israeli investigative television show Uvda that after receiving the order he checked with top officials to see whether it was legal.

After 24-hour flare-up, uneasy calm returns to Gaza and southern Israel, Washington Post

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said that “there was a lot of mediation in the past hours.” He said the factions, including Islamic Jihad, would uphold the cease-fire as long as Israel did the same.”

UK minister urges Israel not to demolish West Bank Bedouin village, Times of Israel

A British minister on Wednesday made a last-gasp call to Israel to not raze a Palestinian Bedouin village, after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a final appeal against its demolition.

U.S. issues fresh Iran sanctions, targets Evin prison, Reuters

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on six Iranians and three Iran-based entities, including Tehran’s Evin prison.

Israeli Official Flies to Russia Amid Reports of Deal on Iran’s Role in Syria, NBC News

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was due to fly to Russia on Wednesday amid reports the countries were finalizing a deal that would push Iran-backed forces away from Israel’s border with Syria. The pact reportedly being negotiated was part of an effort to prevent Iran-Israel tensions from spiraling into outright war.

‘Psychological War: Photo of Israeli Jet Over Beirut Draws Lebanese Anger”, Newsweek

A photo of an Israeli fighter jet flying over Beirut has drawn angry reactions and criticism within Lebanon.

Opinion and Analysis

Truce or Not, Israelis on Gaza Border Know It’s Only a Matter of Time Until Rockets Return, Haaretz

Judy Maltz writes, “A day after 70 rockets hit southern Israel, residents of the war-weary Gaza border communities greeted the news of a ceasefire with a mixture of skepticism and disbelief. In the best-case scenario, they predicted, the latest truce between Israel and Hamas might last for a few months or a few years – that is to say, until the next inevitable round of violence. In the worst-case scenario, they said, it would break down within a day or two.”

The Face of Birthright Israel Is Speaking Out Against the Prime Minister, New York Magazine

Lisa Miller profiles Birthright Israel co-founder Charles Bronfman.