News Roundup for May 31, 2019

May 31, 2019

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J Street in the News

Kushner arrives in Israel to political chaos and a new roadblock for his peace plan, Washington Post
“‘This is a problem that plagues every president – Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump. The windows of opportunity to move your initiative are very, very narrow. If something happens, you may lose your opportunity,’ Jeremy Ben-Ami said. From the perspective of J Street, a pro-Israel group that supports a two-state solution, the delay is a good thing. ‘In our opinion, the initiative not only has no chance producing ‘peace,’ it could set back the cause of diplomatic approaches in the future.’”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu’s future clouded by rivalry with former ally, AP
Josef Federman writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s complicated relationship with an angry former protege has sent Israeli politics into uncharted waters. By triggering an early election, Avigdor Lieberman has raised questions about the political future of the long-ruling prime minister who is bracing for expected criminal charges in a corruption case. He also has emerged as a feared kingmaker who could continue to threaten Netanyahu.”

In Israel’s New Election Campaign, Right Battles Right, New York Times
Mr. Lieberman, whose party scraped through the last election with just five seats, strode into a news conference on Thursday with the air of a winner, appearing relaxed and self-confident, having dented Mr. Netanyahu’s aura of invincibility. A blunt and inscrutable politician who was Mr. Netanyahu’s former defense minister, Mr. Lieberman railed against what he called a “campaign of discreditation” after Mr. Netanyahu branded him a “leftist.”

What Netanyahu’s failure to form a government means for him — and Trump, Washington Post
The Washington Post Editorial Board writes, “If Mr. Netanyahu somehow loses the new election, Mr. Trump will be deprived of one of his closest foreign allies, a leader who shares his polarizing political tactics and has even adopted his rhetoric, from ‘fake news’ to ‘witch hunt.’ Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu each are betting that the other will win reelection. If either is wrong, U.S.-Israeli relations could be in for a shake-up.”


Netanyahu shows off Trump’s map of Israel with Golan Heights, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, embroiled in political chaos after failing to assemble a governing coalition, attempted Thursday to divert public attention with his signature strategy: political theater. Addressing a nation bewildered by the prospect of an unprecedented second election campaign in the same year, Netanyahu brandished an official State Department map that had been updated to incorporate the long-disputed Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Netanyahu Blasts Lieberman: He Is Obsessed With Toppling Right-wing Governments, Haaretz
The premier said that Lieberman “is obsessed with toppling right-wing government. Whenever he can, that’s what he does and he if he will be able to he will try to do it again with this election.”

Party Leaders Take Gloves off as Repeat Race Begins, The Jerusalem Post
Netanyahu accused Liberman of telling another party head that he would not join the government because if he did, “Netanyahu will last another 10 years” — “The lesson is that the Right cannot trust Liberman,” Netanyahu said. “He acts drunk from power out of personal ambition against the good of the country.” Yisrael Beytenu responded by accusing Netanyahu of “lying because he is under pressure.”

Israel’s New Election Will Delay Release of Trump’s Peace Plan, PA Officials Believe, Haaretz
A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that talks held by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah on Wednesday with foreign visitors strengthened the expectation that the American administration would not release the details of its peace plan until a new Israeli government is formed.

New Israeli elections throw wrench in US peace plan, Al-Monitor
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to his residence with a hug today and shrugged off his failure to secure a governing coalition as a mere “little event,” Trump expressed regret at the rare political setback for his Israeli ally. “It’s too bad what happened in Israel,” Trump told reporters.

Mladenov: UN and Egypt Working to Keep Gaza from Exploding, The Jerusalem Post
The UN has “been able to engage actively and constructively in a very strong partnership with Egypt to keep the situation in Gaza from exploding,” the UN’s Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said.

Arab Israeli Shot to Death in North, Marking 25th Fatality of 2019, Haaretz
A 25-year-old Arab Israeli man was shot to death Wednesday overnight near his home in the northern Israeli town of Arara, becoming the 25th fatal victim of violence among the country’s Arab community this year.

Two hurt, one seriously, in stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, Times of Israel
At least two people were injured, one of them seriously, in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday morning, officials said. “The assailant came to the Damascus Gate, stabbed a man, and then stabbed another man inside the Old City,” police said.

Opinion and Analysis

Replacing Netanyahu Is Crucial for Israeli Democracy. This Is the Wrong Way to Do It, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Avigdor Lieberman attacks Netanyahu for being controlled by the ultra-Orthodox. He’s right – and he’s a sickening hypocrite himself. Meet Israel’s fake secular justice warrior, and his anti-Haredi hate campaign.”

Why are Israeli liberals suddenly courting a far-right nationalist?, +972 Mag
Edo Konrad writes, “Avigdor Liberman has, over the past decade, exerted a greater impact on Israel’s political discourse than any other lawmaker. In just a few years, he made once unthinkable ideas — such as stripping Palestinian citizens of their citizenship and forcing them to swear oaths of loyalty to the Jewish state — part of the mainstream discourse.”

Is this the end of the Netanyahu era?, JTA
Aaron David Miller writes, “After 50-plus years of advising on Arab-Israeli negotiations and analyzing Israeli politics, I thought I had seen everything. But Wednesday’s dissolution of the Knesset by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was elected a mere seven weeks ago to lead the parliament, represents a stunning new low in political dysfunction and electoral chaos, even by Israeli standards.”

One April Morning, This Man Woke Up and Decided Netanyahu Will Not Be Prime Minister, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “Throughout all of Netanyahu’s years in office it was impossible to know how long it would last and when it would end. But one thing could be foreseen: the person who would push him out of office would come from the right. Lieberman is a very problematic figure, a total cynic, suspected of crimes and has even been convicted in a plea bargain. Without minimizing the severity of all of this, it is hard to find someone braver than him in politics. Lieberman, in comparison to his rival Netanyahu, went all the way without blinking.”

“Nuking” the Iran deal means an unstable and volatile world, The Highlander
Andreas Rauch writes, “Critics of the JCPOA miss the point of the agreement in the first place: to immediately prevent Iran’s power grab and delay its potential capabilities at a time when the U.S. is losing its hegemonic power, which has long guaranteed relative stability across the globe. Already facing a resurgent Russia, an ascendant China and its time-honored mix of regional challengers, the U.S. doesn’t need another adversary complicating its precarious position in the Middle East.”