News Roundup for May 8, 2018

May 8, 2018

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J Street in the News

Q&A: This Week’s Iran Deal Deadline, J Street

“[W]ith a key deadline coming up this week, many believe that tomorrow the president will finally make good on his threats — and take action to violate the deal. If that happens, the consequences for Israel’s security, regional stability and US credibility could be dire. The president and his extreme advisers could start us down the path to a nuclear-armed Iran or another disastrous war in the Middle East. To help you better understand the decision the president is taking and what could follow, we’ve prepared the Q&A below.”

Congress Should Demand Answers On Trump Administration’s Reported ‘Dirty Ops’ Against Iran Nuclear Deal Proponents, J Street

“Reports that aides to President Trump engaged in an effort to spy on and discredit former Obama administration officials involved in the Iran nuclear negotiations are deeply alarming. If true, this is just the latest indication that the president is not approaching the JCPOA nuclear agreement from a serious policy perspective focused on US security and interests….Instead, President Trump and his allies have acted in shameful bad faith, misrepresenting the agreement and apparently targeting its supporters in order to score political points against the Obama administration….Allegations that a private Israeli intelligence firm may have been involved in this effort raise very serious questions about the appropriateness and legality of actions carried out by associates of the president — and Congress should demand answers.”

J Street Mourns Death of Rabbi Panken, J Street

“The board and members of J Street are profoundly shocked and saddened by the tragic and untimely death of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, a shining leader of Reform Judaism in the United States. We send our sympathy and condolences to his family and to our many friends in the Reform Movement who are devastated by this loss. Rabbi Panken was serving as the president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion at the time of his death in a plane crash, aged 53….We will remember Rabbi Panken for his positive vision and unfailing optimism.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump to reveal Iran nuclear deal decision on Tuesday, The Guardian

“Donald Trump said in a tweet on Monday that he will announce a ‘decision’ on the Iran nuclear deal at 2pm on Tuesday, at the White House. Trump had faced a deadline of Saturday 12 May to recertify the deal. Trump has signaled he will pull out of the agreement by the deadline unless it is revised, but he faces intense pressure from European allies not to do so.”

Trump Is Expected to Leave Iran Deal, Allies Say, The New York Times

“President Trump is expected to announce on Tuesday that he is withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, European diplomats said after concluding that they had failed to convince him that reneging on America’s commitment to the pact could cast the West into new confrontation with Tehran….One senior European diplomat who has been deeply involved in trying to persuade Mr. Trump to stay in the deal told reporters on Monday the chance that the president would keep the agreement intact was ‘very small.’”

Israeli Committee Approves Bill Allowing Knesset To Override Supreme Court, JTA

A Knesset committee approved controversial legislation that would allow Israel’s Parliament to override rulings of the country’s Supreme Court. The Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation by a vote of 11 to 1 on Sunday approved the bill, known as the override power bill, an amendment to Israel’s Basic Law, which would allow the legislative body to reenact laws that have previously been struck down by the Supreme Court by a simple majority of the 120-member Knesset. The Knesset could begin voting on the legislation as early as Wednesday.

Israel’s Chief Justice Warns Government in Landmark Speech: Judicial Branch ‘Under Unprecedented Attack’, Haaretz

“Israel’s judicial branch is under an unprecedented attack that threatens to irreparably damage its independence, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said on Monday, specifically warning that a bill to curtail the High Court’s power will target human rights throughout Israeli society. In a swearing-in ceremony for new judges, Hayut said the bill, which would enable the Knesset to reenact laws struck down by the High Court of Justice, will eliminate protection for human rights and allow laws targeting those rights to pass. The bill will not ‘bypass’ the court, she said; ‘In truth, it would bypass the human rights of every individual in Israeli society.’”


Majority say US should not withdraw from Iran nuclear agreement, CNN

Almost two-thirds of Americans — 63% — believe that the US should not withdraw from the agreement made with Iran to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons. Only 29% believe the US should withdraw, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

Hezbollah’s Nasrallah Declares Victory in Lebanese Election: ‘Mission Accomplished’, Haaretz

The Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its political allies made significant gains in Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Lebanon while the main Western-backed faction lost a third of its seats, according to preliminary results released Monday. Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said that his Future Movement bloc lost a third of its seats in parliament in Sunday’s elections.

Don’t ‘Junk’ The Iran Nuclear Deal, Boris Johnson Says On ‘Fox & Friends’, NPR

In what’s seen as a direct appeal to President Trump, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson went on Fox & Friends and said it’s possible to address concerns about the Iran nuclear deal and “not throw the baby out with the bathwater” by junking the agreement.

Paraguay to Relocate Embassy to Jerusalem by Month’s End, President to Attend, Haaretz

Paraguay will move its embassy to Jerusalem by the end of May, Israel’s Foreign Minister confirmed on Monday, exactly one week before the U.S. will officially open its embassy in the city. President Horacio Cartes will attend the opening ceremony. Cartes announced a few weeks ago that Paraguay will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before the end of his presidential term in about three months.

Ministers welcome release of Hebron shooter Elor Azaria, Times of Israel

Cabinet ministers expressed their delight Tuesday at the release from military prison of a former IDF soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker, with some saying his criminal record should be wiped clean.

Israel Police Arrest Three for Threatening Breaking the Silence Supporters, Haaretz

Three demonstrators in their 20s were arrested Monday for alleged violent conduct after an event at Tel-Hai Academic College involving representatives of the Breaking the Silence organization. The Israel Police said the protesters, ages 20, 27 and 28, are suspected of making threats, attempted assault and disturbing the peace following a program on Sunday involving Breaking the Silence, an anti-occupation NGO that collects testimonies from Israeli soldiers about their service in the territories.

Opinions and Analysis

Here’s How the Nuclear Deal Slowed Iran Down, The New York Times

“The nuclear deal reached between Iran and major powers in 2015 limited Iran’s nuclear capabilities in return for the lifting of many international sanctions that had isolated and weakened the country economically. Here’s how the deal restricted Iran, and what could happen if President Trump withdraws from the agreement.”

From Doomsday to Delay: 5 Scenarios Ahead of Trump’s Decision on the Iran Nuclear Deal, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer looks at five potential outcomes of the president’s decision on the fate of the nuclear agreement.

Israel’s Ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak Says Keep the Iran Nuclear Deal, Daily Beast

Neri Zilber interviews former prime minister Barak.