News Roundup for November 21, 2018

November 21, 2018

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J Street in the News

Liberal Israel lobby group backs Nancy Pelosi for House speaker, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

“J Street is supporting Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become the next speaker of the House, calling the California Democrat “a friend to the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.” The liberal Israel lobby issued a statement Tuesday in support of Pelosi amid an internal Democratic Party fight over her leadership. Pelosi was the first woman to serve as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, holding the position from 2007 to 2011. She currently serves as the chamber’s minority leader. J Street said in the statement that Pelosi was a consistent supporter of two of the lobby’s top priorities: supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and backing the 2015 accord that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for rolling back its nuclear program. ‘As Speaker of the House and Democratic Leader, she has been a champion of diplomacy and a powerful advocate for proactive and principled American leadership on the world stage,’ the statement said. ‘In the face of fierce right-wing opposition, Leader Pelosi’s efforts were indispensable in ensuring that the Iran nuclear agreement survived congressional review. She has been a staunch advocate for the two-state solution, demonstrating real concern for the needs and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Top News and Analysis

In Israel, a Coalition of the Barely Willing, Foreign Policy

Neri Zilber writes, “Netanyahu may very well still feel pressure from his right flank next time there is an escalation in Gaza or on other fronts. To his credit—and contrary to his public image as a security hard-liner—Netanyahu avoided a major conflagration this past week while retaining his seat as prime minister. His opponents did not fare as well. Lieberman has now been exiled to the opposition; his wish for early elections as quickly as possible hasn’t come to pass. Bennett may have done himself irreparable political damage, his public image as an inexperienced hothead buttressed by his humiliating walk-back. Even Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who predicted the coalition would not hold for more than a few weeks, had to withdraw his threat to pull his center-right Kulanu party from the coalition. ‘You win some, you lose some,’ Bennett said Monday, shrugging off his failed maneuver. For Netanyahu, it’s been mostly wins.”

Israel’s center-left needs common election agenda, Al-Monitor

Yossi Beilin writes, “Each party left of the Likud has its own distinct emphases, so the chances of forming a coalition of center-left parties to run together in 2019 tends toward zero. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they should abandon efforts to find some common denominator, which would turn the election into a kind of referendum on all the most critical issues on Israel’s agenda. One such issue is corruption. Scandals of unprecedented severity have come to light in the last two years….The other contentious issue is Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. Given that there is an almost equal number of Jews and Arabs in the land west of the Jordan River, the Zionist opposition’s election promise must be that it will set the borders separating Israel and the Palestinians in the next term, if not sooner (similar to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s promise in 1992 that he would reach an agreement with the Palestinians in six to nine months, or Ehud Barak’s promise in 1999 that he would leave Lebanon within a year, whether with an agreement or unilaterally). If the opposition parties agree to focus on these two issues while preserving for themselves the right to act independently on other important issues such as religion and state and human rights, the upcoming election campaign could offer a real alternative to right-wing rule, and people in the opposition would come out and fight for the country’s very soul.”


Trump’s Peace Plan Is ‘A Waste of Time,’ Israeli Minister Says, Haaretz

The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan being prepared by U.S. President Donald Trump is “a waste of time,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Wednesday. signals it won’t remove settlement rental listings, Times of Israel signaled on Tuesday that it would not follow the example of Airbnb and withdraw listings for rentals located in settlements in the West Bank.

Trump: U.S. to Remain Steadfast Partner to Saudi Arabia to Ensure Israeli Interests, Haaretz

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that the “United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

Israel steps up boycott fight after Airbnb settlement ban, Associated Press

Israel said Tuesday it would slap high taxes on vacation rental company Airbnb and encourage legal steps against the site over its decision to ban listings from West Bank settlements.

Left-wing organized ‘Hebron First’ event to take place at Israel parliament, i24NEWS

A conference called “Hebron First” is set to take place next week at Israel’s Knesset where some of the country’s left-wing leaders will call for the immediate evacuation of the Jewish community from the majority-Palestinian city.

US sanctions Iran-Russia oil network it says funds Hamas, Hezbollah, Times of Israel

The US on Tuesday placed a network of Russian and Iranian companies on an international blacklist for shipping oil to Syria in violation of US sanctions and funneling the earnings from the scheme to Iran-backed terror proxies.

Controversial bill advances tying Israeli cultural funding to ‘loyalty’, i24NEWS

The Israeli Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee approved the so-called “loyalty-in-culture” bill on Tuesday that would allow cuts to government funding for institutions not showing “loyalty” to the state.

Opinion and Analysis

Miri Regev’s Obnoxious Assault on Gantz Is Taken From Donald Trump’s Playbook, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Benny Gantz must surely regret his ‘anemone speech,’ as it came to be known, in early August 2014. Seeking to cheer up a beleaguered Israeli public after a full month of fighting in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, the then-IDF chief of staff made a rookie’s mistake. Against the backdrop of a temporary 72-hour cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Gantz waxed poetic about a ‘red south’ that will soon be blessed with “anemones, flowers and stability” for many years to come. Less than 48 hours later, the fighting resumed, ferocious as before. ‘The final chord of his tenure as chief of staff was ‘go pick anemones’ and little four-year old Daniel Tragerman was killed,’ Culture Minister Miri Regev said Monday, in a blatant logical fallacy….There is no causal connection between Gantz’s speech and Tragerman’s tragic death, of course, but Regev knows her rabid right-wing audience: Their thirst to be titillated by hate far exceeds their yearning to be moved by logic. Regev was roundly and rightly slammed for her obnoxious linkage. She cynically exploited the killing of a young boy to smear the name of the man who seems to pose the greatest electoral threat to Netanyahu, the Likud and her own prospects of continuing to serve as a cabinet minister. In her defense, however, Regev is only emulating true masters. She belongs to a political party whose head habitually blames George Soros/The New Israel Fund/leftist NGOs for all the country’s woes, from international criticism to the plight of African asylum seekers. She lives in a country that admires Donald Trump, grand wizard of diversion and incitement, who specializes in similarly distorted attacks against his rivals and critics, including, and even especially, if they happen to be former generals or senior security officials.”

How one of Israel’s veteran activists came to support (some) sanctions, +972 Magazine
Edo Konrad writes, “Galia Golan supports levying sanctions and international pressure against Israel to hasten the end of the occupation. That does not, however, mean that she supports BDS. Golan, who was one of the founders of Peace Now, served as the chair of Hebrew University’s political science department, and advised several Israeli prime ministers, has come a long way since leaving her job at the CIA to move to Israel 52 years ago….Four years ago, she left Peace Now, a process that culminated when Israel’s only real peace group refused to come out against the Gaza war — for reasons she says she understands but could not get behind. In the meantime, she has also moved on from supporting the two-state solution, joining many others who grasp just how entrenched the occupation has become.”