News Roundup for November 26, 2018

November 26, 2018

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J Street in the News

Pelosi and Trump Are Both pro-Israel, but the Leading Democrat Is Not pro-Netanyahu, Haaretz

“Pelosi, who was endorsed this week by J Street in her bid for speaker, addressed the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference by reading a J Street-backed letter, which was signed by 191 members of Congress, mostly Democrats, urging U.S. President Donald Trump to support a two-state solution.”

Top News and Analysis

Former IDF head spooks Israel’s entire political spectrum, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem writes, “Gantz has not yet officially announced that he will launch a new party. He has remained silent about his plans, leaving the feeling that all options are open to him, including the possibility of joining one of the existing center-left parties. On the other hand, the more flattering the polls are to him, the greater his appetite will become. In other words, the chances of him joining an existing party before the next election are dwindling….As a former IDF chief of staff, Gantz is no less a security expert than Netanyahu. On the other hand, he is not tainted by corruption and is regarded by the public as a suitable candidate. Even when Netanyahu was at his lowest point in the polls, there was no one who could challenge his high levels of public support or question his suitability as prime minister or ‘Mr. Security.’ Gantz can.”

Airbnb Quit the Settlement Business. If Only Israel Would, American Prospect

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “Erdan claims that Airbnb surrendered to the movement to boycott Israel. The consistent ploy of the Israeli government is to equate the settlements with Israel. It equates opposition to a dangerous policy with hatred for the country. By calling a decision to disengage from business in the settlements ‘anti-Semitic’ Erdan and others go even further: They falsely equate the settlements with the entire Jewish people, in Israel and outside it…n the past it was fair to say that Israel was making the mistake of holding on to occupied territory. Under Erdan, Levin and—most of all—Netanyahu, the situation is now worse: The occupation is holding on to Israel, by the throat. The Airbnb tempest shows again that the government has put settlement above the national interest—and that the whole country would be better off if it got out of the settlement business.”

Now Defense Minister, Netanyahu Suddenly Warms to Security Establishment’s Demands, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “Netanyahu knows that a military escalation, especially in the Gaza Strip, is liable to endanger what appears to be his clear advantage in public opinion in advance of the coming election. Managing the potential crisis will require close supervision and greater coordination with the heads of the security branches, a group with which he didn’t enjoy good relations in its previous incarnations.”

Palestinian injures three Israeli soldiers in car-ramming and is shot: military, Reuters

A Palestinian injured three Israeli soldiers in a car-ramming in the occupied West Bank on Monday and was then shot, the Israeli military said. In a statement, the military said the attacker was “neutralized”, but did not give his condition. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the Palestinian man had died.


Vote on culture loyalty bill set for delay as Kulanu party pulls support, Times of Israel

A planned Knesset vote on controversial legislation that would grant the Culture Ministry the power to withhold funding based on political criteria appeared set to be delayed after a key coalition party said it would let members vote how they wish, placing passage of the bill under doubt. On Sunday two coalition Knesset members said they would vote against it, and Kulanu party head Moshe Kahlon said he would not enforce party discipline on the vote.

Palestinian villages vandalized in alleged settler attacks, JTA

Cars were damaged and graffiti spray painted throughout a Palestinian village in the central West Bank village of al-Mughayir. The vandalism likely occurred on Saturday night, but was discovered on Sunday, according to reports. Among the slogans found on the cars and walls in the village were: “Revenge,” “Price tag” and “Enough with administrative orders.” Administrative orders ban Jewish residents of the West Bank from entering the area in order to cut down on settler violence. Price tag is used to indicate revenge for attacks on settlers and other Israelis, or when legal action is taken against one of their own.

Palestinians condemn Israeli demolition of shops in Jerusalem refugee camp, i24NEWS

Palestinian officials condemned Israel’s demolition on Wednesday of 21 businesses and petrol stations authorities said were built illegally in Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Denies That Trump Is Delaying Mideast Peace Plan, Haaretz

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman denied reports on Monday that the US government is delaying publication of Donald Trump’s peace plan because of alleged pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of recent upsets within the coalition. In an official statement, Friedman reiterated past statements that the peace plan will be released when the U.S. president and administration have “maximized its potential for acceptance, execution and implementation.”

US rejects Israeli request to let Jonathan Pollard move to Israel – report, Times of Israel

The United States Justice Department has refused a formal Israeli request to allow Jonathan Pollard to move to Israel, a report said Wednesday, three years after the convicted spy was released from jail.

Netanyahu, Kurz identify anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism at Vienna conference, i24NEWS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz echoed each other at the Vienna conference on the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, which they said were equivalent.

Trump says Israel would be ‘in big trouble’ without Saudi Arabia, JTA

President Donald Trump said that Israel would be “in big trouble” without Saudi Arabia, expanding on previous statements in which he linked the interests of both U.S. allies.

Chad President Visits Israel: Renewed Diplomatic Ties Won’t Eliminate Palestinian Problem, Haaretz

The Republic of Chad President Idriss Deby said during his historic visit to Israel that “the cutting of diplomatic ties in the 1970s did not prevent good relations” between the two nations, though renewed ties will not remove the Palestinian problem.

Israel Working to Establish Diplomatic Ties With Sudan, Bahrain, Haaretz

Having just taken a major step toward reestablishing relations with Chad, Israel is now working to establish diplomatic ties with Sudan and Bahrain.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Iron Dome Defense of Saudi Arabia Aims to Avert Collapse of Trump and Netanyahu’s Entire Middle East Strategy, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “[I]t is a strategic threat with possible domestic political repercussions that has moved the prime minister to openly take one for the Trump-Netanyahu team. Netanyahu and his aides, led by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Ron Dermer, have been working around the clock to protect Trump and to prevent his administration from “throwing out the prince with the bathwater,” as Dermer put it. Netanyahu has volunteered to serve as Trump’s human shield to protect him from widespread demands by both Democrats and Republicans to punish the crown prince and his kingdom for the Khashoggi assassination….Israel, Trump assumes, is the magic word that will ensure the support of Evangelicals, who will in turn mitigate the harsh positions taken by some Republican Senators, especially Lindsey Graham, against the Saudi crown prince.”

Despite His Recent Triumphs, Netanyahu Is Terrified of Elections, Haaretz

Yossi Verter observes, “With Netanyahu, there is always something hidden from us that no other politician or aide even knows; one guess is as good as another. The investigations against the premier, most of which have ended and now await the decisions of the attorney general, are of course a central factor. That’s between him and his lawyers. There are some who think that he wants to keep his seat until July 2019 and thereby become the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history. Others will argue that he’s afraid he’s being set up, that just before the election a coalition against him will crystallize – of Kahlon with Benny Gantz, for example. (A private poll commissioned by one of them predicts that a slate along those lines would win almost 30 Knesset seats.)”