News Roundup for November 27, 2018

November 27, 2018

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J Street in the News

USAID said to plan firing over half its employees in West Bank and Gaza, Times of Israel

“The United States Agency for International Development will reportedly lay off over half of its employees in the West Bank and Gaza in the coming weeks, with the intention of completely shuttering its facilities by next year….J Street, the liberal Jewish organization, said in a statement the move was ‘a cruel and dangerous act designed to promote the hardline agenda of the Israeli right. ‘These steps appear tailor-made to exacerbate suffering, destroy trust and obstruct the pursuit of peace,’ it added. ‘Any so-called ‘peace plan’ that the administration puts forward in the wake of these moves will be an absolute sham.”

Trump’s Dangerous Closing of USAID in West Bank and Gaza Will Exacerbate Suffering, Obstruct Diplomacy, J Street

“The Trump administration has worked systematically to destroy the US relationship with the Palestinians and to close off every point of contact with the Palestinian people. Ending humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and now fully closing down the operations of USAID in the West Bank and Gaza, is a cruel and dangerous act designed to promote the hardline agenda of the Israeli Right. These steps appear tailor-made to exacerbate suffering, destroy trust and obstruct the pursuit of peace.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu reassures Likud that Bedouin village will be destroyed ‘very soon’, Times of Israel

Jacob Magid reports, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reassured his Likud faction Monday that the central West Bank Bedouin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar will be razed ‘very soon.’ But as was the case last week, when Netanyahu told his cabinet that the Palestinian village would be demolished ‘very soon’ and that preparations were underway, the prime minister refused to place an exact time on the operation. A defense official who spoke with The Times of Israel following Netanyahu’s Monday remarks said that no plans were currently in the works to flatten the village, which is home to roughly 180 people.”

Is the Trump Administration Pivoting the Fight in Syria Toward a War with Iran?, New Yorker

Seth Harp writes, “Belligerent talk from Washington [toward Iran] might be a ploy to intimidate Tehran, a calculated move to turn Trump’s unpredictable nature into strategic leverage. But the Iranians appear willing to respond in kind. On October 1st, Iran fired a volley of ballistic missiles across Iraq and struck an ISIS position in Deir Ezzor, not far from American troops. It was in retaliation for a terrorist attack on an Iranian military parade, but afterward, Bolton’s counterpart, Ali Shamkhani, issued a statement to the United States: “John Bolton said we should take you seriously. The commander of our aerospace forces took you seriously and landed missiles within three miles of you.” A similar incident could give Bolton and the others a pretext to convince Trump to launch a bombing campaign on Iranian military infrastructure. If Trump strikes Iran, the American forces would be engaged in a Middle East war zone that would span four contiguous countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, stretching nineteen hundred miles from Damascus to Kabul (to say nothing of Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger).”


Hamas agrees to cede control of Gaza to PA if salaries paid, sanctions lifted: report, i24NEWS

The Islamist militant group Hamas has reportedly agreed to cede control over the Gaza Strip to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority government on the condition that Hamas civil servants are paid their salaries and that all punitive sanctions implemented against Gaza are lifted.

PA calls for emergency Arab League meeting over Israel, Arab states ties: report, Times of Israel

Israel’s warming ties with Arab states has caused the Palestinian Authority to seek an emergency meeting in the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Haaretz reported on Monday.

EU, Iran commit to uphold nuclear pact despite Trump, Associated Press

The European Union and Iran are affirming their support for the international nuclear deal and say they aim to keep it alive despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the landmark pact.

Attorney General says ‘almost finished’ investigating Netanyahu probe, i24NEWS

Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said on Monday he is close to finishing his investigation into a corruption case involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged involvement in a corruption scandal centered on telecommunications giant Bezeq.

Friedman Says Peace US Plan Will Be Released When ‘Time is Ripe’, Jerusalem Post

The US “remains committed to sharing its vision for peace with Israel, the Palestinians and other regional and international stakeholders at the appropriate time,” US Ambassador David Friedman said on Monday.

Opinion and Analysis

How Mohammed Bin Salman Put Saudi Arabia in Debt to Trump and Netanyahu, Haaretz

Zvi Bar’el writes, “If no significant new details emerge that prove Prince Mohammed’s direct responsibility for the Khashoggi murder, he should be able to overcome the domestic pressures and deflect the proposals that have been floated to appoint him a ‘guardian’ or to block his assuming the throne. However, the crown prince has put the kingdom in great debt to both Trump and Netanyahu, thereby changing Saudi Arabia’s historic status as the country dictating Middle East policy.”

The Israeli army is putting humanitarian workers at risk in Gaza, +972 Magazine

Yael Marom writes, “Israeli troops impersonated humanitarian workers in order to carry out an intelligence operation deep inside the Gaza Strip, according to details of the botched operation leaked by Hamas and reported by the Israeli media. If true, the operation could put bona fide humanitarian operations and employees at risk in the coastal strip, where two-thirds of the population is reliant on humanitarian aid. The operation gone wrong, which left both senior Israeli and Hamas commanders dead, brought the two sides to the brink of war earlier this month.”