News Roundup for November 29, 2018

November 29, 2018

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J Street in the News

Why Both AIPAC and J Street Are Celebrating Victory in the Midterms, Haaretz

“In the next Congress, J Street will have access to at least one center of power – and it’s no coincidence that the group announced its support last week for Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become speaker of the House. Unlike AIPAC, J Street has real influence only among Democrats – although the group does reach out to some Republican lawmakers behind the scenes. But its influence within the Democratic Party is growing and could reach an all-time high over the next two years. J Street sees its strength being in the numbers. More than half of all Democrats who will serve in the next Congress were endorsed or supported by J Street during the midterms. Indeed, the group will have more such relationships than ever before. Furthermore, every single House incumbent supported by J Street won their reelection bid….One development J Street officials feel particularly upbeat about is that a number of former government officials with foreign policy experience were endorsed by the group and managed to snatch swing districts from Republicans. These new members – including Elissa Slotkin in Michigan; Tom Malinowski and Andy Kim in New Jersey; and Abigail Spanberger in Virginia – are seen as future foreign policy leaders within the Democratic Party. Some were attacked during the midterms for their J Street endorsements, but didn’t shy away from the relationship – and it didn’t stop them from winning.”

Top News and Analysis

Before Resigning as Defense Minister, Lieberman Acted to Gain Control of Sensitive Security Unit, Haaretz
Amos Harel reports, “One of Avigdor Lieberman’s last actions before resigning as defense minister was an abortive attempt to place the ministry’s own security department under his direct authority. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the defense minister, is reviewing the affair. The Defense Ministry’s security department is among the state’s most highly classified units; little has been disclosed about it over the years. Known by its Hebrew acronym, Malmab, and under the authority of the ministry’s director general, the department is responsible for the security of the ministry itself and its facilities, Israel’s arms industry, the nuclear research center in the Negev and other security bodies.”

Rebellion in Zionist Union Against Gabbay Intensifies, Jerusalem Post

Gil Hoffman and Lahav Harkov report, “Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay could face a split inside his faction soon, if he does not take immediate action to help the party win the next election, MKs in the party told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. MKs are considering breaking off from the faction in order to send a message to Gabbay that he has not done enough to build the Zionist Union into an alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu….Zionist Union MK Yossi Yona said that if MKs would split from the party, it would be to an act to “maintain the integrity of the party, not to leave,” adding that “the primary motivation is renovation.”


Shaked touts ‘confederation’ of Jordan, Gaza, and parts of West Bank, Times of Israel

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked this week proposed a “confederation” between parts of the West Bank, Jordan, and Gaza.

UN: Israelis, Palestinians Must Reaffirm 2 States Based on ’67 Lines, Jerusalem Post

Israeli and Palestinian leaders must recognize a two-state resolution to the Israeli based on the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday.

Ireland advances bill banning goods from illegal settlements on occupied land, i24NEWS

The Irish Senate on Wednesday moved forward legislation that would ban the importation of goods produced in settlements in occupied territories.

Hamas slams ‘miserable’ US-led UN resolution against it, says rocket fire legal, Times of Israel

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh sent an open letter to United Nations General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa and to its member states late Wednesday, slamming a US-led push to condemn the Islamist terror group’s rocket fire at Israeli cities and calling it an effort to “delegitimize Palestinian resistance.”

Aid group: Gaza hospitals overwhelmed by wounded in violence, Associated Press

A medical aid group says the vast number of patients treated for gunshot wounds from months of violent border protests have overwhelmed Gaza’s health care system.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Is Pushing Palestinians Into a Pressure Cooker, Assuming It Won’t Explode in Israel’s Face, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Isolating the Palestinians and rendering them irrelevant is a central pillar of Netanyahu’s campaign to push them into a corner, crush their aspirations, smash their expectations and bring them back, with a thud, to a reality in which they must make do with the status quo for the time being and with an administrative autonomy, at best, as a permanent solution. In order to weaken the Palestinians further, Netanyahu is playing divide and rule between Gaza and the West Bank, even if this requires an accommodation with Hamas that disappoints his right-wing base. The fatal flaw in the Netanyahu doctrine is the assumption that the Palestinians will stick to the script he’s written, that they will come to accept the destruction of their dreams and that the pressure cooker into which they have been pushed won’t blow up in Israel’s face. The relative lack of the violence that was expected to break out in the wake of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May has emboldened Netanyahu to believe that the Palestinians are under control. The fact that both intifadas broke out against a backdrop of frustration and resentment among Palestinians doesn’t faze him.”

Why Iran is also a strategic asset for Israel, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “Iran is Israel’s last remaining significant strategic threat in all security-related respects….By the same token, one can describe Iran as one of Israel’s most significant strategic assets at this time. This is no exaggeration, but a fact. Recent months have seen the unveiling of a growing number of clandestine contacts Israel is conducting with Arab and Muslim states in the region and the world with which it does not have diplomatic ties. The budding romance between Israel and several Sunni states is also turning slowly into an up-front relationship. This is all being enabled ‘thanks’  to Iran. The Shiite threat and Iranian expansion westward are of great concern to a large number of regional leaders. Israel is being sucked into the center of this arena as the only response to the primeval fear of a reconstituted Persian Empire and the growing Shiite influence on the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the energetic help of Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen and national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, is effectively leveraging the emerging situation to fortify Israel’s standing as a bastion of regional defense and a magnet for all those who fear Iran.”