News Roundup for October 2, 2019

October 2, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Trump’s Close-Call Diplomacy with Iran’s President, The New Yorker
On the evening of Tuesday, September 24th, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, went to see his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, at the Millennium Hilton Hotel, across the street from the U.N. headquarters, in New York. Macron intended to set up a three-way telephone conversation with Rouhani and President Trump […] The call to Trump’s line came through at nine-thirty, according to sources familiar with events that evening. Macron took the call. But Rouhani never emerged from his room. […] On Wednesday, Rouhani addressed Trump directly in his speech to the U.N. “Stop the sanctions so as to open the way for the start of negotiations,” he said. “If you require more, you should also give more.” He added, “A memorial photo is the last step of negotiation, not the first one.”

Gantz cancels Wednesday meet with Netanyahu: ‘Likud not acting in good faith’, Times of Israel
Blue and White on Tuesday evening said an expected meeting between its party chief Benny Gantz and Likud head Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday would not take place, as there were no signs that the premier was truly interested in reaching a power-sharing compromise. The announcement led to both parties accusing each other of intransigence and claiming that the other side was pushing the country toward a third election.

3 Cases, 4 Days and Dozens of Lawyers: Netanyahu’s Pre-indictment Hearing Begin, Haaretz
The first two days will be dedicated to discussion of Case 4000 – which deals with a supposed quid-pro-quo with media mogul Shaul Elovitch. Next week, on Sunday and Monday, Netanyahu’s lawyers will present their arguments regarding Case 1000 (which revolves around lavish gifts from billionaires) and Case 2000 (regarding Netanyahu’s exchanges with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes).


Netanyahu lawyers project confidence as pre-indictment hearing begins, Times of Israel
Speaking to reporters outside the Justice Ministry, Netanyahu lawyer Ram Caspi rejected a suggestion that Netanyahu would seek a plea deal or clemency.

Iran supports European plan to bolster nuclear deal, AP
Rouhani said the plan included preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, securing its support for regional peace, lifting U.S. sanctions and the immediate resumption of Iranian oil exports.

Netanyahu to convene right-wing allies as criminal hearings begin, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will seek to shore up right-wing support Wednesday morning, with the start of a high-stakes legal hearing and the possible end of coalition negotiations suspended over his political future like twin swords of Damocles.

Iran sentences man to death on charges of spying for CIA, Washington Post
Iran has sentenced one person to death and three others to 10 years in prison on charges of spying for the United States and Britain, the state-run judicial news agency reported Monday.

Over half of Israelis oppose plea bargain for Netanyahu, poll finds, Times of Israel
A slight majority of Israelis oppose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being offered a plea deal in a series of graft cases, according to a poll released Wednesday as the premier’s pre-indictment hearing began.

Iraqi PM says Israel is responsible for attacks on Iraqi militias: Al Jazeera, Reuters
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has accused Israel of being behind attacks on Iranian-backed militia positions in Iraq, the first time Baghdad has directly blamed Israel, Al Jazeera television reported on Monday. “Investigations into the targeting of some Popular Mobilisation Forces positions indicate that Israel carried it out,” Al Jazeera quoted Abdul Mahdi as telling it.

Israel quietly lets in Gaza workers in bid to ease tensions, AP
Israel is quietly allowing thousands of Palestinians to enter from the Gaza Strip to conduct business and work menial jobs, apparently as part of understandings with the ruling Hamas militant group aimed at preventing a fourth war in the blockaded territory.

Palestinian detainee hospitalised after Israeli interrogation, Al Jazeera
A Palestinian detainee has been hospitalised in a critical condition after he had “undergone severe torture” in Israeli custody, his lawyer has said. Israeli media has reported that an investigation has been opened into possible wrongdoing by Israeli security officers.

Man Murdered in Arab Israeli Town Amid Protests Over Alarming Uptick in Violence, Haaretz
In recent days, large protests have taken place in the Arab-majority city of Umm al-Fahm against violence in the Israeli Arab community. In the past month alone, 13 Israeli Arabs were murdered, marking a 20 percent increase in such deaths compared to last year.

Opinion and Analysis

A look at the corruption scandals facing Israel’s Netanyahu, AP
Aron Heller writes, “The scandals have engulfed Netanyahu’s family and his inner circle, with at least three former close confidants turning state’s witnesses and testifying against him.”

This Is How Netanyahu’s Attorneys Will Try to Save Him From Indictment at Wednesday’s Momentous Hearing, Haaretz
Gidi Weitz writes, “Seven years ago, the lawyers for then-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman succeeded in shrinking, in marathon hearing sessions, the list of offenses for which then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein planned to prosecute him to a miniature indictment, on whose charges he was later acquitted. On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers are scheduled to report to the offices of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, in an attempt to achieve a similar outcome.”

Why the three parties at the heart of discussions to form a unity government in Israel can’t agree, The National
Jonathan Cook writes, “There is one significant but hardly insumountable difference. Mr Gantz thinks it is important to maintain bipartisan US support for Israel’s belligerent occupation while Mr Netanyahu has preferred to throw Israel’s hand in with Donald Trump and the Christian religious right.”