News Roundup for September 16, 2019

September 16, 2019

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J Street in the News

Israeli spying is not new – but the Trump administration’s response is, Independent
“Dylan Williams, Vice President at J Street, a prominent Jewish-American organisation, said the spying was ‘one hell of a thank you note to American taxpayers for $3.8 billion of our money every year.’ — ‘Most Americans would be surprised to learn that their hard-earned tax dollars generously given for Israel’s security – or at least Israeli funds fungible with them – are being used to spy on our country,’ he tells The Independent.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump floats possible defense treaty days ahead of Israeli elections, Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a possible mutual defense treaty between the two nations, a move that could bolster Netanyahu’s re-election bid just days before Israelis go to the polls.

48 Hours to Go: Netanyahu Cries ‘Election Theft’, Far-right Homophobic Party Quits, Haaretz
Two days ahead of Israel’s general election on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to continue giving interviews to every possible news outlet while reiterating his message: We are losing. Despite a slight improvement in the polls for the right-wing bloc, Likud officials still believe Netanyahu won’t be able to achieve a 61-seat majority.

Last Time a Jewish State Annexed Its Neighbors, It Disappeared for 2,000 Years, Foreign Policy
Ian S. Lustick writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu scores points by promising to annex the West Bank. If he does, Israel faces a long transformative struggle between apartheid and multinational democracy—and democracy will win.”


Netanyahu: After Jordan Valley and settlements, I’ll annex other ‘vital areas’, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that if reelected he plans to annex “vital” parts of the West Bank beyond the Jordan Valley and the major settlement blocs, and do so in coordination with the United States.

Netanyahu Vows to Annex Hebron, Kiryat Arba, The Jerusalem Post
Speaking to Efi Triger on Army Radio’s Good Morning Israel program, Netanyahu went farther than he did just 11 days ago, when he visited Hebron.

Netanyahu alleges ‘rampant’ voter fraud scandal; but charges are unfounded, Times of Israel
With less than 30 hours until polls open, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was going all in on his claim that this week’s election is being “stolen” from him, thanks to a lack of enforcement against “rampant” voter fraud in Arab communities.

Netanyahu: The Election Has Been Stolen, The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu escalated his rhetoric against alleged vote forgeries in the Arab sector, changing his tense in interviews from warning that Arab-Israeli voters “are stealing the election” to telling Army Radio on Sunday that “they stole the election.”

Trump disputes ground rules of meeting with Iran, AP
President Donald Trump appears to be disputing the comments of senior aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, saying he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without precondition.

Netanyahu Backed Off Significant Gaza Strike After Attorney General Intervened, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aborted plans for an unusual military move, which would likely have had far-reaching implications, at the last moment last week.

Bennett won’t promise immunity for PM; will weigh ‘stability of Israel’, Times of Israel
Senior Yamina leader Naftali Bennett said Sunday that the “stability of Israel” would be a key factor in his decision over whether to support immunity from prosecution for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing charges in three corruption cases pending a hearing.

Netanyahu: Israel Will Probably Have No Choice but to Go to War in Gaza, Haaretz
Speaking in an interview with Reseht Bet Radio, the premier said that Israel would likely have to set out on a campaign in the coastal enclave in light of the ongoing escalation in recent months.

Opinion and Analysis

If Netanyahu wins Israel’s election, the Mideast doomsayers may finally be proved right, Washington Post
Jackson Diehl writes, “Two developments have blown up that status quo. First, Netanyahu embraced a political strategy of radical nationalism, and sought allies in Israel’s far right and religious parties rather than with secular supporters of two states. Then Donald Trump, as U.S. president, granted Netanyahu carte blanche, vaporizing what had been powerful U.S. constraints on Israeli territorial ambitions.”

Israel’s Do-Over Election: Déjà Vu or a Chance for Change?, New York Times
Isabel Kershner writes, “Israelis are voting Tuesday in the second election in five months. The last one ended inconclusively after weeks of negotiations, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, failed to produce a governing coalition with a viable majority for the first time in Israel’s history.”

Two Days to Election: Netanyahu Goes to DEFCON 1, Guns Blazing, in Last-ditch Effort to Sway Voters, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu is now in full combat mode, guns blazing and full speed ahead. He is throwing everything but the kitchen sink into his election campaign. Less than 48 hours before polls open, the prime minister’s image and words have vanquished the airwaves. His ubiquitous presence has turned the election campaign into ‘All Netanyahu, All the Time.’”

As Israel’s anti-Iran strategy shifts into higher gear, worries of fresh conflict grow, Al-Monitor
Amberin Zaman writes, “‘Each military action increases the likelihood of an all-out war, which neither side currently wants,’ said Elizabeth Tsurkov, a fellow focusing on the Levant at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute. ‘Increasing Israeli attacks may lead Iran to believe that Israel is interested in war, and they may seek to preempt it. A Hezbollah retaliatory strike may lead to mass casualties, resulting in pressure on the Israeli government to respond more forcefully, further pushing both sides down the path of war.’”

Are the Palestinians Really Still ‘Plotting to Destroy Israel’?, Haaretz
Abe Silberstein writes, “In the twilight of his political life, Barak should once and for all put to rest the enduring myth of his premiership – that the 2000 Camp David peace talks failed as a result of abject Palestinian rejectionism and a determination on their part to ultimately destroy Israel. In the United States, this myth remains the dominant narrative of the Washington establishment and major American Jewish organizations.”

Voting Netanyahu out is not going to ‘save’ Israel-Palestine, +972 Mag
Natasha Roth asks, “Israeli citizens are about to vote in national elections for the second time in six months. But has anything changed since April? Why is no one talking about the occupation? And are we really about to see the end of the Netanyahu era?”