News Roundup for September 3, 2019

September 3, 2019

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J Street in the News

Trump plays to evangelical base with hard-line support for Israel, The Hill
“Many of those critics now argue that Trump is not speaking to Jewish voters at all but aims simply to employ a hard line on Israel policy — and attacks on those who oppose it — to rally evangelical Christians. ‘It is about pandering to his base of voters. And the base voters, the Trump voters who care about this issue are, the vast majority, Republicans, Christians and in many cases fundamentalist evangelicals,’ said Logan Bayroff, spokesman for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group. ‘Trump [is] expressing frustration that while the evangelical community is on board with his far-right policies … the vast majority of Jewish voters are disgusted by it, broadly disgusted by Trump [and] are going to vote against him and his party,’ he added.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu, Trump in Intensive Talks for Dramatic Diplomatic Gesture in Coming Days, Ahead of Israeli Election, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to arrange a dramatic diplomatic gesture from the Trump administration that will help him win the Israeli election on September 17. In recent weeks, there have been intensive talks between some of Netanyahu’s advisers and people close to U.S. President Donald Trump over a potential statement by the American president, in which he could commit to protecting Israel in the future from any existential threat. In addition, Netanyahu is also trying to orchestrate some form of gesture from Russian President Vladimir Putin — either in the form of an official Putin visit to Israel or a trilateral meeting of the national security advisers of Israel, Russia and the United States. This would be similar to a meeting that took place in Israel in June.

Netanyahu repeats pledge to annex Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank, Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to annex all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, he said on Sunday, reiterating an election promise made five months ago but again giving no timeframe.

PM, Trump said considering announcing plans for defense pact ahead of elections, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump are considering a grand presidential gesture on the US’s commitment to Israeli security in the coming days, including a possible statement on the two allies’ intent to enter into a defense pact, according to a report Monday.


Israeli TV airs recording of Netanyahu berating minister, AP
An Israeli news station has aired recordings of the prime minister shouting at a senior Cabinet minister and trying to intervene in regulations governing television broadcasting.

Have You Gone Mad?’: Netanyahu Recorded Intervening in Media Market After Being Forced to Drop Portfolio, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was still involved in the communications market and instructed his successor as communications minister Ayoub Kara on how to act, even after he was forced to give up the communications portfolio, recordings released Monday evening by Channel 13 News reveal.

Palestinians slam Netanyahu pledge to annex West Bank settlements, Al Jazeera
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,said Netanyahu’s announcement on Sunday was a “continuation of attempts to create an unacceptable fait accompli”. Rdainah added that any such move would “not lead to any peace, security or stability”.

Macron Sees Progress in Talks to Save JCPOA, Financial Tribune
French President Emmanuel Macron said consultations between Iranian and French experts on salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal have achieved positive results. “The failure of JCPOA will bring pleasure to many hardliners internationally,” he said. 

Gantz: No 2nd disengagement, the public will decide on any diplomatic deal, Times of Israel
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz said Monday that he will not support a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, vowing “there will be no second disengagement” and saying that any diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians will be put to the people for a referendum.

Netanyahu calls for boycott of Israeli channel behind HBO show ‘Our Boys’, AP
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for a boycott of an Israeli TV channel for producing the new HBO docudrama “Our Boys,” which he condemned as anti-Semitic.

Reports: Hezbollah missiles narrowly missed armored car with 5 soldiers inside, Times of Israel
An IDF medical vehicle carrying five soldiers nearly sustained a direct hit from Hezbollah anti-tank fire during Sunday’s attack along the northern border, as it drove along an unprotected road in an apparent breach of army directives — with luck, rather than effective military planning, preventing the death or injury of the soldiers inside, Hebrew media reports said late Monday.

Reports: Israeli army faked casualties in Hezbollah attack, AP
Minutes after a Hezbollah anti-tank missile exploded on an Israeli army base, an Israeli military helicopter touched down and medics loaded a soldier on a stretcher aboard. By the time it landed at a Haifa helipad minutes later, TV cameramen were at the scene to film paramedics transferring the soldier into a waiting ambulance. Only it turns out there were no wounded Israeli soldiers. By Monday morning, Israeli media reported on the “deception operation” the military had waged against the Lebanese militant group the day before in the thick of the fog of war. The Israeli military’s aim: to convince Hezbollah that it had scored a direct hit on a military vehicle and inflicted Israeli casualties, and therefore cease fire.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Has Been Warned Over Media Intervention, but Leaked Audio Reveals He’s Possessed, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “No issue has elicited as much passion from the Israeli leader as the media, and even after being forced to drop the title of communications minister, he returns to the crime scene like an addict. But will it affect his support base?”

Why HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ is a victory for Israeli hasbara, +972 Mag
Haggai Matar writes, “By calling to boycott HBO’s ‘Our Boys,’ Prime Minister Netanyahu misses the fact that the series ends up erasing the occupation’s greatest iniquities while supporting the dominant Israeli narrative.”

Lebanon Crisis Provides Brief Respite From Netanyahu’s Increasingly Deranged Election Campaign, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The meticulously stage-managed Hezbollah retaliation against Israel on Sunday brought both good news and bad news. The good news is that a potentially destructive military escalation on Israel’s northern border was averted. The bad news is that the all-clear signal in the north – which may only be temporary – frees Netanyahu to return to his increasingly and dangerously demented election campaign.”