News Roundup for September 5, 2017

September 5, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Palestinians want to be called ‘state under occupation’, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir reports, “US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt left an encouraged Jerusalem and a resigned Ramallah after Aug. 24’s shuttle diplomacy. There was a clear gap between the United States’ rhetoric about President Donald Trump’s desire to launch peace negotiations and the passivity of the administration on the practical level. It seemed as if the Trump administration did little planning ahead of what should have been a complicated regional gathering. A senior Palestinian minister who participates in the internal deliberations on the US peace efforts told Al-Monitor that it took Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas some time to detect this gap. Abbas had come to realize that the US policy is one of words to pacify US-Arab allies in the fight against radical Islam and Iran, but no more. For the Palestinians, Trump has become Middle Eastern; he has no foreign policy, only a domestic policy. In six months, he has not uttered what every leader in the world knows will be the outcome of negotiations: a two-state solution. According to the Palestinian minister, Trump’s policy is a photo opportunity policy that serves only the interests of the Israeli occupation. It seems that Ramallah has given up on Trump’s efforts. They realize that Trump has marginalized the European Union and that the Arab countries have no one engaging them on a diplomatic path. Given this situation, the Palestinian leadership has decided to take a different tack regarding Palestinian statehood — ‘unilateral statehood.’”


Days After Netanyahu-Putin Meeting, Russia Threatened to Veto anti-Hezbollah Move Led by Israel and U.S. at UN, Haaretz

Russia worked behind the scenes to protect Hezbollah during last week’s discussions in the UN Security Council on a resolution to renew the mandate of the UN peacekeeping forces (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon, talks with Israeli officials indicated. A classified cable sent from the Israeli UN delegation to Foreign Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem reinforces that view.

Thousands of troops to stage mock war with Hezbollah in largest drill in years, Times of Israel

Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers will stage a mock 10-day war against the Hezbollah terrorist group in northern Israel beginning Tuesday, marking the IDF’s largest exercise in nearly 20 years, the army announced Monday, amid tensions over growing Iranian influence in Syria and Lebanon.

Sara Netanyahu Expected to Be Indicted for Fraud in Pocketing $110,000 in Goods, Haaretz

Sara Netanyahu is expected to be indicted, pending a hearing, on charges of fraudulently receiving items worth 400,000 shekels ($111,851), Haaretz has learned. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to inform Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of the charges against her in a few weeks.

Palestinian Authority Arrests Activist Over Facebook Post Calling for Abbas Resignation, Haaretz

Palestinian security forces have detained a prominent activist after he called for President Mahmoud Abbas to resign. A lawyer representing Issa Amro, a human rights activist from the West Bank city of Hebron, says his client was arrested Monday after posting his comments on Facebook. Ayman Qawasmi, a Palestinian reporter, was arrested on Sunday after writing that Abbas should resign for “failing to protect the Palestinian people.” Qawasmi’s radio station was closed last week by the Israeli military for alleged incitement to violence. The arrests are the latest in recent crackdown on journalists by the Palestinian Authority. Amnesty International calls Amro’s arrest “a shameless attack on freedom of expression.”

Jewish Voice For Peace Tells Teens Not To Go On Birthright, Forward

The pro-Palestinian group Jewish Voice for Peace is calling on young Jewish adults to eschew the free trip to the Jewish state offered by Birthright Israel. The organization calls on the young Jews to reject Birthright Israel using the slogan #ReturnTheBirthright.

Israel delays evacuation of settlers from Palestinian-owned home in Hebron, Ma’an

After the state of Israel ordered a group of Israeli settlers to evacuate a Palestinian-owned building in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered to delay the evacuation based on an appeal submitted by the settlers. According to Israeli media reports, the settlers’ appeal is based on the same erroneous ownership claims to the property — owned by the Abu Rajab family and referred to as Beit HaMachpela by the settlers — that have already been debunked in previous legal proceedings.

Ex-PM mocks Netanyahu’s 230 calls to newspaper editor, Times of Israel

Former prime minister Ehud Barak said on Friday that in his entire political career he only phoned newspaper publishers a handful of times, mocking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was forced to reveal that he had spoken with the financial backer and the editor-in-chief of the Israel Hayom daily hundreds of times in a three year period.

In Hamas talks, Red Cross chief asks to visit missing Israelis, Times of Israel

Visiting the Gaza Strip, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Tuesday asked senior Hamas officials to let him meet with Israeli civilians believed to be held by the Palestinian terror group. The report did not say how Sinwar responded to the international aid organization leader’s request and there was no official statement released about the meeting. It was not immediately clear whether the Red Cross director was seeking to be presented with evidence on the soldiers’ bodies, the living captives, or both.

Opinions and Analysis

Israel slow to recalibrate on Syria, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “The possibility that Syria may well reinvent itself is a dramatic change from Israel’s viewpoint, obliterating the idea that the conventional Mideast front with its regular armies and heavy weaponry was a thing of the past….Israel’s military and intelligence analysts must now regret all the opportunities they missed: to create important alliances with pragmatic Sunni rebels, to deliver the final mercy blow to the Assad regime during those decisive moments when battles raged around the presidential palace itself or to create a kind of security strip in the territory opposite the Golan Heights. Israel did none of these things — and cannot be faulted for doing what was safest and most convenient: standing aside and wishing success to both sides, as the fighting spared Israel from any real worries from the north or east. But it appears now that the fighting will not last forever. When it ends, a new Syria will emerge — one much more dangerous than its predecessor.”

Jewish and Arab Students Cross Cultural Boundaries at Model Bilingual Jerusalem School, Haaretz

Leaders of the Hand in Hand school, among the highest-ranked in Israel, talk about contending with differences and the atmosphere during times of tension.