News Roundup for September 5, 2018

September 5, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Top Court Okays Eviction of West Bank Bedouin Village of Khan al-Ahmar, Haaretz

Yotam Berger reports, “The High Court of Justice denied a petition on Wednesday that had been filed by the residents of the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar and gave the state the green light to evacuate the entire village.The village had been built on state-owned land and its houses were constructed without permits. Khan al-Ahmar had been slated to be evacuated last month before the eviction of its residents was halted by the court to consider the petitions. Justices Hanan Melcer, Yitzhak Amit and Anat Baron said the main issue in the case was not whether the eviction could be carried out, but where the residents would be relocated. In turning down the petitioners, the court also rescinded the temporary injunctions issued in July that had barred authorities from proceeding with the evictions. Justice Melcer added, however, that unlike the eviction of Jewish residents of the illegal outpost of Amona last year, which proceeded as soon as it was ordered, in this case, no immediate eviction was required, and a future date could be set at the government’s discretion. Technically the ruling allows the state to evict the villagers within seven days.”

Trump’s ‘ultimate deal’ for Middle East peace meets resistance, throwing rollout into question, Los Angeles Times

Tracy Wilkinson reports, “Two months ago, the long-awaited release of the Trump administration’s ambitious plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, what the president has called the ‘ultimate deal,’ seemed imminent….But the proposal hit a wall. Persian Gulf Arab states, which have courted and been courted by Trump, flatly rejected terms they saw as radical, pro-Israel and out of line with traditional U.S. policy and international law, according to officials familiar with the peace-seeking process. Jordan and Egypt, which had similarly promising beginnings with Trump, also scotched the terms. As a result of that opposition, the administration backed away from publicly revealing its plan and has switched to a different approach: increasing pressure on the Palestinians in hopes of pushing them to the negotiating table.”

Abbas said to rebuff Trump request to meet; wants Kushner, Greenblatt fired, Times of Israel

“US President Donald Trump reportedly offered to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in an attempt to rectify their troubled ties….However, Abbas responded that he would only accept such a meeting in return for significant diplomatic gestures that would renew trust between the sides. In addition, he reportedly demanded that Trump fire his Middle East negotiating team, including envoy Jason Greenblatt and the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.”

The Man Who Actually Runs Iran’s Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy

Rohollah Faghihi writes, “Mohammad Javad Zarif has been Iran’s foreign minister for the past five years. In that time, he has become a familiar face in the West, earning a reputation as one of the key people to talk to to resolve any given disagreement with Tehran….Over the past two years, however, Zarif’s power has dramatically waned. Although he has continued his speaking tours in the West, he has been supplanted on the regional policy portfolios that most matter to Tehran—including Iran’s presence in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen—by a quieter but far more influential figure: Ali Akbar Velayati, the longtime foreign-policy advisor to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”



Israel’s main Gaza crossing shut after Palestinian violence, Associated Press

The Israeli military says it has shut down the main personnel crossing into Gaza after hundreds of Palestinian rioters hurled rocks and damaged the terminal.

At EU, Arab MKs lobby Brussels to join fight against nation-state law, Times of Israel

A delegation of Arab Israeli lawmakers from the Joint List met on Tuesday with senior European Union officials in Brussels, forcefully denouncing Israel’s recently passed Jewish nation-state law and charging the Israeli government with systematic discrimination against the country’s non-Jewish minority.

US to lead Security Council talks on Iran in late September: Haley, i24NEWS

US President Donald Trump plans to lead a meeting of heads of state of the United Nations Security Council meeting on Iran in late September, his envoy Nikki Haley announced Tuesday.

Abbas warns Hamas against potential pact with Israel, Al-Monitor

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas continues to threaten severe consequences for Hamas if it pursues a truce with Israel that doesn’t include the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Israel Strikes Iranian, Assad Regime Targets’ in Syria, Haaretz

Israeli jets attacked military targets in the northwestern Syrian city of Hama on Tuesday, Syrian state media reported, adding that one person was killed and 12 others were wounded.

Kerry’s memoir decries ‘disrespectful’ Netanyahu, who ‘distorted’ Iran deal, Times of Israel

In his new memoir, published Tuesday, former US secretary of state John Kerry laments the toxic relationship between the Obama White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly the latter’s attempt to scuttle the Iran nuclear accord that Kerry had worked so relentlessly to broker.

Kerry Reveals Details of Assad’s Secret Letter to Netanyahu in 2010, Haaretz

Syrian President Bashar Assad sent U.S. President Barack Obama a secret proposal for peace with Israel in 2010, which was also shared with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Secretary of State John Kerry writes in his new memoir published Tuesday.


Opinion and Analysis

Trump’s anti-Palestinian agenda will ultimately hurt Israel, Washington Post

Ishaan Tharoor writes, “The Trump administration’s approach has alienated the already enfeebled Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is the key interlocutor in any peace deal with Israel. While Trump’s lieutenants insist they are blazing a path toward a new grand bargain, it has become abundantly clear that the White House is in ideological lockstep with Netanyahu and his government, which includes ministers who openly claim the Palestinians will never have their own state.”

How Europe plans to skirt Trump’s sanctions and keep doing business with Iran, NBC News

Josh Lederman and Dan De Luce report, “America’s allies in Europe are plotting ways to bypass President Donald Trump’s sanctions on Iran as they work to keep the nuclear deal alive without the United States. With a second round of U.S. sanctions set to take effect in November, European officials are working at cross-purposes with Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign as they try to preserve as much business as possible with Iran. The goal is to persuade Iran’s leaders to stay in the deal for a few more years — perhaps long enough for Trump to be replaced and for a new U.S. president to rejoin the deal.”

Will Jordanians, Palestinians accept a confederation?, Al-Monitor

Daoud Kuttab reports, “A political firestorm has erupted following the revelation that last year, the Donald Trump administration attempted to circumvent the two-state solution by proposing to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the establishment of a confederation with Jordan. According to Israeli Peace Now activists who met with Abbas on Sept. 2, Abbas reportedly didn’t reject the offer but said his acceptance was conditional upon including Israel as a member of the Jordan-Palestine confederation….Former Palestinian local government minister Khaled Qawasmi said that the latest Israeli and US proposal of a confederation is an attempt to bypass the two-state solution after removing the issues of Jerusalem and refugees from the negotiating table. Qawasmi told Al-Monitor that the aim of the US offer is to show that there are options available. ‘They [the United States] want to claim that there is a political opportunity and that things have not reached a dead end.’”

Is Boycotting Israel ‘Hate’?, The New York Times

Joseph Levine writes, “Opposition to B.D.S. is widespread and strong. Alarmingly, in the United States, support for the movement is in the process of being outlawed. As of now, 24 states have enacted legislation that in some way allows the state to punish those who openly engage in or advocate B.D.S., and similar legislation is pending in 12 more states. At the federal level, a bill called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would criminalize adherence to any boycott of Israel called for by an international agency (like the United Nations). The bill has garnered 57 Senate co-sponsors and 290 House co-sponsors, and may very well come up for a vote soon. While these bills certainly constitute threats to free speech — (a view shared by the ACLU) — I am interested in a more subtle effect of a fairly widespread anti-B.D.S. strategy: co-opting rhetoric of the anti-Trump resistance, which opposes the growing influence of racist hate groups, in order to brand B.D.S. as a hate group itself.”