News Roundup for September 5, 2019

September 5, 2019

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J Street in the News

Poll: Trump’s Disloyalty Charge Not Playing Well, The New York Jewish Week
“A Morning Consult poll from Aug. 19-25 of 1,070 registered Jewish voters found that 71 percent disapproved of the president’s job performance, a figure consistent with polling throughout the Trump presidency.  A poll commissioned by J Street of Jewish voters in the 2018 midterms found that 76 percent of American Jewish voters cast ballots for Democrats and 19 percent for Republicans. That was an increase from the 2016 presidential election when seven-in-10 Jewish voters went for Hillary Clinton and 25 percent for Donald Trump.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel said again mulling raid on Iran; thinks Trump, unlike Obama, won’t oppose, Times of Israel
Israeli officials are currently considering the possibility of conducting a military strike on Iran, with or without the approval of the United States, The New York Times reported Wednesday. They believe US President Donald Trump could decide not to stand in the way of such an attack, unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, the paper reported Wednesday in an exposé that detailed the lows and highs of the Israel-US relationship in the face-off against the Islamic Republic over the past decade. “Once again, more than a decade after they first raised the subject with American officials, Israeli officials have been considering the possibility of a unilateral strike against Iran,” said the report. “Unlike with Bush and Obama, there is greater confidence that Trump wouldn’t stand in the way.”

Bibi-sitting’ and Drones Out of Azerbaijan: Report Reveals How Close Israel Came to Striking Iran, Haaretz
Israel is currently contemplating the possibility of a unilateral strike against Iran, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, and believes that U.S. President Donald Trump, unlike his predecessors George Bush or Barack Obama, is less likely to derail its efforts.

Iran poised for faster centrifuges as nuclear deal collapses, AP
Iran was poised Thursday to begin work on advanced centrifuges that will enrich uranium faster as the 2015 nuclear deal unravels further and a last-minute French proposal offering a $15-billion line of credit to compensate Iran for not being able to sell its crude oil abroad because of U.S. sanctions looked increasingly unlikely.


Rouhani dismisses bilateral talks with US, claims economic recovery, Al-Monitor
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ensured Iran’s lawmakers that bilateral talks with the US government are “not an option in principle,” and that Iran’s answer to offers by mediators for such negotiations “has always been and will continue to be negative.”

In London, Netanyahu and Johnson Talk Iran and Two-state Solution, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on Thursday, two weeks before Israel’s election, and the two discussed Iran and a two-state solution. “The U.K. still supports all efforts to reach a solution in the Middle East, and a two-state solution,” replied Johnson. 

Obama reportedly sent an official to Israel every few months to ‘Bibisit.’ It almost didn’t work, The Week
The strong possibility of war between Iran and Israel reached a head near the end of former President Barack Obama’s first term, when Israel learned of secret nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. It all precipitated into the strong possibility of Netanyahu ordering a strike on Iran, and it “wasn’t a bluff,” he tells The New York Times Magazine in an article published Wednesday. If he’d “had a majority” of his cabinet behind him, Netanyahu says he “would have done it … unequivocally.”

Israel came really close to attacking Iran and 4 other takeaways from The New York Times exposé, JTA
The 10,000-word story details how close Israel came to attacking Iran, how Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush tried to deter the Israelis and what actually stopped the would-be bombing raid.

In rare Hebron visit, Netanyahu says Jews will remain in divided city forever, Times of Israel
During a rare visit to Hebron on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israelis would remain in the flashpoint West Bank city forever, but stopped short of announcing new construction in the area as Jewish locals and right-wing lawmakers have been demanding.

Palestinians Rage Over Netanyahu’s Visit to Hebron, Warn of ‘Dangerous Escalation’, Haaretz
Palestinians expressed outrage on Wednesday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu entered the Jewish enclave in the West Bank city of Hebron to make an address at a ceremony marking 90 years since the 1929 massacres of Jews in the city and elsewhere.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Don’t conflate criticism of Netanyahu and Israel, JTA
“To conflate an individual leader or ego with being against the entire country I think is hallmark behavior of folks like our president,” she said. “Just like we have the ability to criticize our president without being anti-American, I think we can criticize the policies” of Netanyahu without being anti-Israel.”

Netanyahu may meet Putin before elections, officials indicate, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow before the September 17 elections, officials at the Prime Minister’s Office indicated Wednesday.

Opinion and Analysis

Israeli Strikes on Iranian Targets Are Great Election Fodder, but Have Little Strategic Impact, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “Though Israel’s Military Intelligence has outstanding ability to gather information ahead of an operation, it can’t say what diplomatic and strategic outcomes would follow.”

A US-Iran deal may play a role in Israel’s election and Netanyahu’s future, The Hill
Dov Zakheim writes, “There has been some speculation in Israel that Netanyahu may be willing to go along with a Trump-Rouhani bargain of some sort if Trump signals his readiness to recognize Israel’s partial annexation of the West Bank. Netanyahu has been angling for a partial annexation for some time, in order to shore up support with the settlers there, many of whom, remarkably, view him as too soft on the Palestinians. Trump’s granting Netanyahu a green light to announce annexation, coming after American recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, could guarantee Netanyahu the settlers’ support and determine the outcome of the election in his favor.”

These Israeli Left-wingers Still Hate Netanyahu — but Can’t Decide Who to Love, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “Kahol Lavan or Democratic Union? Labor-Gesher or the Joint List of Arab parties? Avigdor Lieberman?!? Haaretz speaks to lifelong leftists who are agonizing over how to cast their ballot on September 17.”