News Roundup for September 6, 2019

September 6, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Jason Greenblatt, a Designer of Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan, Is Leaving the Administration, New York Times
President Trump’s special envoy for Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, will leave the administration, according to a senior Trump official, raising new questions about a long-delayed plan to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Mr. Greenblatt has worked closely since early 2017 with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to design what Mr. Trump has called the “ultimate deal.” But their secretive plan has been delayed for several months, and it is unclear when it will be released — and whether Mr. Greenblatt will be around for the rollout […] After Mr. Greenblatt’s departure, Avi Berkowitz, an adviser to Mr. Kushner, will become “more involved in the process,” the Trump official said. So will Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran.

Who is the longtime Kushner aide set to replace Trump envoy Jason Greeblatt?, Times of Israel
Despite his quick rise in US President Donald Trump’s White House, he is relatively new to politics. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Berkowitz was not known for holding strong political views until Kushner brought him onto the Trump campaign in 2016, according to a profile in Business Insider.


Palestinian official calls US envoy’s resignation an ‘admission of failure’, Times of Israel
The resignation Thursday of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy is an “admission of failure” for the White House’s much-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, a senior Palestinian official said.

Iran takes further step to scale back nuclear commitments, Reuters
Iran said on Friday it had taken a step to further downgrade its commitments to a 2015 nuclear deal with the world’s most powerful nations, according to Iranian media, in retaliation to U.S. sanctions reimposed on Tehran.

Diplomats: US blocks UN statement on Israel-Hezbollah fire, AP
The United States has blocked the U.N. Security Council from issuing a statement following the recent exchange of cross-border fire between the militant group Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Israeli forces in Israel, diplomats said Thursday.

Netanyahu on Trump-Rohani Meeting: ‘I Don’t Tell the President Who to Meet’, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he doesn’t tell U.S. President Donald Trump who to meet, but should Trump decide to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, he would present a more assertive and rational approach than those presented so far.

Likud MK offers deal to far-right party that would nix egalitarian prayer at Western Wall, JTA
A Likud lawmaker close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to prevent egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall in exchange for a small ultranationalist faction dropping out ahead of this month’s Knesset election. The move would anger non-Orthodox Jews in Israel and the Diaspora, for whom the right to pray at the wall as they see fit is a major bone of contention with Israel.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel should negotiate solution to Hezbollah, not depend on deterrence, Al-Monitor
Akiva Eldar writes, “Instead of trying to resolve these conflicts on the various fronts, Israel prefers to manage them. But even the most successful and experienced manager is not immune to mistakes, operational failures or just plain bad luck.”

Iran Overture and Greenblatt Departure Cloud Trump-Netanyahu Paradise, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Thursday morning started badly for Benjamin Netanyahu and things went downhill from there. Before taking off for London, Netanyahu seemed to be criticizing his lord, ally and lifeline Donald Trump for reaching out to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, saying, ‘This is not the time to talk to Iran’. Then, in a double whammy, Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt resigned, depriving Netanyahu of his chief cheerleader and casting more doubt on a peace plan increasingly seen as a joke anyway.”

Kushner’s Middle East peace plan drifts further astray as envoy resigns, The Guardian
Julian Borger writes, “Greenblatt’s leaving may have to do with the dim prospects of the so-called peace plan,’ said Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, and author of a book on US policy towards the Palestinians, Blind Spot. ‘What I do know is that it won’t make any difference to what is not really a plan – let’s call it a vision – because there is no chance of it going anywhere.’”

Arab Alliance Struggles to Get Voters Fired Up Ahead of Israel’s Election, Haaretz
Jack Khoury writes, “Campaigners for the four factions in the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties say they fear their efforts are floundering, with the parties’ dull messaging making it hard to bring out the vote for the September 17 election. “

On Iran, Trump and Netanyahu Finally Disagree, Bloomberg
Dennis Ross writes, “Tehran has its own version of ‘maximum pressure,’ and it’s leading the U.S. and Israel in different directions.”

Netanyahu’s Call to Boycott HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ Is an Attempt to Silence Self-Reflection, New York Times
Nathan Hersh writes, “By attacking Israeli artists who are critical of Israeli policies, the prime minister and other officials are causing lasting harm to the country.”