News Roundup for September 7, 2018

September 7, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Back Syrian Rebels, Foreign Policy

Elizabeth Tsurkov reports, “Israel secretly armed and funded at least 12 rebel groups in southern Syria that helped prevent Iran-backed fighters and militants of the Islamic State from taking up positions near the Israeli border in recent years, according to more than two dozen commanders and rank-and-file members of these groups. The military transfers, which ended in July of this year, included assault rifles, machine guns, mortar launchers and transport vehicles. Israeli security agencies delivered the weapons through three gates connecting the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to Syria—the same crossings Israel used to deliver humanitarian aid to residents of southern Syria suffering from years of civil war.”

Chances fade for Israel-Hamas agreement, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes, “Optimistic assessments by senior Hamas leaders that their arrangement with Israel would soon go into effect were dashed last week. An agreement to ease the siege on the Gaza Strip now seems even farther away than before. On the eve of Eid al-Adha, Aug. 21, Hamas political bureau leader Ismail Haniyeh had promised Gazans that the siege would soon be lifted. He congratulated them on standing firm against the siege, saying that strength had led them to victory. Now, other voices are being heard. Hamas leaders are preparing the Palestinian public for news of the arrangement’s failure, pointing fingers of blame. As far as Hamas is concerned, the person who bears the brunt of responsibility is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is adamantly refusing to even approach the sickbed that is the Gaza Strip.”


Abbas will cut ties with Israel if it agrees to ceasefire with Hamas: report, i24NEWS

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly said his government would cut all ties with Israel should it reach a reconciliation agreement with Hamas that effectively circumvents the authority of Abbas’ Fatah party and the PA.

Israeli aircraft strikes incendiary balloon squad in Gaza — IDF, Times of Israel

An Israel Defense Forces aircraft opened fire Friday at a group of Palestinians who were trying to send incendiary balloons over the border in the northern Gaza Strip, the military said.

Trump says withholding money from Palestinians could force peace deal, Axios

In a conference call with Jewish leaders Thursday, President Trump said that he had stopped giving money to the Palestinians and their leaders in order to force them to the table for a peace deal with Israel.

EU ‘expects Israeli authorities’ to reconsider Khan al-Ahmar demolition, i24NEWS

The European Union (EU) and its member states reacted to the Israeli High Court’s ruling on the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on Wednesday, stating it expects Israeli authorities to reconsider the decision in light of international law and a future solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

U.S. Vice President Pence pressures Paraguay over Jerusalem embassy move, Reuters

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence urged Paraguay’s new president to stick to his predecessor’s decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Pence’s office said on Thursday after Asuncion announced plans to shift the diplomatic mission back to Tel Aviv.

Benny Gantz has decided to enter politics – report, Times of Israel

A confidant of former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz said Thursday that the popular ex-general had made up his mind to enter Israeli politics and would announce his political party of choice as soon as elections are called.

Netanyahu Corruption Probe Raises New Fraud Suspicions Against Wife Sara, Haaretz

The evidence gathered in the Bezeq-Walla case is liable to embroil Sara Netanyahu in additional fraud charges. She already faces such charges over financial irregularities at the prime minister’s residences.

Israel takes part in international court debate for first time in decades, Times of Israel

Israel this week participated in a debate at the International Court of Justice in The Hague for the first time in more than half a century, in what Israeli officials described as an effort to get the Jewish state more involved in matters of international law that have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Opinion and Analysis

The Israeli High Court Is at a Crossroad, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board writes, “The High Court of Justice’s display of deference to the planning and construction laws should not impress anyone. In its denial of the Khan al-Ahmar residents’ petition against the demolition of their village, whose houses were built without a permit, the court chose to join a system based on discrimination and oppression. The Civil Administration serves as the Israeli government’s tool to strengthen and expand its grasp of the West Bank’s occupied territories, by restricting the Palestinians’ rights and evicting them. This practice is a systematic violation of international law, and is based, in essence, on discriminating against the Palestinians compared to the settlers, and on abusing the Palestinians, which runs contrary to Israeli law as well.”

The Two-Way Street: Reflections for Rosh Hashanah, J Street Blog

Rabbi Andrea London and Rabbi Arthur Waskow share reflections on the themes of holiness and reconciliation on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.