Netanyahu’s New Challenger & the U.S.’s New Diplomacy

What We’re Reading

Israeli Politics

Kicking off campaign, new Labor leader sets sights on ousting Netanyahu,

Newly elected Labor party chairman Avi Gabbay on Tuesday kicked off his election campaign to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power, pledging to double membership in the one-time powerhouse and win 30 Knesset seats in the next election. Gabbay, 50, a former non-MK minister for the Kulanu party, was elected Monday as the new chairman of Labor, beating veteran lawmaker and former faction leader Amir Peretz in a dramatic turn of events for the long-embattled party.

Likud Minister Backs Absorbing Settlements into Jerusalem,

Israel’s intelligence minister [Yisrael Katz] proposed on Monday to absorb four West Bank settlements and a settlement bloc into the Jerusalem municipality, while also removing around 100,000 Palestinians from the city’s census.

With Hungary Cracking Down on Soros, Israeli Lawmaker Pushes His Own 'Soros Law',

A lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party says he will put forward a bill he is calling the “Soros Law” to block donations to left wing organizations enjoying foreign funding.

Israel Takes Aim at UNESCO, Again,

Mitchell Plitnick writes, “Netanyahu says that this UNESCO statement erases the Jewish connection to Hebron. That’s nothing less than a bald-faced lie. The resolution does nothing of the kind. In fact, the report from the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) clearly acknowledges the Jewish religious and historical connections to the city.”

U.S.-Israel/Palestinian Relations

In Rare Move, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Joins Trump Envoy in Meeting With Palestinians,

Special envoy Jason Greenblatt, who has held many such consultations since Trump took office in January, was joined by US Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome and, in an unusual move, also David Friedman, who is the US ambassador to Israel…As an ambassador accredited to the State of Israel, Friedman would usually not attend bilateral meetings with the Palestinian Authority.

Liberman Urges Greenblatt to Ditch the Bilateral Peace Route,

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman: “we call on the American envoy to ditch the bilateral track and instead invest all efforts into a regional arrangement. If all the energy is invested in normalizing ties between Israel and the Arab states, the Palestinians and all others will have no choice but to join the initiative.”

'But Sir, It’s an American Ship' 'Never Mind, Hit Her!' When Israel Attacked USS Liberty,

Amid the jubilee celebrations for the Six-Day War, the tragic story of the American spy ship USS Liberty – which was bombed by an Israeli fighter jet and torpedo boats on June 8, 1967 in the eastern Mediterranean – was somewhat overlooked. Thirty-four American sailors were killed in the Israeli attack and many others were wounded.

Occupation/Human Rights

Part of Land for Amona Evacuees' Settlement Is Owned by Palestinians, Say Petitioners,

Part of the land on which the state is building the new settlement for the families evacuated from the Amona outpost earlier this year is private Palestinian land, according to a legal opinion submitted to the High Court of Justice.

Israel's Dangerous Game in Gaza,

Ben Caspit writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government views Hamas as a precious strategic asset that allows Israel to continue to argue that there is no real diplomatic partner on the Palestinian side. Should Hamas fall and Abbas retake Gaza, it could prove to be a catastrophe for Netanyahu’s strategy. Netanyahu prefers a divided Palestinian antagonist over a clear partner. The Israeli government is thus interested in preserving the Hamas regime in Gaza, but keeping it on a low flame and keeping the intensity low as well. This is a dangerous game. Israel can lose control over its toys, as transpired in 2014.”

Palestinian liaison: 'huge efforts' yield opening of several West Bank roadblocks,

A 13-year-old Palestinian from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya lost his eye on Sunday after Israeli forces fired a sponge-tipped bullet at the teenager during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the neighborhood. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Israeli police had entered Issawiya after a fight broke out between neighbors. Palestinians began to hurl rocks at Israeli forces, who responded by shooting crowd-control weapons into the community.

Palestinian liaison: 'huge efforts' yield opening of several West Bank roadblocks,

The department of public relations at the Palestinian military liaison said Monday that after undertaking “huge efforts,” the Israeli army had agreed to remove a number of military blockades established across the occupied West Bank.