Trump departs for Middle East tour

What We’re Reading

US-Israeli/Palestinian relations

White House video shows Israel without Golan and West Bank,

At the same time, clip lists Trump’s meeting in Bethlehem with PA President Mahmoud Abbas under itinerary for ‘Israel.’

US source: Trump will ask Netanyahu to curb West Bank settlement activity,

US President Donald Trump will repeat his opposition to settlement growth in the West Bank during his first visit to the region next week – and expects the Israeli government to acknowledge that his position has been heard, a senior White House official said on Thursday.

Trump says he hasn’t ruled out Netanyahu joining him at Western Wall,

“We have not yet made a final decision about my visit to the Western Wall,” Trump told the Israel Hayom newspaper in an interview Thursday. “We have great respect for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the decision to have the rabbi [of the Western Wall] accompany us was primarily because that is the custom at the site. It could still change.”

US officials said to slam Bennett for pressure over embassy move,

US officials are reportedly very unhappy with Education Minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, saying he is primarily responsible for US President Donald Trump’s decision to postpone moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

FMEP Legislative Round-Up: May 19, 2017,

Read about the latest Middle East-related developments on Capitol Hill.

In the Trump Administration’s Favorite Settlement, Spirits Are Down,

A visit to Beit El in the West Bank finds U.S. immigrants downbeat about the new president’s actions, after he promised so much during the election campaign. But as one settler notes, ‘No American president can make much change here.”

Interview with Ilan Goldenberg on Trump, Peace Process,

Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry and a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, shared his thoughts about Trump’s trip and push for peace in a phone interview yesterday.

Israel wants Trump to stop Palestinian payments to prisoners and families of ‘martyrs’,

As the president prepares for his first foreign trip aboard, which will include two days in Israel and the West Bank next week, Israel’s right-wing government and its supporters in Congress are pressing the Trump administration to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority unless the payments stop.

Trump told Abbas he’ll be able to reach a deal within a year, says Palestinian minister,

“Abu Mazen stressed Trump’s seriousness in settling the Palestinian issue” after they met in Washington this month, said the minister, referring to Abbas by his Arabic nickname.

Opinion: Diverging Views of Trump's Top Israel Advisers Could Sow Discord in Administration,

“Before the election, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman penned a joint position paper putting Trump far to the right on Israel and the Palestinians. Now they seem to be dragging the administration in different directions,” writes Amir Tibon.

Facebook wins dismissal of U.S. lawsuits linked to terrorism,

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn dismissed a $3 billion damages lawsuit by relatives of American victims of Hamas attacks, saying the federal Communications Decency Act regulating internet content immunizes Facebook from liability.

Occupation/Human rights

FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report: May 19, 2017,

FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report covers everything you need to know about what is happening this week related to Israeli settlement activity – news, context, background, and why it matters.

Arson, graffiti in suspected ‘price tag’ attack in Palestinian village,

A tractor was set ablaze and graffiti reading “revenge” was sprayed on a wall in a suspected hate crime in a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank early Friday morning.

FIFA has three options to deal with Israeli settlement clubs. Only one is legitimate,

“FIFA is not only tolerating the continued breach of its rules, but also seems to be going out of its way not to enforce them,” write Hugh Lovatt and Martin Konecny.

IDF works to forestall rise in violence during summer months,

The IDF expects increasing unrest in the West Bank if the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike is still ongoing as Ramadan begins.

Hamas winds up trial of military leader's alleged killers,

A military court in Gaza on Thursday concluded the trial of three men accused of assassinating a Hamas military leader and will deliver its verdict at the weekend, an official said. The trial of the alleged killers of Mazen Faqha opened on Monday and the court held its fourth and final session on Thursday.

Palestinian politics

[Arabic] Source: Hamas bans top Fatah official in Gaza Strip from travel,

A unnamed PLO official confirmed on Friday that Hamas has prevented Zakaria al-Agha, the top Fatah official in the Gaza Strip, from travelling to Jordan for a PLO conference on refugees, as he attempted to cross into Israel at the Erez checkpoint. The official said that the decision had been taken by Hamas’s Politburo in retaliation for the Palestinian Authority’s recent moves against Hamas, and that the travel ban applied not only to al-Agha but the entire Fatah leadership in the southern Gaza Strip.

Thousands march in funeral of Palestinian slain by Israeli settler,

Thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral of 23-year-old Muataz Bani Shamsa, hours after he was shot and killed by an Israeli Israeli settler during a solidarity march in the village of Huwwara, south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.

Israeli politics

Would Israel's Knesset support a Trump Mideast deal?,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot claim that his coalition will fall apart if he supports a peace initiative by President Donald Trump,” writes Akiva Eldar.