Churches for Middle East Peace

U.S. Ambassador Says Israel Has Right to Annex Parts of West Bank

A look at problematic discussion on annexation rights, Trump’s response to criticism of Kushner’s peace plan, and more news in this week’s bulletin.

The Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, in April. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)


U.S. Ambassador says Israel has right to annex parts of West Bank
The New York Times

 “Israel has a right to annex at least some, but ‘unlikely all,’ of the West Bank, the United States ambassador, David M. Friedman, said in an interview, opening the door to American acceptance of what would be an enormously provocative act. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to begin annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a move that would violate international law and could be a fatal blow to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Image: The Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, in April. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)


Democratic senators release resolution against Israeli annexation of West Bank

“Democratic senators introduced a resolution on Thursday in support of a two-state solution and against Israeli annexation of any parts of the West Bank. The resolution doesn't mention Prime Minister Netanyahu by name, but is a direct rebuke to his election promise from April that he will annex parts of the West Bank if he forms Israel's next government. ‘Unilateral annexation of portions of the West Bank would jeopardize prospects for a two-state solution, harm Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors, threaten Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity, and undermine Israel’s security,` the resolution states.”

Image: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks in San Francisco, California on June 2, 2019. (AFP)


Birthright trips, a rite of passage for many Jews, are now a target of protests
The New York Times

“Over nearly two decades, a nonprofit organization called Birthright Israel has given nearly 700,000 young Jews an all-expense-paid trip to Israel, an effort to bolster a distinct Jewish identity and forge an emotional connection to Israel. The trips, which are partly funded by the Israeli government, have become a rite of passage for American Jews. Nearly 33,000 are set to travel this summer. But over the past year, some Jewish activists have protested Birthright, saying the trips erase the experiences of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank. Activists have circulated petitions, staged sit-ins at Hillels on college campuses and blocked Birthright’s headquarters in New York. But no protests have generated more publicity and outrage than the walk-offs from a handful of Birthright trips.”

Image: Risa Nagel, 25, a grant writer in Seattle, walked off a Birthright Israel trip last year. (Grant Hindsley/The New York Times)

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Qatar says U.S. needs Palestinians on board for Middle East peace plan

“Qatar said on Sunday that there was a disconnect between the Palestinians and the United States over a U.S. blueprint aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, warning that a solution could not be imposed on Palestinians. The U.S. blueprint, driven by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser, is seen by Palestinians, and by some Arab officials and politicians, as a plan to finish off the Palestinian cause. ‘As far as we see, right now there is a disconnect between the Palestinians and the U.S.,’ Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said told reporters in London.”

Image: Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 17, 2019. (Reuters/Andreas Gebert)


Trump tempers optimism on Middle East peace plan

“President Donald Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ‘may be right’ in his raw assessment of the administration's Middle East peace plan. Trump, who previously called the plan the ‘deal of the century,’ conceded that ‘he may be right.’ ‘We'll see what happens,’ Trump told reporters before leaving for a state visit to the United Kingdom. ‘We're doing our best to help the Middle East.’”

Image: President Donald Trump speaking of Kushner’s peace deal for the Middle East. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)


Settler group strengthens hold on Jerusalem's Christian Quarter after victory in court

“The Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and approved the sale of three 'strategic' assets in Jerusalem’s Old City to the pro-settlement Ateret Cohanim association. The rejection of the appeal on Monday ends a 14-year-long legal saga surrounding the sale of the assets, which has agitated the Greek Church in Jerusalem. The decision represents a significant victory for Ateret Cohanim, a right-wing organization that strives to acquire Palestinian property in the Old City, for Jewish settlement. With Monday’s decision, the group can dramatically strengthen its hold on the Old City’s Christian Quarter.”

Image: The Imperial and Petra hotels in Jerusalem, 2017. (Emil Salman)


CMEP's Bulletin is a weekly round-up of news from the Middle East and represents an array of perspectives on the issues we cover. CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the articles, and they do not speak on CMEP's behalf.

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