Everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast. Join the Israel Daily News Stream on Facebook.
Today’s Top Stories
1. It’s official (for now, at least). Hamas and Fatah announced their national unity agreement. Mahmoud Abbas will visit Gaza after the new government is formed. Today was the proverbial “day after.”
Israel cancelled a negotiating session, mulled sanctions, and assessed intelligence indicating that the deal is nowhere near implementation. The IDF is drilling for West Bank violence. And the United States is “disappointed” with the deal and would reassess Palestinian aid if the government is indeed formed.
Palestinian officials claim the agreement requires Hamas to work towards a two-state solution that recognizes Israel’s right to exist. Pounding the pavement in Ramallah, Time found that consensus man-on-the-street view was skepticism. As for the Hamas mindset, read the tea leaves at YNet.
Commentaries by Khaled Abu Toameh, David Horovitz, and Amos Harel point out there’s nothing historic about this agreement, that true reconciliation will require a lot more difficult work by both Fatah and Hamas, and that Abbas is only embracing Islamists. Could this still be the real deal? Danny Rubinstein says the litmus test is whether Abbas follows through on visiting to Gaza.
There’s a lot more commentary below. Last word for now goes to Jonathan Schanzer:
2. US efforts to mediate an Israeli-Lebanese maritime border are deadlocked. According to Globes, the dispute hurts Beirut far more:
The dispute is delaying publication of an oil and gas exploration tender for Lebanon’s Block 9, which could have more than seven trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
3. Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine confirmed they’re holding Israeli-American journalist Simon Ostrovsky captive. Haaretz sheds more light on his fate.
However as time emerges, it seems more likely that he was deemed a valuable hostage due to his dual citizenships, American and Israeli, both of which have been emphasized by his captors in media interviews.
The self-appointed “people’s mayor” of Slavyansk, Vyacheslave Ponomarev confirmed in an interview with a Russian website that he was holding Ostrovsky and said that “We need captives. We need a bargaining chip.”
Mashable rounded up more links.
4. Fighting BDS — Tips and Strategies: You can turn the tables on the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Here’s how.
5. More A-List Support for SodaStream: SodaStream’s support from Scarlett Johansson and now Ellen DeGeneres shows that Israel may well be winning the culture war after all.
6. Government Plan on BDS Still A Work in Progress: Cabinet minister says Israel is working to address boycott threat from Europe.
Israel and the Palestinians
With Fatah and Hamas split, Mr. Abbas has long been able to disavow attacks on Israel launched from Gaza as it negotiated with the Israelis. Likewise, Israel regularly targets Hamas while saying it too is pursuing peace with the Palestinian Authority. Those arguments would be difficult to make if they unify.
• Why is France withholding a $4,100 grant to an association helping French-Israeli students in Jerusalem? Because the Gilo-based Daat Menachem is located on the wrong side of the Green Line, reports Israel HaYom.
• If you’re following Shurat HaDin’s legal action against BDS-supporting Australian professor Jake Lynch, The Guardian reports that a judge in Sydney struck out part of the lawsuit.
• Memo to Roger Cohen: Conflict management doesn’t equal permanent occupation (or the desirability of it). Israel wants peace.
• For commentary/analysis on the reconciliation, see Ron Ben-Yishai, Yaakov Lappin, Elhanan Miller, Eyal Zisser, Ari Shavit, Guy Bechor, Amira Hass, Dan Margalit, AP, and the Christian Science Monitor.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Tunisia’s divided over allowing tourists to visit using Israeli passports. Till now, Israelis could only enter using a special document issued by Tunisian embassies. More on the story at AP and Tunisia Live.
Tunisia’s image got a black eye in March when it refused to allow some 20 Israeli passengers aboard a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship to disembark. NCL responded by cancelling all ports of call at the North African country.
• Turkey began talks to buy Israeli gas. Details at Today’s Zaman.
• The trial of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi continued. Witnesses told the court that members of Hamas and Hezbollah — including Palestinian and Lebanese nationals — attacked prisons to free inmates during the 2011 uprising. AFP coverage.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.