Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: With peace plan stalled, Trump admin shifts focus to Gaza | Israel’s red lines for Saudi nuclear deal | The fake sultan who ate pork

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FIRST LOOK: The Maps of Israeli Settlements That Shocked Barack Obama — by Adam Entous: “One afternoon in the spring of 2015, Frank Lowenstein, a senior State Department official, paged through a government briefing book and noticed a map that he had never seen before… It showed large swaths of territory that were off limits to Palestinian development and filled in space between the settlements and the outposts… Lowenstein showed the small map to Secretary of State John Kerry and said, “Look what’s really going on here.” Kerry brought the map to his next meeting with President Obama.”

“Ben Rhodes… said the President was shocked to see how “systematic” the Israelis had been at cutting off Palestinian population centers from one another… Lowenstein said the Israelis never challenged those findings. Later, Kerry presented some of the maps to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President. Kerry’s goal was to show Abbas that the Obama Administration understood the extent to which the two-state solution was threatened. Abbas was taken aback. Instead of feeling reassured, he told a confidant that the maps convinced him that the Americans believed “the chances of a viable Palestinian state is next to nil.”

“Alarmed by Israeli actions depicted in the maps, Obama decided to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the settlements, clearing the way for its passage.” [NewYorker]

Inside the fearful Bedouin village that could decide fate of Palestinian state — by Oliver Holmes: “Khan al-Ahmar’s modest appearance belies its significance to many Palestinians as the keystone of their struggle for statehood – a community whose location is so strategic that, if they were removed, it might crumble hopes for a future country…”[TheGuardian

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump administration focuses on Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, with Mideast peace plan stalled — by Anne Gearan: “We definitely have a Gaza focus right now because the situation is the way it is, and we want to try to help,” said a senior Trump administration official. “But it’s not as though we think we need to fix Gaza first before we would air the peace plan.” … Israeli officials said they welcome a “Gaza first” approach… “It’s providing support to people in Gaza as a first stage,” one senior Israeli official said. “They know the Palestinians are not willing to consider [the larger proposal], so they are starting to put more attention on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”

“There is really no deadline,” the Trump administration official said. “We’re here for, what, another two and a half years? Or six and a half years. So, on our side, we have the luxury of time and can be patient. The plan isn’t going to change.” [WashPost

TWO WEEKS AGO — “Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser, said Washington would announce its Middle East peace plan soon, and press on with or without Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.” [Reuters]

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah: “We won’t agree to turn our national rights into humanitarian or financial rights.” [JPost

Martin Indyk tells us… “The peace plan was going nowhere because the Trump administration forced the Palestinians out of the peace process by the packaging of their Jerusalem Embassy decision. Better to shelve it for the time being and focus on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. But if that initiative is presented as an attempt to sideline Abu Mazen and separate Gaza from the West Bank it won’t just fail, it will strengthen Hamas.”

Elliott Abrams emails us… “The success of the peace plan depends not only on its exact content, but also on the context. If the context is growing violence on the Gaza borders and perhaps a major conflict, the peace plan will not succeed. So it’s completely logical to focus on Gaza, for strategic as well as humanitarian reasons.”

Ilan Goldenberg tweets“If this is true, it’s good news and the right move. US moving away from putting out a hopeless comprehensive plan & instead focusing on Gaza crisis.”

FLASHBACK to March 14, 2018: “A senior administration official told Jewish Insider, “Ultimately, we need to fix Gaza for a variety of reasons whether we reach a peace agreement or don’t reach a peace agreement. I think we view them as separate issues.” [JewishInsider]

MEANWHILE… Israel says closing Gaza’s main trade terminal in anti-Hamas crackdown — by Dan Williams: “We will crack down immediately on the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. In a significant move, we will today shut down the Kerem Shalom (border) crossing. There will be additional steps. I am not detailing them,” Netanyahu told his parliamentary faction.” [Reuters]

HEARD TODAY — MK Yair Lapid at Yesh Atid’s faction meeting: “The prime minister has a new reason why he is doing nothing in Gaza — because he is waiting for the Americans… One who cares about security does not wait for the Americans, he acts on his own. We cannot allow them to decide for us. We need to present our own plan.” [ToI]

REPORT — Israel presented U.S. with “red lines” for Saudi nuclear deal — by Barak Ravid: “A senior Israeli official told me the Israeli government realized it will not be able to stop the deal — set to be worth billions of dollars for the U.S. — and decided instead to attempt to reach an understanding with the Trump administration regarding the parameters of the deal.”

— “Israel asked to know in advance what nuclear equipment the U.S. would sell the Saudis and asked to be consulted about the planned location of the nuclear reactors the U.S. would build in Saudi Arabia… Israel demanded that the deal will not give Saudi Arabia the capability or the legitimacy to enrich uranium on its soil… Israel demanded that the U.S. will be the only nation to supply the Saudis with the nuclear fuel for its reactors. Israel demanded that the U.S. must remove all used nuclear fuel from Saudi Arabia so that the Saudis will not be able to reprocess it.” [Axios]

Mossad chief secretly visited Washington to coordinate on Iran: “Mossad chief Yossi Cohen secretly visited Washington last week and held meetings with senior White House officials to discuss Iran, according to Israel’s Walla! NEWS.” [i24News]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: Changes at US National Security Council as Bolton shuffles Middle East staff — by Joyce Karam: “The National has learned that both the senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon at the White House National Security Council (NSC) Joel Rayburn, and top Middle East adviser Mike Bell are leaving imminently. Mr Rayburn is expected to move to the State Department where he will be nominated for a high-level position dealing with the Middle East, sources said. Bob Greenway, a former defence official, will be taking over Mr Rayburn’s position.” [TheNational]

DEEP DIVE — Israeli intelligence firm targeted NGOs during Hungary’s election campaign — by Lili Bayer: “The Israeli private intelligence firm Black Cube was involved in a campaign to discredit NGOs… connected to American-Hungarian businessman George Soros… The recordings, which began appearing in the Jerusalem Post and Hungarian government-controlled daily paper Magyar Idők three weeks before Hungary’s election, were used by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to attack independent civil society organizations during the last days of the campaign.”

“The people who met and recorded the NGO officials used European and Arab cover names, but at least two of them spoke with discernible Israeli accents, according to people at the organizations who met with them…. In the Hungarian operation, people using fake names met with their targets at hotels and upscale restaurants in Budapest, Vienna, Amsterdam, London and New York City.”[Politico

— Lili Bayer tweets“Update: Following publication of this POLITICO Europe article, Hungary gov-controlled paper Magyar Idok removed from its website all articles related to the secret recordings, including those where it uploaded recordings of NGO leaders ahead of election.”

HAPPENING TODAY — President Trump is expected to announce his second Supreme Court nominee at 9 PM EDT[CSPAN]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg says its hard to see Trump’s nominee get approved before the midterms — by Revital Hovel: “Speaking Friday at the U.S. Embassy, Ginsburg said it was not clear if U.S. President Donald Trump would be able to appoint a Supreme Court judge to replace the outgoing Anthony Kennedy before the November midterm elections… “How much time it will take to investigate him? Now it takes just a majority of the Senate, which the Republicans have at the moment – they may not have after the midterm elections,” Ginsburg said. “So we don’t know if the president will be successful in rushing his nominee through before the midterm. If it gets to the midterm and the balance in the Senate shifts, it will be a different story,” she added.” [Haaretz]  

Religion, The Supreme Court And Why It Matters — by Sarah McCammon and Domenico Montanaro: “For most of U.S. history, the court, like the country, was dominated by Protestant Christians. But today, it is predominantly Catholic and Jewish… As for why members of the Jewish faith have been elevated (and all by Democratic presidents), Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman said it’s partially explained by a strong pipeline of Jewish judges and professors. “The reason for that is also a little hard to pin down,” Feldman said, “except to say that academia was an area which, like many other areas of American life, was originally closed to Jews in the late 19th century.” But Feldman said law schools began opening up to Jewish professors before many other academic disciplines.” [NPR]

2018 WATCH — Holocaust Denier in California Congressional Race Leaves State G.O.P. Scrambling — by Julia Jacobs: “[John] Fitzgerald has increased the frequency of his anti-Semitic statements and has appeared on podcasts in which he claimed the Holocaust was a fabrication. “Everything we’ve been told about the Holocaust is a lie,” Mr. Fitzgerald said last week on a radio show hosted by Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, an anti-Semitic commentator who has glorified Hitler. “My entire campaign, for the most part, is about exposing this lie,” Mr. Fitzgerald said… In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Fitzgerald said that he was not surprised the Republican Party had disavowed his candidacy because both major political parties in America are run by “Jewish elitists.” [NYTimes

Progressive Democrats increasingly criticize Israel, and could reap political rewards — by Roey Hadar: “Minnesota State Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democratic candidate for the Minnesota congressional seat vacated by outgoing Rep. Keith Ellison, has gone a step further, defending her 2012 tweet in which she alleged Israel has “hypnotized the world” and committed “evil doings.” … In an interview with ABC News, Omar addressed charges of anti-Semitism from conservative critics. “These accusations are without merit. They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe,” Omar said.” [ABCNews]

PA-01: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick Moves from Toss Up to Lean Republican — by David Wasserman: “[Scott] Wallace’s general election efforts have gotten off to a very rocky start. The day after the primary, the Forward published a piece documenting that the Wallace Global Fund gave $300,000 to groups supporting the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement against Israel. Wallace says he didn’t control the expenditures and disavows BDS, but it took a month for one local Jewish Democratic group to reinstate its support for him.” [CookPolitical]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Martin Sorrell Is Gone From WPP, but That Doesn’t Mean He’s Gone Quiet [NYTimes• Univision Eyes Sale of Fusion Media Group [WSJ] • Steven Cohen is said to lose bid to open Point72 hedge fund to British investors [CNBC] • Amazon continues to profit from the sale of white-supremacist propaganda, report says [WashPost]

SPOTLIGHT: “Fake sultan was scamming a Miami billionaire. Then he ate pork” by Jay Weaver: “When Anthony Gignac set his sights on Miami, he targeted super-rich real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer of Turnberry Associates. At first, Soffer fell for the con man’s pitch to buy an interest in one of his hotels, even lavishing $50,000 in luxury gifts on the “sultan,” according to sources familiar with a federal investigation. Gignac, using the alias “Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud,” pretended he wanted to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the landmark Fontainebleau resort hotel… Over the course of events, Soffer “became increasingly wary of Gignac.” One reason for the developer’s suspicions: Gignac happily wolfed down bacon and pork products during meals, which as a devout Muslim prince should have been against his religion, according to a source with knowledge of the case.” [MiamiHerald]

DRIVING THE WEEK — The number of tech moguls chartering private jets to Sun Valley next week has become ‘chaotic’ — by Julie Bort: “The mogul event of the season will take place next week as the rich and powerful in the tech, media and finance worlds descend on Sun Valley, Idaho, for the Allen & Co.’s secretive annual conference. This year’s attendee list includes Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, GM’s Mary Barra, Slack’s Stewart Butterfield, Apple’s Tim Cook, Walt Disney’s Bob Iger and Rupert Murdoch and his sons… Both Shari Redstone and Leslie Moonves are invited, which will be interesting as the two are still locked in battle for control for CBS.” [BusinessInsider]

How to Dress Down Like a Power Player — by Vanessa Friedman: “If you want to know how to dress down like a power player during the coming vacation period, there is no better case study, thanks to the distillation of entrepreneurs, executives and influencers brought together every July by the event’s founder, Herb Allen, the better to deal-make and elephant-bump in the rarefied altitudes of the Idaho aerie.” [NYTimes]

Alan Dershowitz Is Enjoying This — by Jeremy Peters: “Alan Dershowitz is holding court on the front porch of the Chilmark General Store, talking to old friends and complete strangers, nearly all of whom stop to tell him, between sips of their iced coffee, to keep doing what he’s doing… His cellphone buzzes constantly, mostly with calls from reporters… On Thursday, a local paper, The Martha’s Vineyard Times, published the results of an informal poll that asked readers if they would invite “Dersh,” as he is known to friends, to dinner. Thirty-seven percent said they would; 63 percent said no… “I’m enjoying this,” he told me. “It’s a red badge of courage… These articles in The Times and The Globe may hurt me on Martha’s Vineyard, but they help Trump. If there’s one thing you quote me on, I want it to be that.”” [NYTimes]

Yet Another Book Takes on Impeachment: This Time, the Case Against — by Alexandra Alter and Sydney Ember: “In a telephone interview, Mr. Dershowitz said he wanted to offer a counterpoint to the raft of books arguing for the validity of impeachment… “Until I wrote the book, my comments had been in the form of three-minute television interviews and 800-word op-eds, and it’s difficult to make serious intellectual points in those formats,” he said.” [NYTimes]

— From our friends at Playbook“A quick note about Alan Dershowitz, which we hope will be among the last on this topic for a bit. Dershowitz has been fond of saying he’s a liberal Democrat who has contributed to Hillary Clinton and will work hard to get Democrats the House back in 2018. Maybe so, but he’s no big Democratic donor. He gave Clinton $2,700 in 2015, which was his last donation to a Democrat. He gave $1,200 to Joe Kennedy in 2013 and 2012.”

HOLLYWOOD — ‘Wonder Woman’s’ Gal Gadot visits children’s hospital dressed in full superhero costume — by Emily Heil: “Evidence of the filming of the “Wonder Woman” sequel has been all over the D.C./Northern Virginia area recently… And on Saturday, star Gal Gadot turned up again — this time, at Inova Children’s Hospital in Falls Church. Gadot, wearing her full Amazonian princess costume… visited with patients and staff at the facility.” [WashPost]

SPORTS BLINK: “A career-threatening injury: The rise and fall of microfracture in the NBA” by Malika Andrews: “Stoudemire, who is hoping to make an NBA comeback, pushes himself up off the floor, settles into a leather armchair and launches into how he wound up playing for a fledgling 3-on-3 summer league after a short stint in Israel. Now 35, he wants it known that his body feels better than ever. Even so, he is quick to issue warnings to his fellow players when he is asked about his experience with the once-popular microfracture knee surgery, which has become nearly obsolete in recent years.”

“You can never put a lot of trust in doctors because everyone is practicing,” Stoudemire said. “That’s why they call it practicing medicine. Everyone has opinions on your health and what you should do. For me, I was 22 years old when I had the microfracture surgery. I had no idea what it was.” He continued: “And I was one of the only success stories.” [ChicagoTribune]

BIRTHDAYS: Nobel laureate in Physics, Ben Roy Mottelson turns 92…  Former Soviet refusenik, prisoner of conscience, human rights activist, author and translator, Iosif Begun turns 86…  Constitutional law expert focused on the First Amendment and free speech, attorney at Cahill Gordon & Reindel since 1963, Floyd Abrams turns 82…  Conductor and music director of symphony orchestras in Rotterdam, Rochester, Baltimore and Zurich, David Zinman turns 82… Principal of the Business Loan Connection based in Huntington Woods. Michigan, Robert M. Rubin turns 77…  Rabbi of Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta, Rabbi Ilan D. Feldman turns 64…

Senator from South Carolina since 2003, Lindsey Graham turns 63…  Author of autobiographical memoir, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” was adapted into a film and released in 2013, Jordan Belfort turns 56… Activist short seller and editor of the online investment newsletter Citron Research, Andrew Leftturns 48…  Actor, tour guide, poet, speaker, philosopher, author and voice actor, Timothy “Speed” Levitch turns 48…  Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering national security and foreign policy, Eli Lake turns 46…  Anchor and reporter for Fox Business Network covering the NYSE, Lori Rothman turns 45… Research Analyst at global executive search firm, Egon Zehnder, Samantha Hea turns 25…  Left-handed pitcher in the Kansas City Royals organization, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Jake Kalish turns 27…