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J Street in the News
J Street is delving into grassroots activism with the 2 Campaign, a million-dollar bid to rally support for a two-state solution. At one of their Town Hall events in Boston, supporters waved signs that read, “I’m a part of the Great Constituency for Peace” and “2 States for 2 Peoples.” Attendee Fran Price said, “I see the extreme effort [Secretary of State] Kerry is making and I think it’s now or never and I need to involve myself… Pessimism is the easy way out because it gets you off the hook.”
Obama administration officials briefed Jewish and Arab-American student leaders on the peace process. Among the participants in Thursday’s three-hour White House briefing were students affiliated with Hillel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, J Street and Americans for Peace Now.
The Triumph and Tragedy of Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land, The Daily Beast
Sol Stern said that “before publication [of “My Promised Land,” Ari Shavit] told friends that his book was positioned to appeal to hard line supporters of Israel as well as dovish groups, like J Street, more critical of Israeli government policies. Each side, he hoped, would find something in the book that appealed to their own perspectives on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
Top News and Analysis
Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with President Obama at the White House on March 3, to discuss efforts to formulate a framework agreement between Israelis and Palestinians and talks between six world powers and Iran aimed at securing a final deal on the latter's nuclear program. The White House overnight issued a rare denial of a report that said that Kerry sought but failed to get a "green light" from Obama to confront Israel over the framework agreement's content. "Any notion that Secretary Kerry failed to obtain the President's backing for his efforts is totally false," said National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan. "President Obama remains fully invested in Secretary Kerry's tireless work on behalf of peace, and those efforts are not focused on confronting the parties - they are aimed at bridging differences and developing a framework for negotiation on the core issues.”
The UN nuclear watchdog signaled its determination on Monday to get to the bottom of suspicions that Iran may have worked on designing an atomic bomb, a day after Tehran agreed to start addressing the sensitive issue. Chief UN nuclear inspector Tero Varjoranta said progress had been good during February 8-9 talks in Tehran but that much work remained in clarifying concerns of possible military links to Iran's nuclear program, in an investigation which Western diplomats say Tehran has stonewalled for years.
Closing In on Basic Mideast Principles, The New York Times
Stressing that the framework agreement would “be an important step” toward a two-state solution, The New York Times editorial board urged “Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas [to] have the courage to follow through.”
John Kerry, a secretary on a mission, Washington Post
Kerry said in an interview with David Ignatius that Netanyahu and Abbas must be able to express reservations with the framework document “to politically be able to keep the negotiations moving… For them as leaders to be able to embrace an endgame, they need to have the right to be able to have some objection.”
Netanyahu convened a meeting Sunday evening to discuss how to cope with the growing threat of the economic boycott on Israel in light of continued occupation and settlement construction in the West Bank.
In a debate with Knesset colleagues, Justice Minister Minister Tzipi Livni noted that on the matter of Palestinian recognition of Israel as the “national state for the Jews… you're in for a surprise.”
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, “I have no doubt that it is possible” to evacuate 80,000 settlers from the West Bank in the event of a peace deal. Olmert said when the moment for an agreement arrives, he believes the issue will be solved to Israel's satisfaction.
Liberman: I want a Palestinian deal, but not at any price, Times of Israel
Responding to critics in HaBayit HaYehudi who said he “is to the left of Livni,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he wants a deal with the Palestinians, but not at “any price.”
Leader of left accuses Kerry of major mistakes in peace process, Jerusalem Post
Meretz leader Zehava Galon said that “the US is surrendering to rejectionists on both sides by letting them express reservations. A framework with reservations is a farce. It will allow everything the Americans did so far to fall by the wayside, while both sides stall without paying a political price."
Ministers reject Regev proposal to annex West Bank settlements, Jerusalem Post
Ministers voted down a bill sponsored by Likud MK Miri Regev to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Finance Ministry asks settler councils for financial records, Jerusalem Post
The Finance Ministry has asked the heads of settler local and regional councils to submit a report detailing how state funds have been sent and how much money has been given to the political arm of the movement — the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria.
Defense Minister Ya’alon wrote the attorney general a few weeks ago that he would show “zero tolerance” for illegal construction on private Palestinian land.
Videos uploaded to YouTube on Saturday show settlers attacking left-wing activists using stones and a stick. The videos show an Israeli military force witnessing the incident, but making only a limited attempt to stop the violence.
Fatah delegation meets with Haniyeh in Gaza, Jerusalem Post
A high-level Fatah delegation met Sunday in the Gaza Strip with Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh and discussed with him ways of ending the rivalry between the two parties.
Rocket fired from Gaza falls near Ashkelon, Times of Israel
A missile launched from the Gaza Strip landed in an open area and did not cause injuries or damage, a day after an Israeli Air Force strike hit a Palestinian terrorist allegedly responsible for multiple attacks against Israel.
Opinion and Analysis
Secretary of State Kerry deserves respect and gratitude, Jerusalem Post
Peter Joseph and Charles Bronfman write, “Israel should be grateful for Secretary Kerry’s resolve. The American secretary of state has proven himself to be a true and loyal friend of Israel.”
Yossi Beilin argues that “the US has a huge stake in the peace deal” and can absolutely want peace more than the parties themselves.
Shlomo Brom predicts that “the two parties could find themselves in a situation in which they are forced to accept the set of principles - albeit with many reservations - because they cannot place the blame only on the other side.”
Nathan Jeffay examines the possibility of some Israeli settlers remaining in a Palestinian state.
According to Chemi Shalev, “Rather than safeguarding them for a critical crunch time, Israel and its lobby appear to be squandering their precious reserves of political goodwill and political impact on petulant sideshows and roads that lead nowhere.”
Whose garbage is it anyway?, The New York Times
“Mother Nature laughs at our ‘green lines,’” writes Thomas Friedman.
Is it possible to be pro-Israel and pro-Palestine?, Huffington Post
Brandon Faske argues that “support for Israel and for the rights of Palestinians is not mutually exclusive.”
Frankly Scarlett, You Should Give a Damn, American Prospect
Gershom Gorenberg says that both Netanyahu and Scarlett Johansson are “displaying the ability to act clueless about the suddenly snowballing economic boycott of Israeli settlements.”
Is There any Room for Optimism?, Partners for Progressive Israel
Paul Scham suggests reasons for optimism regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace.