J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street's positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.
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J Street in the News
The sound of J Street clapping, Times of Israel
Comparing critics of J Street to a “clapometer,” J Street Vice President of Communications Alan Elsner wrote, “opponents of the two-state solution in Israel and the United States have to reckon with a new reality – a well-organized, vibrant, energetic organization backed by tens of thousands of activists committed to supporting the peace negotiations that speaks for the vast majority of American Jews… they can pontificate about the organization to their hearts content… [In the] meantime, we’ll be moving ahead to build Secretary of State John Kerry’s ‘great constituency for peace.’”
Marblehead resident rallies in DC for Middle East peace, Marblehead Reporter
As political crisis loomed in the nation’s capital, Marblehead resident Lynn Nadeau traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the J Street national conference as part of a delegation of over 150 “pro-Israel, pro-peace” activists from the Greater Boston area and over 2,800 from across the United States, Israel and beyond.
Laura Rozen reported that US Envoy Martin Indyk, who addressed the J Street conference last week, is expanding his negotiating team as the US prepares to intensify its role facilitating Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
In an interview with David Glass, Akiva Eldar noted that “Knesset member Yitzhak Vaknin (of Shas) would not have attended the recent J Street conference in Washington against [Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s] wishes.”
“Indyk said at a J Street conference in Washington last week that ‘at the negotiators level, the parties have engaged in direct, bilateral negotiations. We've agreed that those talks should now be intensified and American involvement should be increased to facilitate these discussions.’”
Top News and Analysis
Israel has reportedly rejected a request by the Palestinian and American governments that the planned release of a second group of Palestinian prisoners be moved up by two and a half weeks. The release was originally scheduled to take place on . But the Palestinians wanted it moved up to coincide with the Feast of the Sacrifice, which begins . Prime Minister Netanyahu has told both the United States and the Palestinian Authority recently that he will release the prisoners as scheduled, despite the escalation in anti-Israel terror attacks over the last month and the right’s demands that the release be canceled. But he would not agree to advance it, according to a senior official briefed on the issue. He said the prisoners would be released strictly according to the understandings and the timetable agreed on before the talks began.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced that he opposes a demand set by Netanyahu that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state be a condition for any future peace deal. The finance minister voiced support for a two-state solution, but stopped short of describing how he sees a final peace agreement with the Palestinians, saying negotiations were underway and that the only one authorized to disclose details was Kerry. Therefore, he refused to answer whether he would insist on an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley. He did say, however, that he rejects the dividing of Jerusalem, adding that he believes the Palestinians will eventually give up their demands concerning Israel's capital.
Iran Readies Offer to Limit Its Nuclear Program, Wall Street Journal
Iran is preparing a package of proposals to halt production of near-weapons-grade nuclear fuel, a key demand of the US and other global powers, according to officials briefed on diplomacy ahead of talks in Geneva next week. Tehran in return will request that the US and European Union begin scaling back sanctions that have left it largely frozen out of the international financial system and isolated its oil industry, the officials said.
Obama Expected to Reduce Military Aid to Egypt, The New York Times
The Obama administration plans to suspend a substantial portion of American military aid to Egypt , several administration officials said , after last summer’s deadly crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and the recent surge in violence there.
Beyond negotiation fetishism, Cairo Review of Global Affairs
Breaking the current impasse requires challenging the exclusivity of direct, bilateral talks,” argues Assaf Sharon. “The Americans in particular cannot remain idle facilitators, whose only role is to get the parties into the room and keep them there as long as possible. Washington must have a role inside the room as well, laying out clear benchmarks and providing credible carrots and sticks. This may mean, for example, that the Americans commit to putting a plan of their own on the table should negotiations prove unsuccessful. If they do not, they risk falling prey to the folly of doing the same thing and expecting different results.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said in Rome that settlement “construction is not an obstacle to peace… As far as Israel is concerned, Judea and Samaria are not occupied territory, but disputed territory.”
Top PLO official dubs Netanyahu ‘number one extremist’, Times of Israel
A senior Palestinian official dubbed Netanyahu “a racist” and “the number one extremist in Israel,” in light of the prime minister’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of Jewish people.
Make Barghouti your deputy, Fatah leaders urge Abbas, Times of Israel
Several senior Fatah party officials have reportedly urged President Abbas to appoint former Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouti — who is serving five life sentences for murder in an Israeli prison — as his vice president. Such a move could aim to expedite Barghouti’s release and line him up to be Abbas’s eventual successor.
Hamas is struggling to meet its payroll in the Gaza Strip, where income from taxes has been badly hit since neighboring Egypt started destroying a network of tunnels used to smuggle food, fuel and weapons into the Islamist-run enclave.
Defense Minister Ya’alon met Secretary of Defense Hagel at the Pentagon for talks on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons and pressure over Iran's nuclear program.
Hagel told Ya'alon that while the United States intended to consider the prospect for a diplomatic solution regarding Iran, it remained clear-eyed about the challenges ahead and would not waver from its firm policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Ya’alon, meanwhile, warned that the sanctions against Iran would completely collapse should the world powers agree to ease any of the measures.
Opinion and Analysis
A leadership of gloom and doom, Haaretz
The Haaretz editorial board warned that “the gravity of Netanyahu’s message goes beyond the bounds of the negotiating room; it affects every citizen of Israel: If the country is headed for destruction and ruin, or at least for perpetual war with the heirs of the Nazis, one can understand why young people are seeking their future elsewhere.”
Bibi digs in, but ground is shifting, Haaretz
According to Shaul Arieli, if Netanyahu “wants to deceive the 60 percent of the Israeli public that support the two-state solution, then he must stick to that idea and prepare politically and physically for the separation from the Palestinians within the framework of an agreement. And if this is not achieved, then he must formulate - in coordination with the Americans - a unilateral plan for separation from the Palestinians.”