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J Street in the News
Reporting on J Street’s annual Chicago luncheon, Emily Hauser quoted former White House official David Axelrod, who said, “J Street is giving voice to the commitment that so many American Jews share to get to a two-state solution… These efforts are gaining momentum here and will add momentum to the [negotiation] process.” J Street Director of Communications and Media Relations Jessica Rosenblum said that “the growth in size and profile of the Chicago fundraiser over the years is a testament to the growing traction that the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement has gained in political circles across the country.”
Top News and Analysis
President Abbas said his peace negotiators had resigned over the lack of progress in US-brokered statehood talks clouded by Israeli settlement building. Abbas suggested the negotiations would continue even if the Palestinian peace delegation stuck to its decision. "Either we can convince it to return, and we're trying with them, or we form a new delegation," he said. Abbas said he would need about a week to resume the talks.
Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered to halt potential construction of about 24,000 homes in the West Bank, including housing tenders for the contentious E-1 area outside Jerusalem.
Netanyahu reprimanded Housing Minister Uri Ariel saying that his ministry's move to issue tenders for potential construction does not contribute to settlement, but actually damages it. When the news of the tenders broke evening, Abbas threatened to call off peace talks. He demanded Israel go back on its new settlement plans, and called for an emergency meeting in Ramallah to discuss the issue. A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that Abbas spoke to Secretary of State Kerry and other members of the Quartet, as well as Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi.
Obama seeks time from Congress for Iran diplomacy, Associated Press
The Obama administration is urging Congress to allow more time for diplomacy with Iran, but faces sharp resistance from Republican and Democratic lawmakers determined to further squeeze the Iranian economy and wary of yielding any ground in nuclear negotiations. Kerry is expected to present the administration's case to his ex-colleagues in the Senate and ask them to hold off on a package of new, tougher Iran sanctions under consideration. A House committee, meanwhile, was holding a hearing to vent its frustration with Kerry and an Obama administration they believe should adopt a far tougher line with Tehran.
A different Israeli take on Iran, Los Angeles Times
Dalia Dassa Kaye argues that “the most strident voices in Israel may be the loudest at the moment, but it's important to remember that many Israelis believe they should give the Americans a chance to strike a deal that would benefit Israel and effectively put a halt to Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon. And they believe such a deal would be far preferable to the alternatives: a military strike or the acceptance of Iran as a nuclear weapons state.
As these difficult negotiations continue, Americans need to hear more from such Israeli voices to better understand the complex landscape in Israel when it comes to Iran.”
What about US, The New York Times
Tom Friedman makes the case that “we, America, are not just hired lawyers negotiating a deal for Israel and the Sunni Gulf Arabs, which they alone get the final say on. We, America, have our own interests in not only seeing Iran’s nuclear weapons capability curtailed, but in ending the 34-year-old Iran-US cold war, which has harmed our interests and those of our Israeli and Arab friends.” Friedman adds that “pressure was never meant to be an end itself. It was meant to bring Iran in from the cold, provided it verifiably relinquished the ability to breakout with a nuclear weapon.”
A 19-year-old Israeli soldier was stabbed to death morning in an apparent terrorist attack. Medical sources said Pvt. Eden Atias of Upper Nazareth was critically wounded when he was stabbed several times by a fellow passenger, a Palestinian youth from Jenin, who was in Israel illegally. The soldier, who was on his way to his army base when the attack occurred, was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
Likud lawmakers called for Netanyahu to stop peace talks with the Palestinians after the attack.
Israel has given the European Union a final proposal for the wording of the agreement governing Israeli scientific cooperation and participation in the joint Horizon 2020 initiative. Israel’s participation in the European Union’s R&D program for the years 2014-2020, known as Horizon 2020, has become controversial because of the new European sanctions against Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line. In the new wording given to senior EU officials in Brussels, Israel has agreed for the first time to recognize the EU’s policy of not allowing the transfer of EU funding to bodies in the settlements and to accept it.
The Palestinian economy’s hard road out of isolation, Financial Times
Political uncertainty looms large over a $4 billion plan to revive the economy.
Netanyahu said that Hamas is manufacturing and storing rockets in Gaza residential areas, and although Israel will strictly uphold international law, it will not “sit on its hands” in the face of terrorist threats.
Hamas marks anniversary of 2012 Israel conflict, Associated Press
Thousands of Hamas security men staged a military parade in the Gaza Strip in a massive show of force marking the anniversary of an eight-day battle against Israel last year.
Israeli settlers in the West Bank are demanding that the government institute segregated busing in the territories in light of allegations of theft, violence, and sexual harassment by Palestinians.
After police prevented some 80 Fatah members from holding a memorial celebration to honor former PLO leader Yasser Arafat in East Jerusalem a riot broke out resulting in the use of stun grenades and at least three detainments.
‘Sanctions have cost Iran $130 billion in two years’, Times of Israel
Iran’s nuclear program has reportedly cost the Islamic Republic some $40 billion over the last 20 years, but Western sanctions levied in response have reportedly cost it more than triple that sum.
Opinion and Analysis
The Haaretz editorial board insists that “if Netanyahu is truly serious about holding negotiations with the Palestinians, he must transfer Ariel from the post of housing and construction minister and replace him with a minister whose goals are professional rather than political.”
According to Matt Surrusco, “Some may think ‘price tag’ attacks are relatively minor acts of vandalism—racially or religiously motivated hooliganism at best. But the repeating patterns of violence toward kids show a trend with a long-term goal: making daily life for Palestinians in the West Bank unbearable, and the creation of a viable Palestinian state improbable.”
“For now,” writes Ben Birnbuam, “with the military option in deep freeze, [Netanyahu] is doing all he can do: screaming at the top of his lungs, trying to stop a diplomatic train that may have already left the station.”
This deal won’t seal itself, Foreign Policy
David Rothkopf suggests that “the most critical component of this deal is not the words drafted by diplomats but what lies in the heart of the Iranians and the president of the United States.”
Encountering Peace Skeptics of 'The Israel Project', Partners for Progressive Israel
Ralph Seliger recounts a recent panel discussion sponsored by the Israel Project.
Say No to Racist in Jerusalem Mayor's Coalition, Partners for Progressive Israel
Laura Wharton says, “One can only hope that some outside pressure -- including perhaps some readers of this blog? -- will help [Jerusalem Mayor Nir] Barkat realize how damaging and dangerous it is to legitimize a man like [HaBayit HaYehudi member Aryeh] King.”