J Street Daily News Roundup 11/18/13

November 18th, 2013

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

High Time for Two States, Georgetown Hoya

Recalling a moment of choice, J Street U Georgetown Secretary Katelyn McNelis said she realized, “The conflict is not as simple as it is made out to be. I supported both Israel as a Jewish, democratic state, and the Palestinian right to self-determination. I recognized the injustice of the occupation and Israel’s right to security. I believed in the two-state solution. I was both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, and I was perfectly fine with that.”

Peace: The toughest selling job in the world, Haaretz

Colin Irwin examined the prospects for a successful public referendum on a two-state peace deal, quoting J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, who said, “The publics on both sides have hardened their positions in the last 20 years… I think the ultimate deal will involve sacrifices and compromises… all of us will have a tough selling job to do and we have to be ready to do that.”

Top News and Analysis

John Kerry to visit Israel while world powers resume talks with Iran, Haaretz

Secretary of State Kerry will be arriving in Israel on Friday to discuss the international talks on Iran’s nuclear program and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday. Kerry’s visit to Israel will coincide with the next round of talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers, which will resume Wednesday. Kerry is expected to meet with Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the officials said. He will be on standby to fly to Geneva to sign an agreement with Iran if a deal is reached while he is in Israel.

French president, in West Bank, urges Israeli settlement halt, Reuters

At a press conference with President Abbas, French President Francois Hollande said, "For the sake of peace and to reach a deal, France calls for the total and definitive end to settlement building because it compromises the two-state solution.” Abbas described settlements as "the greatest threat that could end the peace process and lead to its failure,” but reaffirmed that talks with Israel would continue for the full nine-month period agreed with the United States. Palestinian negotiators last week offered to resign in protest against Israel's settlement drive, but Palestinian officials confirmed that they would likely stay in place until they agreed to return or a new delegation was formed. Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief negotiator, said that her Palestinian counterpart was "back in business" and that talks, paused for more than a week, would resume.

Iran nuclear deal close, US officials say, Al-Monitor

US negotiators say they feel they are close to finalizing a nuclear agreement with Iran for the first time in a decade.

Iran points to possible way round nuclear sticking point, Reuters

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said on Sunday that Iran has the right to enrich uranium, but does not insist others recognize that right, in what could be a way around one of the main sticking points between Tehran and world powers in talks this week.

Push For More Sanctions On Iran Draws Scant Support In Congress, Think Progress

A letter urging the Senate to pass further sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program failed to receive half as many supporters as a letter earlier this year calling on the Obama administration to increase diplomatic overtures towards Tehran.

Not the Time to Squeeze Iran, The New York Times

The New York Times editorial board urged, “President Obama deserves more time to work out a negotiated settlement with Iran and the other major powers. If the deals falls through, or if inspections by the United Nations unearth cheating, Congress can always impose more sanctions then. But if talks fail now, Mr. Netanyahu and the hard-line interest groups will own the failure, and the rest of us will pay the price.”

No new Iran sanctions now, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times editorial board argued that “Congress should ‘calm down’ and let the negotiations continue.”


Minister says coalition will collapse over peace talks ‘sooner or later’, Times of Israel

Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri said that finding a two-state solution was imperative for Israel’s future and that “sooner or later,” the coalition would likely fall apart over the issue.

PA adviser doubts deal possible with Israel’s coalition, Times of Israel

Nimr Hamad, a political adviser to Abbas, said that he did not believe it was possible to reach an agreement with the current Israeli coalition of right-wing parties. However, Hamad also indicated that if the two sides did reach understandings on questions of security and territory, other thorny issues, especially the return of refugees, could be discussed after the nine-month period allotted for negotiations.

Housing minister vows to continue building in settlements, Times of Israel

Housing Minister Uri Ariel promised to keep pushing construction plans for settlement units in the West Bank, despite world criticism.

Senior IDF officer: Recent anti-Palestinian attack could spark terror in West Bank, Haaretz

A senior Israel Defense Forces officer warned that an incident such as last Wednesday's suspected arson attack on the home of a Palestinian family could have a potentially destructive effect on events in the West Bank. If a child had been seriously injured in the incident, it could have “raised new motivation for terror,” the officer said. When asked whether this was the brink of another intifada, the officer said it was not. While there had been a rise in dramatic incidents, he said, there had been no increase in the throwing of stones and incendiary devices, and that “the Palestinian public does not want to go back 10 years.”

Senior Likudniks react angrily to PA payouts to freed terrorists, Jerusalem Post

Likud lawmakers reacted angrily to news that the Palestinian Authority offered financial compensation to prisoners released by Israel as part of its deal with Secretary of State Kerry.

Opinion and Analysis

Something for Barack and Bibi to Talk About, The New York Times

Tom Friedman reviews Ari Shavit’s new book, “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.”

What if peace talks fail?, Jerusalem Post

“Breakdowns, threats of leaving the table, the resignation of negotiators – these are all common tactics employed in negotiations,” says Gershon Baskin. “The last days, hours, even minutes on the ticking clock are the best moment to squeeze additional concessions from your opponent before signing on the dotted line.”

The stakes of an Iranian deal, Washington Post

David Ignatius suggests that “Israel and Saudi Arabia would love to scuttle an American rapprochement with an Iran they regard as a deadly adversary. But if Obama presses ahead, Netanyahu is bidding to replace the United States as military protector of the status quo, including the security of the Gulf Arabs.”

Talking or walking, New Yorker

Laura Secor writes, “Iran came to Geneva for the same reason that the six world powers did: because its leaders believe that they can get something they require at an acceptable cost. These are the conditions that make diplomacy possible, and it has taken ten years to produce them. The United States can use them to secure an imperfect peace. Or it can start over by increasing the pressure on Iran and demanding unconditional surrender. If it chooses the latter, it will avoid a compromise, but it may find itself left with a choice between an unmonitored Iranian nuclear program and war.”

Olmert at Dartmouth College: A Blunt Defense of Kerry's Peace Process, Open Zion

Bernard Avishai discusses former Prime Minister Olmert’s comments at Dartmouth.

Klein Halevi: Brilliant writer, and sucker for 'centrism', Partners for Progressive Israel

Ralph Seliger says that Yossi “Klein Halevi reflects Israel's political paralysis, with a moderation that is stuck because he and most Israelis don't trust the Palestinians enough to move against the pro-settler right in a decisive way.”

Deep concern, Jerusalem Post

James Adler writes in a letter that “Jews were never the affront [to the Palestinians]. The affront is settlers from an occupying state.”