J Street Daily News Roundup 11/25/13

November 25th, 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.

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Please email newsroundup@jstreet.org

Help us reach 20,000! Tell your friends to like us on Facebook!

J Street in the News

J Street Sees Iran Agreement as Positive First Step, J Street

J Street welcomed the agreement reached in Geneva by the P5+1 and Iran as a significant first step in efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It urged Congress to get behind this agreement and continue to give our negotiators the time and space they need to complete a comprehensive and verifiable agreement with Iran that will lift the nuclear threat from the region and the world.

The Iran Deal Puts Pro-Israel Democrats in a Bind, National Journal

“Most also reluctantly acknowledge the growing influence of a faction within the Democratic Party that is more critical of the two countries' close relationship. Within the Jewish community, that faction is represented by J Street, which positions itself as the home for ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans’ and supports the Iran negotiations. ‘Organizations that claim to represent the American Jewish community are undermining [Obama's] approach by pushing for new and harsher penalties against Iran,’ the group wrote in an action alert to its members.”

J Street welcomes deal, WJC calls Tehran’s promises worthless, Jerusalem Post

“Washington DC-based lobby group J Street said on their website they ‘welcome the agreement... as a first significant step in efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.’ The group said it ‘urges Congress to get behind this agreement.’”

Republicans blast deal, consider next step, Times of Israel

“Dovish Israel lobby J Street threw its weight behind the agreement, which it called a ‘significant first step.’’Secretary of State John Kerry, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and their negotiating partners deserve our thanks for their clear-eyed pursuit of a diplomatic resolution, which remains the most desirable way to achieve the shared goal of the US, Israel and all parties with a stake in the security and stability of the Middle East,’ the group said in a statement.”

Nuclear breakout possible in two months, group warns, Times of Israel

“Across the political spectrum, J Street quickly welcomed the announcement, arguing in a statement that ‘the accord has several very important provisions that will effectively freeze Iran’s program and begin to roll it back.’”

Local leaders warn about deal easing sanctions on Iranians, New Jersey Jewish News

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that he agrees with critics who do not trust the Iranian government. They are “absolutely right to ask for the most intrusive possible inspections, and to ask for verification of what’s going on,” he said. “You cannot just trust; you’ve got to verify.” However, he said, the only way to avoid war “is to have a negotiated agreement” by reducing the sanctions gradually.

The Mitzvah of Diplomacy and the “2 Campaign of J Street”, Jewish Journal

“Each of these [diplomatic] successes, despite them being imperfect, is a mitzvah because each pursues and effects the fulfillment of our duty to save lives,” wrote J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove. He urged readers to “become part of the solution” and join J Street’s 2 Campaign in support of Middle East peace negotiations.

Top News and Analysis

Longer-Term Deal With Iran Faces Major Challenges, The New York Times

The Obama administration’s successful push for an accord that would temporarily freeze much of Iran’s nuclear program has cast a spotlight on the more formidable challenge it now confronts in trying to roll the program back.

Obama tells Netanyahu: Israel has good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions, Haaretz

A few hours after Prime Minister Netanyahu went before the cameras to blast the interim nuclear deal reached with Iran, he received a phone call from President Obama, who told Netanyahu that he wants Israel and the US to begin consultations with regard to a permanent agreement with Iran.

Labor MK: Compared to strike, deal is ‘far superior’, Times of Israel

Some prominent Israeli voices, including a former foreign minister and top analysts, have welcomed the agreement, emphasizing that it entails significant impediments for Tehran’s race to nuclear weapons and is far preferable to a military confrontation.

Exclusive: Burns led secret US back channel to Iran, Al-Monitor

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns led a secret US back channel to Iran going back to before the June election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, US officials said. Burns was tapped to lead the US diplomatic effort to establish a bilateral channel with Iran, which gained momentum after the exchange of letters between Obama and Rouhani in early August.

Abbas says willing to address Knesset on own terms, Jerusalem Post

President Abbas said he is willing to address the Knesset on the issues he wants to speak about, which are not necessarily in line with those insisted on by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Livni calls on Labor's Herzog to join forces to advance peace process, Haaretz

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni called on newly elected Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog on Monday to form a political alliance with her Hatnua party, in order to counter the alliance between Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and HaBayit HaYehudi chief Naftali Bennett. On Saturday, Herzog declared that he would not join the Netanyahu government, which he called “paralyzed,” saying that such a move “would not be logical for us.”

Israel’s Iran dilemma, The New York Times

Roger Cohen stresses, “This is the best deal that could be had. Nothing, not even sustained Israeli bombardment, can reverse the nuclear know-how Iran possesses. The objective must be to ring-fence the acquired capability so its use can only be peaceful.”

Getting to Yes With Iran, The New York Times

The New York Times editorial board says “the new agreement offers more hope than ever before that the United States and Iran can find common ground.”

An Iran deal worth trying — risks and all, Washington Post

Calling the agreement “worthy as an interim step — and preferable to the military action that might otherwise have been deemed necessary," the Washington Post editorial board says, “lawmakers would be wise to refrain from imposing sanctions that take effect while negotiations proceed.”

The next deal with Iran, Bloomberg

According to the Bloomberg editorial board, “Increased sanctions pressure (from the US and its allies) and rapid progress in developing a nuclear program (in Iran) brought Iran and much of the rest of the world to a fork in the road: One path, increased sanctions, would lead to eventual airstrikes, a cycle of retaliation and a delay in Iran’s nuclear progress. The second path, a diplomatic agreement, would result in limiting and monitoring Iran’s program. The latter was easily the better choice, and it appears to have been made possible by some secret backroom diplomacy  for which the Obama administration deserves credit."

Give Iran deal a chance, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board calls the Geneva agreement an “historic event,” and warns that Netanyahu’s “automatic opposition” is “destructive” to Israel.

Israeli Intel: Kvetching Aside, Iran Deal 'Pretty Good', Forward

JJ Goldberg reports that “the word from the intelligence community, both publicly  and in private conversations, is that the [Iran] deal is ‘a pretty good one as far as it goes.’... One key question Israel’s security establishment is asking itself right now is how wisely Netanyahu is behaving as he protests the agreement.”

A good deal: Geneva pact distances Iran from nuclear bomb, Haaretz

“Despite the irate responses from the Prime Minister’s Office to the agreement signed in Geneva early Sunday between Iran and six world powers, the deal is not really a bad one,” writes Barak Ravid. “Even from an Israeli perspective, it is actually a reasonable deal. Maybe even a good one.”

John Kerry will not be denied, Reuters

David Rohde concludes that “secretary of state is the job for which Kerry was born and bred.”


Former army intel chief: Iran deal better than alternative - no deal, Haaretz

Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said, “Though we don't like this agreement, it's better than the alternative of no agreement, and obligates us to make every effort to ensure that the agreement six months from now rolls back the Iranian nuclear program… It is possible that had there been no agreement, [Iran] would have decided to make the breakthrough to a bomb.”

Herzog: Netanyahu sowing ‘unnecessary panic’ on Iran, Times of Israel

In a first policy statement since his election last week, Herzog on Monday blasted Netanyahu’s policy toward the Iranian nuclear deal.”

Zarif: Deal will be void if Congress imposes new sanctions, Jerusalem Post

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Iran will not honor the interim nuclear agreement if the US Congress imposes new sanctions on Iran.

Palestinian Authority hopes Iran nuclear deal prompts greater int'l involvement in peace process, Jerusalem Post

The Palestinian Authority expressed hope that the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the six world powers would prompt the international community to play a larger role in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Utopian Thinkers Plan for Future One-State Israel Solution — If It Comes, Forward

With Middle East peace talks now nearing the halfway point in the nine months Kerry has given them to succeed, the one-state advocates say that now is the time to develop their proposals, however implausible they currently seem.

Israel approves 799 housing units in West Bank, Haaretz

Less than two weeks after Netanyahu called off planning for 24,000 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Civil Administration has approved the construction of 799 units in the West Bank.

Unclear and present danger: Israel facing growing threat of non-organized terrorism, Haaretz

Actions by individuals unconnected to terror organizations present a new challenge for Israeli security forces.

Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu staying together - for now, Jerusalem Post

The central committee of Yisrael Beiteinu voted Sunday to temporarily maintain the party's bond with Likud at Netanyahu’s request.

Opinion and Analysis

Is the Iran Deal Obama's Nixon-in-China Moment?, The Atlantic

Michael Hirsch predicts the agreement with Iran “could potentially transform the entire region.”

A worthy leap of faith, Forward

The Forward editorial board contends that the Geneva agreement “may turn out to be a ‘historic mistake’ but the odds are greater that it will lead to a historic breakthrough – confirmation that patient diplomacy backed up by economic punishment is the more successful alternative to military threats, even when dealing with one of the world’s most dangerous regimes.”

In Iran, Obama Achieves 50 Percent of His Goals, Bloomberg

Suggesting that Obama has succeeded in preventing an Israeli strike on Iran, Jeffrey Goldberg writes, “Contra Netanyahu, who unrealistically seeks only total Iranian capitulation, it isn’t stupid for Obama to find out for sure what, if anything, the Iranians are willing to give up for good.”

Can Netanyahu turn interim failure into end-game success?, Times of Israel

Raphael Ahrens warns that “if Netanyahu continues to pursue a zero-sum strategy — insisting that everything but Iran giving up its nuclear program entirely is a bad deal — he might well face further failure, at the permanent rather than the interim level.”

Defending Israel with one hand tied behind our back, Haaretz

Mick Davis argues, “If Israel’s leadership articulated a… reinvigorated, public and sustained expression of a two state vision… it would boost the Diaspora’s diplomatic arsenal immeasurably. Without that vision, however, we are fighting with one hand tied behind our back.”

When Israel’s Military Experts Disagree, Open Zion

Emily Hauser discusses disagreement over the peace process between Defense Minister Ya’alon and Science Minister Yaakov Peri.

Israel's Labor Party wants power, Al-Monitor

“The Labor Party has been restored to its previous incarnation — a possible platform for a Netanyahu coalition, if and when Bibi decides he truly wants to make a diplomatic move,” says Ben Caspit.

Bibi's (and Israel's) Coming Moment of Decision, Partners for Progressive Israel

Paul Scham expresses hope that Netanyahu “realizes in time that the peace talks are not only about the future shape of Israel but, even more, about its soul.”