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J Street in the News
White House suggests Iran sanctions bill could draw US into war, Los Angeles Times
“Several liberal pro-Israel groups, including J Street and Americans for Peace Now, are urging lawmakers to vote against” the Senate Iran sanctions bill. National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said that if supporters of the bill “want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American people and say so… Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to continue.”
“Dovish Jewish groups such as J Street and Americans for Peace Now oppose the bill.”
J Street honored the memory of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, “a soldier and statesman who left an indelible mark on Israel and the Middle East.”
“J Street, the left-wing pro-Israel advocacy organization, said in a statement that ‘Sharon deserves credit for the intellectual journey he took during his life and for having the courage to lead. His incapacitation, when at the height of his powers, leaves the challenge of making peace to be fulfilled by his successors, notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.’”
Ariel Sharon - Among Israel’s Greatest Leaders - z’l, Jewish Journal
J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove wrote, “Sharon will go down in Jewish history, and deservedly so, as one of Israel’s greatest leaders. We may never see another leader like him again.”
Top News and Analysis
Iran nuclear deal to take effect on , Reuters
A deal between Iran and six major powers intended to pave the way to a solution to a long standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions will come into force on . Shortly after the interim accord takes effect, Tehran and world powers will start negotiating a final settlement of their differences about activity the West suspects is aimed at obtaining a nuclear weapons capability.
A US official said that Iran would receive the first $550 million installment of a total of $4.2 billion in previously blocked overseas funds on or about .
Israel paid homage to Sharon at the first of two funeral services being held for a man celebrated as a war hero at home but seen by many in the Arab world as a war criminal. Vice President Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined the somber ceremony in front of the Israeli parliament, Sharon's coffin draped in Israel's blue and white flag, bathed in winter sunshine. "We are accompanying to his final resting place today, a soldier, an exceptional soldier, a commander who knew how to win," said Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Kerry says Israeli-Palestinian peace process at 'critical point', Jerusalem Post
Secretary of State Kerry told Arab League foreign ministers in Paris late that Washington was determined to bring Israel and the Palestinians together in an effort to end the decades-long conflict. “We really are at a critical point, as Palestinians and Israeli leaders grapple with difficult and challenging decisions that lie ahead," Kerry said. "The Arab foreign ministers made clear to me that they support Israeli and Palestinian leaders’ efforts to take the next bold, courageous steps of agreeing to a framework for permanent status negotiations.” Prior to Kerry's meetings with Arab League officials, State Department aides denied that efforts were under way to get the league to alter its 2002 peace initiative and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, thereby paving the way for the Palestinians to do the same.
President Abbas said that “Al-Quds [the Arabic name for Jerusalem] and everything that was conquered in the 1967 war is part of the Palestinian state.” Abbas emphasized that Arab League foreign ministers would tell Kerry that no peace agreement will be reached without East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.
Ben Birnbaum writes, “As Secretary of State John Kerry continues his push for a framework agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the ghost of Sharon hangs over his longtime Likud rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Ariel Sharon never changed, Bloomberg
“Netanyahu grasps the same reality Sharon grasped 10 years ago,” says Jeffrey Goldberg. “Continued settlement of the West Bank, and continued entanglement of Israel in the lives of millions of Palestinians, will eventually be his country’s undoing. A way out must be found. It is a good thing that Netanyahu isn’t a bulldozer; he would never execute a withdrawal from the West Bank in the sort of precipitous, blundering Sharon-like way that would increase the danger for Israel. But he might never do it at all. If Sharon had not been stricken eight years ago, Israel might today already be out of the West Bank. It is up to Netanyahu now to save the Jewish state.”
There Are No Good Arguments For New Iran Sanctions, Think Progress
According to Matt Duss, Senator “Menendez and other supporters of the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act may not desire a war with Iran, but there’s no question that it makes that outcome more likely.”
Vice President Biden will hold talks with Israeli leaders during a visit to the Jewish state as head of a US delegation to Sharon's funeral .
Ministers reject bill to disallow talks on Jerusalem, refugees, Times of Israel
A bill that would prohibit the prime minister from negotiating with the Palestinians on the issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees without prior consent from the Knesset was rejected by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
One week after Foreign Minister Lieberman said Israel must accept Kerry’s proposal for a framework agreement with the Palestinians, his deputy, Zeev Elkin said that Kerry's deal must be rejected if it is detrimental to Israel and its people.
US, EU, Palestinians: Tenders for homes harmful to peace, Jerusalem Post
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “We consider now and have always considered the settlements to be illegitimate, and we express that, of course, on a regular basis, as needed… But the reality is both sides remain committed to discussing the framework, committed to moving forward, and we’ll keep working with them.” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that “the settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make the two-state solution impossible.”
Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi denounced Israel's demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state, calling it an attempt to “legalize racism.” Ashrawi said Israel wants to "create a narrative that denies the Palestinian presence, rights, and continuity on the historic Palestinian lands.”
Following the incident in which the tires of Brig. Gen. Yoav Yarom, were slashed while he was in a meeting with the head of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, IDF soldiers serving in the West Bank expressed frustration regarding the double bind into which they are forced.
Two rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, hours before Sharon's burial, Associated Press
The IDF said two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip just hours ahead of Sharon's funeral morning, but they did not appear to have landed in Israel.
Arab world marks death of Sharon ‘the butcher’, Times of Israel
Palestinian and Arab leaders and media marked Sharon’s death with an outpouring of disgust for the man they termed a “criminal” and “butcher.”
US cables, Palestinian papers quote then-Israeli prime minister eyeing negotiated withdrawals from West Bank.
Netanyahu and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will both attend the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos this month.
Opinion and Analysis
In tributes to Sharon, a not-so-subtle message for Netanyahu, Times of Israel
Raphael Ahren noted that “world leaders seized the opportunity to eulogize the late leader to send a not-so-subtle message to current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Just as Arik, the ‘father of the settlement movement,’ turned a new leaf and withdrew from Jewish settlements, so can you — or so you must, they seemed to say.”
Defining the Endgame of the Peace Process, Huffington Post
Calling the framework agreement “a political project that's worthy of Kerry's air miles,” Michael Auerbach and Markus Bouillon urge, “the Secretary of State deserves support from all quarters as he presses forward with negotiations.”
Take a deep breath, Huffington Post
James Zogby suggests that Israel watchers “take a deep breath and not overreact to rumors and the hyperventilations of the Israeli right. This story is not over yet.”
Ariel Sharon's Legacy of Separation, Atlantic
“The paradox of Sharon’s legacy is that he was a man of action whose policies made complacency possible,” writes Geoffrey Levin.
Netanyahu vs. the negotiations, Haaretz
The Haaretz editorial board argues, “Netanyahu’s declaration and conduct strengthen the impression that he isn’t as interested in a peace agreement as he is in evading one in an ‘honorable’ manner that will avoid getting Israel blamed for foiling it. Netanyahu refuses to understand that even if he succeeds, Israel will pay a heavy price for this evasion, a price that he will be unable to hide.”