J Street Daily News Roundup 1/14/14

January 14th, 2014

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

J Street Calls on Senate to Give Iran Nuclear Agreement a Chance, J Street

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that “the US Senate should give [the interim nuclear] agreement a chance to work, and negotiators a chance to achieve a permanent, comprehensive agreement that resolves the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically.”

Jeremy Ben-Ami speaks on the two-state solution, Arizona Jewish Life

Ben-Ami said an interview that “a two-state solution is the only pragmatic resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the only solution that will ensure Israel’s long-term security and interests in the region. The US needs to push both sides to achieve a negotiated agreement. J Street is the only American advocacy organization solely focused on achieving this goal.”

DeGioia Rejects Israeli Academic Boycott, Georgetown Hoya

After Georgetown University’s president rejected the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel, J Street U Georgetown President Jake Sorrells said, “I think that the boycott actually exacerbates a lot of the tensions between the two sides… It allows a lot of the animosity, racism and ignorance that is driving this conflict to fester because the more people aren’t interacting with each other through dialogue, the more misconceptions about the other are really able to thrive… I agree with the frustration and aggravation that is behind the boycott and that in some ways it is well meaning. But I don’t think it’s the right tactic to go about achieving meaningful change.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden to Netanyahu: Obama stands behind Kerry's peace efforts, Haaretz

Vice President Biden passed a message to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday from President Obama, saying the latter fully supports Secretary of State Kerry's diplomatic initiative to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. A US official said that Biden “made it clear that the United States places extremely high value on reaching an agreement that produces two states living side by side in peace and security, but also just underscoring how important Israel’s security requirements are for us.” In recent days, Defense Minister Ya'alon has criticized Kerry, calling him "obsessive and messianic" and saying he hopes "Kerry gets a Nobel Prize and leaves us alone."

Iran deal progress dampens push for new US sanctions bill, Reuters

Obama is more likely to win his battle with the US Congress to keep new sanctions on Iran at bay now that world powers and Tehran have made a new advance in talks to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

IAEA says Iran asked for nuclear talks postponement to February 8, Reuters

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday a planned meeting with Iran next week to discuss steps meant to ease concerns over its nuclear program has been pushed back to February 8 at Tehran's request.

Another Step Toward Nuclear Sanity in Iran, The New York Times

The New York Times editorial board argues, “There are no guarantees that the next six months will produce a final deal that permanently restrains Iran from a nuclear weapon, but the interim deal at least offers hope for one. Conversely, if negotiations fail — which would surely happen if Congress ties Mr. Obama’s hands — Iran is likely to embark on an even more aggressive search for a nuclear weapon. And that could leave war as the only option.”

Iran sanctions bill makes no sense, USA Today

The USA Today editorial board says that passing the sanctions legislation “virtually guarantees an end to negotiations and a quick path to war.”


EU's Ashton Plans to Visit Iran 'in the Next Weeks', The New York Times

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she would visit Tehran in the coming weeks.

New Iran agreement includes secret side deal, Tehran official says, Los Angeles Times

Iran’s chief negotiator said that key elements of a new nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers are contained in an informal, 30-page text not yet publicly acknowledged by Western officials. A State Department spokesperson denied that there was any secret agreement.

IAEA gains more Iran access, but not enough for bomb probe, Reuters

The IAEA’s increased access in Iran still falls short of what it says it needs to investigate suspicions that Tehran may have worked on designing an atomic bomb. It is also a far cry from the wide-ranging inspection powers the International Atomic Energy Agency had in Iraq in the 1990s to help unearth and dismantle Saddam Hussein's clandestine nuclear program after the first Gulf war. Nevertheless, the IAEA will see its role in Iran expand significantly under the November 24 interim accord between the country and the six major powers, the implementation of which will start next Monday.

Secretary of State Kerry to visit Vatican, Associated Press

Kerry will visit the Vatican on Tuesday to discuss the Middle East peace process, poverty and humanitarian issues. After Rome, Kerry is to travel on to Kuwait City for a donor's conference on the crisis in Syria.

Palestinians mull plan for day after breakdown in peace talks, Haaretz

The Palestinian leadership met on Monday night to discuss scenarios in the event of a breakdown of talks with Israel. A senior Palestinian official said President Abbas is intent on keeping to the timeframe allocated for the talks, but in the event that a deal is not reached, which could include an agreement to extend the deadline, the Palestinian leadership will have no option but to turn to unilateral actions at the United Nations.

Israel can risk leaving Jordan Valley, ex-generals tell ‘Post’, Jerusalem Post

Three former IDF generals said that Israel can gradually relinquish control of the Jordan Valley as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians and manage the subsequent security risks. They cast doubt on the claim that the Jordan Valley is today an essential strategic asset.

Michael Oren: If Peace Talks Fail, Israel Should Withdraw from West Bank, Tablet

Former Ambassador to the US Michael Oren suggested that if peace talks fail, Israel could unilaterally withdraw from “Palestinian population centers in the West Bank.”

Bennett likens Abbas to Arafat, calls for annexation of most of West Bank, Jerusalem Post

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett denounced Abbas on Tuesday as “no different than [his predecessor] Yasser Arafat,” and that Israel would be better off annexing large swaths of the West Bank in order to safeguard its security needs.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Ariel Sharon, who said 'no' to the settlers, was my hero, Haaretz

Rabbi Eric Yoffie writes that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was his hero because he “stood up to the fanatics and said that they would not determine Israel’s destiny. He proclaimed that permanent occupation was unacceptable and believed, rightly, that if he made the case, the citizens of Israel would follow him.”

Ariel Sharon’s journey from soldier to statesman, Washington Post

According to Henry Kissinger, “With another peace process underway, one needs to respect the courage of those who are willing to brave it in light of so many disappointments. It must be conducted both with commitment to the process and with a recollection of unfulfilled hopes. The vision of peace must be coupled with a determination not to permit the peace process to be turned into another form of warfare. An outcome must not only draw lines of territorial divisions but also bring a meaningful acceptance of the Jewish state by its negotiating partner as well as by key Arab states.”

Palestinians may be missing the point on Sharon legacy, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem contends that “the Palestinians’ insistence on regarding late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, even after his death, as nothing more than a war criminal  responsible for the massacre in Sabra and Shatila and the construction of the settlements is overly simplistic and anachronistic.”