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J Street in the News
Local Jews plan events seeking Mideast peace, Columbus Dispatch
Believing that the time is right to achieve peace in the Middle East, a group of central Ohio Jews is forming an organization that will support US efforts to help broker a two-state agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Columbus chapter of J Street is set to launch in February with a book-discussion event designed to encourage people with diverse points of view to ask questions, talk and listen, co-chairman Jack Chomsky said. “I think that there’s a window of opportunity, and I’d rather accomplish it now than in 25 years, when I think of all the suffering without doing it, and all the possibility that gets flushed away without doing it,” said Chomsky, cantor at Congregation Tifereth Israel on the Near East Side.
Michael Oren joins CNN, Times of Israel
“Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, will be a contributor to CNN… He was also an advocate for developing ties with J Street, the liberal group pushing for more robust American involvement in advancing the peace process.”
Senate should stop sabotaging peace with Iran, Al Jazeera
Holly Dagres said that “in a joint letter to the Senate, 66 organizations — including the pro-Israeli groups J Street and Americans for Peace Now, and the Daily Kos blog — said the new sanctions ‘critically endanger the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran and an unnecessary and costly war.’”
Top News and Analysis
The White House released a summary of the deal reached between six major world powers and Iran to curb its nuclear program, responding to calls from the US Congress and other groups for more transparency about what the agreement entails.
Foreign Minister Lieberman summoned ambassadors to Israel from Britain, France, Italy and Spain to the Foreign Ministry office in Jerusalem for censure. The move was in response to the reprimanding of Israeli ambassadors in four key European states over the recent announcement of new construction tenders in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Leftists sparked by Ya’alon protest in favor of peace process, Jerusalem Post
Hundreds of left-wing activists took to the streets in protests sponsored by Yesh Atid, hoisting signs at major junctions encouraging Prime Minister Netanyahu to advance the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. Hundreds more are expected in protests sponsored by Meretz. The activists have been inspired by Defense Minister Ya’alon’s criticism of the diplomatic process initiated by Secretary of State Kerry. "We cannot leave the streets in the hands of those who want to thwart any chance of a diplomatic horizon,” Yesh Atid’s chairman, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, said. “Netanyahu needs to know he has support to bring a diplomatic agreement.”
Republican Senator Bob Corker has proposed the idea of scheduling a vote on Iran sanctions six months from now, after the interim nuclear agreement has run its course, instead of voting on sanctions right now. Corker said that he had suggested the idea to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during a closed-door briefing for senators by lead Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman.
Hamas is probably not responsible for a recent upsurge in rocket fire out of Gaza where it rules, but will be made to suffer if the salvoes continue, a senior Israeli military official said. The official said Hamas should intervene to squash the violence, which he blamed on smaller militant groups backed by Iran. Hamas accused Israel of exacerbating tensions and said it bore full responsibility for the renewed troubles.
A bill introduced by Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce would link assistance to the Palestinian Authority to its efforts to stop incitement. Under the bill, the president would have to determine that the Palestinian Authority “no longer engages in a pattern of incitement against the United States or Israel; and is engaged in peace preparation activities aimed at promoting peace with the Jewish State of Israel.” The president would have to re-certify compliance every six months.
Report: Jordan’s king updated Netanyahu on Iran meeting, Times of Israel
In Amman yesterday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II reportedly updated Netanyahu on the Iranian foreign minister’s recent visit to Jordan. According to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu and Abdullah “discussed recent developments in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” with the prime minister stressing “the important role played by Jordan, under King Abdullah’s leadership, in the efforts to bring about an agreement,” and emphasizing that Israel “places a premium on security arrangements, including Jordan’s interests, in any future agreement.”
Palestinian official says Kerry bowed to Israel’s agenda, Times of Israel
A senior Palestinian official accused Kerry of succumbing to Israeli demands to advance two central issues in the peace talks — the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a continued Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu may not meet with Iranian President Rouhani at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland next week, but if Tehran says it is willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Netanyahu might consider a meeting.
UN launches Palestinian solidarity year, Times of Israel
At an event dedicating 2014 as the “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor derided the UN as a “mechanism which serves Palestinian propaganda.”
Opinion and Analysis
In an interview with Laura Rozen, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns says, “There are no illusions about the challenge ahead,” but while the issues involved in the negotiations with Iran are “very complicated,” a resolution should be achievable.
Ron Kampeas discusses Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent speech against new Iran sanctions.
A big gap to close, Economist
Correspondents in the economist note that new sanctions could kill the interim agreement with Iran.
Robert Einhorn, former Admin. official & Iran expert, speaks to IPF, Israel Policy Forum
According to Robert Einhorn, most Congressional supporters of new Iran sanctions “underestimate the extent to which the bill would harm negotiations and make it difficult for us to ratchet up the sanctions further and push us towards having to decide between war and no action.”
Kenneth Bob implored, “For the sake of our country, our brothers and sisters in Israel and the entire world, we must have patience to pursue negotiations without distractions or new threats.”
Tell Your Senators: Let Diplomacy Prevail with Iran, Partners for Progressive Israel
Urging supporters to contact their Senators to oppose sanctions, bloggers at Partners for Progressive Israel write that if the bill “passes, not only would it likely torpedo a deal to safeguard Israel and the world from the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, but if the United States is thereby seen as at fault for the failure of diplomacy, it will be next to impossible to garner international support for new sanctions against Iran, let alone the worst-case scenario of military action.”
A group of pro-Israel, pro-peace scholars urged their “colleagues in the United States and across the world not to use the politics of the Israel/Palestine conflict to undermine academic freedom.”