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J Street in the News
What secret does Kerry have in store for us?, Jerusalem Post
Noting that “there are signs which suggest that [Secretary of State] Kerry has some surprises in store for us,” David Newman said that “we are witnessing a shift in power in the American Jewish lobby, as the impact of J Street and an alternative pro-peace message has come increasingly to the fore under the Obama administration.”
Special meetings are being held this week to discuss increasingly sharp political tensions within the Italian Jewish community centered on differing attitudes toward Israel and the Middle East.
Top News and Analysis
Iran has halted its most sensitive nuclear operations under a preliminary deal with world powers, winning some relief from economic sanctions in a ground-breaking exchange that could ease a threat of war. The United States and European Union both suspended some trade and other restrictions against the OPEC oil producer after the United Nations' nuclear watchdog confirmed that Iran had fulfilled its side of an agreement made on .
An American delegation led by President Obama's adviser for Middle East affairs, Philip Gordon, will arrive this week in Israel to discuss the interim agreement with Iran.
Israel’s top two negotiators with the Palestinians met with Kerry in Washington yesterday regarding the secretary of state’s framework agreement for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Palestinian negotiators are expected to travel to Washington for a similar meeting next week. Israeli officials would not confirm reports that a summit is being planned in Jordan under the auspices of King Abdullah II to present the document later this month, saying only that the “process is ongoing.”
A delegation of 100 leading Israeli businessmen are expected to arrive at the World Economic Forum in Davos to promote a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Kerry is expected to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Peres and Justice Minister Livni at the conference, along with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Lapid threatens coalition over peace process, Jerusalem Post
Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned that his party Yesh Atid will leave Netanyahu’s governing coalition if the diplomatic process with the Palestinians does not advance. In an effort to push Netanyahu to make concessions to the Palestinians, Yesh Atid MKs and activists demonstrated in junctions across the country.
JJ Goldberg says that “it’s not just American pressure that’s pushing [Netanyahu] toward the painful compromises he vowed never to make. It’s the will of the Israeli public. His allies on the right see how torn he is. That’s why they’re panicking.”
S. Daniel Abraham makes the case that “Kerry can survive the failure of his mission. But the price for Israel will be dire.”
New Sanctions Would Foreclose Non-Military Options for Iran, Center for American Progress
Matthew Duss argues that “Supporters of new Iran sanctions may not necessarily desire a war with Iran, but there’s little question that these sanctions would make such an outcome more likely.”
Beware of Senate bill imposing new sanctions on Iran, Boulder Daily Camera
“Rather than arguing that anything that strengthens sanctions against Iran is automatically good, let's first consider what will really make Israel and the whole world safer,” writes Rabbi Tirzah Firestone.
Obama said that all three of his main Middle East initiatives – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iranian nuclear issue and the civil war in Syria – have "less than fifty-fifty" of reaching a final treaty. “On the other hand,” Obama said, “in all three circumstances we may be able to push the boulder partway up the hill and maybe stabilize it so it doesn’t roll back on us."
According to the chief executive of the Palestine Stock Exchange Index, the two-fold surge in trading in Palestine’s $3 billion stock market indicates investors are betting Kerry will succeed in brokering a peace deal.
Bennett: A Palestinian state will destroy Israel's economy, Jerusalem Post
Over the weekend, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett claimed that the creation of a Palestinian state and not boycotts of Israeli products, will destroy Israel’s economy. Bennett also said that he intends to draft the support of enough Likud Beiteinu MKs to block Netanyahu from making concessions to the Palestinians. Hitting back, Livni said that Bennett “must decide if he represents all Israeli citizens or just residents of isolated settlements… Responsible Zionist leaders must not stick to ideology that will isolate Israel and harm the economy and every citizen, but rather work for a diplomatic agreement that will strengthen our standing in the world and ensure Israel’s economic security as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Netanyahu said that Hamas and other terror organizations should beware of a harsh Israeli response should they choose to attack. , a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near a school in Ashkelon, while two other rockets were apparently fired from the Sinai Peninsula at the southern Israeli city of Eilat. A day before that, Israel carried out a targeted attack on the Gaza Strip in response to another rocket attack the night before.
Hamas has deployed forces across the Gaza Strip in an attempt to curb rocket attacks on Israel and prevent an escalation in the scale of hostilities.
Israel has begun to exhume the remains of a number of Palestinian militants to return them to their families for burial, in a move that could help ease some tension between the adversaries.
A Palestinian official said that the US has proposed absolving Israel of any responsibility for the fate of the Palestinian refugees in the forthcoming framework peace agreement. Instead, it will propose a solution based on the naturalization of the refugees in the countries in which they currently reside, as well as financial compensation.
PM, Livni said to support Liberman’s land-and-people swap plan, Times of Israel
According to Israeli officials, Foreign Minister Lieberman’s plan to transfer jurisdiction of some Israeli Arab towns, with their approximately 300,000 residents, to a future Palestinian state has the support of both Netanyahu and Livni, while American negotiators are “warming to the idea.”
President Abbas declared in a speech that there can be no “agreement without occupied East Jerusalem being recognized as the capital of the Palestinian state.”
Harper: Support for Israel is morally and strategically right, Times of Israel
In an address to the Knesset, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada supports Israel for strategic reasons but also because it is the correct thing to do. Harper closely toed the official Israeli government line, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, slamming the international community for singling out the country for criticism, and calling on Palestinians to abandon terrorism.
Ministers nix bill defining ‘Price Tag’ attacks as terror, Times of Israel
Amid a recent spike in reports of settler vandalism and violence in the West Bank, a key cabinet committee has rejected a bill that aimed to define Price Tag attacks as acts of terrorism.
Palestinians and settlers clash outside Itamar, Jerusalem Post
The IDF said Palestinians and settlers threw stones at each other between the Palestinian village of Beit Furik, and the Itamar settlement, before soldiers arrived.
The Mateh Binyamin Regional Council in the West Bank has disbursed nearly $15 million over a five-year period to several unauthorized settlement outposts both within and beyond its jurisdiction, even though such actions are expressly prohibited.
In Israel last month, Tea Party Congressman Louie Gohmert reportedly told Netanyahu, “Unfortunately we are pushing you into a corner and you are going to have a couple of crises this year… And I know you’ve got secularists, and I called off a couple, that you have to deal with here and tell them this is not for you, it is only for people who believe, but I’m declaring a national day of prayer and fasting in this crisis for God’s direction and protection, and for all of those who believe.”
Opinion and Analysis
Myths That Are Impediments to Peace, Huffington Post
James Zogby explores pervasive myths regarding the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel.
The Haaretz editorial board concludes that “Netanyahu must understand that his position requires him to stick to a policy that looks out for Israel’s interests. He shouldn’t plant permanent land mines in the negotiation process in an attempt to find favor with the extreme right.”
Where Are the Leaders to Answer the Call?, Huffington Post
Alon Ben-Meir offers his critique of Kerry’s tactics.
Netanyahu could take a cue from Sharon’s later moves, Boston Globe
J Street Boston executive committee member Stan Fleischman suggests in a letter, “Perhaps it is time for Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to experience his personal Ariel Sharon moment.”