J Street Daily News Roundup 1/2/2014

January 2nd, 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.

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

J Street in the News

Members of Jewish Student Group Test Permissible Discussion on Israel, The New York Times

Laurie Goodstein reported that “Hillel’s adult staff members on more than a dozen campuses have refused to allow J Street U, an affiliate of the liberal group J Street, to co-sponsor events. The explanation was that donors to Hillel do not support J Street, which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is critical of Israeli settlement building and the occupation of the West Bank.”

Israel's Latest Settlement Plan Endangers Peace Talks, Huffington Post

“We wish [Prime Minister] Netanyahu had chosen either of the other two options he was presented with instead of the prisoner exchange,” wrote J Street Vice President of Communications Alan Elsner. “But right now, we need to get it over with and move on with the negotiations.”

J Street Urges Calm Between Israel and Gaza, Mourns Dead in Latest Clash, J Street

J Street urged Israel and the authorities in Gaza to act with maximum restraint to end violence following the latest upsurge which left an Israeli defense contract worker and at least two Palestinian civilians dead and several more injured.

Should Adelson, Bennett and Lieberman be welcome at Hillel?, Haaretz

J Street U National Student Board Southeast Representative Rachel Cohen said that “even though they pose significant challenges to the Israel’s democratic commitments, [Economics Minister] Naftali Bennett and [Foreign Minister] Avigdor Lieberman should not be banned from Hillel. And though I find Sheldon Adelson’s politics reprehensible, I wouldn’t deny him the right to speak. Because I know my community is best served by a rigorous and deeply challenging conversation about Israel. I know that we cannot create a future generation of thoughtful, compassionate, intellectual Jewish leaders by barring uncomfortable voices. And those uncomfortable voices, especially on this issue, won’t go away by ignoring them.”

No home for BDS in Hillel, Haaretz

Rabbi Eric Yoffie noted that “Hillel has been guilty  of applying a double standard of its own, holding groups on the left that meet its criteria—such as J Street—to different standards than groups on the right.”

Where's the all-powerful Israel lobby now?, Haaretz

Dov Waxman said, “Not all pro-Israel lobby groups actually support [new Iran sanctions] legislation - the more dovish groups J Street and Americans for Peace Now oppose it. The pro-Israel lobby is not a monolith. It is divided on this issue, as it has long been divided on other issues, especially the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As a result, if they want to be ‘pro-Israel,’ American politicians can support any number of things. They can vote for or against further sanctions on Iran, and there will be pro-Israel groups, and PAC money that will back them either way (J Street’s PAC now gives more money than any other pro-Israel PAC).”

Dumb 'intellectuals', The Hill

According to Ronald Goldfarb, “Jews in the US, and in Israel, differ — often vehemently — over Israeli policies. To contradict some AIPAC positions, J Street was created relatively recently as an alternative to the powerful, veteran organization.”

Top News and Analysis

Iran says nuclear deal to be implemented in late January, Reuters

An Iranian official said that world powers and Iran have agreed to start implementing in late January an agreement obliging Tehran to suspend its most sensitive nuclear work.

Kerry in Israel for new round of Mideast talks, Associated Press

Secretary of State Kerry arrived in Israel for consultations with Netanyahu and President Abbas.

Settlement News to Wait Until Kerry Leaves Israel, The New York Times

The Israeli government will delay an expected announcement of bids for new settlement construction for the next few days while Kerry is in the region.

Bennett threatens to bolt if Kerry proposals are accepted, Jerusalem Post

Bennett has told Netanyahu that HaBayit HaYehudi will not remain in the government if it officially adopts Kerry’s framework, even if reservations are presented.

Netanyahu's moment of truth, Haaretz

As Kerry brings a moment of truth to both sides, Ari Shavit urges Netanyahu not to say “no.”

PM calming right-wing fears on US-brokered 'framework agreement’, Haaretz

Barak Ravid contends that “most ministers seem to be underestimating the significance of the framework agreement the US secretary of state plans to put on the table in another four weeks… Israel’s governing coalition won’t look the same the day after [Israel’s] response as it does today.”

One more last chance, Foreign Policy

Aaron David Miller says that he’s “slightly more encouraged about Kerry's prospects” for a breakthrough in the new year.


Poll: Most Israelis, Palestinians support two-state solution, Times of Israel

A Hebrew University poll found that a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians support a peace agreement based on the two-state solution formula.

Likud sources claim PM ready to negotiate on basis of pre-1967 lines, Times of Israel

Likud sources reportedly said that Netanyahu is prepared to continue peace talks for another year on the basis of Kerry’s “framework” agreement, which provides for negotiations for Palestinian statehood on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.

US deal will trade off ‘Jewish’ Israel for 1967 lines — report, Times of Israel

One report claimed that Kerry will offer Israeli and Palestinian negotiators a political trade-off: Israeli recognition of the 1967 lines as a basis for the future Palestinian state, in return for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

'Wary of US pressure, PM's pro-settler allies brace for West Bank construction freeze', Jerusalem Post

Housing Minister Uri Ariel reportedly said that Netanyahu is considering a total construction freeze in West Bank settlements.

Deputy foreign minister: 1967 borders are Auschwitz borders, Haaretz

Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said that “the 1967 borders are Auschwitz borders” and therefore Likud has to reject any proposal to withdraw from the West Bank. Elkin, of the Likud party himself, spoke during a morning tour of settlements in the Jordan Valley attended by parliamentarians and ministers that are members the Land of Israel lobby.

Lieberman: Israel must give Kerry's peace efforts a chance, Haaretz

Lieberman has said in recent weeks that Israel needs to give Kerry’s efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian deal a chance.

Assailing the right, Livni says settlements harm Israel's security, Jerusalem Post

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said that “the settlements are not part of Israel's security, they are hurting it."

Palestinian leaders prefer to turn to UN than extend peace talks, senior official says, Haaretz

A senior Palestinian official said that most of the Palestinian leadership is opposed to extending the deadline of peace talks and is urging Abbas to turn to the United Nations.

Abbas threatens to rally UN against settlement ‘cancer’, Times of Israel

President Abbas compared settlement expansion to a “cancer” on Tuesday night and threatened to appeal to the United Nations to halt any new Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Leaked PA document predicts ‘third intifada’, Times of Israel

An internal Palestinian Authority document leaked to Israeli media has predicted a “third intifada” if US-brokered peace talks fail.

‘Israel likely to be blamed for failed peace talks’, Times of Israel

The European Union’s envoy to Israel warned that if peace talks with the Palestinians fail due to construction in West Bank settlements, Israel is likely to get the blame for it.

Dismay in Israel and joy in PA as Palestinian prisoners released, Times of Israel

Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners early Tuesday morning, setting off a fanfare of celebration in the West Bank after days of Israeli protests.

Released Palestinian prisoners voice little remorse, Times of Israel

Many of the freed prisoners said they were eager to resolve the ongoing conflict through negotiation with Israel over a long-term peace agreement.

Palestinian Authority to invest $4 million in Jordan Valley, Haaretz

The Palestinian Authority cabinet held its weekly meeting Tuesday in the Jordan Valley village of Ein al-Beida and pledged that over $4 million would be invested in the area’s infrastructure.

Opposition bill would forbid West Bank annexation, Times of Israel

A new bill supported by Labor, Meretz and Shas would forbid the government from annexing any part of the West Bank not currently under Israeli sovereignty, except in the framework of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

In rebuff to annexation bill, PM says no to unilateral moves, Times of Israel

At a Likud-Beiteinu meeting, Netanyahu said, “Israel has a vested strategic interest in the continuation of peace talks” and “both sides have made commitments such as avoiding making unilateral moves.”

Senior minister blasts Ya'alon: You can't deem talks a failure while in government, Haaretz

Science Minister Yaacov Perry sharply criticized Defense Minister Ya'alon for his comments that there is no Palestinian partner for a peace agreement. "You can't be part of a government that is in the midst of conducting negotiations, and declare them a failure from the start," Perry said.  "Either you don't enter negotiations, or you give it a chance."

Herzog: Freeze settlements, don’t release prisoners, Times of Israel

Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog suggested over the weekend that Israel should freeze settlement construction in the West Bank rather than releasing additional Palestinian security prisoners as part of US-brokered peace talks.

Majority of Jewish public believes Israel, Palestinians must teach peace, Haaretz

According to a recent survey, most of the Jewish public supports education for peace and thinks that the school system needs to provide it before a political agreement is reached with the Palestinians.

Police tighten security measures in West Bank amid increased terror activity, Jerusalem Post

Following a spate of terrorist activity, Israeli police said that security measures have been heightened to prevent future attacks and ensure the safety of citizens.

B’Tselem: IDF violence against Palestinians down in Gaza, but up in West Bank, Jerusalem Post

The Israeli NGO B’Tselem said that the number of Palestinians killed in 2013 by IDF-related violence in the Gaza Strip dropped by 96 percent compared to 2012, but rose in the West Bank by almost 238 percent.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel Must Seize the Day, The New York Times

Arguing that “Netanyahu is dead wrong in not understanding that the road to dealing with Tehran goes through Ramallah,” Ami Ayalon urges the prime minister to take bold steps toward peace.

In 2014, American Jewish leaders might lose control of the Israel debate, Haaretz

Peter Beinart predicts that “the American Jewish establishment won’t become irrelevant anytime soon. But 2014 may be the year when the downward trajectory of its power becomes clear.”

Obama should see peace process through, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar asks, “Will Obama waste the two terms in office he was handed by the voters and leave his successor with an inheritance of failure and desperation, or will he, instead, add a chapter of success and hope to the important chapters written by Bush, Sr. and Carter?”

Talks with Palestinians return to Israel's public discourse, Al-Monitor

According to Mazal Mualem, “Netanyahu’s ideological opposition in his own party will become more vociferous and dangerous for him the more it emerges that he makes progress in the negotiations. This time, he will not even be able to escape to the time-worn safety of the Iranian threat, which has also been banished from the national agenda.”

Is Bibi Shedding His Peace-Seeker Pose?, Forward

JJ Goldberg examines Netanyahu’s recent political signals regarding the peace process.

For Kerry, Pollard is a bargaining chip with Netanyahu, Haaretz

Ravid says that “despite revelation of American spying on Israeli officials, Pollard is no closer to release. Only serious Israeli move in peace talks could drive Obama to reconsider.”

Welcome back, Mr. Secretary, Jerusalem Post

Gershon Baskin urges Kerry to keep pushing both sides and not to give up.

Israel can give up the Jordan Valley, Haaretz

Reuven Pedatzur makes the case that the “strategic benefits that Israel would reap from the signing of a peace agreement with the Palestinians far outweigh the security rationale for continued Israeli control of Jordan Valley.”

No partner for peace in Israel, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board argues that “rejection of the Palestinian partner is a deception aimed to delude the public into thinking the Israeli government’s hands are clean.”

Klein Halevi: Recognize Jewish State, freeze settlements, Partners for Progressive Israel

Ralph Seliger discusses a talk by Yossi Klein Halevi.

Why we Jews get so worked up over BDS, Partners for Progressive Israel

Jonah Shepp explains why many Jews perceive the BDS movement to be anti-Semitic.

Boycott alienates liberal Jews, Boston Globe

Harriet Feinberg  writes in a letter that “the [ASA] boycott alienates many liberal Jews like me who oppose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s expansion of settlements and his government’s treatment of Palestinians because it singles out Israel for unique condemnation.”

Double standards that favor Israel, Boston Globe

James Adler says in a letter, “I oppose sanctions, even after 46 years of occupation and 700,000 settlers. This perhaps reflects my own ‘pro-Israel’ double standards. But if this situation continues, how long without sanctions?”