J Street Daily News Roundup 12/2/13

December 2nd, 2013

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

Iran nuclear deal foes rein in criticism, Los Angeles Times

J Street Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams noted that “critics of the deal [with Iran] are reluctant to attack it too frontally because they realize how popular it is.”

Israeli Military Chiefs Are NOT Panicked - PM Netanyahu is a Doomsday Prophet, Jewish Journal

“Fear keeps people stuck in the wounds and sufferings of the past on the one hand, and disallows them the freedom to create new, wiser and more secure realities moving forward on the other,” wrote J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove. “Though there are risks in every option, there are also risks and dangers in doing nothing.”

Liberal plus pro-Israel isn't a contradiction, Haaretz

Elka Looks quoted J Street Northwest Regional Director Gordon Gladstone, who described J Street supporters as “deeply invested in Israel living up to the ideals articulated in the declaration of statehood and also being safe, secure and part of the international community.”

Top News and Analysis

Kerry to visit Israel next week for talks with Netanyahu on Iran, peace process, Associated Press

Secretary of State Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and President Abbas in Ramallah this week to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Israel reassures U.S., Palestinians it has frozen new tenders for West Bank housing, Haaretz

Israel reassured the Obama administration and the Palestinian Authority over the weekend that the planning process for 24,000 new housing units in West Bank settlements was frozen two week ago. The Prime Minister's Office sent the message after a report that despite Netanyahu's orders to Housing Minister Uri Ariel, and despite guarantees given to the Americans, the Housing Ministry neglected to publish updated tenders without the plans for new settlement construction. The US Embassy in Tel Aviv was furious at the report, as was Abbas' office, and both demanded explanations.

US, Russia should hold Geneva talks for Israeli-Palestinian peace, says negotiator, Haaretz

Abbas met on Sunday with new opposition leader Isaac Herzog and warned that the housing tenders were "an attempt to sabotage negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians." After the meeting, Herzog released a statement saying that "I was impressed that we have a partner who is willing to go a long way for peace, and would accept brave and original solutions to the core issues." On Thursday Herzog met with Netanyahu and is slated to fly to the United States next week to attend the Saban Forum, a series of panels hosting Israeli and American leaders.

Netanyahu holds first meeting with Pope Francis, Jerusalem Post

Netanyahu held a historic meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday. The two reportedly discussed Iran's nuclear program and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Iran, powers to meet next week on carrying out nuclear deal, Reuters

Envoys of Iran and six world powers will meet next week to start working out steps to implement a deal under which Tehran is to curb its nuclear program in return for some respite from sanctions.

Ehud Olmert: Netanyahu tried to interfere in US elections, Haaretz

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused Netanyahu of "declaring war on the United States" over the interim deal with Iran.

Israeli army fires into Syria after gunmen shoot at IDF soldiers on Golan Heights, Haaretz

The Israeli army fired into Syria on Monday after its troops were shot at on the Golan Heights, the military said. There were no Israeli casualties in the incident.


Peres addressed 29 Arab and Muslim foreign ministers, Times of Israel

In an unprecedented event, President Shimon Peres spoke from his office in Jerusalem via satellite to 29 foreign ministers from Arabic and Muslim countries at the Gulf Security Conference in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

UN chief warns of ‘dangerous situation’ between Israel, Palestinians, Times of Israel

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Friday that although Israelis and Palestinians were engaged in peace talks brokered by the US, an “increasingly dangerous situation” on the ground could threaten future negotiations.

Livni: We are making progress in peace talks, Jerusalem Post

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians, said substantial progress is being made, in spite of recent skepticism.

Ministers approve national holiday for referendum, Times of Israel

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved an addition to the so-called Referendum Bill to declare a national holiday should the public be called upon to vote on exchanging Israeli territory for peace. The change in the law was demanded by Livni, who was concerned voters might be deterred from going to polling stations if they also had to put in a full working day.

Poll: 50% of Palestinians consider peace talks with Israel a mistake, Haaretz

A recent poll of Palestinians found 50.5% who said the Palestinian Authority should not have engaged in peace talks with Israel.

West Bank construction up 130% in 2013, Times of Israel

Seven percent of new Israeli construction sites erected this year were located in the West Bank, and the number of building projects across the Green Line rose by nearly 130% compared to 2012, according to statistics released Thursday.

Israel to compensate settlers financially harmed by EU funding ban, Haaretz

Israel will reportedly compensate settlers and settler institutions that suffer financial damage from the European Union's ban on transferring scientific research funding beyond the Green Line.

Iran allowed some construction at key nuclear site under interim deal, US says, Haaretz

The US said that Iran can undertake some construction work at a key nuclear facility as long as fuel isn't produced and advances aren't made on a planned heavy water reactor.

The Arak site was among the thorniest issues negotiators sought to resolve in Geneva.

Iran’s Hard-Liners Keep Their Criticism of Nuclear Pact to Themselves, The New York Times

Iranian hard-liners have mostly maintained a studied silence over the interim deal, unwilling to risk a public confrontation with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has cautiously welcomed the deal. But that silence may not last, experts say. At the slightest signal from the supreme leader, they say, the hard-liners could unleash protests by hundreds of thousands on the streets along with an outpouring of criticism from state-run news media.

Iran to reassert authority at OPEC after nuclear deal, Reuters

Emboldened by the nuclear deal, Iranian oil negotiators will seek to reassert Tehran's authority in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries at a Wednesday meeting.

Rouhani: Iran will not dismantle nuclear plants, Haaretz

Iranian President Hassan Rohani said his country will not decommission its nuclear plants, nevertheless he was optimistic on the possibility of rapprochement with the United States after decades of tensions between the two countries.

Iran Has No Plan for Nuclear Talks With Israel, Associated Press

Iran's foreign minister said his country will not enter nuclear talks with Israel.

Iran sanctions eased, but pinch still felt, Associated Press

The sanctions relief offered to Iran by the US and five world powers has begun to get the gears of commerce slowly turning again in an economy that remains in shambles.

West Bank violence jumps, but this time it’s more personal, Washington Post

Israeli army intelligence officers and Palestinian analysts say that recent bloodshed in the West Bank is markedly different from the violence that defined the intifadas of the late 1980s and early 2000s. This time, the violence appears to be more intimate and less sophisticated; more spontaneous than organized; and carried out, for the most part, without any apparent backing by militant or political organizations.

Qaeda offshoot claims West Bank foothold after killings, Reuters

An Islamist group linked to al Qaeda has claimed three militants killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces last week as its members, and said this shows it has taken root in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Bayit Yehudi's Ben-Dahan: Kerry giving legitimacy to terror, not a worthy mediator, Jerusalem Post

HaBayit HaYehudi deputy minister Eli Ben-Dahan lashed out at Kerry on Thursday night, saying that he had given legitimacy to terror and was not worthy to serve as mediator to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Temple Mount closed after Jews and Muslims clash, Times of Israel

The Temple Mount was closed to Jews Sunday after a fight between Jews and Muslim worshippers broke out on the plaza.

WZO pushing new Jewish towns to 'balance’ Arab population in Israel's north, Haaretz

The World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, which is defined by the government as one of its executive arms, is formulating a plan to settle more Jews in the Galilee to achieve a demographic balance with the Arab population. This would be accomplished by establishing new towns and expanding existing ones beyond the limits set in the national master plan for development.

‘Israel law applies to Palestinian who works for Israeli’, Jerusalem Post

A five-person panel of the National Labor Court on Sunday ruled that Israeli labor law applies retroactively to the employer-employee relationship between an Israeli employer and a West Bank Palestinian employee, and not Jordanian law.

Opinion and Analysis

Is Iran already hedging on a key nuclear concession?, Washington Post

Max Fisher says, “The symbolic importance of civilian construction at Arak, even if it's just ditch-digging, is not nothing.”

How Obama Can Win Over Congress on the Iran Deal, Politico

Ray Takeyh makes the case that “the White House cannot simply negotiate an accord between Iran and the United States in secret conclaves and then spring it on an incredulous legislature. If Congress is not there on the takeoff, then it is unlikely to be there at the landing.”

In Ramallah, Herzog seeks Labor’s return as dovish alternative, Times of Israel

Haviv Rettig Gur notes that “to secure his place at the helm and restore Labor’s place as an alternative to the ruling Likud, [Herzog] is looking for that new agenda – in all the old places. He now seeks to return Labor to its old role as the party of peace talks.”

On Buji, Tzipi and peace, Jerusalem Post

Uri Savir asks, “Can [Herzog and Livni,] these two children of Left and Right nationbuilders bring Israel to a new road of hope, away from the current dangerous deterioration towards the abyss of conflict, isolation and right-wing extremism?”

Time to take the Saudi plan seriously, Times of Israel

Danielle Spiegel Feld writes, “The [Arab Peace Initiative] has been on the table for more than a decade, but so far, none of the parties have felt enough urgency to put it into a digestible and practical format. What happened last weekend in Geneva may just have changed all that. The Israeli government should take note.”

The P5+++, Jerusalem Post

Gershon Baskin suggests that “if the negotiations fail, Israel and Palestine should not be surprised if the world powers decide that the time has come to put an end to this conflict with direct international intervention.”

Negotiators must treat Israeli settlements as barriers to peace, Al-Monitor

According to Akiva Eldar, “The time has come for [David] Makovsky and his colleagues on the American peace team to understand that the settlement policy is not ‘foolishness.’ It is an intentional, clear and winning policy. If they continue to be satisfied with words of criticism and to mark time in another movement in the unending symphony called the ‘peace process,’ the procession of violence will continue to pass before us, and the music of the settlers alone shall survive.”

An Israeli-Saudi axis? Not likely, Al-Monitor

Bruce Riedel says that “Israel and Saudi Arabia have a long history of tacit and covert cooperation against mutual foes, but the kingdom has no interest in anything more.”