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J Street in the News
J Street Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams said that in the State of the Union, “I would expect [President Obama] to make a very forceful case for his diplomatic effort and against new sanctions or other efforts to undermine diplomacy.”
J Street said that comments by Prime Minister Netanyahu that he would not dismantle a single settlement in the context of a peace agreement with the Palestinians raise significant doubts about his seriousness and commitment to achieving a two-state solution to the conflict.
“US State Department and White House officials avoided responding to reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will insist that settlers have the choice of remaining in a future Palestinian state. J Street, however, joined in the fray, accusing Netanyahu of risking the derailment of the entire peace process by undermining his own credibility.”
“J Street expressed its concern that ‘such statements and positions risk revealing the Israeli leader as a supporter of the two-state solution in name only – willing to accept the idea of two states in principle but not the tough choices needed to make it a reality.’”
Top News and Analysis
Palestinian negotiators will be in Washington Tuesday to try to bridge the gaps on all issues in the Israeli-Palestinian framework agreement that Secretary of State Kerry aims to draft. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat reportedly expects to receive a written document from the Americans detailing their ideas about any future agreement. Erekat, for his part, plans to present Kerry with a list of what he called gross Israeli violations of the terms of the negotiating process and attempts to determine facts on the ground.
In an interview in Arabic, President Abbas said, “I'm telling the Israeli people that we're neighbors, we've fought many wars, and I pray to God that the wars between us have stopped… We want peace with Israel. We want the people in Israel to live in security in its state and the Palestinian people will also live in its independent state." He added, "I'm willing to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at any time. I'm not ruling out Netanyahu speaking at our parliament or me speaking in front of the Knesset. The matter should be checked."
Likud sources said night that Netanyahu is likely to summon Economics Minister Naftali Bennett for a harsh talk immediately upon the minister's return from Auschwitz with the Knesset delegation and to tell him off for his behavior and his statements. Netanyahu is fuming over Bennett's attack on him in response to his remark that settlements could remain within a future Palestinian state, according to people close to the prime minister.
Livni hints that Netanyahu is deliberately baiting Palestinians, Times of Israel
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni appeared to rail against the prime minister and other Israeli officials, suggesting that they weren’t negotiating with the Palestinians in good faith. “There are those in this country who are disappointed that there is no partner on the Palestinian side,” Livni said. “The point is not to expose the other side’s face, but to reach an agreement with them.”
Iran and six world powers may hold the first round of negotiations to seek a comprehensive nuclear deal in New York in mid-February. However,an Iranian official said that the parties are still working on both a place and the dates for the meeting.
Don’t Undermine the Iran Deal, The New York Times
Senators Carl Levin and Angus King warn, “Instead of slowing Iran’s nuclear program, [new sanctions] legislation could actually accelerate its quest for atomic weapons, leaving a stark choice: Either accept the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, or use military force to stop it.”
According to Barak Ravid, “Netanyahu is about to say yes to the American outline, which requires dramatic Israeli concessions. He’s still trying to play with words and engineer the document so that it won’t break up his government, but the chances of that are slim.”
Poll: 60% of Americans back Iran nuclear deal, Associated Press
A new poll found that a strong majority of Americans support the interim agreement between world powers and Iran.
The Institute for National Security Studies, headed by former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, recommended that if the diplomatic process with Palestinians fails, Israel unilaterally withdrawal from 85 percent of the West Bank - between the security barrier and the Jordan Valley.
Former Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich claimed that Abbas had accepted the idea of settlers remaining in a Palestinian state during a meeting in May, 2013.
Defense Minister Ya’alon said that, from a security standpoint, the Palestinian Authority is not a responsible neighbor on which Israel can rely.
Shin Bet: Shalit swap prisoners return to terrorism, Times of Israel
The Shin Bet successfully thwarted 190 terror attacks in 2013, 40 of which were coordinated by terrorists freed under the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, according to the security service’s annual terror report, released
One month after a feud broke out between Hillel International and its Swarthmore College chapter over its pro-Israel guidelines, Hillel at Santa Barbara rescinded an invitation to author David Harris-Gershon regarding his views on BDS.
Opinion and Analysis
JJ Goldberg calls Abbas’ interview “a news flash for anyone who’s waiting to hear the Palestinian leader… declare publicly in Arabic that he’s ready to recognize and make peace with Israel.”
“Whether Netanyahu’s motives are fear of the settler right that controls his party and of the national camp in general, or he himself does not believe in the peace process, Netanyahu must cease obfuscating Israeli policy and attempting to push the Palestinians to cut off negotiations, writes the Haaretz editorial board.
Settlers in Palestine — a Netanyahu gambit backfires, Times of Israel
Raphael Ahren contends that the “predictable Palestinian reaction [regarding Netanyahu’s idea for settlers] has been drowned out by the speed and intensity of the rejection by his own right-wing allies/rivals.”
Sara Hirschhorn considers, “Could Ariel Sharon himself have stomached Israel’s new settlement policy?”
Israel's separation fence accommodates settlers, Al-Monitor
Akiva Eldar asks, if Netanyahu’s top priority is security, “how does one explain the multiple breaches in the separation fence?”
Shulamit Aloni, Founder of Ratz & Meretz, Dies at 85, Partners for Progressive Israel
Bloggers at Partners for Progressive Israel memorialize former Minister and Meretz Founder Shulamit Aloni.
J Street and Palestine, The Dartmouth
Paul Ghazal says in a letter that “J Street U works to create a deep understanding of both narratives in a way that makes concrete political change. If you care about human rights, security or self-determination, you have a stake in this issue. Whether you’re in Hanover, Haifa or Hebron, this is the work that must be done to uphold the different values that drive us to support peace.”