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J Street in the News
Before the State of the Union address, J Street Vice President of Communications Alan Elsner predicted that President Obama would “definitely address the two major issues: Iran and the Kerry initiative for the two-state solution. We know that the president is committed to this effort; what I think we would like to hear is a renewed commitment to Israel, to Israel’s security, and to the idea that this conflict with the Palestinians can be settled and it could be done now, this year. And that he will back to the hilt Secretary Kerry’s efforts, and that he will personally intervene at the right moment, and that this is a time for the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to show leadership and to take bold decisions for peace. But that the United States will always have Israel’s back and would never abandon that.”
“A loose coalition of advocacy groups and policy experts, including a pair of dovish Jewish organizations, have been coordinating messaging in support of the Obama administration’s Iran strategy… While they are united in opposing the current sanctions legislation, the coalition members have differed in the past on Iran sanctions… J Street… backed sanctions that were supported by the administration.”
Peter Beinart suggests that “by refusing to help AIPAC have it both ways, the Obama White House might cause some of the Democrats in the organization to question the group’s current Iran strategy. And it would fuel the public perception—which has been building since the birth of the dovish J Street in 2009—that AIPAC is a Republican-leaning group.”
Top News and Analysis
Obama promises security for ‘Israel – a Jewish state’, Times of Israel
Obama noted in his State of the Union address that “as we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu said night that Israel would soon know whether peace was possible, stressing that Israel would not be obliged to agree to all the terms of the framework document that was being drawn up by Secretary of State Kerry. Netanyahu said that Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and robust security measures were the key to reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The premier emphasized that he doesn't want a binational state, but "I also don’t want another terror state on our borders. We need to achieve both those goals."
UN nuclear inspectors visited an Iranian uranium mine for the first time in nearly a decade , as Tehran gradually opens up its disputed nuclear program to greater international scrutiny.
Why Kerry is scary, The New York Times
Discussing Kerry’s imminent framework, Thomas Friedman writes, “Israelis and Palestinians need to understand that Kerry’s mission is the last train to a negotiated two-state solution. The next train is the one coming at them.”
Barak Ravid reports that in the feud between Netanyahu and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett regarding the prime minister’s involvement in peace talks, Netanyahu aides say that “at the right place and the right time, Bennett will get his and pay the price.”
Former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said that Kerry’s peace initiative is “exactly the right role for the US administration to play."
Netanyahu had planned to convene many of his ministers for a meeting on the growing threat of boycotts and sanctions against Israel by Western governments and companies, but canceled the discussion at the last minute due to his ongoing crisis with Bennett.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel stated evening that those responsible for organizing the prayer rally against a peace agreement made use of his email address without his permission. He said that although he supports the event, he did not initiate the prayer rally at the Western Wall, and he has not yet decided if he will participate or not.
Palestinian Official Hanan Ashrawi said that Israelis “are more than welcome to apply for residency [in the Palestinian state] under our basic laws as individuals, but not Jewish enclaves or ghettos in Palestine,” a reference to the settlements.
Israel's separation barrier could soon destroy the livelihoods and redraw the demographics of two Palestinian villages south of Jerusalem, locals say, should an imminent court ruling approve its planned route.
NGO to lead tours of ‘price tag’ attack targets, Times of Israel
Israeli NGO Peace Now will lead a series of tours focusing on Palestinian villages and locations in the West Bank that have been the targets of “price tag” attacks carried out by Israeli settlers.
Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian who the military said had opened fire on their position near a settlement in the West Bank.
Hamas announced that it would never accept the two-state solution or give up “one inch of the land of Palestine.”
Palestinian official makes rare visit to Iran, Times of Israel
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub in Tehran , in a rare visit by a Palestinian Authority official to the Islamic republic. During the meeting, Zarif reportedly said Israel was using Iran’s “peaceful nuclear program as pretext to divert world public attention from their crimes in Palestine.”
Opinion and Analysis
In Iran, perfect is the enemy of the good, Foreign Policy
Graham Allison argues that in negotiations with Iran, “demanding no enrichment and no centrifuges means no deal.”
According to Ben Caspit, Netanyahu’s spat with Bennett reveals that the prime minister is more interested in casting blame than reaching an agreement with the Palestinians.
Mazal Mualem interviews the mayor of Ma’ale Adumim.
Remembering Pete Seeger, Times of Israel
Hillel Schenker remembers Pete Seeger’s support for progressive Israeli causes.