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J Street in the News
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that in his State of the Union address, President Obama “made a compelling case for diplomacy. From working to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, to reining in Iran's nuclear program and to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, US diplomatic leadership is advancing our vital interests in the region’s security and stability. The president articulated a strategy for the Middle East that is tough, realistic and getting results.”
Chronicling J Street’s counterpush against Iran sanctions legislation, Dave Weigel interviewed J Street Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams. According to Williams, J Street was able to mobilize activists with “longstanding relationships with members of Congress to express two things. One: The bill is bad policy. Two: There was no political reason that these senators should feel they need to support the bill.”
Top News and Analysis
Economics Minister Naftali Bennett clarified that he did not apologize to Prime Minister Netanyahu for his criticism of the prime minister's peace plans. Earlier , Netanyahu issued an ultimatum to Bennett, ordering him to apologize for his statements by M., or he will be fired. Bennett then said that he did not mean to hurt the prime minister, but that he stands by his statements. Later , senior officials in the Likud party said that Bennett had backed down and apologized quicker than they had expected.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned that “if the negotiations with the Palestinians stall or collapse and we enter the reality of a European boycott – even if it's extremely limited – the Israeli economy will falter and every Israeli citizen will feel the pain directly."
Senate Democrats Back Off Iran Sanctions Vote, Huffington Post
A controversial Iran sanctions bill is losing steam in the Senate, where at least three of its own Democratic cosponsors are warning that pushing the legislation now could thwart delicate international negotiations.
With Iran, Israel, Kerry is master of the interim deal, Washington Post
David Ignatius says that Kerry’s pursuit of interim or framework agreements with Iran and between Israel and the Palestinians offers the chance to “patch over what are still wide differences on a permanent, final-status agreement… [and] reduce the risk of outright conflict while diplomacy continues.”
Why Israel Will Not Need Massive Forces in the Jordan Valley, Huffington Post
Ephraim Sneh argues that “three developments, two technological and the third political, now enable Israel to protect its security requirements [without the Jordan Valley] in a way that will not deny the Palestinians' need for sovereignty, which would impede any agreement with them.”
The Director of National Intelligence urged Congress against passing additional sanctions on Iran while negotiations for a final deal over its nuclear program are taking place, saying that such a move would be “counterproductive” to the process.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that the paper Secretary of State Kerry is developing to form the basis for further Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is not solely composed of American ideas, but is drawn from what the Israelis and Palestinians presented.
Knesset member implies Kerry guided by anti-Semitism, Times of Israel
HaBayit HaYehudi MK Moti Yogev said, “The prime minister is maneuvering under the obsessive and unprofessional pressures that might also bear an undertone of anti-Semitism on Kerry’s part… [Kerry] has an anti-Israel foundation in that he does not come to compromise, but instead comes with unequivocal answers about shrinking the Land of Israel and establishing a Palestinian state.”
Abbas world’s No. 1 purveyor of anti-Semitism, minister says, Times of Israel
Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said that President Abbas espoused more “anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli venom” than any other world leader.
President Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah will discuss Middle East peace at a summit to be held at a California retreat.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill that would enhance the already close US-Israel defense relationship. It names Israel a “major strategic ally” of the United States — no other nation has the status — and includes measures that would encourage enhanced cooperation such as missile development, energy and homeland security.
Opinion and Analysis
Mazal Mualem asks, Is [Netanyahu] capable of remaining in the Likud and executing a diplomatic maneuver within the party, in spite of everything?”
Our Palestinians, their Jews, Jerusalem Post
Gershon Baskin examines the possibility of a Jewish minority in a Palestinian state.
According to Ari Shavit, “If the facts the settlers have fixed on the ground are indeed irreversible, they could render Zionism reversible. If there is no way back from the settlement project, then Israeli sovereignty is shaky and its days are numbered.”
Akiva Eldar says that “the true face that was exposed in this sad affair [with Bennett] is actually Netanyahu’s.”
Scarlett Johansson and a West Bank Settlement, Partners for Progressive Israel
Examining the controversy over Scarlett Johansson and SodaStream, Ralph Seliger notes that “if only this larger political dispute [over settlements] can be resolved, the placement of the SodaStream factory need not be problematic, but (as we know) this is an enormous ‘if.’”