J Street Daily News Roundup 2/27/2014

February 27th, 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

Israel debate, Temple Sinai

In Atlanta, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami debated Rabbi Daniel Gordis over Secretary of State Kerry’s peace initiative.

Shifting US foreign policy views force rethink by Israel lobby, Financial Times

Ben-Ami said, “We are seeing an epic change in the political atmosphere in Washington… It shows that you do not have to take the harshest and most conservative position if you want to be considered pro-Israel. You can support diplomacy with Iran and be pro-Israel and you can support a two-state solution and still be pro-Israel.”

The America-Israel lobby must fully back Kerry's Israel-Palestine initiative, Guardian

J Street Vice President of Communications Alan Elsner urged, “If Aipac were to get enthusiastically behind Kerry's peace initiative, it could send a powerful message. And if 14,000 pro-Israel activists were to deliver that message in person to their elected representatives, Democrats and Republicans would take serious note. That could be a game-changer.”

Backhanded Jewish support for Middle East peace, Jerusalem Post

Noting that J Street “has launched an almost renegade national grassroots campaign in support of an improbably extreme cause: the very two-state solution that nearly every Jewish organization officially says it supports, but which nearly none has mobilized to help make happen, Shai Franklin wrote, “If we are unable or unwilling as a community to actively and substantively promote this best and possibly final chance for a deal, despite the Israeli prime minister’s own stamp of approval, then we should stop claiming at every turn that we support a negotiated two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The bright side, Jewish Journal

Speaking to former Mossad chief Danny Yatom--in the US for a J Street-sponsored tour--Rob Eshman laid out the many reasons for American Jews to support Kerry’s peace initiative.

Top News and Analysis

Shrugging Off Past Setbacks, Obama Plans Personal Role in Middle East Peace Bid, The New York Times

President Obama, after avoiding a hands-on role in Middle East peacemaking since the setbacks of his first term, plans to plunge back into the effort, his advisers said this week, starting with an urgent appeal to Prime Minister Netanyahu. When he welcomes Netanyahu to the White House on Monday, Obama will press him to agree to a framework for a conclusive round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that is being drafted by Kerry.

Later in March, Obama is likely to meet with the President Abbas to make the same pitch. The goal, officials said, is to announce the framework, a kind of road map for further talks, by the end of April, the nine-month deadline that Kerry set last summer for a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kerry opens door to extended talks for Israeli-Palestinian deal, Reuters

Kerry acknowledged on Wednesday he hopes at best to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a "framework" for a peace agreement by April 29, but that a final deal could take another nine months or more.

Official said to confirm informal settlement freeze, Times of Israel

The Israeli government has reportedly frozen settlement construction outside the major blocs for the past few months in an apparent acquiescence to American pressure.

Israel halts gas mask distribution, citing 'dramatic decrease' in chemical threat, Haaretz

Thursday marks the last day that Israeli citizens will have access to government-distributed gas masks, in the wake of a decision last month by the security cabinet to discontinue the service. The defense establishment believes the threat of a chemical attack against Israel has declined.

The new Israel is strong enough for peace, Haaretz

Ari Shavit argues that “the new geopolitical environment, the relative calm and the IDF’s military superiority create a golden opportunity… toward ending the occupation.”


Kerry pressing Palestinians on framework for peace, Kaine says, JTA

Back from Israel, Senator Tim Kaine said that Kerry has “been spending a lot of time exploring the willingness of the Israeli leadership to make concessions in five key areas and now he’s going to be spending some significant time with the Palestinians on the same thing.”

Palestinians reject US push for peace talks beyond April, Times of Israel

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that “there is no meaning to prolonging the negotiation, even for one more additional hour, if Israel, represented by its current government, continues to disregard international law.”

US convening investors conference for Palestinians, JTA

The United States is convening an investors conference March 8-9 in Prague to help the Palestinian economy.

MKs denounce Land of Israel Caucus for assailing US envoy, Times of Israel

Several MKs sent a letter to US Ambassador Dan Shapiro on Wednesday denouncing attempts by the “political margins” to damage Israel’s relationship with the United States, a reference to a testy meeting between the American envoy and the hawkish Land of Israel Caucus whose contents were leaked to the public.

PMO: Israel will not change status quo on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem Post

Israel will not change its policies on the Temple Mount, the Prime Minister’s Office made clear on Wednesday, a day after a Knesset debate on the issue triggered angry political reactions in the Arab world.

Jordan’s parliament votes to expel Israeli ambassador, Times of Israel

After the Knesset debate, a majority of Jordanian MPs voted on Wednesday to seek the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to the kingdom.

Opinion and Analysis

First Kerry has to persuade America, Haaretz

According to Gideon Levy, “The day Washington stands behind [Kerry], an agreement will be reached.”

To Any of You Going to the AIPAC Policy Conference – Please Send Me a Report, Beyondzerosum

Mark Zivin asks whether AIPAC delegates will actively support a two-state solution at their policy conference.

Impassioned Plea for Peace by Director of Givat Haviva, Partners for Progressive Israel

Bloggers at Partners for Progressive Israel share the opening address of the Givat Haviva Institute’s director,Yaniv Sagee.