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J Street in the News
J Street praised Secretary of State Kerry’s address at the AIPAC policy conference and called on AIPAC delegates to carry Kerry’s message to Capitol Hill and urge American leaders to put their full support behind his peace initiative.
J Street called the White House meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu an important and welcome step in the ongoing effort to achieve a two-state solution and applauded the president’s willingness to personally involve himself in the initiative.
Crunch time on Middle East peace, The Hill
J Street Vice President of Communications Alan Elsner said, “There comes a point when the president needs to personally roll up his sleeves and get involved… It's much harder to say 'no' to the president.”
Last night, the Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh hosted a 2 Campaign town hall meeting in support of a two-state solution.
Examining a recent debate over Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove wrote, “Judaism is, I believe, based on pragmatic optimism…
I would hope that those now at the AIPAC Conference in Washington, D.C. will support Secretary Kerry’s peace efforts and refrain from second guessing him, the President and the negotiations until they conclude, and that they avoid destructive rhetoric that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Emotions fly over 'apartheid', Brandeis Justice
“Jewish student groups on campus have reacted to the term ‘apartheid’ in varying ways. Catie Stewart ’16, president of J Street U Brandeis, told the Justice that she believes apartheid is a very divisive term. When asked what J Street U Brandeis’ official stance on Israel Apartheid Week is, Stewart said that while the group’s members ‘share the concerns of many members of SJP about the continuation of the occupation,’ the group does not believe that ‘characterizing Israel as an apartheid state is either accurate or productive towards a solution.’”
Top News and Analysis
At AIPAC, Kerry said said that in the ongoing negotiations, both Israelis and the Palestinians are faced with tough choices. He noted that he believes Netanyahu is "committed" to peace, and that President Abbas "understands the costs of failure."
Obama presses Israel’s Netanyahu on peace talks with Palestinians, Washington Post
At the White House, Obama pressed Netanyahu to accept a US-sponsored framework for final peace talks with the Palestinians, but he acknowledged that both sides would have to make “tough decisions” to reach a compromise.
Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On said after meeting with Abbas that he was pessimistic about the chances of reaching a framework agreement that would allow the peace talks to continue, but would wait until after his scheduled meeting with Obama on before making any final decisions on the matter. Abbas told her the Palestinians would agree to continuing the talks beyond the end of April if Israel freezes construction in the West Bank settlements or releases additional prisoners, beyond the 104 that it committed to release when the talks resumed in July.
Put Abbas to the test, Forward
Challenging Netanyahu, the Forward editorial board asks, “What is lost by testing whether this Palestinian leader, unlike his predecessors, will be the one to finally be able to master history instead of being smothered by it? To make the compromises necessary to ensure a state for his people and the security Israelis need and deserve?”
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz dismissed Palestinian demands to freeze settlement building and to release more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for extending negotiations as "not an option".
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told AIPAC that there is no need for new sanctions on Iran because the Obama administration is sustaining a tough sanctions regime even while nuclear talks are underway.
Schumer pans Kerry’s BDS warnings to Israel, Times of Israel
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) implicitly accused Kerry of inadvertently aiding the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, minutes before Kerry was expected to take the stage at the AIPAC conference.
The number of housing starts in West Bank settlements more than doubled in 2013, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Fate of Yisrael Beiteinu-Likud union to be decided today, Jerusalem Post
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will convene MKs and top activists at Yisrael Beiteinu’s Jerusalem headquarters to decide whether the party will run on its own in the next general election.
Opinion and Analysis
Barak Ravid says that Obama softened his tone before meeting with Netanyahu.
Iran and the Peace Process Top the Agenda for Netanyahu-Obama Meeting, Brookings Institution
Natan Sachs contends, “The stakes on both the Israeli-Palestinian and the Iranian issues are high; important decisions on both will soon be required. It would serve both countries well if in private, too, the leaders were able to work closely on what are, at the end of the day, closely aligned interests.”
“Can Israeli-Palestinian conflict stakeholders… move beyond these hardened binaries and step into the grey long enough to come up with creative solutions that respect the needs, fears and dreams of both sides?” asks Mira Sucharov. “These conversations need to happen both separately, among friends -- and that includes the need for the tough questions that surely won’t make nearly enough of an appearance at the line-toeing AIPAC conference in Washington, DC, this week -- and together.”