J Street News Roundup 4/17/2014

April 17th, 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

Pesach, Easter stories contain lessons for M.E. peace, San Diego Jewish World

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami wrote that the Passover and Easter holiday “gives the parties on both sides a chance to step away from the unhelpful tit-for-tat cycle they have engaged in and to cool down. It also provides an opportunity to suspend the daily blame game and focus on some big, important messages that the season can teach us.”

J Street Mourns Ron Pundak, J Street

“I had the tremendous privilege of knowing Ron Pundak for 20 years—as a colleague, a friend, and a founding member of J Street’s Israel advisory board,” said Ben-Ami. “Losing him is a blow to all of us around the world whose advocacy for a two-state solution was inspired and shaped by his vision.”

A personal remembrance of Ron Pundak, J Street

Calling Pundak her mentor, J Street Israel Director Yael Patir wrote, “His passing is an enormous loss to Israel and Palestine and those around the world seeking peace for our region.”

J Street Deplores New Settlement Expansion in Hebron, J Street

J Street called an Israeli decision to allow Israeli families to take over a disputed building in Hebron an unhelpful step which puts new pressure on the endangered Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

J Street applauds introduction of legislation to strengthen sanctions targeting Hezbollah, J Street

J Street Director of Government Affairs Dylan Williams applauded new legislation to strengthen sanctions aimed at Hezbollah.

J Street Mourns Loss of Life in Attack on Jewish Targets near Kansas City, J Street

J Street mourned the horrific murders of three innocent people shot at two Jewish centers in Overland Park, Kansas.

J Street Fails To Win Over Key Committee for Presidents Conference Membership, Forward

After J Street did not receive a key endorsement from the membership committee of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, J Street Director of Communications Jessica Rosenblum said that J Street remains hopeful that the Conference ultimately decides to accept it “and, in so doing, to embrace the challenge of building a representative body that reflects the breadth, depth and vigor of the community itself.”

Is it possible to be a Jewish intellectual?, Haaretz

Eva Illouz mentioned J Street in her examination of “ahavat Israel” and solidarity for the Jewish people.

Top News and Analysis

Abbas: Willing to extend talks, but first three months must focus on borders, Haaretz

In a Ramallah meeting with MKs from Labor and Meretz, President Abbas said Wednesday that he is willing to extend the negotiations with Israel for another nine months, but would want the first three months to focus on drawing the borders of the Palestinian state. During those three months, Abbas added, he would insist that all settlement activity be halted. The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are expected to meet today with US Envoy Martin, after meeting without him on Sunday. In the Ramallah meeting, Abbas condemned the shooting attack that killed an Israeli man in Hebron, but noted that since the beginning of the year 60 Palestinians had been killed by IDF soldiers and Israel had not condemned any of the killings.

Netanyahu: I’d choose elections over Bennett, Times of Israel

In a meeting with Likud officials, Prime Minister Netanyahu dismissed Economics Minister Naftali Bennett’s threats to pull his HaBayit HaYehudi party out of the governing coalition, saying he didn’t want to hold elections but wouldn’t reconcile with Bennett over the release of Israeli Arab prisoners in order to avoid them.

Iran cuts sensitive nuclear stockpile, key plant delayed, Reuters

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has acted to cut its most sensitive nuclear stockpile by nearly 75 percent in implementing a landmark pact with world powers, but a planned facility it will need to fulfill the six-month deal has been delayed.

Not the Same Old, Same Old, The New York Times

Secretary of State “Kerry, in my view, is doing the Lord’s work,” writes Thomas Friedman. “But the weight of time and all the changes it has wrought on the ground may just be too heavy for such an act of friendship. If he folds his tent, though, Israelis and Palestinians will deeply regret it, and soon.”

Inching Forward With Iran, The New York Times

Noting that “there is no doubt that the negotiations between the major powers and Iran over its nuclear program have been productive,” The New York Times editorial board stresses, “It would be naive to understate how hard it will be to remove the threat of Iran’s producing a nuclear weapon and begin to ease three decades of hostility between Tehran and Washington.”


Livni upbeat on talks, fumes at cabinet hardliners, Times of Israel

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said over the weekend that “we are close enough that decisions on both sides will be made, with American encouragement, to continue the talks.” She added, “There are people in the government who don’t want peace… Bennett and [Housing Minister] Uri Ariel represent those who want to prevent a peace process.”

Israel says close to forging new ties across Arab world, Reuters

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed that Israel is holding secret talks with some Arab states that do not recognize it, looking to establish diplomatic ties based on a common fear of Iran. Among the countries Lieberman mentioned were Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who quickly denied the existence of talks.

PA to fall by end of year, says Palestinian minister, Haaretz

Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash said that the idea of dismantling the Palestinian Authority has come up yet again during internal discussions, and he estimated that the PA will be dismantled by the end of this year.

Settlers return to disputed Hebron building, Haaretz

Three Jewish families returned on Sunday to a disputed building in Hebron from which they had been evicted more than five years ago. Permission for the return was given by Defense Minister Ya'alon after the Supreme Court ruled last month that the four-story building, known as the House of Contention, had been legally purchased by the settlers.

Palestinian rioters attack IDF position in Hebron, Times of Israel

Seven Palestinians were wounded after dozens attacked an Israel Defense Forces position in Hebron on Wednesday night.

Police storm Temple Mount to disperse Palestinian riot, Haaretz

Fierce clashes continued for several hours on Wednesday between Israeli police officers and dozens of young Palestinians on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

PM calls settlers who destroyed army post ‘barbarians’, Times of Israel

Netanyahu reportedly called settlers who attacked and destroyed an army post in Yitzhar “a bunch of barbarians,” and he was personally involved in the decision to close down a yeshiva at the West Bank settlement and declare it a military zone.

Pushing the 2-State Path in Gaza, The New York Times

In the Gaza Strip, representatives of OneVoice struggle to promote a two-state solution.

Palestinian figures remember Oslo architect Ron Pundak, Haaretz

In reporting the death of Oslo peace process founder Ron Pundak on Friday, Arab and Palestinian media outlets described him as a key architect of that process and a peace activist.

Opinion and Analysis

Where is the Kerry plan for peace?, New Yorker

According to Bernard Avishai, “The reality Kerry has to recognize is that his main chance at success now is to organize international consensus around a plan that he can call his own… His task is not to pressure the Israeli government but to create an international climate in which Israelis will pressure themselves.”

In the Middle East, Time to Move On, The New York Times

The New York Times editorial board urges “the administration to lay down the principles it believes must undergird a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu’s options, Jerusalem Post

Gershon Baskin makes the case that “no Israeli plans and policies will ever remove the burning desire of the Palestinian people to be free and to live in a state of their own… The price of [ending the conflict] today is a lot less than it will be in the future.”

Israel's 'freeze on PA funds'? Pure spin, Haaretz

Barak Ravid reports that “Netanyahu's announcement [to freeze Palestinian tax revenue] panders to the right, but the actual funds have already been transferred.”

Next Year in Jerusalem?, Haaretz

“‘Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem,’ say some Haggadas, referring to the rebuilding of the Temple. But for many young American Jews, a different rebuilding would be more compelling,” writes Peter Beinart. “We should ask them to help rebuild a Jerusalem that lives the words of Israel’s declaration of independence, a place that offers ‘complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of race, religion or sex.’ In so doing, we might rebuild their Zionism as well.”

At seder, all are heard, even the most outrageous, Times of Israel

Yossi Klein Halevi says that during Passover, “we look around the table, and at all the tables around the Jewish world, and surrender to our irreconcilable diversity… Tonight all have the right to be heard.”

Netanyahu gains popularity as peace talks collapse, +972

Dimi Reider examines the electoral politics of the crisis in peace talks.