J Street News Roundup 4/25/2014

April 25th, 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

Israeli Decision to Suspend Talks is Premature, J Street

J Street said that it was premature for the Israeli government to suspend peace talks over Wednesday’s Palestinian reconciliation deal, noting that the agreement has yet to be implemented and many critical questions remain unanswered. It said that with five days left before the deadline for Secretary of State Kerry’s peace initiative, all involved should be searching for purposeful actions to revive the troubled process, not accelerating its demise.

Israeli leaders find excuse to quit talks, Chicago Sun-Times

On Palestinian reconciliation, J Street Chicago co-founder Marilyn Katz wrote, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

US Jews have diverse reactions to Hamas- PLO pact, San Diego Jewish World

“Some [American Jewish organizations[ say Israel is right to terminate negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, others [like J Street] say Israel should redouble its efforts to find a peaceful solution to the longstanding dispute over demands by Palestinians to have a state of their own.”

J Street Calls on Secretary Kerry to Make Public US Positions on Core Issues for Israeli-Palestinian, Jewish Journal

“I fully support the call by J Street to support Secretary Kerry’s peace mission and for the United States to take the next step by putting forth specific principles on which Israel and the Palestinians will negotiate,” wrote J Street Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair Rabbi John Rosove. “The only way forward to insure the health, security and sustainability of the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and a vital democracy is in a two-state solution.”

Pro-Israel Tent Not Big Enough For J Street?, New York Jewish Week

As the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations prepares to vote for J Street’s membership, one Jewish leader noted that “a rejection of J Street will hurt the conference more than anybody else. J Street doesn’t need the conference.”

Top News and Analysis

Obama: May be time for 'pause' in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Haaretz

President Obama said Friday that a pause in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians may be needed so both sides can consider the alternative to negotiating. He said the Palestinian reconciliation agreement is the latest example of "unhelpful" steps that have undermined discussions, adding that neither side has shown the political will to make tough decisions that would sustain the talks.

Kerry: Israel, Palestinians must make ‘compromises’, AFP

Kerry urged Israel and the Palestinians to make the compromises needed to forge ahead with peace talks, admitting the negotiations had reached “a difficult point.” “We will never give up our hope or our commitment for the possibilities of peace,” he said. “We believe it is the only way to go, but right now obviously it’s at a very difficult point, and the leaders themselves have to make decisions.”

Fatah insisting unity government recognize Israel, Times of Israel

A senior Palestinian official said that President Abbas and his Fatah movement are insisting that a unity government with Gaza’s Hamas leadership accept the principle of two states for two peoples along with other international conditions. The official’s comments echoed remarks attributed to Abbas on Thursday evening after a meeting with the United Nations’ peace envoy, Robert Serry.

A sad evening in Washington, as Palestinians celebrate unity, Haaretz

Barak Ravid reports that after productive negotiations on Tuesday, Wednesday’s reconciliation agreement caught Israel and the US by surprise.


Palestinian Authority leaders campaign in defense of unity with Hamas, Haaretz

The Palestinian Authority mounted a campaign Thursday in defense of its reconciliation with Hamas, with Abbas defending the move in a meeting with US Envoy Martin Indyk. Kerry spoke with Abbas and expressed his "disappointment" with the timing of the deal. Abbas reiterated that the unity pact did not contradict in any way his commitment to the peace process with Israel.

‘Netanyahu was ready for border talks, settlement freeze’, Times of Israel

According to Israel’s Channel 10, Prime Minister Netanyahu was ready to begin final border discussions and also to implement a construction ban in the settlements, before the reconciliation agreement was announced.

Inside Israel’s decision to ‘suspend’ peace talks, Ynet

During the five hour cabinet meeting that led to the suspension of talks, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was adamant in her demand that the Israeli response be moderate and leave room for the renewal of talks should the Palestinian unity agreement fail to be implemented. Netanyahu and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett pushed for something more severe, and wanted to bar any direct talks with Abbas.

Israel slams 'weak' US response to Fatah-Hamas unity deal, Haaretz

A senior Israeli official said that the government is disappointed with the 'weak' American reaction to the reconciliation agreement, and demands a clearer, more resolute response.

Congress Moves To Cut Aid to Palestinians Over Hamas, JTA

Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) said she is ready to launch steps to defund the Palestinian Authority, unless Abbas reverses the Palestinian unity deal.

Left-wing MKs call peace talks suspension ‘cowardly’, Times of Israel

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-on wrote that halting peace talks is “a huge reward for Hamas and a punishment to the citizens of Israel… a government of cowards that cannot act for Israel’s interests is not worthy of continuing to lead.”

Likud, HaBayit HaYehudi MKs: Labor MKs visit to Abbas crossed line into post-Zionism, Jerusalem Post

Right-wing MKs criticized colleagues on the left for meeting with Abbas last week.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Israel Is Pulling Out of the Peace Process, Bloomberg

Finding “reasonableness, realism, hypocrisy and myopia” in Israel’s decision to suspend peace talks, Jeffrey Goldberg points out that “Israel doesn’t get to pick its enemies. It has to make peace with the ones it has.”

Israel should be thanking Abbas for unity deal, not berating him, Times of Israel

According to Avi Issacharoff, “Thursday’s cabinet decision to halt negotiations with the Palestinian Authority could well go down in history as one of the Benjamin Netanyahu government’s most counterproductive steps.”

A question for Prime Minister Netanyahu, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board asks, “What does [Netanyahu] intend to do now so as to prevent the realization of the threat he warned about, of a binational state?”

Bibi's Peace-Talk Halt: Bad Tactic — or Bad Faith?, Forward

JJ Goldberg warns that for Israel “to launch a new and stepped-up campaign [against Abbas] right now, with the very prospect of peace hanging by a thread and internal Palestinian negotiations entering a critical and delicate phase, is to poison the well. It undermines Abbas’s negotiating position vis a vis Hamas by making him look like an Israeli punching bag. And it makes Israel look like it’s doing its best to kill any chance of returning to the table.”

Let's Get Together, American Prospect

Matthew Duss says that “Kerry has proven able to confront some of the most difficult issues in this conflict creatively and effectively. The question is whether he can be creative enough to convert this latest crisis into an opportunity.”

Hamas-Fatah reconciliation an opportunity for Israel, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar urges, “Israel should change its concept and take advantage of the return of the PA to Gaza. The Israeli narrative of eradicating Hamas should be replaced by compelling the movement to finish the process of change which began as soon as it felt it was in jeopardy.”

Abbas just shot the Palestinian cause in the foot, +972

Larry Derfner calls Abbas’ decision to reconcile with Hamas “a grave miscalculation.”

Hamas optimistic that Palestinian reconciliation will stand, Al-Monitor

Adnan Abu Amer examines the negotiations that led to the Palestinian unity agreement.