J Street News Roundup 9/2/2014

September 2nd, 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

Liberal Zionism And Its Discontents, New York Jewish Week

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami argued that “the only way for Israel to survive as both a Jewish and democratic nation is on the course charted by Liberal Zionists: to compromise over the land with the Palestinian people and create two states for two peoples.”

AIPAC Is in Decline—But So Are Hopes for a Two-State Solution, New Republic

John Judis asked, “Will a falloff in support for AIPAC lead to a dramatic increase in support for groups like J Street? And will that lead the United States to forcefully intervene in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians?”

Presidents Council Rejection of J Street Generates Strong Backlash Among US Jews, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

“There is every indication that J Street, not the Presidents Conference or AIPAC, is more representative of American Jewish opinion,” wrote Allan Brownfeld.

Top News and Analysis

US: Israel's West Bank land grab 'counterproductive' to two-state solution, Reuters

An official at the State Department said that the US sees Israel’s announced takeover on Sunday of 988 acres in the West Bank to be "counterproductive" to peace efforts and urges Israel to reverse the decision.

Ministers Livni, Ya'alon get in shouting match over peace talks, Haaretz

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ya’alon reportedly faced off vociferously during a cabinet meeting Thursday, over whether to renew negotiations with the Palestinians. An Israeli minister said that Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid are pushing for renewed talks with the Palestinians, but are in the minority. “As opposed to what is commonly thought, policy on the peace process is what could threaten the stability of the coalition, not the 2015 budget,” the minister said. Although Prime Minister Netanyahu has been speaking recently about a “new diplomatic horizon,” he does not seem to be planning any significant initiative vis–à–vis the Palestinians. Secretary of State Kerry had reportedly been considering coming to Israel this week to hold talks with Netanyahu and Abbas, but abandoned the idea after he realized that neither had any interest in talks at this time.

Abbas plan calls for Israeli pullout from West Bank within three years, Jerusalem Post

A Palestinian minister said that Abbas will seek Arab League approval next week for his diplomatic initiative that calls for a nine-month negotiation window that will eventually lead to an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within three years. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is expected to present the plan to Kerry in Washington today.

Iran's Zarif 'quite optimistic' of Iran nuclear agreement, Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced optimism after talks with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Monday that a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program can be resolved by a Nov. 24 deadline. The next round of talks between the six powers and Iran is scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York later in September.


Israel's defense establishment recommends easing Gaza restrictions, Haaretz

Israel's defense establishment will recommend that Israel show generosity in indirect negotiations with Hamas when discussing the conditions for a permanent ceasefire. A senior military official said that it is in Israel’s interest to avoid intense social and economic pressure on Gaza.

High-level Egyptian delegation arrives in Ramallah, Times of Israel

An Egyptian intelligence delegation arrived in Ramallah on Tuesday for a visit that was described as “urgent.” The delegation is planning to hold a series of consultations on the Gazan ceasefire and on steps to calm tensions.

Support for Hamas skyrockets following war, poll shows, Times of Israel

A poll of Palestinians found increased support for Hamas, at the expense of Abbas.

Naftali Bennett, not Netanyahu is the leader of Israel's Right, poll finds, Jerusalem Post

A new poll of Israelis found that if elections were held today Likud would win 26 seats, HaBayit HaYehudi 19, Labor 18, Yesh Atid and Meretz 10, and Yisrael Beiteinu eight.

Lapid: West Bank land grab hurts Israel in international arena, Haaretz

Lapid said that the recently announced Israeli appropriation of West Bank land was a move of underhanded opportunism that wasn't submitted for the cabinet's approval and is damaging to Israel in the international arena.

West Bank land appropriation harming Israel, Livni says, Times of Israel

Livni condemned the land grab, asserting that the move would prove detrimental to Israel’s security.

Netanyahu: Palestinians must choose between Hamas and peace, Haaretz

Netanyahu said that the Palestinians must understand that the choice is between "Hamas or peace," adding, "We have no problem with the Palestinian Authority entering Gaza, we have a problem with Hamas entering the West Bank."

Peres' post-presidency vision: Hamas-free Gaza, peaceful Israel, Ynet

Former President Peres said, “I believe that in the future there will be peace with all the Palestinians. I say that the gaps are bridgeable and that the Palestinian Authority is led today by a man, Mahmoud Abbas, who is showing responsibility and moderation, and he is definitely a leader we can reach a peace agreement with. His actions prove it.”

Israel said to seize PA tax revenue over debt dispute, Times of Israel

The Israeli government has been withholding over $56 million in tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority to cover a series of debts. The move comes after an announcement on Saturday that the PA would begin paying the salaries of Hamas civil service officials in Gaza, which have been delayed for months.

IDF soldier dies of wounds from Gaza; Israeli death toll rises to 73, Haaretz

Israel Defense Forces soldier Sgt. Shahar Shalev, 20 of Alonei Habashan, died Sunday of wounds sustained during battle in the Gaza Strip.

The UN says 7 in 10 Palestinians killed in Gaza were civilians. Israel disagrees, Washington Post

The UN reports that 2,104 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, including 1,462 civilians, among them 495 children and 253 women. By contrast, Netanyahu said that Israeli forces­ had killed “approximately 1,000 terrorists,” which would mean that far fewer were civilians — roughly 52 percent.

Jerusalem teachers warn of increase in racism after Gaza war, Haaretz

Teachers in Jerusalem say they are concerned about facing more racism than ever before in the capital’s schools, especially following Operation Protective Edge. As the school year opens, the Education Ministry has published lesson plans on racism to be taught during the first two weeks, but many teachers say that is not enough.

Facing Hard-Liners and Sanctions, Iran’s Leader Toughens Talk, The New York Times

For more than a year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been walking a political tightrope by trying to restore some level of relations with the country’s archenemy, the United States.

Opinion and Analysis

Bitter tears of victory: Protective Edge in retrospect Part 1, Part 2, Ynet

Nahum Barnea chronicles the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge.

Did Hamas Get Bibi to Freeze Settlements?, Forward

Lara Friedman predicts that “if Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas — and groups even more extreme than Hamas — that the only language Israel understands is violence.”

Netanyahu's government is not serious about peace, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board criticizes Netanyahu for “destroying the new opportunities he claimed to seek.”

Bibi uses Gaza as wedge between Abbas and Hamas, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar expresses skepticism regarding Netanyahu’s “diplomatic horizon.”

Israel-Palestine-Jordan economic federation can advance peace, Al-Monitor

According to Uri Savir, “The challenge of pursuing a regionally-encouraged Palestinian peace policy lies on the shoulders of Ministers Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni. Yet, nothing short of a political ultimatum by the two will move Netanyahu to accept such policies in an alternative coalition like a new unity government.”

Abbas prepares to get tough on Hamas, and on Israel, Times of Israel

Avi Issacharoff reports that “The Gaza conflict against Israel may have ended, but the conflict between the two Palestinian organizations rolls on.”

Bennett emerges from Gaza conflict as clear winner, Al-Monitor

“History is presenting [Netanyahu] once again with an opportunity to win over the votes of the center, if he decides to work toward a diplomatic arrangement with the Palestinians,” says Mazal Mualem. “Although he is facing leadership battles on the right, it is actually the political center that can embrace him and hand him the premiership once again.”

Thoughts on Gaza, Partners for Progressive Israel

Peter Eisenstadt explains how not to write about the Gaza war.