J Street's News Roundup 6/23/14

June 23rd, 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

Kidnapping of 3 Israeli teens could trigger more violence, Houston Chronicle

Warning that “the Kerry effort's failure has left a dangerous vacuum,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami argued that “the Obama administration must not step away and leave the parties to their own devices, which will only allow the situation to deteriorate. On the contrary, the time has come for some plain speaking and more forceful leadership.”

J Street repudiates Presbyterian divestment decision, sees no victory for BDS Movement, J Street

J Street said that it does not believe that boycotts or divestment will bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to a two-state solution to their conflict, nor are they appropriate tools in pushing toward resolution of the conflict. We do not support the decision of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to divest from three North American companies doing business in the Palestinian territory.

Presbyterian Church votes in favor of divestment, Times of Israel

“In a move that a number of Jewish leaders warned would damage Jewish-Presbyterian relations for years to come, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA voted Friday in favor of divesting from three US companies which they complained profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The motion to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard passed by a narrow margin of 310-303, despite intensive campaigning by a number of Jewish organizations, including the Reform Movement, the American Jewish Committee, and J Street.”

Presbyterian Church USA Narrowly Approves Divestment, Tablet

“On the ground in the Detroit, the divestment motion faced wall-to-wall opposition from Jewish groups, from the American Jewish Committee to J Street, capped by an impassioned personal address from Reform Movement head Rabbi Rick Jacobs.”

Why Supporting Israel Isn't All in the Family Anymore, Forward

The Forward editorial board said that “when an organization like J Street, whose views roughly reflect the majority’s, is shut out of the major Israel advocacy umbrella group, it’s no wonder increasing numbers of Jew are disengaged.”

Top News and Analysis

37 Palestinians arrested overnight in West Bank, Times of Israel

Thirty-seven Palestinians were arrested by the IDF overnight Sunday, and eighty locations were searched by Israeli troops, as the West Bank operation to locate kidnapped teenagers Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frankel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, entered its eleventh day. Five Palestinians have been killed in clashes with security forces since the operation began.

Peres: Abbas ‘risking his life’ in stance against terrorism, Times of Israel

President Peres on Sunday hailed President Abbas as a great leader, calling him the best peace partner Israel has ever had, and saying he was “risking his life” to take a principled position against terrorism.

Netanyahu blasts Presbyterian divestment as 'disgraceful', Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu denounced as "disgraceful" the Presbyterian Church's divestment from companies equipping Israeli activities in the West Bank and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. The prime minister also said, “I think it was a good thing that [Abbas condemned the kidnapping], and I think it would be tested now by his willingness to stop the incitement against Israel and the glorification of terrorists." The prime minister said two other tests of Abbas' intentions would be "that he helps us capture the kidnappers" – which Palestinian troops under Abbas' authority have been doing – and that he dissolve the Fatah-Hamas unity government.

Iran Nuclear Talks Produce Possible Framework for Deal, Wall Street Journal

With one month to go until a July 20 deadline, the odds of a high-stakes nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers appeared finely balanced, with senior diplomats saying this week's talks had shown "progress" but warning that gaps may prove too wide to resolve. After five days of discussions in Vienna, top Iranian and U.S. officials demanded major concessions from the other side and there was no pretense of any sudden breakthrough. However, the negotiating teams departed Friday with a working document in hand—the first concrete advance in months. Diplomats said all sides appear committed to reach an accord and they left with plans to return July 2 for a mammoth negotiation session that could run through July 20.

Fate of 3 Kidnapped Israelis Raises Tensions on Many Fronts, The New York Times

Nearly two months after the collapse of Secretary of State Kerry’s peace initiative, the abduction and its aftermath only highlights the huge gulf, political and psychological, between the long-warring neighbors.

Whose Palestine?, New York Review of Books

Nathan Thrall analyzes how the kidnapping could reshape Palestinian reconciliation and the political future of the West Bank.


Netanyahu: Recent Palestinian deaths were not intentional, but self defense, Haaretz

Netanyahu declined to condemn or apologize for the recent deaths of young Palestinians at the hands of Israeli security forces, in response to criticism levelled by Abbas. "We are in the middle of an ongoing and focused effort to return our boys home," he said. "That effort involves a certain degree of friction with the civilian population of Judea and Samaria, but we have no intention of maliciously harming anyone."

Lapid: We want kidnapped teens home by next Shabbat, Times of Israel

Finance Minister Yair Lapid commended Abbas for his statements condemning the kidnappings, and called Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation “significant.”

Palestinians turning to UN Security Council to halt West Bank raids, Times of Israel

The Palestinian Authority is appealing to international institutions and attempting to urgently convene the UN Security Council, calling for an immediate end to a wide Israeli military operation in the West Bank.

Israel set to double number of Palestinian administrative detainees, Haaretz

The IDF plans to issue about 200 new administrative detention orders to Palestinians detained during the operation to find and free the three teenagers kidnapped 10 days ago in Gush Etzion. About 100 of the detention orders have already been signed by IDF officers. There are about 200 prisoners in Israeli prisons today under administrative detention, 80 of whom are conducting a hunger strike in protest over their detention. The additional 200 prisoners will make it the highest number since July 2009.

Israel says no decision on threat to expel UN envoy, AFP

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said a final decision had yet to be made on his threat to expel Robert Serry, the UN’s top Jerusalem-based peace envoy, who he accused of helping to transfer Qatari funds to Gaza. Serry rejected the allegations, saying in a statement that the Palestinian Authority had approached him “informally” on the matter.

Israel Strikes Syria After Youth Is Killed, The New York Times

The Israeli military said Monday that it had struck Syrian Army targets in response to an attack in the Golan Heights the day before that killed an Arab-Israeli teenager and wounded two others.

Divestment vote by Presbyterian Church strains long ties with Jewish community, Washington Post

Members of the Presbyterian and Jewish faiths have long been considered allies across the US religious patchwork, forging bonds in local communities over shared viewpoints on many social issues. Now, some are warning that their alliance is on shaky ground after Friday’s vote.

Opinion and Analysis

Don't expect a happy ending from Israel's West Bank operation, Haaretz

Amos Harel warns, “Instead of finding the abducted teens, the Israeli army is getting sidetracked into hunting down Palestinian flags and could soon find itself in an unwanted war.”

Kidnappings force rethink of Israel’s Hamas strategy, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar analyzes Israel’s shifting strategy to counter Hamas.

Abbas outstretches his hand, but Netanyahu wags his finger, Haaretz

Ravit Hecht says that “those who don't appreciate the risk Abbas takes on himself by his statements only pay lip service to terms like ‘peace’ or ‘real peace’ or any other whitewashed expression, while their true goal is the pursuit of war. Those who don't see Abbas' offer as a diplomatic fulcrum don't want or believe in peace.”

Wary of a quagmire, Netanyahu launches a war of words, Haaretz

Yossi Verter examines how Netanyahu is navigating the Israeli political scene amid the search for the kidnapped teens.

The atrocity of abductions–extremists again destroy peace hopes, Times of Israel

“By far the most important matter –and beyond politics– is to hope these teens are returned home safe and sound and ASAP,” writes James Adler. “This isn’t about politics — even if Netanyahu contemptibly tries to make it so — but only about pure horror and tragedy and intense fear.”