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J Street in the News
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that “the Obama administration and Congress should review the composition and policies of the new [Palestinian] government to ensure they are in line with US law… It would be a mistake for either the United States or Israel to take rash punitive actions against the Palestinians that will only hurt their own interests and set back hopes of resuming peace negotiations.”
Congress to Obama: Cut aid to Palestinians, Al-Monitor
“The Obama administration said that it wouldn't cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority despite its unity government with Hamas, setting up a bruising battle with Congress… The liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street urged ‘caution’ in reviewing US aid.”
“J Street, the pro-peace lobby, took a middle of the road position, counseling caution while calling out Hamas for its anti-Israel rhetoric. ‘J Street urges the US and Israeli governments to adopt a watchful, waiting position in response to the formation of a new Palestinian government,’ announced the lobby at the opening of its response.”
US Jewish groups cast PA unity as rejection of peace, Times of Israel
“J Street also took a cautious approach, urging both the US and Israeli government ‘to adopt a watchful, waiting position in response to the formation of a new Palestinian government.’ In a lengthy statement, the organization said that if the new government were to accept the conditions set out by the Middle East Quartet — to recognize Israel, renounce violence and adhere to previous agreements — it ‘should remain a partner for the United States.’”
“J Street focused on the two-state solution, echoing the State Department’s approach, hoping for the best from the government ostensibly full of independent technocrats unaffiliated with either party. ‘The potential benefit of political unification is that it allows the Palestinian president to negotiate with Israel on behalf of all Palestinians,’ J Street said. ‘The true test of the new Palestinian government should be the policies it follows.’”
“J Street, a liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, also called for a review of the new government’s policies, condemning Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for recently calling on Palestinians to ‘pursue the choice of resistance.’ The group, however, urged caution and suggested benefits could accrue should the new Palestinian government prove to be committed to the peace process.”
Alumni panel touches upon relations with Iran, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Daily Princetonian
Princeton alumni discussed the importance of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the tender negotiations between the United States and Iran on the nuclear deal at a panel . “Jeremy Ben-Ami ’84, executive director of J Street, which calls itself pro-Israel but has often sided with critics of Israel, spoke in favor of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. ‘The reason it is so important to reach a two state solution is because it is in the interest of both parties,’ Ben-Ami said.”
Top News and Analysis
The Israeli security cabinet decided that Israel will not hold negotiations with the new Palestinian unity government and will oppose Hamas participation in the Palestinian elections if and when they take place. Economics Minister Naftali Bennett took the most aggressive line against the Palestinian government, saying Israel should sever all ties with it. In the end, the security cabinet adopted the position of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, deciding that contact could be maintained with some of the new Palestinian ministers, but pending approval from Prime Minister Netanyahu. The panel also decided that security coordination with the Palestinians will continue.
Senior Israeli officials said that Israel is deeply disappointed with the State Department's announcement that the US will continue to work with the new Palestinian unity government. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said earlier that the US intends to work with the new government but will be watching it closely to ensure that it upholds the principles of the Quartet - recognize Israel, reject terror, and honor previously signed agreements.
Following US, EU says it too will work with new PA leadership, Times of Israel
The EU’s top envoy to the US said that Europe was prepared to work with a Palestinian unity government backed by Hamas.
According to Barak Ravid, “While Netanyahu didn’t hesitate to make populist, aggressive statements, on a practical level he has chosen to respond with caution and restraint… What mainly emerges from the resolution is Netanyahu’s fear of escalation. If there’s one thing he doesn’t want to do, it’s cause the Palestinian Authority to collapse. The second thing he wants to avoid is international criticism or pressure on Israel.”
The security cabinet has reportedly started studying unilateral measures to respond to the Palestinian government, including annexation plans proposed by Bennett.
According to some experts, Israel might find it has no choice but to cooperate with the new Palestinian government.
Palestinians may be forced to seek new prisoner salary benefactors, Times of Israel
A senior Fatah official said that Western and Israeli pressure has succeeded in changing the way the Palestinian government funds security prisoners in Israeli prisons and their families.
“The reconciliation is not going to be easy, and both sides will face problems,” said one Ramallah lawyer.
Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian gunman who opened fire at them, wounding one of the troops under the cover of darkness early at a checkpoint in the West Bank.
With the deadline for expiration of the interim nuclear agreement with Iran fast approaching, senior and former US officials have given mixed signals about whether the interim deal will have to be extended. But there are compelling reasons to reach a deal before the end of this year that have to do with both domestic politics and bureaucratic considerations.
Opinion and Analysis
Chemi Shalev says that “the [Israeli] cabinet’s tough-guy pronouncements were aimed at the two groups that would appreciate them most: public opinion in Israel and Republican lawmakers in Washington.”
Dahlia Scheindlin argues, “The reconciliation and unity government is a turning point for a Palestine that is not crying victimhood, but is gaining momentum and calling the shots. Consolidating the Palestinian vision gives them a greater chance of achieving it. Wasting energy in frantic struggles to respond, Israel is destined to fall behind.”
Israel can learn from Palestinian narrative, Al-Monitor
Akiva Eldar examines a recent study which “illustrates a firm link between increasing the level of knowledge and sensitivity to the complexity of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict and the exposure to the narrative of the other — and the willingness for reconciliation and development of a sense of responsibility for pushing it forward.”