News Roundup for March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018

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J Street in the News

Netanyahu’s showmanship abroad won’t save him at home, Washington Post

“Such rhetoric infuriates not only Palestinians but left-leaning American Jews. ‘At a time when an ever greater number of Israeli experts have made clear that the absence of a viable diplomatic horizon for the Palestinians threatens Israel’s future, Netanyahu once again refused to back a two-state solution,’ Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal Jewish American advocacy organization, said in an emailed statement. ‘Netanyahu’s refusal to back a two-state solution, policies of creeping annexation and support for settlement expansion are leading his country towards a one-state nightmare.’”

Ambassador David Friedman Can’t Silence the Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Movement, The Forward

Jeremy Ben-Ami argues, “More and more pro-Israel Americans recognize that the settlement movement and its allies are leading Israel down a path to a one-state nightmare of permanent occupation and violence, not peace. If that’s the definition of pro-Israel that David Friedman insists we adopt, we proudly claim the pro-Israel, pro-peace mantle instead.”

AIPAC’s Next Big Battle Might Be With Israel, The Forward

Batya Ungar-Sargon argues, “There’s a delicious irony to Friedman sub-tweeting J Street at a conference where AIPAC was trying to brand itself as something akin to J Street. But Friedman’s words weren’t so much a gaffe as an illuminating portrayal of the stakes of AIPAC’s attempt to reclaim bipartisanship. For the world is not the world it once was. President Trump has had a deeply polarizing effect on all Americans, Jews included. The Israelis, too, are getting more and more hawkish and less willing to consider a Palestinian state. If AIPAC is truly committed to courting progressive American Jews, it will face a looming crisis as Israel increasingly alienates them.”

Top News and Analysis

New U.S. Embassy May Be in Jerusalem, but Not in Israel, The New York Times

Isabel Kershner reports, “In two months, the United States plans to open a new embassy to fulfill President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. There’s just one problem: The embassy may be in Jerusalem, but it may not be fully in Israel. The diplomatic compound that will serve as the American Embassy until a permanent site is found lies partly in a contested zone known as No Man’s Land. No Man’s Land encompasses the area between the armistice lines drawn at the end of the 1948-49 war and was claimed by Jordan and Israel. Israel won full control of it in the 1967 war, so the United Nations and much of the world consider it occupied territory.”

AIPAC’s Struggle to Avoid the Fate of the NRA, The Atlantic

Peter Beinart writes, “The Millennial campus activists of today are the Democratic Party activists of tomorrow. Already, they are pushing the party leftward. Polling suggests it’s happening on Israel too. AIPAC understands these trends well. And it’s desperate to counter them, to find a message that keeps progressives in the tent. But, at the end of the day, most young liberal American Jews don’t think AIPAC has a message problem. They think it has a moral problem. AIPAC, in their view, is asking progressives to support Israel’s right to deny to one religious-ethnic group the rights it guarantees to another. Which means that AIPAC, as they see it, is asking progressives to not really be progressive at all.”

News

Netanyahu says solution may not include ‘full sovereignty’ for Palestinians, JTA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to say whether he now believes in a two-state solution, saying it was up to the Palestinians to prove that a sovereign state would not threaten Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas’ Health Deteriorates, and Israel Prepares for Bloody Succession Fight, Haaretz

In recent months there has been a deterioration in the health of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will be 83 at the end of the month. Information about his health has been submitted to Israeli political and security officials. Although the security cooperation between Israel and the PA continues to be managed well, Israel is readying itself for the possibility that a continued worsening of Abbas’ health will intensify the succession wars in the PA and undermine the relative stability that now prevails in the West Bank.

Israel Passes Law Allowing Minister to Revoke Permanent Residency Status of Palestinians, Haaretz

The Knesset passed a law Wednesday allowing the interior minister to revoke the permanent residency status of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem who engage in terror or other anti-Israel activities and any permanent residents involved in such acts. Under the law, the state can deport anyone whose residency status is withdrawn.

Bennett says he’s ready for elections, will demand defense portfolio, Times of Israel

The head of the coalition Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, said Thursday that he was prepared to go to early elections if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decides to dissolve the coalition, and would demand the position of defense minister in any future coalition led by Netanyahu.

Attorney general said to want Netanyahu to resign if indicted, Times of Israel

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reportedly believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign if he is indicted on corruption charges.

Netanyahu Blasts Police: State Witnesses Are Told That Only Way Out Is to Smear Me, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly criticized the police Wednesday for recruiting his confidants as state witnesses in the corruption cases against him.

Netanyahus tried to push moguls to fund Israeli version of Fox News — report, Times of Israel

Israeli police are looking into suspicions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara tried to get billionaires Arnon Milchen, James Packer and Rupert Murdoch to invest $25 million each in a new Israeli right-wing commercial TV channel, Channel 2 News reported Tuesday.

Opinions and Analysis

Israel’s Alt-Right is Now Mainstream — Are Lawmakers Doing Enough to Stop It? Newsweek

Yardena Schwartz argues, “Since Kahane’s days, Israel has moved far to the right. Today, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 48 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that Israel should expel its Arab citizens, who constitute nearly 20 percent of its population. Twenty years ago, 32 percent of Israelis considered themselves left-wing. Today, that figure is 19 percent, according to the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank…Today, the government is even considering legislation that some observers say would make Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority state more important than its democratic values. This would be the first step, some observers claim, toward establishing the country Kahane envisioned.”

Stakes rise as battle over Abbas’ successor heats up, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes, “The reports surfacing about the impending resignation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are nothing new. Over the past year, similar rumors emerged repeatedly only to be proven false. Now, however, all indications suggest that the end of the Abbas era is imminent. The PLO and its largest faction Fatah, both headed by Abbas, are preparing for a change of guard. A Palestinian source told the popular London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that when the Palestinian National Council convenes in May, the PLO institutions are expected to name a successor to the president, with Abbas lobbying for his associate Mahmoud al-Aloul.”

Palestinians change tack on Trump, Al-Monitor

Daoud Kuttab writes, “The Palestinians are clearly the weak party in the ongoing debate over the peace process, and they have decided that they need to be prudent in how they tackle the United States’ staunch pro-Israel positions. They want to set the record straight, but they need to choose their political battles wisely. It seems that Palestinian leaders have decided that Trump’s bark is much worse than his bite and that they need to focus their energy rather than wasting it after every American pronouncement.”

A History Lesson For Chuck Schumer On Israel — And A Changing America, The Forward

Peter Beinart argues, “The real problem confronting Schumer isn’t that young Americans are ignorant. It’s that more and more of them are knowledgeable enough to realize that Israeli policy in both the West Bank and Gaza massively violates Palestinian human rights. And to wonder why a Democrat like Chuck Schumer is supporting policies so antithetical to the progressive principles he claims to hold dear.”

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