News Roundup for July 14, 2017

July 14, 2017

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J Street in the News

In the Two Years Since its Signing, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Has Proved a Major Success, J Street

Tomorrow marks two years since the United States and five other major powers finalized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement with Iran to permanently defang its nuclear program. On this anniversary, it’s more clear than ever that the agreement is achieving its goals and has made Israel, the United States and the whole world safer….This tremendous accomplishment for global security was achieved through tough diplomacy, without firing a shot. Even President Trump and his administration, who have been among the agreement’s most prominent detractors, have been forced to acknowledge the truth: that the agreement is working. In April the administration certified to Congress that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the JCPOA, while in May the US reissued sanctions waivers required to continue US compliance. The agreement enjoys support among American voters well into its implementation, with polls showing a super-majority of US Jews continuing to back the deal, along with a growing majority of Americans generally. Moreover, veteran leaders of Israel’s security establishment publicly tout the agreement as an important success….J Street calls on Congress and the administration to continue to fully uphold and enforce the JCPOA agreement, and to undertake determined new efforts to further moderate Iran’s policies and behavior through tough diplomacy.”

J Street Welcomes New Israeli-Palestinian Water Supply Agreement, J Street

“J Street welcomes the announcement by US presidential envoy Jason Greenblatt that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached an agreement to greatly increase the supply of water to the Palestinian territory….This announcement comes just days after an agreement between Israel and the PA to provide electricity to an underserved area of the West Bank and give Palestinians greater control over its maintenance and supply. Both are positive and welcome steps to better develop Palestinian infrastructure and support Palestinian communities. All parties must realize that these steps will not by themselves bring about a two-state solution or end the occupation, and they are no substitute for serious discussions and negotiations to resolve the core issues at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But as former Democratic and Republican officials have noted, they are helpful and important in building renewed trust and communication between the two sides, and good examples of how active US diplomacy can help bring Israelis and Palestinians together.”

Top News and Analysis

Two Police Officers Wounded in Temple Mount Shooting Die of Their Wounds, Haaretz

“Two Border Police Officers were killed on Friday morning’s shooting attack at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Another police officer was also wounded. The police officers who were killed have been identified as Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Hael Sathawi, a 30-year-old resident of Maghar, and Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shanan, a 22-year-old resident of Hurfeish and the son of former MK Shakib Shanan. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the attack to condemn the shooting. The assailants, Israeli Arabs from the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, were shot and killed. Police ordered the shuttering of the Temple Mount compound, which was cleared of people. Police also ordered the cancellation of Friday prayers at the site for the first time in years.”

Gaza’s Last Power Plant Just Shut Down, Plunging the Strip Into Darkness, Haaretz

“The Gaza Strip’s only operating power plant was turned off late Wednesday due to a severe shortage of fuel, leaving the coastal enclave in a complete blackout, local officials said. Officials at the Hamas-run power corporation said they had turned off the last operating turbine at the plant in southern Gaza city. Since April, Gaza’s power station has not been generating any megawatts, while Israel has reduced the amount of power it supplies to the Gaza Strip. Power lines built to supply electricity from Egypt have been damaged amid heavy fighting in the Sinai region. Two weeks ago, Egypt shipped around 4 million liters of fuel to operate the power plant – but it was not enough to resolve the worsening crisis.”

The Iran Nuclear Deal Has Been a Blessing for Israel, Foreign Policy

Former Shin Bet director Carmi Gillon writes, “Through the JCPOA, the major world powers came together to ensure — without a single shot being fired — that Iran dismantled key nuclear infrastructure and submitted itself to thorough monitoring and inspection. Two years later, the results are in, and they show the effort has been a clear success….As a guardian of Israel’s security, my job was to prepare for the worst — while searching always for bold and proactive measures to head off disaster and stop threats in their tracks. The nuclear agreement is a good example of the kind of solutions to which I aspired. It has neutralized a major threat to the world, while ensuring that the United States and its allies have the tools, the information, and the leverage that they need to confront the Iranian danger and make the region, and the world, a safer place.”

The First Qualification Is Inexperience, The American Prospect

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “Even if the world’s fashions can be a bit slow to get to Israel, they do finally arrive. Monday the Labor Party elected as its new leader an outsider named Avi Gabbay. Gabbay has only been a member of Labor for six months. If a membership card was mailed to him, it may not have arrived yet, given the state of the Israeli post office. The only political position he has held was minister of the environment for a year, as the constant odd-man-out in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Quitting that job was what made him a national figure….As an insurgent, Gabbay is closer to Macron than to Sanders. He’s a technocrat by training and belief. He is not a socialist, but it’s been a long time since Labor had much to do with socialism. He is, explicitly, a supporter of the welfare state. Among other promises, he says he will eliminate outsourcing of civil service jobs to labor contractors—a method that Israeli governments have used on a massive scale to cut benefits and pay. He says he favors a two-state solution and sees Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas as a negotiating partner. He claims his model is the late Yitzhak Rabin, the assassinated peacemaker. This is a good sentiment but vague. His clearest commitments on security issues are economic: He wants to transfer funds from settlements to poor towns inside Israel, and from the defense budget to civilian spending.”

News

Noting ‘Trump Effect,’ Former U.S. Officials Praise Israeli-Palestinian Water Deal, Haaretz

“Former American officials who have previously worked on the Israeli-Palestinian issue expressed support on Thursday for the new water agreement announced by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The agreement was announced in Jerusalem during a press conference attended by Jason Greenblatt, the special envoy working to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace on behalf of President Donald Trump. ‘This is positive news,’ Dan Shapiro, the American ambassador to Israel under the Obama administration, told Haaretz. ‘It’s more than just a signing ceremony, and if implemented, it will address some real water needs now, and more in the future when the pipeline is completed.’ Shapiro added that ‘Both sides are trying to show they can be reasonable and do mutually beneficial deals. I would attribute that partially to a Trump effect, in which the parties want to generate positive results (that don’t require major concessions) to stay on his good side.’”

Canada bans ‘Product of Israel’ labels for West Bank wines, Times of Israel

Canadian food inspectors have ordered liquor stores to stop selling wines made in the West Bank, saying their label identifying them as Israeli contravenes Ottawa’s policy on the territory. News of the order emerged with the issue of a letter Tuesday from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to liquor vendors, detailing the ruling by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency a week earlier “that ‘Product of Israel’ would not be an acceptable country of origin declaration for wine products that have been made from grapes that are grown, fermented, processed, blended and finished in the West Bank occupied territory.”

Israeli Army Braces for Unrest in West Bank After Temple Mount Shooting, Haaretz

Following Friday morning’s attack at the entrance to the Temple Mount, in which two Border Police officers were killed and another wounded, the Israeli army instructed soldiers to act more vigilantly for fear that the attack would lead to unrest in the West Bank and inspire more shootings.

Israel Cracks Down on Largest Telecom Firm Bezeq; CEO, Two Netanyahu Allies Arrested, Haaretz

The controlling shareholder of Bezeq, Shaul Elovitch, and Communications Ministry Director General Shlomo Filber were both placed under house arrest as an Israel Securities Authority investigation cracked down on the country’s largest telecommunications company. The widening probe of Bezeq now includes what it being called a secret channel for sensitive information between Elovitch and Filber, both considered close to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Netanyahu Asks Likud Lawmakers to Defend Him: Political Enemies Are Trying to Topple Me, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu has shortened his planned trip to Paris and Budapest, seemingly to give himself more time to deal with scandals developing in Israel. The Prime Minister’s Bureau said Thursday that he will postpone his departure from Friday afternoon to late Saturday night. The announcement of Netanyahu’s schedule change came only a few hours after he convened a group of close Likud ministers and lawmakers for political consultations related to the investigations against him and his closest colleagues in the so-called submarine scandal and the Bezeq affair, and the accompanying political fallout. At the meeting, Netanyahu asked the ministers and lawmakers to help defend him in the media in connection to the Bezeq and submarine affairs.

White House welcomes Israeli-Palestinian water agreement, Times of Israel

The White House welcomes the water agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In a statement, the Trump administration notes the plan will allocate 32 million cubic meters, 10 of which will be for Gaza.

US expected to recertify Iran compliance with nuclear deal, Al-Monitor

“The Trump administration is expected to again certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, possibly as early as Monday, even as it continues to review broader US policy to the Islamic Republic.”

American Jews Pour in Money for Billboard Campaign Backing Western Wall Egalitarian Prayer Deal, Haaretz

With the help of tens of thousands of dollars raised from American Jewish donors, the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel launched a huge billboard campaign on Thursday. The campaign’s goal is to pressure the Israeli government into fulfilling its promises to build a new and permanent egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. About 1,000 billboards have been put up around the country with the call: “Free the Kotel – Enough with ultra-Orthodox domination.”

Opinions and Analysis

Why Netanyahu Hates George Soros So Much, Haaretz

Alison Kaplan Sommer writes, “In addition to Netanyahu’s desire to placate Orbán on the eve of their meeting, and his loathing for the Israeli groups that Open Society supports, Adelson is a key reason why the Israeli premier is positioning himself as part of the Soros-hating club.

Netanyahu’s patron styles himself as a counterweight to Soros – particularly when it comes to the American political arena, where his tens of millions of dollars flow to Republicans who battle it out with Soros-supported candidates, most bitterly and dramatically in 2016. At a time when Adelson is rumored to be drifting away from his previously rock-solid support for Netanyahu and casting his eye rightward to Naftali Bennett, Israel’s prime minister has a strong interest in showing that he is Adelson’s ally – and, therefore, Soros’ enemy.”

A Good Story About Israelis and Palestinians, The New York Times

Seth Siegel writes, “The Trump administration has yet to broker the “toughest deal of all” — that between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Chances seem slim. But Jason Greenblatt, the president’s Middle East envoy, did announce some welcome news at a press conference Thursday in Jerusalem: The Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians will be cooperating on a large water infrastructure project, which will provide billions of gallons of new water supplies for each of the three parties….The strategic genius of the plan is that it weaves vital economic interests of these sometimes-antagonists together. Even should Jordan or the West Bank someday fall to radical rejectionists, it would be nearly impossible for those leaders to entirely break the water ties established here without creating substantial hardship for their populations.”

Egypt, Dahlan foiling Abbas’ plot against Hamas in Gaza Strip, Al-Monitor

Adnan Abu Amer reports, “There has been widespread speculation that Sisi intends to see Abbas step down as PA president. Yoni Ben Menachem, a former Israeli intelligence officer, told News 1 on July 3 that Sisi will topple Abbas. He said Sisi is preparing to eliminate Abbas from the political scene and is no longer taking him seriously. This knowledge makes Abbas nervous and may be pushing him to lash out at those surrounding him. The relationship between Fatah and Egypt has reached the bone-breaking stage, especially with Abbas as head of the movement. Abbas has a personal issue with Egypt because it insists on bringing Dahlan back to Fatah. Perhaps Egypt believes it is now time to turn the page on Abbas once and for all.”

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