News Roundup for November 14, 2017

November 14, 2017

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J Street in the News

Penalizing BDS Is Un-American, The Forward

Jeremy Ben-Ami argues, “An effective strategy to oppose BDS… would articulate a pro-Israel, anti-occupation platform. It would reaffirm the necessity and justice of states for both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples and seriously hold accountable those who move us away from that goal – including the current, far-right Israeli government. Most important, it would recognize a core component of both American democracy and the Jewish tradition: that we listen to, and argue with, those with whom we disagree. BDS opponents in this country are mistakenly taking their cues from Israel’s right-wing politicians and others cracking down on democratic rights around the world by proposing to penalize criticism of Israel, the occupation and settlement expansion in the West Bank.”

Top News and Analysis

IAEA confirms Iran is meeting its commitments under nuclear agreement, Washington Post

Carol Morello reports, “Iran is adhering to the restrictions imposed on its nuclear program under a 2015 agreement, the United Nations agency charged with monitoring the country’s facilities has said in its first report since President Trump refused to certify the Islamic republic’s compliance. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a confidential report viewed by Reuters and several other news outlets Monday that Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium have not exceeded the agreed limit of 300 kilograms. It also reported that IAEA inspectors were able to gain access to any sites they tried to visit. The quarterly report marked the ninth successive time the IAEA has attested that Iran is meeting its commitments since the nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers, including the United States, was implemented early last year.”

Trump’s Middle East peace initiative still on hold, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “Al-Monitor has learned that Trump and his staff’s original plan was to launch the initiative in January 2018, one year after Trump assumed the presidency. It was supposed to take place in an impressive ceremony in Washington with the participation of Israel (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and the Palestinians (President Mahmoud Abbas), of course, as well as high-level representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan. Middle Eastern countries that do not have official diplomatic relations with Israel were indeed expected to participate along with high-level representatives from the Quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — and the international community. The January deadline does not, however, appear to be realistic. The intention is to delay the launch until March 2018.”


Israel Raises Alert Level Fearing Islamic Jihad Retaliation for Gaza Tunnel Bombing; Anti-rocket Systems Deployed, Haaretz

The Israeli military raised its alert level on Monday, taking various measures in the wake of new assessments that the Islamic Jihad will attempt a revenge attack. The leadership of the Gaza-based group is threatening revenge over Israel’s bombing of a cross-border attack tunnel near Gaza two weeks ago, in which 12 members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas were killed.

Greenblatt: no resumption of Israel-Palestinian talks in sight, YNet

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, said Monday that despite spending “a lot of time listening to and engaging with the Israelis, Palestinians and key regional leaders over the past few months,” the administration is not yet prepared to table a new proposal to jump-start the Israel-Palestinian peace process, or even to bring Israel-Palestinian leaders together.

Israeli settlers throw rocks at Palestinian cars, injure 2 Palestinians, Ma’an

Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles with stones as the cars passed near the Huwwara Israeli military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus.

Israel Denies Entry to European Officials Over ‘Support for Israel Boycott,’ Haaretz

Israel announced on Monday it would deny entry to seven members of a delegation of European officials using the recently approved legislation that bars visits by anti-Israel boycott activists.  The 20-member delegation, which was set to arrive in Israel next week, was to include European Parliament members and French mayors. The Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority said seven of the 20 delegation members will be barred from entering Israel, adding it obtained information that they had called for a boycott of Israel.

Israel reportedly threatens to shelve Jordan water deal until embassy reopened, Times of Israel

Israel has reportedly told Jordan that a joint agreement for the construction of a pipeline transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea will not go ahead until Israel is allowed to reopen its embassy in Amman.

Jewish Federations of North America Formally Slam Israel for Backtracking on Western Wall Deal, Haaretz

The leadership of Jewish Federations of North America on Monday passed a resolution criticizing the Israeli government over decisions to suspend an agreement permitting an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall agreement and promote a controversial bill rejecting all conversions performed outside the Orthodox-sanctioned state system.

Opinions and Analysis

Zionist Organization of America Embraces ‘Alt-right’ Stars – Even Those Too Fringe for Trump, Haaretz

Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “And yet, after he proved to be too hot for the White House to handle, Bannon was no longer just officially invited, but ‘proudly’ welcomed by Morton Klein and cheered by the crowd, many of whom stood up as they applauded, as he took the podium as a featured speaker in the hotel ballroom.”

Saudi Arabia and Iran May Be Headed Toward War, The Atlantic Council

Alireza Rader writes, “An Israeli conflict with Hezbollah, supported by Washington and Riyadh, could quickly draw in Iran and spread to the Persian Gulf, one of the most heavily armed regions in the world. A war between Iran and Saudi Arabia is likely to result in major economic devastation, disrupting energy supplies and throwing the global economy into another major recession. Saudi Arabia may be armed with a sophisticated air force, but Iran has built the region’s largest missile inventory and currently commands tens of thousands of battle hardened Shi’a militiamen. Even those Iranians deeply opposed to the Islamic Republic are likely to rally around their government as it fights Saudi Arabia and its partners.  Ultimately, the region’s problems must be solved at the negotiation table. None of the main actors can use their respective militaries to solve problems rooted in authoritarian governance, economic corruption, social malaise, and religious and ideological bigotry.”

Israel’s threats could push it into unnecessary war with Iran, +972

Shemuel Meir argues, “Endless threats and the instinctive inclination toward a preventative strike are likely to push Israel into a much wider, unwanted, and unnecessary war with Iran. A war that will become a long war of attrition and a self-fulfilling prophecy. An Israeli strike could lead to exactly that which it aims to prevent: an Iranian decision to abandon the nuclear deal and the NPT and head down the path of developing nuclear weapons. The American accomplishment — along with the other five powers — preventing the emergence of nuclear weapons in Iran, would evaporate instantaneously. Israel, which was one of the main beneficiaries of the nuclear deal that prevented the emergence of a new nuclear state in the Middle East, will have to face a new and more dangerous reality with the possibility of a nuclear arms race.”

Hamas must choose between Palestinian unity, Iran, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar aruges, “Between the lines of the warm and welcoming phrases in the announcement that followed the king’s meeting with Abbas is a barely veiled threat. Salman pledged full backing in all international forums for the PA’s efforts to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, as well as broad economic support, as long as the Palestinians pick the right side.”