News Roundup for September 14, 2016

September 14, 2016

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J Street in the News

64 Members of Congress Urge Obama Administration to Put Forth Vision for a Resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, J Street Blog

“A Congressional resolution, backed by 64 Members of Congress, provides strong support for the Obama administration to put forward a vision for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before he leaves office. The resolution comes amid increased speculation about what steps the President could take in the next few months to establish his legacy on the issue…. ‘This is an important demonstration that the President has considerable support from lawmakers in his party for laying down a clear marker of US policy on what a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should look like,’ said Dylan Williams, Vice President of Government Affairs at J Street. ‘By putting forward the US vision for a comprehensive two-state agreement, the President should cement the progress that his administration has made and provide a strong basis for his successor to build on.’”

Top News and Analysis

Slight Improvement in Condition of Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, Haaretz

Israeli former President Shimon Peres’ condition improved slightly Wednesday morning, but he was still on life support and put in a medically induced coma after suffering a major stroke late Tuesday.

U.S. Finalizes Deal to Give Israel $38 Billion in Military Aid, The New York Times

The United States has finalized a $38 billion package of military aid for Israel over the next 10 years, the largest of its kind ever, and the two allies plan to sign the agreement on Wednesday, American and Israeli officials said. The State Department scheduled a ceremony to formally announce the pact, which will be signed by Jacob Nagel, the acting national security adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the under secretary of state for political affairs. Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser who handled negotiations, plans to be on hand.

Poll shows Hillary Clinton trouncing Donald Trump among Jewish voters, JTA

An American Jewish Committee poll released Tuesday shows Clinton defeating Trump, 61 percent to 19 percent among Jewish voters. She beats Trump on a range of issues, notably national security. Respondents said Clinton would be better than Trump in handling terrorism (58-22 percent), would be more likely to unite the country (55-11 percent), would be more likely to promote U.S.-Israel relations (57-22 percent) and would be more effective in dealing with Iran (58-19 percent).

Sorry Bibi, the Palestinians Are Not ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Jewish Settlers, Foreign Policy

Anti-Defamation League director Jonathan Greenblatt writes, “Whatever one’s views of settlements, settlers are not the equivalent of Israeli-Arabs. They always have seen themselves as part of Israel and have demanded at every stage to live under the protection of Israeli sovereignty and security. These demands cannot coexist with the idea of a two-state solution, which requires Palestinian sovereignty over the territory agreed upon for their state. Under such circumstances, it is hardly surprising or offensive that Palestinians insist that no Israeli sovereignty, which the settlers insist on bringing, can exist in an independent Palestinian state. There is nothing intrinsically anti-Jewish nor anything remotely amounting to ‘ethnic cleansing’ in this policy position….Like the term ‘genocide,’ the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ should be restricted to actually describing the atrocity it suggests — rather than distorted to suit political ends.”

News

Israel Denies Claims That Syria Shot Down Warplane and Drone, The New York Times

The Israeli military said on Tuesday that Syrian forces had fired two surface-to-air missiles at Israeli aircraft that were targeting artillery positions in the Syrian Golan Heights overnight, but it categorically denied a claim by the Syrians that they had shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone. It was not immediately clear whether the Syrian antiaircraft fire early Tuesday, a rare response to an Israeli air incursion, was intended to hit the Israeli planes or to serve as a warning.

Anti-Defamation League Slams Benjamin Netanyahu for ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Claim, Forward

The head of the Anti-Defamation League harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Palestinians supported the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews in the West Bank, saying the term was inappropriate to describe the removal of settlers and that his argument was unreasonable. In an op-ed penned for Foreign Policy, Jonathan Greenblatt said that while there were real and legitimate issues Netanyahu could have criticized the Palestinian Authority for, he instead “chose to raise an inappropriate straw man regarding Palestinian policy toward Israeli settlements.”

Israeli politicians renew push to retroactively legalize 2,000 settler homes, Jerusalem Post

Right-wing politicians have renewed their legislative push to retroactively legalize some 2,000 unauthorized settler homes, including the 40 modular ones in the Amona outpost. “There is no legal impediment to passing such a law,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud).

Israeli Supreme Court rejects appeal to release comatose Palestinian hunger striker, Ma’an

The Israeli Supreme Court Tuesday rejected an appeal to release hunger-striking prisoner Malik al-Qadi from administrative detention — internment without charge or trial — as the 25-year-old entered the 59th day of his strike.

Hamas Rejects Proposed Israeli Swap for Soldiers Remains and Missing Civilians, Haaretz

Hamas has rejected two deals offered by Israel to free dozens of prisoners and the remains of 19 Palestinians from a 2014 war in exchange for the remains of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, in addition to the release of three Israeli civilians held in Gaza, an Israeli official said on Tuesday. Lior Lotan, the prime minister’s liaison for prisoners and missing people, revealed at an anti-terrorism conference at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center that Israel had made the offer via a third party.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Benjamin Netanyahu’s Outrageous ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Claim Is Actually Clever Political Ploy, Forward

JJ Goldberg observes, “Netanyahu publicly proposed in January 2014, during Secretary of State John Kerry’s failed diplomatic shuttle, that Israeli settlers be allowed to remain as residents of a Palestinian state after Israel withdraws. He knew it was a nonstarter, but saying it let him continue nodding toward Palestinian statehood while assuring settlers they won’t be harmed. Opposition to the idea came mainly from two groups: settlers and Palestinians. The settlers’ objection is that they settled the West Bank to ensure Israeli sovereignty, not to live under Palestinian rule. Naftali Bennett of the settler-backed Jewish Home party called the idea “unethical.” Palestinians, for their part, say the settlements were created in violation of international law and must be dismantled as part of an Israeli withdrawal. They insist that a sovereign Palestine should be able to control its own immigration and citizenship rules.”

Where’s the Outrage Over Trump Campaign’s Shocking Statement on ‘Ethnic Cleansing’?, Haaretz

Asher Schechter writes, “[T]he Trump campaign’s positions on Israel aren’t just ludicrous. They can also be dangerous. If Trump were to be elected, they would effectively ensure that no negotiation could take place. But more important than that, receiving the endorsement of a major presidential candidate contributes to the increasing legitimization of the most extremist elements of Israeli politics, the ones who seek to establish a de-facto apartheid state. The positions of his advisers may accurately reflect Trump’s thinking on this. Then again, they may not – Trump has reneged (excuse me, “softened”) some extreme positions before. But the mere fact that those things have been said, despite their incendiary nature, proves what so many have said about Trump and his surrogates: They will say anything, literally anything, to get another vote, no matter what it means for the rest of us.”

Why a referendum on West Bank is unlikely to change anything, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar argues, “It would appear that any attempt to raise the Israeli-Palestinian issue to its rightful place is welcome. The problem is that the Zionist left faces a master of public relations, an alchemist who can in one breath turn occupier into victim, and a world chutzpah champion. Netanyahu swims through the diplomatic swamp like a fish in fresh water.”

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