News Roundup for September 28, 2017

September 28, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Tim Kaine: Backing Out of the Iran Agreement Would Damage America’s Moral Authority, Time

Senator Tim Kaine writes, “Refusing to make the necessary certifications regarding Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal and paving the way for the U.S. to break its own commitments when Iran has been compliant would amount to the United States going back on its word….So much is on the line for America: whether Iran will become a serious nuclear threat again, maintaining a moral high ground in countering Iran’s non-nuclear aggression, the number of tools we have to deal with North Korea, our credibility in the eyes of the world. The IAEA and our U.S. allies are clear: Iran has upheld its commitments under the nuclear deal. When it comes time for the United States to certify Iran’s compliance next month, I urge the Administration to uphold our commitments and make the certification.“

Celebrating 50 Years of West Bank Settlements Is Cheap Political Theater, Haaretz

Ehud Barak writes, “The wonderful story of our return to Zion and our settlement in the parts of our homeland that are essential to ensuring our future is a continuation of the proud Israeli national story. But in the consciousness of the right’s leadership, it has been replaced by a lunatic vision of one state with an ongoing civil war and “Jewish apartheid” – or alternatively, an Arab majority. This is a vision whose focus today is the effort to thwart any chance of an agreement with confidence in the future through isolated settlements, and it’s a prescription for disaster that must be halted.”

Marking 50 years of settlements, PM vows they will never be uprooted, Times of Israel

Speaking Wednesday at a state ceremony to mark 50 years of Israeli settlements in the West Bank,  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the Jewish communities in the territory will never be uprooted. “Settlement is important to you in the same way that it is important to me, so I say very clearly: There will be no further uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel,” Netanyahu told the crowd at the event, which was held in the Gush Etzion bloc, a key settlement region that lies south of Jerusalem.

U.S. plans to cap refugees at 45,000 in coming fiscal year, according to State Department report, Washington Post

The United States plans to accept a maximum of 45,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year, according to a report obtained by The Washington Post, a figure that represents the lowest cap in decades and one that human rights groups quickly condemned. The State Department and Department of Homeland Security briefed members of Congress on the plan Wednesday. The cap, previously reported by the Wall Street Journal and others, is the lowest since a 1980 law created an organized refugee program.

News

Trump’s Ambassador Told Netanyahu: Don’t Go Overboard With Settlements, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a meeting with settlement leaders on Wednesday that Israel must uphold its commitment to the Trump administration to restrict settlement building in the West Bank, participants in the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office said. Netanyahu boasted at the meeting with the heads of Council of Judea and Samaria that he had convinced the Americans to take the distinction between settlement blocs and isolated settlements off the table, they said.

Trump facing increased pressure from lawmakers to abide by Iran nuclear deal, JTA

Ben Cardin, one of a handful of Senate Democrats who opposed the Iran nuclear deal, urged the Trump administration not to pull out of it — the latest indication of congressional resistance to killing the agreement. “If we violate a U.N. resolution, in the eyes of the international community, do we have any credibility?” Cardin asked Wednesday at a monthly meeting he holds with foreign policy reporters, referring to the Security Council resolution that undergirds the deal. “I don’t understand the strategy to set up the potential of the United States walking away from a nuclear agreement.”

3 Arab-Israelis arrested for planning attack on Temple Mount, JTA

Three Arab-Israelis were arrested for planning a shooting on the Temple Mount. Two of the arrested, one a 16-year-old minor, of Umm al-Fahm located near Haifa in northern Israel, were supporters of the Islamic State who planned to carry out a shooting attack on the Temple Mount modeled after one in July that killed two Israeli Border Police officers. The third man arrested was a supporter of the Islamic State who possessed weapons to carry out the attack.

After Har Adar attack, IDF cracks down on terrorist’s hometown, Times of Israel

The IDF on Wednesday and Thursday confiscated dozens of cars and issued orders to halt illegal construction in the Palestinian villages of Bayt Surik and Bidu, the army said. The pinpoint crackdown on the residents of these villages came in response to a terror attack committed at the nearby Har Adar settlement earlier this week by a resident of Bayt Surik.

Sheldon Adelson loses second appeal in bid to sue Jewish Democrats, JTA
Nevada’s Supreme Court dismissed a bid by Sheldon Adelson to sue Jewish Democrats who hyperlinked to an article alleging the casino magnate allowed prostitutes to work his casino in Macau. The hyperlink, in a National Jewish Democratic Council online petition during the 2012 presidential election, was to an Associated Press article covering a lawsuit by a former employee of Adelson who alleged that he was terminated for, among other reasons, refusing to allow prostitutes to ply their trade at the casino.

UN Sent Warning Letter to 150 Companies for Doing Business in Israeli Settlements, Haaretz

The UN’s Human Rights Commissioner began sending letters two weeks ago to 150 companies in Israel and around the world, warning them that they are about to be added to a database of companies doing business in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats involved in the matter told Haaretz. The Israeli official, who requested to stay anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, noted that the letters, sent by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said these firms were doing business in the “occupied Palestinian territories” and could thus find themselves on the UN blacklist for companies acting in violation of “internal law and UN decisions.” The letters, copies of which also reached the Israeli government, request that these firms send the commission clarifications about their business activities in settlements.

High Court Justices Back Naor for Skipping ‘Controversial’ Settlement Jubilee Ceremony, Haaretz

The High Court of Justice ruled in support of its own president, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, on Wednesday in her controversial decision not to send a representative of the judicial branch to the official government ceremony marking 50 years to Israel’s conquest of the West Bank. The High Court rejected a petition by the right-wing Regavim nonprofit organization to reverse Naor’s decision, or cancel the ceremony. The Supreme Court came under heavy political fire on Wednesday after the court’s president Miriam Naor decided the judicial branch would skip the controversial ceremony, saying it has become too politically controversial. Cabinet ministers criticized Naor’s decision, claiming it proves the court is biased against the settlers and  settlement enterprise.

Israeli Intelligence Helped Thwart Dozens of Terror Attacks Worldwide, Haaretz

The Israeli intelligence community has shared information with other countries over the past two years that has helped thwart dozens of terror attacks about to be perpetrated by Islamists who were in contact with members of Islamic State and Middle Eastern factions identified with Al-Qaida.

Iraq Escalates Dispute With Kurds, Threatening Military Action, Washington Post

The Iraqi government escalated its confrontation with its northern Kurdish region on Wednesday, threatening to send troops and seize oil fields there and taking steps to shut down international flights to and from the region.

Opinions and Analysis

Israel unsure about ‘day after’ Abbas, and even ‘day before’, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “After years in which the heads of the Israeli security and intelligence branches repeatedly said that the stabilizing and moderating agents on the Palestinian front are much stronger than the inciting agents, the impression now is that a reversal is taking place in front of our eyes. True, it is happening slowly, and it is still reversible, but it cannot be denied that the prediction of a third intifada or another round of violence between Israel and Gaza is gaining traction in Israel’s higher echelons….Israel is not only worried about the day after, as even the ‘day before’ — the last leg of the elderly Palestinian leader’s journey, in other words, these very days — raises numerous questions and presents unsolvable conundrums. The more time that passes, according to Israeli assessments, the less Abbas has to fear and the less he has to lose. Thus, he can allow himself to be more daring. All the calculations and considerations of the past are disintegrating.”

The sea once provided a breath of fresh air for Gaza. Now it stinks, Washington Post

Loveday Morris and Hazem Balousha write, “The beach has long provided much needed relief for the 2 million residents of the Gaza Strip, cut off from the rest of the world. They come to swim, play soccer, relax, or as many poetically put it — speak to the sea. ‘It’s like talking to a friend, one that won’t gossip,’ said Etaf Eleiwa, emerging from the waves. ‘It washes away the stresses and the problems.’ But the usually packed beaches are less crowded this summer. The brown hue that stains the water for several hundred meters out to sea makes clear why, as does the putrid stench that punctuates a drive down the coast. Some 100,000 cubic meters of raw or partially treated sewage have flowed into the sea each day since early summer, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked Israel to cut the power supply to Gaza amid a worsening feud with Hamas, the militant movement that controls the enclave. The power shortage means that sewage treatment plants can’t function.  The pollution is so bad that Israel has shut down neighboring beaches for safety reasons and called on the Palestinian Authority to find a solution. President Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, raised the issue in a speech in New York last week, saying the untreated wastewater was ‘imposing unnecessary hardship on both sides.’”

Who will Live and who will Die? Jerusalem Post

Rabbi Arik Ascherman writes, “The day before Rosh Hashana, I participated in a US Senate briefing sponsored by the Rebuilding Alliance, along with 15-year-old Aysar Nawaja from Sussiya. I opened by saying, “I am here to plead for the life of Aysar’s village.” September 21 this year was not only Rosh Hashana but also International Peace Day and the Muslim New Year. For Jews, Rosh Hashana is also Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgment. It made no sense whatsoever to travel to Washington and then hurry home after the briefing. However, I knew that on Rosh Hashana, and then again on Yom Kippur, I would be standing before God and praying, “On Rosh Hashana it is written. On Yom Kippur it is sealed. Who will live, and who will die… who by fire, who by water?” In the case of Sussiya, Khan al-Ahmar and many additional Palestinian and Israeli Beduin communities, we could add, “Who by bulldozer, and who at gunpoint? Who by direct force, and who by slow strangulation? Who by Jerusalem, and who by Washington?”

‘We’re Part of This Society Too’: In Israel, Arab Women Are Joining Jewish Activists in Fight for Peace, Haaretz

Judy Maltz reports, “To be able to have an impact on decision-makers, the founders of Women Wage Peace understood they would need a critical mass of supporters. To achieve that, they knew they would have to appeal to women way outside their natural base: right-wing Israelis (think Zakut), religious Israelis, even settlers. To appeal to such a large and diverse base, they realized they would have to steer clear of controversy and focus on the issues almost all women could agree on.”

The Democrats’ Quiet, Confused Foreign Policy, New Republic

Jeet Heer argues, “At a time when the Democratic base—not to mention a consequential percentage of Republicans—are skeptical of military action, Democratic politicians with presidential aspirations would do well to follow Sanders’s approach. Trump’s rhetoric frightens many Americans across the political spectrum, so many voters will support a foreign policy alternative to the hawkish establishment. As we saw in the years following the Iraq war vote, electoral fortune is likely to favor the candidates who are brave enough to chart a new path.”

Israel’s Celebrations of Folly, Haaretz

The Haaretz Editorial Board argues, “Expecting the Supreme Court to send a representative to an event celebrating the state’s biggest legal calamity was ridiculous in the first place. The real question is not why the judicial branch did not participate in an event marking 50 years of the settlement enterprise, but why the State of Israel wasn’t too embarrassed to hold such an event. The real problem isn’t with Miriam Naor, but with the prime minister, whose promise that “there will be no more uprooting of communities in the Land of Israel,” proved yet again that the primary trait of his government is submission to the settlers. On Wednesday evening a ceremony was held in Gush Etzion celebrating folly and injustice that have been going on for 50 years.”

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