News Roundup for April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Abbas Warns Of ‘Unprecedented Steps’ To End Palestinian Split, Forward

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would take decisive action to end the political split between his regime and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. “These days, we are in a dangerous and tough situation that requires decisive steps, and we are to take these decisive steps,” Abbas said Wednesday, according to an Associated Press report citing the official Palestinian news agency WAFA. “Therefore, we are going to take unprecedented steps in the coming days to end the division.”

Woman Killed in Jerusalem Stabbing Attack; Assailant Mentally Unstable, Haaretz

“A woman in her twenties was killed in a stabbing attack near the Old City in Jerusalem on Friday. The assailant has been apprehended, the police said. The incident took place in a light rail car near Tzahal Square. Paramedics performed CPR on the woman, who was stabbed multiple times, according to the Magen David Adom emergency response service. She was then rushed to the Hadassah Medical Center, Mount Scopus, where she was later pronounced dead. The assailant has been identified as Gamil Tamimi, 57, a Palestinian resident of Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem who was recently released from a psychiatric hospital, according to the police said. ‘This is yet another case of a Palestinian suffering from personal, mental or moral distress choosing to commit an act of terror to escape his problems,’ the Shin Bet says.”


US anti-Semitism envoy’s office to remain empty, says former State Dept. official, JTA

The Trump administration will leave empty the office of the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, according to a former State Department official. President Donald Trump has yet to fill the envoy post, which is traditionally responsible for keeping tabs on global anti-Semitism and advising other countries in fighting it. The position is one of dozens Trump has not filled across the State Department and the executive branch, according to a March report by The New York Times. According to the official, who spoke Thursday to JTA on the condition of anonymity, the anti-Semitism envoy’s staff will also be eliminated.

Israeli Police in West Bank Close Cases of Offenses Against Palestinians Without Investigating, Haaretz

The Israel Police force in the West Bank closes investigations into complaints by Palestinians of violence committed against them by Israelis, even in the face of solid evidence. A review of case files shows that the police often invest only minimal effort in the investigations, resulting in a failure to prosecute even violent offenses. In one case examined by the human rights organization Yesh Din, the Judea and Samaria District Police closed an investigation of an attack by Jewish settlers on a Palestinian home, even though Israeli soldiers witnessed the incident and it was recorded on video. In another instance, the police closed an investigation into the attempted kidnapping of a Palestinian child without checking security cameras at the scene.

Israeli Government Promotes Bill to Expand Rabbinical Courts’ Jurisdiction Powers, Haaretz

The government unveiled a new bill that would grant rabbinical courts authority to adjudicate in civil disputes. According to the bill, rabbinical courts will be able to hold hearings and issue decisions in accordance with Jewish religious law – as long as the decisions don’t violate state laws assuring equality before the law to women and people with disabilities. The bill would grant rabbinical courts the authority to adjudicate disputes and not merely act as arbitrators. This means rabbinical courts would have the authority to confiscate property, compel witnesses to appear and give testimony, impose temporary bans on leaving Israel, and other temporary bans. This would also mean litigants will be able to appeal rabbinical court decisions to the highest rabbinical court or the Supreme Court.

China Calls Lack Of Palestinian State ‘Historical Injustice’, Forward

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Israeli-Palestinian peace talks should be revived in an effort to correct the “historical injustice” of Palestinians not having their own state. Wang’s comments on Thursday came at a press conference following his meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Beijing, the Associated Press reported. Wang said it is “unfair” that Palestinians still do not have an independent state 70 years after a U.N. resolution called for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

PA suspends ties with UNRWA over planned curriculum reform, Times of Israel

The Palestinian Authority Education Ministry on Thursday announced it was suspending ties with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) over plans by the international agency to reform its curriculum. The Palestinian ministry, in a statement published on its official website, called the possible revisions to the curriculum an “affront to the Palestinian people, its history and struggles,” and said the suspension would continue until the UN agency’s “positions are corrected.”

Israeli settlers ‘raid’ Palestinian town near Hebron for Passover celebrations, Ma’an

Dozens of Israeli settlers entered the northern part of the town of Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Thursday in order to carry out Passover celebrations on the Palestinian town’s  land. The southern Hebron directorate of agriculture told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli settlers, under the protection of armed Israeli forces, “raided the area,” which is revered by locals as an important historical site.

1,000 Women Rally in Northern Israel, Calling for Unity in Fight for Peace, Haaretz

About 1,000 women rode the train from Tel Aviv to Beit Shean on Thursday and then held a rally in the northern Israeli town as part of a campaign to jumpstart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The demonstration was organized by Women Wage Peace, a non-partisan women’s movement founded in 2014 in the aftermath of that year’s Gaza war.

Palestinian teen shot by IDF dies of his wounds, JTA

A Palestinian teenager who was shot by Israeli troops last month died of his injuries. Jassem Muhammad Nakhla, 17, died Monday in an Israeli hospital in Tel Aviv after being shot in the head and foot on March 23 near the al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central West Bank, the Ma’an news agency reported Tuesday based on information it received from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Nakhla was in a vehicle with three other young Palestinians near the West Bank settlement of Beit El, where an Israeli military spokesperson said three of passengers threw firebombs at Israelis.

Opinions and Analysis

What the Escalating U.S.-Russia Tension Over Syria Means for Israel, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “The escalating tension between the United States, on the one hand, and Russia and Iran has potential consequences for Israel, too….Syrian threats can be seen as meaningless. Undoubtedly, the last thing Bashar Assad wants now – in addition to the kind of entanglement with the United States he mistakenly got embroiled in last week – is a confrontation with Israel. But an indirect Russian-Iranian threat to Israel is a more serious affair. Heightened Russian involvement in favor of the Assad regime – first with the deployment of two combat squadrons in northwestern Syria, then with the installation of long-range antiaircraft missile batteries – has affected Israel’s room for maneuver, though according to Arab media reports it hasn’t led to a halt of attacks on Hezbollah targets in Syria. Russia and Israel have worked out a mechanism to prevent aerial confrontations.”

Spicer’s Apology to Adelson Added Insult to Injury, J Street Blog

J Street’s Benjy Cannon writes, “Sheldon Adelson, in addition to holding repugnant views out of step with the overwhelming majority of American Jews, has endorsed using nuclear weapons against Iran. From his opposition to a two-state solution to his unabashed Islamophobia, Adelson’s views could not differ more from those of American Jews. He is in no position to grant forgiveness to the Press Secretary for making obscene comments about chemical weapons, the Holocaust or anything that offends American Jews.”

The endgame lurking behind Netanyahu’s new settlement policy, +972

Mitchell Plitnick argues, “[W]hat seems to be taking shape here is an endgame strategy: to present an Israel that is taking its own steps toward restraint and a US government that is still pushing for more. In the meantime, efforts will be redoubled in Washington, Amman, and Cairo to press forward with a regional initiative that widens public dialogue with Israel. The hope would be that this will lead to greater Arab pressure on Abbas to accept “the best deal you can get,” which is likely to include some arrangement for Israel to maintain its military presence in the Jordan Valley, annex the major settlement blocs, and leave the rest for the Palestinians to call a state. The framework of a solution is being re-defined without any Palestinian involvement. This has happened in the past, and it’s never worked out well.”

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