News Roundup for August 1, 2017

August 1, 2017

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J Street in the News

Dire Consequences if Trump Pulls out of Iran Deal, LobeLog

“Paul Eaton is a retired US Army general who was previously the commanding general of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Program, where he was responsible for training the Iraqi military. Speaking to a group of media and activists organized by J Street, one of the leading groups supporting the JCPOA, Eaton said, ‘With every passing day, the United States’ capacity to influence the policy of others is diminished. (Unilaterally withdrawing from the JCPOA) would provoke a very expanded, full court press, of European engagement. The JCPOA is part of a broader EU strategy of engagement in the region,’ and the Europeans are not prepared to pull out of it or renegotiate it.”

Top News and Analysis

When will Netanyahu wake up and see Palestinians are part of Jerusalem, too?, Washington Post

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “Fifty years have passed. For the sake of everyone, Jewish and Arab, who lives in and loves this crazy city, Israeli policymakers should have overcome their self-deception. But the mistakes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made over the past two weeks in dealing with a crisis over the Temple Mount, and the mistakes he apparently has planned for the city, show that he’s still unwilling to see the city’s Palestinians….In a better world, the messy affair should have made the prime minister open his eyes and see that Jerusalem is a Palestinian as well as an Israeli city, joined economically and still very divided politically, socially and religiously. Instead, Netanyahu is backing two legislative initiatives designed to preserve the illusion of ‘eternally united Jerusalem’ and to hide the city’s Palestinians….The gerrymandering is a gimmick. On the ground, the same people will be living in the city as today. There will still be a need for a political solution for Jerusalem and its holy places, as part of a two-state agreement. There will still be two cities, interlocked but distinct. It will still be essential for Israel’s leaders to snap out of the spell of a 50-year-old song and realize that neither the market nor the Mount were empty before we arrived.”

How the Trump Administration Broke the State Department, Foreign Policy

“Veterans of the U.S. diplomatic corps say the expanding front office is part of an unprecedented assault on the State Department: A hostile White House is slashing its budget, the rank and file are cut off from a detached leader, and morale has plunged to historic lows. They say President Donald Trump and his administration dismiss, undermine, or don’t bother to understand the work they perform and that the legacy of decades of American diplomacy is at risk. By failing to fill numerous senior positions across the State Department, promulgating often incoherent policies, and systematically shutting out career foreign service officers from decision-making, the Trump administration is undercutting U.S. diplomacy and jeopardizing America’s leadership role in the world, according to more than three dozen current and former diplomats interviewed by FP….Current and former senior foreign service officers say the Trump administration is hollowing out and marginalizing the State Department, with a dismissive attitude to diplomacy and the civil servants who execute it. They say the diplomatic corps is facing an unprecedented crisis. When Tillerson has tried to defend his ailing department, he has gotten stonewalled and outmaneuvered by the White House….More than a dozen foreign diplomats told FP that they often do not know whom they should speak to in the administration to convey messages from their governments….[A] top aide has confided to colleagues that Tillerson and his inner circle are growing deeply frustrated by ‘media attacks, their inability to control the policy, and a lack of support from the Senate.’”

Abbas initiates talks to restore PA control of Gaza, end sanctions on Hamas, Times of Israel

“Lightning talks aimed at getting the Palestinian Authority to lift sanctions against Hamas in Gaza are underway, according to Arabic-language media sources. The negotiations are reportedly taking place within a new framework for reconciliation initiated by PA President Mahmoud Abbas….The new framework will reportedly enable the PA to restore electricity supplies and allow Gazan banks to trade in foreign currency again. But in return, Hamas must publicly renege on its agreement with Abbas’s rival in Fatah, Mohammad Dahlan, and dismantle its governing structures in Gaza, which, according to the PA, contravenes previous agreements between the group and the PA.”


Israeli Security Cabinet Convenes for First Time to Discuss Emerging Cease-fire in Southern Syria, Haaretz

The Israeli security cabinet held its first meeting on Sunday discussing the cease-fire reached by the US and Russia in southern Syria, an agreement that has raised concerns in Jerusalem.

A senior Israeli official with knowledge of the meeting’s content said the ministers were briefed that the US and Russia have not yet cemented all elements of the cease-fire, and that Israel is working with Washington and Moscow to improve the agreement and ensure it does not harm Israel’s security interests.

Israel Arrests Five in East Jerusalem on Incitement Charges, Haaretz

Five residents of East Jerusalem were arrested Monday with incitement to terrorism and other crimes. Mohammed Makheimer, 19, Sif Abu Juma, 21 and a minor, 17, were charged with posting praise of terror organizations on social media following the July 14th terror attack on the Temple Mount. Some hours after the attack, Abu Juma wrote “Three martyrs left Umm al-Fahm. You are ahead of us and we are following.” Two others, Safian Mahmoud, 26, and Mohammed Shamasne, 23, were charged with calling for violence against security forces and citizens, and praising and supporting terror organizations.

As Azaria case roils politicians, IDF ethicist slams soft sentence, Times of Israel

The author of the Israeli military’s ethics code declared his opposition Monday to what he said was a too-short prison term for a soldier convicted of manslaughter after killing a wounded Palestinian assailant, as lawmakers took conflicting positions on the highly charged issue. Prof. Asa Kasher told Israel Radio on Monday that Ezor Azaria’s 18-month sentence would have a chilling effect on the Israel Defense Forces’ “purity of arms” doctrine.

Israel’s Only Arab Majority Party in Danger of Collapse After Lawmaker Convicted, Haaretz

A dispute over the rotation agreement is threatening to split the Joint List, Israel’s only Arab-majority party, which was founded when the four Arab parties merged into one ahead of the 2015 Israeli general election. The spat has led the party’s members to level accusations at each other and has created distrust that could be insurmountable in the next election. The four parties comprising the Joint List – Hadash, the United Arab List, Balad and Ta’al – reached a rotation agreement two and a half years ago. They decided that the first three would each have four representatives in Knesset, while Ta’al would have one. The resignation of lawmaker Basel Ghattas from the Balad party after he was indicted for smuggling cellphones to security prisoners in Israeli jails reshuffled the order of the list and undermined the original arrangement. Ghattas was convicted in a plea bargain and has began serving his two-year sentence earlier this month.

Israeli settler family to move into Hebron home, days after expelling Palestinian owners, Ma’an

Almost one week after dozens of extremist Israeli settlers raided and occupied a Palestinian home in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, an Israeli settler declared on Monday that he and his family will be officially moving into the home, despite an ongoing legal battle between the Palestinian homeowners and Israelis. The Israeli settler who made the declaration, according to Hebrew media, was Yossi Dagan, a leader of the Homesh First organization — an umbrella organization of right-wing settler groups whose goal is to rebuild Homesh settlement, which was destroyed and evacuated by the Israeli government in 2005.

More Than One Thousand Jews Visit Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, Setting New Record, Haaretz

At least 1,046 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Tuesday, according to Jewish activists, setting a new record for most Jewish visitors in one day. Many more are expected to visit later in the afternoon. Activists have been organizing a campaign in recent days aimed at encouraging Jews to visit the site on Tisha B’Av, following the recent tensions at the flashpoint holy site over the last two weeks. The fast day commemorates the anniversary of the destruction of the First and Second Temple, as well as several other disasters in Jewish history. The previous record in Jewish visitors to the site was during the most recent Jerusalem Day, marking the city’s reunification, when some 900 Jewish visitors entered the Temple Mount.

Ex-IDF chief calls Likud MKs ‘apes’ for criticizing Shin Bet, Times of Israel

Former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz lashed out Monday at two members of the ruling Likud party for criticizing the Shin Bet, after the internal security agency called for rolling back security measures placed at the Temple Mount in the wake of a terror attack at the Jerusalem holy site two weeks ago. In an interview with Army Radio, Halutz castigated Culture Minister Miri Regev and coalition chairman David Bitan for their recent comments, saying they had yet to fully evolve from apes into humans.

Opinions and Analysis

Palestinians in Jerusalem Got a Taste of Victory on Temple Mount, and They’re Hungry for More, Haaretz

Nir Hasson reports, “After years in which Palestinian Jerusalem had been a synonym of weakness, poverty, occupation and a divided, leaderless society, it was the Jerusalemites who raised the banner of revolt and triumphed over Israel, in their view, at the place most important to them. Every night recently, hundreds have been gathering for spontaneous celebrations at the Temple Mount and its gates. In the neighborhoods people give out sweets or set off fireworks as a sign of joy….The question everyone is asking now is whether this struggle can be extended to other issues like home demolitions, the severe shortage of classrooms, bureaucratic abuse and perhaps even the occupation itself. In other words, have these two weeks been a passing phase in the history of Palestinian Jerusalem, or a turning point?”

Trump risks fallout from Iran deal assault, Al-Monitor

Laura Rozen reports, “After twice certifying that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, President Donald Trump has now asked top aides to provide him with options to exit the agreement. If he leaves under manufactured pretexts, however, the president risks isolating the United States while jeopardizing his administration’s goal of containing Iran’s other troubling behaviors, former administration officials, allied diplomats and some administration allies warn. What’s more, Trump has articulated no alternative strategy for containing Iran’s nuclear program should the agreement collapse. That raises the prospect that the president could generate a new nuclear crisis even as his administration faces the prospect that North Korea may be able to reach the United States with a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile within the next year, according to a new Defense Intelligence Agency assessment. Trump telegraphed his frustration over being urged by his Cabinet chiefs to certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal at a White House meeting last Monday. He told The Wall Street Journal that he thinks Iran will be deemed to have breached the accord by the time of the next congressionally mandated certification deadline in the fall.”

Erekat Slams Trump Admin’s Handling of Recent Crisis, Jewish Insider

“Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat criticized the Trump administration’s mediation efforts in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During an exclusive interview with Jewish Insider on Sunday, Erekat complained specifically about the US response to the recent Temple Mount crisis. ‘We don’t understand how no US officials came out with any word of sympathy for the Palestinian people that have been attacked and killed by occupation forces, including settlers,’ he declared….’There are things that we can’t understand, such as having an ambassador to the UN that is willing to block the appointment of any Palestinian at the organization,’ Erekat said. ‘Israel announces thousands of new settlement units that make it almost impossible to achieve the two-state solution, and it’s merely met with silence from US officials.’”

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