News Roundup for December 9, 2016

December 9, 2016

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J Street in the News

Jeremy Ben-Ami on All In with Chris Hayes, MSNBC

J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami interviewed about the attacks on Keith Ellison, and how they hurt political discourse on Israel – and ignore the views of the majority of Democrats.

Jewish Groups Help Collect 1M Signatures Opposing Steve Bannon Appointment, Forward

“Jewish and progressive groups delivered over 1 million petition signatures to Capitol Hill opposing President-elect Donald Trump’s pick of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist. The coalition, which includes J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, IfNotNow and other progressive organizations, urged members of Congress on Thursday to denounce the Bannon appointment. In a statement, the groups said ‘there is no place for a white supremacist, anti-Semitic, climate-change denying misogynist in the White House.’”

Top News and Analysis

Obama Pressed to Wade Into Israel-Palestinian Fight a Last Time, Bloomberg

“President Barack Obama, whose administration failed to break the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians during eight years in office, is coming under pressure to act one last time as events in Israel and at the UN clash. In Jerusalem, the parliament is debating legislation that would give official recognition to Israel’s expanding settlements in the disputed West Bank that were built without government approval. That, in turn, is bolstering efforts by United Nations Security Council members in New York who are circulating competing versions of a draft resolution that would condemn those settlements, or at least express the world body’s concern about them. Obama may have to decide whether the US should exercise its UN veto against a resolution criticizing all settlements, as it has in the past, or abstain and let the resolution go through despite the likelihood the move would be denounced and disavowed by President-elect Donald Trump.”

Israel Pushes Plans for Hundreds of New Houses in Contiguous East Jerusalem Neighborhood, Haaretz

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee has moved forward with a plan to build 770 housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, which lays beyond the Green Line, a project critics say may be large enough to cut chances of achieving a two-state solution.

The municipality says the plan has been going through the approval process since 2013 and several more planning stages must be approved before construction can begin.

State set to request delay of Amona evacuation, Times of Israel

Attorneys for the government are expected on Sunday to ask the High Court of Justice for a one-month delay in the evacuation of the Amona outpost in the central West Bank, Israel Radio reported….Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that a delay of the evacuation is needed to prepare temporary housing solutions for some 40 families that will be removed from their homes in the demolition.


EU expresses ‘strong opposition’ to West Bank outpost bill, JTA

The European Union expressed its “strong opposition” to a bill now under consideration in the Israeli Knesset that would pave the way toward the legalization of numerous settlement outposts in the West Bank. In a statement Thursday, the union said the Regulation Bill, which passed its first of three readings late Wednesday, threatened to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict an impossibility.

Netanyahu Aims to Ban Mosque Loudspeakers During Day Too, Source Says, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks a harsher version of the bill that would ban the use of loudspeakers at mosques to call Muslims to prayer, a source close to the prime minister told Haaretz Tuesday. Netanyahu reportedly does not want loudspeakers used during the day, not just the night. According to the source, Netanyahu seeks to curry favor with the right following the vote Monday in which the Knesset, in a preliminary reading, voted in favor of a bill that would legalize unauthorized West Bank outposts. That bill, which does not include the Amona outpost due for evacuation by December 25, is seen as an achievement for the leader of the Habayit Hayehudi party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

Israeli Education Chief Orders ‘Ethics Rules’ for Professors Aimed at Curtailing ‘Political Preaching’, Haaretz

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Thursday he wants special ethics rules to govern academic and political activity at colleges and universities – a move seen as an attempt to reduce leftist thinking on campuses. Prof. Asa Kasher, who drafted the Israeli army’s ethics code, has been asked to provide recommendations “regarding the principles of proper ethical behavior at institutions overlapping academic and political activity.”

Israeli forces train for Amona evacuation, JTA

Hundreds of Israeli security personnel trained ahead of the planned evacuation of an illegal West Bank outpost. Soldiers and Border Police officers took part in the exercise this week at the Tzeelim military base in southern Israel, according to a Channel 2 report cited by The Times of Israel. They are expecting to encounter resistance when they implement the evacuation order for Amona on Dec. 25.

East Jerusalem teenagers held for planning to shoot soldiers, JTA

Israeli security forces in Jerusalem arrested eight individuals they described as Hamas operatives who are suspected of planning shooting attack across the city. The suspects, most of them younger than 18, were arrested last month but the arrests were cleared for publication on Friday, the Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet, said in a statement.

Israeli bulldozers level land in Umm al-Kheir to install sewer pipe for settlement, Ma’an

Israeli forces leveled privately-owned Palestinian lands in the village of Umm al-Kheir in the southern occupied West Bank on Thursday morning, in order to install a sewer pipe to service the illegal Israeli settlement of Karmel that lies some 500 meters away from Umm al-Kheir.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s controversial settlement bill provokes Palestinian blitz, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar reports, “The PA plan calls for all PLO representatives around the world to inform the foreign ministries of the countries where they are based about the significance of the proposed bill and the theft of private Palestinian lands for the construction and legalization of unauthorized settlements. Abbas and his foreign minister, Riyad Malki, have instructed the PLO reps to advance a UN Security Council move. They explained that the Netanyahu government has no intention of ever resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and thus the only remaining option for the Palestinians is for the UN Security Council to declare a Palestinian state. ‘We know this is a long journey,’ said the Palestinian PA source. ‘But we believe wholeheartedly that such a racist and transparent law will lead the Security Council to convene rapidly. Every time Israel acts in an outrageous manner, we will demand another Security Council session and another session until the entire world understands there’s no other choice. There’s simply no other way. In the end it will happen [the declaration of a Palestinian state].’”

Facing the Age of Trump Together: Jewish and Muslim Women Build ‘Sisterhood’, Haaretz

Debra Nussbaum Cohen describes the Muslim-Jewish partnerships of the  Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom. “The Sisterhood’s approach doesn’t ask people to commit to any particular position, aside from agreeing to treat all members respectfully. That there is a shared interest in getting to know one another and standing together on issues of common concern is enough….The wisdom of the approach seems evident: nothing — no attitude, no position — can change if there isn’t a deep understanding of and investment in each other. There is equal partnership in the chapters: Each has one Jewish and one Muslim co-leader, and each strives for equal numbers of women from each religious group.”

Israeli Military Seeks to Avert Confrontation and Leave Evacuation of West Bank Outpost to Police, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “The Israel Defense Forces sees 2016 as the most difficult year in civil-military relations in Israel. The end of the year and start of the next will apparently not bring any better tidings….The job of evacuation will indeed be the police’s, but if Amona becomes violent, the IDF will not be exempt. Senior Central Command officers would then run the evacuation and become involved in both the preparations and execution. Confrontations could devolve into roadblocks on the way to the outpost, which could also lead to clashes with soldiers. This is what happened in Amona’s previous violent removal in 2006: Although it was police who hit the right-wing protesters, the events also damaged the IDF’s relations with the settlers.”