News Roundup for February 22, 2017

February 22, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Egypt, Jordan: Solution Other Than Two States Dangerous for Middle East, Haaretz

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah said in a Cairo meeting on Tuesday that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not based on a two-state solution will have dangerous consequences for the region. In a joint statement, the two leaders said that establishing a Palestinian state was a national and a pan-Arab interest and that any effort to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process must be based on the two-state solution, which they said was the only solution to the conflict.

Trump Speaks Out Against Anti-Semitism, The New York Times

President Trump on Tuesday said anti-Semitism is “horrible,” and “painful,” speaking out for the first time about a rising tide of incidents and threats targeting Jewish people and institutions since he was inaugurated. During a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Mr. Trump made the comments after drawing criticism in recent days for failing to condemn anti-Jewish threats and actions. “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” he said.

Could Donald Trump Broker Peace Between the Israelis and the Palestinians?, Newsweek

MK Tzipi Livni writes, “Ultimately the only way both nations can realize their right to self-determination and resolve this national conflict is through the creation of two separate nation states. This was in many ways the basis for the Partition Plan in 1947, and has consistently been the basis for any future, win-win agreement. And this is why it is not enough to merely speak of two states but it must be clear that it’s two states for two peoples. The world’s task is not to create another state, but to solve a national conflict by giving an answer to the national aspirations of two peoples. Negotiations are not meant to help determine whose narrative is more ‘just.’ They are a time to discuss how we—Israelis and Palestinians—can amicably separate from one another, as we might in a friendly divorce. The other option—staying together in a one state configuration—will result in a bloody lose-lose. But separation is only possible if both sides put away their ultimate national aspirations to the Whole Land. This is something that the Palestinians as well as Zionist Israelis like myself, who see our claim to this land as inscribed in the Bible, will need to do.”


Israel’s Military Chief to Lawmakers: Don’t Pressure Army on Pardoning Hebron Shooter, Haaretz

Israel’s military chief asked politicians to refrain from interfering in legal proceedings following the sentencing of Sgt. Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for the shooting and killing of a wounded Palestinian attacker in Hebron. Calls to pardon Azaria, he said, would not influence the army’s decision.

NJ yeshiva’s alumni, staff implore graduate Jared Kushner to help halt refugee ban, JTA

Some 180 alumni and staff of a New Jersey yeshiva high school implored graduate Jared Kushner to use his influence with President Donald Trump, his father-in-law, to ease the path for refugees coming to the United States. An open letter from the Frisch School, a co-educational school in Paramus, expressed “alarm” at Trump’s executive order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations. Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to the president, is a 1999 graduate of Frisch.

Muslims ‘Overjoyed’ As Donations Pour In To Repair Vandalized St. Louis Jewish Cemetery, Forward

Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi have launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the repair of a St. Louis Jewish cemetery that was vandalized over the weekend — and the response has been overwhelming. The campaign, which aimed to raise $20,000, exceeded its target in three hours — and had drawn more than $58,000, nearly triple its initial target by early Wednesday.

Jewish groups seek action from Trump to match his words on anti-Semitism, JTA

“President Donald Trump on Tuesday culminated three weeks of missed opportunities to condemn anti-Semitism and doubling down on missed opportunities to condemn anti-Semitism with a statement unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism…Message back from a Jewish community longing to hear these words: Great. Now how do you plan on dealing with the problem?”

Ya’alon rejects judges’ rebuke, defends swift condemnation of soldier, Times of Israel

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon on Tuesday rejected the rebuke he received from judges presiding over the trial of IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who said Ya’alon had interfered with the manslaughter case by making public statements about the issue before the trial was completed. Ya’alon, who headed the Defense Ministry at the time of the shooting, said all his remarks at the time were made with the explicit approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and were considered to be in the interest of national security.

Right-wing Politicians Call to Pardon Israeli Soldier for Deadly Shooting of Palestinian Attacker, Haaretz

Right-wing politicians reacted Tuesday to the 1.5-year prison sentence handed to Israeli soldier Elor Azaria for killing a wounded and immobilized Palestinian attacker, saying that he should be pardoned. Education Minister Naftali Bennett called  for the pardon of Elor Azaria. “Israel’s security demands he be pardoned. Elor was sent to protest Israelis at the height of a wave of Palestinian terror attacks. He cannot go to jail or we will all pay the price.”

Day before Netanyahu arrives, Australia backs 2-state solution, Times of Israel

A day before Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to land in Sydney for the first-ever visit to Australia by a sitting Israeli prime minister, Canberra on Tuesday restated support for the two-state solution. “Israel and the Palestinians need to come to a settlement and we support a directly negotiated two-state solution so that Palestinians will have their own state and the people of Israel can be secure within agreed borders,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote in The Australian newspaper, amid reports that the Israeli leader was no longer backing the two-state formula.

Saudis Repeat Support for Palestinian State in the Wake of Trump-Netanyahu Meeting, Haaretz

Saudi Arabia is reasserting support for a Palestinian state after U.S. President Donald Trump said Mideast peace doesn’t depend on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking on Monday after talks with his Italian counterpart, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said: “You have a peace deal which essentially calls for a settlement based on two states living side by side in peace and security.” He added: “(A) Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the just settlement of refugees and just sharing water resources. This is the settlement that we believe is a fair and just settlement.”

Israeli forces violently raid Palestinian home before razing it to the ground, Ma’an

Seven Palestinians, including five children, were left homeless Wednesday morning when Israeli bulldozers demolished their house in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of northern occupied East Jerusalem, after Israeli forces assaulted the owner at gunpoint, according to the family.

Iran’s supreme leader backs ‘holy intifada’ to destroy ‘cancer’ Israel, Times of Israel

Calling Israel a “cancerous tumor,” Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday expressed support for a “holy intifada” to eradicate the Jewish state, arguing that the international community is headed toward confrontation with the “Zionist regime.” In the opening address of the regime’s sixth international conference in support of the Palestinian violent uprising against Israel, Ayatollah Khamenei hailed the “resistance” against the “cruel occupation,” which he described as the worst case of oppression against one particular people recorded in history. He also accused Israel’s founders of being responsible for the current upheaval in the wider Middle East.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Should Have Given Kerry a Kiss, Haaretz

Raviv Drucker writes, “Now it turns out that Netanyahu received from former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry the purest and most perfect expression of the two-state solution. If the premier was serious about his intentions, he would have smothered Kerry with kisses. Recognition of the Jewish state, with Egyptian and Jordanian backing, a demilitarized Palestinian state, land swaps and a solution to the refugee problem. Is this Netanyahu’s dream scenario? It’s more like his nightmare.

Netanyahu did not say “yes” but, wisely, he did not tell Kerry “no” either. As always, he mumbled about how difficult things were with the coalition, and he went to think about it for a bit. He proves once again that it may not be clear whether there is a Palestinian partner, but it is clear that for the past eight years there was no Israeli partner.”

Israel ambassador nominee would hurt chance for peace, Albuquerque Journal

Barbara Einhorn and Zoe Goldblum write, “Friedman’s views, close ties to the settlement movement and propensity for outrageous personal attacks make clear that he is completely unsuitable to serve as American ambassador to Israel. Indeed, the inability to recognize the humanity of one’s neighbor that Friedman has displayed is part of the reason that Israelis and Palestinians alike still feel the effects of the ongoing conflict on a daily basis. We must draw a line somewhere. Friedman’s hateful rhetoric, combined with his extremist views, unequivocally disqualify him from representing the United States in Israel. We came together as a family to speak out about this important issue, and to do so we put aside our many differences. Will you join us?”

After Trump, Will Netanyahu Break His Silence on anti-Semitism?, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Netanyahu is willing to try and placate the American Jewish community and to pretend he cares about them when he feels he has no choice. This is what he planned to do when he still believed that Clinton would win the elections. But now he’s got his new BFF Trump, with his Republican allies and his Evangelical admirers in tow. There’s no reason for him to exert himself. Even if he does finally deign to say something now, his overall attitude over the past few months can be succinctly summed up along the lines of the immortal New York Post headline: ‘Bibi to U.S. Jews: Drop Dead.’”

A prison sentence that tells the true story of the occupation, +972

Noam Sheizaf argues, “Azaria’s punishment was decided in the political realm, not by the courts, in a compromise that characterizes the occupation’s conflicting needs at any given moment. Law and justice are not the story of the occupation.”

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