“This outrageous bill legalizes land theft and undermines Israel’s fundamental respect for the rule of law. It gives a green light to further settlement expansion, seizure of Palestinian land and other steps designed to prevent the future creation of a Palestinian state and deny basic rights to Palestinians living in the West Bank. It was passed over the objections of virtually every voice of common sense in the international community and Israeli society, including the Israeli government’s own attorney general, who has made clear that the bill is unconstitutional and cannot be defended in a court of law….This bill is a glaring example of what can and will happen if the US government refuses to stand up loudly and clearly on behalf of the two-state solution and in opposition to settlement activity. The fact that the legislation was moved swiftly through the Knesset within weeks of the Trump administration taking office shows that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the members of his governing coalition no longer fear US opposition to their settlement drive. J Street urges friends and supporters of Israel in the American Jewish community, in Washington, and around the world to make clear both to our government and to Israeli leaders that this kind of legislation contravenes basic democratic and Jewish values and threatens Israel’s long-term security and survival as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people.”
Minister says court shouldn’t be able to overturn outpost law, Times of Israel
“Liberal US Jewish group J Street released a statement….calling on the US government to oppose the bill. ‘This outrageous bill legalizes land theft and undermines Israel’s fundamental respect for the rule of law. It gives a green light to further settlement expansion, seizure of Palestinian land and other steps designed to prevent the future creation of a Palestinian state and deny basic rights to Palestinians living in the West Bank,’ J Street said in a statement.”
“Israel’s parliament passed a contentious law late Monday that allows the state to seize land privately owned by Palestinians in the West Bank and grant the properties to Jewish settlements for their exclusive use….Thousands of homes in dozens of settlements and outposts may now be protected, at least temporarily. The bill is probably headed for a high court challenge. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the legislation and has told his constituents that no government had done more for the settlers. On Monday, the Israeli leader said he had informed the Trump White House that a vote on the legislation was imminent. Israeli legislators in the opposition condemned the bill as reckless and warned that it would turn the world against Israel while goading prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague to take action against the Jewish state. The bill passed on a vote of 60 to 52.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that an Israeli bill legalizing the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land is unhelpful and would make things more difficult for Israel’s friends around the world, Haaretz has learned. After his meeting with May on Monday afternoon, Netanyahu told reporters that the vote slated for Monday on the bill will go ahead as planned. He added that he had informed the White House of his intention of putting the legislation to a vote and said he will return from the U.K. on Monday night to participate.
Greg Sargent writes, “In an interview with me, Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington, argued that this victory has broad significance, suggesting that this effort by the states could provide a model or a template for Democratic governors, states and others to mount further resistance to other aspects of Trump’s agenda on multiple fronts….’This demonstrates the importance of governors and states in the four-year battle to preserve the fundamental values of this country,’ Inslee told me. ‘The nation needs checks against a president who’s prone to rogue behavior, and governors will assume a more important place in the democratic system.’”
Following Israel’s decision to accelerate construction in West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem and in light of the passage of the law dubbed the “regularization bill,” which enables the expropriation of private Palestinian land, a summit between Israel and the European Union scheduled for February 28 will now be postponed. European diplomats noted that the meeting had already been delayed for five years, and was meant to signify a thawing in the relations between Israel and the EU.
Tensions flared up along Israel’s border with Gaza after early morning rocket fire was met with no less than six retaliatory attacks by the Israeli army across the Stirp on Hamas-linked targets. In the evening, local reports said Israel fired artillery shells at Hamas positions near Gaza City. None were reportedly hurt in the attack, local reports said. The army confirmed the last of the day’s attacks, saying they followed not just Monday’s rocket fire, but “the events of the past month.” The army said that latest attacks targeted three Hamas-linked sites.
The Jewish speaker of Britain’s lower house of parliament said on Monday he would not support any plans for U.S. President Donald Trump to address parliament during a state visit planned for later this year, citing Trump’s “migrant ban” as a factor. “I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism, and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations,” speaker John Bercow said to applause from lawmakers.
PM to Hamas: Israel will respond forcefully to attacks, Times of Israel
Netanyahu warns Hamas against ongoing attacks from the Gaza Strip, saying that Israel will respond with force. “Our policy is clear, whoever fires on us, we will return fire, forcefully,” said the prime minister in a Hebrew video message recorded during his visit to London and posted on Facebook.
Eighteen rabbis were arrested at a protest of President Donald Trump’s refugee ban in front of the Trump International Hotel in New York City. The rabbis, who had gathered as part of a conference hosted by T’ruah, the rabbis’ human rights group, were arrested for obstructing traffic in front of the hotel. After marching with a group of about 200 through Manhattan, they sat in front of the hotel and ignored repeated police warnings to disperse.
The United Nations envoy on Middle East peace warned Monday that a controversial outpost legalization bill, set for a final Knesset vote in the evening, could have significant legal implications for Israel and would push away the hope of a peace agreement with the Arab world.
I Was on the National Security Council. Bannon Doesn’t Belong There., The New York Times
Admiral Michael Mullen writes, “The Trump White House insists that the new organizational structure does not downgrade the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs or the director of national intelligence. (The White House and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have both said that General Dunford will fully participate in the council’s duties.) If this is true, the administration should clarify that by making them permanent members of the principals committee. That would send a strong signal that Mr. Trump will still take seriously the military and intelligence community. The second much needed adjustment to Mr. Trump’s arrangement of the council is the removal of Mr. Bannon from the principals committee. Putting aside for a moment Mr. Bannon’s troubling public positions, which are worrisome enough, institutionalizing his attendance threatens to politicize national security decision making.”
Voting ‘Yes’ for Theft, Haaretz
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that this bill is immoral, unconstitutional and will certainly do Israel great damage internationally. Netanyahu also knows that the law will be struck down by the High Court of Justice, which will then be smeared mercilessly by the settler right and its Knesset representatives. Netanyahu is trapped; he knows that the good of the country requires that the bill be buried for good, but on the other hand, he hears MK Betzalel Smotrich declare that ‘if the regularization bill doesn’t come up [for a vote] on Monday, there will be no government.’ And if there’s one thing that Netanyahu’s long years at the helm have proven, it’s that when asked to choose between the good of the country and his political survival, the country will always come second.”
Trump’s Neocon?, The Atlantic
David Graham writes, “Elliott Abrams is reportedly under consideration to be deputy secretary of state—setting up a strange third act for the longtime Republican foreign-policy figure, and a strange No. 2 for the Trump State Department….Abrams does have some areas of agreement with Trump. He seems to align with the president, at least in broad strokes, in his approach to Israel; Abrams wrote in support of David Friedman, Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel.”
Israeli right prepares for post-Netanyahu era, Al-Monitor
Mazal Mualem writes, “Netanyahu’s rivals all share the same working assumption that the right will stay in power, and so the leader of the right will be Israel’s next prime minister. The exciting succession battle that is fought right now will reshape the right-wing camp, since Netanyahu has no natural heir. For the most part, the leadership of the right has long been in the image of a single man (Netanyahu), who made sure to eliminate his rivals and sideline his party’s most upper echelons.”
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