News Roundup for February 8, 2017

February 8, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

UN Secretary General: Israel’s Land-grab Law in Contravention of International Law, Haaretz

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday evening the so-called “Regularization Law” passed by Israel a day earlier violates international law and will have far-reaching legal consequences for Israel.

Abbas labels Israeli settlement law an ‘attack’ on Palestinians, i24News

“Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday labelled the new Israeli law legalizing dozens of Jewish outposts built on private Palestinian land an “attack against our people”. Israel faced broad international criticism over the new law, passed by parliament on Monday, including from Britain, France, the United Nations and its neighbor Jordan. The United States has not commented. ‘Our goal is peace, but Israel is working from the basis of a single state,’ he added. Speaking alongside Abbas at a press conference in Paris, French President Francois Hollande said: ‘I want to believe that Israel and its government will reconsider this law.’”


Israel’s Answer to World Condemnation: Supreme Court Will Overturn Land-grab Law, Haaretz

In an effort to soften worldwide condemnation, the Foreign Ministry issued talking points to all Israelis embassies to stress to foreign diplomats, legislators and journalists that the Supreme Court will likely review – and overturn – the so-called “Regularization Law.” A senior official in Jerusalem, speaking on condition of anonymity, noted that the Prime Minister’s Office devised the talking points, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved. The Israeli diplomats were instructed not to initiate press conferences and discussions on the subject but rather to use the talking points only when asked.

Mahmoud Abbas Says He May Cut Security Ties to Israel Over Settlement Push, Forward

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday he could be forced to suspend security cooperation with Israel if the ramp-up of Israeli settlements continued. “If the colonization continues, I would have no other choice, it would not be my fault,” Abbas told France’s Senate during a visit to Paris.

Germany Bashes Israel: Land-grab Law Deeply Shakes Our Faith in Israel’s Commitment to Peace, Haaretz

Germany severely condemned a new Israeli law which enables the expropriation of private Palestinian land on Wednesday, saying that that the law’s enactment by the Knesset on Monday has shaken Germany’s faith in Israel’s commitment to peace. “Many in Germany who stand by Israel and feel great commitment toward it find themselves deeply disappointed by this move,” the German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.  “Our trust in the Israeli government’s commitment to the two-state solution has been fundamentally shaken ,” he said.

Attorney General considering testifying against State over outpost law, Times of Israel

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is considering testifying against the State in the High Court of Justice over the controversial legislation passed yesterday to legalize West Bank settlement outposts, Channel 2 news reports. Mandelblit has repeatedly said that he won’t be able to defend the law before the court, warning that it marks the first time Israeli legislation explicitly affirms government support for wildcat settlements, and would openly curtail property rights of Palestinians in the West Bank in a way that contravenes the protections granted to occupied populations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

EU Foreign Policy Chief: Israel’s Land-grab Law Entrenches One-state Reality of Unequal Rights, Haaretz

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday strongly condemned Israel’s so-called “Regularization Law,” which retroactively legalizes the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land. Mogherini said the law “crosses a new and dangerous threshold by legalizing under Israeli law the seizure of Palestinian property rights and effectively authorising the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land in occupied territory.”

53% of Israeli Jews Say Don’t Annex West Bank Settlements, Forward

A new poll found that 50 percent of Israelis are hesitant about expanding construction in the settlements. The Peace Index, a monthly survey of Israeli opinion conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, reported Tuesday that half of Israeli Jews are sure that settlement expansion is unwise or think it might be. Another 45 percent of Israelis are sure or think the opposite is the case.

Trump aide: Holocaust statement criticism is ‘asinine’, JTA

A deputy assistant to Donald Trump said that criticism of the White House statement on the Holocaust that omitted Jews was motivated solely by a desire to attack the president.

Young Jews and Arabs From Israel Join Forces to Help Syrian Refugees, Haaretz

If all goes as planned, an Israeli delegation of Jewish and Arab youth movement leaders will head to the Greek island of Lesbos next week to help establish educational and social programs there for young Syrian refugees. Teaming up in the effort will be two youth movements – Zionist-socialist Hashomer Hatzair and the Arab Ajyal group – who have a long history of cooperation, though never in something quite like this.

Rouhani: ‘Win-win’ nuke deal a model for resolving disputes, Times of Israel

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the “win-win” nuclear agreement his country signed with world powers in 2015 could serve as a blueprint for resolving other Middle East disputes.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Marks Scapegoat as His Coalition Stabs Israel in the Back With Land-grab Law, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “The law for the expropriation of private Palestinian lands, approved by the Knesset on Monday, is unwise, unjust and unconstitutional. It infringes on the right to property, violates equality before the law and undermines the stature of Israeli courts. It constitutes the first time the Knesset has passed legislation about land in Judea and Samaria, as opposed to the Jewish settlers who live there. It will be construed as creeping annexation and as a violation of international law, and could be used to bring Israel and Israelis before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. All of these objections to the new law were not voiced in recent weeks by Israel-hating, BDS-loving anti-Semites, but by the prime minister, the defense minister, legal advisers from the attorney general on down, and many members of the Knesset, including the Likud’s hawkish Benjamin Begin, who called it a ‘theft law.’….For Israel, however, it’s unfortunate: While Israel stabs itself in the back and does its enemies’ work for them by tarnishing the country’s image, its leader is engaged in preparing an alibi and singling out a scapegoat.”

Why king’s visit to Washington was essential for Jordan, Al-Monitor

Osama al-Sharif reports, “Jordanians are feeling a certain sense of pride following King Abdullah’s recent visit to Washington, where he conferred with key administration and congressional officials and became the first Middle Eastern leader to meet with President Donald Trump. Although Abdullah’s Feb. 2 meeting with Trump was brief, taking place on the sidelines of the annual National Prayer Breakfast, it covered an array of issues of particular importance to the Jordanian monarch and the region. The White House issued a statement in which it said that Trump had ‘conveyed the US’ commitment to Jordan’s stability, security and prosperity.’ It added that the president had “highlighted Jordan’s critical contributions to defeating IS [Islamic State] and discussed the possibility of establishing safe zones in Syria.” In addition, it said, Trump ‘underscored that the United States is committed to strengthening the security and economic partnership with Jordan.’ These expressions of commitment signaled the success of the royal visit in the eyes of the king and a majority of Jordanians.”

Trump, Bannon and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, LA Jewish Journal

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “If the history of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion teaches us anything, it should be to be very wary and very fearful. Lies can have immense staying power. They can lead to extreme suffering and destruction. They can help pull the entire world into war and place the existence of an entire people under threat. They are especially dangerous when promoted by national leaders like Trump and Putin with almost unlimited access to the media and other means of communication at their disposal. They must be resisted at every turn. We have faith that the truth will eventually out – but it won’t unless we fight to make it so.”

Reform Movement Faces Challenge of Resisting Trump — and Staying Open to All, Forward

Ben Sales observes, “Reform Jewish leaders largely oppose President Donald Trump’s policies — and they haven’t been shy about saying so since his election. They’ve marched in the streets by the thousands. They’ve protested at airports. And this week, some were arrested in front of a Trump hotel here. ‘If there are areas where this new administration actually advocates and enacts policies that are reflective of our enduring Jewish values and our policy positions, then we’ll work with them,’ Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center, the Reform movement’s legislative advocacy arm, told JTA. ‘But if they don’t, if they’re consistent with the kind of rhetoric we heard during the campaign, we’ll oppose it with every strength of our being.’”

Amona is the Brazen Face of the Occupation, Tikkun

Maya Haber writes, “This is the occupation in a nutshell. The hills of the West Bank breed two distinct prototypes of children. On the one hand, there are the Amona and Bat Aiyn kids who proudly shed the stereotype of the diaspora Jews; they grow up believing they are the masters of the universe and lower their heads to no one. They feel entitled to the land, and entitled to disobey court orders, to resist the police and order soldiers around. Within a mile or two, Palestinian kids grow up seeing their fathers’ helplessness confronting 18-year old soldiers who tell them to where to walk, search their homes in the middle of the night or humiliate them at checkpoints. These two childhood prototypes are the inevitable products of a system designed to keep the kids of Amona and Bat Aiyn safe in the midst of 2.8 million hostile Palestinians. Terrorizing the Palestinian population daily is the only way to protect four-hundred thousand settlers. The daily practice of the occupation isn’t sadistic. The IDF isn’t better or worse than any other military practicing such a mission. We cannot improve the occupation or make it more humane. We must end it.”

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