News Roundup for December 13, 2017

December 13, 2017

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J Street in the News

Perspectives On Trump Announcement About Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital, WBEZ91.5

“Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder and president of J Street, a self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace organization, discusses his objection to Trump’s Jerusalem decision and where there could be compromise.” (Jeremy’s segment begins around 42 minutes in).

Congress Continues to Maintain Successful Iran Nuclear Agreement, Takes no “Fast-Track Action” to Violate it, J Street

“Sixty days after President Trump’s decision not to re-certify the Iran nuclear agreement, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) deadline for Congress to fast-track the re-imposition of nuclear sanctions on Iran has passed without the introduction of any legislation to do so. This is a clear sign that most Members of Congress understand a fundamental truth: The nuclear agreement is working and making Americans safer.”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. Congress to let Iran deadline pass, leave decision to Trump, Reuters,

Patricia Zengerle reports, “The U.S. Congress will allow a deadline on re-imposing sanctions on Iran to pass this week, congressional and White House aides said on Tuesday, leaving a pact between world powers and Tehran intact at least temporarily… Congressional leaders have announced no plans to introduce a resolution to re-impose sanctions before Wednesday’s deadline and aides say lawmakers will let the deadline pass without action.”

Jerusalem: After 30 Years of Hope and Failure, What’s Next for Israel/Palestine? Foreign Policy

Hady Amr writes, “So now, following Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, the results have been predictable..Israel, which has angered Arab populations throughout the region, is less secure and less likely to be accepted. And by turning our back on the international consensus once again — as we did in our withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement — we have lost the standing to lead in the eyes of the world. But the most dramatic result is that Donald Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem seems to have completely disqualified the United States from its role as a broker in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the hearts of the Palestinian people themselves. And the dramatic reduction in U.S. influence over the process makes Israel itself less secure.”

Trump’s Jerusalem move seen to impede regional alliance against Iran, Times of Israel

Dov Lieber writes, “Sunni Arab states and Israel share a declared goal of countering Iran’s growing influence in the region, and the United States has been working on a regional plan to bring those parties together in that aim, which it also shares. But US President Donald Trump’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel complicates the cooperation between the nascent anti-Iran alliance, experts say… So far, no Arab or Muslim country has publicly paid heed to the president’s assertion that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city or his stated opposition to changing the status quo at the city’s holy sites. Instead, countries that enjoy historically close relations with the US and maintain (overt or reported) security ties with Israel — including Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — have all denounced Trump’s declaration, saying it undermines the peace process and empowers extremists.”


Israel foils Hamas kidnapping plot planned for Hanukkah, Times of Israel

Israeli security services arrested three members of an alleged Hamas terrorist cell in the northern West Bank suspected of planning to kidnap an Israeli citizen during the Hanukkah festival, the Shin Bet security service announced Wednesday.

Once a Long Shot, Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race, New York Times

Doug Jones, a Democratic former prosecutor who mounted a seemingly quixotic Senate campaign in the face of Republican dominance here, defeated his scandal-scarred opponent, Roy S. Moore, after a brutal campaign marked by accusations of sexual abuse and child molestation against the Republican.

Trump Considers Easing Nuclear Rules for Saudi Project, Bloomberg

The Trump administration is encouraging Saudi Arabia to consider bids by Westinghouse Electric Co. and other U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors in that country and may allow the enrichment of uranium as part of that deal, according to three people familiar with the plans.

Palestinian shot by soldiers wasn’t carrying a knife, IDF finds, Times of Israel

The army on Tuesday launched an investigation after soldiers shot a Palestinian who they said appeared to pull a knife out of his pocket, though no such weapon was recovered at the scene.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Invites Saudi Crown Prince to Visit Israel, Haaretz

Intelligence Affairs Minister Yisrael Katz invited Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Israel in an interview to the Saudi online newspaper Elaph on Wednesday.

IDF strikes Hamas position in Gaza after rocket launch, Times of Israel

The Israeli Air Force on Tuesday night struck a Hamas facility in the southern Gaza Strip, hours after Palestinians fired a rocket towards Israel from the coastal enclave. There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Palestinian side.

Los Angeles synagogue targeted with anti-Semitic vandalism, Times of Israel

A Los Angeles synagogue was targeted with a spray-painted swastika and gang symbols. Temple Aliyah in the Woodland Hills neighborhood was vandalized Monday. The Los Angeles Police Department told the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles that it considers the attack a hate crime.

Netanyahu told Macron he’d make ‘concessions’ within Trump peace plan — report, Times of Israel

During their talks in Paris on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French President Emmanuel Macron that he would be prepared to make “compromises and concessions” to the Palestinians within the framework of US President Donald Trump’s much-touted Middle East peace plan, Israel’s Channel 10 TV news reported on Tuesday.

Opinions and Analysis

How Trump energizes deniers of Palestinian independence, +972

Dhalia Scheindlin writes, “President Trump could have made a tremendous statement last week had he recognized the claims of both Israel and the Palestinians to a capital in Jerusalem. Instead, he reinforced Israel’s already disproportionate advantage in the conflict. Right-wing hawks then took it further, seizing on his statement to revive the dusty arguments rejecting of Palestinian statehood altogether.”

Israel Cautiously Responds to Gaza Flare-up – but That Could Easily Change Soon, Haaretz

Amos Harel writes, “The Israeli response to the rocket fire from Gaza has been rather restrained so far. As has been its custom in the past, Israel has said that it views Hamas as the party responsible for violence coming from its territory – and has exacted a price from it by bombing Hamas positions and command headquarters… For now, it seems that the Israeli leadership does not want to rock the boat to too great an extent in Gaza. The Israeli government’s problem is that it does not fully control of the situation. Continued rocket fire and ‘red alert’ rocket sirens will exact a psychological price from the Israeli residents in the region near the Gaza border, who have enjoyed a relatively long period of quiet and a major influx of new residents, as a result of a building boom and government tax breaks for the region following Operation.”

How Should Israeli-Palestinian Civil Society Respond To Trump’s Jerusalem Move? The Forward

Jon Greenwald argues, “With little present prospect of promising inter-governmental diplomacy, what can civil society do? Neglect is unlikely to be benign. Almost certainly the negative trends on both sides would increase, perhaps irreparably so. It will be important, of course, to press governments to prevent negative measures such as destruction of Palestinian villages on the West Bank and construction of new Israeli settlements that reduce the viability of any eventual Palestinian state. But civil society should also concentrate on positive measures that improve the chances for successful future negotiations.”

Trump’s Jerusalem move was supposed to destabilize the entire Middle East. It didn’t, Vox

Sarah Wildman asks, “[W]hile many thousands did take to the streets in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen, Indonesia and Turkey, by Monday morning they had begun to walk away. Leaders around the world condemned Trump’s decision, and the region remains on edge, but, despite street protest, the predicted tidal wave of regional instability has so far failed to materialize. That’s not to say there wasn’t violence: Four Palestinian protesters were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces, and hundreds were wounded. On Sunday afternoon, a lone Palestinian attacker stabbed an Israeli security guard. But the incidents remained isolated and so far haven’t sparked wider protests. So why didn’t the regional instability materialize as predicted?”

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