News Roundup for December 15, 2017

December 15, 2017

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J Street in the News

Tax reform gets in the way of Pence’s Jerusalem victory lap, Politico

“Critics say the prospect for deepening tensions in the region runs high, especially if Pence sticks to a planned trip to Bethlehem in the West Bank. ‘We would expect this visit to be little more than a photo op and an opportunity for the vice president to burnish his credentials with the evangelical base that he represents on this issue’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, an American pro-Israel group that opposed the Jerusalem move. ‘He has not shown a particular interest in a diplomatic resolution of the conflict.’”

J Street Responds to Abbas Speech in the Wake of Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement, J Street

“J Street rejects the divisive and inflammatory rhetoric used by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his recent speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), including his call on the international community to reconsider its recognition of the state of Israel and his unacceptable failure to acknowledge any historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem. We recognize that this speech comes at a time when Abbas, the Palestinian leadership and much of the international community feel understandable frustration over the Trump administration’s reckless and provocative decision to alter long-standing US policy on Jerusalem. That sudden move showed a complete lack of concern for the complexity of Jerusalem as a final status issue or for the Palestinian position.”

Top News and Analysis

EU distances itself from Trump with comment on Jerusalem, Washington Post

“A European Union leader says leaders of the 28-nation bloc have reiterated their ‘firm commitment’ to a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, in what amounts to a rebuke of President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, also tweeted at an EU summit on Thursday that the EU’s position on Jerusalem — which is that the city should be the capital of both Israelis and Palestinians — remains unchanged.”

Palestinians, a large Jerusalem minority, feel Trump snub, AP

Karin Laub writes, “Jerusalem is the largest mixed city in the Holy Land, and Arabs and Jews interact in daily life, including in malls and hospitals. Many Palestinians work in shops and restaurants in west Jerusalem, typically earning more there than on the east side. Yet east-west infrastructure gaps remain wide. Israel may be unwilling to invest heavily in areas that could one day come under Palestinian rule, said Reiter, adding that efforts to maintain a strong Jewish majority may also play a role. Palestinians claim Israel is trying to drive Arabs out of Jerusalem.”

White House: Mideast Peace Initiative Could Face ‘Temporary Cooling Off,’ but Still Moving Forward, Haaretz

Noa Landau and Amir Tibon report, “In light of the strong statements from Palestinian officials about their lack of trust in the American administration as a fair mediator in the peace process, European diplomats who have been in touch lately with the Trump administration’s peace team told Haaretz that they sense the Trump peace initiative is stuck. The White House strongly denied these claims, stating that while a “temporary cooling off period” was possible, the Trump administration was still working on its peace plan, which enjoys strong support from the president.”

Trump plan to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem angers Middle East Christians, Washington Post

Loveday Morris reports, “The Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there has provoked widespread opposition among Christians across the Middle East. When Vice President Pence arrives next week on a trip touted as a chance to check on the region’s persecuted Christians, he will be facing an awkward backlash.”


44 Palestinians Taken to Hospitals From Clashes With Israeli Forces in West Bank, Gaza, Haaretz

Fourty-four Palestinians were wounded during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and taken to hospitals on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency responders. An additional 311 were treated in the field.

IDF officer says there are likely more Gaza tunnels leading into Israel, Times of Israel

Just days after the Israeli army destroyed an attack tunnel leading from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel, a senior army officer told residents of a kibbutz near the border that it likely wasn’t the last such passage.

Responding to Trump, Turkey says it will open an embassy in East Jerusalem — in support of Palestinians, LA Times

Escalating the chorus of global condemnation of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Turkish government announced Friday it would open an embassy in East Jerusalem — in support of Palestinians.

Netanyahu Agrees to Exclude Settlements From Economic Deal With European Union, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to exclude settlements in territories Israel occupied in 1967 from a multi-million-euro deal with the European Union.

David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel, lights menorah at Western Wall, JTA

David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, lit the menorah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for the second night of Hanukkah. Thousands attended the ceremony on Wednesday evening one week after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Anti-Semitism Rare But Anti-Israel Talk Common On Elite Campuses, Study Finds, Forward

A new survey of Jewish students at some of America’s most elite universities has found that they rarely experience anti-Semitism but that most have been exposed to anti-Israel hostility.

German President to Rivlin: Israeli Flag-burning at anti-Trump Protests Is Hateful Act That Has No Place in Germany, Haaretz

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke on Thursday with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, where both Rivlin and his German counterpart condemned recent “disturbing manifestations” of anti-Semitism in Germany. The conversation followed the burning of Israeli flags and anti-Israel protests in Berlin last week after U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on December 6 that the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Former Residents of Evacuated West Bank Outpost to Be Housed on Private Palestinian Land, Haaretz

Jewish settlers who were evicted in February from the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona because it was on Palestinian land are now being moved to mobile homes on a land that was previously expropriated from individual Palestinian owners for public users.

Opinions and Analysis

Trump’s New Jerusalem Policy: Early Assessment, Terrestrial Jerusalem

Danny Seidemann observes, “The full implications of President Trump’s proclamation declaring U.S recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and his announcement of the commencement of the process to move the U.S. embassy there, remain to be seen. It is far too early to fully determine what will be the diplomatic, political, and security implications of this American policy shift. Likewise, it is not remotely clear yet how this asymmetric recognition will impact a peace process that is already under distress, if not for all intents and purposes moribund.  In the coming days and weeks we will continue to examine and report on all of the implications of Trump’s policy shift, as new developments unfold.”

Israeli defense minister’s comments highlight ‘plague of racism,’ Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar argues, “Liberman is a symptom of the plague of racism afflicting all organs of Jewish Israeli society and threatening to annihilate it. Only intensive care and fundamental treatment of the root causes of the disease — the occupation of Palestinian lands and the messianic zeal of the settlers/occupiers — can save it.”

Honey, the Right Wing Has Gone Crazy, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev argues, “The radicalization of the right and its detachment from reality have accelerated in recent years, for both identical and different reasons. The irrational hatred fostered by the right towards Obama paved the way for the election of Donald Trump, which seems just as loony today as it did on November 8, 2016. Netanyahu’s overextended stay in power has turned him into a self-victimizing paranoid who seems to think that any transgression is kosher if it is meant to keep him in power. In both countries, values and ideology have been replaced by a kind of tribal loyalty that can sanitize any sin and cleanse any crime. The deteriorating discourse in politics and the masses’ blind worship of its leaders increasingly repel politicians who are burdened with integrity and a conscience, leaving only extremists, thugs, grovelers and apparatchiks to run the party and the country, along with shameless opportunists who find it expedient not to fight the rot that is spreading all around them.”

Lay Off Linda Sarsour, The Forward

Leo Ferguson writes, “For the Jewish community, a prerequisite for ameliorating the consequences of the election is doing a better job of distinguishing between our friends and our enemies. We can’t do this alone. Mounting an effective resistance to white nationalism and the Trump administration demands our best thinking, calls out to our deepest values, and requires courage, grit and some very unsexy labor. And it also requires allies in the vibrant movements for social justice that are best positioned to combat anti-Semitism alongside racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and other forms of oppression. We have friends like Linda throughout the many communities that share our fear of white nationalism and our vision for a better, more just and equitable world.”

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