News Roundup for December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

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J Street in the News

AIPAC, J Street call out Abbas for ‘inflammatory’ remarks on Israel, Haaretz/Jewish Insider

“J Street issued a lengthy statement rejecting ‘the divisive and inflammatory rhetoric used by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ in his recent speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and for ‘his unacceptable failure to acknowledge any historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem.’….At the same time, J Street said it shared international frustration over Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: ‘That sudden move showed a complete lack of concern for the complexity of Jerusalem as a final status issue or for the Palestinian position…The harmful actions of President Trump can be overturned by future administrations and leaders.’”

Ari Shavit accused again of sexual misconduct, prompting comeback cancellation, JTA

“An event featuring Ari Shavit, the Israeli author and columnist accused last year of sexual assault, has disappeared from the website of the 92nd Street Y, a Jewish community center, after two more women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations…. as of Friday afternoon, notice of the event has been removed from the website and tickets page after two more women told the magazine Jewish Currents of sexual misconduct allegations from 2014 and 2015. At the time, both students were involved with the liberal campus Israel group J Street U…Shavit admitted last year that he was the unnamed Israeli journalist whom Danielle Berrin, a reporter at the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, accused of sexual harassment and assault in an October 2016 cover story…..A second woman, who worked for the liberal Israel lobby J Street but remained anonymous, also accused Shavit of sexual harassment in 2016.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Administration Adds Fuel to the Fire Accompanying Mike Pence’s Israel Visit, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “The little fire between Palestinians and Israelis that the Trump administration relit with the president’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is expected to last at least another week….Fatah announced in response a series of days of rage in Jerusalem and in the territories, which will begin on Wednesday and continue until Friday prayers….Meanwhile, the administration added fuel to the fire accompanying Pence’s expected visit to the Western Wall…..One of the explanations for Palestinian opposition to the declaration being limited in scope was that the president’s announcement didn’t involve establishing facts on the ground, and that it contained no religious symbolism, a common recipe for almost assuredly spilling blood. Now they are adding more fuel to keep the fire going.”

Donald Trump Seems Confused About Jerusalem, The New York Times

The editorial board writes, “Mr. Trump insists he still intends to pursue new peace negotiations, but he has made any such effort, always a long shot, vastly more difficult. In this fraught moment, with dwindling options, the first task for the Palestinian leadership and others is to discourage violence that could engulf the region at great cost to all sides. If Palestinian and European leaders want to keep open the possibility of a two-state solution, they should reaffirm the importance of deciding Jerusalem’s future in negotiations, with the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. For his part, Mr. Trump could lessen the damage by specifying that the embassy, when moved, would be in West Jerusalem, and by indicating that the United States wants to recognize East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital as part of a peace agreement.”

U.N. council mulls call for U.S. Jerusalem decision to be withdrawn, Reuters

“The United Nations Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would insist any decisions on the status of Jerusalem have no legal effect and must be rescinded after US President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital. The one-page Egyptian-drafted text, which was circulated to the 15-member council on Saturday and seen by Reuters, does not specifically mention the United States or Trump. Diplomats say it has broad support but will likely be vetoed by Washington….While the draft is unlikely to be adopted, it would further isolate Trump over the Jerusalem issue.”

U.S. Accuses Iran of U.N. Violation, but Evidence Falls Short, The New York Times

John Ismay and Helene Cooper report, “The Trump administration tried to mount a case on Thursday that Iran violated an international agreement to limit its arms dealing, but American officials failed to show how an array of weaponry presented as evidence proved the charges….Asked what international agreements Iran was violating, Ms. Haley cited the United Nations Security Council resolution 2231. Passed in 2015, it bars Iran from supplying, selling or transferring certain weapons outside the country unless approved by the Security Council. It also prohibits Iran from transferring weapons capable of delivering nuclear warheads. But the evidence she showcased at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling — four weapons provided to the American government by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — fell short of proving her claims.”


Trump to unveil ‘America First’ national security strategy, AP

Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States’ foreign policy since the Cold War.

Two Rockets Fired From Gaza at Israel, One Explodes in House’s Front Yard, Haaretz

Two rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel Sunday night, the Israeli military confirmed. One of the rockets exploded in the yard of a residential building in southern Israel’s Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, and the other exploded in a nearby open area. Rocket alarm sirens sounded in Israeli communities near the Gaza border prior to the blasts. Residents of a local community told Haaretz they heard an explosion.

Palestinians won’t meet with Kushner, Greenblatt or any US officials on peace, Times of Israel

The Palestinians will not meet with any United States officials regarding the peace process in the future, in response to US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a senior diplomatic adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told The Times of Israel on Sunday. The open-ended boycott includes Trump’s top peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who is due here this week, as well as the US leader’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Ibrahim Abu Thuraya: Disabled Palestinian activist shot dead by Israeli troops in Jerusalem protest, The Independent

A Palestinian activist who lost his legs in an air strike has been shot dead by Israeli troops as he protested against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Wheelchair-bound Ibraheem Abu Thuraya, 29, was one of four Palestinians killed during Friday’s violent clashes, according to officials. Witnesses said he was unarmed.The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry said Mr Thuraya was shot just east of Gaza City, with the Israeli army saying it opened fire on the “main instigators” of violent protests at the Gaza border.

Turkey’s Erdogan says he hopes to open embassy in East Jerusalem soon, Times of Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope on Sunday that Turkey would soon be able to open an embassy to a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, as he again denounced US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Nigerien said to stab 2 journalists over US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital, JTA

A Nigerien man stabbed two Danish journalists in Gabon, saying it was a revenge attack against the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

China’s Foreign Ministry Initiated Upcoming Israeli-Palestinian Meeting in Beijing, Haaretz

After Chinese officials recently expressed interest in increasing their involvement in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian delegations will arrive in Beijing this weekend at the initiative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which is funding the visit. The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, and his deputy, Chen Xiaodong, will meet the delegations arriving in Beijing this Thursday. At the end of the meeting, the Chinese officials will hold a special press conference, where they will present the country’s positions on the issue of the conflict.

Liberman to advance bill setting death penalty for terrorists, Times of Israel

Israeli political leaders on Sunday agreed to submit a draft bill to parliament enabling capital punishment for terrorists, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party said in a statement. Although the statement’s wording was not explicit, the bill is aimed at Palestinian terrorists, in line with Liberman’s past pledges.

Court says Palestinian poet won’t be released from house arrest, +972

More than two years and two months after her arrest in October 2015, Dareen Tatour’s trial drags on languidly in the Nazareth court with no end in sight. On Monday, December 4, the remand judge once again rejected her request to be released from the house arrest imposed on her ‘until the end of legal proceedings.’ Tatour, 34, from Reineh near Nazareth, was arrested by Israeli police on October 11th, 2015, and later indicted of incitement to violence and support of a terrorist organization, all for publishing a poem, ‘Resist my people, resist them’, and two Facebook statuses.

Opinions and Analysis

How Mike Pence’s Mideast Trip to Help Embattled Christians Evolved Into a Visit Devoid of Christians, Haaretz

Judy Maltz reports, “US Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the Middle East this week was envisioned as a show of solidarity with Christian communities in the region suffering from persecution. Yet now, the vice president will not be meeting any Christians during his three-day visit to Egypt and Israel. Pence’s scheduled trip to the West Bank city of Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus and one of the most important sites in Christianity – has been called off, as has his meeting with the leader of the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt….It goes without saying that the trip is no longer being billed as an effort to assist embattled Christians in the region….The turning point was obviously U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announcement that the U.S. Embassy would move there. Pence, who is closely aligned with the religious right, is regarded as a driving force behind the move.”

Palestinians reject US mediation, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar observes, “The analysis of the Palestinian leadership was that Trump is simply a supporter of the Israeli right wing and that he was influenced by two of his closest Jewish advisers — his son-in-law Jared Kushner and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who is known for his close ties with the settler movement. The Palestinian leadership had warned Greenblatt that any policy move on Jerusalem would be perceived as a casus belli, ending Palestinian willingness to accept US mediation. Obviously, their warning was not taken seriously. And so, the sense of disappointment is double. The declaration reflects the fact that insufficient pressure was put on the White House by their Arab allies, as well as by their friends in the European Union.”

Bibi says Iran will soon have 100 nuclear bombs. Well, where are they?, +972

Shemuel Meir concludes, “According to our analysis, Netanyahu’s alarmist “hundred atomic bombs” scenario is not going to materialize. The IAEA’s intrusive inspection regime imposed on Iran’s civilian nuclear program is designed to keep close tabs, deter, and prevent deception. Iran will not be able to make and build an arsenal of atomic bombs ‘under the IAEA spotlight’ using a tightly-controlled civilian nuclear program as a springboard. Countries that have acquired nuclear weapons, like India and Pakistan, have done so far from the watchful eyes of the IAEA and the NPT since they are not signatories to NPT.”

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