News Roundup for December 19, 2017

December 19, 2017

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J Street in the News

After UNSC vote, Russia offers to replace US as ‘honest’ Mideast mediator, Times of Israel

“‘Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem and it should be internationally recognized as such in the context of an agreed two-state solution,’ [J Street] said. ‘The administration’s move has only made that solution harder to achieve.’”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution Condemning Move on Jerusalem, The New York Times

“The United States on Monday blocked a Security Council resolution demanding that the Trump administration rescind its Dec. 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to eventually move the American Embassy there. Although the United States used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block the resolution, the council’s vote, 14 to 1, punctuated the American isolation over a central issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict….Jerusalem, the draft resolution states, ‘is a final-status issue to be resolved through negotiations.’ It demanded, without identifying the United States by name, that ‘all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.’”

Pence delays trip to Middle East for tax vote and amid uproar over Jerusalem decision, Washington Post

“The White House announced Monday that Vice President Pence is delaying a planned trip to the Middle East in case his vote is needed to pass tax legislation — a move that also comes amid uproar over the Trump administration’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel….Pence’s office said Monday the trip was being delayed so he can stay in Washington until votes on the tax cut legislation are completed. He is now expected to travel to the Middle East during the week of Jan. 14, according to senior White House officials.”

Despite failing, UN Jerusalem bid paints Israel, US as alone against the world, Times of Israel

Raphael Ahren writes, “Jerusalem may remain Israel’s capital no matter what the UN says, but the cost of maintaining that stance alone against the world will leave America and Israel looking more and more like international rebels….The Palestinians, having anticipated an American veto, have announced their intention to take the resolution to the UN General Assembly, where there is no veto, but also no actual legal ramifications….A resolution denying that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital would have a strong optical impact, just as the US vetoing a measure supported by 14 other states did. And it would send a strong message that Netanyahu’s claim that other states will follow the US’s lead is nothing but a pipe dream.”


Israel is not the problem in Middle East, Trump’s security plan says, JTA

Israel is not the cause of problems in the Middle East, according to the Trump administration’s plan on national security. “For generations, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region,” the 68-page document unveiled Monday says in its section on the Middle East. “Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems,” it says. “States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”

Saudis intercept Yemen rebel missile headed for Riyadh palace, Times of Israel

Saudi Arabia said it intercepted a Yemeni rebel missile over Riyadh on Tuesday, as the rebels said the target was Yamama palace, the official residence of King Salman. An AFP correspondent heard a loud explosion at 1050 GMT, shortly before the scheduled unveiling of the Saudi budget, which is usually announced from the Yamama palace by the king.

Proposed Legislation Would Confer Jewish ‘Nationality’ on All Immigrants to Israel, Haaretz

An Israeli lawmaker is working on legislation that would confer Jewish “nationality” on all immigrants to Israel, thereby providing status as Jews to new immigrants who don’t qualify as Jewish under traditional Jewish religious law, or halakha. The bill, which is being drafted by opposition MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union), would stipulate that any individual deemed eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return can be listed as “Jewish” in the category of “nationality.” Nationality in this context should not be confused with citizenship, as all immigrants are entitled to Israeli citizenship.

Few college students want to boycott Israel, study of four campuses finds, JTA

A study of four US colleges found little support for academic boycotts of Israel among the students. At each of the schools studied — Brandeis, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan — less than 15 percent of non-Jewish students expressed support for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and scholars, according to a study by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis.

Israel’s Defense Minister: We’re Willing to Pay Any Price Over Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration, Haaretz

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel knew it would pay a price for U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and “we are willing to pay any price” for it. Lieberman made his comments on Tuesday morning at the Israeli army’s Re’im Base near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Opinions and Analysis

Hamas Arrests and Tortures Salafi Militants to Curb Gaza Rocket Fire Into Israel, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “The Hamas government in Gaza has in recent days arrested many Salafi militants, apparently with the aim of halting their groups’ rocket fire into Israel. Hamas has sent a message through several channels, above all Egyptian intelligence, that it seeks to avoid a an escalation of the recent violence with Israel. According to Hamas, among those arrested were operatives responsible for the recent rocket launches. It’s likely that some of these men were tortured by Hamas’ security people.”

Why the U.N. veto was a loss for Trump and Netanyahu, Axios

Barak Ravid writes, “The events of the last two weeks around Trump’s Jerusalem announcement are the biggest crisis between the U.S. and the Palestinians since the height of the second Intifada in 2002. Haley’s speech today, which included harsh attacks on the Palestinian leadership claiming it does not serve the interest of its people, sounded very much like President George W. Bush’s speech from April 2002 in which he called on the Palestinians to elect a different leader than Yasser Arafat. In such a crisis, Trump’s top priority policy goal of reaching the ‘ultimate deal’ between Israel and the Palestinians seems to be on life support.”

Two new symbols risk galvanizing protests over Trump’s Jerusalem decision, Times of Israel

Dov Lieber writes, “The danger of a further escalation remains acute in the wake of Trump’s Jerusalem decision, Israeli officials assess. Those hoping and pushing for it have new symbols to help them.”

Letter From Palestinian Peace Activist Ali Abu Awwad to President Trump After Trump’s Jerusalem Decision, J Street Blog

After President Trump’s decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Ali Abu Awwad — a Palestinian non-violence activist and the founder of Taghyeer/Change, the Palestinian Nonviolence Movement — wrote a letter to the president calling for peace, understanding and bold diplomacy.

‘Living in a Prison, Though I Have the Key’: All Alone on the Wrong Side of Israel’s Separation Barrier, Haaretz

Nir Hasson reports the story of the Hajajleh family, living in the village of al-Wajala south of Jerusalem. “Four years ago, following a petition to the High Court of Justice, the Defense Ministry reached a settlement with the family through which a tunnel under the separation fence was built for them at a cost of four million shekels ($1.1 million). A large iron gate was built inside the tunnel – the house’s only entrance. The agreement details family members’ rights in entering and leaving their home.”

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