“Jewish American groups on Thursday denounced U.S. President Donald Trump for his latest comments against immigrants, which have caused a political storm in Washington and beyond….J Street declared that ‘we said it nearly three years ago and we’ll keep saying it: Trump is unfit to lead this great, diverse nation of immigrants from every walk of life.’”
“David Friedman’s behavior as US Ambassador to Israel should alarm all those who care about US policy in the Middle East and the basic norms of American diplomacy. Instead of representing his country and its policies, this ambassador is representing himself. Repeatedly, he has made remarks that undermine efforts to lower tensions in the region and advance Israeli-Palestinian peace — and affirmed the talking points of the Israeli right.With his actions, Friedman has broken his promises to Senators to behave diplomatically and prudently in his new post. While during his confirmation hearings he testified that he would not support or advocate for Israeli annexation in the West Bank, he has since consistently acted to provide cover and support for Israeli leaders moving towards that goal. Instead of helping to pursue peace, he has exacerbated regional tensions and confusion over US policy.”
Trump Is Expected to Stop Short of Reimposing Strict Sanctions on Iran, The New York Times
“President Trump has again stopped short of reimposing draconian sanctions on Iran that could break up its nuclear deal with world powers, two people briefed on his decision said on Thursday, but he is expected to give Congress and European allies a deadline to improve the deal or the United States will pull out of it. He also approved targeted sanctions against several Iranian government officials for corruption and human rights abuses, some of it related to the antigovernment protests that have convulsed Iranian cities this month, these people said.
Mr. Trump’s action, which the White House will announce on Friday, is the third time he has given a reprieve to the agreement brokered by President Barack Obama, despite having labeled it ‘the worst deal ever’ and threatening repeatedly to rip it up.”
Zeeshan Aleem writes, “President Trump had his best chance to kill the Iran nuclear deal that he’s been attacking for nearly two years — and it looks like he’s going to let it live….It’s in some ways a surprising decision for Trump, who late last year declared that the deal wasn’t in the national security interests of the US. It represents a major win for Secretary of Defense James Mattis and other top aides, who have spent months lobbying the president to preserve the deal. And it prevents what could have been a nasty fight with America’s closest allies, who believe the deal is working and have made clear that the US would stand alone if Trump pulled out of it.”
“Two Palestinian teenagers were killed on Thursday in clashes with Israeli security forces, one on the border with the Gaza Strip and the other in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The ministry identified the fatality in Gaza as 16-year-old Ameer Abu Masaed, who was reportedly shot in the chest east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp, which is adjacent to the Israeli border fence. Sources in the Gaza Strip said dozens of Palestinian youth were taking part at the time in a protest at the border against U.S. President Donald Trump’s December announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The other fatality was identified as 17-year-old Ali Omar Qino, who was reportedly killed by Israeli army fire in the West Bank village of Iraq Burin, south of Nablus.”
Rabbi Eric Yoffie writes, “Israel’s ruling party has officially adopted a pro-apartheid position as its vision for the Jewish state. This is an infamous resolution and a tragedy for the Jewish people….But the Likud resolution, casting aside the democratic character of Zionism and the will of the Jewish masses, urges this course nonetheless. And even though it is non-binding, it allows the radical left, Jewish and non-Jewish, to rant about a perfidious, racist Israel. And in the process it discredits Israel’s government, tarnishes Israel’s reputation in the world, and discourages Jews everywhere – who expect more from Israel’s ruling party….If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is this: Single-statism is dangerous from the hard right, dangerous from the hard left, and even more of a threat when pushed by extremists from both sides.”
US encouraging Israel to approve more settlements, Palestinians say, Times of Israel
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s top official, Saeb Erekat, charged Thursday that the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December has encouraged the Jewish state to “speed up” settlement construction in the West Bank.
French President Emmanuel Macron stressed to Donald Trump in a telephone call on Thursday the importance of abiding by a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of a decision by the U.S. president that could reimpose sanctions on the country.
US treasury secretary ‘expecting new sanctions on Iran’, Times of Israel
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday he expected President Donald Trump to announce new sanctions against Iran, as the European Union urged Trump to endorse the nuclear agreement. “I am expecting new sanctions on Iran,” Mnuchin told reporters, according to Reuters. “We continue to look at them. We’ve rolled them out and I think you can expect there will be more sanctions coming.”
Palestinian leaders threaten to withdraw formal recognition of Israel, Los Angeles Times
“The PLO leadership is scheduled to convene early next week to ‘discuss several recommendations toward holding Israel accountable to advance with the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,’ a statement from the executive committee said.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Defense Ministry on Thursday to officially hook up Havat Gilad to the electricity grid, two days after a father-of-six who lived at the illegal outpost was slain by Palestinian terrorists in a drive-by shooting.
Support for Israel among young evangelicals dips, says new survey, Times of Israel
A new study has some troubling news for Israel and its supporters, who have come to rely on the political and financial support of the 25 percent of Americans who identify as evangelical Christians. And while the summary may overstate the case, the survey, underwritten by Chosen People Ministries (which seeks Jewish converts to Christianity), shows that young evangelicals are less supportive and more ambivalent about the State of Israel than their older counterparts.
Dina Kraft reports that a new report by B’tselem “says the detention of Palestinian minors – many on charges of stone throwing – is part of a system that “reveals broad, systemic abuse by Israeli authorities of those minors’ human rights.” This system exists not by chance, the report alleges, but as part of a clear Israeli policy aimed at making life so untenable in East Jerusalem that residents will decide to leave – a claim Israeli authorities deny.”
‘Decertification’ was a Trump pacifier, not a real policy, Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin writes, “Perhaps we can dodge a bullet tomorrow, avoid isolating ourselves internationally and manage to sidestep a standoff with Iran over nuclear weapons (as we are trying to confront North Korea’s nuclear ambitions). If so, it will be because Trump listened to McMaster and the sane voices in Congress, not reckless provocateurs who have not thought through the ramifications of tearing up the JCPOA.”
What I Learned in Ahed Tamimi’s Living Room, J Street Blog
Rabbi Hannah Goldstein writes, “After I saw the photo of Ahed in the newspaper, I watched the video that started the controversy. I was struck by the proximity of the two Israeli soldiers and Ahed Tamimi. Likely, all of them were teenagers who, by an accident of history, found themselves together, in Nabi Saleh. Teenagers who are playing roles foisted upon them by circumstance, by an absence of leadership, and by an unwillingness to end the occupation.
I am a rabbi, not a Middle East expert. I cannot pretend to know the best path toward peace and reconciliation. But I do know that the occupation drafts teenagers on both sides into a war that they should not be waging – with little hope for an end in sight.”
Shlomi Eldar reports, “On Jan. 9, the Israeli Defense Ministry published the total cash stipends in 2017 that the Palestinian Authority (PA) dispensed to the families of Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israel and to the families of Palestinian assailants either wounded or killed in the course of terror acts against Israel. The information was published as part of a legislative bill proposed by Knesset member Elazar Stern of Yesh Atid. The bill is aimed to prevent the PA from extending cash stipends to terrorists and their families. The government supports the bill.”