News Roundup for January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Trump denies U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem within a year, Reuters

“President Donald Trump denied on Wednesday that the planned relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would take place within a year, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expected the controversial move to happen by then. Reversing decades of U.S. policy, Trump in early December recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the process of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, imperiling Middle East peace efforts and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies alike.”

82 Rabbis, Activists Arrested On Capitol Hill Over DACA Protest, Huffington Post

Antonia Blumberg reports, “More than 80 Jewish clergy members and activists were arrested on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for protesting President Donald Trump’s plan to end a program that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. More than a hundred rabbis and activists, some wearing prayer shawls and yarmulkes, gathered in the center of the rotunda in the Russell Senate Office Building on Wednesday morning. They sang songs, shouted cheers and made statements of support for the young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, a group of whom were watching the action from a balcony one floor up.”

The House Republican plan to toughen the Iran deal, Axios

Jonathan Swan writes, “This is Congress’ last chance to stop Trump from blowing up the Iran deal. The four-month clock is ticking, and people who’ve heard Trump share his feelings about Iran don’t think he’s bluffing. Democrats and Republican moderates — especially in the Senate — are going to hate this Roskam bill. But Iran hawks are already telling me it’s their baby — far preferable to what they’re hearing about the Corker-Cardin draft, which they believe will be too weak to be worth supporting.”

‘A death sentence’: Palestinians slam U.S. decision to cut aid as U.N. pleads for new donors, Washington Post

Hazem Balousha and Ruth Eglash write, “In the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza, 42-year-old Ahmed al-Assar said his family of eight has been receiving aid from UNRWA for almost 12 years. ‘I work part-time in construction, but that is not enough to cover all my expenses,’ he said Wednesday. “Any reduction of aid would be a death sentence for refugees in Gaza. The work is almost nonexistent. There are not enough jobs. Those who work for the Palestinian Authority receive only a stipend, and Hamas employees get a quarter of their salary.’ Another camp resident, Zahia Mekdad, described the aid cut as ‘a purely political decision’ that would hurt only ordinary people.”

Companies Stuck Amid Trump Ultimatum on Iran, Wall Street Journal

Samuel Rubenfeld writes, “Companies wondering what to do about business in Iran are stuck trying to interpret language from the Trump administration indicating that waivers from sanctions, while continuing for now, won’t be renewed again. Lawyers and sanctions experts told Risk & Compliance Journal that their clients are expressing anxiety while they await further guidance from the U.S. government on what it will allow under the nuclear agreement, as the deal comes under renewed, and heightened, threats from President Donald Trump.”


Pence visit exposes dilemma facing Egypt, Jordan over Jerusalem recognition, Times of Israel

US Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming visit to the Middle East comes at a time of intensely publicized friction between his administration and the Palestinian leadership, posing a dilemma for his Arab hosts — Egypt’s president and Jordan’s king — on how to safeguard their vital ties with Washington without appearing to ignore Palestinian misgivings.

Israeli troops kill man suspected in drive-by shooting death of West Bank rabbi, JTA

A Palestinian man was killed and two Israeli soldiers injured in a night-time raid in Jenin in the West Bank to capture the man responsible for the drive-by shooting death of an Israeli rabbi

Israeli Army Considering Taking Control of Palestinian Areas in East Jerusalem, Haaretz

The Israeli military is examining the possibility of assuming responsibility for security in the Shoafat refugee camp and in Kafr Aqab, Palestinian areas that are in the jurisdiction of Jerusalem but physically cut off from the city since the construction of the separation barrier.

Inspired by Anne Frank, Rabbis in Israel Plan to Hide African Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation, Haaretz

A group of Israeli rabbis, including the sister of comedian Sarah Silverman, launched Tuesday an Anne Frank-inspired activist program calling on Israelis to hide African asylum seekers facing forced expulsion from Israel in their homes.

Israeli bulldozers level lands in southern Gaza, Ma’an

Several Israeli bulldozers entered into the “buffer zone” along the Gaza border on Wednesday morning where they razed lands under heavy military protection. Locals told Ma’an that four Israeli D9 bulldozers raided into eastern al-Qarara, in the southern Gaza Strip district of Khan Younis.

Israel among few countries that like Trump more than Obama, poll finds, Times of Israel

Israel is among a handful of countries whose support for US leadership has significantly increased under President Donald Trump, according to a poll released Thursday.

Amos Oz, David Grossman, Etgar Keret Implore Netanyahu: Do Not Deport Asylum Seekers, Haaretz

Thirty-five prominent Israeli authors penned a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday calling on him not to deport asylum-seekers.

Opinions and Analysis

Standing with the Dreamers, J Street

Logan Bayroff writes, “Today, we were deeply inspired to see dozens of Jewish activists, led by Bend the Arc Jewish Action, occupying the rotunda of the Senate’s Russell Office Building on Capitol Hill, where they rallied with a group of Dreamers to demand that Congress include a clean DREAM act in its government funding bill. Their impressive act of civil disobedience, which culminated in the arrest of many of the activists, sent a powerful and important message about American Jewish values and priorities. The fight for the Dreamers, and against bigotry and deportation, is a fight for the soul and the future of our country. At J Street, we’re proud to support the incredible efforts of the organizations on the front lines of this fight in the Jewish community and beyond.”

For Mike Pence, Backing Israel’s Occupation Is a Matter of Faith, Haaretz

Zaha Hassan argues, “President Trump doesn’t seem to understand that Palestinian refugees and their legal rights cannot be made to disappear simply by defunding and destroying UNRWA. What will be achieved with this latest action is hundreds of thousands of impoverished families in the occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria will go hungry and half a million children will be out of school and will become susceptible and/or succumb to preventable diseases and treatable illnesses from a lack of health care… So Vice President Pence will have to forgive Palestinian Christians and Muslims for not welcoming him into their homes and into their churches and mosques with the hospitality and warmth for which they are renowned. They’re a bit pre-occupied these days trying to survive, while resisting a military occupation that Pence, as a matter of faith, has whole-heartedly endorsed as his cause and fight.”

Netanyahu’s shortsighted Mideast policy, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar argues, “Israel has managed to contain the dispute with the Palestinians for decades and conduct a more or less normal existence despite the aching loss of hundreds of Israeli lives in terror attacks… It almost goes without saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu evinces no interest in Iran’s surprising shift on the Arab Peace Initiative that offers Israel security and normal ties with the Arab world and could avert the next war. As far as he’s concerned, as long as Trump backs the Jews and punishes the Muslims, life is heaven on earth.“

Annexation of the West Bank Would Lead to Endless Civil War, Haaretz

Gadi Taub writes, “It’s amazing how the right, which prides itself on its (justified) realism when it comes to the Palestinians’ malicious intentions regarding the peace process, has suddenly become so optimistic about the possibility of coexistence when it sees the possibility of annexation. This optimism has no basis in reality. Over the long term annexation means a Bosnian situation. We will then not be debating the virtues of a non-Jewish democracy versus a Jewish apartheid. We will be too busy fighting an endless civil war.”

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