News Roundup for January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018

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J Street in the News

Israel Doesn’t Have A PR Problem. It Has An Occupation, The Forward

Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “Over the long run, many good friends of Israel in this country believe that the Israeli government’s policies are making Israel less secure, less moral, less democratic and far less popular in key sectors of American society. It’s not too late to address these underlying problems or to reverse these troubling declines in support for Israel by reversing the course toward annexation and permanent occupation down which the government is presently leading the state of Israel.”

Palestinians Must Respect and Protect Safety of US Diplomats in West Bank, J Street

“J Street is alarmed by the disruption today of a business seminar led by US diplomats in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Following angry protests, the diplomatic delegation was forced to flee the area immediately and end their training session, which had been sponsored by the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce… This latest incident emerges from the concerning atmosphere of increased Palestinian anger and hostility towards the US following the Trump administration’s disastrous policy decisions on Jerusalem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No matter how serious Palestinian disagreements and frustrations are with the Trump administration, it is vital that these be expressed at the level of policy and diplomacy.”

Top News and Analysis

Palestinian Protesters Disrupt Meeting With Visiting U.S. Officials, The New York Times

“Palestinian protesters disrupted a meeting between American officials and a Palestinian trade group in the West Bank on Tuesday, shouting at the American participants and pelting their vehicles with tomatoes as they departed abruptly. The incident came amid rising Palestinian anger over the Trump administration’s handling of the Middle East conflict. About a dozen protesters burst into the meeting between members of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce and the American officials, brandishing posters with anti-American messages. Protesters said they opposed any contact with American officials, and their actions quickly cut short the meeting. They later kicked the vehicles of the American officials and tried to prevent them from leaving.”

Federal court suspends Kansas anti-BDS law, JTA

“A federal court in Kansas has suspended a state law requiring contractors to swear they will not boycott Israel, saying it violates speech rights. The decision Tuesday by the U.S. Court for the District of Kansas is not final, and the parties — a teacher trainer and the Kansas secretary of education — may still go to trial. But the decision’s unusually strong language suggests that the Kansas state government has the tougher case to make. The defendant, Esther Koontz, brought the case in October with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union.”


IDF foils stabbing attack in settlement, arrests Palestinian with knife, Times of Israel

A Palestinian man planning a terror attack was arrested Wednesday near the West Bank settlement of Negohot holding a knife and a map of the Israeli community, security forces said.

Trump asks Congress to cut aid to US ‘enemies’ who opposed Jerusalem recognition, Times of Israel

US President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday night to limit foreign aid to only countries that align themselves with his administration, following up on his threats to suspend funds to countries that refused to support his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

At Emergency Donor Meet, Israel to Present $1b Plan to Rebuild Gaza – With International Funding, Haaretz

Israel will submit a $1-billion dollar plan for easing the Gaza Strip’s humanitarian crisis, which it will ask the international community to fund, at an emergency meeting on Wednesday of donor states.

Palestinian youth killed in clash with Israeli troops in West Bank, Business Insider

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian youth during a confrontation in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, a Palestinian official said. An Israeli spokeswoman said a large crowd of Palestinians set tyres ablaze and threw rocks at the troops, who responded with “dispersal means”.

Palestinians wary of Israeli survey at Gaza border crossing, Al-Monitor

The Israeli army has developed a survey for Palestinian travelers to fill out at the Erez crossing, in what some Palestinians argue is aimed at gathering intelligence information about the situation in Gaza.

Jared Kushner can Broker Peace Between Israel and Palestinians Because of Real Estate Experience, Netanyahu Says, Newsweek

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is the man to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians because of his real estate experience, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Iran hopeful about Europe remaining in nuclear deal, Al-Monitor

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi has expressed hope that Europe will remain committed to the nuclear deal.

Opinions and Analysis

Trump Called for Unity but His Speech Highlighted the Utterly Polarized State of the Union, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Although State of the Union addresses are usually reserved for domestic policies, Trump also devoted a chapter to foreign affairs. Contrary to what everyone else in the world is thinking, he claimed that America’s standing is actually improving. He mentioned his recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and introduced a law that would bar U.S. foreign aid to countries that are not friendly. Even though he didn’t mention them specifically, the context shows that Trump was warning leaders of the Palestinian Authority that if they didn’t stop demonstrators from burning his image in effigy in the streets of Ramallah and Bethlehem, they might soon have to start worrying about getting their paychecks at the end of the month.”

Laws Targeting Israel Boycotts Fail First Legal Test, ACLU

Vera Eidelman writes, “Issuing the first decision of its kind, a federal judge today blocked enforcement of a Kansas law targeting boycotts of Israel, ruling in an ACLU lawsuit that the First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts. This is the first ruling to address a recent wave of laws nationwide aiming to punish people who boycott Israel, and it should serve as a warning to other states with similar provisions, including one we are challenging in Arizona. It correctly recognizes that forcing an individual to choose between exercising their rights and contracting with the state is unconstitutional.”

How much does BDS threaten Israel’s economy? Brookings

Natan Sachs and Dany Bahar write, “The data  suggests that, economically, anything short of official sanctions by important economic partners such as the United States or European Union would be unlikely to produce anything near the kind of economic pressure BDS supporters envision. Moreover, if such sanctions were enacted along BDS (as opposed to E.U.) lines, it would likely strengthen Israeli suspicion of the goals and motivations of BDS, making them—the key of BDS’s strategy—less willing to cooperate. The Israeli government is thus doing itself a disservice by paying so much attention to this movement, both through its own deeds and words, as well as through lobbying with other countries to enact anti-BDS legislation. It is only providing more fuel to a fire that is small to begin with.”