News Roundup for January 9, 2020

January 9, 2020

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J Street in the News

Pompeo Doctrine’ on Settlements Is Opposed by Congress, Disastrous for US and Israel, J Street
“In response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks to a Jerusalem policy conference that ‘the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law’ and remarks by Ambassador David Friedman that ‘the right of Israel to settle in Judea and Samaria is…obvious,’ J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams issued the following statement: ‘While the Trump administration continues its outrageous effort to legitimize the settlement movement and green-light Israeli annexation of the West Bank, Israeli leaders must understand that the extreme ‘Pompeo Doctrine’ does not represent the views of Congress or the long-term positions of the United States…’”

Top News and Analysis

Pelosi Announces Vote to Limit Trump’s War-Making Power Against Iran, New York Times
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday that the House would vote on Thursday to force President Trump to quickly wind down military action against Iran unless he is given explicit authorization from Congress, opening what promised to be a searing debate over presidential war powers […] The vote on Thursday would be on a measure that would require that Mr. Trump cease all military action against Iran unless Congress votes to approve it. Such a measure could face an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Senate, but on Wednesday, two Republicans signaled they were inclined to support it, holding open the possibility of a razor-thin vote.

Israeli defence minister plans to increase Jewish West Bank settlers to a million within decade, AFP
Israel’s defence minister yesterday said he planned to increase the number of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank to a million within a decade, from about 400,000 at present […] He was speaking alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador David Friedman at a Jerusalem congress on Washington’s November policy shift stating it no longer considers Israeli settlements illegal. “Our aim is that within a decade a million Israeli citizens will live in Judea and Samaria,” Mr Bennett said, using the biblical term for the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Mr Friedman, a strong supporter of settlements, disputed the use of the term “occupied”. “We are not occupiers in our homeland, we are not occupiers in our own land, we are not like the Belgians in the Congo,” he said.

Trump Backs Away From Further Military Conflict With Iran, New York Times
President Trump backed away from further military action against Iran and called for renewed diplomacy on Wednesday as the bristling confrontation of the past six days eased in the aftermath of an Iranian missile strike that seemed intended to save face rather than inflict casualties. “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” Mr. Trump said in a televised statement from the Grand Foyer of the White House, flanked by his vice president, cabinet secretaries and senior military officers in their uniforms. “The United States,” he added, “is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”


Israeli officials believe U.S. may release peace plan before election, Axios
The Trump administration is considering publishing its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan before Israel’s March 2nd elections, Israeli officials tell me.

Trump and Netanyahu discuss ‘critical’ issues after Iran missile strikes, Times of Israel
A brief statement said the two leaders discussed “critical bilateral and regional issues,” giving no further details. There was no confirmation or comment from Israel.

Gantz Rules Out Merger With Left-wing Parties: ‘No Time for Political Stunts’, Haaretz
Gantz made his statement following an offer made a day earlier by Labor-Gesher Chairman Amir Peretz to join forces.

The scholar who wrote the definition of anti-Semitism says it’s been subverted, Times of Israel
Kenneth Stern drafted the “working definition of anti-Semitism” that US President Donald Trump used in an executive order to target anti-Semitism on college campuses. He’s also one of the recent order’s most vociferous critics.

Israel Unveils Laser-based Missile Interception System, Haaretz
Israel’s defense establishment unveiled a laser-based system on Wednesday that in the future is expected to complement the country’s Iron Dome anti-missile system currently in use. The new system will undergo testing in the coming months with the goal of having it operational within a year and a half.

Poland’s Duda to forego Holocaust memorial event in Israel, Deutsche Welle
President Duda’s government said it was ‘inadmissible’ to invite Russia’s Putin to speak but not the leader of Poland. Duda had wanted a chance to correct what he perceives as “lies” about Poland’s role in the Holocaust.

In possible hint at new international bid, Abbas vows to use ‘soft diplomacy’, Times of Israel
In a possible reference to a new effort to join international organizations and agreements, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Monday to employ “soft diplomacy.”

New York’s AG Lays Out Her Plan to Solve the State’s anti-Semitism Crisis, Haaretz
New York Attorney General Letitia James tells Haaretz how she intends to tackle the state’s anti-Semitism crisis with a combination of tougher legal action, educational work and cracking down on online hate speech

Ukraine investigators considering possibility missile brought down passenger plane over Tehran, Washington Post
Ukrainian investigators are considering the possibility that an antiaircraft missile might have hit a passenger jet that crashed near Tehran, killing all 176 aboard, as an initial report released Thursday by Iran said the plane was on fire while still in the air.

Opinion and Analysis

3 Hours From Alert to Attacks: Inside the Race to Protect U.S. Forces From Iran Strikes, New York Times
NYT Journalists report, “Intelligence that foreshadowed the Iranian attack set off a tense, often confusing afternoon in the White House Situation Room.”

Trump seeks to celebrate a victory, even in the wake of a foreign attack, Washington Post
Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker write, “This was a crisis he had arguably created himself, by authorizing last week’s killing of one of Iran’s top generals and threatening to annihilate that country.”

Trump Has a Bizarre Idea of Winning, New York Times
Nicholas Kristolf writes, “The world is more dangerous than it was a week ago, and President Trump’s exuberance suggests that he may have learned precisely the wrong lesson from his clash with Iran.”

Iran Retaliated for Soleimani’s Killing. It Doesn’t Mean It Ends There, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq caused only minor damage, but concluding Tehran can no longer cause actual harm in the region with covert actions is premature.”

I Survived a Palestinian Terror Attack. For Me, Demolishing Terrorists’ Homes Is No Comfort, Haaretz
Linda Dayan writes, “Can you rationally dissuade someone on a crash course to murder-suicide? Is there any real deterrence in making an entire family, who already lost a loved one to radicalization, suffer more?”

Settlers are seizing ‘empty’ land. The Palestinian owners are fighting back, +972 Mag
Ahmad Al-Bazz writes, “When Israel took over Ahmad Qaddoura’s land in the 1980s, it rejected his petition to stop the expropriation. Now, a nearby settlement is using the land to build a factory.”