News Roundup for November 25, 2019

November 25, 2019

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J Street in the News

106 Democratic congressmen sign letter condemning State Department reversal on settlements, JTA
“‘The State Department’s unilateral reversal on the status of settlements, without any clear legal justification, therefore has offered a tacit endorsement of settlements, their expansion, and associated demolitions of Palestinian homes,’ the letter also said. The decision, it added, undermines America’s ‘moral standing.’ The letter is backed by the liberal Jewish organization J Street.”

How Israel-Palestine jumped to the heart of U.S. politics, +972 Mag
“‘There’s an increasing openness and willingness to talk in much more depth, and much more even-handedly, about the realities of the Israel-Palestine conflict,’ said Logan Bayroff, spokesperson for J Street, the liberal, pro-Israel Jewish-American lobbying group. ‘A lot more space has opened up over the past 10 years, and especially over the past four years, during the Trump administration.’”

Top News and Analysis

The occupation is tearing Israel apart. We need the United States’ help to end it., Washington Post
Former director of Israel’s Shin Bet security service Ami Ayalon writes, “I was part of Israel’s defense community for decades as a combatant, as commander of the navy and as head of the Shin Bet security service. I lost friends in battle. I sent soldiers to war — some of whom never returned. These experiences are what lead me to clearly state: Continuing the occupation is the single greatest threat to Israel’s safety, and to our existence as a democracy.”

House Democrats rebuke State Department for ‘reversal’ on Israeli settlements, The Hill
More than 100 House Democrats condemned on Friday the State Department’s recent decision to state the U.S. position on Israeli settlements as being in line with international law. The move by the State Department is being criticized as a reversal of more than four decades of U.S. policy on the status of communities built by Israel on the West Bank, territory it seized from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Democratic representatives wrote to express “strong disagreement” with the State Department’s decision to abandon a 1978 legal opinion that viewed the Israeli settlements as “inconsistent with international law.”

Likud Rival Slams Netanyahu and Calls for Primary to ‘Save the Country’, New York Times
A leading rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from within his own party rebuked the longtime Israeli premier on Saturday for calling his indictment on corruption charges an “attempted coup” and demanded a primary election be held to replace Mr. Netanyahu and “save the country.” The broadside by Gideon Saar, a popular and ambitious former minister who said he would be a candidate for Mr. Netanyahu’s job, compounded the political crisis confronting the prime minister and signaled what could be a bitter internecine fight for control of Likud, the right-wing party that has led Israel for most of the past four decades. “That isn’t an attempted coup,” Mr. Saar said of Mr. Netanyahu’s indictment by the Israeli attorney general. “Not only is it wrong to say that, it’s also irresponsible to say that. It’s completely out of touch.”


106 Democratic House members decry White House’s softened stance on settlements, Times of Israel
Over 100 Democratic House members on Friday excoriated the Trump administration for softening its position on Israel’s West Bank settlements.

House Democrats Chide State Department for Settlement Policy Reversal, Haaretz
The letter, made public on Friday, warned that the administration’s new policy “has undermined America’s moral standing” and made it more difficult to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

More than 100 Dems send Pompeo letter strongly opposing Israeli settlement policy shift, Fox News
Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., wrote the letter to Pompeo on Thursday “strongly” urging him “to reverse this policy decision immediately.”

Rights researcher deported by Israel vows to continue work, AP
A human rights researcher who is being deported from Israel over his alleged boycott advocacy said Sunday he will remain in his position and continue doing the “important, urgent work” of documenting violations in Israel and the Palestinian territories from abroad.

Palestinians gear up for ‘day of rage’ Tuesday against US settlements policy, Times of Israel
Palestinians are planning to hold demonstrations across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to protest US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration that the Trump administration does not view settlements as illegal, a Palestine Liberation Organization official said on Monday.

WeWork Founder Adam Neumann ‘Helped Kushner Craft Mideast Peace Plan’, Haaretz
Neumann, according to the Vanity Fair article, believed that WeWork “was even capable of solving the world’s thorniest problems. Last summer, some WeWork executives were shocked to discover Neumann was working on Jared Kushner’s Mideast peace effort. According to two sources, Neumann assigned WeWork’s director of development, Roni Bahar, to hire an advertising firm to produce a slick video for Kushner that would showcase what an economically transformed West Bank and Gaza would look like.”

Palestinian factions agree to Abbas election request, Al Jazeera
Fourteen Palestinian factions have agreed with President Mahmoud Abbas’s request to hold parliamentary and presidential elections. But the Fatah leader is yet to hear from his main rival, Hamas.

Israel Limits West Bank Farmers’ Access to Lands Near Green Line, Haaretz
New regulations impose a quota on the number of times a year Palestinian farmers may enter their fields between the separation barrier and the Green Line.

Opinion and Analysis

The Day AIPAC Lost Its Legitimacy, Haaretz
Matt Matilsky writes, “AIPAC backs a two state solution. But its refusal to comment when the Trump administration ‘legalized’ Israeli settlements, a key obstacle to any future Palestinian state, demonstrated its lack of purpose – and spine.”

What Is Netanyahu’s Game Plan?, New York Times
Shmuel Rosner writes, “Israelis who enjoy political drama just had a great week. Israelis who care about the future of their country, not so much.”

Recognizing Israeli Settlements Marks the Final Collapse of Pax Americana, Foreign Policy
Michael Moran writes, “By declaring earlier this week that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal—and thereby recognizing some form of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territory—President Donald Trump’s administration not only undercut over 50 years of U.S. foreign policy, it also undermined the basis for the United States’ objection to Russia’s land grab in Crimea, China’s absorption of Tibet in the 1950s and current designs on the South China Sea, and any future move by either to extend their borders to places where they can assert—even a flimsy—historic or ethnic rationale.”

War of Succession: The Five Men Vying to Replace Netanyahu as Party Leader, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “As the bombshell indictment announcement against Netanyahu collides with the political stalemate that the premier has — after two elections and endless governing coalition negotiations — failed to resolve, members of his party are daring to contemplate, some openly, whether his time has now passed.”

Netanyahu at war with legal system, Al-Monitor
Mazal Mualem writes, “Netanyahu is now reaping the fruits of the longstanding and close bond he has built over the years with his Likud base. Likud voters feel an emotional connection to him. Likud Knesset members and ministers tested this mood after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s announcement and Netanyahu’s ‘Persecuted Victim Speech.’ Once they realized that public sentiment in support of Netanyahu was strong and key groups in the Likud identify with his claims that he is the victim of an attempted coup allegedly by the legal system, they came out with statements in support of the prime minister.”

Is Netanyahu Finally Facing a Full-scale Likud Rebellion?, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “As of last Thursday, not only is Israel led for the first time by a prime minister under indictment. It is also the first time following an election that two separate candidates failed to form a government. Israel is in the final 21-day period in which a government can be formed, after which another election — the third in 12 months — has to be held by law. Sa’ar believes that this combination of precedents gives him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”