“The dozens of countries attending the Middle East peace conference in Paris on Sunday are expected to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to publicly renew their commitment to the two-state solution, and to renounce officials in their respective governments who oppose it. The clause is contained in an updated draft of the conference’s summary statement, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz….Western diplomats involved in preparations for the conference noted that the clause refers both to declarations that have been made by Israeli ministers like Naftali Bennett, who called to remove the two-state solution from the agenda, and to senior PA and Fatah officials who have incited to violence against Israel. According to the draft, participating countries will stress that they won’t recognize any changes to the June 4, 1967 borders, including in Jerusalem, except for any changes the two sides might agree during negotiations. The countries will also emphasize that they are committed to distinguishing, in all their actions, between the territories of the State of Israel and the settlements in the territories that Israel occupied in 1967.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sent a letter to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump warning the incoming American leader of the negative implications of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, the Palestinian president called on Trump to reconsider his support for such a move. “Abbas told Trump that such [a] move will likely have [a] disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region, since Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem contradicts with international law,” the Wafa statement said.
“Palestinians in the Gaza Strip took to the streets on Sunday and Monday to protest an ever-worsening electricity crisis in the besieged coastal enclave, where people have had to cope with only three hours of power in between 12-hour-long blackouts. The new schedule was imposed after two generators of Gaza’s sole power plant stopped operating on Friday due to severe fuel shortages. Days later on Monday, Gaza’s electricity company announced that the Egyptian electricity lines feeding the Rafah governorate in the southern Gaza Strip were damaged and had also stopped operating….While the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip on Sunday raised hopes for some relief from the power shortages, the deepening electricity crisis has sparked protests in recent days, amid an already dire situation under a crippling military blockade by Israel.”
U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday rejected criticism by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials that his administration orchestrated the anti-settlements UN Security Council resolution last month and “betrayed Israel.” In an excerpt from an interview with the Israeli Channel 2 program “Uvda,” to be aired in full Thursday, Obama said that allegations against his administration “may work well with deflecting attention from the problem of settlements, they may play well with Bibi’s political base, as well as the Republican base here in the United States, but they don’t match up with the facts.” He referred to Netanyahu by his nickname.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled plans to attend the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland next week. The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu had decided to call off his January 18 trip. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said the decision is not connected to the ongoing investigation against Netanyahu. The sources cited Netanyahu’s plans to travel soon to Washington to meet with President-elect Donald Trump, though no date has as yet been set for that trip.
Herzog calls for probe of links between PM, Israel Hayom, Times of Israel
“Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called Monday for an investigation into the close connection he alleged exists between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the free Hebrew daily Israel Hayom. Herzog called on the State Comptroller to investigate the connection between Netanyahu and the free daily, to determine whether setting up the newspaper was a form of illegal contribution to the Likud party worth millions of dollars and whether the paper is a ‘tool on behalf of one candidate and one party.’ Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, the Zionist Union’s No. 2, echoed Herzog’s words. ‘From the first day of Israel Hayom there were claims that it is illegal election propaganda,’ she said.”
The East Jerusalem Development Authority took down a sign for the Azarat Yisrael prayer space in the area known as Robinson’s Arch after a complaint to the Jerusalem municipality that it was erected without proper permit. According to reports, the complaint originated with Btzedek, an Orthodox group against mixed prayer at the Western Wall. The sign removal is the latest salvo in the Orthodox battle against pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall. It also marks a dispiriting anniversary for the liberal Jewish groups who were promised a fully operational egalitarian prayer space at Robinson’s Arch just over a year ago by the Israeli government. The government has delayed the plan amid protest from the ultra-Orthodox.
The United Nations Security Council condemned the truck ramming attack in Jerusalem that left four Israeli soldiers dead. The statement released late Sunday “condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in Jerusalem on January 8” and expressed condolences to the families of the victims and to government of Israel.
Israel’s High Court of Justice on Wednesday will hear the case of eight Palestinian villages fighting looming demolition and displacement by the Israeli army in an area the military has designated a live-fire zone. The area in question, Firing Zone 918, has become a flashpoint in ongoing Israeli attempts to push smaller, rural Palestinian communities off their land across the West Bank in the past several decades.
US President-elect Donald Trump and foreign powers should revive the Middle East peace process at a time Palestinian youths are becoming increasingly disillusioned, the head of the U.N. aid agency for Palestinian refugees urged on Monday.
Bomb threats have been reported on Monday at Jewish centers in six states across the United States, local media reported. The threats were reported against Jewish institutions in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Tennesee, South Carolina and two metropolitan areas in Florida – Miami and Jacksonville, according to local news websites. In the Miami area, institutions in Miami Beach and Kendall were affected.
Pope urges Israel and Palestinians to resume peace talks, Times of Israel
Pope Francis on Monday urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks, saying “no conflict can become a habit impossible to break.”
The New York Times named Ian Fisher, an assistant editor who has reported from Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, to serve as its Jerusalem bureau chief. The newspaper announced the appointment of Fisher on Monday. Fisher joined the Times in 1990 and has worked as bureau chief in East Africa and Rome. He reported from Israel during the second intifada in the early 2000s and regularly covered Iraq in 2003-04.
The British rock band Coldplay will play two “peace concerts” for Israelis and Palestinians. The concerts, set for Nov. 3 and 4, will be performed at an outdoor location north of the Dead Sea, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Monday. The shows will aim to promote human rights and bring people together, The Times of Israel reported. The tickets — 50,000 for each concert — will be sold in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Nir Hasson writes, “As far as the prime minister is concerned, the ISIS theory is well suited to the message he tried to convey – which is that Jerusalem, like Berlin and Nice, is just another western city dealing with brutal, uncompromising terror committed by global Islamic operatives. As per this message, this force of absolute evil has no motive or rationale, and has nothing to do with the occupation or any other Israeli policy….Jerusalem is not Nice, and not just because it has no seashore. Nice doesn’t have 40 percent of its residents living without civil rights, under occupation and in humiliating living conditions. In Nice a prime minister doesn’t announce the closure of a neighborhood that’s home to tens of thousands of people just because one of them was a terrorist. Even Sunday’s attack was indeed inspired by ISIS, it still originated in Jerusalem and is part of the unending series of attacks the city has suffered over the past two-and-a-half years.”
Luke Baker reports, “Israel’s government has been quick to suggest a Palestinian who rammed a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers at the weekend was inspired by Islamic State, raising questions over how it came to that conclusion….In Israel, multiple voices were quick to point out the differences between Palestinian violence and that perpetrated by Islamic State. While Islam may inspire some Palestinian assailants, political motivations around Israel’s occupation and the long-running conflict remain the dominant factor.”
Rabbi Marc Schneier writes, “While the American Jewish community has made a good start in standing up for our Muslim brothers and sisters, we are aware that many challenges lie directly ahead. As we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, American Jews in 2017 must resolve that we will continue to speak out openly and assertively in support of the principle that Americans of all faiths and ethnicities — including Muslim Americans — must be accorded full civil rights and religious freedom as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Like the Jewish heroes of the civil rights movement, we can do no less.”
Questions, comments, or suggestions? Please email [email protected]