“J Street is horrified by the terrorist attack in the West Bank in which Rabbi Raziel Shevach, an Israeli father of six, was killed. There can be no justification for heinous acts of violence like this. As Israeli security forces search for the perpetrator of this attack, our thoughts and condolences are with Rabbi Shevach’s family and loved ones as they mourn this tragic loss.”
“The 315 signatories covered the gamut of religious streams, including Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist clergy, according to J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group that initiated the letter…J Street and its student affiliate, J Street U, launched a campaign last year to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes.”
American Jews Have Had Their Own Blacklist For Years, The Forward
Mairav Zonszein writes, “For years, the American Jewish establishment has put more effort into attacking BDS activists than it has in holding Israel — and the U.S. government — accountable for human rights violation and anti-democratic practices. Even organizations that oppose Israel’s settlement enterprise are lambasted and shunned. To provide some context and proportions, remember that Trump’s ambassador to Israel David Friedman called J Street — an organization that squarely opposes BDS but is critical of the occupation — ‘worse than kapos.’ J Street, which supports a two state solution, was also barred entry into the Conference of Presidents, the large umbrella group of organizations that supposedly represents the American Jewish Community.”
“We mourn the passing of our friend and ally, Alan Sagner, who died last week in his home at the age of 97. Our condolences go out to his daughter, Deborah, who was his partner in efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, and to his entire family. Alan and Deborah made one of the initial grants that enabled us to launch J Street in 2008 and he was a member of J Street’s first advisory council. Deborah went on to become one of J Street’s founding board members, with Alan’s blessing and his close counsel.”
Steve Holland reports, “U.S. President Donald Trump is being urged by some top advisers to waive sanctions on Iran by a Friday deadline, but privately he is expressing reluctance to do so, a senior administration official said on Wednesday. Trump faces deadlines related to the deal starting late this week, including deciding whether to reimpose oil sanctions lifted under the 2015 agreement that constrained Iran’s nuclear program… The official told Reuters that Trump’s top advisers were recommending that he extend Iran relief from sanctions.”
McMaster Rushes to Save the Iran Deal That Trump Promised to Kill, The Daily Beast
Betsy Woodruff and Spencer Ackerman write, “Donald Trump’s national security adviser has been working closely with two key senators to prevent Trump from destroying the Iran deal, multiple sources in and outside government tell The Daily Beast. By Friday, Trump will face a pivotal congressional deadline: whether to again waive nuclear-related sanctions on Iran; or permit their restoration, which would put the U.S. in violation of a multinational deal it spearheaded during Barack Obama’s administration. According to multiple sources, H.R. McMaster is reprising the role he played last fall: removing a legislative irritant from Trump so that the president can quietly remain in the deal.”
Elana Schor reports, “Bipartisan Senate negotiators are making headway on a plan that would stave off an implosion of the U.S.-Iran nuclear pact, even as President Donald Trump nears a pivotal Friday deadline to decide on the future of a deal he has long derided. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, both said Wednesday that they had the broad parameters of a proposal to amend the 2015 legislation that required congressional review of former President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Tehran.”
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “The vast majority of America’s overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic Jews viewed Bannon as either an anti-Semite or an anti-Semite enabler whose conspiratorial references to demonic ‘global financiers’ awakened and emboldened white supremacists. His oft-quoted description of Breitbart as the platform for the “alt-right” white nationalist movement confirmed such views. But for the minority of staunchly hard-line, pro-Israel Jews (and evangelical Christians) who support Israel’s settlement enterprise, oppose a Palestinian state and any form of territorial compromise, Bannon was an important force in the White House.”
EU ministers raise alarms over scrapping Iran deal, Times of Israel
European Union ministers presented a united stance Thursday in Brussels in support of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warning that dismantling it could embolden North Korea’s nuclear aspirations.
Europe, Iran to meet on backing nuclear deal as Trump decision looms, Times of Israel
Europe and Iran are to put on a united front in support of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal at talks in Brussels Thursday as Washington mulls reimposing sanctions on Tehran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington in March, and possibly before.
Netanyahu praises US envoy for blaming lack of peace on Palestinians, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday praised the American envoy to Israel for having blamed the Palestinians’ alleged support of terrorism for the lack of peace in the Middle East.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Obama administration in late 2014 to consider a plan in which Israel would annex large parts of the West Bank, and the Palestinians would in return receive land from Egypt in the northern part of Sinai, according to four former senior U.S. officials. The Prime Minister’s Office denied the account, stating that “this story is not true.”
Two Palestinian youths were injured with live ammunition as Israeli forces conducted predawn detention raids in several districts across the occupied West Bank before dawn on Wednesday, detaining 12 Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority attacked comments Wednesday by the US ambassador to Israel in which he blamed it for the failure of peace efforts, after an Israeli was killed in the West Bank. In the latest tensions between them, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry accused US ambassador David Friedman of a “prejudiced and selective attitude” toward the conflict.
David Makovsky writes, “In Israel, there’s a clear tendency to caricature Europeans and their governments as innately hostile – legitimating the idea Israel can afford to take little notice of them. There is indeed a growing chasm between Israel and Europe over the Palestinian issue. But foreign policy approaches in Europe and Israel actually converge in other key Mideast conflicts. European officials believe that Israeli officials are perfectly aware of this convergence, but choose not to publicly emphasize this common ground in order to marginalize European views on the Palestinian issue.
Meretz reshuffles Israeli left’s political deck, Al-Monitor
Mazal Mualem writes, “With Lapid and Gabbay actively avoiding being branded as left-leaning, Meretz is just about the only natural option for ideologically liberal, secular Zionists who identify with the left. In private conversations, Gabbay says that a strong Meretz is good news for him, because he has been strengthening the leftist bloc by attracting right-wing voters. After the election, he concludes, having done so would allow him to form a coalition with Meretz. His assumption might have been valid were he talking about the Labor Party in the 1992 election, when it was headed by Yitzhak Rabin. At the time, there was no strong center party like Yesh Atid, hovering around 20 seats in the polls. In Gabbay’s case, however, it looks like he is boosting Meretz and Lapid at the expense of his own party, which will have a hard time winning the next election and putting together a government.”