News Roundup for January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017

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J Street in the News

Bay Area Jews see shaky future for two-state solution, J Weekly

“Support for the two-state solution is J Street’s central organizing principle. ‘It’s not some pipedream of the Democratic Party or the left-wing fringe,’ said Rachel Eisner, Northwest regional director of the left-leaning organization. ‘This is longstanding bipartisan policy of the United States’….At the moment, the plan remains a goal of the United States, Europe, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. ‘We know this is the only solution,’ Eisner said. ‘There is no other solution.’”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Officials Offer Conflicting Views on Israel Policy During Transition, Haaretz

Amir Tibon observes, “It’s been nine days since the Senate began holding confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for cabinet positions. One thing that has emerged from the hearings thus far, is that the new Trump administration might find it difficult to speak in one voice on a series of foreign policy issues, including Israel. As of Thursday morning, three of the president-elect’s nominees for senior positions have been grilled by members of the Senate over issues including support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, and the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran. Their answers show that the administration could be headed for a fierce internal battle over these issues, pitting some of its senior cabinet members against the president-elect’s nominee for the post of ambassador to Israel, and possibly also against a number of his most senior advisers.”

John Kerry: What We Got Right, The New York Times

Secretary Kerry writes, “President Obama took office with Iran’s nuclear program racing ahead and our nation under mounting pressure to take military action. While making clear we would do whatever it took to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, we started with diplomacy, building the strongest international sanctions regime the world has ever seen, and testing whether Iran would negotiate a deal that could ensure its nuclear program was exclusively peaceful. As a result, without firing a shot or putting troops in harm’s way, the United States and our partners reached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which blocked Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and made our nation, our allies and the world safer….Obviously, we haven’t solved every problem, particularly in the chronically combustible Middle East. But the United States was absolutely justified in stressing the need for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Israeli Intel Warn Netanyahu Against Pushing Trump to Undo Iran Deal, Haaretz

Amos Harel reports, “Israeli intelligence organizations had a lot of criticism for what they saw as gaps and errors in the agreement when it was signed, but in the year and a half since then they seem to have concluded that it is quite stable and that Iran is in compliance with it, over all. There is concern that revoking the pact would cause a chasm between Washington and the other signatories, most importantly Moscow and Beijing. In addition, a direct clash between Iran and the United States over the issue would mean forfeiting the agreement’s accomplishments: Iran’s commitment to refrain from creating nuclear atomic weapons, setting back its project by at least several years and extending the ‘breakout time’ Tehran would need in order to produce a single nuclear weapon….former chiefs of Military Intelligence…Amos Yadlin and Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash — spoke with Haaretz this week. Both men believe Israel must take care not to spur Trump into revoking the agreement with Iran.”


Trump’s Press Secretary: Announcement on Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem ‘Coming Soon’, Haaretz

Sean Spicer, President-elect Donald Trump’s press secretary, said at a press conference on Thursday that an announcement on moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is “coming soon” and encouraged the journalists to “stay tuned” regarding this issue.

Netanyahu Briefed on Scenarios of Violence Should Trump Move Embassy to Jerusalem, Haaretz

The army, police and Shin Bet security service have presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior ministers with scenarios of worsening violence should incoming President Donald Trump announce the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has ordered defense officials to prepare for such a possibility from the moment Trump takes office Friday evening Israel time, senior Israeli officials said. Earlier this week, Netanyahu convened a special security consulation on preparations for an announcement by Trump on the embassy. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan were present, as were senior officials from the Israel Defense Forces, police and Shin Bet.

American-Israelis to rally in Tel Aviv in solidarity with DC Women’s March, JTA

A solidarity rally to coincide with with the upcoming Women’s March on Washington will be held in front of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. The rally is scheduled to take place on Saturday night and will coincide with the march in Washington, D.C.

Israel’s Head of Building-law Enforcement Lives in Illegal West Bank Outpost, Haaretz

The head of the Finance Ministry department that enforces planning and construction laws lives in an illegal West Bank settlement outpost. Avi Cohen, a lawyer, lives in Palgei Mayim, an outpost of the Eli settlement. Palgei Mayim was established in 2001 and has about 40 homes, some of them mobile homes. No master plan has ever been approved for Eli, because parts of the settlement are built on privately owned Palestinian land.

Trump asks Obama appointee who helped craft Iran nuclear deal to stay in role, JTA

President-elect Donald Trump asked approximately 50 senior administration officials to stay in their roles, including a Treasury Department official who helped craft the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump asked Adam Szubin, acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department, and the other officials to continue in their roles to “ensure the continuity of government,” incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday, according to The Hill. The Hill and Reuters quoted a Treasury officials as saying Szubin would run the department until Trump’s team is in place and then would leave government.

In video praising Trump, Jerusalem mayor says Obama ‘surrendered’ to radical Islam, Washington Post

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat released a video that disparages Obama and welcomes President-elect Donald Trump. The mayor’s video launches an online campaign to encourage Israelis to sign a letter, which Barkat promises to deliver to Trump officials, urging the new president to make good on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy, from its current location in Tel Aviv, up the hill 50 miles to Jerusalem.

PA forces rescue 4 settlers who entered Palestinian village, Times of Israel

A group of Israeli settlers, including three off-duty soldiers, were rescued from a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank on Friday after they entered the area for as-yet-unknown reasons and were quickly set upon by local residents, the army said. Palestinian Authority security forces stepped in to detain the four settlers — who apparently came from the nearby Esh Kodesh outpost — for their own safety, municipality head Abdul Azeem al-Wadi told AFP.

Opinion and Analysis

Marching Against Trump for the Sake of Jewish Pride, Haaretz

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum writes, “Jewish organizations must be present, to combat the divisiveness that right-wing strategists are sowing to weaken resistance. We all know that, in order to curry favor with the incoming administration, certain Jewish organizations and individuals have decided to abandon their commitment to Jewish values of caring for the vulnerable and pursuing justice. They are a minority of American Jews, but they have big money and big institutional names that grant them the appearance of legitimacy as spokespeople for American Jewry. I think we will see a more accurate, representative and uplifting picture of the American Jewish community within the coalition of marchers on January 21. The rise of hate is a global phenomenon. We must be vigilant and informed, let ourselves be inspired by the values of Judaism, and in turn inspire others to right and thoughtful action.”

The Company You Keep, J Street Blog

Logan Bayroff writes, “Reports that several leaders of the settlement movement and right-wing MKs will attend the inauguration drive home just how excited the movement is about the impending Trump presidency. Trump has surrounded himself with advisers who have close ideological and financial ties to the settlements. That includes his nominee to serve as US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is the leader of American Friends of Beit El, a group that provides funding and support to the West Bank settlement….If settlement leaders truly are going to receive the ‘VIP treatment’ from the Trump White House, that could mean a major break in decades of bipartisan US support for the two-state solution – and spell dangerous things for Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”

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