Albright, Kaine to Keynote J Street Gala Next Month, J Street Blog
“Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be featured speakers at the gala on the final evening of the J Street 2017 National Conference in Washington, DC next month. Sen. Kaine and Secretary Albright, who have long championed the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians through a two-state solution, will speak on the evening of Monday February 27 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.”
At a closed meeting with members of his Likud party Knesset faction, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that mistakes in handling relations in the near future with the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump are liable to inflict diplomatic damage on Israel. “The diplomatic issue is a very important subject, presenting opportunities that could easily be squandered by thoughtless actions,” the prime minister said. “In this reality, it is easily possible to lose the moment and to turn the relationship in a direction that would not serve Israel’s aims.”
Ilan Goldenberg argues, “Doing nothing is better than stirring this pot. But if Trump insists on moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he should mitigate the negative consequences by opening two embassies in Jerusalem—one to engage with the state of Israel and the other with the newly recognized state of Palestine. The recognition of a Palestinian state has powerful symbolic resonance for the Palestinian people and is a central demand of the leadership. In the same way that it is essential to reassure Israelis by dispelling the myth that Jerusalem will not be their capital, it is critical to reassure Palestinians and dispel the myth that they will not have a state of their own. Recognizing the state of Palestine would allow the United States to take a balanced position on Jerusalem.
No decision has been made on moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the White House said on Monday. In the first daily press briefing since U.S. President Donald Trump took office on Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said “there’s no decision” on relocating the embassy to Jerusalem, adding: “We’re at the very early stages of that decision making progress.”
Peter Beinart writes, “When the next intifada begins, I’ll write more cautiously for fear of causing pain to my fellow Jews, who will already be suffering enough. So I’ll say it bluntly now: Unless they change course, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are going to get Jews killed. I’m not saying that’s what they want. Of course not. And I’m not trying to detract from the primary moral responsibility of those Palestinians who detonate bombs or shoot guns or stab with knives. Palestinian terrorism is inexcusable. It always has been. It always will be. But when experts warn that actions are likely to spark violence, and you take them anyway, you are responsible too.”
The French Foreign Ministry on Monday condemned the approval of Israeli construction of 566 new housing units in Jerusalem beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders, in the Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhoods of the city. “UN Security Council resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016, underscores the illegality of settlements under international law and demands an immediate and complete halt to such activity,” the French Foreign Ministry statement said.
High Court halts work on Amona outpost compromise, Times of Israel
The High Court of Justice on Monday issued a temporary injunction halting work to prepare a new location for the Amona outpost in the West Bank, complicating government efforts to find a solution for the settlers and avoid a possible violent standoff. Amona is scheduled for court-ordered removal by a February 8 deadline and, in a deal struck last month with the government, the residents agreed to move to an adjacent plot. The injunction prevents preparation of the new site until a further decision is taken, but does not halt the removal of the existing outpost.
Signaling new priorities in dealing with the Jewish organized world, the new Trump administration made the Zionist Organization of America as the first Jewish group it will formally engage with. According to Axios White House aide Anthony Scaramucci, who serves as assistant to the president, will meet in New York with Morton Klein, president of the ZOA, a right-leaning group supportive of expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Cops probing two more cases against Netanyahu — report, Times of Israel
Police are reportedly looking into two more possible criminal probes against beleaguered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Channel 10 reported Monday, but provided few details of the new suspicions. The two new cases have naturally been dubbed Case 3000 and Case 4000, Channel 10 said, citing police sources. Netanyahu, is set to be questioned by police for a third time later this week.
Four suspects, an 18-year-old and three other minor teens ranging in age from 15 to 17 were indicted in Jerusalem district juvenile court Monday on allegations that they were involved in the assault of Palestinians about a week ago near the northern West Bank Palestinian village of Turmus Aya.
Nimrod Goren writes, “In its first days in office, the Trump administration has started to push back against the president’s loud and reiterated campaign promises to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer now says ‘there’s no decision’ about the move and fudged any immediate expectations of a timeline by adding, ‘We’re at the very early stages of that decision making progress.’ Hopefully this abrupt change in tone is a result of the administration’s post-inauguration meet-up with Middle East realities: that the embassy move has potentially dangerous political consequences both for Israel and for the U.S. itself, and a high potential cost in terms of human lives.”
Palestinian Teen’s Case Casts Spotlight on Israel Detentions, The New York Times
“High school student Hamza Hamad spent 10 months in an Israeli jail for alleged links to the Islamic militant Hamas group, but was never charged with a crime. The 16-year-old is one of the youngest among thousands of Palestinians who have been held in so-called administrative detention in half a century of Israeli military occupation. The teen’s case spotlights one of Israel’s perhaps most contested policies, under which it can hold suspects for months or sometimes several years without charges. Israel says the policy is a key tool in preventing attacks on civilians, but rights activists say it violates due process.”
Jonathan Greenblatt argues, “Mr. Trump would be well served to dust off a policy approach that has been shelved in recent years but possesses real urgency. In 2005, President George W. Bush sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon prior to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. The correspondence was important because it contained two elements that never had been articulated previously by a U.S. president around settlements and refugees. Written in the context of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, the letter recognized the reality of settlements. Since 1967, population growth and demographic shifts irrevocably had altered realities on the ground. It was therefore unrealistic to expect Israel to uproot the largest civilian areas located near the Green Line, known as the settlement ‘blocs.’”
Amir Tibon reports, “Mike Pompeo, who was confirmed on Monday evening by the Senate to run the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, has a record as a strong supporter of the Israeli government and a fierce critic of the Iran nuclear deal….During his confirmation period, Pompeo assured worried Democrats – among them Senator Feinstein – that as CIA Director, he would “objectively monitor” the nuclear deal’s implementation by Iran, despite his opposition to the deal while he was a member of Congress. This was one of the reasons that Feinstein eventually decided to vote for him, despite having reservations at the beginning of the confirmation process.”
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