News Roundup for January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

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J Street in the News

Word on the Street: Settlers Emboldened, J Street Blog

J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “The settlers and their allies are emboldened by a handful of hard-line ideologues around the new President — most notably his Israel ambassador nominee David Friedman, a major funder and supporter of the settlements…..There may be a new regime in the White House, but certain fundamental realities have not changed. For one, the path of annexation, limitless settlement expansion and permanent denial of full political rights to millions of Palestinians leads straight to a single state for Arabs and Jews that must choose between being democratic or Jewish in character. The majority of Israelis have no interest in such a future….With majorities of Israelis supporting separation, majorities of Americans opposing settlements and the world united in solid opposition to the settler agenda — the celebrations of the hardline right wing will hopefully be short-lived. Our role in this period? To keep the voice of the moderate majority of Jewish and other American supporters of Israel loud and clear, front and center.”

Trump’s unquestioning support means trouble for Israel, Washington Post

“J Street, a liberal American Jewish organization based in Washington, expressed alarm at Trump’s silence. “The failure of the American government to criticize this announcement would mark an unprecedented break with 50 years of bipartisan opposition to settlement expansion,” J Street warned, adding that it seemed Netanyahu ‘has carte blanche from the new American President for unlimited settlement expansion.’”

Emboldened by Trump, Israel Ramps Up Settlement Expansion, ABC News

“The liberal Jewish advocacy group J-Street called the White House’s failure to criticize this week’s announcement of further building ‘unprecedented’ breaking with ‘50 years of bipartisan opposition to settlement expansion.’ ‘The new Trump administration should immediately condemn this decision and restate American opposition to Israeli settlements –- as all Republican and Democratic administrations have without exception since 1967,’ said J-Street’s statement.”

Local JCRC taking right approach, St. Louis Jewish Light

J Street U Washington University leader Joanna LeFebvre writes, “AIPAC, ZOA and other Jewish organizations’ choice to condemn the U.S.’s abstention from UNSC 2334 represent only one segment of the American Jewish community’s opinions. By refraining from taking a position on the resolution, the JCRC reflects the diversity of opinion within our community and demonstrates its understanding that the Jewish community has not come to a consensus on the UNSC resolution. As pro-Israel, pro-peace students, we in J Street U at WashU thank Maharat Picker-Neiss and the St. Louis JCRC for their commitment to respecting our community’s diversity of opinion with regard to how best support the state of Israel and secure its future.”

Top News and Analysis

What does Israel want from America?, Washington Post

David Ignatius writes, “President Trump’s embrace of Israel poses an unlikely dilemma for leaders of the Jewish state: They have to decide what they want from America, and on that question, there’s sharp disagreement….Trump’s election offers what many Israelis have dreamed of — a relaxation of U.S. pressure on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. But for some, it’s a case of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Israel’s views may now be decisive — but the country remains conflicted 50 years after the West Bank was seized in the 1967 war.”

Herzog slams PM over graft probes: Hand in your keys and quit, Times of Israel

Opposition MKs called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign Wednesday and harshly condemned him for refusing to answer questions about the ongoing police investigations into him. Isaac Herzog, head of the opposition and the Zionist Union faction, attacked Netanyahu in the wake of a stormy Knesset question and answer session, insisting that Netanyahu call new elections.

Trump Prepares Orders Aiming at Global Funding and Treaties, The New York Times

Max Fisher reports, “The Trump administration is preparing executive orders that would clear the way to drastically reduce the United States’ role in the United Nations and other international organizations, as well as begin a process to review and potentially abrogate certain forms of multilateral treaties. The first of the two draft orders, titled ‘Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations’ and obtained by The New York Times, calls for terminating funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that meets any one of several criteria. Those criteria include organizations that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization, or support programs that fund abortion or any activity that circumvents sanctions against Iran or North Korea. The draft order also calls for terminating funding for any organization that ‘is controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism’ or is blamed for the persecution of marginalized groups or any other systematic violation of human rights. The order calls for then enacting ‘at least a 40 percent overall decrease’ in remaining United States funding toward international organizations.”

Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem? Now’s not the time, Chicago Tribune

The editorial board writes, [I]it’s clear that America’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs to be calibrated so that rock-solid ties with Israel stay rock-solid, while an environment for moving toward a two-state solution stays intact. Trump’s insistence on moving the embassy doesn’t advance the latter goal…. [I]t’s not just the Palestinians who would be enraged by the embassy move. The rest of the Arab world would be just as opposed — at a time when the U.S. needs Arab allies in the fight against the Islamic State contagion. Jordan, an important U.S. ally, staunchly opposes a move….A peaceful two-state solution should be Trump’s priority. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would veer America away from that goal, rather than closer to it.”

Chances Are, the Reason You’re Alive to Read This, Is Immigration, Haaretz

Bradley Burston writes, “Chances are good that the reason you are alive to read these words, is immigration. Chances are, that whether you are reading them in North America or South Africa, Israel or Australia, the story of your family is, at one stage or another, a story of immigrants.

And if members of your family were trapped in the horror of the Holocaust, chances are that immigration policy – banning refugees, canceling visas, and demanding that local officials hand over ‘illegals’ –  played a key role as well.”


Israeli Troops Shoot Palestinian Driver Who Rammed West Bank Bus Stop, The New York Times

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian motorist who drove his car into a bus stop near a settlement in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the Israeli army said. The Palestinian health ministry did not immediately release details of the dead man but Palestinian social media posts said he was a resident of the Qalandia refugee camp near Ramallah.

IDF Moves to Evacuate Amona After High Court Suspends Plan to Relocate Illegal West Bank Outpost, Haaretz

The Israeli military has ordered several IDF battalions to gear up to evacuate the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona after the High Court of Justice decided to suspend a proposed relocation plan, Haaretz has learned. After extending the deadline, the court ordered Amona’s residents to leave the site by February 8 after ruling previously the outpost had been built on land privately owned by Palestinians. A plan to relocate the residents has been stymied, however by claims recently asserted by Palestinians to ownership or other ties to a proposed site not far from Amona.

New settlement homes are just a ‘taste,’ Netanyahu tells MKs, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the 2,500 new West Bank settlement homes approved a day earlier were just a “taste” of things to come now that Barack Obama is no longer in the White House, and said he would discuss the issue with US President Donald Trump. Taking lawmakers’ questions in the Knesset, Netanyahu said the move came after eight years in which Israel “suffered” from Obama’s “not-one-brick policy,” referring to claims the prime minister has made in the past that the US administration told him it would oppose all new building beyond the Green Line.

Jared Kushner’s Name Removed From Website of Group Raising Money for Israeli Army, Haaretz

Since his appointment as senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, the Jewish son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump, appears to have severed his ties with an organization that raises money for the Israeli army. Kushner, who is expected to play a major role in drafting Middle East policy in the new administration, no longer has his name listed as a member of the national board of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, presumably because of potential conflicts of interest. FIDF is a New York-based non-profit that raises tens of millions of dollars a year to support a wide array of educational and social programs that benefit Israeli soldiers and their families.

Palestinian opens fire on troops in drive-by attack, is shot, Times of Israel

A Palestinian man opened fire at Israeli troops from a moving car in the central West Bank on Wednesday night, the army said. The soldiers fired back, and injured him.

Council of Europe condemns Gaza siege as ‘collective punishment’, Ma’an

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a report on Tuesday outlining the dire humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip and reiterating its support for lifting the decade-long siege of the territory, which it called “collective punishment” imposed on Palestinians in contravention of international law.

Israeli Soldier Wounded in Overnight West Bank Raid, Haaretz

An Israeli soldier was wounded early Thursday in a military operation in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, the Israeli army said.

Abbas: ‘Dangerous consequences’ for new settlement construction, Times of Israel

President Abbas said there would be “dangerous consequences” following Israel’s announcement on Tuesday approving the construction of 2,500 housing units in settlements in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported Thursday morning.

Opinion and Analysis

Israeli-occupied territories: Legislature musn’t overreach on Mideast boycott, Star-Tribune

Eric Schwartz writes, “The Minnesota Legislature may soon consider enacting a proposal on Israel and territory it holds under the law of belligerent occupation. The legislation would undermine prospects for a two-state solution in the Middle East, compromise respect for the rule of law and undermine the security interests of Israel….The reason is simple. The legislation applies not only to Israel, but also to “Israeli-controlled territories,” and is part of a troubling national effort among some advocacy organizations — an effort that is controversial within the U.S. Jewish community — to create the fait accompli of an Israel that effectively includes territories seized in the Six Day War in 1967. These territories should be the subject of negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians…..Supporters of Israel should be concerned about this legislation for another reason: It undermines efforts to combat the BDS movement worldwide. I and others have argued that the BDS movement must be opposed because it challenges the idea that there can be a democratic and Jewish state in the Middle East that can live side by side with a Palestinian state. Measures that endorse or accept an Israel that includes occupied territory undermine the possibility of such a two-state solution, and hand the BDS movement its argument on a silver platter.”

Trump administration reviews foreign aid in Obama’s final months in office, Washington Post

Carol Morello reports, “The State Department is conducting a review of all foreign aid parceled out in the final two months of the Obama administration, including the controversial last-minute release of $220 million to Palestinians announced just hours before Donald Trump was sworn in as president. The review involves dozens, if not hundreds, of foreign aid allocations made after Trump was elected. According to State Department officials, most if not all of the money has already been transferred. Unless the review turns up any instances where protocol was not strictly followed, it is unlikely that any adjustments can be made, even if the aid does not mesh with the emerging policies of the Trump administration.”

Why Jewish Leaders Rally Behind a Palestinian-American Women’s March Organizer, Haaretz

Debra Nussbaum Cohen reports, “When online attacks against Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour started this week, progressive Jews were among the first people to back her on social media.”

How Erratic Trump Unnerves Even Netanyahu, Forward

JJ Goldberg writes, “Netanyahu is a seasoned, highly skilled. diplomatic and political operative with a deep understanding of the history and workings of the international system. Trump, by contrast, is a hypersensitive narcissist with a short attention span, a tenuous grasp of the truth and a dangerous obliviousness to how much he doesn’t know. All those combine to make him unpredictable and unsteady, among the most dangerous qualities a world leader can have. For all Netanyahu’s relief that Republicans now hold the White House, he has good reason — indeed, many good reasons — to be wary.”

Tough Love: How America Can Be The Ally Israel Needs — And The World Deserves, Forward

Jon Greenwald writes, “Like France in 2003, the Security Council and Obama administration have given the candid advice friends owe friends, even if it initially seems bitter to the recipients. Let us hope Israel recognizes the good intentions but also prudent quality of that advice in time.”

Trump follows predecessors in slowing Israel embassy move, Al-Monitor

Laura Rozen observes that “Trump has….emulated his predecessors in abruptly slowing down, at least for now, his campaign pledge to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.”

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