News Roundup for January 4, 2017

January 4, 2017

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J Street in the News

Senate Bill Introduced to Move Embassy to Jerusalem, The Whim

“Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street–a Washington-based Israel advocacy group–has argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem ‘would lead to violence’ and ‘damage US interests.’ ‘Jerusalem is a powder keg. Upending the status quo with an announcement like this is a surefire way to make it explode. Even minor changes of the status quo in fact or law have immense symbolic impact and carry the potential to spark violence. A decision to move the United States embassy — with its implication that the US recognizes Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem — could well spark unrest and violence not only in Jerusalem but across the Arab and Muslim worlds…Ill-advised, short-sighted steps in Jerusalem – like moving the US Embassy – move us further away from the two-state solution – which is actually supported by the majority of American Jews. Moving the embassy would lead to violence, damage US interests and be opposed by the majority of American Jews.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Soldier Convicted of Manslaughter for Lethal Shooting of Wounded Palestinian Assailant, Haaretz

“Sgt. Elor Azaria, who shot and killed a wounded attacker in Hebron, has been found guilty of manslaughter by a three-judge panel in the Tel Aviv Military Court on Wednesday in one of the most polarizing trials in Israeli army history. Israeli politicians called for the soldier to be pardoned and Azaria’s lawyer vowed to appeal the ruling. The months-long trial has highlighted deep rifts in Israeli society. Hundreds protested outside of the courtroom in Tel Aviv ahead of the verdict, clashing with police, counter-protesters and media. At the decision reading, the judges said Azaria killed the wounded terrorist without any reason. The cause of the infamous Hebron shooting was not that he felt threatened, said the head of the panel.”

True Zionists oppose settlements, Times of Israel

MK Tamar Zandberg writes, “A Zionist that values Israel as a Jewish and democratic state should look at this resolution and see it as a wake-up call. A wake-up call to the ramifications of the continuation of the settlement movement. A wake-up call to look at our actions in the West Bank, and ask if they align with our fundamental values as a state. In the words of the resolution, we need to ‘stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground, which are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality’. Continued building in the settlements erodes the possibility of the two-state solution. It is creating a de facto one-state. As a proud Zionist, I’m working hard to reverse these dangerous trends and safeguard the possibility of a two-state solution and the possibility of our continued Jewish and Democratic state.”

Abbas Says Trump Will Not Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Threatens Response if He Does, Haaretz

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not believe that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, he told representatives of the left-wing Meretz party on Tuesday, according to a source present at the meeting. Abbas remarks come despite repeated statements by Trump and his advisors during the presidential campaign and after the election. Abbas also said he intends to take part in the peace conference to be held in Paris on January 15, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to boycott. ‘We are acting with patience and restraint in the face of president-elect Trump’s statements,’ the source at the meeting quoted Abbas as saying. ‘We understand that things that are said during a campaign do not necessarily reflect the reality of his term. I do not believe that he will move the embassy to Jerusalem. Even he understands that this is a step with irreversible and broad significance beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’”

Far-right Israeli minister plans bill to annex one of biggest settlements, Guardian

“The far-right Israeli education minister, Naftali Bennett, has vowed to introduce a bill this month to formally annex Maale Adumim, one of Israel’s largest settlement blocks in the occupied Palestinian territories. In remarks made at a museum in the city of 40,000 located outside Jerusalem, Bennett said: ‘After being here for 50 years, the time has come to end military rule.’ The hardline leader of the Jewish Home party also made clear that he saw the annexation of Maale Adumim as a first step in annexing all of ‘area C’, the part of the occupied territories still under full Israeli control. ‘For this reason,’ said Bennett, ‘by the end of the month, we will submit the bill for applying [Israeli] law to Judea and Samaria [the name used by Israelis for the occupied territories] and will embark on a new path. We will present to the cabinet a bill for applying Israeli law in Maale Adumim.’”


Two Israeli Police Officers Hurt in Suspected West Bank Car-ramming Attack, Haaretz

Two Border Police officers were hurt in a suspected car-ramming attack near the Jalameh checkpoint, north of the West Bank city of Jenin, initial reports said.

Israeli Lawmakers Call to Pardon Hebron Shooter, Haaretz

Israeli lawmakers called for a pardon for Sgt. Elor Azaria, the soldier convicted Wednesday of manslaughter in the shooting death of an injured Palestinian assailant in Hebron in March. Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that Azaria should be pardoned “immediately.” The entire proceeding, Bennett said, “was contaminated from the beginning,” with politicians making grave comments before the investigation of the case even began and “causing Elor irreversible harm.”

Netanyahu to be questioned by police again on Friday — report, Times of Israel

Netanyahu will be questioned under caution for a second time on Friday morning, Channel 2 reports. The interrogation will take place at the premier’s residence in Jerusalem. Netanyahu, who has denied any wrongdoing, was questioned Monday night by police for over three hours on graft suspicions.

State Department ‘not aware’ of efforts to move US embassy to Jerusalem, Times of Israel

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday he was unaware of any efforts by the incoming Trump administration to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “We’re not privy to any moves, any decisions or active efforts to go ahead and move the embassy,” Kirby told CNN. “If that’s happening, and I’m certainly in no position to judge, we’re not aware of specific moves that are being made to that end.”

Israeli forces demolish homes, school in Bedouin village in the Jordan Valley, Ma’an

Israeli forces demolished some 15 structures in Khirbet Tana on Tuesday morning, including homes and the only school in the small hamlet, which is located on the outskirts of the village of Beit Furik in the Jordan Valley in the northeastern occupied West Bank.

Russia to reportedly host Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks, Times of Israel

Russia will host reconciliation talks in Moscow on January 15 between Fatah and Hamas in an attempt to patch up the nearly decade-long rift between the rival Palestinian factions, according to Russia’s semi-official TASS news agency. The timing of the talks would be conspicuous, as they would be taking place on the same day as a planned Mideast peace conference in Paris.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Up Against What Looks Like a Strong Case for Corruption, Haaretz

Ido Baum writes, “As for the investigation against Netanyahu, the attorney general’s announcement leaves the public with the understanding that in the two affairs in which Netanyahu was investigated, the police ‘examined extensively and searched in depth’ and found suspicions that have not been refuted so far, and in which the evidence discovered could develop into ‘an evidentiary foundation that would raise a reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed.’”

Congrats on Burying the Two-State Solution, President Trump. Now What?, Forward

Jane Eisner asks the president-elect, “If not two states, then one? Well, what does that look like? How are you going to get there? How will it work? How will you avoid civil conflict? How will you persuade Palestinians that this is in their best interests? Or will you not bother, arguing that what the Palestinians think isn’t important? How will you persuade the world that this is not apartheid or some version of the kind of legal segregation that existed for too long in America?

How will you persuade people like me that this isn’t the end of Israel as a democratic state?”

Don’t Annex Ma’aleh Adumim, Haaretz

A Haaretz editorial observes, “Opinion polls showing 40-percent support for the annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim can only arouse a snicker, since the surveys don’t mention the threat involved. Would the respondents support annexation if it were explained to them that it could lead to severe sanctions against Israel, not only against the settlements? Would they stick to their opinion if a new intifada erupted?”

What Kerry Did, Lobe Blog

James Zogby argues, “As someone who has been a part of the effort to create an American debate on Israeli policies, Kerry’s intervention is both welcome, validating, and empowering. He laid down markers that should help liberals and progressives define a policy agenda on the Israel-Palestine conflict—exactly what we need as we enter the challenges of the Trump era.”

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