“More than 75 Democrats voted against the resolution – a sign, some opponents of the House resolution believe, that the discussion around Israel is changing. ‘You see a crumbling of what historically has been a near-unanimity of position and language and rhetoric on these issues, into a much more representative, open debate between competing points of view,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the progressive organization J Street, a pro-Israel and pro-peace group that supports a two-state solution. One of the Democrats to vote no, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), said she did so ‘as a proud Jew.’ Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) also opposed the measure, objecting to the idea that ‘this Congress has allowed our chamber to be used as an Israeli campaign rally.’”
“From the left-wing side of the Jewish political spectrum, J Street announced that it opposed the resolution “for its inaccurate, unfair, and unhelpful depiction of the Obama administration’s actions at the United Nations. ‘We commend the Members of Congress who voted against this resolution today based on their support for a two-state solution,’ a J Street statement said.”
US Jewish groups laud House condemnation of UN resolution on Israel, Times of Israel
“Meanwhile, the liberal Middle East advocacy group J Street — which supported the Obama administration’s move to allow the Security Council measure through — did not comment directly on the vote’s outcome as of this writing, but said it ‘welcomed’ the vigorous debate that ensured on the House floor throughout the day … ‘We believe today’s debate indicates important changes in the political atmosphere on issues related to Israel in the Congress,” the organization said in a press release. “The growing space available for a diversity of approaches to supporting Israel will facilitate in the long-run pragmatic and vigorous US policy-making that helps Israelis and Palestinians to reach a two-state solution.’”
“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee backed the Royce-Engel resolution. J Street backed Price’s version, which he said he would introduce as a separate resolution.”
“J Street welcomes today’s robust discussion in the House of Representatives with regard to US policy toward Israel, the two-state solution and the appropriate role of the United States at the United Nations … With regard to H.Res. 11, J Street opposed it for its inaccurate, unfair and unhelpful depiction of the Obama administration’s actions at the United Nations. We commend the Members of Congress who voted against this resolution today based on their support for a two-state solution. We believe today’s debate indicates important changes in the political atmosphere on issues related to Israel in the Congress. The growing space available for a diversity of approaches to supporting Israel will facilitate in the long-run pragmatic and vigorous US policy-making that helps Israelis and Palestinians to reach a two-state solution.”
Ben Caspit writes, “The verdict confirms the IDF’s values, the chain of command and the orders for opening fire. On the other hand, everything else remains open, exposed and hemorrhaging. Israeli society is in a very different place from that championed by the panel of judges, led by Col. Maya Heller. The court ruled that Azaria’s comment after shooting the terrorist — “He deserved to die” — was unacceptable. According to large swaths of Israelis, these comments were, in fact, completely acceptable, while the verdict was unfounded. The outcome of this conflict has yet to be determined.”
US House passes motion repudiating UN resolution on Israel, Times of Israel
The US House of Representatives passed a scathing rebuke Thursday night to a United Nations Security Council resolution the Obama administration allowed through last month that condemned Israeli settlements as illegal. House Resolution 11 declared the UN motion a “one-sided” effort that is an obstacle to peace, placing disproportionate blame on Israel for the continuation of the conflict and discouraging Palestinians from engaging in direct, bilateral negotiations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to settlers from the unauthorized outpost of Amona to enforce the law “equally” by demolishing the homes of Arabs is being strictly fulfilled. The number of Palestinian buildings demolished in the first week of January 2017 is almost four times as high as the weekly average for 2016: 20 structures. In 2015, the average was 10 structures a week, according to the records of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Arab man stabbed in Ashdod in suspected racist attack, Times of Israel
Police launched a manhunt Thursday afternoon after an Arab man was stabbed and lightly wounded in the port city of Ashdod on Thursday in an incident being investigated as a terror attack, officials said.
“The Israeli government is expected to support a bill that would allow the education minister to bar organizations he deems are “defaming Israeli soldiers” from entering schools. The bill was sponsored by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who has been frustrated in his attempts to crack down on school appearances by the anti-occupation veterans group Breaking the Silence. The bill empowers the education minister to forbid individuals or organizations from entering schools and conducting any type of activity, if these organizations, in the opinion of the minister, undermine the state’s educational goals or are liable to defame Israeli soldiers.”
Dozens of Palestinian and Israeli activists gathered in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, on Thursday morning in order to protest the establishment of new illegal outposts in the area. The demonstrators, from joint Arab Jewish activist group Ta’ayush, were forcefully dispersed by Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas at them.
Police investigators arrived Thursday afternoon at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem to questions Benjamin Netanyahu for the second time this week about suspicions of graft. The interrogation focuses on the less serious of two cases involving Netanyahu that police are looking into – suspicions that he and his family received gifts and other benefits worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from businesspeople.
United States interests, including national security, would be harmed if the country retreats from a leading role at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power warned on Thursday amid a backlash among Washington lawmakers against the world body. In an exit memo on Thursday, Power – a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet – wrote: “Other nations will follow us if we continue to lead; without our leadership the vacuum on the global stage will prove very harmful to U.S. interests.”
In a meeting with hundreds of Israeli activists, writers and academics at the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in Ramallah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that peace won’t be achieved via the UN, but ultimately only through dialogue.
“Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has instructed police to open an investigation into suspicions of incitement to violence following a protest in support of soldier Elor Azaria on Wednesday while his verdict was being issued. Some protesters outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv were heard chanting thinly-veiled death threats against the army’s chief of staff, Gadi Eizenkot. ‘Gadi watch out, Rabin is looking for a friend,’ they chanted, hinting at the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.”
President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition staff has issued a blanket edict requiring politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day, according to several American diplomats familiar with the plan, breaking with decades of precedent by declining to provide even the briefest of grace periods.
Members of the Fatah movement’s central committee Azzam al-Ahmad and Head of Hamas’ politburo Khalid Mashaal met in the Qatari capital of Doha on Thursday with several other Hamas leaders to discuss political reconciliation between the two Palestinian political parties.
France rebuffs rumors of secret UN move after Paris summit, Times of Israel
France is not secretly planning a UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after a major conference in Paris this month, the president of the French Senate says. “There is no secret proposal for a resolution prepared by France at the UN after the Paris conference to date,” Gerard Larcher says. Larcher says he is not aware of any country working on a resolution to put before the council between the January 15 meeting and the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president on January 20.
“In private conversations with Likud figures, it seems that something in Netanyahu’s political wall is cracking, but no one dares to say it in public. No one will make a statement that could be understood as a blow to the prime minister, thus risking losing supporters….Even Netanyahu’s sworn enemies who are awaiting his fall in order to vie for leadership of the Likud, like former Minister Gideon Saar, are keeping silent. Saar, like Hanegbi and Regev, knows the soul of Likud members well and does not intend to fall into this trap. Another rival, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, has been tensely following developments but maintains radio silence. He’s also considering running to lead the Likud after Netanyahu, as is Minister of Finance and Chairman of Kulanu Party Moshe Kahlon. On the opposition’s side, Yair Lapid, the chairman of Yesh Atid, delivered a gentle critique of Netanyahu. Lapid is trying to win over Likud voters, and a harsh attack of the prime minister could hurt such efforts.”
Haggai Mattar interviews Palestinian director Maysaloun Hamoud.
Diana Shaw Clark writes, “Vilifying those of us who believe that a safe national home for Jewish people is one that does not rely on the illegal appropriation of Palestinian land, is one of the many ways settlement advocates justify to themselves a position that is without justification. Having been to the region many times, I’m baffled by the insistence of so many that settlement expansion is not an obstacle to peace. Although surely not the only obstacle, in his speech, Secretary Kerry characterized the settlement movement correctly, as having nothing to do with ensuring Israel’s security, and much more to do with rendering a contiguous Palestinian state impossible to attain.”
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