News Roundup for January 9, 2017

January 9, 2017

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J Street in the News

J Street Condemns Jerusalem Truck Attack, Mourns the Victims, J Street Blog

“We were devastated to wake up to the news today that one of the deadliest attacks in recent months occurred today in Jerusalem, in which 4 people thus far have been reported dead and 15 others injured. We condemn this terrorist attack in which a truck driven by a man from East Jerusalem rammed into a crowd of officer cadets on a public promenade at a high rate of speed, and then backed up to maximize casualties. As we mourn the victims, our thoughts are with their families, the wounded survivors and the people of Israel.”

5 Startling Shifts in Pro-Israel Politics After Vote by Congress, Forward

“Several trends have emerged within both parties that may indicate it may not be business as usual when it comes to America’s relationship with Israel…J Street had a good day: While in its early years the pro-Israel liberal lobby struggled to translate its grassroots support to political clout in Congress, the end of the Obama era seems to mark a change. With 76 Democrats heeding J Street’s advice and voting against the resolution and 109 sticking with AIPAC’s call to back it, J Street has reached an important milestone, tapping in to a growing sentiment of unrest among Democrats with Israeli policy. ‘It’s a historic disintegration of this concept that there’s only one way to be pro-Israel,’ said J Street’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami on Thursday.”

Top News and Analysis

Jerusalem Attack: 4 Soldiers Killed After Truck Rams Into Pedestrians, Haaretz

“Four soldiers were killed and 13 people were wounded in Jerusalem on Sunday when a truck rammed into pedestrians near the Armon Hanatziv Promenade. The soldiers targeted by the assailant were on an educational trip along with several other groups. According to the police, the truck veered from its course along the promenade and rammed into a group of soldiers getting off a bus.”

Netanyahu’s Tape Scandal Explained: Will Secret Negotiations With Adelson’s Media Rival Force Him to Resign?, Haaretz

“It’s a revelation that’s shaking up Israel’s political and media worlds as intensely as reports of a proposed secret deal between Donald Trump, CNN and Fox News would rock the United States. In a wide-reaching investigation by Israel Police of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it was revealed Sunday that a tape exists of a conversation in which Netanyahu and media tycoon Arnon Mozes – owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper – appear to be hammering out a deal that would benefit them both. The details of their negotiations are still unclear, but what can be pieced together from journalists’ coverage is that such a deal would offer financial and business advantages to Mozes in exchange for favorable coverage of Netanyahu. That deal may have possibly involved shutting down parts – or even all – of the Israel Hayom newspaper, which is owned by Netanyahu’s political patron, the American-Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Such an arrangement would have restored print media dominance to Mozes’ daily, which Netanyahu previously accused of plotting his political downfall….Whether or not there is sufficient popular political will to unseat Netanyahu, one thing is certain: Israelis have had their faith even more deeply shaken in their leadership than it already was. In the past decade alone, they’ve watched scandals play out that resulted in a president being jailed for rape, a former prime minister sent to prison for bribery, and numerous misdeeds by ministers, lawmakers and mayors. Now it seems that not only politicians but a veteran media outlet, one they have counted on for decades as a watchdog to keep their leaders in check, may have been willing to sell out and collude with a power-hungry premier.”

EU wants P4+1 model on Israeli settlements, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir reports, “There is unprecedented concern and alarm at European Union headquarters with Israel’s accelerated settlement and annexation policies….Both Paris and Brussels realize that the Donald Trump administration could offer Israel a free pass to settlement expansion, at least within the settlement blocs and in the Jerusalem area. Thus, Europe wants to create a global consensus, isolating Israel and the United States. The French Foreign Ministry is coordinating policies on the settlement issue with Russia and China. The purpose is to create one P4+1 group (namely France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China + Germany, without the United States) that will deal separately with the Israeli-Palestinian issue and the Iran file. Such a group would then initiate a dialogue with the new administration on the United States joining the two forums. The issue of sanctions against Israel will await reports on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2334….A global consensus against settlements (even without the United States) can lead, at a later point, to severe European countermeasures, especially since the EU is Israel’s leading trading partner.”


Two Americans Among 4 Killed in Jerusalem Truck Ramming Terror Attack, Forward

Two of the four Israeli soldiers killed of Sunday’s car-ramming attack in Jerusalem were American citizens, friends and relatives told Haaretz. Shira Tzur, 20, and Erez Orbach, 20, both held dual citizenship. Yael Yekutiel, 20, and Shir Hajaj, 22, were also killed in the attack, which Israel has blamed on a Palestinian supporter of Islamic State.

Security cabinet orders arrests, closure of Jerusalem terrorist’s village, Times of Israel

In response to Sunday’s truck-ramming terror attack, the security cabinet decided late Sunday on a series of measures intended to deter new Palestinian attacks. After convening Sunday night at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, the committee of 10 ministers voted to deny the release of the terrorist’s body to his family, in order to prevent the family from holding a public funeral at which his actions would be celebrated.

Masked Israelis Attack Activists Accompanying Palestinian Farmers in West Bank, Haaretz

A group of masked Israelis, some of them minors, attacked three activists of the NGO Ta’ayush and two female volunteers from abroad who were accompanying Palestinians plowing in the South Hebron Hills, video of the event shows. On Saturday, the plowing had just been completed and the five activists were walking back to the village of Al-Tawani on a road that passes near the Havat Ma’on outpost. When they were a few hundred meters from the settlement, more than 10 Israelis followed close by before throwing stones at them and punching them.

Israel’s London embassy apologizes after staffer says he wants to ‘take down’ lawmakers, JTA

The Israeli embassy in London has apologized after a political officer on staff was recorded saying he wanted to “take down” several British politicians who he deemed unfriendly to Israel. The comments were made to a former aide to a British Conservative lawmaker during a meeting to discuss how to discredit anti-Israel lawmakers at a London restaurant and filmed by an Al-Jazeera journalist posing as a pro-Israel activist, according to reports in the British and Israeli media.

Israeli settler group takes over Palestinian building in East Jerusalem neighborhood, Ma’an

Israeli settlement group Elad reportedly took over a Palestinian-owned property in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Sunday, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said. According to the local NGO, nearly a dozen Elad guards raided a two-story residential building on al-Ein Street in Silwan belonging to Hani Sarhan on Sunday morning while its owners were away in Jordan.

James Baker: ‘Appropriate’ for US to abstain from vote on Israeli settlements, The Hill

“Former Secretary of State James Baker said Sunday that he thinks the United States made the right decision by abstaining from the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. ‘And as a matter of fact, it was former Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel who said Israel needs to make the tough decisions if it wants to avoid becoming an apartheid state,” Baker told CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”  ‘And so that’s why I think it was appropriate in this instance for the United States to abstain.’ ‘If we’re talking about abandoning the two-state solution and leaving it, that’s going to create serious problems for the United States, not just with respect to the Arab-Israeli dispute, but it’s going to create serious problems for us more generally in the region as a whole,’ he said.”

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Has Been Seeking Favorable Coverage From Media Mogul for Years, Haaretz

Gidi Weitz and Nati Tucker write, “Politicians who have worked with Netanyahu say that for years he suffered from ‘Mozes paranoia.’ ‘He’s convinced that the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth has a safe with files on politicians, and that with these files he activates politicians to cause his downfall,’ one source said in November. To this day, ministers who get good headlines or flattering pictures in Yedioth feel Netanyahu’s wrath….[I]t’s time to end the spin that has been popular in recent days − that Netanyahu is calm and sure everything will turn out fine. The second bit of drivel is that Mendelblit is a determined attorney general who conducted a thorough and swift investigation. These two descriptions, which are being aggressively sold to the public by lackeys of these two intelligent and talented men, are trickery and deception.”

The tensions that fuel terror attacks haven’t gone away, Times of Israel

Avi Issacharoff observes, “Recent months have seen a steep decrease in the number of attacks. There are several reasons for this, including the efforts of Israeli security forces, a new emphasis on monitoring social media, a certain drop in incitement in official Palestinian media, and the hard work of the Palestinian security forces, among others. But the key tension that led to the original outbreak of violence in October 2015 remains: the lack of any diplomatic prospect, ongoing frustration with the Palestinian Authority, anger toward Israel, and continued robust incitement on social media. In recent days, for example, Hamas has run a campaign calling on Palestinian youths to emulate a notorious Hamas bomb maker, the “engineer” Yahya Ayyash. Last week marked the 21st anniversary of his assassination by Israel. All this creates a tense atmosphere, permeated with hate, that could at any moment lead to further “spontaneous” attacks.”

Moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: A Hard Look at the Arguments & Implications, Terrestrial Jerusalem

Daniel Seidemann writes, “Now, with the very real possibility that President-elect Trump may be serious about moving the embassy once he takes office, we no longer have the luxury of leaving the ramifications of such a move unexplored and unstated. Rather, it is imperative that we take a hard look at questions surrounding a possible transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the likely consequences, and what responsible parties should be doing now.”

The Skepticism Is Justified. But Paris Can Be More Than Just Another Vague Peace Initiative, Haaretz

Nimrod Goren writes, “In order to ensure some continuity in international engagement on the peace process, especially after the UN Security Council resolution and the Kerry speech, the Paris conference should relate to the Kerry parameters, and call for the establishment of a new international mechanism and assign it a concrete first task. Such a mechanism could include the U.S., the EU and the Arab League. Its first assignment could be to submit, within the next few months, a proposal for a genuinely enticing international incentive package for Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Addressing Concerns about Kerry and the U.N. Vote, Medium

Steve Sheffey writes, “If you accept the imperative of a two-state solution, then it no longer matters whether Israel’s claim to the West Bank is superior to the Arab claim, because a two-state solution necessarily means Israel relinquishing nearly all of the West Bank. Construction on the other side of the 1967 borders is an obstacle to peace because it makes a two-state solution more difficult. Settlements are not the root cause of the conflict, but they impede a solution. Even if a two-state solution is not possible now because Israel has no partner for peace, the United States and other governments that support Israel oppose settlement expansion because it will eventually make a two-state solution impossible. The burden is on Israel to find a solution not because this is Israel’s fault or because Israel has not done enough, or even more than enough relative to the Palestinians, but because Israel is the party that needs a two-state solution.”

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