News Roundup for July 17, 2017

July 17, 2017

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J Street in the News

Israel frets over Congress push to slash Palestinian aid over terror payments, Al-Monitor

“J Street, a liberal group that seeks greater rapprochement with the Palestinians, warned the cuts could fuel sympathy for Hamas and other anti-Israel groups. ‘A reduction in humanitarian aid and basic government services … would only increase deprivation and despair among the most vulnerable in Palestinian society, fermenting further extremism,’ J Street’s chief lobbyist, Dylan Williams, told Al-Monitor. ‘We therefore support current US law, which requires a one-to-one reduction in US assistance for every dollar paid by the PA to those who committed acts of terrorism.’”

The Iran Deal Turns Two, J Street

“This week marks two years since the United States and the other nations of the P5+1 first agreed to the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran. On this anniversary, we wanted to answer a few important questions about the impact of the deal, how it’s being viewed, and the prospects for its future.”

J Street Condemns Horrific Terror Attack At Temple Mount, J Street

“J Street condemns today’s horrifying terror attack at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, in which two officers of the Israeli Border Police were shot and killed and another officer was wounded. At this terrible time, our thoughts are with the victims, their families and the people of Jerusalem. Tensions at the Temple Mount always run very high, and an act of terror like this has the terrifying potential to trigger a spiral of rage, confrontation and further violence – as history has shown us all too well. It is extremely important in this moment that Israeli and Palestinian leaders – along with other leaders in the region – act calmly and prudently to condemn violence, protect civilians and prevent new clashes.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu: Israel Opposes Cease-fire Deal Reached by U.S. and Russia in Southern Syria, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu told reporters after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday that Israel opposes the cease-fire agreement in southern Syria that the United States and Russia reached because it perpetuates the Iranian presence in the country. The prime minister noted that in his meeting with Macron, he made it clear to the French president that Israel was totally opposed to the cease-fire plan.

Nuclear Summer, New Republic

Colin Kahl writes, “The Trump administration is in the midst of a comprehensive review of the Iran deal, and the conclusions are likely to be harsh. Indeed, in a notoriously factionalized administration, being hawkish on Iran is one of the few things that Trump officials seem to agree on….Whether or not Trump ‘rips up’ the nuclear deal or launches an all-out war against Iran, rapidly escalating tensions could make the deal politically unsustainable in either country. And while his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord raises the long-term odds of an environmental catastrophe, exiting or undermining the agreement with Tehran could unleash a far more immediate disaster. With North Korea edging closer to an intercontinental ballistic missile, China expanding in the South China Sea, and Russia hacking U.S. elections, a nuclear crisis with Iran is the last thing the world needs. Yet Trump appears to be steering—or stumbling—in precisely that direction.”

Israel’s War Against George Soros, The New York Times

Mairav Zonszein writes, “ As a Holocaust survivor, a successful financier who embraces free market capitalism and a philanthropist who champions liberal democracy, George Soros should be a darling of the Israeli establishment. But Mr. Soros has failed the only litmus test that seems to count for Israel’s current leadership: unconditional support for the government, despite its policies of occupation, discrimination and disregard for civil and human rights….Mr. Soros’s humanitarianism and universalism represent an expression of post-Holocaust Jewish identity that is anathema to the hard-line nationalism of Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition, which adheres to the classic Zionist mission that sought to end anti-Semitism and diaspora existence by gathering all Jews in the historic land of Israel. As in this case with Hungary, Mr. Netanyahu is increasingly aligning Israel with illiberal, autocratic states like Russia, Turkey and Egypt. The ultimate cynicism of such alliances is visible in Mr. Netanyahu’s willingness to tolerate the anti-Semitism of the global right-wing nationalist camp if it will bolster the Greater Israel movement.”


Clashes Erupt on Temple Mount as Palestinians Attempt to Enter With Casket, Haaretz

Disturbances erupted outside the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem on Sunday after a group of Palestinians attempted to enter the compound with a casket containing a body. Israeli security forces prevented them from entering. Police said one person was arrested and Palestinian reports said several people were wounded during the clashes.

Knesset Committee Approves Bill Requiring Supermajority To Divide Jerusalem, Forward

A Knesset committee has approved a bill that would make it difficult to divide Jerusalem in a peace deal. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved an amendment to an existing Basic Law that would require a majority of at least 80 Knesset members to pass a decision to give up land in Jerusalem. The legislation, which is supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling government coalition, is expected to pass the required three readings in the Knesset.

Muslim Temple Mount Authority Refuses to Reopen Site Due to Israeli Metal Detectors, Haaretz

Israeli police sought to reopen the Temple Mount on Sunday afternoon but the Waqf, the Muslim authority that administers the site, refused to unlock the gates in protest of the metal detectors installed there. Israel shuttered the Mount in the wake of a deadly shooting there on Friday. The Waqf sees the new security measure as a violation of the status quo on the mount, source in the Muslim authority told Haaretz. “The police won’t be able to find someone to accept the keys,” the sources said. “The Waqf officials aren’t coming.”

Palestinian officials meet to discuss Al-Aqsa restrictions following Jerusalem attack, Ma’an

Palestinian officials held a meeting on Sunday to discuss recent Israeli measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, days after a deadly shooting attack led to the death of three Palestinian citizens of Israel and two Israeli police officers — also Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. Fatah spokesman Munir al-Jaghoub said the officials present at the meeting “affirmed” that the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Old City of Jerusalem should remain as it was before the deadly shooting, expressing opposition to the Israeli decision to install metal detectors at the entrances of the compound.

Netanyahu: Altering Temple Mount Status Quo Could Damage Israel’s Ties With Arab States, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Sunday he objects to any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount, like giving Jews permission to pray at the holy site, since that could exacerbate the security situation and undermine the increasingly warm relations between Israel and the Sunni Arab nations. “Changing the status quo on the Temple Mount would be a wrong move,” he told reporters during a visit to Paris. “It would lead to unforeseeable consequences in the world and regional order. We’ve succeeded in isolating the issue of religious warfare in the region as best we could and there are clear security considerations that require the preservation of the status quo.”

Shin Bet: Gunman shot up settlements over tiff with family, Times of Israel

A Palestinian gunman who was killed in a firefight with Israeli forces on Sunday had gone on a shooting spree with his fiancée following an argument with their families over their engagement, according to the Shin Bet security service. The suspect — identified by police as Amar Ahmad Halil of Nabi Saleh — was behind two drive-by shooting attacks on Saturday near the West Bank settlement of Ateret, which left a Palestinian driver lightly hurt, and one at an IDF post near Halil’s hometown of Nabi Saleh, according to Israeli security forces.

Macron: Anti-Zionism Is a Reinvented Form of anti-Semitism, Haaretz

French president Emannuael Macron condemned Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism in France today, saying that it has taken a new shape, and that anti-Zionist and anti-Israel expressions should be opposed. “It’s a new type of anti-Semitism,” he said.

Rivlin blasts silence of Arab-Israeli leaders over Temple Mount attack, Times of Israel

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday condemned Arab-Israeli leaders for not speaking out against Friday’s terror attack at the Temple Mount, saying their silence was akin to an endorsement of the shooting. While lambasting Arab-Israeli leaders for not denouncing the attack in which two police officers were killed, Rivlin praised the “responsible” conduct of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah, both of whom condemned the shooting in phone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Temple Mount Reopens to Jewish Visitors After Three-day Closure, Haaretz

The Temple Mount was reopened to Jewish visitors on Monday morning after being shut for three days in the wake of a deadly shooting attack. Israeli police had planned to reopen the Mount on Sunday, but the Waqf, the Muslim authority that administers the holy site, refused to unlock the gates in protest of metal detectors Israeli forces installed there on Sunday morning after the attack. While the Mount is now open to both Jewish and Muslim visitors, many of the latter are still boycotting the site in protest of the metal detectors. Jewish visitors on the Mount told Haaretz that there are no Waqf guards present at the site.

Elor Azaria to be moved from military base to house arrest, JTA

Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting a downed Palestinian terrorist, will be released to house arrest. Azaria, who was convicted in January and sentenced in February, has been confined to the closed Nachshonim military base since being arrested in March 2016. However, the time of his military service ends on Thursday and he must leave the base.

Opinions and Analysis

Israeli-Palestinian water deal could chart course for further talks, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir writes, “The Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project is the largest of all the initiatives intended to bring economic stability to the Palestinian Authority. This grand scheme has been a topic of extensive discussion for the last three decades, but only now is it actually taking shape, with work scheduled to begin soon. The initiative promises to not only resolve the regional water crisis but also, among other things, save the Dead Sea from disappearing by allowing water from the Red Sea to flow into it, creating hydroelectric energy as it drops from sea level at the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, the surface of which stands at the lowest land elevation on Earth….Improving the Palestinian economy is also a top priority for the Israeli defense establishment, which sees immense implications for security. For months now, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has been pressuring the political leadership to take steps in that direction, based on the assumption that Palestinian hardships lead to desperation, and desperation leads to terror.”

Obama’s gift to Trump: A lasting deal on Iran’s nuclear program, CNN

Jen Psaki writes, “On this second anniversary of the deal, let us look ahead to where it can take us. In addition to the tangible, quantifiable advances in global secrity made possible by the deal — the reductions in centrifuges, the limits on the amount of highly enriched uranium permitted to be held in Iran, and the intense inspections regime, for example — the Iran deal provides opportunities. In particular, opportunities for US leadership in the world as we try to battle terrorism and seek a path forward for Syria without the potential threat of Iran pursuing nuclear weapons or the ensuing arms race in the Middle East. This is an area in which leaders from both parties have said they want to continue to lead the world. Remaining committed to the Iran deal is how we do that.”

Temple Mount Attack Raises Tensions Between Israel’s Muslim, Druze Communities, Haaretz

Jack Khoury writes, “The horrible bloodshed at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Friday morning joins a series of attacks the city of Jerusalem has seen over the past two years. What’s different about Friday’s attack was that it was perpetrated by three young Israeli Arabs – residents of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel and members of one of the city’s largest and best-known clans. Friday’s attack became even more complex when it emerged that the two Border Policemen killed were members of Israel’s Druze community, residents of the villages of Maghar and Hurfeish in the Galilee. The fact that the attackers were three young Israeli Muslims who killed two young Israeli Druze has raised concerns about the impact on the ties between the two communities, particularly in areas with mixed Muslim-Druze populations.”

Palestinians disappointed over Israeli Labor primaries, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir writes, “The senior PLO official told Al-Monitor that the Palestinians were disappointed with the defeat of former Labor Party chair Herzog at the party’s primaries. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he noted that ‘[newly elected Labor chairperson] Avi Gabbay seems like an honest man of peace. Our problem is with the Netanyahu government. Without a change in the composition of the government, there is no chance to translate the regional momentum created by President Donald Trump into a two-state solution process.’ The official admitted that they, and Egypt, were frequently in contact with former Labor leader Herzog and had reason to believe that a political castling move between him and Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s HaBayit HaYehudi party was in the cards. In other words, advancing a negotiation process would force Bennett’s party to quit the government and encourage Herzog to replace him.”

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