News Roundup for July 3, 2017

July 3, 2017

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J Street in the News

Jeremy Ben-Ami Interviewed on Israel’s Channel 10, Channel 10

On Sunday night, Jeremy Ben-Ami sat down with Israel’s Channel 10 to discuss J Street’s role in the pro-Israel community.

After Labeling Them ‘Worse Than Kapos,’ U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman Meets With J Street, Haaretz

“After the meeting, J Street said in a statement that ‘we value Ambassador Friedman’s willingness to meet with Congressmen as part of the pro-Israel lobby J Street. We believe it is vital to keep an open line of communication between Jewish American and Israeli leaders with different political backgrounds.’”

J Street Welcomes Lifting of Medical Voucher Restrictions for Gazans, J Street

“We welcome the Palestinian Authority’s decision to lift restrictions on financial commitments for Gazan civilians’ medical treatment, which will allow the Strip’s residents to again seek urgent care in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. As strongly as we oppose Hamas and its stranglehold on the Gaza Strip, Gazan civilians must not be reduced to pawns in a wider conflict. Further steps like these by the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the international community to address the ever-deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza would serve the shared interests of stability, security and peace in the region.”

Top News and Analysis

At the Emergency Knesset Meeting over Netanyahu’s Kotel Decision, J Street Blog

Talya Wintman writes: “We share the hurt and anger over Israeli policies that delegitimize our practices, beliefs and fundamental relationship to Jewish peoplehood. We echo the need to take action to frontally challenge this outrageous decision and stand unreservedly with them. Moreover, we support American Jewish leaders in advocating for the values of democracy and pluralism that we all hold so dear. We also can’t help but wonder: What would the impact be if many of the same leaders and institutions that are speaking out in protest on these problematic Israeli policies did the same against harmful Israeli policies supporting the settlement enterprise and the occupation? What would it look like if they spoke out in defense of the two-state solution with same level of agency, passion and commitment they bring to issues of religious pluralism?”

Trump is seeing how hard it can be to land the ‘ultimate’ deal between Israel and the Palestinians, Washington Post

President Trump boasted during the election that his real estate background could help him succeed where other U.S. presidents have failed in making what he calls the “ultimate” land deal — a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Once he took office, he dived into the seemingly in­trac­table conflict immediately and personally, and named his son-in-law and a trusted family lawyer as would-be peace envoys. “There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians — none whatsoever,” Trump said in April. But five months into the job, Trump is learning that enthusiasm, business acumen and family connections go only so far, and that a strong pro-Israel stance doesn’t mean Israeli leaders will see things his way.

A New Jewish settlement begins to rise in the West Bank, Washington Post

“It doesn’t look like much yet. The newest Jewish settlement, deep in the West Bank, is today just a scratch of road being clawed out of chalky hillside by earth-moving machines. But Avihai Boaron sees milk and honey here — and a new home for himself and the 40 families who were forcibly evicted from their illegal outpost by Israeli police in February. “I see all these mountains full of our people and their children,” said Boaron, 42, a publisher of religious magazines. Boaron calls himself a pioneer. He was one of the founders of nearby Amona, which was first evacuated and then demolished by Israeli authorities because it was built illegally on land privately owned by Palestinians. The eviction made for emotional live TV. Israelis were glued to their screens and devices as they watched the settlers clash with unarmed Israeli police.  The Amona settlers and their supporters chained themselves together in a last-ditch stand in the synagogue. Others threw excrement, bleach and paint at the officers. Some Israelis were disgusted by the behavior; others were upset to see Jews uprooting Jews from their homes. For many Israelis, the siege to remove just 40 families suggested how difficult it may be to remove thousands of settlers from their homes to make way for a future Palestinian state.”

Netanyahu dictates agenda in meeting with US envoys, Al-Monitor

“The only ones who were really pleased with the talks that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and US envoy Jason Greenblatt held in Jerusalem and Ramallah were the envoys themselves. The Israeli side was satisfied that a good part of the agenda in these talks was actually determined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that the US envoys initiated only a small part of the topics discussed. A senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official present during part of the talks told Al-Monitor that Netanyahu is a master at formulating agendas for such negotiations, pushing the topic list into his own home turf on which only he can win. In this case, Netanyahu turned the payments by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to families of Palestinian terrorists and prisoners into the cause celebre. He successfully convinced President Donald Trump that these payments encourage terror. In Palestinian eyes, these payments represent a social contribution to large segments of Palestinians for being victims of the conflict.”


After Long Freeze, Israel Again Promoting East Jerusalem Construction for Jews, Haaretz

Plans to expand Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and build housing for Jews in an Arab neighborhood of the capital – where five Palestinian families would be evicted – will come before the Jerusalem District Planning Commission in the next two weeks.

In Under the Radar D.C. Visit, Jordan’s King Discusses Israeli-Palestinian Peace With Trump Officials, Haaretz

Jordanian King Abdullah visited Washington this week and discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with senior officials in the Trump administration… The king emphasized the long-standing Jordanian view that progress in the peace process could help improve the situation in the region, as he has said in past visits to the U.S. capitol.

Netanyahu to lift ban on MKs visiting Temple Mount, Times of Israel

A ban on Israeli lawmakers visiting the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be lifted for a trial period later this month, the government said Sunday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Jewish and Muslim lawmakers off the site a year and half ago, after the outbreak in October 2015 of a wave of Palestinian violence and terror attacks centered around claims that Israel was attempting to take control of the Temple Mount compound.

Key US donor suspends activities over Western Wall conversation spat, Times of Israel

A leading US philanthropist and fundraiser on behalf of Israel has suspended his efforts in protest of the Israeli government’s decision to nix a pluralistic prayer section at the Western Wall and its backing for a bill, shelved on Friday, that would make the Israeli Chief Rabbinate the only body authorized to convert people to Judaism in the country.

Jewish Home, Likud to collaborate on ‘Unified Jerusalem’ bill, Times of Israel

Ending coalition spat, Naftali Bennett and Ze’ev Elkin say they’ll reformulate proposal to require supermajority for handing over parts of capital for peace

Ex-MK imprisoned for smuggling phones to Palestinian terrorists, Times of Israel

Former Joint (Arab) List lawmaker Basel Ghattas on Sunday began his two-year prison sentence for smuggling contraband to Palestinian terrorists in an Israeli jail.

Cop, protesters wounded in East Jerusalem funeral violence, Times of Israel

Around 30 Palestinians were said wounded and a police officer was lightly hurt during a funeral procession from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur toward the Old City on Sunday.

Lieberman: Israel ‘Doing What Needs to be Done’ About Iran’s Underground Arms Plants in Lebanon, Haaretz

Israel is fully aware of Hezbollah’s construction of underground weapons plants in Lebanon and is “doing what needs to be done,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a briefing with military correspondents on Sunday. Lieberman called the factories, which are being built with Iranian know-how, a significant event that Israel can under no circumstances ignore.

UN Chief to visit Israel Palestinian Authority Next Month, San Diego Jewish News

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority next month. The trip would be Guterres’s first to the region since he took office on January 1. In Jerusalem, he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other dignitaries. He’ll also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and receive briefings by senior security officials.

‘Carrot, not stick’: Israel pushes its curriculum in Palestinian schools, Reuters

Israel is offering additional funding to Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem if they agree to teach the Israeli curriculum. The aim, it says, is to help young Palestinians gain the qualifications they need to find work in Israel more easily. It also offers Israel a chance to steer some Palestinians away from a curriculum it says is rife with anti-Semitism and incitement. It is a loaded issue for principals, parents and pupils. Many Palestinian schools badly need funding, but embracing the Israeli education programme — including subjects such as Israeli civics and history — is seen by many Palestinians as tantamount to adopting the historical narrative of the enemy.

Widow and children of Palestinian terrorist sued by Israel for $2.3 million, i24

Israel [has] filed the first lawsuit against the family of a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a car-ramming killing four in Jerusalem in January 2017. Jerusalem’s District Prosecutors filed the suit Sunday, suing his widow and three children for $2.3 million dollars for reparations to the state in what will set a precedent for Israel’s future action against Palestinians carrying out terror attacks.

Fourth Palestinian Suspect Arrested Over Israeli Officer’s Murder, Jerusalem Post

Police have arrested a fourth Palestinian suspect in the investigation of the murder of 23-year-old Border Policewoman St.-Sgt- Maj. Hadas Malka, who was stabbed to death while guarding the Old City’s Damascus Gate on June 17.

UNESCO Experts: Hebron Heritage Request Too Focused on Muslim History, Jerusalem Post

UNESCO experts have warned the Palestinian Authority that it has overly focused on Hebron’s Muslim history at the exclusion of the Judeo-Christian heritage in its request that the West Bank’s city’s “Old Town” be inscribed on the “World Heritage in Danger” list.

Opinions and Analysis

The Political Education of Mahmoud Abbas, The Atlantic

Amir Tibon and Grant Rumley explore how President Abbas “tried to escape the ghost of Yasser Arafat.”

Dismantling the occupation — brick by brick, book by book, +972

+972 catches up with American Jewish authors Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon in Susya, a tiny Palestinian village in the southern West Bank, as they promote their new book about 50 years of occupation.

Justice minister’s hunt for Israeli NGO not about justice, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar argues: “A politician who never misses an opportunity to accuse the Palestinian neighbors of inciting against Israel is leading the incitement against Israelis who have taken a stand in the battle for Israeli democracy — the same democracy that he and his friends in the government are starving to death. What more needs to happen for civil society to start fighting back? Half a million people, most of them young, took to the streets six years ago to protest the persistent erosion in their quality of life. It was Netanyahu who once said that life itself is more important than quality of life. But freedom of expression, separation of power, equality before the law and transparency are essential to the life of Israel itself.”

In Jerusalem, a Far-right Jewish Gang Frequently Attacks Arabs – and the Police Do Almost Nothing, Haaretz

Nir Hasson writes: “The recent attack on three Palestinians in downtown Jerusalem, allegedly by participants in a march organized by the far-right, anti-assimilationist Lehava group, joins dozens of such attacks in recent years in the city center. Organizations and activists monitoring such incidents have long complained about the inaction of the police during actual incidents and subsequent investigations.”

The Real Wall Problem: When Will Diaspora Jews Fight for Palestinians? The Forward

Rabbi Brant Rosen asks: “Where is the moral outrage in liberal Jewish establishment over these cruel human rights abuses? While I certainly believe in the cause of religious freedom, I find it stunning that so many liberal-minded members of the Jewish community are more concerned with Jewish rights in a Jewish state than the basic human rights of non-Jewish children who live under its control. Such are the sorrows of Jewish political nationalism: even the more “liberal” among us seem only to be able to express that tolerance selectively.”

Israel ‘playing with fire’ on Hamas prisoner issue, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes: “Israel knows its decision to stop family visits could deteriorate into an armed confrontation with Hamas, one that will start off with rockets fired from Gaza and expand into a full-scale clash that both sides have openly declared in the past they do not want. Nonetheless, Israel also believes that Hamas is currently at one of its lowest points and will not want to risk another confrontation. Indeed, in recent months, Hamas leaders in Gaza have been under intense pressure and facing growing fury by the territory’s 2 million residents. The electricity crisis and the health services crisis are only part of the reason. Another front, this time with Israel, is probably the last thing Hamas wants.”

Return of Gaza power crisis puts Hamas, and Israel, back in the hot seat, Times of Israel

Avi Issacharoff writes: “The organization promised the residents of the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war with Israel that their situation would improve, but it has been unable to fulfill its commitments. According to data from the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Gaza is about 67% between the ages of 20 and 24 (compared to 30% in the West Bank). This is a frightening statistic for Hamas, showing only one of three young men in Gaza gainfully employed. Hamas is sitting on a time bomb and, short of a dramatic turnaround, may have to choose between being eaten alive by its own unhappy constituents and embarking on yet another military adventure against Israel.”