News Roundup for July 7, 2017

July 7, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Explained: Meet the Two Men Who Want to Lead Israel’s Labor Party Back to Power, Haaretz

Allison Kaplan Sommer looks at the backgrounds and positions of Amir Peretz and Avi Gabbay, the remaining contenders for the leadership of Israel’s Labor Party.

White House expresses concerns about ‘unrestrained’ building in eastern Jerusalem, JTA

“The Jerusalem municipality announced that it will approve 800 new homes in Jewish areas of eastern Jerusalem within the next month, prompting an expression of concern from the White House about “unrestrained” building….’President Trump has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements and the Administration has made clear that unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace,’ the official said in an email to JTA. “At the same time the Administration recognizes that past demands for a settlement freeze have not helped advance peace talks. ‘As we have demonstrated in recent trips and conversations with the parties, the Trump Administration is committed to and focused on doing everything possible to advance the prospects of a historic, conflict-ending agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. We are moving towards that goal and productive conversations are ongoing.’”


UNESCO Recognizes Hebron, Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian Heritage Sites, Haaretz

UNESCO voted Friday to recognize Hebron’s Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian heritage sites. Despite intensive diplomatic efforts waged in recent weeks, Israel and the United States failed to recruit the support of enough member states to vote down the move. Twelve states on the World Heritage Committee voted in favor of the resolution and three voted against it.

South Africa May Downgrade Ties With Israel Over Palestinian Issue, Forward

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party is calling for the downgrading of the country’s embassy in Israel to signal displeasure with the occupation of the Palestinian territories. The move would “send a strong message about Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine and the continued human rights abuses against the peoples of Palestine,” read a statement from a party committee that approved new positions on international relations.

Irked by Snub on Israel Visit, Palestinians Call on India’s Modi to Be More Like Gandhi, Haaretz

Palestinian frustration at being excluded from the first visit to the region by an Indian prime minister burst onto the streets Wednesday with a small but vocal demonstration outside the Indian Representative Office near Ramallah. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision not to include Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the schedule of his three-day visit has disappointed Palestinians and prompted some criticism back home.

In Warsaw, Trump Is First U.S. President in Decades Not to Visit Ghetto Uprising Monument, Haaretz

Wednesday for not including a stop at a monument for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the itinerary of his two-day visit to Poland. The rebuke by Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the president of Jewish Community of Warsaw, Anna Chipczynska, and Leslaw Piszewski, the president of Union of Jewish Communities of Poland, came in a joint statement. In it, the undersigned called the absence of a presidential visit to the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto a “slight.”

David Grossman Play At Lincoln Center Under Attack From BDS Supporters, Forward

A forthcoming Lincoln Center production of Man Booker Prize-winning novelist David Grossman’s “To The End Of The Land” has become a surprising target for protest. As reported by The New York Times,, the theatrical adaptation of Grossman’s anti-war novel, which is produced by the Cameri Theater of Israel and the Ha’Bima National Theater of Israel and will be presented at Lincoln Center in New York from July 24 to July 27, is drawing fire for the Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America’s support of it.

Israel releases 2 Hamas-affiliated Palestinian MPs after 4 months in prison, Ma’an

Israeli authorities released two Hamas-affiliated Palestinian parliamentarians detained four months prior, a Palestinian official said. First deputy of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Ahmad Bahr, who is also a member of Hamas, said that he had congratulated Anwar Zboun and Khalid Tafish on their release, wishing them a “calm, peaceful life empty of the occupation’s aggression.”

EU lawmakers protest hosting of Palestinian terrorists’ relatives, Times of Israel

Lawmakers from 15 EU member countries, as well as the European Parliament’s president, protested the hosting of relatives of Palestinians who are in jail for murdering Israelis in terrorist attacks at the international institution. In a rare rebuke Thursday, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani admonished the chair of the Delegation for Relations with Palestine, Neoklis Sylikiotis, for inviting relatives of Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat to an event in Brussels about Palestinian prisoners.

Labor Party Hopeful Says Ousted Leader Can Remain Head of Israeli Opposition Amid Battle for Endorsements, Haaretz

After Israeli Labor party leadership primary’s first round, the two winners, who will now facing off in a second round of voting, focused their efforts on getting out the vote next week, and on garnering support from former contenders and from Labor lawmakers who are still deliberating their choice. Avi Gabbay, who finished second in Tuesday’s opening round of the Labor Party primary, said Thursday morning had no problem for ousted Labor leader MK Isaac Herzog to maintain his position as the chairman of Israel’s opposition in the Knesset.

Opinions and Analysis

Did BIbi Badly Miscalculate Liberal Rage Over Western Wall?, Forward

Noga Tarnopolsky writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu has miscalculated. In the days since the Israeli prime minister reneged on a decision that would have allowed men and women to pray together at Jerusalem’s holy Western Wall, the outrage among American Jews is only getting worse. The carefully-crafted agreement, adopted by Netanyahu’s cabinet in January 2016 with input from Israeli and American leaders of the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, would have created a third area at the Wall where both men and women could pray together. In spiking the deal, and thereby keeping the genders separated, with the lion’s share of the wall reserved for men, Netanyahu has caved to pressure from the increasingly strident ultra-Orthodox partners in his governing coalition. But the prime minister’s pandering to minority hardliners has caused an unprecedented uproar among the Diaspora Jews whose political and financial support is crucial to Israel.”

This Palestinian village had solar power — until Israeli soldiers took it away, Washington Post

“The residents of this dirt-poor Palestinian village waited decades for electricity. But in November, a Dutch-funded solar project finally gave them round-the-clock power to refrigerate food or do a load of laundry. That ended last week when Israeli military administrators in the West Bank sent soldiers with assault rifles and a team of workers to shut down the $400,000 project, ripping out its electrical components and driving away with 96 solar panels, some of them broken, villagers said. Israeli officials called the construction illegal, but the builders contested the charge, saying they are providing desperately needed humanitarian aid that is required under international law.”

The Israeli Right Is Terrified of Peace — And Their Jerusalem Bill Proves It, Forward

JJ Goldberg writes, “Netanyahu….[has] said repeatedly that he wants peace, that nobody wants peace more than Israelis, that he doesn’t want Israel to rule four million disenfranchised Palestinians, but that Palestinian hostility makes peace impossible. It seems, though, that he shares Bennett’s fear that a peace agreement is possible on terms Israel can live with, that a future Israeli leader will manage to reach an agreement without getting deposed, indicted or shot, and that Israelis will then be forced to decide which they want more — peace or East Jerusalem. Bennett, and perhaps Netanyahu, appear to be petrified at the prospect that Israelis actually want what they say they do — peace.”

Lost in Translation: The Israeli-U.S. Jewish Anti-occupation Alliance Is Broken. Can It Be Fixed?, Haaretz

Mikhael Manekin asks, “[H]ow can American and Israeli Jewish progressives build something different? A relationship which is relevant to both sides, but doesn’t weaken them individually and instead allows them to grow and become more powerful?”

Netanyahu offers friendship to those ignoring Palestinians, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar writes, “Netanyahu is successful in convincing Israelis that Israel can manage quite well without the friends of the Palestinians in the West. The emerging states of Asia and the fractious African continent are slowly taking the place reserved in the hearts of Israelis for Europe.”

Why Netanyahu Wants This Candidate Elected as Labor Leader, Haaretz

Yossi Verter argues, “with the Herzog option gone, Netanyahu started to promote an alternative plan: to help MK Peretz get elected. Peretz is not a candidate for coalition co-option – the very opposite, in fact. But if he were elected, it’s reasonable to think that Livni, who can’t abide him and has accounts to settle with him, would bolt from the Zionist Union, together with her five Hatnuah MKs. With them operating as a separate Knesset party, Netanyahu could more easily make her offers. He always prefers his partners divided, sliced up, weakened. That way they’re more dependent on him. Livni served as justice minister in Netanyahu’s previous government and was in charge of peace negotiations. If her good friend Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, shows up soon with a tempting package, why shouldn’t Livni return to the government, this time as foreign minister, who would naturally be in charge of the negotiations, should they erupt?”

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