News Roundup for June 13, 2017

June 13, 2017

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J Street in the News

Reducing Electricity Supply to Gaza Could Lead to New Outbreak of Violence, J Street

“President Abbas’ decision to no longer pay for electricity supplied to Gaza appears to be part of a broader regional attempt to greatly increase pressure on Hamas. Of course, Hamas is a terrorist organization that continues to plan and carry out acts of violence against Israel, while ruling brutally over Gaza’s own citizens. Their rule has been disastrous for Gazans. At the same time, many Israeli security experts, including voices in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet, fear that worsening the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza could help trigger a new outbreak of violence that would cost Israeli lives and further devastate the people of Gaza. President Abbas’ actions and their facilitation by Israel are extremely dangerous. Over the last decade, round after round of conflict between Israel and Hamas has done nothing to improve the lives of the people of Gaza, or to guarantee the long-term security of Israelis from Hamas’ rocket fire and other acts of terror. Tightening the screws and increasing the pressure will not lead to a better future for anyone. What is needed is a full-scale effort by the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the international community to improve the situation for the people Gaza and to pursue a political solution that can bring an end to the deteriorating status quo and the cycle of conflict.”

Is Brooke Davies the American Jewish Establishment’s Worst Nightmare?, Moment

“Brooke, 21, graduated in May from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received a full scholarship through the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program and earned her degree in Peace, War, and Defense….Last August, she was elected president of the J Street U national student board, a role in which she worked with student leaders across the country to organize and engage young people on college campuses, while devising new strategies to engage Jewish organizations to speak more forcefully about the importance of ending the occupation….In late February, on the final day of J Street’s annual conference in Washington, Brooke sat on a panel titled “Rising to the Challenge: American Jewish Leadership in the Trump Era.” She was the youngest person on stage by some three decades and clearly the crowd favorite….‘J Street U and young people are going to be out there, they’re going to be marching, they’re going to be in the streets, we’re going to be thinking about power, and we’re going to be thinking about how we can use that power that we have to get closer to a two-state solution,’ she declared….’If the American Jewish establishment wants to join us, that would be great.’”

Top News and Analysis

Gaza Power Crisis Explained: Why Israel and Hamas Are Heading for a Face-off Neither Side Wants, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “Like the proverbial frog slowly cooking in a pot with the water temperature rising so gradually it doesn’t sense the danger, so the Gaza Strip is coming to this summer’s boiling point. Without it being either side’s objective, without any interest to be served by escalation, it looks as if Israel and Hamas are getting closer to a confrontation, with the active and exceptional encouragement of the Palestinian Authority. The decision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to ratchet up the economic pressure on the Hamas government in the Strip is the primary reason for the new tensions. Ten years after senior Fatah officials were booted out of Gaza, with the Hamas leadership refusing to recognize any sign of PA authority in the Strip, it seems that Abbas is tired of funding his political rivals.”

Rivlin: Decision on Israel’s Future Looms – and It May Tear Us Apart, Haaretz

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday said that sooner or later Israel will have make a decision on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and warned it could tear Israeli society apart. Speaking at Haaretz’s Israel Conference on Peace, Rivlin said that the dispute between the right and left comes down to ‘our ability to live here safely versus our existence as a democratic state,’ and urged each side to stop trying to delegitimize the other.


Israel Has No Policy on Gaza, Minister Admits After Decision to Curb Strip’s Power Supply, Haaretz

Intelligence Affairs Minister Yisrael Katz said Monday that “Israel has no policy for Gaza, only decisions.” Katz also revisited the idea of building an airport on an artificial island off Gaza. The entire military establishment supports the idea, he said. Meanwhile, Katz said, the Israeli “stupidity” and inability to make decisions has been going on for years, he said. “A decision has to be made.”

Herzog says secret meetings with Arab leaders could have changed Mideast, Times of Israel

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Monday that the meetings he took part in with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Arab leaders could have produced a deal that “changed the face of the Middle East,” but that the opportunity was ultimately torpedoed by hardliners in Netanyahu’s Likud party. Herzog’s comments come after the Haaretz daily reported that he, Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi held a secret meeting in Cairo in April 2016 to discuss efforts at restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Hamas Warns: Israel’s ‘Disastrous’ New Power Cut Would Spark an Explosion in Gaza, Haaretz

An Israeli inner cabinet decision to further reduce the already intermittent electricity supply to the Gaza Strip was met with an outcry in the coastal enclave, with Hamas calling it “disastrous.”

Cutting power pushes the Strip even closer to explosion, Hamas said in its first response to the Israeli decision.

Livni says Netanyahu was ready to negotiate based on US framework, Times of Israel

Former peace negotiator MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was willing to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on the 1967 lines during the 2014 peace talks. She also called on the current US administration to adopt the framework agreement that was reached at the time as the basis for new peace talks.

Report: Cairo to Help Supply Power to Gaza if Hamas Hands Over Terror Suspects, Haaretz

Egyptian intelligence officials have reportedly agreed to help increase the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip if Hamas will hand over locals suspected of terror acts in return. The officials also pledged to open the Egyptian-Gaza border crossing at Rafah, under certain conditions.

Backing Gulf, Liberman equates al-Jazeera with ‘Nazi propaganda’, Times of Israel

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman compared the Doha-based al-Jazeera news service to Nazi propaganda on Monday, inserting himself into a Qatar-Gulf spat and accusing the channel of tacitly supporting Iran.

UN head backs Palestinian aid agency after Netanyahu urges shutdown, Times of Israel

The United Nations on Monday defended the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinians, after Israel’s prime minister called for it to be shut down. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “is concerned about recent public criticism of UNRWA and the integrity of its operations,” spokesman Farhan Haq said, referring to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East.

Opinions and Analysis

Israeli Ministers Support Building Island Off Gaza, No Decision Reached Because of Lieberman’s Objection, Haaretz

Barak Ravid reports, “Many members of the security cabinet favor building an artificial island off the Gaza Strip to serve as its port, but due to opposition from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, no decision was made when the forum discussed the idea Sunday night, according to three senior officials briefed on what happened at the meeting. The proposal, the brainchild of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, calls for the artificial island to be under international control. In addition to serving as a seaport, the island would contain infrastructure facilities that would provide water and power to Gaza residents.”

Israel’s ‘temporary’ occupation has lasted 50 years. A new book explains why, Washington Post

Gershon Shafir writes, “The settlement project has not created the conditions for the annexation of the West Bank to Israel nor made it inevitable. Accepting the ‘inevitability thesis’ rewards settlers and removes the most feasible option from the negotiating table. It also frees supporters of other options from the need to offer a serious feasibility study of their preferred one-state solution. Despite the formidable challenges to territorial partition, the term ‘irreversible’ serves little purpose. The obstacles to settler evacuation remain political, not geographical or demographic.”

How Israel and Abbas’ interests are holding Gazans hostage, +972

Orly Noy writes, “Who says there is no coordination between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority? On Sunday evening, Israel gladly accepted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas request to cut the already-dilapidated electricity supply to Gaza, in order to make life for its residents that much more difficult. Think about the significance of cutting electricity by 40 percent in the middle of a blazing summer. The government and the IDF are both well aware of the current humanitarian crisis in the Strip. They are also well aware of the potential for an escalation should Israel continue to intensify the crisis. But the decision is to accede to Abbas’ request in his war against Hamas — all on the backs of the people who live there. Why? Because it serves Mahmoud Abbas’ political interests.”

Why I March as a Progressive in the NY Israel Parade, Jewschool

Talia Benamy writes, “I know that there’s no way that anything that I don’t love about the New York Jewish community will change if I berate it, complain about it, and give it up as a lost cause. So rather than leaving the community and the parade behind, I continue to march, in the hopes that one day my presence there as part of the Progressive Cluster will feel as joyous and as uncontentious as it did as part of my day school.”

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