News Roundup for June 7, 2017

June 7, 2017

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J Street in the News

Israel a ‘Complicated Place’ Says J Street’s Former Campus Leader, Jerusalem Post

Seth Frantzman interviews former J Street U president Amna Farooqi on her recent trip to Israel with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. “‘I worry, every time I’m there [in Palestinian areas], it’s harder to see the two-state solution, which is so cemented in US thought, it’s harder to see that reality, and groups like Regavim need to be fought effectively.’”

Does the UN Have an Anti-Israel Bias?, VOA News

“J Street, a U.S. advocacy and lobbying group that refers to itself as pro-Israel and pro-peace, says there is a long record of bias against Israel at the U.N. ‘It undermines people’s confidence in the U.N.’s fairness and in its ability to do its job, and it undermines the U.N.’s ability to actually play a productive role related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the real issues around it,’ said Logan Bayroff, J Street’s associate director of communications. He said his organization wants to see the U.N. and its bodies play a constructive role in calling attention to problems on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in advocating for a two-state solution. ‘As long as there is this sense of bias and this obsessive focus, it does inhibit the U.N.’s capacity to do that,’ he added.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Panel Approves West Bank Settlement Plan: Reports, Reuters

An Israeli panel approved plans on Tuesday for the first new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank in two decades, Israeli media reports said, drawing Palestinian condemnation and defying repeated international appeals to avoid such measures. If confirmed, the plans, which media said also envisage the construction of some 1,800 other settler homes in the West Bank, are likely to deliver a further serious blow to efforts to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A spokeswoman for the military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank of which the panel is a part declined to comment on the reports. Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group that monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, could not immediately confirm the reports but said the panel was due to discuss further building plans for the occupied territory on Wednesday. The reported move follows an Israeli government decision in March to build the new settlement, known as Amichai. It will house some 300 settlers evicted in February from another settlement called Amona.

Gazans Will Suffer More as a Result of Hamas and Qatar Crises, Haaretz

Jack Khoury observes, “The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War is of little interest to Gazans, who are more worried about the worsening humanitarian crisis in the territory. In both Israel and the Gaza Strip, the atmosphere is being compared to that on the eve of the 2014 Gaza war.

The Palestinian Authority demands that Hamas hand over rule to the Palestinian consensus government or forgo PA funding. Hamas has refused, and accuses Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of trying to appease Israel and America. Hamas’ woes have been compounded by Qatar’s rift with several other key Arab states, which resulted in several senior Hamas officials being forced to leave Qatar….The PA, whose punitive measures against Hamas have already reduced Gaza to four hours of electricity per day, also decided recently to stop paying for some of the power Israel provides to Gaza. Had Israel reduced the power supply accordingly, Gaza would be down to three hours a day.”

Arab Countries Are Turning On Qatar. What Does It Mean For Israel?, Forward

Ron Kampeas observes, “Qatar was the only Persian Gulf nation that, from 1996 to 2000, allowed Israel to run a semi-diplomatic mission – a business interests section – on its soil. Its consistent posture on the boycotts that so aggravate Israel is that they are counterproductive. It has hosted Israel at its tennis tournaments and said that, should it win a spot, Israel would be welcome when it hosts the World Cup in 2022….Jonathan Schanzer, a vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the Israelis have ‘not been happy with the presence of Hamas in the capital of a major U.S. ally.’ On the other hand, he said Israel has been working with Qatar since 2014 to keep the Gaza Strip from collapsing into chaos. And while Israel’s outward posture toward Iran has been one of confrontation, it is not unappreciative of efforts by Qatar to moderate the Iranian regime, if only because that could mitigate the dangers of a regional arms race, said Anthony Cordesman, who holds the Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ‘From Israel’s viewpoint, you have to decide if you want a constant arms race or you want the kind of pressure on Iran that will moderate it,’ he said.”


US says ‘both sides will be forced to compromise’ for Mideast peace deal, Times of Israel

A State Department official said Tuesday that Israelis and Palestinians will “be forced to compromise” in order to achieve US President Donald Trump’s goal of brokering peace between the two sides. “Middle East peace is something that’s very important to this administration. The president and the secretary have both said they recognize that it will not be easy, that both sides will be forced to compromise.”

How the Top Republican in Israel Defends Trump’s Broken Promises to Evangelicals, Haaretz

The head of the Republican Party in Israel vowed on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump would relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he promised during the election campaign, insisting that the latest delay in the move was merely tactical. Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Marc Zell, the chairman of Republican Overseas Israel, said: “The president will keep his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and it will happen sooner than later.”

PM to right-wing leaders: No settler will be uprooted in peace deal, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday implored right-wing leaders to unify behind him in future peace efforts, promising that he would not bring a “tragedy” upon the settlements and that not a single settler would be uprooted as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. In his remarks in the Knesset, during an event marking 50 years of the settlement enterprise and the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, Netanyahu also hinted that US President Donald Trump was sticking to traditional peace-making formulas, influenced by “50 years of propaganda.”

ISIS Claims First Attack in Iran: 12 Dead in Shootings, Suicide Bombings on Parliament, Khomeini Shrine, Haaretz

The Islamic State group claimed a pair of attacks Wednesday on Iran’s parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Reports of casualties on Iranian media were contradictory, but according to Iranian state TV, twelve people were killed in both attacks. At least 35 people were wounded. It was not immediately clear if these numbers include the attackers.

UN Chief Calls For Palestinian State On 50th Anniversary Of Six-Day War, JTA

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in a statement marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War.

One Killed as Riots, Clashes With Police Erupt in Israeli Arab City of Kafr Qasem, Haaretz

A man in his 20s from the Israeli-Arab town of Kafr Qasem was killed in clashes that erupted late Monday night between police and local residents following the arrest of another man from the town.

Palestinian official: Israel ‘not ready’ for peace, Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s office on Tuesday slammed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s pledge to keep permanent security control over the West Bank, saying Israel was “not ready” for peace. It said Netanyahu’s remarks on Monday night were meant as a stumbling block to US President Donald Trump’s attempts to breathe life into long-stalled peace efforts.

Defense and Israeli Army Prosecution Fail to Reach Compromise in Case of Hebron Shooter, Haaretz

The military prosecutors and the defense attorney for Sgt. Elor Azaria were unable to reach a compromise in the case of the Israel Defense Forces soldier who was convicted of manslaughter in January for shooting a wounded terrorist to death in Hebron in March, 2016. The military court ordered the mediation effort after the defense appealed Azaria’s conviction and the prosecution appealed what it regarded as the lenient 18-month sentence he received for the killing of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. But at the meeting between Chief Military Prosecutor Col. Sharon Zagagi and prosecutor Nadav Weissman and Azaria’s defense attorney Yoram Sheftel, no compromise was reached. Now the military court will be obligated to respond to the appeals — something the court had hoped to avoid.

Opinions and Analysis

Still Stuck Between May and June of 1967, The New York Times

Yossi Klein Halevi writes, “To convince Israelis that peace is possible, they need to be reassured of their place among the nations. They need to know that the international community takes seriously threats against Israel’s security and that the Jewish state will never again find itself in a May 1967 moment. Fifty years after the end of the Six-Day War, the question of Israel’s legitimacy must finally be put to rest.”

The 1967 Arab-Israeli war took six days. But 50 years later, it’s still not over., Washington Post

Isaan Tharoor interviews author Nathan Thrall about the realities of the occupation and the legacy of the Six-Day War.

Trump Can Solve The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict If He Takes These Steps, Forward

Yossi Alpher suggests, “Redefine the negotiations as centering on only these nonnarrative, pragmatic post-’67 issues. Redefine the end game not as “end of conflict, end of claims,” which presupposes resolution of the narrative issues, but as “two-state solution.” Insist that the parties agree to set aside their incompatible narrative claims for later discussion once there is a functioning Palestinian state. Insist they agree that, at that point, their ongoing narrative disagreements will not constitute a casus belli. In other words, they can discuss them forever without disabling their two-state agreement.”

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