News Roundup for May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Stalling Peace Strategy is a Test for Trump, Newsweek

Dahlia Scheindlin observes, “Just the fact that Trump committed his administration to an Israeli-Palestinian peace process sends a message of defiance to the Israeli leadership. For Netanyahu and his government, the peace process is toxic; the ideal U.S. President would leave Israel alone to expand both settlements and the Israeli military regime governing Palestinians. Worse still, on Wednesday, Trump lauded Abbas as a man of peace—a direct affront to Netanyahu’s repeated insistence that Abbas is a mastermind of terror for now and future generations….So after making Abbas into an ally, and possessing the credibility to push Netanyahu, what if Trump genuinely tries to advance peace? Does he have chances of success where others have failed?”

Sebastian Gorka, Accused of anti-Semitism, Greeted Like Superstar at JPost Conference, Haaretz

“Despite accusations of anti-Semitism that marred his White House appointment, Sebastian Gorka was greeted by cheers as he took the stage at the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference in New York City on Sunday….At the conference, Gorka’s arrival to the stage generated more excitement than any of the speakers before him….’Nobody found one sentence that I have said that is anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli,’ Gorka said to the audience. ‘You will find the opposite. And because we are pro-Israel, we must be attacked, whether it’s the president or Steve Bannon or Steve Miller or myself.’”


Israeli Ministers Greenlight Nation-state Bill: Arabic Isn’t an Official State Language, Haaretz

A cabinet committee on Sunday gave its support to a new version of the nation-state bill, which revokes Arabic’s “official language” status, holds that the State of Israel is “the national home of the Jewish people,” and that “the right to realize self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted in favor of the bill, and it will now proceed to the Knesset floor for further readings before becoming law. The proposed law is meant to turn into a basic law and become part of Israel’s central body of legislation, encoding the structure of government and civil rights. In contrast to an earlier version, the new bill doesn’t subordinate democracy to the state’s Jewish character. The bill also states that “the national language is Hebrew” and downgrades Arabic’s status to “a special status in the state,” adding that “its speakers have the right to language-accessible state services.”

16-Year-Old Palestinian Girl Killed By Israel Police After Attempted Stabbing, Forward

A Palestinian teen was shot and killed by Israeli police officers after she attempted to stab them.

The incident occurred Sunday afternoon at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, according to police. The Palestinian Maan news agency identified the alleged stabber as Fatima Afif Abd al-Rahman Hjeiji, 16, from the Ramallah-area village of Qarawat Bani Zeid.

Right-Wing Israeli Ministers Heap Praise On Trump At Jerusalem Post Conference, Forward

“A parade of Israeli cabinet ministers praised President Donald Trump and lambasted the Palestinian Authority at the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference. Five ministers from Israel’s right-wing governing coalition, spoke at the conference, held Sunday in New York City. They presented variations on the same message: The Trump administration is pro-Israel, and peace with the Palestinians is close to impossible.”

Israel Opens First East Jerusalem Police Station – in a Palestinian Refugee Camp, Haaretz

The Israel Police dedicated a new police station at the entrance to the Shoafat Palestinian refugee camp in East Jerusalem on Sunday. The first police station in East Jerusalem, the new building is part of a broader plan to improve police services in the capital. According to the Israel Police, the emphasis of the Integrated Service Center, its official name, will be on providing services to residents rather than local law enforcement. It will house offices for municipal services and, in the future, branches of the National Insurance Institute and the Interior Ministry as well.

German President Takes Swipe At Netanyahu At Hebrew University, Forward

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told an audience at Hebrew University in Jerusalem that diverse voices are the “oxygen of democracy.” Steinmeier, who met earlier in the day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was criticizing the prime minister for cancelling a meeting last month with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel after he refused to cancel a meeting with representatives of B’Tselem, a human rights watchdog, and Breaking the Silence, a veterans’ group that alleges the Israeli army abuses Palestinians.

Saying ‘anti-Semitism defeated,’ Israelis fete Macron victory, Times of Israel

Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum welcomed the victory of centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in France’s presidential election on Sunday, breathing a sigh of relief over the defeat of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Netanyahu in Call to FIFA President: Drop Palestinian Bid to Sanction Settlement Teams, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu has urged the president of FIFA, the international soccer association, to remove a Palestinian motion for sanctions against six Israeli teams in West Bank settlements from the agenda of FIFA’s upcoming congress.

Opinions and Analysis

How Trump Can Get the Most Out of His Israel Visit, Haaretz

Amir Tibon reports, “On May 22, U.S. President Donald Trump will arrive in Israel for his first official state visit to the Holy Land. Ahead of the much-anticipated event, two former senior officials in the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations offered advice – and words of warning – to the Trump administration, based on their experiences of “first visits” by the previous three presidents.”

Ultra-Orthodox threaten Netanyahu’s coalition over Sabbath crisis, Al-Monitor

For several days now, ultra-Orthodox Israelis are in an uproar over a Supreme Court decision to allow the opening of grocery stores and entertainment hubs on the Sabbath….Despite all their attempts to use the media to send a message to the prime minister, the ultra-Orthodox will not walk away from this crisis with any real gains. Netanyahu rejected their demand for a law to circumvent the Supreme Court, though he did agree to petition the court to hold another hearing on the matter before an expanded panel of judges. Another achievement was the transfer of authority over enforcement of the Sabbath Rest Law from Katz to Deri. The bottom line is that it looks like Netanyahu has managed to contain the current Sabbath crisis by giving the ultra-Orthodox a few token achievements to show their constituents before the next election, which is right around the corner.”

Progressives Need a New Foreign Policy Vision. This Democratic Senator Says He Has One., New York Magazine

An interview with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). “I think that conflict is very hard to resolve given the existing leadership on both sides of the divide. The United States has always had a tricky position. We have to stand by Israel as a sacred friend in that region, but we also know historically that no deals get done unless the United States isn’t willing to tell some hard truths to Tel Aviv. The settlement construction under Netanyahu did make peace less likely because it ultimately carved out sections of a future Palestinian state in a way that wasn’t constructive. I think, I’m a believer in supporting Israel, but also in not being afraid to call them out, when they’re doing something that isn’t ultimately good for peace. I think you can walk that line. I don’t support those that the only way you are a friend to Israel is to support whatever the existing government asks you to support.”

A Q&A with Palestinian Journalist Daoud Kuttab, J Street Blog

A condensed transcript of J Street’s post-Abbas/Trump meeting call with with award-winning Palestinian journalist and media freedom activist Daoud Kuttab.

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