News Roundup for November 11, 2016

November 11, 2016

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J Street in the News

J Street, Republican Jewish Coalition claim victory in battle of the ballot box, JTA

“J Street asserted that the results vindicated its support for candidates who backed the pact, noting that ‘not a single member of Congress who supported the Iran nuclear agreement was defeated by a detractor.’ ‘The political lesson out of this deal is that anti-diplomacy politics at the congressional level had no traction,’ Jeremy Ben Ami, president of the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, said in a conference call starting at 12:30 p.m….J Street’s affiliated political action committee spent $3.6 million, while the RJC’s PAC had spent $267,000 as of the most recent report, Oct. 19….J Street notes that not a single incumbent who backed the Iran deal fell in the race. That’s not insignificant: Centrist and right-wing pro-Israel lobbyists warned Congress members during last year’s battle over the deal that there would be repercussions for supporting it….[The deal was also used strongly against winning candidates, including two who ousted incumbent Republicans in the Senate: Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, booting Kelly Ayotte, and Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, who will replace Mark Kirk. (The two losses are especially significant for Iran deal opponents: Kirk was a longtime leader in demanding increased pressure on Iran, and Ayotte also was bullish in opposition.) Backers of Joe Heck, the Republican seeking the Nevada Senate seat of Harry Reid, who is retiring, blasted Catherine Cortez Masto with ads highlighting her support of the Iran deal, and she won. The deal was used against Democrats in countless House races, but not an incumbent was harmed. It was used against all four of the House’s new Jewish Democrats; they won.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Foreign Ministry Expects Trump to Reduce U.S. Involvement in Peace Process, Haaretz

“Israel’s Foreign Ministry believes U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will reduce America’s involvement in the Middle East in general and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, according to a document written by ministry researchers and disseminated to Israeli diplomats throughout the world. The document, the contents of which were obtain by Haaretz, stresses that Trump’s statements during his campaign do not indicate a coherent policy on the issue….’The diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians will not be a top priority for the Trump administration and it’s reasonable to assume this topic will also be influenced by the staff surrounding him and developments in the field. Trump’s declarations do not necessarily point to a coherent policy on this issue. On the one hand he has expressed support for the settlements and for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but in other statements he said that he wants to remain neutral and that the two sides should reach a deal themselves.’”

How a Trump Administration Could Reshape the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, ABC News

“In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, Jason’s Greenblatt, co-chairman of the Trump campaign’s Israel Advisory Committee, said: ‘It is certainly not Mr. Trump’s view that settlement activities should be condemned and that it is an obstacle for peace, because it is not an obstacle for peace.’ Those remarks stand in stark contrast to the long-standing U.S. policy that Israeli development on land captured in the 1967 war makes a peace agreement with the Palestinians far less achievable. He has been tapped as a chief Israel adviser to Trump.”


Israel’s Habima National Theater Performs in Kiryat Arba Settlement for First Time, Haaretz

The Habima national theater performed a play in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba for the first time, on Thursday evening. The play, “A Simple Story,” based on a Hebrew short novel by Nobel Prize winner S.Y. Agnon, was performed at a community center in Kiryat Arba, but without actor Shlomi Bertonov, who refused to perform in a settlement — and was replaced. Actress Yevgenia Dodina, who has a major role in the troupe, participated in a tour of nearby Hebron with members of the anti-occupation NGO, Breaking the Silence, before the performance.

Israeli forces injure 4, detain 2 Palestinians after student march erupts into clashes in Ramallah, Ma’an

Israeli forces Thursday injured four Palestinian teenagers with rubber-coated steel bullets, and detained two others, during clashes that erupted in eastern Beituniya city near Israel’s Ofer detention center in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. A student march commemorating the 12th anniversary of the death of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat erupted into clashes with Israeli forces as the march headed to the Ofer detention center to support child prisoners held in Israeli detention centers.

Trump can dismantle Iran deal if he wants, US official warns, Times of Israel

“The Iran nuclear deal would fall apart if a US administration walked away from it, as President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to do, the State Department said Thursday. ‘Any party — and I’m speaking very hypothetically here, because I don’t want in any way to attempt to hypothesize about what the incoming administration’s going to do — I’m just talking purely about an agreement that any party can walk away from,’ State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. “And that will have profound consequences on the integrity of the agreement.” Toner said that the Iran deal was not a legally binding treaty, but that the current US administration believes it is in Washington’s interest to continue it. Asked whether if the US withdraws support for the deal whether Iran might start building a nuclear weapons program, Toner said: ‘Yes. That’s the reality of the situation.’”

Rivlin signals displeasure with efforts to silence opposition, Times of Israel

Israel must remain Jewish and democratic and has to preserve political debate and a strong opposition, President Reuven Rivlin said Thursday at a ceremony marking 21 years since the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. While he did not explicitly criticize the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or its policies, Rivlin’s comments on the need to ensure a lively debate came in the wake of a number of cases where government officials have sought to censure left-wing organizations and activists.

Israeli Lawmakers Mull Bill Banning Loudspeakers at Mosques, Haaretz

A bill prohibiting the use of loudspeakers at mosques during Muslim prayer services is to be discussed Sunday by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. The bill, a new version of one originally intended to stop the broadcasting of nationalistic messages and incitement, now cites damage to quality of life due to noise as a reason for the prohibition.

UN condemns demolition and seizure of donor-funded structures in Palestinian communities, Ma’an

The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper Thursday condemned Israeli activities in the occupied Palestinian territory that has obstructed the international agency from assisting Palestinian communities, calling the policies “illegal” with the intention of “creating an entirely new reality on the ground.”

Opinion and Analysis

Behind Netanyahu’s Belligerent Response to Israeli Journalist, Haaretz

Barak Ravid writes, “The prime minister’s decision to formulate a militant, personal response to Dayan is an example of a trend that has been evident since his victory in last year’s elections. The policy of reacting sharply to critical reports has intensified in the last three months, since he began a round of meetings with journalists from various media outlets and launched his move to close the nascent public broadcasting corporation.”

What Do We Know About David Friedman, Trump’s Top Adviser on Israel?, Haaretz

Judy Maltz writes, “He doesn’t believe that annexing the West Bank will compromise Israel’s Jewish or democratic character, and he doesn’t think the settlements are an obstacle to peace.

But the real question is how much influence will David Friedman, Donald Trump’s senior adviser on Israeli affairs, wield on Middle East policy once his boss steps into the White House. If it turns out to be substantial, that would mean a major break with longstanding U.S. policy in the region.”

Middle East will quickly teach Trump rules of the game, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar writes, “If the raw materials for predicting the Middle East policy of President-elect Donald Trump consist of his pronouncements on the issue during the election campaign, he will watch the Israeli-Palestinian bonfire from the sidelines, at best. At worst, the businessman, devoid of any diplomatic training or experience, will fuel the flames with gallons of gasoline. Trump’s victory in the Republican presidential primaries, and surprising victory in the general election, indicate that the man is far from being a pyromaniac. He will invariably also be quick to understand the rules of the game in the Middle East. As an ambassador who served in the Middle East for many years once told me, “We have learned that your region is like an automatic car with two gears — drive and reverse. There’s no neutral or park. If we don’t advance, we retreat.”

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