News Roundup for November 2, 2017

November 2, 2017

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J Street in the News

Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots, The Hill

“[Dylan] Williams is J Street’s vice president of government affairs, putting him at the heart of the group’s battles in support of the Iran nuclear deal and more aggressive U.S. action against West Bank settlements.”

Former Head of Israel Atomic Energy Agency Urges US to Stay in the Iran Deal, Atlantic Council

“As Congress debates what if anything to do about the Iran nuclear deal, a growing number of experts – including the former head of Israel’s atomic energy agency — is urging legislators to make sure that the United States continues to comply with the accord. ‘The bottom line is the agreement is good for Israel,’ Uzi Eilam told a small group in Washington on Tuesday assembled by the liberal Jewish group, J Street. Eilam, a retired brigadier general, former Director General of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission and Chief Defense Scientist of Israel’s Defense Ministry, said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) would prevent Iran from amassing sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon in ‘the foreseeable future.’”

Top News and Analysis

Hamas Hands Gaza Crossings to Palestinian Authority in Unity Deal Milestone, New York Times

Isabel Kershner reports, “More than a decade after being run out of Gaza by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday took control of the enclave’s border crossings, the most tangible sign yet of progress in the deal to end a bitter schism between the groups and ease the territory’s suffocating isolation. For years, as Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority, explored reconciliation, one of the major stumbling blocks was security at the crossings. So it was a significant moment when Hamas formally handed control to the authority at a morning ceremony at the Rafah passenger crossing on the Egyptian border.”

The Guardian view on Israel and Palestine: escape the past, The Guardian

On the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, The Guardian’s Editorial Board argues, “If Israeli politicians cannot find a two-state solution, the status quo will cement a one-state reality or perpetual occupation…Palestinians need to be able to govern themselves in a state recognisable as such. The world’s gaze will fall again on Israel and the condition of the Palestinians. To end a hundred years of conflict will need both sides to understand that neither can prevail through violence. Peace can be built only by equitably sharing the land they both crave.”


Israeli air strike targets factory near Syria’s Homs: pro-Damascus commander, Reuters

An Israeli air strike targeted a copper factory south of the Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday, a commander in a military alliance fighting in support of the Syrian government told Reuters.

Birthright Is ‘Out of Touch’ After Halting Meet-ups With Israeli Arabs, Reform Jews Charge, Haaretz

The Union for Reform Judaism strongly condemned Birthright, a provider of free trips to Israel for young Jewish adults, for issuing a ban on further participant meetings with Israeli Arabs.

Israel denies entry to Amnesty worker in anti-BDS move, Times of Israel

Israel has denied entry to a US employee of Amnesty International as part of controversial efforts to bar supporters of  the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, officials said Wednesday. Amnesty and Israeli officials said Raed Jarrar, an advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at the rights group, was prevented from entering the West Bank on Monday.

Reform Movement Says It Won’t Meet Netanyahu Until He Offers Solution to Western Wall Crisis, Haaretz

In an unusual step, the Reform movement has resolved to reject any invitations for meetings from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until a concrete offer for solving the Western Wall crisis is put on the table.

Leftists say Rabin commemoration ‘whitewashes’ assassination, Times of Israel

[T]the new organizers have shifted the emphasis for this year’s Rabin commemoration from opposing racism to promoting national unity. While many Israelis have welcomed the change, some on the political left have condemned it as an attempt to gloss over the assassination.

Poll shows center-left could block Netanyahu coalition in next election, Times of Israel

A new poll conducted by Channel 10 news on Wednesday indicated a bloc of center-left parties in the Knesset would have enough seats to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud from forming a coalition, if elections were held today The results showed that although Likud would be the single biggest party with 26 seats — down from its current 30 — Netanyahu would struggle to form a coalition.

Opinions and Analysis

Hamas pragmatism in Gaza handover hints at a new future for the Strip, Times of Israel

Avi Isaacharoff writes, “It must be admitted that Hamas has made dramatic concessions on the ground in the fields of security and finance. It also succeeded in containing the response to the harsh incident for the Palestinians — Israel’s destruction of the Islamic Jihad terror tunnel on Monday, which killed nine terrorists with five still unaccounted for. Such an incident in the past would have most likely led to a massive escalation. All of this hints that perhaps, just perhaps, this time there has been a real change of goal by Hamas. Its leadership is interested in reconciliation, there is no doubt about that, and the question now is only what that will look like.”

The Balfour Declaration still divides the Middle East 100 years later, Washington Post

Ishaan Tharoor writes, “[T]he Balfour Declaration is held up as a seminal event, the first formal utterance of the modern Israeli state’s right to exist (though some historians quibble that a ‘national home’ is not the same thing as a state). For that reason, it is also bitterly regarded by many Palestinians as the first instrument of their dispossession. In 1917, Jews made up less than 10 percent of Palestine’s population — a century later, they are now the majority, while millions of Palestinians live in exile or in refugee camps. Protests are planned in the Palestinian territories to mark the centennial.”

Fight the Right-wingers Rewriting History: Rabin Wanted a Palestinian State, Haaretz

Guy Ziv argues, “Rabin witnessed the price of the occupation firsthand as defense minister during the first intifada. Preserving Israel’s character as a Jewish and a democratic state was of paramount importance to him. In contrast to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s status quo policy of ‘managing’ the conflict with the Palestinians, Rabin undoubtedly would have continued trying to resolve it. It is difficult to imagine that he would disagree with the vast majority of other retired Israeli generals – as well as the former heads of the Mossad and Shin Bet intelligence service – who today argue that a Palestinian state, alongside the Jewish state, is a top national security interest for Israel.”

Israel and Gaza’s underground battle, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit reports, “Having already invented, developed and enhanced technology capable of shooting down rockets in flight, Israel is now close to developing technology to locate and identify tunnels dug deep underground with precision that will make it possible to bomb them from the air or neutralize them using other means. It is a breakthrough technology, and Israel has invested billions in it over the past decade. Its purpose is to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip from having the kind of underground reach that became a tangible threat to Israel during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.”

God, I Wish I Were Right Wing, Haaretz

Bradley Burston argues, “If I were right wing and Israeli – which, over time, has become one and the same thing, since the last thing an Israeli wants to come out as, these days, is a leftist – maybe I’d be okay with a new tidal wave of anti-democratic legislative bids. Like the ‘George Soros Bill’ announced by Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar, who said his proposed legislation would prevent ‘donors who are anti-Semites, inciters or hostile to Israel’ from donating to leftist NGOs. Like the new NGO bill aimed at shutting down leftist organizations like Breaking the Silence, a group of IDF veterans which collects and publishes soldiers’ testimonies on their service in the West Bank and Gaza and their accounts of rights abuses and violations of military regulations there.”

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