News Roundup for November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016

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Top News and Analysis

‘Trump Effect’ Is Already Shaping Events Around the World, The New York Times

“Within days of Donald J. Trump’s election to the presidency, Jerusalem’s city planning chief declared an end to the era of holding up new housing for Jewish residents in contentious neighborhoods out of deference to American objections. Last week, he followed through, advancing a long-delayed plan to build 500 homes, a down payment on thousands more to come. The mayor’s office insisted that the timing was coincidental and the decision not political. But the planning chief made clear that he saw a green light to proceed ‘now that Trump’ had won. Call it the Trump Effect….Nowhere has the Trump Effect been more visible than in Jerusalem, where the political right has openly rejoiced at the election. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had a prickly relationship with Mr. Obama, has made clear to associates that he is overjoyed at Mr. Trump’s ascension. Members of Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition expect Mr. Trump to abandon the practice of Mr. Obama and presidents of both parties who tried to restrain Israel from building housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Shortly after the election, a Trump adviser said settlements were not an obstacle to peace, appearing to have adopted the argument Mr. Netanyahu makes.”

Netanyahu Warns Cabinet: ‘Regularization Bill’ Could Lead to International Probe Against Israeli Officials, Haaretz

“Members of the security cabinet were warned in a meeting on Sunday, which concerned the evacuation of the unauthorized outpost of Amona, that the proposed law to legalize such settlements could lead to the opening of a criminal investigation in the International Criminal Court in the Hague against Israeli leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit all warned members of the security cabinet against the passage of the so-called “Regularization Law,” said two sources who were present.”

Jimmy Carter: America Must Recognize Palestine, The New York Times

Former president Jimmy Carter writes, “We do not yet know the policy of the next administration toward Israel and Palestine, but we do know the policy of this administration. It has been President Obama’s aim to support a negotiated end to the conflict based on two states, living side by side in peace. That prospect is now in grave doubt. I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short. The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.”

In Haifa, decades-long coexistence endures trial by fire, Times of Israel

Dov Lieber reports, “Within Haifa, which is considered a beacon of urban co-existence in Israel, and where around 11 percent of the 250,000 residents are Arab, all who spoke to The Times of Israel said they were sure that if arsonists were involved in the flames, they weren’t natives of the city. No son or daughter of Haifa — Arab or Jew — they contended, could burn their own beloved city.”


Israelis displaced by fires to receive assistance from Jewish Agency, government, JTA

The Jewish Agency for Israel will provide immediate financial assistance to hundreds of families throughout Israel whose homes were damaged by fires that swept the country. The announcement came hours after Israel’s finance minister, Moshe Kahlon, approved an allocation of about $650 per person for those who were forced to leave their homes and are unable to return. Over 1,000 homes reportedly were damaged or destroyed in the fires.

New Orthodox-sponsored Bill Would Ban Mixed Prayer Services Anywhere Near Western Wall, Haaretz

A new bill submitted to the Knesset on Monday would prohibit any practices at the Western Wall that are not deemed strictly Orthodox. The bill, initiated by members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, would ban women from wearing prayer shawls or tefillin at the Jewish holy site. It would forbid them from reading from the Torah or blowing shofars in the women’s section, and it would ban egalitarian prayer services anywhere near the Western Wall.  If passed, the new “Kotel Law,” as it is called, would prevent any religious practices that “offend worshippers at the place.”  It would also provide the Orthodox-run Chief Rabbinate and Israel’s rabbinical court with sole jurisdiction over the Western Wall.

Israeli forces detain Hamas-affiliated Palestinian lawmaker in Hebron, Ma’an

Israeli forces detained Hamas-affiliated Palestinian lawmaker Azzam Nuaman Salhab during a raid in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Monday morning, his family told Ma’an.

Growing Chance That Israel-Germany Submarine Deal to Be Canceled, Shipyard Source Tells German Daily, Haaretz

The chances of the Israeli-German sub deal falling through are increasing, a source at the German firm ThyssenKrupp has told the German newspaper Handelsblatt.

Israeli President Rivlin Joins Fight Against Naming War Memorial After Disgraced Israeli General, Haaretz

President Reuven Rivlin has expressed his support for the battle by Palmach pre-state elite strike force veterans to stop the government naming a permanent War of Independence memorial after former minister Rehavam Ze’evi.

Right-wing master plan envisages mega-Jerusalem in 2040 – with invisible Palestinians, Haaretz

“A daring new master plan for Jerusalem envisions a giant international airport near Jericho, a railway line from Ramallah, a huge commercial and employment area near Qalandiya, a Biblical park in the Refa’im nature reserve, ring roads and dozens of new hotels….The planners say it doesn’t deal with the city’s political problems, but many see it as the right wing’s attempt to draft a future vision of the city, as an alternative to dividing it between two states.”

Opinion and Analysis

Schisms and Dissent Loom Large as Palestinian Leadership Convenes for First Time in Years, Haaretz

Jack Khoury reports, “The Fatah movement’s seventh general conference will open in Ramallah Tuesday night under the shadow of serious disagreements and threats of schism that have sparked clashes throughout the West Bank. The absence of a diplomatic horizon and the ongoing rift between the West Bank and Gaza Strip will also weigh on the atmosphere. Convening the conference, which last met in 2009, has become a key goal of Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. His associates say that holding the congress will send a message to both Arab states and Israel that Abbas still holds the reins and sets the agenda. But his rivals within Fatah charge that he is trying to exploit the conference to bolster his rule and sideline opponents, because he lacks any answer to the key question of how Fatah and the PA leadership should pursue their struggle against Israel.”

Trump’s policies are dangerous for Israel, Jewish Advocate

Edward Goldstein writes, “Trump may encourage settlement expansion but that is dangerous for Israel. Israel cannot have all the land, a Jewish majority and democracy simultaneously. The majority will be endangered and we already see Knesset legislation and public discourse curbing Israelis’ freedom of speech and assembly; assaulting the media and judiciary; and weakening the rule of law and IDF norms.”

Trump’s defense pick: no settlements, yes two states, Jewish Advocate

Michael Felsen writes, “What I do find encouraging are the views of retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, who appears to be Trump’s top choice for secretary of defense. Mattis is clear-eyed on the Israeli- Palestinian situation. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer [of CNN] at the Aspen Security Forum in 2013, Mattis said, ‘The current situation [in Israel] is unsustainable… We have got to find a way to make the two-state solution that Democratic and Republican administrations have supported… the chances for it are starting to ebb because of the settlements… they’re going to make it impossible to maintain the two-state option.’”

Israel, Palestinians prepare for Trump era, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir reports, “The senior official told Al-Monitor that the leadership is convening on an ongoing basis to explore a Palestinian national strategy adapted to this new situation. The premises for developing this strategy are numerous. The Palestinians believe that the United States under Trump will not lead a realistic international effort on a two-state solution. It may instead give a tacit green light to Israel to continue much of its settlement policies and the de facto annexation of Area C. The source explained that they foresee Russia becoming a more relevant player in the region, given the prospects of a good Trump-Vladimir Putin relationship. Also, with Brussels, Paris and Berlin increasingly concerned about a tacit agreement by Washington for Netanyahu to continue his settlement expansion policy, the role of the European Union in that respect may be enhanced. The source noted that initial positive rapport between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Trump could signal a significant role for Sisi on the Palestinian issue. The senior Palestinian official believes that, in this situation, the Palestinian political equation may tilt more in favor of hard-line Hamas and that West Bank public opinion will grow more desperate and angry. A violent uprising cannot be ruled out in such a situation.”

The Cowardly Reasons Jewish Organizations Won’t Speak Out Against Trump Appointees: And Why We Must Demand That They Do, Forward

Lila Corwin Berman writes, “Anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia are all deeply political forms of behavior that work to change how power operates. These are not and never should be partisan issues. Yet as I write, countless 501(c)3 organizations cloak their silence about Trump’s appointment of white supremacists to high posts in his administration as a virtue or a mandate: that of being apolitical. We must tell these organizations that we cannot tolerate their evasion, and we will not support them if they persist in it.”

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