J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “The battle lines in the fight for our shared future have never been starker. The Trump administration and its allies have indicated that they may abandon the two-state solution, embrace the settlement project and undermine the Iran agreement. They have threatened to target Muslims, immigrants and other vulnerable groups. We must now defend our shared fundamental values of tolerance, equality and democracy. My hope is that the Jewish community and our country can rise to this new challenge together, forging a better future for Americans, Israelis and Palestinians alike in the process….In that spirit, we at J Street intend to give voice in the days and months ahead to the values of the overwhelming majority of our community. We will fight policies grounded in bigotry, we will stand up when those without power are threatened, and we will speak out against extreme foreign policy prescriptions and attempts to use military force when there are diplomatic options available.”
Mahmoud Abbas Moves to Solidify Power Among Palestinians, The New York Times
“Under siege at home and abroad, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority moved on Tuesday to solidify his decade-long hold on power with a party conference that had been purged of most of his opponents. The carefully selected delegates wasted little time in formally re-electing Mr. Abbas as leader of Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. A spokesman for Fatah, Mahmoud Abu al-Hija, told reporters who were not allowed into the conference hall that ‘everybody voted yes.’”
“Israel’s Security Cabinet convened Wednesday morning for over two hours to discuss a bill aimed at legalizing unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank. Israel’s government has been shaken by the looming evacuation of the illegal outpost of Amona, built on private Palestinian land and condemned to demolition by Israel’s top court. While some ministers and lawmakers on the right, including Bennett, hope to prevent the evacuation through legislation, others, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have joined legal officials in warning of its possible consequences for Israel. Lawmakers were set to vote on two drafts of the measure, but the cabinet decided to postpone the vote to next Tuesday after the lengthy debate. One of the two drafts proposes to authorize enclaves retroactively to spare the West Bank settlement of Amona from evacuation, and one which would not. The votes were set to be held despite Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s opposition to the measure.”
Syria confirmed Wednesday that Israeli jets attacked west of Damascus, with reports in Arab media saying an arms convoy intended for Hezbollah was the target. The news came amid tensions along Israel’s northern border after clashes between the Israeli army and militants affiliated with the Islamic State group in recent days.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted a meeting of Jewish and Muslim leaders in Israel, in the wake of public debate over a bill that would mute mosques’ loudspeakers.
Coalition chair: PM will back outpost bill if no alternative found, Times of Israel
Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) said Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will support legislation to retroactively legalize settlement outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land if an alternative solution cannot be found.
UN official: Palestinian recognition was historic milestone, Washington Post
A top U.N. official says the admission of Palestine to the United Nations as a non-member Observer State in 2012 was a historic milestone. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, reflecting on the state of the Israel-Palestinian conflict as part of the U.N.’s “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” acknowledged both the achievements and lost opportunities related to the conflict as he and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon near the end of their tenure this year.
The Fatah party kicked off its seventh conference on Tuesday by reappointing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as chairman of the political faction, as hundreds of members of the movement and other political groups gathered in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
One hundred anti-Semitic incidents occurred in the 10 days following the presidential election, representing about 12 percent of hate incidents in the U.S. recorded by a civil rights watchdog. The report released Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center looked at 867 hate incidents that occurred in the 10 days following the election of Donald Trump. The incidents targeted various minority groups, including Jews, immigrants, African-Americans, Muslims and the LGBT community. Incidents counted had been submitted through the watchdog’s website or reported in the media.
East Jerusalem hospitals warn of closure due to unpaid PA debt, Times of Israel
Two of the biggest hospitals in East Jerusalem have reported that they will be unable to continue treating patients if the Palestinian Authority does not pay them the money it owes them.
Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian structures in different neighborhoods of the occupied West Bank’s Jerusalem district on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson from Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Muslims on Tuesday to defend the Palestinian cause, striking a tough stance on Israel despite improved ties between the two nations.
Judah Ari Gross reports on the Amona evacuation. “The Israel Defense Forces, which is ultimately tasked with the evacuation (though the Border Police will likely do the heavy lifting), would not comment on its expectations for the evacuation as the issue has been deemed too ‘political.’ The Shin Bet security service, which reviewed the possibility of violence for the High Court of Justice, will also not reveal its findings to the public. However, though the Shin Bet’s full report is classified, the High Court of Justice included a paraphrase of it in its decision on the evacuation, which indicated that some level of violence is expected.”
Israel’s Knesset dominated by extremist bills, Al-Monitor
Mazal Mualem writes, “The current mood in Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition often creates the impression that the settlers are actually the ones setting the tone there through their representatives in the HaBayit HaYehudi and Likud parties. And in such a situation, it seems that even though the prime minister himself recognizes the devastating implications of the Regularization Law, he is having a hard time throwing his weight around to stop it….In the event that the voice of reason prevails and the Regularization Law fails to pass, the populist right can seek solace in the passing of the Muezzin Law. This ugly and discriminatory law has been promised a majority, now that Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox party Yahadut HaTorah has succeeded in adding an exception to the law, exempting synagogue sirens announcing the start of the Sabbath. As part of the compromise, the law will forbid the use of loudspeakers from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., thus enabling the Sabbath sirens, which are sounded on Friday afternoons and evenings.”
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