“Ten senators, among them four Jews, wrote Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him not to demolish Palestinian villages that Israel has deemed unauthorized….The letter comes a month or so after J Street and the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group’s student affiliate, J Street U, launched a campaign to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes. ‘We welcome [the letter] as a sign that top lawmakers are increasingly speaking out about alarming actions by the Israeli government that undermine the two-state solution and endanger Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people,’ J Street said in a statement.”
“Ten US senators today sent to Prime Minister Netanyahu a powerful and important warning that ongoing home demolitions and settlement expansion in the West Bank pose a serious threat to the prospects for a two-state solution and to Israel’s future. Led by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders and joined by prominent lawmakers including Democratic Whip Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the letter urges the Israeli government not to demolish the West Bank Palestinian villages of Susya and Khan al Ahmar. Both of these communities are currently facing the imminent threat of evacuations and demolitions, and have been targeted by settlement movement activists seeking to entrench the Israeli occupation and prevent the ultimate creation of an independent Palestinian state.”
Amir Tibon reports, “The left-wing Jewish group J Street called Trump’s conduct ‘Beyond shameful, irresponsible & deeply disturbing,’ adding that it is ‘not surprising that President Trump is tweeting this repulsive content.’”
70 years after partition, a two-state solution is still possible, Washington Post
David Makovsky argues, “Israel needs to align its settlement policy with a two-state approach that enables Israeli-Palestinian compromise. This would be a strong signal to counter the belief, reflected in Palestinian polls, that Israel wants the entire West Bank. None of this suggests that the barrier would necessarily be the border in a final-status agreement. That border would remain to be negotiated by the parties. It is not too late. Those on both the right and the left that rush to proclaim the death of the two-state solution due to settlement population growth are too fatalistic. One cannot be certain about the political will to make it happen, but 70 years later, there is — at least for now — a way.”
Nidal al Mughrabi reports, “Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to delay final transfer of power of the Gaza Strip from Hamas to the Western-backed Palestinian government by 10 days to Dec. 10 to allow time to ‘complete arrangements,’ officials said. The factions signed a reconciliation deal brokered by Egypt last month after Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the key Rafah border crossing, a decade after seizing the enclave in a civil war.”
Amira Hass reports, “In the wee hours of Wednesday morning Israeli soldiers raided three West Bank communities that the government has earmarked for forced relocation: Palestinian shepherding communities Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal in the north of the Jordan Valley, and the Bedouin community Khan al-Ahmar…The human rights group B’Tselem reports that soldiers and police also raided the Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar, located in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Jericho, on Wednesday morning. The security forces spent some hours there, entering homes and counting the number of residents, according to the B’Tselem report. The Civil Administration, Israeli settlers and the right-wing Regavim movement aspire to expel Palestinian and Bedouin communities that have been living in the area for decades and move them to a permanent town near Abu Dis.”
Israeli officials are reportedly expecting US President Donald Trump to make a landmark announcement in the coming days regarding the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing the highly-sensitive holy city as Israel’s capital, according to a local TV report on Wednesday.
A Palestinian man was shot and killed by a Jewish settler near the village of Qusra in the northern West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian media reported… The Israeli army confirmed that shots were fired at a Palestinian, but said the shooting was a matter of self-defense.
Israel on Wednesday launched a program to provide shuttle service for Gazans who need to travel to the US Consulate in Jerusalem — an operation that could ease one of the many restrictions it places on Palestinians who want to exit the blockaded territory.
For Westerners Imprisoned in Iran, New Signs of a Deal, New York Times
Nearly two years after a group of American captives in Iran was freed when the nuclear accord took effect — in return for the release of a group of Iranians held in the United States — there is speculation that another prisoner exchange may be sought.
Several mortar shells were fired at an Israeli military outpost near the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday. None were wounded. The Israeli military struck four Hamas positions, with tanks and aircraft, in Beit Hanun in northern Gaza soon in response to the mortar fire.
Several cabinet ministers voiced reservations about the so-called police recommendations bill, as a Knesset committee convened Thursday to fine-tune the legislation for its final votes next week and a rights group took the fight to the High Court of Justice.
Netanyahu proposed settling Palestinians in Sinai, Mubarak says, Times of Israel
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had proposed settling Palestinians in the Sinai peninsula as part of a peace deal-related land swap in 2010.
Opinions and Analysis
Yair Rosenberg argues, “As a Jew and journalist who reports regularly on anti-Semitism and is frequently the target of it, I’m quite familiar with this sort of hateful generalization… To Trump, there is only one kind of Muslim and one kind of Islam. In the space of a tweet, a vibrant faith is recast as a mendacious monolith. It is all too easy to fall into the Trump trap when it comes to stereotyping other religious communities. After all, most Americans have never met any Jews, who constitute just 2 percent of the U.S. population, or any Muslims, who constitute even less. Tellingly, these two groups experienced the most religiously-motivated hate crimes in 2016, according to the FBI’s newly released statistics, with Muslims seeing the greatest spike over the last year and Jews seeing the most overall incidents.”
Mathew Gindin observes, “As much as it is understandable that Jews want a state that protects and maintains our culture, religion and people in the face of historical persecution and attempts at genocide, it is also understandable that the establishment of that state on land which partially belonged to the Palestinian Arabs, combined with a subsequent and ongoing campaign of disempowerment, land grabs and military occupation, would appear as racist and unjust to Palestinians. It is understandable that to some of them ‘Zionism’ is a dirty word. We need to understand that, and even empathize with that perspective, if there is any chance of peace.”
Khaled Elgindy writes, “The repeated failures in the peace process have many authors. But the history of U.S. law and policies suggests that, unless something changes, an ‘American-led peace process’ is fast becoming an oxymoron. If the peace process continues to be used as a vehicle for controlling or tying the hands of Palestinians politically, rather than a means for resolving the conflict or ending the occupation, it is only a matter of time before Palestinians conclude that they have more to lose by staying in the process than by walking away.”
Debra Shushan argues, “The fact is: Friedman acts as though he represents Israel’s settlement movement and its right-wing American supporters rather than the U.S. government or public. He told Israel’s Walla! News in September, ‘I think the settlements are a part of Israel’ and absurdly suggested that Israel is “only occupying two percent of the West Bank.’ These assertions fly in the face of long-held U.S. policy, which has never recognized any part of the West Bank as belonging to Israel. Israel’s own Supreme Court regards this territory as legally held under “belligerent occupation.”
Meredith Horowski and Lillyanne Daigle argue, “And as Trump edges us closer to the nuclear brink, it’s clear that women deserve a voice in all aspects of our political life — including foreign policy. If we want to win on the nuclear issue, women need to have more than one seat at the table — they need to lead the charge.”
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