News Roundup for October 10, 2017

October 10, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Trump Is Going to Make a Huge Mistake on the Iran Deal, New York Times

Wendy Sherman writes, “Whether the Trump administration’s decertification unravels the deal quickly or slowly, unjustified unilateral American action will give the Iranians the moral high ground, allowing them to rightly say that it was the United States, not them, who killed the deal. At the same time, if Iran stays in the agreement with the other countries who are party to it, the United States will lose any standing to bring concerns to the Joint Commission, the forum the agreement set up to oversee progress; any evidence we might offer about suspect Iranian military sites will be viewed with suspicion. If Congress reimposes sanctions, Iran will withdraw from the accord, restart its nuclear program, kick out the inspectors from the I.A.E.A. and refuse to discuss the Americans missing in Iran or held in Iranian prisons. The United States, and the world, would lose our eyes and ears on the ground in Iran — the inspectors. This information vacuum could, in short order, lead us to consider military action to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities, perhaps leading to a wider war in the Middle East. Given the escalatory cycle we are in with North Korea, as well as Pyongyang’s and the president’s rhetoric, America will be faced with two countries whose nuclear ambitions threaten our security.”

Europe Ramps Up Its Push to Protect the Iran Deal From Trump, Bloomberg

Patrick Donahue reports, “European diplomats are ramping up efforts to ensure President Trump’s decision doesn’t risk scuttling the multinational accord, seeking out members of Congress and trying to influence Trump advisers. At the same time, they are signaling a willingness to discuss other areas of Iran’s behavior — including its missile program — as long as that occurs outside the framework of the accord….. ‘The U.S. president is critical — and justifiably so — of Iran’s behavior in the Middle East, from Yemen to Lebanon,’ the German foreign minister said. ‘No question. We will do everything to make clear to members of the Senate as well as the White House that we’re ready, on the one hand, along with the U.S., to engage with Iran on the difficult subject of the Middle East and to increase pressure on Iran through diplomatic means.’”


U.K. Opposed to Scrapping Iran Nuclear Deal, Britain’s May Tells Netanyahu, Haaretz

British Prime Minister Theresa May stressed Monday in a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.K. was opposed to scrapping the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and Western world powers. A statement released by her office said May told Netanyahu that the U.K. “remains firmly committed to the deal and that we believe it is vitally important for regional security.” The agreement is important because it “neutralized the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade,” May told Netanyahu, according to the statement from Downing St. ” Prime Minister [May] said it was important that the deal is carefully monitored and properly enforced, and that both sides deliver on their commitments.”

In Jerusalem, Looking for Peace in Backgammon and Music, New York Times

After years of impasse in the peace process, a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians seem to be searching for creative ways to bypass politics, reaching across the divide to find professional peers, new resources and receptive audiences. And a number of recent events have sought to provide a common language for Israelis and Palestinians here.

Palestinian rivals head to Cairo for reconciliation talks, Times of Israel

Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas dispatched teams to Egypt on Monday for talks in a renewed push to end their decade-long split after a key breakthrough last week. Senior figures in the Hamas terrorist movement and the secular Fatah party will meet in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday as they seek to end a division that has crippled Palestinian politics.

Israeli Activists Celebrate Ancient Sukkot Rite Near Flashpoint Temple Mount, Haaretz

For the first time, Temple Mount activists have held an event very near the the holy site at the center of friction between the Israelis and Palestinians. On Sunday, hundreds of Jews took part in an ancient water-drawing ceremony, as Jews did during the holiday of Sukkot when the Temple stood in Jerusalem two millennia ago. The event, now in its fifth year, reenacts the ceremony in which the priests would pour water from the Siloam Spring on the Temple’s altar during the  holiday, which this year started last week.

Hundreds of right-wing Israelis continue visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque for Jewish holiday, Ma’an

Hundreds of right-wing Israelis and settlers took to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem on Monday under the protection of Israeli forces for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The Islamic Endowment, or Waqf — in charge of running Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — told Ma’an that 462 Israeli settlers “raided” the compound, in addition to 150 Jewish religious students through the Moroccan Gate entrance. Meanwhile, the Endowment and other local Muslim committees warned of the increasing visits by Israeli settlers to the compound, highlighting that several Israelis performed prayers and religious inside the compound, in violation of a long-standing agreement between Israel and the Endowment preventing non-Muslim prayer in Al-Aqsa.

Defense minister: In next war, Israel will face fighting in north and south, Times of Israel

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday said the next war in Israel will see the Israel Defense Forces facing both a unified Syrian and Lebanese foe and another front in the Gaza Strip. He also declared Tuesday that the Lebanese army has been fully integrated with Hezbollah and now operates under the terror group’s command.

Progressive Jews To Stage Protest Of Lee Zeldin, Forward

Taking aim at one of only two Jewish Republican members of Congress, Bend The Arc, a progressive Jewish group, is planning to protest outside the office of New York Rep. Lee Zeldin on Monday. “In the spirit of the Jewish High Holidays, a time of awakening, atonement and accountability, activists will urge Rep. Zeldin, one of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress, to wake up and choose a side: With or Against White Supremacy,” Bend the Arc said in a statement.

Opinions and Analysis

For some foreign diplomats, the Trump White House is a troubling enigma, Washington Post

“After nearly nine months of the Trump administration, many of America’s closest allies have concluded a hoped-for ‘learning curve’ they believed would make President Trump a reliable partner is not going to happen….Instead, they see an administration in which lines of authority and decision-making are unclear, where tweets become policy, and hard-won international accords on trade and climate are discarded. The result has been a special kind of challenge for those whose jobs is to advocate here for their countries and explain the president and his unconventional ways at home….Asked to describe their thoughts about and relations with the president and his team as the end of Trump’s first year approaches, many described a whirlwind journey, beginning with tentative optimism, followed by alarm, and finally reaching acceptance the situation is unlikely to improve.”

Challenging racial supremacy — from Charlottesville to Tel Aviv, +972

Natasha Roth writes, “The level of hatred and bigotry in the Israeli-Palestinian public sphere has only deteriorated since that summer, fueled by the most right-wing government in the country’s history. In the U.S., the election of a racist, misogynist fantasist as president has brought the rhetoric to almost the same levels of toxicity as those emanating out of Jerusalem. White supremacy is no longer lapping at the edges of the day-to-day American political discourse: it is an integral part of it.”

What Actually Happens if Trump Decertifies the Iran Nuclear Deal, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer asks: “Trump, who has called the agreement ‘a very very bad deal,’ is facing a near-consensus among his diplomatic and military advisers against killing it. What will decertification do for the agreement and the region?

It’s Women Who Will Make an Arab-Jewish Peace. Because Peace Scares Men, Haaretz

Bradley Burston writes, “It will happen. Women will make peace in Israel and Palestine. It will be women – like the members of Women Wage Peace, the pioneering grass-roots group that organized the Journey to Peace, a 17-day series of marches, rallies and other events that brought together women from across deep divides of identity, religion, nationality, age and politics. These and other extraordinary women activists working in other groups and as individuals will one day do what women do every day – the impossible. And around here, nothing at all feels more impossible than peace.”

As Reconciliation Talks Begin, Fatah and Hamas Must Transcend Old Formulas, Haaretz

Jack Khoury writes: “Still, despite the optimism and the pressure from both the people and the Egyptians to make progress on a reconciliation deal, the Palestinians realize that at some point they have to move beyond the administrative and security issues and present a strategy for where the Palestinians want to go. Both Fatah and Hamas have adopted opposing approaches of the past quarter-century, neither of which has led to independence and self-determination for the Palestinian people. Fatah, with Oslo and direct talks with Israel, isn’t getting any closer to its declared goals despite ostensible international support. The United States’ gamble on being a sponsor has failed and the international community isn’t hurrying to adopt the Palestinian narrative. Hamas, with its strategy of armed struggle, hasn’t even managed to ease the blockade on Gaza, get a seaport or airport, or gain a foothold in the West Bank. The group also realizes that the era of an agenda that squares with winning the support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its patrons has been an utter failure. Yet addressing domestic power struggles and day-to-day issues will at some point have to yield a clear answer to the people who are seeking freedom and self-determination.”

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