News Roundup for October 19, 2017

October 19, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

What a Visit Down Memory Lane Told Me About Trump, J Street Blog

“Though we in the press corps knew that those who briefed us would always try to put the best spin on their information and would rarely divulge the whole picture, it never occurred to us that they would deliberately lie. Every word was carefully weighed because the president, the secretary and the entire administration knew that words had meaning and value. Today, I am very sad to see a president who completely fails to recognize the historic role the United States has played – and should still be playing – in the world as a force for democratic values, human dignity and peace. I am sad to see a secretary of state who seems determined to gut the Stated the world as if his words mean nothing. I am sad to see this same president intimidate, belittle and bully the media, lawmakers and private citizens who dare to cross him.”

Is the U.S. about to ‘cheat’ on the Iran nuclear deal? Here’s how this could backfire, Washington Post

“[I]n designing monitoring for an arms control agreement, states face a trade-off between having enough transparency to observe compliance and needing sufficient safety from observation that could jeopardize their security. For example, visiting all Iranian military facilities could be very useful in verifying that the country was not conducting any nuclear work — but would also reveal military targets that could be exploited in the event of a conflict. If Iran decides that information sharing in a current nuclear agreement will leave the regime more vulnerable in the future, including beyond the nuclear context, Tehran will have few reasons to renegotiate the deal. Because of this trade-off, states have to make compromises to get an arms control agreement. They can intentionally limit the scope of inspections to avoid giving too much access to military information. In the U.S.-Soviet context, for example, the two sides often drafted highly precise inspection rules limiting what could be seen, how and when, while foregoing the ‘anytime anywhere’ inspection options. The possibility of a U.S. violation of the JCPOA suggests Iran might actually prefer to accept the burden of inspections — up to a point — rather than allowing a more powerful adversary to rely on its own determinations. But Iran’s openness has limits, and the JCPOA provisions (which go further than U.S.-Russia agreements and indeed most arms control cases) are likely close to the line. U.S. demands for more access could backfire into the deal breaking down, leaving no access at all.”

In Unprecedented Move, Eight European Countries to Demand Compensation From Israel for West Bank Demolitions, Haaretz

“Eight European Union countries wrote an official protest letter to Israel, demanding over €30,000 ($35,400) in compensation for confiscating and demolishing structures and infrastructure which the countries had built in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control.”


Israel finishes advancing 2,600 West Bank homes as settlers push for more, Times of Israel

The Defense Ministry body responsible for authorizing settlement construction advanced plans for some 1,300 West Bank homes Wednesday, capping off a week which saw the green-lighting of over 2,600 homes. Included in the plans that gained final authorization for building by the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee were projects for the evacuees of the illegal Migron (86 units) and Amona (102 units) outposts.

Meretz leader resigning, says left-wing party must change to stay afloat, JTA

Meretz leader Zehava Galon is resigning from the Knesset, saying the left-wing party must change to remain in existence. Galon, who has served as the Meretz chair since 2012, made the announcement Wednesday after meeting with the parliament speaker, Yuli Edelstein. She said she will dedicate the next few months to strengthening the party and wanted to open Meretz to new people. To do so, Galon said, she would help the party change its internal election system, Ynet reported.

Tel Aviv Schools Defy State, Refuse to Commemorate Slain Minister and General Accused of Rape and Racism, Haaretz

Principals of all Tel Aviv schools have decided across-the-board not to mark the annual memorial day for former general and minister Rehavam Ze’evi on Thursday. With their decision, the principals are defying the instructions of the Education Ministry, which since 2010 requires all schools to mark the day by dedicating a part of their classes to Ze’evi’s memory.

U.S.: If Hamas Wants Any Role in Palestinian Government, It Must Disarm and Recognize Israel, Haaretz

Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the peace process, issued on Thursday the first American response to the Palestinian reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah. According to Greenblatt, any Palestinian government must “unambiguously and explicitly” commit to the conditions set by the Quartet: Refraining from violence, recognizing Israel, and accepting previous agreements, including disarming terrorists and committing to peace.

Ya’alon: Ministers Chose Politics Over Statesmanship, Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet made a more extreme decision than Netanyahu initially intended due to political pressure from ministers on the Right, sources present in the meeting said Wednesday.  The sources said Netanyahu did not intend to announce officially that Israel would not negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that relies on Hamas, because he did not want Israel to be seen as the party preventing diplomatic talks from getting off the ground. But after hawks in the security cabinet spoke, a consensus developed around their point of view, which was ultimately adopted.

Opposing settlers’ petition, state calls for evacuation of Hebron squatters, Times of Israel

The State Attorney’s Office on Wednesday voiced its opposition to a High Court petition filed by a group of settlers illegally squatting in a disputed Hebron building, and insisted, once again, that the 15 families must be evacuated from the site. Some 100 settlers have been living in the Machpela House adjacent to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the flashpoint West Bank city since July 25.

Israel, other allies irked by Trump’s ‘Buy American’ order, Times of Israel

Israel, Hong Kong and Taiwan joined a number of US allies at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday to express concerns over a Trump administration executive order that calls on US authorities to “maximize” use of American-made goods, products and materials in government procurement.

Israeli Settlers Filmed Stealing Olive Harvest of West Bank Palestinian Farmers, Haaretz

Israel Police detained four settlers over the past week on suspicion of involvement in stealing olives from Palestinian farmers’ groves in the northern Gaza Strip, but all of them were released. An NGO provided documentation that shows settlers in the act and throwing rocks, and Palestinian farmers claimed that settlers stole from and vandalized hundreds of trees.

Opinions and Analysis

The Netanyahu government went off the rails this weekend, +972

Yossi Dahan writes, “The most common explanation given by commentators for the relentless attacks by Netanyahu and his cronies is that they are trying to terrorize anyone who is directly or indirectly involved in the decision whether to indict him — to make sure he doesn’t stand trial. The attempts to portray the prime minister as a victim has a long-term goal, however. Going after police investigators, limiting the independence of the courts, violating the media’s independence, politicizing and taking over the civil service, persecuting civil society organizations that work toward social justice and for human rights, and treating Arab citizens as a fifth column — all this so that when the damage is done, if and when he is proven innocent, Netanyahu will be able to continue to rule endlessly, with no investigations or real political opposition. An authoritarian leader in a regime that pretends to be a democracy.”

Why Israel especially must stand for the Rohingya, The Forward

Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Avidan Freedman argue, “The U.S. should follow the example of the U.K., which last month suspended all partnerships with the Burmese military. Meanwhile, both Burmese generals and an Israeli company have attested to Israel’s continued sale of lethal weapons. What argument of self-interest can we possibly accept that puts Israel in the moral company of China, India, and Russia, against the policies of the rest of the Western world? Following the biblical exodus from Egypt, God commands the Israelites to care for the most vulnerable members of our own communities — both Jewish and not — and even prohibits hatred toward the Egyptians themselves. Our own suffering does not become an excuse to look inward and care only for our immediate needs. Rather, our history of suffering instills in us the obligation to prevent the suffering of others. By standing with the Rohingya people and ending arms sales to Myanmar, Israel has the opportunity to fulfill this obligation, and to live out the promise of “Never Again.”

What A Controversial Palestinian Play Can Teach Us About Art As Resistance, The Forward

Debra Nussbaum Cohen writes, “The use of financial pressure as a way to try to censor theatrical productions isn’t limited to issues related to Israel and the Palestinian territories. In June The Public Theater lost financial backing from two major corporate sponsors after its Central Park production of ‘Julius Caesar’ portrayed the assassinated emperor as a Donald Trump-like figure. Several speakers on the NYU panels decried the power of a small group of critics and board members to derail controversial theater. But Roth said that playwrights and producers are self-censoring and need to be more courageous about staging work that brings to life varied voices in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territories. ‘Criticism is useful,’ Roth told The Forward. ‘It’s good to criticize a work of art. It’s not good to ban a work of art.’”

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