News Roundup for October 21, 2016

October 21, 2016

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J Street in the News

Prime Minister Netanyahu Is Wrong: The US Must Stand Up for Israel, Not For Settlements, J Street Blog

“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent statements warning against possible US actions related to West Bank settlement activity are just the latest evidence that he is far more interested in defending the settlement enterprise than in seriously pursuing a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict….The Prime Minister’s vision for the US role is clear: The US government should do nothing while Israel acts to entrench the occupation and expand settlements in the West Bank, undermining the prospects for a two-state solution. It should staunchly reject any international scrutiny or criticism of Israel for these actions, ensuring that they can continue without any consequences – and that the Prime Minister can hold together his right-wing coalition and remain popular with the settlement movement. That would not be friendship or leadership, but a complete abdication of American interests, values, and obligations – including our obligation to prevent Israel from wandering further down the path of endless occupation and conflict. President Obama cannot accept that. Nor could any President who understands the true precepts of the US-Israel relationship.”

Top News and Analysis

Miri Regev’s Culture War, The New York Times

Ruth Margalit profiles Israel’s aggressively right-wing Culture Minister. “Since joining Likud in 2008, Regev has become known for her provocations no less than for her nationalist fervor. The columnist Nahum Barnea called her ‘a walking graffiti wall.’ There was the time she described migrant workers from Africa as ‘cancer in our body.’ And the time she lashed out at an Arab member of the Knesset: ‘Go to Gaza, you traitor!’ She sometimes unfurls an Israeli flag during speeches and has on occasion taken reporters to pray at the Western Wall before an interview. In 2013, she introduced a bill to annex the Jordan Valley, a move that would all but foreclose the prospect of a two-state solution.”

Palestinian Killed After Attacking Israeli Soldiers With Stones, Haaretz

A Palestinian teen was killed Thursday after he threw stones at Israeli soldiers, the Israel Defense Forces claimed, while Palestinian reports said Israeli soldiers had prevented paramedics from reaching him. Palestinians identified the teen as 15-year-old Khaled Bahar Ahmed Bahar.

‘We Cannot Count on Men to Create Peace. We Have to Do It Ourselves.’, Haaretz

“From a celebration at the Dead Sea, to a march through the streets of Jerusalem, to a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s residence, thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women Wednesday marked the conclusion of the March of Hope. The march was organized and sponsored by Women Wage Peace, a non-partisan women’s group founded in 2014 in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, which, according to its flyers, calls for an agreement that will be respectful, non-violent and accepted by both sides. ‘We will not stop until a political agreement, which will bring us, our children and grandchildren a safe future, is reached,’ says their website. Organizers say the group is funded mainly by small donations from Israel and abroad, as well as by the Women Donors Network in the United States.”


U.S., Egypt Warn Palestinians Not to Push Security Council on Settlements Before U.S. Elections, Haaretz

Both Egypt and the United States have warned the Palestinian leadership not to advance any moves at the UN Security Council until after the U.S. presidential election next month, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz on Thursday. Egypt currently holds a rotating seat on the Security Council and the U.S. is a permanent member. According to the senior Palestinian official, the messages were sent both directly and indirectly to the Palestinian Authority, through Western and Arab intermediaries. The messages stressed that until the U.S. election is over, Washington will veto any resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, including a denunciation of the settlements.

Terrorist attacks doubled in Jerusalem in September, Israel says, JTA

Whereas the number of attacks perpetrated against Israelis in the West Bank remained almost unchanged – 78 incidents last month compared to 78 in August – the number of attacks in Jerusalem rose by 100 percent, from 13 attacks in August to 26 incidents in September, the Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet, wrote in their monthly report for September, published this week.

Thousands march in Jerusalem in support of Israel, Times of Israel

Supporters of Israel from across the globe marched in Jerusalem on Thursday, two days after UNESCO backed a resolution which effectively denied Jewish and Christian historical ties to the city’s holy sites.

Amid UNESCO Flap, Israel Will Contribute to Rightist NGO’s Temple Mount Project, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that the government will help fund an archaeological recovery project focused on the Temple Mount and operated by a right-wing organization. The Temple Mount Sifting Project sorts through debris that was removed from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which Muslims call Haram al-Sharif, during a 1999 excavation by the Waqf Muslim religious trust that Israel viewed as illegal. The project is operated by the Ir David foundation, commonly known as Elad, which operates the City of David National Park and settles Jews in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Video reportedly shows Israeli forces killing Palestinian woman at Zaatara checkpoint, Ma’an

A video posted on social media on Thursday reportedly showed moments when a young Palestinian woman was shot to death by Israeli forces a day earlier. Rahiq Shaji Birawi, 23, from the village of Asira al-Shamaliya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, was killed by Israeli border police on Wednesday as she allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at the Zaatara military checkpoint. The video, filmed on a cell phone by a bystander, shows four Israeli border police officers shooting at a figure already lying on the ground several meters away from them.

Opinion and Analysis

Jewish settlers invited Palestinians over for the holidays. Everything went better than expected., Washington Post

William Booth and Sufian Taha report, “The settlement of Efrat is a bedroom community of 10,000 affluent Jews, including many Americans, a few miles south of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The residents of Efrat live the good life in a growing hilltop community that the United States considers illegal and an obstacle to peace. The Efrat mayor, Oded Revivi, who is also a colonel in the Israeli army reserve, invited Palestinians from surrounding villages to come to his house and celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, when the faithful gather in palm-roofed huts, a remembrance of their 40 years of wandering landless in the desert, back in the time of Moses. A couple dozen Palestinians accepted the mayor’s invitation this week to share brownies, grapes, cookies, apples and coffee, alongside 30 Israeli settlers. This was a first.”

Why Benjamin Netanyahu Is a Slick Version of Donald Trump, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev argues, “It’s the art of over-exaggeration, of taking isolated incidents and blowing them up until they become a phenomenon that can scare people out of their wits, which is just what both Trump and Netanyahu intend to do in the first place. Fear, first and foremost, is their favorite fuel….Netanyahu is smarter, better-educated, better spoken, way more sophisticated and therefore ten times more effective and lethal than Trump, but at their core, they are birds of a feather, two of a kind.”

More Palestinian lands threatened with confiscation, Al-Monitor

The residents in east Ramallah have been waiting for the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice to issue a decision concerning the appeal submitted by the lawyer of the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din about a month ago. The appeal argues that the Israeli authorities’ confiscation of Palestinian lands based on the absentee property law is illegal.

Women Wage Peace, March of Hope, J Street

J Street’s Women’s Leadership Forum highlights all of the coverage and provides more information on the recent March of Hope.

Why human rights NGOs are losing support of Israeli public, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes, “Between the lines, in his reactions to the speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the B’Tselem activists to traitors and threw all the Israeli human rights organizations to the dogs. But beyond Netanyahu’s anger and his irresponsible attacks against B’Tselem, El-Ad’s speech raised all the main issues that concern Israeli society regarding these organizations. Is it legitimate for Israeli sources to express criticism of the occupation and the enlarging of settlements in an international forum? Have the organizations’ key activists crossed redlines in their human rights activities and entered the domain of governmental political activity? And finally, are the organizations investing their efforts on the global front because they have lost all hope of generating change in Israeli public opinion?”

Israel Should Listen to B’Tselem, Not Marginalize Them, J Street Blog

Benjy Cannon writes, “It seems that in Netanyahu’s view, to criticize the settlement movement is to attack the very fabric of the state. To oppose one is to fundamentally oppose the other. By asserting that Israelis cannot fulfill their service to the state by engaging in human rights work, Netanyahu is creating a false choice between supporting Israel and opposing settlements. That invariably produces a chilling effect amongst activists critical of Israeli policy –  Netanyahu is essentially labeling them as enemies of the state.”

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