News Roundup for October 26, 2017

October 26, 2017

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J Street in the News

Israeli Bill to Unilaterally Annex Settlements to Jerusalem Would Cross Major Red Line, J Street

“J Street is deeply alarmed by reports that Israel’s cabinet will vote on Sunday to advance the ‘Greater Jerusalem Bill.’ This extremely provocative legislation would bring several West Bank settlements under the control of the Jerusalem municipality. That would be a major step in Israel’s ongoing, de facto annexation of territory throughout the West Bank – and pose a massive threat to the possibility of ever achieving a two-state solution. If carried out, Israel would be crossing a major red line by unilaterally imposing its own solution to a vital final status issue. This bill is just the latest sign that the Israeli government is committed to creating ‘facts on the ground’ in order to solidify Israel’s hold over the West Bank and undermine any serious negotiations toward a two-state solution. Also this week, Israeli authorities approved a major expansion of the settlement of Nof Zion, located inside the heart of the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. And the prime minister promised settlement movement leaders hundreds of millions of shekels for the further development of settlement infrastructure throughout the West Bank. Throwing off all caution and restraint, Prime Minister Netanyahu is now doing everything that he can to shore up his political support with the settlement movement – at the expense of Israel’s security, its international standing and its future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”

Top News and Analysis

Corker in talks with Cardin on Iran nuclear deal, Politico

“Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday he is working with his Democratic counterpart in the hopes of crafting a bipartisan plan that meets President Donald Trump’s demand for a stronger nuclear agreement with Iran. But despite his talks with Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the foreign relations panel, Corker has an uphill battle in winning votes from the minority for his Iran legislation.”

Netanyahu promises settlers NIS 800 million for West Bank roads, Times of Israel

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a meeting Wednesday with settler leaders, promised to invest NIS 800 million ($228 million) in West Bank roads and infrastructure development. Netanyahu and his chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, told the chairman of the settlement umbrella group Yesha Council, Avi Roeh, that plan would go into effect at the start of the 2018 fiscal year.”


PLO: Jerusalem ‘annexation’ plan means end of two-state solution, Times of Israel

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi says Israeli plans to incorporate West Bank settlement blocs around Jerusalem into the city could kill hopes for an independent Palestinian state. A member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has said that draft legislation to form a “Greater Jerusalem” municipality would go to a ministerial committee on Sunday for adoption as a government bill.

Netanyahu’s Diplomatic Envoy Resigns, The Forward

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic envoy, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, has resigned. Molcho served as Netanyahu’s diplomatic envoy during his first term as prime minister in 1996-99 and again since Netanyahu returned to office in 2009. He served as an Israeli negotiator during the 2013-14 Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He will leave his position in February in order to give the prime minister time to find a replacement. Molcho had requested to be relieved of his voluntary position a year ago, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office issued Wednesday.”

UN Sent Warning Letter to 150 Companies for Doing Business in Israeli Settlements, Haaretz

The UN’s Human Rights Commissioner began sending letters two weeks ago to 150 companies in Israel and around the world, warning them that they are about to be added to a database of companies doing business in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats involved in the matter told Haaretz.

Not taking PM at his word, settler leader intensifies West Bank roads campaign, Times of Israel

Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan has assembled a group of right-wing lawmakers who will refuse to vote with the coalition until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brings to a cabinet vote the earmarking of a budget for West Bank roads and infrastructure development, a settler official confirmed to The Times of Israel Wednesday.

Israel Secretly Using U.S. Law Firm to Fight BDS Activists in Europe, North America, Haaretz

The government has been secretly using a U.S. law firm to help it fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Europe, North America and elsewhere, according to documents obtained by Haaretz. The government has hired the Chicago-based firm Sidley Austin to prepare legal opinions and handle court proceedings. The Justice Ministry and the Strategic Affairs Ministry have declined to reveal the nature of these activities, for which the state has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years. The ministries call the activities “diplomatically extremely sensitive.”

Israel-Hezbollah war is inevitable, sure to be devastating — defense experts, Times of Israel

A war between Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group is inevitable, though not necessarily imminent, and will be unavoidably bloody for both sides, according to an assessment by a number of former generals from around the world, known collectively as the High Level Military Group.

Israel’s Largest Bank Blocking Human Rights NGO From Receiving Foreign Donation, Haaretz

Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest lender, is refusing to let a $100,000 donation enter the bank account of Rabbis for Human Rights, claiming that the state has not confirmed the group’s tax status via the form for deducting such donations from tax. Still, the bank’s demand would appear to be irrelevant because the donor is foreign and the money is coming from abroad. Also, there is nothing in Bank of Israel procedures or Israeli tax law requiring nonprofit groups to provide such confirmation.

Opinions and Analysis

Are Netanyahu, Liberman pushing Israel to war? Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit argues, “Security officials, military officers and occasionally even ministers expressed their discomfort with Israel’s light trigger finger when it comes to military activity in Syria. They are even more uneasy about the fact that Israel is abandoning its traditional silence on the matter. The government is now quick to take responsibility for bombing runs and other military actions, with the prime minister himself sometimes issuing the statements. On Oct. 22, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amiram Levin, a decorated war hero and former chief of the Northern Command, entered the fray. In an article he wrote for Yedioth Ahronoth daily and in ensuing interviews, Levin stated unequivocally that the government is dragging Israel to war. Levin wrote, ‘Measured military responses coupled with quiet diplomacy vis-a-vis the players on the northern front are the right thing to do. … But when they are accompanied by harsh words and populist statements, they become dangerous.’ In a radio interview, Levin added, ‘Our strength lies in our thunderous silence … in quiet diplomacy. … With it we can reduce the risk of war.’ Levin was not alone. Former Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon seconded this. In an interview with Army Radio on Oct. 22, he said that Israel should not take responsibility for any actions in Syria. It is harmful, he said, and it encourages the opposing party to respond. ‘Less politics, more diplomacy,’ he said.”

Trump and Netanyahu, Masters of Their Parallel Universes, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “ In Trump’s ideal world, there is no objective truth or established facts. Reality is what Trump says it is, at any given moment. No one on his side will believes a word of the “fake news” created by the rotten mainstream media, just as no one who opposes him will believe a word coming out of Fox News, the White House and the U.S. government as a whole. It’s a zero-sum game that will inevitably force people to transpond to one universe or another. They may continue to occupy the same physical space but they will be living in completely different universes. And in one of them, Trump will be a hero. Benjamin Netanyahu is also creating a separate reality. In his reality, Netanyahu is an astonishingly successful Israeli prime minister who is getting hounded and maligned by powerful leftist elites that supposedly dominate the Israeli media, justice system and academia. This paranoid worldview has always been a feature of Netanyahu’s personality, but in recent years it has grown progressively worse. Now that he feels a legal noose tightening around his neck, Netanyahu is going for broke, discarding the rules, disrupting quantum realities, doing whatever he can to escape the kind of Israel that is threatening him, and to create another one in its stead. Unfortunately, he is taking many of his Likud and right-wing voters along for the ride.”

The systematic abuse of Palestinian teens in East Jerusalem, +972

“Affidavits collected from 60 Palestinian teenagers reveal how they are pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, handcuffed, interrogated in violation of their rights, and kept in custody under harsh conditions, sometimes for extended periods of time by Israeli authorities. A new report by Israeli human rights groups HaMoked and B’Tselem reveals the broad, systemic human rights abuses against hundreds of Palestinian teens arrested every year in East Jerusalem.”


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