News Roundup for October 28, 2016

October 28, 2016

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J Street in the News

J Street prepares for shift in approach under Clinton, Jerusalem Post

“J Street has frequently lauded Obama’s approach. ‘I don’t think it matters to J Street whether the conversations are private or public. What matters is that it’s very clear the lines the United States is drawing on what has to stop, from both parties,”’ Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, said in an interview. Ben-Ami said he expects a smooth transition should Clinton win on November 8. ‘They are in line, so that handoff of the baton is going to be very smooth because the goal line is the same for both of them,’ he said….’The issue for the incoming administration will be how do you make clear that the United States is really serious that the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority both need to stop actions that are moving us in the wrong direction,’ Ben- Ami continued. ‘Right now isn’t the time to restart negotiations between two parties that are really so fundamentally far apart that [they] would most likely not succeed .’”

J Street head joins Palestinian diplomat on speaking tour, J Weekly

“Given the moribund state of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a speaking tour by J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami and Palestinian Authority diplomat Maen Rashid Areikat was intended to provide a glimmer of hope. The two headlined an Oct. 20 conversation in San Francisco organized by World Affairs, one of a series of West Coast appearances last week…..Ben-Ami said the two found they had much in common and focused on putting forth a ‘model of how to build a future together.’ Areikat and Ben-Ami agreed more people-to-people contacts between Israelis and Palestinians would help diffuse mutual mistrust, though opportunities for such meetings these days are rare. The two disagreed on the need for US military assistance to Israel. Ben-Ami approved of it, saying Israel still faces numerous adversaries in the region…..erhaps the most hopeful moment of the conversation came at the end when Areikat addressed the topic of Hamas and terrorists’ stranglehold on Gaza, causing a seemingly intractable divide in Palestinian society. He said the PLO disagrees with Hamas and continues to impress on its leadership that ‘there is only a political solution’ to the conflict, adding, ‘There is no military solution.’”

Authorization of New Palestinian Construction in West Bank is Welcome Step; Must Be Followed With Further Action, J Street Blog

“J Street welcomes reports that Israel’s security cabinet has voted to authorize several new Palestinian construction projects in Area C of the West Bank. Authorization of Palestinian development has been extremely rare in the past few years, and in recent months, the Quartet, the US government and many others have called on Israel to take precisely such steps, which also have the strong support of Israel’s military establishment….While this decision is a positive step, for it to have serious effect, there must also be an end to the creeping annexation process that threatens Palestinian communities throughout Area C, and a serious commitment to finding a comprehensive political solution that includes the creation of a viable Palestinian state.”

Jewish Americans don’t vote with Israel in mind, they vote as liberals, Los Angeles Times

“Israel was the “most important” voting issue for a mere 4% of respondents in the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2012 Jewish Values survey. Israel was one of two top ‘voting issue priorities’ for just 10% in a J Street poll conducted around the same time.”

Top News and Analysis

In Rare Move, Israel Secretly Approved Palestinian Construction in West Bank, Haaretz

“Israel’s security cabinet voted last month to authorize a slew of construction plans for Palestinians living in the West Bank’s Area C –  the largest swathe of the occupied territory where all the Jewish settlements are located and where the Palestinian Authority lacks any control. The decision was the first of its kind in a number of years, and was kept secret, or not published in an attempt to prevent Israeli settlers from trying to exert political pressure to thwart it. The proposal was initiated and put to a cabinet vote by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as part of his so-called ‘carrots and sticks’ policy to encourage moderate Palestinians, a plan he presented to Israeli media in August.”

The coming shift: Hillary Clinton’s plans for Israel and Iran, Jerusalem Post

“Hillary Rodham Clinton is preparing to dramatically shift the tone and tenor of relations with Israel away from a publicly disputatious posture adopted by the Obama administration, according to several of her top aides, who in conversation with The Jerusalem Post outlined, for the first time, her detailed plans for the alliance should she win the White House on November 8. On the question of Iran, on the challenge of Middle East peace and in bilateral relations between the two countries, Clinton sees an opportunity to turn the page after eight years of turbulence – to bring disagreements in from the cold, back behind closed doors, and to rebuild trust between their leaders and peoples.”


Israeli Minister Slams Rare Building Plans for Palestinians: ‘Settlers Get Sticks’, Haaretz

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel on Thursday slammed a secret approval by the security cabinet to authorize construction plans for Palestinians in the West Bank. Ariel, of the hard-right party Habayit Hayehudi demanded a review of the plans by the full cabinet at its next weekly session Sunday.

Clashes break out in Bedouin village after Israeli police deliver demolition orders, Ma’an

Clashes broke out on Wednesday between Israeli police and local youth in the Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj in Israel’s Negev desert, after Israeli police affixed demolition orders on some villagers’ homes.

Abbas, Hamas Leaders Hold First Talks in Two Years to Discuss Palestinian Unity, Haaretz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal and his deputy Ismail Haniyeh in the Qatari capital of Doha on Thursday. The leaders, meeting for the first time in two years, discussed steps to bring about Palestinian unity.

Under pressure, Abbas plans first Fatah congress since 2009, Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party aims to hold its first congress since 2009 by the end of this year, an official said, in what some analysts have called a bid by the 81-year-old to stave off rivals.

‘Illiterate’ Arabs grabbing Israeli university slots, MK claims, Times of Israel

Arab students only get a place in Israel’s universities because of affirmative action policies, a controversial Jewish Home lawmaker claimed during a contentious Knesset debate on Thursday. MK Betzalel Smotrich got into a shouting match with Arab lawmaker MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) over the charitable tax status of Amnesty Israel, the Israeli branch of Amnesty International, which Smotrich argued was an anti-Israel organization that should not enjoy the tax benefits given to nonprofits.

Ari Shavit Apologizes to American Journalist: I Didn’t Think I Committed Sexual Harassment, Haaretz

Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit issued a statement of apology on Thursday after a US journalist accused him of sexually assaulting her during an interview. In an article last week in The Jewish Journal, entitled “My sexual assault, and yours: Every woman’s story,” Jewish-American journalist Danielle Berrin accused a prominent Israeli writer of sexually harassing and assaulting her as she tried to interview him in the recent past at an American hotel lobby.

Opinion and Analysis

How Abbas can counter Netanyahu’s maneuver, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar argues, “Abbas must find a magic formula that will refute the claim of Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He must find a pin that will burst this bubble once and for all. It would be enough for him to copy the definition formulated by the left-wing Israeli Meretz Party, which espouses the solution of two states for two people: “Israel is the state of the Jewish people and of all its citizens.” This way he will circumvent the landmine planted by Netanyahu of excluding Israel’s Palestinian residents from their state.”

As Abbas’ Isolation Increases, Israeli Military Team Prepares for His Rule’s Collapse, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “These are the twilight days of the rule of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. The slow process of collapse in anticipation of the end of his rule continues, and is now accepted as an undeniable fact by most of those involved. Abbas is facing open challenges from within his own Fatah movement, as well as from Hamas and recently even rather undisguised subversion on the part of Arab nations. His increasing isolation has raised the internal tensions in Ramallah, and it is possible this will have implications both for stability within the Palestinian territories, and for its charged relations with Israel.”

Welcomes ‘Sane Center’, NY Jewish Week

Rabbi Joel M. Shaiman writes, in a letter-to-the-editor, “A two-state solution is required for the usual reasons: it will enable the State of Israel to remain both a democracy and the national homeland of the Jewish people, and it recognizes the moral right of the Palestinian people to their own sovereign country. Perhaps most significantly, it is consistent with the New American Zionism that Cosgrove proposes. It allows all streams of American Judaism to continue to flourish in our wonderful, multicultural, multi-religious country. Continued delay toward a solution seriously impedes this vibrancy, disillusioning the next generation of American Jews.”

The Blacklist in the Coal Mine, Tablet

A group of academics condemn the “McCarthyite” activities and tenor of the anti-BDS website Canary Mission.

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