News Roundup for October 30, 2017

October 30, 2017

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J Street in the News

VIP New Faces: Jodie Rubenstein, Intermountain Jewish News

“Jodie Rubenstein, 31, a newcomer to Denver, is the Mountain West regional director of J Street.  After graduating from Wesleyan University in 2009 with a BA in psychology, Rubenstein, a native of Alexandria, Va., spent a summer providing sexual health education to indigenous women and girls in Peru.”

Top News and Analysis

Iran fulfilling nuclear deal commitments: IAEA chief, Reuters

Iran is fulfilling its commitments under the nuclear deal with world powers and U.N. inspectors are facing no problems in their verification efforts, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general said on Monday. U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this month that he would not continue to certify the multinational 2015 agreement, reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, and warned that he might ultimately terminate it.Iran would abandon the agreement if it were deemed not be serving its national interests, President Hassan Rouhani said in reaction to Trump’s decision. But he also said, ‘No president can revoke an international deal…(and) Iran will continue to honour its commitments under the deal.’ The other parties to the accord – Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and the European Union have all reaffirmed their commitment to it and urged the United States not to back out. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, whose inspectors are tasked with monitoring compliance with the deal, reiterated that Iran was adhering to it. ‘The IAEA can state that such nuclear-related commitments are being implemented,’ Amano told a news conference in Abu Dhabi following a trip to Iran on Sunday where he met with Rouhani and other officials. ‘I requested that Iran … fully implement the nuclear-related commitments. This (was) the main thrust of the meeting in Iran … Regarding the activities of our inspectors, they are discharging their responsibility without problem,’ he said.

Fears of International Pressure Force Israel to Delay Vote on Jerusalem Annexation Bill, Haaretz

‘The bill to annex Jerusalem-area settlements to the city will not be voted on at Sunday’s session of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation as previously planned, sources on the committee told Haaretz. The current version of the… bill invites international pressure and involves difficult legal issues,’ said a senior figure in the governing coalition who requested anonymity. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot allow himself to advance this version at this time.’ The coalition views the bill – also known as the Greater Jerusalem Bill – as a follow-up project to the proposal by Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin to split off Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem from the city’s jurisdiction. The original bill called for the full annexation to Israel of the settlements surrounding Jerusalem, but the current version, submitted by MK Yoav Kish (Likud) provides for “municipal” but not political annexation. It would let residents of the affected settlements vote in the mayoral and city council elections as a counterweight to Palestinian voters in Jerusalem, who in any event rarely vote.


Netanyahu: Israel Must Coordinate Jerusalem Annexation Bill With U.S., Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel must discuss a bill that would annex West Bank settlements to Jerusalem with the United States before moving forward and voting on it. During a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said that the U.S. administration inquired about the bill, which is still on the docket for a ministerial panel.

Congress Won’t Jeopardize Iran Deal, Cardin Says, Jerusalem Post

There is bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill against killing the Iran nuclear deal through legislation, a senior lawmaker on foreign policy said on Friday. ‘There is a general understanding that Congress will not take any steps that will put the United States on a path that would violate the agreement,’ said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, speaking with CNN.

US official: Jerusalem expansion bill ‘distracts’ parties from peace, Times of Israel

A senior US official on Sunday criticized proposed Israeli legislation that seeks to absorb a number of West Bank settlements into Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. ‘It’s fair to say that the US is discouraging actions that it believes will unduly distract the principals from focusing on the advancement of peace negotiations. The Jerusalem expansion bill was considered by the administration to be one of those actions,’ the US official told The Times of Israel.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian home in Hebron with rocks, stun grenades, Ma’an

Dozens of Israeli settlers reportedly attacked a Palestinian home in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday, according to local sources. Local activist Jamal Iseifan told Ma’an that Israeli settlers from the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement attacked a house belonging to Kayid Mansour al-Jaabari, under the protection of armed Israeli forces.

Israeli Minister to Push Plan Aimed at Reducing Number of Arabs in Jerusalem, Haaretz

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin has unveiled his proposal for the municipal division of Jerusalem, which would see several Arab neighborhoods beyond the West Bank separation barrier split off from the Jerusalem municipality and be placed under the jurisdiction of one or more new council administrations. The move will require the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the completion of various legislative amendments, whose first reading was already passed by the Knesset in July.

UN finds tunnel opening under UNWRA school in Gaza, Times of Israel

United Nations officials discovered a tunnel built under a school in the Gaza Strip run by UNRWA, the international body’s agency for Palestinian refugees, the global body said in a statement. Since the discovery some two weeks ago, UNRWA closed the school and sealed off the opening to the tunnel. The school resumed operations last Wednesday, the UN organization said.

Wisconsin bans Israel boycotters from doing state business, Times of Israel

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed an executive order that prohibits state agencies from entering into contracts with companies that boycott Israel. Walker, a Republican who briefly ran for his party’s presidential nomination last year, signed the executive order late on Friday.

Opinions and Analysis

Mark Penn’s Outlier Poll, Diplomacy Works

“But like a Ginzu-knife salesman, with Penn “wait…there’s more!” One question asked Americans if sanctions, not nuclear-related sanctions, should be reimposed, to which 68 percent of respondents answered “Yes, Congress should impose sanctions on Iran.” The question makes no mention of the fact that reimposing nuclear sanctions absent evidence of non-compliance would constitute a violation of the nuclear agreement or any of the potential consequences of such action, which would be relevant to know when making that recommendation. In foreign policy, words matter. Context matters. The same is true in polling. Penn isn’t expected to know everything about foreign policy, but it’d be nice if he showed he knew more about polling.”

To Escape Indictment, Netanyahu and His Accomplices Assault the Law, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev argues, “Perhaps the efforts to change the law will be suspended for now, but not for long. The tighter the noose around Netanyahu’s neck, the more daring and reckless his rescue efforts become. When public opinion is apathetic, the Knesset is a rubber stamp and the prime minister views himself as an agent of history whose rivals are trying to bring him down with false accusations of what he views as trivial misdemeanors, the inconceivable becomes possible.  “How the faithful city has become a harlot!” Isaiah lamented, but “Zion will be redeemed by justice” he consoled. Unless, of course, Netanyahu and his parliamentary guns-for-hire get there first.”

The Moves of a Desperate Man, The American Prospect

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “Inside the Likud, Netanyahu has a free hand. But his coalition includes two parties of the hard right and another of the center-right, all led by former allies. Each would like to pick up votes at the Likud’s expense. Each wants to stay in government a little longer, to rack up some achievements to show the voters. Each fears that staying with Netanyahu too long could stain the right as a whole. They are looking for the perfect moment to cut loose. Put differently, Netanyahu has none of the protections of the rigid American system. A coalition can come up apart at any moment. Netanyahu is not yet finished. But he is scared, and flailing, and behaving like a man who would do anything to keep the evidence and the law from catching up with him.”

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