News Roundup for October 7, 2016

October 7, 2016

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J Street in the News

In battle for the Senate, the Iran nuclear deal is looming large, JTA

“While the Iran nuclear deal gets fleeting attention in the presidential race, it is shaping up as a key issue in at least nine states integral to Democrats’ hopes of regaining control of the U.S. Senate. Rival pro-Israel factions are pouring money into many of those races, and candidates are using support or opposition to the controversial deal as a means of tarring their opponents. And depending on what happens in November, the election could redefine what it means to be “pro-Israel.”….Iran has entered the calculus in a way that reflects the split between J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful centrist lobbying group. J Street and AIPAC, which does not back candidates, went head to head over the Iran  deal, which exchanges sanctions relief for a nuclear rollback. The former worked hard to keep lawmakers from rejecting the deal; the latter led the effort to kill it….On Wednesday, J Street said it was ready to spend $750,000 backing endorsers of the deal in four critical races, including two that include expensive ad buys on TV….J Street wants to change the Israel calculus in how candidates run for office, and the either-or nature of the Iran debate is part of that formula.”

J Street boosts Feingold, hits Johnson in ad, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“J Street, a pro-Israel liberal advocacy group, launched an ad buy in Wisconsin to back Democrat Russ Feingold for supporting the Iran nuclear deal. The group said it put $500,000 toward the buy in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where the group is supporting Democrat Katie McGinty over Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey….In a statement, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said: “We’re aiming to fundamentally transform the political calculation by demonstrating that the Iran nuclear agreement and diplomacy-first approaches make for good policy and for good politics.” The ad seeks to link Johnson and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for their opposition to the deal.”

Outside group ties GOP senators opposing Iran deal to Trump, The Hill

“J Street, a pro-Israel advocacy group that supported last year’s deal, is going up with TV ads Wednesday arguing that GOP Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) are “wrong” about the pact, just like the GOP presidential nominee. “Ron Johnson and Donald Trump oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” the Wisconsin ad’s narrator says. “Ron Johnson thinks he knows better. Like Donald Trump, he’s wrong.”  Trump has been a vocal opponent of the agreement, calling it “one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history.” Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence also traded shots over the deal during Tuesday’s night vice presidential debate. The ads also highlight details of the agreement — including a tougher inspection regime, new constraints on Iran’s program and the requirement that Tehran turn over its uranium — and support for the deal from Democratic Senate candidates Katie McGinty, in Pennsylvania, and former Sen. Russ Feingold, in Wisconsin.”

Without Strong Action, Israeli Government Will Continue to Ignore US Opposition to Settlement Expansion, J Street Blog

“J Street welcomes the US government’s strong condemnation of Israel’s latest announcement of new settlement construction in the West Bank. Yet we also urge the Obama administration to recognize that strong words have had little effect on Israeli settlement expansion and its creeping annexation of the West Bank. It is long past time for the US to move beyond mere condemnations and to take action to put real weight behind its opposition to settlements and its commitment to the two-state solution….As the White House spokesman noted, this announcement raises “serious concern” about “how good friends treat one another.” Israel and the US are great friends – but Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion demonstrates flagrant disregard for what its best friend has to say. Continuing to issue condemnations without taking action to put real weight behind them only weakens American credibility, and sends the message that Israel’s actions to undermine the two-state solution carry no consequences.”

J Street cautions Schumer on Iran deal, Jewish Journal

“J Street, likely to emerge after the 2016 election as a major force within the Democratic Party, is expecting from Senator Chuck Schumer to fall in line with supporters of the Iranian nuclear deal once he assumes leadership of the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. Senate. ‘Senator Schumer understands that he’s very much in the minority in his own party and he would have a strong uphill battle were he to try to do anything that would actually undermine the deal,’ J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami told Jewish Insider on Wednesday.”

Top News and Analysis

At the Boiling Point With Israel, The New York Times

The editorial board writes, “If the aim of the Israeli government is to prevent a peace deal with the Palestinians, now or in the future, it’s close to realizing that goal. Last week, it approved the construction of a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank, another step in the steady march under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to build on land needed to create a Palestinian state….The Obama administration, with every justification, strongly condemned the action as a betrayal of the idea of a two-state solution in the Middle East. But Mr. Netanyahu obviously doesn’t care what Washington thinks, so it will be up to President Obama to find another way to preserve that option before he leaves office…..However important weapons and military assistance are, the best chance of improving Israel’s security lies in reaching a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians. The ever expanding settlements have poisoned Palestinian hopes and functioned variously as a spark, a target and an excuse for violence, intensifying the conflict….The most plausible pressure would come from Mr. Obama’s leading the Security Council to put its authority behind a resolution to support a two-state solution and offer the outlines of what that could be. That may seem like a bureaucratic response unlikely to change anything, but it is the kind of political pressure Mr. Netanyahu abhors and has been working assiduously to prevent.”

Israel Proposes Temporary Housing in West Bank Industrial Zone for Evacuees of Illegal Outpost, Haaretz

The state has proposed that the residents of Amona, an illegal settlement in the West Bank, move temporarily to a residential plot in the industrial zone of Shilo, until the construction of a planned new settlement in the area of Shvut Rachel. All three locations are in the West Bank. The Supreme Court has ruled that Amona, which was built on private Palestinian land, must be evacuated by the end of the year. Amona residents say that they have rejected the proposal, which was put to them in recent months. Nevertheless, the proposal remains on the table, as far as the state is concerned, and is being assessed along with other possible solutions.


Ehud Barak says government ‘deceived’ US on settlements, Times of Israel

Former prime minister Ehud Barak on Thursday slammed the government’s handling of plans to expand a West Bank settlement, saying it had “deceived” the Unites States by not informing the Obama administration of the move. In an extensive interview with Army Radio Thursday morning, Barak said that Israel must make its own decisions on security issues but “we must act wisely and appropriately with our allies,” he added, saying Israel should have told the US of the plans first.

Bennett: We Must Act Now and ‘Give Our Lives’ for the Annexation of the West Bank, Haaretz

Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett said Thursday that “we must give our lives” for the cause of annexing the West Bank to Israel. Bennett, who was speaking at a at a conference in Jerusalem in memory of settler figure Hanan Porat, also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the plans to evict the illegal outpost Amona by the end of the year. “On the matter of the Land of Israel, we have to move from holding action to a decision,” Bennett said. “We have to mark the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria will be part of the sovereign State of Israel. We have to act today, and we must give our lives. We can’t keep marking the Land of Israel as a tactical target and a Palestinian state as the strategic target.”

Israeli official: Obama’s settlement critique ‘an alibi’ for planned anti-Israel moves, Times of Israel

An Israel official on Thursday deepened the latest dispute with the Obama administration over settlement-building by charging that “disproportionate criticism” from Washington over the latest construction plans is “an alibi” to cover plans by President Barack Obama to take anti-Israel actions in the final weeks of his presidency. The senior source told Channel 2 Thursday that the building plans breached no commitments, did not constitute a new settlement, and would not bring more settlers into the West Bank, since the construction was for new homes for settlers who are to be evicted from Amona, an illegal outpost scheduled for demolition on the orders of the Supreme Court.

UN Security Council to Hold Special Meeting on Israeli Settlements, Haaretz

The UN Security Council is to hold a special meeting next week on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Arria Formula meeting will not involve a vote and is expected to be open to the media. Foreign Ministry officials fear it will turn into an international demonstration of condemnation of the government’s policy in the territories and set the stage for an anti-settlement resolution in the Security Council after the U.S. elections.

Biden, remembering Peres, pleads for triumph of tolerance over bigotry, JTA

Vice President Joe Biden said Shimon Peres’ legacy should be one of tolerance at a time of rising bigotry.

Opinion and Analysis

Will PA wait for US elections to submit new UN resolution?, Al-Monitor

Adnan Abu Amer reports, “The Palestinian Authority’s postponement of its submittal of a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council condemning Israeli settlement activities until after the US presidential elections has annoyed Palestinians….Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, told Al-Monitor, ‘The Arab Group and some friendly countries in the Security Council proposed the postponement of the submittal of the draft resolution until after the US elections, although the PA is not convinced about this,’ noting that consultations with those countries are underway in order to finalize the draft resolution and submit it to the Security Council before the end of this year.”

I Hadn’t Been Called a Kike Since Fourth Grade. Donald Trump Changed All That, Haaretz

Bradley Burston writes, “There’s a reason why so many anti-Semites are going for Trump. It’s not that he’s an anti-Semite. He’s something worse. He’s an influential public figure who trades on anti-Semitism, who benefits from it, who enables and tolerates and excuses and pumps it, and who, most crucially, cannot afford to lose the votes of his admirers who hate Jews. Just as he cannot afford to lose the votes of his admirers who bear strong prejudice against women, Muslims, Hispanics. He has given a podium to bigotry, an arena stage to hatred.”

Abbas unfazed by criticism of participation in Peres’ funeral, Al-Monitor

Daoud Kuttab reports, “In the aftermath of Abbas’ participation at the funeral, a flood of what appears to be raw anger and opposition was part of discussions in shops and homes. While those in opposition were the loudest and most vocal, a number of saner voices have since emerged trying to put the visit in perspective. Much of the opposition appeared to be politically motivated, reflecting fractures in support for Abbas not only in the public at large, but even with the ruling Fatah movement. Attacks used treasonous language to describe the actions of Abbas.”

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