News Roundup for September 12, 2016

September 12, 2016

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J Street in the News

An Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution isn’t about scoring points, Washington Post

In a letter-to-the-editor, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “If the president is weighing taking renewed action toward Israeli-Palestinian peace — and given the deteriorating nature of the conflict, he should be — it’s because real U.S. and Israeli interests are on the line, not because he wants to score points on the prime minister. Belief in the urgency of reaching a two-state solution isn’t a strange quirk of the president; for decades, it has been a core tenet of bipartisan U.S. policy, shared by the large majority of Israel’s security establishment. As supporters of a secure Israel and a strong U.S.-Israeli relationship, we can’t afford to lose sight of that.”

J Street Demands End to Tax Breaks for Pro-Settlement Groups, Forward

“J Street has called on the U.S Treasury Department to review the tax-deductibility status of groups that support settlement activity in the West Bank…. ‘Clearly the United States has not effectively put real weight behind its opposition to Israeli settlements,’ said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. ‘It must do more to maintain the viability of a two-state solution. At the very least, it should not reward with a tax deduction those funding organizations whose activities could well be illegal and whose goals and activities are in direct opposition to long-standing, bipartisan US policy.’”

J Street: The US should end tax deductions for pro-settlement groups, Jerusalem Post

“J Street called on the US treasury to halt tax deductions to groups that support Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, saying that it contradicts American foreign policy. It mentioned specifically right-wing nongovernmental groups, such as Regavim, which monitors illegal Palestinian construction, the Hebron Fund, which works to expand the Jewish community in that city, and The Ir David Foundation (Elad), which supports the construction of new homes for Jews in Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem…. ‘According to US Internal Revenue Service requirements, tax deductible status can only be given to those organizations whose activities are not illegal or contrary to “established public policy,’ J Street said.”

J Street wants review of tax exemption for US pro-settlement organizations, Times of Israel

The liberal J Street organization is calling on the US Treasury to review the tax-deductibility status of donations by American groups that promote Israeli settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In a statement sent to the media Friday, J Street said that ‘a sophisticated private network has sprung up in the United States, funded by tax-deductible donations, that has channeled millions of dollars to strengthen the settlements and weaken the Palestinians’ presence in the West Bank.’ According to the statement, the money is used to fund organizations such as the right-wing NGO Regavim, founded by Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich, which J Street said ‘presses for the demolition of Palestinian houses – and in some cases entire communities.’”

Jeremy Ben-Ami Responds to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Comments on “Ethnic Cleansing”, J Street Blog

In a video response, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami reviews how the Prime Minister misleadingly and incorrectly portrays the situation in the West Bank.

Trump Campaign’s Love Affair With Israeli Settlers, Huffington Post

J Street’s Alan Elsner writes, “News that allies of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have been trawling for votes in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank demonstrates the growing ties between the Republican Party and the Israeli settler movement which threatens to destroy three decades of bipartisan foreign policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.”

Top News and Analysis

U.S. condemns Netanyahu’s charge that Palestinians want to ‘ethnically cleanse’ Jews from West Bank, Washington Post

US officials condemned a provocative video posted Friday by Prime Minister Netanyahu that accused the Palestinians of wanting to commit “ethnic cleansing” by ridding the West Bank of Jews. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau harshly criticized Netanyahu’s assertions in a news conference Friday in Washington. ‘We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank,’ Trudeau said. ‘We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful.’”

Trump Campaign Sides With Netanyahu: Palestinians Seek ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Jews, Haaretz

“Donald Trump’s adviser on U.S.-Israeli relations told Haaretz Sunday that the Obama administration ‘should be ashamed of their misguided reaction’ to remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a Facebook video published over the weekend, Netanyahu said that support for the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, as part of a two-state peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, was the equivalent of advocating for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews. ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu makes exactly the right point. The Palestinians want Israel to absorb countless ‘refugees’ – people who never lived in Israel and whose ancestors were never forced to leave Israel – while their so-called ‘state’ is required to be, as the Nazis said, judenrein (devoid of Jews). It is an entirely racist and anti-Semitic position,’ David Friedman, the Trump adviser, related in an email exchange.”

Netanyahu’s Claim of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Sets a Guinness Record for Chutzpah, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Netanyahu asserts in his video that the nearly two million Arabs in Israel are living proof that there is no need to remove Jews from Judea and Samaria in order to achieve peace. Does Netanyahu mean that Jewish settlers will become Palestinian citizens, pay taxes to the government in East Jerusalem or Ramallah or that their children will sing, ‘Palestine is my revenge and the land of steadfastness’ from the PLO anthem? Of course not. In his vision of peace, the Jewish settlers will continue to be Israeli citizens, will enjoy the protection of the Israel Defense Forces even if they reside deep inside Palestinian territories and will sing ‘As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning’ out of Hatikvah. This doesn’t even bear a passing resemblance to the status of Arabs in Israel, but what won’t Netanyahu do in the service of false equivalents and cheap propaganda.”

Obama & Palestine: The Last Chance, New York Review of Books

Nathan Thrall argues, “[I]f Obama is to salvage his legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he will have to support a parameters resolution at the Security Council. His gambit, in that case, would be to weaken the Palestinian position on paper in the hope of strengthening it in practice, by creating binding guidelines for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”


U.S.-Israel Defense Aid Deal to Be Signed in Coming Days, U.S. Envoy Says, Haaretz

A defense agreement between Israel and the United States is expected to be signed in the coming days, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Sunday. Speaking to a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Shapiro said the agreement would provide for Israel’s defense needs until 2029 and constitutes the largest aid grant the United States has ever given a foreign country.

Judges Slam Israeli Government for Refusing To Implement Western Wall Prayer Deal, Forward

The Israeli government took a beating in court Monday for its failure to implement a ruling from the beginning of the year to make arrangements for non-Orthodox worship at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “Enough is enough,” said High Court of Justice President Miriam Naor, referring to the government’s inaction on the matter.

Abbas Counters Netanyahu, Accuses Israel of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’, Haaretz

The Palestinian president is accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” days after Israel’s leader lobbed that same allegation at the Palestinians. President Abbas has made the claim against Israel in the past. But his remarks late Sunday came after Prime Minister Netanyahu insisted West Bank settlements were not an obstacle to peace and that Palestinians wanted the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews in the West Bank.

Israeli forces continue siege on Nablus villages for 7th consecutive day, Ma’an

Israeli forces Saturday continued to impose strict closures on Nablus-area villages of Beita, Einabus, Urif, and Huwwara for the seventh consecutive day, claiming rocks had been thrown by Palestinians at settlers vehicles on the Huwwara main road.

Israel’s High Court Finds Force Feeding Constitutional: ‘A Hunger Striker Is Not an Ordinary Patient’, Haaretz

The High Court of Justice ruled that a law permitting the force feeding of prisoners who go on a hunger strike meets the test of constitutionality on Sunday.  The High Court denied petitions filed by the Israel Medical Association (IMA) and by several human rights groups last year.

Jerusalem Synagogue Vandalized with Spray Painted Crosses, Forward

A Jerusalem synagogue was vandalized with black crosses spray painted on its outside walls. The vandal attack occurred on Sunday night at a synagogue in the Katamon neighborhood in southern Jerusalem.

Opinion and Analysis

Has Netanyahu met his match?, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem observes, “For the first time since the 2015 elections, Netanyahu’s Likud has lost its place, on paper, as the biggest party in the Knesset, reduced to a barely medium-sized party. This is a major personal achievement for Lapid, who through hard, targeted work, superb campaigning skills and precision strategy has proven it possible to put a dent in Netanyahu, who since his dizzying 2015 election victory has been walking around with the air that he’ll be around forever. Lapid has cracked Netanyahu’s image of invincibility and now faces him as a serious challenger….Meretz Chair Zehava Gal-On detects in the survey a huge opportunity for her party, which she thinks can build itself on the ruins of Labor, the main party within the Zionist Camp, to become the biggest party on the left.”

Netanyahu is right: Settlements aren’t the biggest obstacle to peace, +972

Dahlia Scheindlin argues, [I]f anyone could have advanced a two-state final status accord, which Netanyahu professes to accept, it’s him. He enjoys nearly unprecedented electoral support and represents the largest ideological bloc in Israel – the right. For his whole time in office since 2009, a majority of Israelis have supported the two-state solution, though lately the numbers are edging south. That’s why settlements are actually not the main obstacle at present. Netanyahu is. He certainly did not create the situation, nor is he the only obstacle. But he is the leader of the country that holds the cards. He has a proven tendency to lie. The idea that he supports a two-state solution is one of them.”

Will Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalate in December?, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir writes, “Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are using this period of international deadlock to consolidate the base of their political support in order to prepare for another year of political stalemate. By focusing on mutual hostilities (as a way of consolidating public support), both parties are most probably leaving the door wide open for the more violent extremist elements on both sides.”

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