News Roundup for September 15, 2016

September 15, 2016

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J Street in the News

J Street Welcomes US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, J Street Blog

“J Street warmly welcomes the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel that will ensure Israel’s security and its qualitative military advantage over any potential enemy for the next 10 years….This agreement gives the lie to those who have scurrilously attacked President Obama for the past eight years, questioning his commitment to Israeli security and to the US-Israel relationship. In fact, the President has come through for Israel time after time and he will be leaving Israel more secure than it was when he took office. As a result of last year’s historic deal between major world powers and Iran, blocking each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, Israel today is far safer – a fact attested to by many of Israel’s top military officials.”

Top News and Analysis

Ehud Barak: Netanyahu’s reckless conduct endangers Israel, Washington Post

Ehud Barak writes, “During the past two years, a sense of gloom has taken over my country, as pride in Israel’s accomplishments and self-confidence grounded in reality have given way to fear-mongering, victimhood and internal quarrels. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enabled a militant, nationalist minority to carry out a hostile takeover of his party, Likud; to form a majority in his cabinet; and thus to hijack our national agenda in the service of a messianic drive toward, as it’s often put, ‘a single Jewish state, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.’ This overarching ambition is bound to culminate in either a single, binational state, which, within a generation, may have a Jewish minority and likely a Bosnia-like civil war, or else an apartheid reality if Palestinian residents are deprived of the right to vote. Both spell doom for the Zionist dream.”

Trump Would Be Proud of Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian Ethnic Cleansing Canard, Haaretz

Peter Beinart observes, “In recent weeks, Donald Trump has adopted an odd strategy. He’s begun accusing Hillary Clinton of possessing the very deficiencies that he displays himself….Where could Trump have learned this form of rhetorical jujutsu? Maybe from Benjamin Netanyahu….There’s nothing wrong with Jewish children living in the West Bank or anywhere else in the world. There is a problem with Jewish children and adults living as citizens with due process, voting rights, free movement and plentiful land, electricity and water along West Bank Palestinians who, merely by virtue of not being Jews, lack those things. The problem isn’t Jews in the West Bank. It’s Jews and Palestinians living in the same territory under a different law. Despite Netanyahu’s endless attempts at obfuscation, it’s not that hard to understand.”

Barack Obama Hails $38B Israel Aid Package, Forward

President Obama said on Wednesday that a new $38 billion aid package will help ensure Israel can defend itself from threats, commenting in a statement on the 10-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two nations.

Will Obama Make Netanyahu Pay for Historic Aid Deal With Last-gasp Push for Peace?, Haaretz

Barak Ravid writes, “Obama’s announcement and the connection he made to the Palestinian issue reinforces Netanyahu’s pessimistic scenarios regarding moves the American president may make immediately after the U.S. elections in November. Will it be a presidential address in which he presents his outline of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement? Will it be a UN Security Council resolution that sets down these principles? Perhaps both? At the prime minister’s bureau, they don’t know the answers to these questions, but Obama’s words are evidence that these question marks are liable to become exclamation points very soon.”


Opposition MKs: PM’s frosty relations with US reduced military aid, Times of Israel

Opposition lawmakers on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu for a new 10-year, $38 billion defense aid deal with the United States, saying his spats with US President Barack Obama were to blame for Washington’s refusal to dole out additional defense funding.

Lieberman Orders Israeli Defense, Military Officials to Boycott UN Envoy, Haaretz

The office of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has instructed ministry employees and military officials to boycott UN Envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov, Channel 2 reported last night. According to the report, the orders were issued following Mladenov’s criticism of Israeli policies on settlement construction and toward the Palestinians, as well as of Lieberman himself.

Poll: Most Israeli and American Jews want Israel to recognize non-Orthodox marriages, conversions, JTA

A large majority of American and Israeli Jews say Israel should recognize marriages and conversions performed by Reform and Conservative rabbis. A poll conducted by The Jerusalem Post and the American Jewish Committee found that 74 percent of American Jews and 62 percent of Israeli Jews believe the non-Orthodox rites should be recognized. The findings were released Tuesday.

World Bank: Israeli restrictions, aid delays worsen stagnating Palestinian economy, Ma’an

The Palestinian economy remains “worrying” as growth stagnation, delays in aid delivery, and Israeli restrictions continue to seriously impede improvements to the Palestinian financial situation, a World Bank report revealed on Thursday.

After strikes, Moscow signals Israel to lower flame on Golan, Times of Israel

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Tuesday for restraint on the Golan Heights amid increasing tensions along the Israeli-Syria frontier, as the IDF continued to target the Syrian regime in response to apparently errant cross-border mortar fire.

Opinion and Analysis

Your Guide to Settlements and Ethnic Cleansing, Matzav Blog

Michael Koplow observes, “Note Netanyahu’s rhetorical sleight of hand in the video, where he begins by talking about Jewish communities in the West Bank, and then pivots to talking about Jews writ large. It is one thing for Israel to absorb the large settlements blocs into Israel proper once an agreement is signed, but it is quite another for Israel to maintain settlements that are in Palestinian state territory, that are only open to residents who are Jewish, and that are Israeli sovereign territory guarded by Israeli soldiers. That is what Netanyahu was actually arguing for in the video.”

Blog: Good News – Israel and the PA Reach Agreement on Electric Debt, J Street Blog

Benjy Cannon writes, “Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a deal yesterday that resolves the longstanding debt issues between the PA and Israel Electric Corporation (IEC). It’s good news on a few different fronts….The deal will end the power cuts and ensure that the debt is better managed going forward. It accomplishes this by simply erasing 500 million shekels that the PA currently owes, it mandates that they pay an additional 500 million shekels immediately and it sets up a plan to collect another billion shekels over an extended period. The plan includes mechanisms to collect unpaid electricity bills from Palestinians across the West Bank. As a result, in addition to ensuring that the IEC is paid for its services, West Bank Palestinians will now not have to worry about sudden power cuts.”

Can Obama buy the love of his pro-Israel critics?, Politico

Nahal Toosi reports, “Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration official now with the Center for a New American Security, said that regardless of how much money the U.S. president gives Israel, the subject of Obama’s relationship to the country is so divisive that neither side will be happy. But, to their credit, Netanyahu and Obama put aside their personal animosity to get it done, and that not only sends a signal to critics of both men, but also to Iran and other regional players who hope to see a weakened Israel, he said.”

Hamas accuses Abbas of blocking local elections to protect Fatah, Al-Monitor

“A month out from the local elections scheduled for Oct. 8, the Palestinian High Court of Justice in Ramallah suspended the contest over the impossibility of holding the vote in East Jerusalem in addition to other procedural problems, including that courts in Gaza have been considering Hamas’ complaints against the Fatah lists….Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Sept. 8 that the court’s decision was politically motivated and intended to rescue Fatah, which sensed it was going to lose and thus turned to the high court. He added that the court’s ruling was a result of Fatah’s fear of losing the elections after the collapse of its electoral lists in a number of areas.”

Amos Oz on being called a ‘traitor’, BBC Newsnight

Kirsty Wark interviews one of Israel’s great living writers, Amos Oz, about being called a traitor, a two-state solution, and his new book ‘Judas’.

Shimon Peres, the last Israeli giant, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit writes, “Over the last two years, with his career behind him and Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister, Peres’ hope began to give way to anger and despondency. Political sources say that in private discussions, Peres talked about the direction in which Netanyahu was leading the country, Israel’s uncertain future and the dangers lying in wait for the country if no real leader emerged to put the country back on track….Peres is the last Israeli who was “there” — when Israel was established. He was a member of the founding generation that supported the state from its first day of existence, and he was one of those responsible for building its strength even while fighting the War of Independence. Peres is considered the father of Israel’s nuclear enterprise, the man who made the reactor in the town of Dimona happen. He is in one way or another connected to practically every significant event in Israel, every important enterprise or project.”