News Roundup for September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016

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J Street in the News

Iran deal remains issue in Maryland races, The Baltimore Sun

“With polls showing a tight battle for control of the Senate, states with close contests will see millions of dollars in outside money pouring in. Some of it will likely come from groups that lobbied on the deal, and so raising the issue could influence where that money is spent. But little third-party money has come into Maryland’s Senate race so far. A recent poll found Szeliga trailing Van Hollen by 29 points.”I’m not sure what the play is here,” said Ben Shnider, national political director at J Street. The left-leaning Jewish group supported the Iran deal.”We’ve seen this attack play out, but if anything we’ve seen it backfire,” Shnider said.”

J Street, Americans for Peace Now, urge Congress not to obstruct Iran deal, JTA

“The letter, delivered Friday to the congressional leadership and copied to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, counsels against any “poison-pill provisions and measures that would seek to re-impose sanctions lifted under the JCPOA, albeit under a different justification.” The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the formal name for the deal reached last year between six major powers, led by the United States, and Iran, exchanging sanctions relief for a rollback of nuclear development in Iran. The letter was initiated by NIAC Action, a lobbying group affiliated with the National Iranian American Council. Among the signatories are J Street and Americans for Peace Now, liberal Jewish Middle East policy groups. The letter is aimed at proposals by Republicans to add new sanctions to the Iran Sanctions Act, the current sanctions law, which lapses at the end of this year.

Top News and Analysis

Obama, Keen to Push Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Will Meet With Netanyahu, The New York Times

Peter Baker reports, “President Obama will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in New York this week as the White House considers laying out its proposed framework for Middle East peace over the objections of the Israeli leader….But Mr. Obama made clear on Sunday that now that he has demonstrated a commitment to Israel’s security, he plans to press Mr. Netanyahu to move toward reconciliation with the Palestinians….Left unclear was whether Mr. Obama would go beyond simply urging Mr. Netanyahu. The president is considering whether to publicly lay out his parameters for a settlement of the long-running conflict, a prospect Mr. Netanyahu has strongly opposed. Many eyes will be on Mr. Obama during his speech to the General Assembly, but if he does decide to lay out his peace plan, he might wait until after the November election to avoid having it become caught up in campaign politics. If he proceeds, he could give a speech outlining his ideas or even encapsulate them in a resolution before the United Nations Security Council.”

Violence Flares With 4 Attacks on Israelis in Jerusalem and West Bank, The New York Times

A wave of violence that had subsided in recent months flared up again on Friday as four attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank within 24 hours underscored the edgy mood between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli authorities said four Arabs who had tried to attack security officers and civilians with knives and a car were shot and killed in separate assaults, shattering the late-summer calm. A Palestinian woman who was in the car used to ram Israelis was shot and in critical condition, while two Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians were treated for light wounds.

Two Palestinians shot in alleged Hebron stabbing attempt, Times of Israel

Border Police officers shot two Palestinian men apparently attempting to carry out a stabbing attack near the Tomb of the Patriarchs pilgrimage site in Hebron on Monday, killing one and critically wounding the other, police said. The assailants, between the ages of 17 and 20, were residents of Hebron.


Israeli Army Officer Stabbed, Moderately Wounded in Fifth Attack in Three Days, Haaretz

An Israeli army officer was moderately wounded early Sunday morning in a suspected attack in the West Bank. The alleged assailant, identified as a Palestinian, was seriously hurt when he was shot after stabbing the reserves company commander in the settlement of Efrat.

Both men were taken to a Jerusalem hospital and IDF forces were searching the area.

Jewish Home ministers give up on bill to stop outpost demolition, Times of Israel

Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, both from the right-wing Jewish Home party, told Channel 10 television that the bill would not be able to prevent the evacuation and demolition of the Amona outpost in the central West Bank, which was ordered by the Supreme Court. Over the weekend, 25 of Likud’s 30 lawmakers called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to advance a bill to legalize West Bank outposts, ignoring the position of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and that of an international community opposed to settlements in general. The Knesset members, including nine cabinet ministers, also signed a petition calling for legislation to prevent the evacuation of Amona.

Netanyahu holds security meeting following surge in attacks, JTA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with the country’s top security officials to assess the security situation ahead of the upcoming Jewish holidays. The meeting Sunday evening came after a weekend surge in Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces.

Terrorists must be killed, ex-deputy IDF head tells Hebron shooter trial, Times of Israel

A former second-in-command of the Israeli army told a court on Monday that terrorists should be killed and were “fated to die.” Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, nephew of famed general Moshe Dayan, was testifying before a military court in support of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who faces manslaughter charges for killing a disarmed and seriously injured Palestinian attacker in March.

Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians in overnight raids across West Bank, Ma’an

Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians in overnight raids between Saturday and Sunday across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli Arab Political Party Calls Fraud Allegations Political Persecution’, Haaretz

Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka on Sunday rejected as false allegations that senior party officials had systematically and illegally transferred millions of shekels into the party’s accounts. The Knesset member called the police investigation, which began a few months ago and was made public on Sunday, “part of a campaign of political persecution against Balad.” Party officials were notified Sunday afternoon of an additional round of arrests of party activists.

Abbas blames Palestinian attacks on despair, but Hamas credits ‘resistance’, Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that a lack of hope was behind a wave of stabbing attacks against Israelis, a claim that was swiftly contradicted by an official in the Hamas terror group, who attributed the attacks to Palestinians being “a people of resistance.”

Opinion and Analysis

Jonathan Greenblatt Takes on Netanyahu’s Misleading Comments About Settlements, J Street Blog

J Street U President Brooke Davies writes, “J Street U has spent the past year calling on leaders in the American Jewish community to take leadership on the settlement issue for the sake of Israel’s future. A significant part of that means reckoning with the complexity of the settlement issue and expressing public disagreements with Israeli officials when they fail to. This week, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt did just that by writing an excellent piece in Foreign Policy. Greenblatt took Prime Minister Netanyahu to task on his false charge that Palestinians were advocating for “ethnic cleansing” in the West Bank and his offensive comparison between Israeli settlers and Palestinian citizens of Israel. In doing so, Greenblatt set a precedent for other Jewish communal leaders to speak publicly about the realities of the situation in the West Bank.”

Hoping to Ward Off Nusra Front, Israel Is Helping Syrian Villagers Across Border, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “The IDF has set up a unit in the Golan, under the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, to be headed by a lieutenant colonel. The unit aims to coordinate assistance to the villages – evacuating wounded to Israeli hospitals and providing medicine, food, clothing and blankets in the winter. This work is underway along the fence in areas under the control of local militias, from Quneitra in the north to the area held by an Islamic State offshoot, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. That area sits at the southern end of the Syrian border. These efforts are designed to assist the volunteer work of Israeli NGOs including Amaliah, coordinated by Moti Kahana, and Israeli Flying Aid, founded by Gal Lusky. These humanitarian efforts, happening far from the public eye, are helping save lives in Syria.”

Why Israelis don’t care about electricity agreement with PA, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem observes, “Kahlon spearheaded an important agreement that not only resolves the issue of Palestinian debt, it’s also a trust-building measure between Israel and the PA. Furthermore, inherent in the agreement is recognition by senior Israeli leadership that it is in its best interest to transfer government responsibility to the PA. In this time of deep mistrust between Israel and the PA, with the possibility of yet another wave of violence hanging in the balance, such a move could potentially lower the level of desperation among Palestinians and stop the next breakout of bloodshed. Nevertheless, despite the agreement’s significance and despite the fact that for the first time in years, a senior Israeli official cooperated with a senior Palestinian official to resolve a crisis that has gone on for a decade, the Israeli media as well as the public showed almost no interest.”

New York City Council Member Opposes BDS and the Occupation, J Street Blog

Benjy Cannon writes, “This week, New York City Council member Stephen Levin penned an eloquent statement that masterfully engages with the complexities of opposing BDS, supporting a two-state solution and taking issue with Israeli policies that undermine it. Levin, along with Council member Brad Lander, helped ensure changes in the resolution that addressed the first-amendment concerns that many anti-BDS bills have raised.”

Palestinian leader says he is proud to be branded a ‘global terrorist’ by U.S., Washington Post

Hazem Balousha and William Booth report, “ Fathi Hammad said that he is pleased to be named a ‘global terrorist’ by the United States. On Friday, the State Department branded the senior Hamas leader a ‘specially designated global terrorist.’ That is a rarefied list of international enemies belonging to organizations such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Jewish Kahane group, Algerian Salafists, the Islamic State and Hamas, among others…..The United States charged that Hammad, 55, a former interior minister for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, coordinated terrorist cells. No evidence was presented. The designation also said that Hammad is a director of Al-Aqsa TV, ‘which is a primary Hamas media outlet with programs designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.’”

Inside Netanyahu’s Viral Video Blitz to the English-speaking World, Haaretz

Alison Kaplan Sommer finds, “David Keyes, Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman, is widely acknowledged as the person who conceived and executed the video series. He doesn’t view “No Jews” as a public relations gaffe; he says the controversy only helped spread Netanyahu’s message around the world, pointing to the number of articles about it…..The new videos clearly show that Netanyahu wasn’t just looking for a change in personnel when he hired Keyes. He was looking for a new approach to the international arena in which social media, especially video, could overshadow – if not supplant – traditional on-the-record interviews. Netanyahu has always preferred television appearances over print journalism interviews. Facebook and YouTube videos take his ability to control his message another a step further, avoiding tough on-camera questioning.”

Trump win could lead Obama to back 2-state move at UN, ex-diplomat predicts, Times of Israel

Raphael Ahren reports: “I suspect that if Trump wins, the president would be more inclined to go for a Security Council resolution to try to do something that binds, creates standards for the future that the next president couldn’t undo,” Dennis Ross said at a conference on the future of Zionism and the US-Israel relationship. “If Clinton wins, I suspect he [Obama] would be more sensitive to her concerns as to whether this helps or hurt her.” Ross, who worked on Israeli-Palestinian issues for decades, including a two-year stint as special assistant to Obama and a year as special adviser to Hillary Clinton, said that the current president “would like to do something, leave some kind of legacy.”

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