News Roundup for September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016

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J Street in the News

Trump hitches a ride on Bibi’s coattails, Politico

Michael Crowley writes, “Donald Trump once promised to be the “neutral guy” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said he didn’t want to assign fault in the never-ending impasse. Trump struck a very different tone on Sunday, telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would recognize an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital and squarely blaming Palestinian “hatred and violence” for the ongoing failure of Middle East peace efforts….In the U.S., one recent poll showed Clinton with a 66 percent-23 percent lead over Trump among Jewish voters in Florida. (The poll was conducted by a firm that has also worked for the liberal Israel policy group J Street, which has staunchly criticized Netanyahu.)”

Get Your Facts Straight, Baltimore Jewish Times

J Street Baltimore chair Aaron Levin writes, “It is our profound concern for Israel’s future that motivates our support for a two-state  solution and opposition to settlement expansion. The State Department determined in 1979 that settlements are illegal and contrary to established  U.S. policy, a ruling that has  remained in effect under both Democratic and Republican presidents. Under U.S. law, activity that is illegal or contrary to longstanding U.S. policy may not be supported by tax-deductible donations. That is why we in  J Street urged the Treasury  Department to review so-called “charitable” organizations funding settlement expansion. In doing so, we are not seeking to “shut down” anyone. We are simply concerned that organizations aiding the spread of settlements in contravention of U.S. law and policy continue to be subsidized by American taxpayers.”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Tells Netanyahu: If Elected, U.S. Would Recognize Undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for an hour and 20 minutes on Sunday at Trump Tower in Manhattan. According to a Trump campaign press release, Trump told Netanyahu that if elected, “a Trump administration would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”

Clinton Backs Israel in Meeting With Benjamin Netanyahu — Trump Vows Jerusalem Embassy Move, Forward

Hillary Clinton said she opposed any U.N. Security Council bid to impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just hours after a summit between the Israeli leader and Donald Trump. “The secretary reaffirmed her commitment to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity,” said a statement from the presidential campaign of the former secretary of state. Secretary Clinton reaffirmed her opposition to any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council,” the statement said.

Kerry: Israel and Palestinians Headed for Binational State, World Must Act or Shut Up, Haaretz

“Secretary of State John Kerry took Israel to task at a private meeting in New York last Monday over its policy in the West Bank, Haaretz has learned. The comments came at a closed meeting of ministers representing the countries providing financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Kerry repeatedly raised his voice, emphasizing that Israel and the Palestinians are moving in the direction of a binational state rather than a Palestinian state alongside Israel and are also headed toward war. He added that if the international community is interested in putting a halt to these developments, ‘Either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up.’….The U.S. secretary of state also expressed criticism of the Palestinians, the sources said, citing the increased number of Palestinian terror attacks and the incitement against Israel. However, the thrust of his remarks constituted criticism of the unprecedented rate of construction in the settlements in particular, and Israel’s policies in the West Bank in general.”

Could a centrist politician be Israel’s next PM?, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem writes, “[I]t is reasonable to think that a large centrist party (like Yesh Atid) that joins forces with Livni and Barak from the left, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Finance Minister and head of the Kulanu Party Moshe Kahlon from the right, and former generals like Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz could carry away the Israeli public that, according to the polls, is fed up with Netanyahu….The big, intriguing question is, Will forces in the center (and from its left and right) succeed in maximizing their potential this time around? Much depends on Lapid and his capabilities as head of the largest party in the bloc to combine forces with parts of the right and also with parts of the left, such as the Zionist Camp.”


Netanyahu Apologizes for Comparing Hebron Shooter’s Parents to Bereaved Military Families, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized on Sunday morning for his remarks a day earlier, in which he compared between the suffering of the family of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, on trial for manslaughter, and the suffering of bereaved families of fallen soldiers. Azaria is standing trial for manslaughter in Jaffa Military Court after shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron in March.

10 American Muslim Leaders Urge Hamas to Return Remains of Israeli Soldiers, Forward

A slate of ten US Muslim leaders, including both Muslims in Congress, urged Hamas to return to Israel the remains of two soldiers.

Male Israeli soldiers allowed to ask out of serving with women, JTA

Israel Defense Forces soldiers can request to not serve alongside women and to be excused from any military event that goes against their beliefs, according to a new directive. The new directive by Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, published Sunday and distributed to all units, comes as Eisenkot has decided not to establish any additional Nahal Haredi battalions, made up exclusively of Haredi Orthodox soldiers, and integrate them into regular units.

Bennett Slams Netanyahu, Likud Over Handling of Illegal West Bank Outpost, Haaretz

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said over the weekend he was drawing up a bill that would “legitimize in one thrust” all Jewish construction in the West Bank and preempt evacuations like the one at illegal outpost Amona due by December 25.

IDF preparing an underground ‘death trap’ for Hamas, i24News

Hamas is prioritizing offensive and defensive underground efforts above all else, a senior IDF officer said Sunday. The Israeli military is preparing itself and training its soldiers for tunnel warfare, with the intention of transforming the arena of underground combat into a ‘death trap’ for the Islamist group’s militants, should another round of conflict be triggered.

Committee: More than 1,000 Palestinian minors detained by Israel in 2016 so far, Ma’an

More than 1,000 Palestinian minors have been detained by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Saturday, in a reported increase from 2015.

Opinion and Analysis

Home Teams Are Israeli, but Turf Is in West Bank, The New York Times

Peter Baker reports, “[Soccer]’s governing body, FIFA, is scheduled next month to consider whether to force Israel to bar a half-dozen of its soccer clubs from playing in the occupied West Bank. A report to be released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, concludes that the soccer teams violate FIFA’s policies prohibiting games from being held on the territory of another member without permission.”

A Famous Palestinian Activist Could Be Sent to Israel Prison for His Years of Nonviolent Protest, Vice

Batya Ungar-Sargon reports, “Issa Amro, a Palestinian human rights activist, will appear in the Israeli military court at Ofer to defend himself against 18 charges that could result in one to three years in prison. At 36, Amro is already internationally renowned as the founder of Youth Against Settlements, an organization devoted to ending Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories through nonviolent action…..The criminal behavior listed in the indictment includes things like resisting arrest, breaking a settler’s camera, and interfering with soldiers trying to do their jobs. But many of the charges are what in the US would be called free speech, like “incitement,” “insulting a soldier,” “attempting to influence public opinion in a place or way that threatens public safety or order,” and gathering without permission….According to Israeli military law, Palestinians wishing to gather in groups of more than ten require permission from the Israeli military. Acts considered to be influencing public opinion can be prohibited as “political incitement,” and can carry prison terms.”

On International Peace Day, Israeli and Palestinian Activists Visit Capitol Hill, J Street Blog

Tali DeGroot writes, “Earlier this summer, the international community demonstrated its capacity to influence realities on the ground in Israel and the West Bank by loudly demanding that Israel not demolish Susya. American politicians and citizens must continue this effort, and continue to do everything they can to support a solution that finally brings this ongoing conflict to a close. In moving and often heartbreaking fashion, the events on the Hill this week drove home that real lives and families are on the line.”

Alliance? Shared Values? For Trump, Israel’s Security Is All Business, Haaretz

Barak Ravid observes, “During Sunday’s meeting Trump stressed that he doesn’t support cutting aid to Israel, but he described one of the most basic foundations of the U.S.-Israel relationship in business terms. According to his announcement, he told Netanyahu that U.S. military assistance and military defense cooperation “are an excellent investment for America.” An investment. Not a joint interest in national security, not a part of shared values with the only democracy in the Middle East. What does that say about the future? Will the aid cease when it’s no longer good for business? It’s no coincidence that Netanyahu, like his friends at the head of the Republican Party, are concerned about what might happen if Trump is elected.”

Palestinians fight to prove West Bank land ownership, Al-Monitor

Although the Supreme Court decided to order the evacuation of the Jewish settlement built on private Palestinian land back in December 2014, the court granted the Amona settlers and the state a two-year extension to organize the move and find an alternative location for its inhabitants. But instead of preparing to implement the ruling, the Amona settlers, their leaders in the Yesha settlement council and the right-wing parties chose to try to skirt the court decision and keep their homes. One of their moves was the reintroduction of a bill known as the “regularization law,” which failed to pass in 2012. It would prevent the razing of homes built on private Palestinian land by legalizing the settlement. Another is the takeover of lands adjacent to Amona by essentially claiming that these are lands abandoned by “absentee owners.” If the owners of such property do turn up, they would receive compensation from the state.”


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