News Roundup for September 27, 2018

September 27, 2018

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J Street in the News

J Street Responds to Trump Comments on Two-State Solution, J Street

“Following President Trump’s statement, in a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, that ‘I think the two-state solution will work best,’ J Street’s Vice President for Government Affairs Dylan Williams issued the following comment: ‘If President Trump truly supports a two-state solution, then he should reverse the many actions by his administration that have made it much harder to achieve. He should stop claiming that he has taken the issue of Jerusalem ‘off the table,’ and stop the cruel and destructive cuts in humanitarian aid and assistance to the Palestinian people. He should instruct the US ambassador to Israel to stop condoning Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. President Trump and his administration should be judged by actions, not words, and their actions have made clear: they have no interest in promoting genuine peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Until those destructive actions change, the idea that they are formulating a credible ‘peace plan’ is absurd.’”

Top News and Analysis

Trump and Rouhani flip scripts at the U.N., Reuters

David Wade writes, “The traditional scripts were flipped during Tuesday’s dueling addresses by U.S. President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly – the second of the Trump presidency. That should trouble anyone who cares not just about the United States’ global standing, but about the prospects for multilateral diplomacy to address the world’s very real problems with Tehran. Put aside the delegates’ laughter after Trump boasted of his administration’s ‘extraordinary’ achievements. For a president who authored the bestselling Art of the Deal and his foil Rouhani, the strikingly different tone of their speeches and the way they were received should be a wakeup call. For all of Trump’s promises about improving the nuclear agreement he called ‘the worst deal ever’ and negotiating an end to Iran’s malign activities in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and elsewhere, the U.S. president finds himself deprived of leverage, while Rouhani is the one invoking the legitimacy and legality of the international system the United States built. This is no happy occurrence.”

Is the Iran Deal Finally Dead?, Foreign Policy

Michael Hirsh writes, “Could there be a starker test of global power balances than what is occurring at the United Nations over Iran this week? On Monday, a grinning Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, stood next to Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign affairs chief, as she announced elaborate plans in New York to undercut U.S. President Donald Trump and save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, including a ‘special vehicle’ designed to bypass U.S. financial sanctions. In a rare joint statement, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China all declared themselves behind the plan. The next day, Trump, wearing his now-familiar grimace of cold command, informed a silent General Assembly hall that he was doing more than just killing the ‘horrible’ Iran nuclear deal. He was also imposing major new unilateral sanctions that appear designed to promote regime collapse. In his speech at the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering Tuesday morning, Trump all but called Iran’s leaders illegitimate, saying they only ‘sow chaos, death, and destruction.’ ‘We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime’ and to deny it ‘the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda,’ Trump added. But Trump plainly wasn’t asking. Rather, the U.S. leader appeared to be delivering yet another fiat to the world—and, as he made clear, not only for Iran’s economic isolation. Trump’s policy amounts to virtual asphyxiation, including a cutoff of Iran’s financial lifeblood, oil sales.”


Iran’s Rouhani says US will eventually rejoin nuclear deal, i24NEWS

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani predicted Wednesday that the United States would eventually rejoin an international nuclear deal, saying talks this week at the United Nations showed his counterpart Donald Trump’s isolation.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas Expected to Deliver A Historic Speech at the UN, Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to deliver a “historic speech” at the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Palestinian media reported. Abbas’ speech will include the total rejection of unilateral US sponsorship of future peace talks, demands to discuss the two-state solution in future regional peace talks, recognition of east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and the return of Palestinians refugees.

Hamas Widens Rift With Abbas Ahead of His UN Speech, Haaretz

On the eve of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he is expected to ask for swift international intervention to save the two-state solution, the rift and disgust between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is getting worse.

Netanyahu ‘not surprised’ at Trump’s preference for two-state solution, Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after meeting Donald Trump that he was “not surprised” at the U.S. president’s preference for a two-state solution for peace with the Palestinians, Israeli media reports said.

Palestinians push alternative to Trump peace plan at international conference, i24NEWS

The Palestinian mission to the United Nations on Wednesday hosted a gathering of heads of international organizations and diplomats from some 40 nations to explore alternatives to the United States’ anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

Israeli defense chief shrugs off Trump comments on two states, Associated Press

Israel’s defense minister has expressed indifference to President Donald Trump’s backing of a two-state solution for the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

U.K. Will Immediately Recognize Palestine if Labour Elected, Says Corbyn, Haaretz

Britain’s opposition Labour Party will “will recognise a Palestinian state as soon as we take office,” says leader Jeremy Corbyn while speaking Wednesday at the annual party conference.

Iran warns Israel over attacking Iranian forces in Syria, Associated Press

A senior Iranian security official has threatened Israel with harsh “reactions” if the Jewish state “continues to attack” Iranian and government forces in Syria.

Israel prepared to reopen Golan crossing with Syria: defense chief, Reuters
Israel is ready to reopen a crossing point into the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights now that Syrian government forces have regained control from rebels, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday.

Opinion and Analysis

Liberal Jews and Israelis must stand together against Trump and Netanyahu, Forward

Avner Gvaryahu and Rabbi Jill Jacobs write, “Today, just hours after a UN speech that drew mocking laughter from world leaders, President Trump emerged from a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu saying, ‘We are with Israel 100%.’ As the saying goes, with friends like these, you don’t need enemies. As Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump systematically work to dismantle liberal democracy in Israel and the United States, the two men have also forged a dangerous alliance with each other. It’s time for progressive activists in our two countries to double down on an alliance of our own. With a hechsher from Trump, Netanyahu feels free to pursue policies that lead Israel toward ethnocracy, entrench the military occupation, and de facto annex the West Bank without granting equal rights to its Palestinian residents. At the same time, some American Jews justify Trump’s attacks on democratic institutions, and his draconian approach to immigrants and asylum seekers, out of a belief that he will be ‘good for Israel.’ This love affair endangers both countries, as well as Jews around the world.”

Trump Is Giving Palestinians a Choice. We’ll Choose Dignity., The New York Times

Husam Zomlot, who served as the most recent Palestinian ambassador to the US until the Trump administration’s closure of the PLO Mission in Washington, writes, “My family left the United States a few days ago. While as a father I am dismayed that my children had to change schools three times in one year, as an ambassador I feel a sense of national fulfillment. The Trump administration has given us a choice: Either we lose our rights or we lose our relationship with this administration. We took the choice that any dignified people would have taken. Peace is never about extortion, coercion or blackmail. It is about vision, leadership, trust and investment. The Trump administration lacks all of those. In seeking liberation from the Israeli occupation, which steals our land and denies us our most basic human rights, we are demanding no more than what Americans would demand for themselves: freedom, liberty and equality.I’m not sure when I will be back in the United States. I’ll miss all of the great people I met there. But even in my short time there, it was clear that there is much hope for peace and justice. I am confident the United States will one day restore commitment to the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people. I hope that day will come soon.”