News Roundup for September 27, 2016

September 27, 2016

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Top News and Analysis

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Spar Over Iran Nuclear Deal at Debate, Forward

“Donald Trump repeatedly slammed Hillary Clinton over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at the first presidential debate — but the former Secretary of State hit back that the deal has succeeded in ‘keeping a lid’ on Tehran’s threat….Clinton stood firmly behind her support for the Iranian deal, arguing that she’d’“rather deal with the other problems having put that lid on their nuclear program than still to be facing that.’ Clinton tried to hit back at Trump on the Iranian issue, asking: ‘Would he have started a war? Would he have bombed Iran?’”

Palestinians Slam Trump: ‘Undivided Jerusalem’ Pledge Shows Disregard for International Law, Haaretz

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemned on Monday Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump who said that, if he is elected, the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of the State of Israel.” Trump “shows disregard for international law … regarding the status of Jerusalem, including the occupation and illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem,” Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement. Erekat added that statements by Trump’s adviser on Israel, American Jewish lawyer David Friedman, “show a total abandonment of the two-state solution, international law and UN resolutions, and underscores the urgency of President Abbas’ call at the [UN] General Assembly for the international community to bring an end to the occupation and salvage the two-state solution before it is too late.”

Bennett: US election period is ‘opportunity’ to annex parts of West Bank, Jerusalem Post

Israel should use the upheaval around the US presidential election period to annex West Bank settlements, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said in a number of radio interviews on Monday. “I see this as a period of opportunity to take action with regard to the future of Judea and Samaria,” he told Israel Radio. “We should impose Israeli law on settlements in Judea and Samaria, like Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Gush Etzion and Ofra.” Bennett, who heads the Bayit Yehudi party, has long called for Israel to annex Area C of the West Bank. He conducted the interviews just one day after a number of videos were released that showed David Friedman, a top Israeli adviser to Donald Trump, pledging in a closed-door meeting that the Republican presidential candidate would fight for the rights of Jews to remain in Judea and Samaria.”

Kerry’s Binational State Warning: A Wakeup Call for Israel, Haaretz

Haaretz editorial board observes, “Kerry is a biased observer. The future of Israel is dear to him. He is offering Israelis a sober and realistic forecast. He is not inciting, as many will claim, when he urges his colleagues around the world to either do something or shut up. The citizens of Israel must see Kerry’s remarks as a clear and painful wake-up call aimed at them. Netanyahu, who continues to peddle his hollow goods and promise a bright future, has managed until now to seal Israel’s borders against the infiltration of ideas, proposals and requests to conduct negotiations. Netanyahu is now counting on the Arab states to save him from having to negotiate with the Palestinians. The prime minister is dreaming of a Jewish state in the territories, while at the same time lying to and endangering Israel’s citizens by not clarifying the threat they face. This is the time for Israelis to decide their fate, to listen to Kerry or to follow their pied piper prime minister into the abyss.”


American intellectuals call for boycott of settlement goods and services, JTA

More than 70 American intellectuals called for a targeted boycott of all goods and services from Israeli West Bank settlements. The boycott call, an open letter, was published in the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books, which is dated Oct. 13. Among the signers are Bernard Avishai, Peter Brooks, Peter Beinart, Todd Gitlin and Martin Sherwin.

Sheldon Adelson Pledges $25M to Anti-Hillary Clinton Super PAC, Forward

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson reportedly will contribute as much as $25 million to a super PAC dedicated to derailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

Israeli settler opens fire at Palestinian youth east of Qalqilya, Ma’an

An Israeli settler reportedly opened fire at a group of Palestinian youth east of the city of Qalqilya on Monday, with no injuries reported. According to Israeli media, the Israeli settler responsible for the shooting had claimed that Palestinian youth were throwing rocks at him near the illegal Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron located just south of the Palestinian village of Kafr Laqif, which he responded to by firing shots into the air.

Yesh Atid would overtake Likud by four seats in vote — poll, Times of Israel

A poll published by Israel’s Channel 1 predicts a growing lead for Yesh Atid over Likud. It says that were elections to be held today, Yair Lapid’s party would win 25 Knesset seats to Likud’s 21, with the Zionist Union sinking to become only the fifth-largest party, with 12 seats. The Joint List and Jewish Home would win 13, the poll predicts.

Israeli Consortium Signs Gas Deal With Jordan, The New York Times

Israel’s Delek Group, one of the developers of the country’s biggest natural gas reservoir, says it has signed a deal to sell gas to neighboring Jordan.

Israeli forces demolish water cisterns in Hebron-area village, Ma’an

Israeli forces demolished water wells in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Tuesday morning. An official from the municipality of Sair told Ma’an that Israeli troops demolished four wells in agricultural lands in the Jurat al-Kheil area east of Sair used for sheep to drink and to irrigate crops.

Israel Chief Rabbi Pushes for Acceptance of American Rabbi’s Conversions, Forward

Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau sent a letter urging a midlevel bureaucrat in the Chief Rabbinate to accept conversions certified by the head of a prominent American Orthodox rabbinical court.

Opinion and Analysis

Was Benjamin Netanyahu’s Meeting With Donald Trump Another Case of Electoral Meddling?, Forward

J.J. Goldberg argues that “[T]he main purpose of Netanyahu’s Sunday meet-the-candidates program was to give Trump an opportunity to look presidential…..meeting with the Israeli leader should help score points with pro-Israel conservatives in the Jewish and Evangelical communities. Trump’s poll numbers are strong in both of those voting blocs, but the support is uneasy…..Accordingly, a photo op with Prime Minister Netanyahu is worth its weight in super PAC donations.”

In debate over soldier accused of manslaughter, Netanyahu is straddler in chief, JTA

Andrew Tobin observes that in the Elor Azaria case, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to straddle the divide, as he demonstrated in a  TV interview he gave on the subject over the weekend justifying his decision to call the soldier’s father to offer support. Coupled with a new survey of Israeli attitudes about the Azaria case, the interview showed that if nothing else, Netanyahu is an expert reader of his country’s sentiments….Many of Azaria’s supporters don’t seem to care if he’s innocent or not. Forty-seven percent of Israeli Jews support killing a captured Palestinian attacker who no longer poses a threat, compared to 45 percent who would hand the attacker over to legal authorities, the survey found. Among right-wingers, 83 percent justify the shooting by Azaria and 62 percent favor executing Palestinian attackers in principle.”

Can Israel’s culture minister provoke her way to the top?, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem writes about Israel’s aggressively right-wing culture minister, Miri Regev, who recently staged a walk-out of Israel’s largest most prominent awards. “After analyzing what happened at the Ophir Awards and other similar events, the inevitable conclusion is that Regev has had a consistent strategy since assuming the position of culture minister. As far as she is concerned, it always works. She did the same thing, for example, at the Theater Awards (June 2015) and again at the Cultural Conferences, sponsored by Haaretz, with her “Cut the Bullshit” speech (March 2016). At each event, she stood fearless and tall before an audience, which seemed like it was meant to serve as the backdrop for her defiant and incessant traveling circus.”

The minister of culture who knows nothing about democracy, +972

Lisa Goldman writes, “Miri Regev is a rather unsympathetic person. As a career army spokesperson, she was infamous among journalists for being a serial liar. When she retired from the army and entered politics under the auspices of the Likud party in 2008, she went on to distinguish herself by embracing pretty much every ugly, far-right populist cause she could find. She has played an active role in inciting violent, racist hatred against African asylum seekers, in fanning the flames of Mizrahi resentment against the Ashkenazi elites, in inciting against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and so on. Her power depends on her ability to feed into people’s grievances, on divide and conquer.”