News Roundup for September 27, 2017

September 27, 2017

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J Street in the News

Jewish groups condemn new US travel ban, JTA

“J Street called the revised travel ban ‘ill-conceived, discriminatory and dangerous.’ The liberal Middle East policy group’s statement noted that the ban likely would not prevent the entrance to the United States of real terrorists. ‘Rather than making Americans safer, the travel ban will further erode the United States’ image around the world, helping the cause of terrorist organizations which promote anti-American sentiment,’ it said.”

J Street Condemns Deadly Attack on Israeli Security Personnel at Har Adar, J Street

“J Street condemns the killing of three Israelis shot this morning by a Palestinian gunman at the settlement of Har Adar. The attacker opened fire while the victims were opening the doors of the settlement to allow in Palestinian workers, killing border police officer Solomon Gavriyah and civilian guards Youseff Ottman and Or Arish, while seriously wounding a third civilian. Our thoughts today are with the families and loved ones of the slain officers, and we wish a full and speedy recovery to the injured. We are disgusted that Hamas has already praised this attack as part of a violent “intifada.” There can be no justification for this horrific act of terror, which should be swiftly condemned by all parties, including the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. This violence will sadly only further inflame tensions, sow mistrust and empower extremists.”

J Street Worried by Demolition Threat to Susya – Calls on US State Department to Intervene, J Street

“J Street is deeply worried by reports that the Israeli Defense Ministry this week plans to ask Israel’s High Court of Justice for permission to demolish the Palestinian village of Susya within the next two months. Susya is one of several Palestinian villages in Area C of the West Bank whose residents have been repeatedly targeted for eviction by the Israeli government and by settlement movement activists. This is part of a destructive long-term pattern of evictions and demolitions that destroy vulnerable communities and pave the way for the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements on territory that should form part of a future Palestinian state. The totally unnecessary destruction of Susya would be a tragedy for its residents and another terrible blow to the prospects for a two-state solution.”

Top News and Analysis

Top U.S. general says exiting Iran nuclear pact would make future deals tough, Reuters

“The top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday Iran was complying with the pact curbing its nuclear program and warned that any American decision to walk away from it would make other nations less likely to enter into agreements with the United States. President Donald Trump is considering whether to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers including the United States, calling the accord an ’embarrassment.’ Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran was complying with its obligations under the nuclear deal, but had increased its activity in other areas.”

The Myth of a ‘Better’ Iran Deal, Foreign Policy

Colin Kahl writes, “However, if Trump goes forward with decertification, the immediate goal would probably not be to directly dismantle the Iran deal. Instead, the idea would be to use decertification to put Iran on notice and then try to leverage both additional non-nuclear sanctions and the threat that Congress or the administration may re-impose nuclear sanctions as a means to force Iran and America’s P5+1 partners back to the table to renegotiate the deal on more favorable terms… Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly encouraged the Trump administration to go down this road. During his own speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu said, “Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it.” This option would allow Trump to appeal to his base and signal displeasure with the deal. It would also enable the president, who fancies himself a master negotiator, to use the threat to the JCPOA as a bludgeon to produce a “better deal.” The belief that such an outcome is possible is deeply rooted in a fundamental critique of the Iran deal advanced by some Israeli officials, conservative think tanks, and Trump himself: the idea that Obama simply lacked the skill and political will to push for tougher terms when the JCPOA was struck in July 2015. There’s just one problem: It’s a myth. More pressure would not have produced a better outcome two years ago — and threatening to blow up the deal will not produce a better one today.”


Liberman’s party revives death penalty for terrorists bill after Har Adar attack, Times of Israel

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party said Tuesday it will revive legislation applying the death penalty to convicted terrorists after a deadly terror attack in the settlement of Har Adar earlier in the day. MK Robert Ilatov, who will submit the bill, said the legislation is necessary to deter future terrorists from carrying out attacks.

European Envoys Defend Iran Deal, The Forward

Ambassadors to Washington for America’s four European partners in the Iran nuclear deal said they opposed reopening it to negotiation, but were open to increasing pressure on Iran outside the deal’s framework.

Corker to retire after 2018, Politico

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker will retire from the Senate after two terms, scrambling next year’s election map and causing a seismic change in the Senate’s entrenched committee structure.The Tennessee Republican’s announcement on Tuesday shocked the Senate. Though he began mulling retirement earlier this month, most Republicans were convinced he would run again.

Israeli Army Chief Cuts Hebron Shooter’s Sentence by Four Months, Haaretz

Israel’s military chief on Wednesday shortened the prison sentence of Sgt. Elad Azaria, who shot and killed a prone Palestinian attacker in Hebron, from 18 months to 14 months.

In blow to Israel, Interpol admits Palestine as full member, Times of Israel

In a stinging diplomatic defeat for Israel, the world’s largest international police organization on Wednesday accepted the “State of Palestine” as a full member.

Israeli officials deliver demolition notices for homes in Issawiya, Ma’an

Israel’s Jerusalem municipality distributed demolition notices for several Palestinian homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Monday for allegedly building homes without Israeli-issued building permits.

Israel’s Chief Justice Bars Judge From Attending ‘Controversial’ Settlements Jubilee Event, Haaretz

Supreme Court President Miriam Naor defended on Wednesday her decision to cancel the court’s participation in a government ceremony marking 50 years since Israel conquered the West Bank and would not be sending one of its justices as previously planned.

EU slams ‘reprehensible’ Hamas praise for Har Adar terror attack, Times of Israel

The United States and European Union condemned Tuesday’s “horrific” terror attack in Har Adar, in which a Border Police officer and two security guards were shot dead by a Palestinian from a nearby village. Both Washington and the 28-nation bloc singled out Hamas for criticism, with the latter saying the terror organization’s praise for the deadly shooting was “reprehensible.”

IAEA chief calls for clarity on disputed section of Iran nuclear deal, Jerusalem Post

The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s chief urged major powers on Tuesday to clarify a part of their nuclear deal with Iran dealing with technology that could be used to develop an atom bomb, an area Russia said the agency should leave alone.

Opinions and Analysis

Does a Two-State Solution Still Exist? The National Interest

Ziad Asali argues, “Regional and geopolitical realities could not be less conducive to conflict resolution. No party has the credibility, political capital or will to resolve final-status issues. It is time to seek an achievable goal. Absence of negotiated conflict-ending solutions does not mean ending negotiations. The opposite is true. It is time for a policy focused on removing impediments to a negotiated deal. This proposed policy is not about an interim agreement. Let us call it the ‘What can be done during the transition?’ phase. The two parties cannot do it by themselves. Only the United States has what it takes to oversee this phase and have its allies help provide oversight. By focusing on the transition phase, good governance must top the agenda to build Palestinian infrastructure. Beautifying the occupation is an odious concept, but building institutions and better living conditions is an empowering noble objective. Good governance is about implementing rule of law to protect the rights of citizens. It is expected to establish health, education, transportation, institutions and services. It is supposed to provide jobs, build an economy and enhance trade cooperation and mobility. Working on these goals cannot wait till final-status issues are resolved. Palestinian self-empowerment is a prerequisite for future stability. Donors must respectfully insist that mechanisms are in place for the international community to oversee projects and progress to the highest standards of accountability and transparency. Former Prime Minister Fayyad’s short-lived infrastructure-building program was showered with praise and accolades, but hobbled by lack of political and financial support. Still, it provided a prototype.”

Iran’s Post-Sanctions Financial Windfall Was Overstated. What Does That Mean for Policy? The National Interest

Neil Bhatiya and Edoardo Saravalle argue, “JCPOA critics have emphasized that Iran was receiving too much in return for a deal that did not permanently eradicate Iran’s enrichment plans or address the country’s support for terrorism or its missile program. Tehran, critics argued, would benefit upfront from suspending its nuclear program while the sanctioning countries would lose their ability to keep pressuring it for its other infractions. Iran did garner limited international political value from the deal in demonstrating itself reasonable enough to enter into a serious, tightly-monitored, international agreement. But the upfront economic benefits—the so-called ‘windfall’—from unfreezing certain Iranian assets fell short of expectations while the country’s gains from reintegration into the global financial system have been gradual at best.”

Netanyahu’s outdated Iran agenda, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar writes, “One can safely assume that fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb has not influenced the agenda of the Israel Police investigators and the state prosecutors engaged in various probes of suspected corruption involving the prime minister and his top associates. Most important, the marked absence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Netanyahu’s address did not wipe it off the agenda of the Western and Arab worlds nor off the State of Israel’s agenda, and justly so. The United States and its allies in the Middle East are still paying the price for the last time the Israelis, with Netanyahu in the lead, left their imprint on the international agenda.”

Deadly Terror Attack Challenges Israeli Army’s Aversion to Collective Punishment, Haaretz

Amos Harel writes, “The shooting attack Tuesday that took the lives of three Israeli security personnel at the settlement of Har Adar once again brings up the question preoccupying Israel’s government and army since the latest terror wave began two years ago. What measures should be taken to reduce the number of such attacks and can steps include collective punishment of the Palestinians in the West Bank? Even if the government decides to keep its current policy, renewed scrutiny is necessary of the Shin Bet security service’s measures that let a terrorist reach an Israeli community near the 1967 border.”

Is Trump about to reveal his Mideast peace plan? Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar writes, “Despite the Palestinians’ cautious optimism, reinforced by the Abbas-Trump conversation in New York, they do not give the “ultimate deal” much of a chance. Abbas and others in the Palestinian leadership have extensive experience with what they dub “the Netanyahu methods” designed to bury any and every initiative. They expect that Netanyahu will not come out immediately against whatever US plan is tabled, but will adopt devious methods to thwart it by foot-dragging and blaming the Palestinians as he always has in the past with every attempt to advance a diplomatic arrangement.”

Is Germany Still a Haven for Israelis? After Election, Some Wonder, New York Times

David Halbfinger asks: “Were the very things that have made Germany seem so safe to so many Israelis — the national preoccupation with contrition, aversion to raw nationalism, and determination never to repeat the sins of the past — now in danger of being shunted aside by a new generation unburdened by collective guilt and determined to assert its national identity?”

Netanyahu’s Overextended Stay in Power Is Turning Israel Into Bibistan, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev argues, “The dangers and pitfalls of an overextended stay at the top are well known from history as well as research carried out in countries that sought to limit terms. If power corrupts, prolonged power corrupts exponentially. It creates an addiction to pomp and authority and an estrangement from ordinary citizens. It allows corruption to spread, criticism to be stifled, civil rights to be curtailed and interests of the state to become subordinate to the whims of its leader. Even if he was clean as a whistle, Netanyahu couldn’t stay immune from such inevitable degeneration and decline.”

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