News Roundup for September 6, 2018

September 6, 2018

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J Street in the News

Don’t Give Up, New Republic

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “The Trump presidency has unleashed an energetic opposition in the United States that understands the importance of fighting to realign national politics with our values. Perhaps those who are now marching in the streets and campaigning for change here will recognize that change in Israel also demands similar energy, engagement, and activism.Rather than wash our hands of Israel, America’s liberal Jews should reach out to and support our natural political allies in the fight for Israel’s future. This is the fight of our generation to define the future of the Jewish people. The only people who benefit if liberals walk away are the anti-democratic and ethno-nationalist forces who threaten liberalism and democracy in the United States, in Israel, and all across the globe.”

Following New Court Ruling, Devastating Demolition of Khan al-Ahmar Could be Imminent, J Street

“An alarming new ruling by the Israeli High Court today removed what appears to have been the last remaining Israeli legal barrier to the demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the West Bank….In the wake of this decision, we strongly urge elected officials and American Jewish leaders to speak out and warn the Netanyahu government not to move forward with demolitions in Khan al-Ahmar. Through the student-led “Stop Demolitions, Build Peace” campaign, which partners directly with Khan al-Ahmar and other vulnerable Palestinian communities, J Street will continue to work to build international awareness of the demolitions threat and to advocate for urgent congressional action on this issue. We refuse to look away from the Netanyahu government’s destructive and unjust policies in the West Bank.”


Top News and Analysis

Rabin’s Man in Oslo Analyzes What Went Wrong – and Right – With the 1993 Accords, Haaretz

Noa Landau writes, “[Joel] Singer was the legal adviser to the official Israeli delegation in contacts on the peace process, and he was the one who actually drafted the Oslo Accords. In other words, he was Rabin’s man in Oslo. Following Rabin’s assassination in 1995, a dispirited Singer left Israel and has spoken little about the Oslo Accords. The quarter century that has passed since the events that transformed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has provided the perspective of time and the emotional distance necessary for Singer to decide to share and elaborate on his view of those events. In a conversation with Haaretz, he describes what went on behind closed doors and concludes: ‘We have missed a rare opportunity. We have made mistakes, and at the moment, there is no hope for peace in the next several years. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that even efforts that have failed have their successes that we should study and preserve.’”

Shift to UNHCR criteria would strip refugee status from millions of Palestinians, Times of Israel

Adam Rasgon writes, “At a cabinet meeting in January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to gradually take over the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Netanyahu argued that the former, the UN agency charged with aiding refugees fleeing persecution and conflicts around the world, has legitimate criteria for granting refugee status, whereas the latter, the UN body tasked with supporting Palestinian refugees, does not. He also contended that UNRWA ‘perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem.’…Were responsibility for the designation transferred to the UNHCR, millions of Palestinians would lose their refugee status — which is a key factor in the longstanding demand by the Palestinian leadership for refugees to be granted a ‘right of return’ to today’s Israel.”



US envoy Friedman says sees Golan ‘forever’ remaining under Israel’s sovereignty, i24NEWS

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said he expects the Golan Heights to “forever” remain under Israeli sovereignty, according to an excerpt released Thursday of an interview he gave with the Israel Hayom broadsheet. “I cannot honestly imagine a situation in which the Golan Heights is not part of Israel forever,” Friedman told the newspaper, owned by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Netanyahu says Israel working ‘near and far’ against Iran, Associated Press

Israel’s prime minister says the country is working in “all arenas, near and far” against Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is working “resolutely” to combat precision weapons that could be used against it and to prevent Iran to establish a military presence in neighboring Syria. He spoke Wednesday at a meeting of his Cabinet.

Paraguay and Israel in spat over Jerusalem embassy, BBC

Paraguay’s new government has announced that it will move its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv – just three months after shifting it to Jerusalem….In response, Israel said it would close the Israeli embassy in Paraguay. However, the Palestinian Authority said it would “immediately” open an embassy in the South American country.

UN protests after High Court okays razing Bedouin village, Times of Israel

UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned Wednesday that the razing of a Bedouin village in the West Bank is a violation of international law and would blunt efforts to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

‘Arab States No Longer Dancing to the Palestinians’ Tune,’ Says Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, Haaretz

The Palestinians are losing their influence over the Arab world, Israel’s ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday.

Israeli wall rising near border with Lebanon stokes tensions, Associated Press

Israel is building a massive wall along its northern border, saying the barrier is needed to protect civilians from Hezbollah attacks, but the project has raised tensions with Lebanon, which fears the fence will encroach on its territory.

Senior IDF Official: Hezbollah Controls Lebanon’s Army, We Won’t Distinguish Between Them in Next War, Haaretz

Hezbollah has been gaining strength in Lebanon in recent years and is influencing the Lebanese army, a senior Israeli commander said Wednesday. He noted that Israel will not distinguish between the militia and the country’s forces during the next military confrontation.

Zarif says Trump’s proposed Security Council meeting on Iran shows ‘chutzpah’, i24NEWS

Iran’s Foreign Minister on Thursday said the United States scheduling of a Security Council meeting to criticize Tehran was an “abuse” of the institution’s presidency and a show of “chutzpah”, as Washington attempts to build up international pressure on the country.


Opinion and Analysis

President Donald J. Trump wants this to be a new year of shalom, salaam, peace, Times of Israel

The Trump administration’s Middle East Envoy, Jason Greenblatt, writes, “In 1983, when I first traveled to the region, the prevailing stance of the Arab world (with the exception of Egypt) was, as it had been for decades, aggression and war with Israel. Some 35 years later, however, there is a different reality. Confronted with an emboldened, aggressive Iran outside their borders and populations (including Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza) eager for economic opportunity within, most leaders understand now that Israel is not the problem — indeed, the Jewish state could be part of their solution.”

The sin of Likud’s young leader: meeting with Abbas, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem writes, “Deputy head of the Likud’s Young Guard, Yoel Nagar, didn’t think he was doing anything wrong when he attended a meeting Sept. 2 in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Nagar, 33, accepted an invitation from Abbas’ office, saying that the Palestinian leader wanted to meet with Israelis. While most participants at the meeting identified with the left and were members of the Peace Now movement, Nagar and another member of the Likud thought that this would be a good chance to hear the other side for themselves. What happened just a few hours later lies somewhere in the realm between the ridiculous and the disturbing. At the same time, it offers a glimpse into the rapid process of radicalization taking place in the Likud. Nagar received a phone call from David Shain, the chairman of the Young Guard, informing him that because of his meeting with Abbas, he had been removed from his position.”

Denying aid to Palestinian refugees doesn’t promote peace, Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun editorial board writes, “The expectation is that this dramatic loss of aid [to the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA] and the potential havoc it will wreak will force Palestinian leaders to make concessions, including their demand that refugees be eventually returned to their homeland in what is now Israel. But there’s reason not to be optimistic on that front. First, because the U.S. isn’t seen as a neutral party in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, a perception enhanced by the Trump administration’s decision late last year to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The idea that the U.S. lacks empathy toward the Palestinians will no doubt be furthered by recent news reports that it was Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who convinced President Trump to change course on UNRWA funding. The Trump administration apparently believes that cutting humanitarian aid is a perfectly acceptable negotiating tool to soften Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, no matter how many innocent people are harmed in the process. Is that really how the United States wants to project itself on the world stage, as a heartless colonialist?”