News Roundup for September 7, 2016

September 7, 2016

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Top News and Analysis

Why the witch hunts?, Times of Israel

Yehuda Kurtzer writes, “Our community is ailing, and its primary symptom is the toxic shock resulting from the ongoing vilifying of the best of our leaders with accusations of insufficient loyalty to the Jewish people, based on crude interpretations of their politics…. It is a great folly of American Judaism that ideas and beliefs that constitute legitimate participation within Israeli political discourse can be considered illegitimate and treasonous in American Jewish institutions. There is greater freedom of expression and ideology in Israel’s Knesset than in the mainstream American synagogue pulpit. This gap — brought about by American Jews relating to Israel more as proxy identity than a real identity, and by replacing patriotism with paternalism — is discrediting the sincerity of what it means to be pro-Israel in America, and is narrowing the possibility for American Jews to be in meaningful relationship to Israel precisely at a time when such channels should be widened. Our rabbis and our professional leaders are the people most willing and brave to stand in the breach of the most difficult questions of identity and affiliation for American Jews, between the people and the values of the Jewish tradition of which Israel is an important one. We are making their jobs and lives impossible. This is shortsightedness borne out of misplaced fear for Israel’s future.”

Netanyahu Says Willing to Meet With Abbas Any Time, but Without Preconditions, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to President Abbas’ remarks on a possible meeting between the two during a press conference he held together with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague on Tuesday. Netanyahu didn’t deny that there was an offer to convene such a meeting in Moscow this week, but claimed that Abbas continues to pose preconditions for such a meeting to take place.


Netanyahu Rejected Putin’s Offer for Moscow Meeting This Week, Abbas Says, Haaretz

President Abbas said on Tuesday that a proposed meeting in Moscow with Prime Minister Netanyahu will not be held for now.

TV poll: Yesh Atid on track to be Israel’s largest party, Times of Israel

The center-right Yesh Atid would become Israel’s largest party for the first time if elections were held today, a new poll by Channel 2 television finds. According to the survey conducted by Machon Midgam, Yesh Atid — headed by former finance minister Yair Lapid — would claim 24 Knesset seats, while Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party would take just 22 seats.

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister: Razing of Illegally Built Settlement Structures Needs My Approval, Haaretz

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) opted to change the procedure for the removal of illegally erected structures in West Bank settlements on Tuesday, so that from now on any such eviction will require the permission of the political leadership.

Benjamin Netanyahu Can’t Block Shabbat Railroad Work: Court, Forward

Israel Railways can do repair and construction work on Shabbat, at least temporarily, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled. The interim ruling issued Tuesday prevents Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from ordering a halt to the Saturday work, according to reports.

Palestinian Economy Would Double if Freed of Israeli Control, UN Says, Haaretz

The UN’s development agency estimates the Palestinian economy could be twice as large as it is now if it were freed from Israeli control. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has reported for years about conditions in Palestinian areas. But its latest report issued Tuesday marked the first time the conference has tried to tally what it called “the staggering economic cost of occupation.”

Kaine: Trump Has No Idea How to Handle Iran, Jewish Insider

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine on Tuesday asserted that Donald Trump has no idea how to deal with Iran’s threat to international peace and stability in the Middle East….“Thanks in part to the global sanctions coalition that Hillary Clinton assembled, and negotiations that she initiated, President Obama ultimately achieved a historic agreement that put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot,” he said.”

Times of Israel Cofounder Gave $1.5 Million to Right-wing Media Watchdog That Routinely Goes After News Outlets, Haaretz

The American billionaire who cofounded The Times of Israel website has given more than $1.5 million through his foundation to Camera, a right-wing media watchdog that routinely attacks news outlets over their coverage of Israel, Haaretz has learned. Camera publishes – and widely disseminates – criticism of Israeli and foreign news outlets, but does not disclose that it receives donations from owners of media outlets.

PA police arrest 13 suspects for revenge arson attack after boy stabbed to death, Ma’an

Palestinian police arrested 13 people suspected of setting fire to stands in the farmers’ market in central Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank Monday night after 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death during a brawl in the market earlier Monday evening.

Natan Sharansky stepping down as head of Jewish Agency, JTA

Natan Sharansky announced he will be stepping down from his position as chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel in June. Sharansky, 68, will complete his second term before he leaves. He took the post in June 2009.

Opinion and Analysis

Will rare Israeli-Palestinian parley in Jericho pave way to peace process?, Jerusalem Post

“‘I think the success of today’s meeting will help increase the changes of dialogue at the level of heads of state. Today’s meeting seems to point in a positive direction,’ Likud Minister Tzahi Hanegbi told reporters at the Oasis hotel. He had just met with Palestinian Authority Minister for Civil Affairs Hussein Al-Sheikh, in an event organized by Japan and hosted by its visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Kentro Sonoura. Jordan’s Secretary General of Planning and International Cooperation Saleh Kharabsheh, was also present at the meeting. The meeting, attended by delegations from each of the four governments, marks one of the highest level interactions between Israelis and Palestinians in the last four years.”

What it would cost Abbas to reconcile with Dahlan, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar reports, “The possibility of an actual tripartite Dahlan-Liberman-Sisi coalition is perceived by Abbas as a signal that there is a regional plot underfoot to replace him with Dahlan. Last year, Israeli and Palestinian media both reported that Liberman had met with Dahlan. It was further reported that Liberman considers Dahlan a fitting negotiating partner, in comparison to Abbas, whom Liberman regards as the main obstacle to any Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic initiative. The internal conflict within Fatah has become yet another facet of the open animosity between those countries supportive of Dahlan (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) and Qatar. This leaves Abbas trapped between a rock and a hard place. If he acquiesces to the reconciliation initiative, succumbing to the pressure led by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, he will have problems with the region’s most important financial benefactor, the emir of Qatar.”