News Roundup for September 9, 2016

September 9, 2016

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J Street in the News

Meet the Org That Wants to Demolish Susya, J Street Blog

“Backed by tax-deductible donations from the United States, [Regavim] is responsible for the most recent demolition threat to Susya – but its aspirations don’t stop there. This is the first of a series of profiles of organizations receiving tax-deductible US dollars to finance the destruction not just of Palestinian homes or villages, but the two-state solution itself. With it, we’re launching our call on the Treasury Department to reexamine whether these groups and the US organizations that fund them qualify for tax-deductible treatment under current rules.”

Top News and Analysis

U.N. nuclear agency says Iran sticking to nuclear deal, Reuters

Iran has kept to a nuclear deal it agreed with six world powers last year limiting its stockpiles of substances that could be used to make atomic weapons, a report by the UN nuclear agency found. The confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seen by Reuters did not point to any violations in Tehran’s observance of the deal which was opposed by hardliners inside Iran and by sceptics in the West.

Russia, a Broker With Its Own Agenda, Enters the Israeli-Palestinian Fray, The New York Times

Peter Baker and Isabel Kershner report, “With the United States pulling back after years of frustrated efforts to break the intractable impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, Russia is stepping forward with its own drive to bring peace to a fractured land. A special envoy is shuttling through the region, Israeli and Palestinian leaders are jockeying for position, and Russia keeps hinting that a Moscow summit meeting may be in the offing…..The Kremlin’s diplomatic endeavor has become something of a three-way geopolitical billiards game in which each side is counting on a bank shot to leave itself in a better position. Almost beside the point is whether a meeting actually takes place, much less yields tangible progress toward reconciliation between two hostile populations.”

Hamas, Fatah shed no tears over suspended local elections, Times of Israel

Avi Issacharoff reports, “No one in the leaderships of Hamas or Fatah will likely shed a tear over the decision Thursday of the Palestinian High Court of Justice (the equivalent of the Supreme Court) to postpone local elections in the West Bank and Gaza. These were due to take place on October 8; the court said it would reconsider the issue in a few months’ time. Both sides had something to lose. But, despite all the warnings in Israel that Hamas’s takeover of the West Bank was imminent, Hamas had more at stake if the elections were to proceed as planned. Because, at most, Hamas was expected to register nice gains in the West Bank…..The biggest risk for Hamas was actually in the Gaza Strip….In at least four major cities in the enclave — Gaza City, Rafah, Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah — there was the impression that Fatah’s electoral lists were more popular.”

Meet the man who might replace Netanyahu, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit observes, “[Yair] Lapid has successfully completed the most important mission he has faced in recent years: to become a legitimate candidate for the position of prime minister of Israel….Netanyahu will have a hard time casting Lapid as an “Arab-loving left winger,” as he has done to other rivals, in particular Herzog. Lapid was brought up and educated in a right-wing household. Negotiations with the Palestinians are not on his agenda. He sidesteps the diplomatic issue at every opportunity and obscures his real positions while viewing Jerusalem according to the Israeli consensus. Lapid speaks the language of liberal, hip Tel Aviv, but infuses it with right-wing content.”


Palestinians Lay Claim to Most of Land Israel Staked Out for Amona Settlers, Haaretz

Palestinians from Israel and the West Bank on Thursday submitted their objections to the Civil Administration’s plan to move the illegal outpost Amona to so-called “absentees’ property” nearby. The Palestinians, residents of Taibe, near Kfar Sava, and the West Bank towns of Ein Yabrud and Silwad, claim to own some two thirds of 35 plots the administration has allocated for Amona’s new location. In 2014 the High Court of Justice ruled that Amona was built illegally on private Palestinian lands and must be evicted within two years.

Hillary Clinton to Israeli TV: Jihadists are praying for Donald Trump to win, JTA

Hillary Clinton told an Israeli TV news show that Islamist extremists are praying for a Donald Trump presidency, prompting an enraged rebuke from the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign. Clinton, the Democratic nominee, speaking to Israel’s Channel 2, was responding to a question about why she does not use the term “war on radical Islam” favored by Trump and other conservatives.

Israeli settlers commit car ramming attack in Bethlehem, injure elderly Palestinian, Ma’an

Israeli settlers Thursday deliberately ran over a Palestinian farmer from the town of al-Khader in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, according to local sources. The 65-year-old Palestinian suffered from bruises and bone fractures and was taken to a local hospital.

In Wake of Haaretz Report, Lawmakers Demand Debate on Israeli Efforts to Bolster Bashir’s Sudan, Haaretz

Four Knesset members from both the ruling coalition and the opposition on Wednesday demanded an urgent discussion in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, following Haaretz’s report that Israel is urging the United States and Europe to improve relations with Sudan and bolster its regime.

Opinion and Analysis

Blog: What Jackson Diehl Missed About Obama’s Next Steps for Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, J Street Blog

Benjy Cannon writes, “Over the past weekend, Jackson Diehl had an interesting piece in the Washington Post that explored whether President Obama would renew his focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the lame duck session. Unfortunately, Diehl incorrectly reduces President Obama’s interest in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a facet of his legacy considerations and feud with Prime Minister Netanyahu….While Israel and some US politicians have used settlements to score political points, the disagreement between Obama and Netanyahu over them runs far deeper. Settlements are an obstacle to a two-state solution. US administrations from both parties have consistently opposed settlement expansion because it makes a peace agreement harder to achieve and enflames tensions in the region, not because of personal animus between US presidents and Israeli prime ministers.”

Why Doesn’t Obama Use Military Aid Package to Israel as Leverage?, Haaretz

Peter Beinart argues, “There’s zero reason to believe that giving Israel a new military aid package will make Netanyahu curtail settlement growth or negotiate seriously toward a Palestinian state. Obama has already given Israel more military aid than any president in history. He’s dramatically boosted funding for Israeli missile defense, adding hundreds of millions of dollars per year to $3.1 billion that Congress allocates annually. Ehud Barak has already called Obama’s support for Israeli security ‘unprecedented.’ Yet despite this, Netanyahu has boosted settlement construction, retroactively legalized settlements that were illegal under Israeli law and publicly rejected the principle that the Palestinians should have a state near the 1967 lines, the principle that has undergirded every serious two state negotiation in the past. Netanyahu has also constructed a governing coalition dominated by ministers who oppose any Palestinian state at all. This is what seven and half years of ‘unprecedented’ U.S. security assistance has brought.”

Non-Orthodox Groups Turn to High Court for Stake in Western Wall, Haaretz

Judy Maltz reports, “Having lost all hope that the Israeli government will follow through with its plan to build them a special section at the Western Wall for egalitarian prayer services, the non-Orthodox movements are taking their battle for equal standing at the Jewish holy site to the High Court. On Monday, the High Court will hear the petition, which demands that the government establish a new administrative authority for the Western Wall that includes representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements as well as women. Alternatively, they are requesting that the existing administrative authority, the Orthodox-run Western Wall Heritage Foundation, appoint Reform and Conservative representatives, as well as women, to its board.”

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