Middle East Expert: In Dramatic Shift From Obama, Trump Appears to Be Adopting ‘Bottom-Up’ Approach to Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking

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    Jason Greenblatt meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

By Barney Breen-Portnoy: The Trump administration seems to be adopting a “bottom-up” approach to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking that represents a dramatic shift from that held by the Obama administration over the past eight years, a former State Department Middle East negotiator told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.

“I think it is too early to tell about the details, but if you look at the elements of what Trump is trying to do, they are fundamentally different from what Obama tried to do,” Aaron David Miller — a vice president at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington, DC and a CNN global affairs analyst — said. “However, whether or not they end up in the same place is another matter.”

The Trump administration’s apparent goal, in Miller’s view, is not to reach a comprehensive peace deal now, but rather lay the groundwork for a potential future one — “by working with the Israelis on a set of confidence-builders on one hand, and trying to engage the Arabs states on the other, to get them to press the Palestinians and offer the Israelis incentives to go farther.”

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Trump’s Middle East diplomacy is complicated by Palestinian terror incitement

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Washington Post

    Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)

By Josh Rogin: The Trump administration’s budding efforts to establish a new Middle East diplomatic process are about to run into some stiff headwinds at home. Many in Congress want to cancel all U.S. aid to the Palestinians because of payments made to militants who attack Israelis. President Trump will soon have to decide if confronting the Palestinians on that terrorist incitement is more urgent than pursuing a pathway to peace.

Trump conducted his first phone call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, and White House Israel affairs adviser Jason Greenblatt is headed to the region this week. On Greenblatt’s agenda will be whether the U.S. and Israeli governments should raise the pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop paying the families of Palestinians imprisoned or killed after attacking Israeli or American civilians, a practice both governments believe incentivizes violence.

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No rushing the peace process

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Washington Times

By Clifford D. May: This palm-fringed oasis in the Jordan Valley has been continuously inhabited for 10,000 years. That justifies it billing itself as the “oldest city in the world.”
Officers of the Palestinian National Security Force (NSF) headquartered here will proudly tell you that it’s now among the safest places in the Arab Middle East, and that their paramilitary organization is an important reason why. They’re also grateful for the training, arms, ammunition, equipment and even buildings being provided by American taxpayers.
This arrangement was agreed to by the Israelis who, in 1994, gave the Palestinian Authority administrative control over Jericho and other West Bank cities.
Could the next step be a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Count me among those who see that as unlikely anytime soon no matter how energetic, determined and skillful the diplomacy of the Trump administration turns out to be.

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Iran’s Navy to Benefit From an Expiring UN Ban, U.S. Study Says

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    Iranian Naval troops in Tehran, Sept. 22, 2014

By Anthony Cappacio: Iran is likely to go on an international shopping spree for surface warships, submarines and anti-ship missiles after the expiration in 2020 of a United Nations resolution prohibiting it from acquiring sophisticated weapons, according to the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence.

The expiration “will allow Iran to pursue foreign acquisitions that have been inaccessible since sanctions were imposed,” according to a new assessment of Iran’s naval forces, strategy and capability obtained by Bloomberg News. Entitled “Iran’s Naval Forces: A Tale of Two Navies,” the 44-page publication is an update to a 2009 version.

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Rabbi Sacks on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign

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Israel and the New Leaf in Egypt-Hamas Relations

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By Shlomo Brom and Ofir Winter:
Without any formal ceremonies and far below the media’s radar, Egypt and Hamas have reached a series of security, political, and economic understandings in early 2017 aimed at establishing a basis for better relations between them. A Hamas delegation, headed by Vice-President of the Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh and members of the Political Bureau Mousa Abu Marzook and Rawhi Mushtaha visited Cairo for several days in late January, during which the delegation met with Egyptian security personnel, led by Khaled Fawzy, the director of the General Intelligence Directorate. A Hamas security delegation, which included a senior representative of Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam military arm, went on a follow-up visit in early February. The visits by the official delegations were the culmination of unofficial feelers conducted in October–November 2016, which included visits to Egypt by media, academic, and business figures from the Gaza Strip.

According to media reports, the political delegation accepted Cairo’s demands that Hamas stop the smuggling of weapons and infiltration of fighters along the border between Gaza and Sinai and prevent extremist jihad groups from using the Gaza Strip as a base for preparing attacks against Egyptian military forces in the Sinai Peninsula. The announcement published by Hamas stressed that it was scrupulously observing “non-intervention in the internal affairs” of Egypt, a hint at a commitment to refrain from taking sides in the struggle between the el-Sisi regime and the Muslim Brotherhood –mother organization of Hamas. The talks between the sides also dealt with a list of wanted people which Egypt gave to Hamas; the arrangement of an agreed-upon mechanism for opening the Rafah border crossing; expansion of trade relations between Egypt and the Gaza Strip; the ceasing of media attacks; and Egyptian mediation between Hamas and Israel and between Hamas and Fatah.

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How the United States Should Help Protect Jordan from the Chaos Next Door

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The Washington Institute

By David Schenker:

Encourage More Jordanian-Israeli Cooperation: One good news story of 2016 was the signing of a $10-billion, 15-year deal for Israel to provide Jordan with natural gas. Less publicized, but more important, has been the excellent ongoing strategic cooperation between Jordan and Israel. King Abdullah and the government of Israel are committed to military cooperation and intelligence sharing, which greatly benefit both states and Washington. Given the strong bilateral coordination, Washington’s assistance may not be required. Nevertheless, the Trump administration could direct the Defense Department to explore ways of enhancing the already deep relationship, including — but not limited to — permitting and encouraging more transfers of Israeli excess defense articles (EDA) to Jordan….

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Message from NORPAC Regarding Congressman Keith Ellison

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NORPAC urges you to reach out to DNC Electors (see list on bottom) to NOT elect Rep. Keith Ellison for DNC Chairman:

As the Democratic National Committee (DNC) looks to choose a new leader for their platform at the end of this week, it is imperative that the Democratic Party elects a Chair who will continue the Party Tradition to maintain a strong US-Israel relationship.

Previously we have voiced our concern about the DNC Chair candidacy of Congressman Keith Ellison. Ellison has proven himself to have a different agenda than the rest of his party when it comes to supporting Israel. From his controversial connection to Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, his support of the biased and anti-Israel Goldstone Report, his support of the “Gaza 54” letter, his efforts to unseat a fellow incumbent Democrat who was supportive of Israel, and other incidents, we believe Rep. Ellison is the wrong choice to lead the Democratic Party.

We ask you to please reach out to DNC electors about this nomination, and to urge their support of a candidate who embodies the essence of the Democratic Party, which has historically stood firmly by our ally Israel. Below you can find the contact details of the electors and their respective states.

Action Item

Sample email:
Dear [Title & Last Name],

I want to thank you for your leadership as a voting member for the DNC Chairperson. As an American who supports a strong US-Israel relationship and a long-term supporter of the Democratic Party, I believe we need leadership from someone who will continue our Party’s proud legacy of support.

Congressman Ellison has perhaps the worst voting record on US-Israel relations in Congress. Just this year, he discussed adding language to the Democratic platform that would polarize America’s relationship with Israel by unfairly demonizing its treatment of the Palestinians.

The Democratic Party needs a strong candidate, now more than ever, who embodies the values that the majority of the party and Americans share. Electing Rep. Keith Ellison would send the wrong message. I urge you to consider instead a candidate who will unify the party, bring in Independents, and continue our strong tradition of maintaining a robust US-Israel bond.


[Your Name]

If you live in New York address your email to one or more of the following New York DNC members:

Mr. Stuart Applebaum, sapplebaum@rwdsu.org
Hon. Byron Brown, chair@nydems.org
Hon. Vivian Cook, cookv@assembly.state.ny.us
Ms. Jennifer Cunningham, jcunningham@skdknick.com
Ms. Maria Cuomo Cole, cuomocole@gmail.com
Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, barcar720@aol.com
Ms. Emily Giske, egiske54@hotmail.com
Hon. Jay Jacobs, jay@camptlc.com
Ms. Sarah Kovner, sskovner@gmail.com
Mr. Marv McMoore, marvmcmoore@gmail.com
Mr. Henry Muñoz, III munoz@munoz-co.com
Mr. Gerard Sweeney, gjs2@aol.com
Mr. Robert Zimmerman, zimmrob@aol.com

If you live in New Jersey address your email to one or more of the following New Jersey DNC members:

Mr. Tonio Burgos, tburgos@tonioburgos.com
Mrs. Lizette Delgado Polanco, lizettedelgadopolanco@gmail.com
Mr. John Graham, jgraham@fairviewinsurance.com
Mr. Chris James, Chris@njdems.org
Ms. Marcia Marley, marciam@bluewavenj.org
Mrs. Bernadette McPherson Esq. friendsofbernadette@gmail.com

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Israel and the Palestinians: What are alternatives to a two-state solution?

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By Colin Shindler: To understand where the concept of sharing or dividing this piece of land comes from, it is important to look at its recent past.

Arab nationalism and Jewish nationalism arose during the same period of history with claims to the same territory. This rationale was the underlying basis for an equitable solution, based on partition and a two-state solution.

In 1921, TransJordan (now the state of Jordan) was formally separated from Palestine (now Israel and the West Bank/Gaza). A UN resolution in 1947 proposed a second partition, this time of the territory west of the river Jordan.

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The Two State Solution: Does Trump’s Indifference Matter?

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National Review

By Jonathan S. Tobin: Those who expected Donald Trump to effect genuine change in Washington still might be waiting for him to take action on some issues, but when it comes to altering existing Middle East policy, the president has not disappointed. With his refusal to specifically endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the president has seemingly discarded the idea that has been the bedrock principle of U.S. Middle East diplomacy for the past generation.

When asked about a two-state solution during a joint press conference prior to his first meeting as president with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump replied:

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state. I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.”

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