1. Bills and resolutions
2. Extensions of remarks on Israel's 63rd birthday
3. House-Senate conference opens on Iran sanctions bill
4. New Pro-Peace sign-on Letter in the House
I've been out of the loop the past two days taking Israeli military/security expert Yossi Alpher around town for meetings, so I am still digging out from two days worth of missed news articles. One article which I just pulled up left me flabbergasted, both at the chutzpah of Israeli officials who it appears will go to any lengths, including blatantly re-writing history, to avoid taking action - as required of Israel under the Roadmap - to remove settlement outposts that even Israel recognizes are illegal - and at the way that the statements of these officials seem to go utterly unchallenged.
"Israel's Palestinian Opportunity" by Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer
Anyone who continues to question whether Israel has a responsible
and strong Palestinian partner who has the capacity to sign a peace
agreement with us received a clear answer on Sunday on Channel Two News:
there is a government in Ramallah, there is a leader in the mukataa,
and there is a palpable possibility of ending the peace process with a
final status arrangement.
Alpher answers questions about the "Petraeus Doctrine" and reports that Netanyahu is ready to offer the Palestinians a state with temporary borders.
APN today released new policy language on the recently increasing growing public criticism of Israel, including the efforts to boycott Israel, divest from it and sanction it (known as the BDS movement). The purpose of the new document is to clarify the often foggy discussion over this issue in America's pro-Israel community and to make clear what APN supports and opposes. the full text of the policy is included after the break.
Today the House appointed representatives to the House-Senate conference on HR 2194 (which is now carrying the Senate-given name -- the "Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2009".) This comes more than a month after the Senate amended the text of HR 2194 on March 11th - deleting the entire House text and inserting their own (the text of S. 2799) - and appointed its own conferees.
While House appointees were formally appointed only today, it is well-known that over the past month House and Senate staff have been working to reconcile the bills. It is also well-known that Administration officials have been weighing in to try to convince key members to accept what the Administration considers to be the minimum changes necessary to ensure the bill does not directly conflict with the President's Iran strategy and efforts.
Now that House conferees have been appointed, it is anticipated that the conference will formally conclude its work quickly - as indicated by House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), who http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=10126588 (link has expired) stated recently that he wanted Congress to pass the final version of the bill before the end of April. UPDATED: The motion to instruct that accompanied the appointment of House conferees stated that conferees were "to complete their work and present a conference report and joint explanatory statement by no later than May 28, 2010" -- potentially indicating that there will still be significant work completed in conference.
In response to today's events, APN sent a message to every conferee (House and Senate) - the message and the list of conferees is after the break.
The revelation in today's print edition of Ma'ariv that Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, backs a settlement construction freeze in East Jerusalem shows that the Israeli body politic understands that East Jerusalem is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and therefore must be treated differently that the rest of Israel.
Moreover, it shows that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a great deal of wiggle room. The Shas party is a major power broker within Netanyahu's governing coalition and Yosef has been the moving force behind the party since its inception.
The following is an excerpt from the article:
National Security Adviser Jim Jones spoke tonight at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, mainly addressing the issues of Iran and Arab Israeli peace.
General Jones powerfully argued that the Israeli-Palestinian status quo is not sustainable. Here is the quote: "the status quo is not sustainable. It is not sustainable for Israel's identity as a secure, Jewish, and democratic state, because the demographic clock keeps ticking and will not be reversed. The status quo is not sustainable for Palestinians who have legitimate aspirations for sovereignty and statehood. And the status quo is not sustainable for the region because there is a struggle between those who reject Israel's existence and those who are prepared to coexist with Israel -- and the status quo strengthens the rejectionists and weakens those who would live in peace."
The speech is worth reading. It eloquently frames the administration's efforts to pursue Arab-Israeli peace and to confront the Iranian challenge as a part of a global strategy. Here it is, minus the introductions and niceties:
The latest assault on Israel's future comes from an unexpected source: Prominent American Jews are demanding that Washington not ask Israel to negotiate over Jerusalem. Nathan Diament's article is one example.
This morning APN sent the following message to all House offices:
Dear [ ],
This week Members of Congress are being pressed to cosponsor H. Con. Res. 260 - a resolution whose ostensible purpose is to recognize the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.
Americans for Peace Now proudly celebrates the anniversary of Israel's founding and we support Congress in doing so. However, given the crass exploitation of this current resolution for other purposes, this year we take the extraordinary step of urging members of Congress to refuse to support this resolution unless it is amended.
FORGING A two-state peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is a vital national security interest of the United States.
President Obama should do all he can to strengthen the hand of the peace-seekers -- and nothing to embolden the many enemies of peace.
As I write these lines, I am listening, live on the internet, to the
ceremony that ushers in Israel's Independence Day, at Jerusalem's Mount
Herzl. This ceremony always moves me.
I write these lines and my thoughts take me back twenty four years, to
the spring of 1986.
Debra DeLee, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now,
published a statement in response to Wiesel saying, "Your ad in the
Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal brought tears to my eyes,
for more than one reason."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke last night at the Daniel
Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, stating that the United States is
pursuing "two tracks in the Middle East - negotiations between the
parties aimed at reaching a two-state solution and also institution
building that lays the necessary foundations for a future state."
Secretary Clinton pointed out that the Palestinian Authority is making
real progress on the second track, laying the foundations for the future
state in the West Bank and Gaza.
She called on Israel and the Arab governments to help create the
appropriate atmosphere for the second track - peace negotiations - to
start in earnest.
Clinton's speech is worth reading. Make sure you note her acknowledgment
of "NGO's and civil society groups, including some who are represented
here, to articulate a more complete vision of the benefits of peace."
Here is the complete text:
Americans for Peace Now mourns the death of Saul I. Stern, a Jewish
activist, political activist, World War II veteran, and an enthusiastic
supporter of security through peace for Israel. Saul died March 30th at
Georgetown University Hospital.
Today's Yedioth Ahronoth features an article by Kadima Party chief Tzippi Livni, in which she airs a series of criticisms of Netanyahu's approach to peace. This is the most clear and substantive such critique by Livni that I can remember in some time.
Here are some noteworthy highlights:
- Jerusalem Post: "On W. Bank tour, Landau calls for legalizing two outposts"
- Ha'aretz: "Demolition near settlement likely to be delayed"
- Jerusalem Post: "G. Hayovel outpost status to be reviewed"
- Yedioth Achronoth: "Tearing Down the House"
Pogrebin is an author, past president of Americans for Peace Now, and reflects on her participation in APN's recent Fact-Finding Trip to Israel and Palestine
Before I arrived in Israel a few weeks ago, I'd read that Israeli President Shimon Peres had likened Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, to David Ben-Gurion, Israel's George Washington. So I was intrigued when, on my first night in Jerusalem, the conversation at my Israeli friends' Sabbath table was about the impressive speech Fayyad had delivered to the princes of Israel's security establishment at the recent Herzliya conference.