Israel Denies Settlement Slowdown as U.S. Envoy Pushes Negotiations

What We’re Reading

U.S.-Israel/Palestine Relations

Israel denies it agreed to settlement slowdown during talks,

The denial came after the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted Jason Greenblatt — US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — telling a senior Palestinian official on Tuesday that Israel had agreed to “slow down” settlement construction during formal negotiations between Palestinians and Israel, which Trump will “soon” be calling for.

State Dept: Israel Takes Trump’s Concerns About Settlements Into Account,

The Israeli government has “implemented a policy” that takes President Donald Trump’s concerns about settlement construction “into account” despite the recent announcement that it advanced plans on 800 homes in Jewish areas of East Jerusalem, a State Department spokesman told Jewish Insider on Tuesday.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel's Participation in Peace Talks Is Good News for Palestinians, State Dept. Spokesperson Says,

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s participation in a meeting with Palestinian officials earlier that day wasn’t a diplomatic downgrade for the Palestinians, but “perhaps even an upgrading.” Nauert spoke on the issue at the department’s daily press briefing.

Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan is Crashing Against Political Reality,

Neri Zilber writes, “Neither Netanyahu nor Abbas wants to incur the wrath of Donald Trump. They are playing the peace process game. The question is what happens when Trump’s high-level deal-making crashes into the ground-level reality of Abbas’s and Netanyahu’s internal politics.”

Getting to Yes,

Joel Braunold writes, “Rather then going down the rabbit hole of previous efforts, the Trump administration should utilize the love for the president in Israel, and the curiosity about him in Palestine, to find positive ways to lessen the incredulity of the average Israeli and Palestinian with regard to the peace process itself. People simply don’t believe it’s possible, so there is no pressure on their leaderships to step outside of their comfort zone.”

A Look At Jason Greenblatt, Trump's Envoy For Israeli-Palestinian Peace,

President Trump has tapped his attorney, Jason Greenblatt, to help him negotiate the “ultimate deal” for Israeli-Palestinian peace. [NPR] looks at whether he can succeed where many others have failed.

Occupation/Human rights

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in West Bank clash: medical officials,

Israeli forces killed two Palestinians on Wednesday in a raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian medical officials said, and the Israeli military said its troops had opened fire after coming under attack. The incident took place before dawn in Jenin refugee camp, and no Israeli casualties were reported.

Israeli settlers raid Palestinian village to pray at holy site, spark clashes,

Clashes broke out late Monday night between young Palestinian men and Israeli forces who stormed the village of Kifl Haris in central occupied West Bank district of Salfit to escort hundreds of Israeli settlers on a visit to pray at a Jewish holy site.

Two Israeli Police Officers Charged for Attacking Handcuffed Palestinian on Temple Mount,

Two Jerusalem police officers were charged on Tuesday with attacking a handcuffed Palestinian on the Temple Mount around a year ago. The defendants, Erez Tabor, commander of a Jerusalem police station, and officer Tal Ben Kiki, belonged to the force handling disturbances on the Temple Mount, says the Justice Ministry’s Department of Internal Police Investigations.

Israeli Politics

Bill Would Force High Court Rulings to Favor Israel’s Jewish Character Over Democracy,

A new version of a bill defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people would force the High Court of Justice to favor Israel’s Jewish character over its democratic character should the two conflict. The draft bill, which was crafted in recent days, defines the country as “a Jewish and democratic state” but requires the court to interpret the law based on Israel being the Jewish nation-state. Last week a ministerial committee drafting the bill considered deleting a reference to a democratic form of government. The governing coalition is having problems bridging differences over the draft of the bill, one source told Haaretz.

Divisive expansion plan highlights crowded West Bank city’s plight,

As the West Bank’s most densely populated Palestinian city, Qalqiliya has been eagerly awaiting implementation of the Israeli plan that would allow it to double its size by expanding into land that has until now been off-limits.