Top News from Israel & Palestine: January 29, 2020

What We’re Reading

The “Greater Israel” Deal of the Century

Fact Check: Trump Did Not Actually Offer the Palestinians a State,

“U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both spoke about a peace plan on Tuesday at the White House. Trump went further and announced that the plan will include a Palestinian state. But when the details of the plan are examined, it is clear that no Palestinian state will be established. Instead, it will lead to Israel gradually taking full control over the entire West Bank.”

Despite Trump deal’s nod to 2-state solution, there’s no Palestine on horizon,

“Even if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were to agree to the territorial aspects of the deal, he has long vowed to refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or to fully waive the so-called right of return. And even if he were to change his mind on these issues, he couldn’t possibly fulfill some of the deal’s other requirements — such as disarming Hamas in Gaza — even if he wanted to. And these are just a few examples of the many demands made of the Palestinians. But even in the impossible scenario that the Palestinians were to fulfill all the requirements stipulated by the deal, the State of Palestine would still not be a ‘state’ in the regular sense. It would be completely demilitarized; the Israeli army would retain security control over its territory; and it would not have any control over border crossings. (No airport is planned for the Palestinian state, a senior Israeli official said Tuesday.)”

Trump’s deal for Israel-Palestine: Entrenched unequal rights and annexation,

“After three years of speculation and hype, US President Donald Trump has revealed his ‘deal of the century’ on Israel-Palestine. The 39-page political document calls for a ‘realistic’ two-state solution, rejecting the internationally agreed parameters that traditionally define the concept of two states. But, despite its appropriation of the two-state label, the United States is not offering Israelis and Palestinians a viable and peaceful future in their own states. Instead, its proposal would cement a one-state reality of open-ended occupation and unequal rights for Palestinians.”

Abbas caught between rock and hard place as Trump unveils Mideast plan,

“The choices available to the Palestinian leadership are not easy. While the Palestinian side has a strong and effective negative power in saying no to policies and ideas that are presented, the latest effort by the United States might not be easy to overcome. Although the Trump plan reflects his support for the reelection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, what is worrisome is that such a detailed plan, with its many gifts to Israel, will become the new reference point. It risks prompting a shift away from international resolutions to a pro-Israel plan that might result in the annexation of more Palestinian land. This is what makes the Palestinian leadership’s position so difficult. Strong national unity and a willingness to make even more sacrifices are needed.”

Pompeo says peace plan will move forward no matter who wins Israeli elections,

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that he expects the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan to move ahead after Israel’s upcoming national elections, no matter who is elected prime minister. Pompeo made the statements to Channels 12 and 13 while in Washington following the plan’s release…When asked about the upcoming Israeli vote, Pompeo highlighted Gantz’s apparent enthusiasm for the plan during his meeting with Trump.”

Trump's Mideast Plan Is a Recipe for War, Not Peace,

“Following Trump’s announcement all eyes should now remain firmly on the international community’s response. Will the international community send the U.S. and Israel a definitive message: Your bullying will no longer be accepted, or will it continue, as it has done for decades, to submit to Israeli dictates. For this is not simply about Palestine, but about the international legal system as we know it. Rewarding Israel for building settlements send the clear message to other dictatorships around the world that they, too, can do as they please and that they, too, will be rewarded. The ramifications are unimaginable: every country under threat around the world will hear that they too can be invaded, their land stolen and their people deprived of rights. This is a recipe for war, not peace and should be treated as such.”

Why Trump's Apartheid Peace Plan Is So Dangerous – and Not Only for Palestine,

“What has been announced by the Trump administration is a flagrant attack against international law and the international system, and the repercussions do not only affect Palestine. This moment requires the international community to not  only condemn the U.S. and Israeli attempts to confound peace, but requires action to save the prospects of a just and lasting peace. The world now has an opportunity to act on its obligations and commitments: End Israel’s occupation of Palestine, to achieve the just and lasting peace we all deserve. These international actions are doable, and part and parcel of the responsibility of the international community to peace and an international rules-based order: from the recognition of the State of Palestine, the release of the UN database of companies involved in the Israeli occupation, to imposing sanctions on Israel’s colonization efforts. This is not only about Palestine: it’s about the future of the world as a whole.”

Trump and Netanyahu Dictate Terms of Palestinian Surrender to Israel and Call It Peace,

“The release of the 180-page plan  — which was drafted by aides to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and an old family friend of Netanyahu — was staged as a celebration, and acted as a dual campaign rally, with the American president and the Israeli prime minister boasting of all they had achieved for Israel to a room filled with far-right supporters of the Jewish state, including Sheldon Adelson, the Republican and Likud megadonor who spent millions of dollars to elect both leaders. Trump, who intervened in a previous Israeli election campaigns on Netanyahu’s behalf — by recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights last year — gave the embattled prime minister a podium at the White House to detail conditions imposed on the Palestinians which sounded like terms of surrender.”

Ten things about the borders, bridges and tunnels of the Trump peace plan,

“Although the concept foresees a contiguous Palestinian state, it is contiguity in name only. No other state in the world looks so gerrymandered. It is a state without an airport or real ports. It is a state that is inside another state and whose borders are basically controlled by Israel. This could be compared to the situation of Lesotho in South Africa or the Vatican in Italy. But Lesotho is contiguous. The original partition plan passed by the UN in 1947 was also not a workable, contiguous state. It looked more like how East and West Pakistan were once disconnected. These kinds of states generally don’t work well, especially given the fact that they have emerged not from peace and adoration, but rather from a concept pushed onto them – and onto the Palestinians, who seem to be rejecting it at the moment. “

Credit Where Due - Past US Admins Paved the Way

Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Exposes the Ugly Truth,

“Mr. Trump’s plan has many severe faults: It prioritizes Jewish interests over Palestinian ones. It rewards and even incentivizes settlements and further dispossession of the Palestinians. But none of these qualities represent a fundamental break from the past. The Trump plan merely puts the finishing touches on a house that American lawmakers, Republican and Democrat alike, spent dozens of years helping to build. During the last several decades, as Israel slowly took over the West Bank, putting more than 600,000 settlers in occupied territory, the United States provided Israel with diplomatic backing, vetoes in the United Nations Security Council, pressure on international courts and investigative bodies not to pursue Israel, and billions of dollars in annual aid.”

Trump Can’t Kill the Peace Process - It was already dead,

“While it is tempting to attribute the conflict’s current impasse to Trump’s destructive policies, the reality is that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had been dying a slow death for many years and was effectively dead when Trump arrived. This is certainly not entirely America’s fault, but successive U.S. administrations from both parties, by failing to challenge the dynamics that define and sustain the conflict—particularly Israel’s ongoing and ever-deepening occupation—have helped entrench the status quo and reinforced the vast power imbalance between the two sides. This basic ambivalence on the part of U.S. policymakers was not the result of malice or ignorance but of the persistent tension between the desire of U.S. officials to uphold the basic rules and goals of the peace process on one hand and the demands of the U.S.-Israel special relationship and pro-Israel forces in Washington on the other. More often than not, the latter won out.”

Trump Unveils ‘Deal of the Century’,

“…The plan put forward by the Trump administration in many ways reflects the principles that have animated the fitful peace ‘process’ for years on end. Insofar as there was a notional solution to the conflict, it was always expected that Israel would be permitted to keep certain built-up settlements in exchange for land swaps that could eat into even pre-1967 Israel. It was always expected that there would be a period of transition in which Palestinian control of security and foreign policy might be restricted.”

The Pro-Plan Playbook

Kushner slams Palestinian leadership, urges giving up ‘fairy tales’ for peace,

“US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Tuesday launched scathing attacks against the Palestinian leadership, which he said has lied to the Palestinian public for years by promising them ‘fairy tales’ that cannot be achieved. ‘It’s time to let go of past fairy tales that quite frankly will never happen,’ Kushner told Al Jazeera. ‘“The Palestinians have been lied to for so many years and they have been promised things and there has been no counter to the promises that have been made to them,’ he said. “If they have expectations that are not realistic then I feel bad for them. They’ve been lied to by their leadership and they’ve been lied to by a lot of people and they’ve been used as pawns in the Middle East.’…Kushner said that if the Palestinians are prepared to negotiate, they will find in Israel a ‘very willing partner’ for any suggestions that will make the lives of Palestinians better. The Palestinian people need an opportunity ‘to lead a better life. They need dignity, they need jobs, they need opportunity, they need good leadership,’ Kushner said. ‘This is the best opportunity they have ever had and I really hope they seize it.’”

Eugene Kontorovich: Palestinians wrong to reject Trump Israeli-Palestinian peace plan – It's fair and just,

“A principal folly of past efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian agreement was that peace itself was not their goal. Instead, they proceeded from a starting assumption that Israel “illegally occupied” territory it captured in the Six-Day War 53 years ago. Based on the assumption that Israel had no right to land captured in the war, past negotiations worked ineluctably to their goal of forcing Israeli concessions. While the Palestinians rejected generous statehood offers at least four times – holding out for unrealistic demands like the “right of return” for the descendants of Palestinians who left the newly declared Jewish state in 1948 – they suffered no diplomatic penalty. …The Trump plan flips these failed assumptions on their head…”

Trump's peace plan is last chance at 2-state solution,

“The Trump deal shouldn’t be judged based the controversies surrounding the American president or by its peculiar timing. The only relevant criteria to consider is whether the plan promotes the Jewish-democratic vision. The answer to that question is clear – opposition to the deal on the left will serve the opposition to the deal on the right and strengthen the Palestinian cause. This will result in one single outcome – a bi-national state.”

Netanyahu: Palestinians will not get a better deal,

“In an interview with Fox News, Netanyahu said: ‘President Trump provides a peace plan that will allow a deal that will give Israel and the Palestinians peace and security. We can move forward together. It’s a concrete plan that can work.’… ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The president offers a great vision for economic development for the Palestinians, which will give hope to the youth, for the future. It is a plan that will change the Middle East,’ the prime minister claimed. ‘I hope the Palestinians accept the agreement, the $50 billion to help them, and give up the dream of destroying Israel and living with us in peace.’ Netanyahu noted that ‘’compromise is needed from each side, but I am ready for these compromises. The Palestinians are currently rejecting the deal, but later they will realize that they will not get a better deal.’”

Meanwhile, Between the River & the Sea...

Amb. Friedman: 'US wants to set up committee with Israel to examine sovereignty',

“US Ambassador David Friedman told reporters that before Israel decides to apply sovereignty over the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria the Trump administration wanted to form a committee with Israel to discuss the issue, but stressed that it could not be said how long this would take. ‘It’s a process that requires effort, accuracy and calibration and you have to make sure that the annexation matches the map in our plan,’ said Friedman. ‘We will look at the Israeli proposal and examine it and make sure it is in line with our plan. We will set up the committee as soon as possible and work on it immediately and try to end quickly but I do not know how long it will take,’ the ambassador added.

Defense minister announces formation of ‘special team’ to assess annexation,

“Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday announced that he had established a special team to lead the effort to annex West Bank Jewish settlements, the Jordan Valley and the area around the Dead Sea, following the release of US President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bennett called for the interim government to begin annexing parts of the West Bank immediately, before the March 2 elections, despite the apparent contradiction with the widely accepted legal view that caretaker governments are not meant to make such dramatic policy steps.”

Settlement leaders welcome Trump plan, but vow to oppose Palestinian state,

“The leaders of Israel’s West Bank settlement movement welcomed Tuesday the Trump peace plan’s call to allow Israeli annexation of large swaths of the West Bank, while vehemently rejecting its conditional provisions for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state in the remainder of the territory.”

US Embassy in Jerusalem issues Israel security alert as peace plan unveiled,

“Moments after US President Donald Trump announced his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in Washington, D.C., the US Embassy in Jerusalem released a security alert that warned against traveling to some areas of Jerusalem. The alert referenced “widespread calls for demonstrations in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza,” and warned against personal travel to “the areas of Jerusalem’s Old City surrounding the Damascus Gate, Herod’s Gate, Lion’s Gate, and Chain Gate, Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount, and in the West Bank…”

IDF bolsters troops in Jordan Valley ahead of Trump peace plan,

“The IDF is sending additional troops to the Jordan Valley in the West Bank ahead of Tuesday’s unveiling by U.S. President Donald Trump of his long-awaited Mideast peace plan. Both the military and security services began bracing for an outbreak of violence in the West Bank and along the border with Gaza though thus far, there is no specific intelligence information of any planned events. However, in light of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s call Monday for Palestinians to demonstrate and even clash with Israeli troops, security officials are inspecting potential conflict areas and are preparing for any eventuality should violence erupt.”

Arab Israelis [aka, Palestnian Citizens of Israel] reject Trump's 'transfer' plan,

“Arab Israelis have reacted with anger, disbelief and sarcasm to US President Donald Trump’s idea of swapping the area known as the “Triangle” into the future Palestinian state.Unveiled on Tuesday, Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, also known as the “Deal of the Century,” leaves open the possibility that Israel will swap Arab communities in the “Triangle” – such as Kafr Kara, Arara, Baka al-Gharbiyya, Umm al-Fahm and more – into the Palestinian state, if and when it is established.”

Vote on annexation to take place at next cabinet meeting on Tuesday,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask the Cabinet to vote to apply Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank at the next cabinet meeting, according to sources close to the prime minister. The next cabinet meeting is expected to be on Tuesday. On Tuesday, Netanyahu said the vote would take place at the cabinet meeting on Sunday, but Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Army Radio on Wednesday that the vote would have to wait due to ’technical reasons.’”

Israel rushes to capitalize on peace plan as Palestinians express anger,

“Even before the parties had finished poring over the map that described a possible Palestinian state on 70 percent of the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear he would immediately take steps to annex the other 30 percent, the location of more than 150 Jewish settlements, along with the Jordan Valley.”

Poll: After Trump's Middle East peace plan is released, Likud surges past Blue & White,

“…The previous Direct Polls survey, released ten days ago, showed the left-wing – Arab bloc leading with 57 seats to 56 for the right-wing bloc. In the new poll, the Likud gained an edge over the center-left Blue and White party, which has led the Likud for most of the election season. While Blue and White led the Likud in the Direct Polls survey released ten days ago 34 seats to 32, the Likud now leads Blue and White by two seats, 35 to 33.”

Palestinian leader rejects Trump peace plan with 'a thousand no's',

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said “a thousand no’s” Tuesday to the Mideast peace plan announced by President Donald Trump, which strongly favors Israel. ‘After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no’s to the deal of the century,’ Abbas said at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is headquartered. He said the Palestinians remain committed to ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a state with its capital in East Jerusalem. ‘We will not kneel and we will not surrender,’ Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians would resist the plan through ‘peaceful, popular means.’ The 84-year-old added that his people’s rights ‘are not for sale.’ ‘I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass,’ Abbas said.

Hamas: 'All options open' following Trump 'conspiracies' with Israel,

“Palestinian terror group Hamas on Tuesday dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan as “conspiracies” and warned “all options are open” in response. ‘We are certain that our Palestinian people will not let these conspiracies pass. So, all options are open,’ said senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya. ‘The [Israeli] occupation and the U.S. administration will bear the responsibility for what they did,’ al-Hayya said. Across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians took to the streets to protest the plan.”

ISIS’s al-Qurashi’s declaration of war on Israel,

“By mentioning US President Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ and asking the Muslim youth to ignore ‘the Hamas of apostasy and collaboration and its ilk, the factions of shame, the dogs of Iran and its base, foolish servants,’ ISIS evaluates that the Israeli implementation of the American plan by annexation of new Palestinian territories will provoke violent reactions of the young masses both in the West Bank and Gaza and it hopes to attract to its ranks many of this angry militant demographic and ‘lone wolves.’ The ISIS’s threat in the ‘declaration of war’ on Israel should be taken seriously, not only by Israel and its security establishment but also by Jewish institutions and potential targets (synagogues, schools, representative personalities, etc.) around the world.”

Daily Power Outages Hit [Palestinians in] East Jerusalem Amid Increased Demand,

“Hundreds of thousands of East Jerusalem residents have been suffering from daily power outages over the last month. These usually occur at peak times in the evening and last anywhere between a few minutes and three hours. The Jerusalem District Electricity Company, which provides power to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, blames the Israel Electric Corporation for deliberately dropping the voltage. The IEC admits to lowering the power but says it has no choice since the Palestinian company’s infrastructure cannot meet the demand.”

Israel's Election Panel Bars Arab Lawmaker From Running for Knesset,

“Israel’s Central Elections Committee decided on Wednesday to bar Arab Israeli Knesset member (MK) Hiba Yazabak (of the Balad faction in the Joint List party) from running for the Israeli parliament over the claim that she had expressed support for terrorists…The decision to disqualify Yazabak was made with a majority of 27 party representatives voting in favor, and only nine voting against the move; center-left alliance Democratic Union and Yazbka’s own Joint List voted against. Speaking before the committee, Yazbak said that ‘they have turned a woman who fought her entire life for peace and justice and against violence into a terror supporter. Even if the political narrative of the Joint List has been silenced and has become illegitimate, it has not and will not be erased. The radical right-wing found two posts of mine to build an image of a monster who doesn’t care about the murder of innocent children. I explained why today I would have used different words. The radical right-wing is trying to hide the real injustice of the occupation and the blockade [on the Gaza Strip].’” [Also see: MKs respond: ‘Heba Yazbak belongs in jail, not in the Knesset’]

US Domestic Scene

Trump peace plan rollout at White House had Mar-A-Lago feel,

“The atmosphere felt more like a celebratory Mar-a-Lago gathering, bringing together really good friends, rather than the usual somber, staid event one might have otherwise expected at a Middle East peace plan rollout. A military band in red dress uniforms played ‘Hail to the Chief’ as US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu entered the White House East Room. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the GOP donors and pro-Israel philanthropists, were sitting in the front row, along with the US and Israeli officials and VIPs who had labored on the plan. There were of course members of Congress and other VIPs, including Trump impeachment attorney Alan Dershowitz, former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, now head of the anti-nuclear deal United Against Nuclear Iran, and the ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman. No Palestinian officials were present — the Trump administration ordered the Palestinian mission in Washington closed in 2018.”

Likud source: Jonathan Pollard will be brought to Israel before election,

“After the unveiling of the Trump peace plan and the expected imminent release of Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar from Russian prison, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could soon pull another rabbit out of his hat, ahead of the Knesset elections: bringing Jonathan Pollard to Israel. A source in Netanyahu’s Likud party has told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site, that Netanyahu is aiming to have the former spy land on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport a week before the March 2 vote.”

Democratic candidates censure Trump peace plan, warn against annexation,

“US Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday condemned the Trump administration’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after its unveiling at the White House.”

Progressive lawmakers savage Trump peace plan,

“Progressive lawmakers from the Democratic Party on Tuesday mocked US President Donald Trump over his Middle East peace plan, while many of the party’s presidential hopefuls criticized it, primarily for its green light for Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley and other West Bank settlements.”

Democratic leaders hold fire on Trump’s Mideast peace plan,

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and pro-Israel Democratic leaders sounded a cautiously optimistic note today after President Donald Trump finally unveiled his long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Pelosi said that ‘there appears to be a basis for negotiation’ during a press conference to discuss the recent congressional delegation she led to Israel to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp. A group of pro-Israel Democrats who accompanied Pelosi on the trip — including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel of New York and Middle East panel Chairman Ted Deutch of Florida — also expressed hope that Trump’s proposal could lead to direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians to ultimately result in a two-state solution. ‘The devil is in the details,’ said Engel. ‘I hope it follows through and that we can try to bring an end to this horrific Israeli-Palestinian crisis once and for all, but again, it’s the details that we have to see.’”

Liberal Jewish groups denounce US plan; mainstream applauds Trump, urges talks,

“Reactions to the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan on Tuesday took a predictable path, with US Jewish groups in the mainstream and on the right praising the much-anticipated proposal and those on the left criticizing it. Mainstream and right-wing organizations applauded US President Donald Trump’s commitment to Israel and hailed the proposal as a step toward peace.”

Christian Zionist philo-Semitism is driving Trump’s Israel policy,

“Trump’s administration has combined evangelical power with support from conservative Jews who support Netanyahu’s program, among them senior adviser Jared Kushner and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are both evangelical Christians, and their support for Israeli control over the West Bank appears part and parcel of their belief that Israel’s borders should expand across the ancient Davidic Kingdom. ‘We stand with Israel because we cherish that ancient promise that those who bless her will be blessed,’ Pence said at last year’s CUFI conference.”

Evangelicals see Trump plan as proof 'Israel kissed by God' - analysis,

“The long-anticipated ‘Deal of the Century’ peace plan is the manifestation and affirmation of the Bible for US President Donald Trump’s core constituency, Evangelical Christians. ‘The Bible talks about the land that the Jewish people are living on, the land which the Jew haters call ‘settlements’ and ‘illegal,’” Dr. Mike Evans, founder of Friends of Zion Museum and a member of the Trump Faith Initiative said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, a day before the expected publication of the plan to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. ‘What the president is saying is that America does not believe the Bible is illegal,’ he said.”

Ex-Foreign Affairs chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen embraces UAE lobby,

“Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., has signed on as a lobbyist for the United Arab Emirates amid intensifying pushback against the country’s growing regional ambitions…According to her registration statement, Ros-Lehtinen will lobby US officials regarding “export controls and sanctions, trade policies, human rights, foreign and defense policies, foreign media registration and strengthening bilateral relations and regional security.” She is the only ex-lawmaker currently registered to lobby for the UAE, filling a key gap in the country’s multi-million-dollar lobbying juggernaut.”

Pro-Israel Democratic Super PAC to Air Attack Ads Against Bernie Sanders,

“A Democratic super PAC will begin airing attack ads in Iowa against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Wednesday, marking the first time a Democratic organization has run a negative campaign spot targeting Mr. Sanders by name in either of his two primary campaigns.The ad, backed by Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action arm, comes as concerns among moderate Democrats mount that Mr. Sanders could win Iowa, setting the avowed democratic socialist on a possible path to the nomination.” [Note: ads don’t mention Israel at all, despite Israel being the focus of the group].

Hillel Partners with Right-Wing [Messianic] Christian Law Firm,

“In November, the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) at Georgia Tech won their fight to overturn a school decision that had found them guilty of antisemitism based on a controversy over an educational event they held about Palestine. But now Hillels of Georgia—the umbrella group for Hillels on at least 24 Georgia campuses, including Georgia Tech—is pushing back by filing a federal complaint that asks the Department of Education (DOE) to investigate Georgia Tech for antisemitism. This move follows Donald Trump’s December executive order extending government Title VI civil rights protections to Jews, which opened the door for pro-Israel groups to push the DOE to crack down harder on Palestine solidarity activism. To handle the complaint, Hillel has chosen to retain the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a right-wing evangelical Christian organization known for its efforts to limit LGBTQ and abortion rights around the world. The partnership is an especially dramatic example of how Hillel’s aggressive tactics for shutting down pro-Palestine activity on campuses can put it in league with far-right political forces, even as the organization markets itself as a mainstream, inclusive space for campus Jews.”

New Koch Group Dogged by Charges of Anti-Semitism,

“…the Quincy Institute’s hires include a string of figures who have courted controversy due to their views of Israel and American Jews.”

International Scene

World leaders react to Trump's Middle East plan,

Article includes “a round-up of international reaction to Trump’s announcement of a “peace” plan for the Middle East.”

Trump plan includes apparent contradiction over prayer rights at Temple Mount,

“The Trump peace plan calls for the status quo at the site to ‘continue uninterrupted.’ And a ‘Conceptual Map’ published in the document specifies that the ‘status quo over Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif is preserved.’ But the document goes on to say that ‘people of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.’ An arrangement permitting Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount would likely have profound repercussions in the Muslim world. Israel has always denied intermittent claims by Palestinian and other Muslim critics that it intends to change the status quo and permit Jewish prayer on the Mount.”

After Trump deal unveiled, Jordan warns of ‘new reality’ on Temple Mount,

“The Jordanian Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Ministry warned on Wednesday against a ‘new reality’ being applied to the Temple Mount, a site revered by both Jews and Muslims. The ministry said that it publicized the statement in light of Israeli authorities entering the central parts of the Temple Mount and taking action to halt its operations at the site. But it was notably issued less than a day after the US administration unveiled its plan to resolve to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Arab states in perilous balancing act on US peace plan,

“Arab states have cautiously welcomed the US peace plan for the Middle East, but the balancing act aimed at appeasing their powerful ally risks provoking domestic public opinion and Palestinian ire. The plan was unveiled in Washington on Tuesday by President Donald Trump, flanked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who greeted the proposals enthusiastically in the face of Palestinian condemnation. The only Arab ambassadors present were from Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates — three of Washington’s closest allies in a region where many nations host US forces. Other Arab states released carefully worded statements, in what experts said showed that the Palestinian cause has gone out of fashion and that security ties with Washington outweigh any appetite to oppose the plan.” Also see: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, UAE welcome Trump peace plan; Qatar welcomes US Mideast peace plan, but urges changes; Erdogan says Trump’s Mideast peace plan ‘absolutely unacceptable’Iran’s Kahmeini vows ‘satanic’ US peace plan will not be realized

ICC gives Israel, Palestinians until March to respond to war crime charges,

“The International Criminal Court Pretrial Chamber on Tuesday gave Israel and the Palestinians until March 16 to respond to war-crimes allegations directed at them by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.Bensouda then will have until March 30 to rebut any submissions by Israel and the Palestinians. Third parties can also file briefs by February 14.The ICC’s order did not give a schedule for when it will rule on the war-crimes issue.”