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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
December 7, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Jewish Groups Welcome U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital (JTA)
    Mainstream Jewish groups welcomed President Trump's announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
    Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, "When you do the right thing, you do not have to ask questions, you just do it."
    The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said, "Today's action by @POTUS is an important, historic step for which we are grateful."
    The Anti-Defamation League called the step "important and long overdue."
    The American Jewish Committee, Hadassah, and the Jewish Federations of North America also welcomed the president's announcement without reservations.
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center said that with his announcement, Trump "will right a historic wrong."

Sens. Schumer and Cardin Support President on Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's Capital - Jenna Lifhits (Weekly Standard)
    The Senate's top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said Tuesday he had advised President Trump to declare Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided" capital. Schumer in October called on Trump to move the U.S. Embassy and "show the world that the U.S. definitively acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel's capital."
    Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated his support for recognizing Jerusalem on Monday: "I believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, so to me, that's not news." 
    See also In U.S. Congress, Robust Backing for Trump's Jerusalem Move (AFP)
    U.S. lawmakers across the political spectrum reacted positively to President Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday that he is recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
    "Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the eternal, undivided capital of the State of Israel," House Speaker Paul Ryan said. "Today's announcement is a recognition of reality that in no way inhibits efforts to reach a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

20 Palestinians Arrested for Attack on Israeli Children in West Bank - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Israeli security forces arrested 20 Palestinians from the village of Qusra in the West Bank overnight Wednesday for being involved in an attack on a group of Israeli children hiking in the area on Nov. 30.
    During the raid, the forces found equipment stolen from the Israeli hikers.

Separating Fact and Fiction at Susiya - Yoni Tobin (Algemeiner)
    Last week 10 U.S. senators penned a letter imploring Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu "not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susiya."
    The letter describes Susiya as having existed since the 1830s and being home to 45 families. Except that rather than a small, functional village, Susiya is a smattering of tents - built illegally and kept alive only by generous contributions from European countries.
    As William Booth wrote in August 2016 in the Washington Post, Susiya is entirely devoid of "streets, shops, or mosques [and] permanent homes.... There do not seem to be many people here, either."
    The site is directly adjacent to an ancient Jewish synagogue and historical site.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital and Orders U.S. Embassy to Move - Mark Landler
    President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it "a recognition of reality" and "the right thing to do," and setting in motion a plan to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv. (New York Times)
        See also below Observations: "It Is Time to Officially Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel" - President Donald Trump (White House)
  • In the Arab World, the Rallying Cry of Jerusalem May Have Lost Its Force - Anne Barnard
    For decades, the idea of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital served as a powerful rallying cry that united the Arab world. In officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, President Trump struck what many considered the death blow to those aspirations.
        But as Arab and Muslim leaders raised their voices to condemn the move, many across the Middle East wondered if so much had changed in recent years that the real Arab response would amount to little more than a whimper. "'Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine' joins 'Palestinian refugees are going back home one day' in the let's-hope-it-will-happen-but-it-never-will department," wrote Mustapha Hamoui, a Lebanese blogger.
        While Arab leaders have continued to pay lip service to the Palestinian cause, it has slipped in importance, displaced by the Arab Spring uprisings, the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the threat of the Islamic State, and the contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran for regional dominance. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • The U.S. President's Decision on Jerusalem Is an Important Step towards Peace - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years. We're profoundly grateful to the President for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. embassy here. The President's decision is an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn't include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
        I share President Trump's commitment to advancing peace between Israel and all of our neighbors, including the Palestinians. I call on all countries that seek peace to join the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move their embassies here. President Trump, thank you for today's historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Palestinian Reactions on Jerusalem - "Popular Protests" Are Not Spontaneous - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
    President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been met with Palestinian threats of violence. The Hamas newspaper Felesteen reported on Dec. 4 that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority had agreed on the need for mass protest activities throughout the territories in response to the American move. Senior officials in the PA and Hamas have openly warned of undermining the stability in the territories and the entire Middle East. These warnings show once more that the "spontaneous popular protests" emerge from pre-planning by the senior echelons of the Palestinian leadership.
        Any delay of the American decision on Jerusalem will strengthen the Palestinian (and Arab) leadership's view that the Trump administration is limited in its ability to exert effective pressure on the Palestinians because of their "deterrent power" of violence and terror that will undermine regional stability. The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also If Palestinian Violence Ensues, It Will Have Stemmed from Abbas - Avi Issacharoff
    Should there be an increase in violence in the wake of President Trump's policy shift on Jerusalem, it will have been orchestrated from above, by PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself, just like in the bad old days of Yasser Arafat. Abbas is practically ordering his men to escalate violence. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Rage Over Trump's Jerusalem Move Won't Turn Into a Third Intifada - Muhammad Shehada
    President Trump's speech giving America's blessing to Jerusalem as Israel's capital is widely touted as the spark that will provoke a mass popular uprising among Palestinians. The truth is that likelihood is at an all-time low. With a growing sense of abandonment by the international community and Arab regimes, Palestinians are seeing their cause fade away and a grassroots explosion is not in the cards. Any desire for an uprising is currently muffled by official and popular pressure to continue the Palestinian reconciliation process undisturbed. Palestinian rage over this move by Trump will dissipate, and it won't take that long. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Reality of Jerusalem - Editorial
    President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is hardly the radical policy departure that critics claim, and Mr. Trump accompanied it with an embrace of the two-state solution. Congress recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 1995 in a bill President Clinton declined to veto. Other presidents have agreed in principle, but in office they used a waiver to put off any formal recognition. Mr. Trump called his decision on Wednesday "a recognition of reality" and he's right.
        One way the Palestinian Authority could signal a new seriousness in reaching a peace deal would be to stop paying the families of Palestinians who kill innocent Israelis. The House passed the Taylor Force Act Tuesday, which would reduce U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they renounce pay-for-slay payments. If the movement of an American embassy that was signaled more than 20 years ago is enough to scuttle peace talks, then maybe the basis for peace doesn't yet exist. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Standing Up to Palestinian Blackmail on Jerusalem - Elliott Abrams
    President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is absolutely the right decision because Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The anomaly is that U.S. recognition of this has not happened until this week due to the fear that Arab states and Palestinians would object.
        Lies and evasions make peace impossible. Telling the truth brings it closer. Trump is not destroying his own peace efforts but grounding them in reality. And he has reacted to Arab and Palestinian predictions of violence with the contempt they deserve. Those "predictions" were in fact threats, and the President was absolutely right to face them down.
        This decision advances peace because it tells Palestinians and Arab governments to respect reality. In any peace talks there will be no discussion of moving the Knesset or the prime minister's office to Tel Aviv. The refusal to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital is part of refusing full and normal legitimacy to the Jewish state. It makes Israel uniquely disadvantaged among nations, giving a sense of impermanence. The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. (Ha'aretz)
  • Why Trump Is Right in Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's Capital - Alan M. Dershowitz
    President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a perfect response to President Obama's decision to change American policy by engineering the UN Security Council resolution declaring Judaism's holiest places in Jerusalem to be occupied territory, handing the Palestinians enormous leverage in future negotiations and disincentivizing them from making a compromised peace.
        The Security Council resolution changed the status quo by declaring Israel's presence at Jewish holy sites to be a "flagrant violation under international law." President Trump's decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital helps to restore the appropriate balance.
        Since virtually everyone in the international community acknowledges that any reasonable peace would recognize Israel's legitimate claims in Jerusalem, there is no reason for allowing the UN resolution to make criminals out of every Jew or Israeli who sets foot in these historically Jewish areas. President Trump was right to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor. The writer is professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School. (The Hill)

"It Is Time to Officially Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel" - President Donald Trump (White House)

  • "In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that Israel's capital....Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law's waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital city."
  • "After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result. Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."
  • "I've judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians....Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital."
  • "Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President."
  • "Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done....I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."
  • "This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement....We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem....The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides."

        See also Amb. Nikki Haley: "Courage Doesn't Come By Doing What Everybody Else Says" - Martha MacCallum
    UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said declaring Jerusalem as the American-recognized capital of Israel was symbolic, as the seat of Israeli government is already in the city. "We're going to do what the American people have asked us to do," she said, adding that "courage doesn't come by doing what everybody else says."  (Fox News)

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