Full Text Israel Political Brief November 28, 2012: Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor’s Wall Street Journal Op-ed: What Kind of Palestinian State?

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What Kind of Palestinian State?

The U.N. should consider whether the world needs another nation that imports weapons and exports

Source: RON PROSOR, Wall Street Journal, 11-28-12

For more than a year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to bypass peace negotiations with Israel by unilaterally seeking state recognition at the United Nations. Instead of pulling him back from this cliff, this week the U.N.’s General Assembly may push him over the edge.

Many countries in the Assembly are taking an approach to Palestinian statehood that is far more Pavlovian than Washingtonian. Perhaps this should not come as a surprise. For decades, the body has rubber-stamped any Palestinian whim no matter how ill-advised, ill-conceived or illogical.

The time is right to break this habit. It doesn’t take an architect to recognize how poorly Palestinians have laid the foundations for statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. U.N. members considering Palestinian statehood have a duty to inspect these foundations and ask: Exactly what kind of state are we voting for?

A state with no control over its territory. The Palestinian Authority has zero authority in Gaza today. Out of concern for his personal safety, President Abbas has not even seen this area with binoculars since 2007, when the Hamas terrorist organization seized control of it in a bloody coup. Demonstrating their affection for Mr. Abbas, Hamas threw members of his political party off 12-story rooftops. While members of the U.S. Congress visit their constituents on a weekly basis, President Abbas hasn’t laid eyes on almost half of the Palestinian population for six years.

A terrorist state. States recognized by the U.N. must pledge to be “peace-loving.” This month, Hamas showed its commitment to peace and love in Gaza by firing more than 1,200 rockets into Israeli cities. The terrorist group has used every resource at its disposal to repress its own population or attack Israel’s. It has transformed Gaza into a haven for global jihadist organizations like al Qaeda. The family of nations does not need another member whose primary import is deadly weapons and whose chief exports are extremism, hatred and terror.

An undemocratic state. Hamas has imposed brutal tyranny in Gaza, and Palestinian democracy in the West Bank is also far from Jeffersonian. President Abbas’s mandate to rule expired three years ago. He continues to personally extend it without elections or consultation from his people. Mr. Abbas may have a flexible view of his own term limits, but his ideas about freedom of speech are more rigid. Journalists, bloggers and activists continue to be jailed and tortured in the West Bank for crimes such as “extending their tongues against the Palestinian President.”

A bankrupt state. Palestinian Authority institutions remain completely dependent on foreign aid, limping from crisis to crisis. Yet this year, as the PA threatened to delay payroll for many employees, it tripled payments to convicted terrorists. Today the PA devotes 6% of its annual budget to payments for imprisoned terrorists and the families of suicide bombers, and less than 1% to higher education. In mosques, schools and official media, the PA glorifies terror and promotes incitement against Israelis. Instead of using their budgets for nation-building, they use them for nation-sinking.

Before placing its seal of approval on a Palestinian non-state, the U.N. should consider the consequences. Virtual statehood might earn Mr. Abbas a better seat in the General Assembly, but it will not change anything on the ground. It would only raise expectations for the Palestinian people that cannot be met. In our very volatile region, the results could be tragic.

Israel is urging the Palestinian leadership to give up their destructive march of folly at the U.N. and work with us to forge constructive solutions at the negotiating table, which the PA leadership has avoided for years. The foundations for real Palestinian statehood and real peace can only be laid through hard work on the ground and direct talks with Israel.

When the foundations for lasting peace are in place, Israel will not be the last nation to welcome Palestinians to the U.N. We will be the first.

Mr. Prosor is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations. 

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Full Text Israel Political Brief July 15, 2012: Text of US Jewish leaders’ letter to PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Levy settlement report

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Text of Jewish leaders’ letter to Netanyahu on Levy settlement report

40 U.S. Jewish leaders sign Israel Policy Forum letter urging prime minister to reject document produced by panel headed by former Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy.

U.S. Jews to Netanyahu: Report urging state to legalize settlements will aid those seeking to delegitimize Israel

July 13, 2012

The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of the State of Israel

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

As strong advocates for Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish and democratic state, we are deeply concerned about the recent findings of the government commission led by Supreme Court Jurist (Ret.) Edmund Levy. We fear that if approved, this report will place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril.
As you boldly stated in your address to the United States Congress last May, “I recognize that in a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.” As you said clearly, doing so is not easy. While the Jewish people indeed share a biblical connection to the lands of Judea and Samaria, you told Congress, “there is another truth: The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they’ll be neither Israel’s subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people living in their own state.”
Securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state requires diplomatic and political leadership, not legal maneuverings. We recognize and regret that the Palestinian Authority has abdicated leadership by not returning to the negotiating table. Nonetheless, our great fear is that the Levy Report will not strengthen Israel’s position in this conflict, but rather add fuel to those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. At this moment, it is more critical than ever that Israel strengthen its claim in the international community that it is committed to a two-state vision, which is, in turn, central to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
We are confident that with your deep understanding of the gravity of this situation, and your unprecedented political strength, you will ensure that adoption of this report does not take place.

Sincerely,

Karen R. Adler
Jack C. Bendheim
Michael Berenbaum
Howard M. Bernstein
Charles R. Bronfman
Steven M. Cohen
Rabbi Marion Lev Cohen
Lester Crown
Thomas A. Dine
Rabbi David Ellenson
Edith Everett
Susie Gelman
E. Robert Goodkind
Stanley P. Gold
Rabbi Daniel Gordis
David A. Halperin
Harold R. Handler
Alan S. Jaffe
Peter A. Joseph
Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky
Peter S. Kolevzon
Steven C. Koppel
Burton Lehman
Marvin Lender
Geoffrey H. Lewis
Deborah Lipstadt
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon
Harriet Mouchly-Weiss
Burt Neuborne
Bernard Nussbaum
Richard Pearlstone
Marcia Riklis
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn
David Sable
Rabbi David Saperstein
Jeffrey R. Solomon
Joel D. Tauber
Melvyn I. Weiss
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Michael D. Young
Lawrence Zicklin

Affiliations provided below for identification purposes only

Karen R. Adler (New York, NY) – Chair, Executive Committee of the Jewish Communal Fund

Jack C. Bendheim (New York, NY) – President & Chairman, Phibro Animal Health Corp.; former Chairman, IPF

Michael Berenbaum (Los Angeles, CA) – Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust at the American Jewish University; former Project Director of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC

Howard M. Bernstein (Los Angeles, CA) – Emeritus Member of Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Honorary Board Member, Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Charles R. Bronfman (New York, NY; Montreal) – Chairman, Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies

Rabbi Marion Lev Cohen (New York, NY) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum; Director of Adult Engagement, Central Synagogue

Steven M. Cohen (New York, NY) – Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University

Lester Crown (Chicago, IL) – Chairman of Henry Crown & Co.; Crown Family Philanthropies

Thomas A. Dine (Washington, DC) – Former Executive Director of AIPAC

Rabbi David Ellenson (New York, NY) – President, Hebrew Union College –Jewish Institute of Religion

Edith Everett (New York, NY) Co-founder and President, Everett Family Foundation

Susie Gelman (Washington, DC) – Immediate Past President, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Stanley P. Gold (Los Angeles, CA) – Chairman Emeritus, Jewish Federation of LA; President and CEO, Shamrock Holdings

E. Robert Goodkind (New York, NY) – Partner, Pryor Cashman LLP; former President, American Jewish Committee (’04-’07)

Rabbi Daniel Gordis (Jerusalem) – Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem

David A. Halperin (New York, NY) – Executive Director, Israel Policy Forum

Harold R. Handler (New York, NY) – Former President, JCC in Manhattan; Former Chairman, Jewish Communal Fund; Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Alan S. Jaffe (New York, NY) – President, Jewish Community Relations Council-NY; former President, UJA-Federation-NY; former Chairman, Proskauer

Peter A. Joseph (New York, NY) – Chairman, Israel Policy Forum

Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky (New York, NY) – Temple Ansche Chesed

Peter S. Kolevzon (New York, NY) – Founding Chair and Past President, JCC in Manhattan

Steven C. Koppel (New York, NY) – Partner, JonesDay; Member, International Board of Governors, The Peres Center for Peace

Burton Lehman (New York, NY) – Former Chair and Member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute Religion

Marvin Lender (Connecticut) – Former National Chairman, UJA

Geoffrey H. Lewis (Boston, MA) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Deborah Lipstadt (Atlanta, GA) – Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University

Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon (New York, NY) – Congregation Bnai Jeshurun

Harriet Mouchly-Weiss (New York, NY) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Burt Neuborne (New York, NY) – Professor of Law, NYU

Bernard Nussbaum (New York, NY) – Former White House Counsel (’94); Partner, Wachtell Lipton, Rosen & Katz

Richard Pearlstone (Aspen, CO) – Former Chairman, Jewish Agency

Marcia Riklis (New York, NY) – Board member, Israel Policy Forum; General Campaign Co-Chair, UJA Federation-NY

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn (New York, NY) – Program Director, Jewish Life and Values, Nathan Cummings Foundation

David Sable (New York, NY) – Former Executive Board Member, UJA Federation-NY

Rabbi David Saperstein (Washington, DC) – Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Jeffrey R. Solomon (New York, NY) – President, Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies

Joel D. Tauber (Southfield, MI) – Former Chairman, National UJA; former National Chairman of Tel Aviv University: American Council

Melvyn I. Weiss (New York, NY) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie (New York, NY) – President Emeritus, Union for Reform Judaism

Michael D. Young (New York, NY) – Board Member, Israel Policy Forum

Lawrence Zicklin (New York, NY) – Former President, UJA Federation-NY

Israel Political Brief April 9, 2012: Rick Santorum’s New York Daily News Op-ed ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Israel’

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Jerusalem is the capital of Israel

The following Op-Ed by Rick Santorum first appeared in the New York Daily News on April 9, 2012: 

There is, sadly, a huge divide between the Obama administration’s position and that of the government of Israel with regard to Jerusalem.For thousands of years, at the end of the Passover Seder as well as at the end of Yom Kippur, Jews around the world conclude their holiday by reciting, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

To Jews, Jerusalem is the holiest city, and has the holiest site, the Temple Mount, which includes the Western Wall. Jews praying outside of Jerusalem face toward Jerusalem. When Israel became a state more than 60 years ago, Jerusalem, though it was divided at the time and the Western Wall was in Jordanian hands, was declared Israel’s capital.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case brought by an American Jewish family, the Zivotofskys, whose child was born in West Jerusalem in 2002. The Obama administration, following the Bush administration’s policy, opposed listing “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on the child’s American passport — despite a U.S. law requiring such a listing.

The U.S. Supreme Court, by an 8-1 margin, decided that the State Department could not wantonly break such a law and prevent the judiciary from reviewing that breach. I agree with that decision.

Even more startling than this refusal to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on an American passport was an exchange at a March 2012 Obama State Department press briefing. In an exchange with Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, the spokeswoman made it clear that even Jerusalem’s western part, the Jewish side of the city, controlled by Israel since 1949, is not recognized as part of Israel.

The question was asked repeatedly:

Q: “What is the capital of Israel?”

A: “Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations. That’s all I have to say on this issue.”

The conversation continued:

Q: “Is it your — is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think — or is it just East Jerusalem?”

A: “Matt, I don’t have anything further to what I’ve said 17 times on that subject. Okay?”

And again:

Q: “All right. So hold on. So I just want to make sure. You’re saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final-status issue.”

A: “Matt, I don’t have anything further on Jerusalem to what I’ve already said.”

The Obama administration is thus saying that it does not even recognize Israel within its indefensible 1949 borders but that somehow it will protect Israel’s security?

It has been longstanding U.S. policy not to officially recognize any part of Jerusalem as part of Israel — and it is dead wrong.

Never has Israel ever offered Western Jerusalem in a negotiation, so why would the administration keep this totally Jewish section of the city in question?

The Israeli Gaza withdrawal and the missiles that are launching from there into Israeli cities demonstrates that any Israeli withdrawal from any part of Jerusalem would leave Israel without defensible borders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, as have other Israeli prime ministers, that he will never divide Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that my opponent for the Republican Presidential nomination has a different position from that of the President. He has not expressed his opinion about the Obama administration’s position on Jerusalem.

When asked about recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving our embassy there, Mitt Romney is undecided, and said he would consult with the government of Israel. He has been running for President for six years, and I think that is long enough for him to get up to speed on foreign policy and make a decision on this crucial issue.

There is no daylight between my position and the government of Israel’s on the issue of Jerusalem. I voted for the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, I support recognizing a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and I will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in compliance with that act.

It is actually not well known that the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 made it U.S. law to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the waiver provision of the act only applied to moving the embassy to Jerusalem. A letter to President Bill Clinton — signed by 84 U.S. senators, including me — articulated this point.

We know the Obama administration is not complying with U.S. law. We do not know what a potential Romney administration would do. A Santorum administration would mean that next year, there will be a Passover Seder at the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — and when Jews say, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” that will actually be the case for the U.S. Embassy.

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