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SPOTLIGHT: "In the Saudi Desert, World’s Business Leaders Follow the Money" by Andrew Ross Sorkin: "Private jets ferrying business titans from all over the globe began landing Monday in this sand-swept Saudi capital. For the next several days, the world’s power center will shift from places like New York and London to this desert city for an event that many invitees are privately calling “Davos in the Desert.” Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has summoned a Who’s Who from industry and politics to take part in a series of meetings, conversations and panels."
"Among those making the pilgrimage are Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder of the private equity giant Blackstone Group; Masayoshi Son, founder of Japan’s SoftBank; the United States Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin; the venture capitalist Peter Thiel; Laurence D. Fink, founder of BlackRock; Leon Black of Apollo Group; Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the head of Colony NorthStar; and the entrepreneur Richard Branson. And that’s an abbreviated list. All told, the group of 3,500 invitees is estimated to control $22 trillion in assets." [DealBook]
"Bridge Linking Saudi Arabia to Africa Might Need Israeli Signoff" by Jonathan Ferziger: "Connecting Egypt to a new $500 billion Saudi city via a bridge across the Red Sea will require cooperation from Israel, analysts say... Israel’s 1979 peace treaty with Egypt guarantees it access to the Red Sea’s Straits of Tiran, which the planned bridge and causeway would cross. That makes Israel’s involvement in the project crucial, says Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies... “There couldn’t be anything close to this unless Israel and the Saudis had the opportunity to discuss in detail their relations and this bridge,” Meital said. “There have to have been back channels.”" [Bloomberg]
"White House official says reports on imminent peace plan misleading" by Erez Linn: "A senior White House official dismissed on Tuesday ongoing reports in the Israeli media about an ambitious Middle East peace plan that could potentially destabilize the Israeli government... "While we are having productive conversations with all relevant parties, we have not set a time frame nor created any deadlines..." he said. "The notion that this would cause a 'political earthquake' is nonsense and was in response to a false report created by people who want to play the role of spoiler. We are going to ignore the noise and focus on our work."" [IsraelHayom]
Former U.S. Amb. Daniel Shapiro writes... "Move the Embassy to Jerusalem and Promote Peace: Packaging the unveiling of a U.S. peace plan with an announcement of the embassy move could ensure that the latter reinforces the former. But Mr. Trump must be clear on two points: The embassy will relocate to West Jerusalem... He also must explain that... the U.S. expects the outcome to include a Palestinian capital in the city’s Arab neighborhoods...This approach has two advantages. First, it reorients U.S. policy toward a two-state solution. Second, it punctures myths that both sides use to deceive themselves and delay progress." [WSJ]
NOTEWORTHY -- Kafe Knesset's Tal Shalev tweets: "Netanyahu's special envoy and close friend, Isaac Molcho, has asked to be relieved from his duties" [Twitter]
IRAN DEAL -- Tillerson says US sanctions targeting Iran’s ‘malign behaviors’ aimed at helping Iranian people: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that US sanctions against Iran are targeting the country’s “malign behaviors” and are aimed at helping the Iranian people take control of their government... “Our fight is not with the Iranian people. Our disagreements are with the revolutionary regime,” Tillerson says. “We are taking actions to impose sanctions on the regime and in particular the Iranian Revolutionary Guard." [ToI]
"Why Israeli Nuclear Experts Disagree with Netanyahu on the Iran Deal" by By Bernard Avishai: "[Former Israeli National Security Advisor Uzi Arad] remains skeptical of Netanyahu’s campaign against it, recalling the conversation he had had with one very senior official, a veteran of the science and defense-policy community, who was in despair about Netanyahu’s call to abrogate the J.C.P.O.A. “I asked him what he thought of the Prime Minister’s policy. ‘Shigaon!’ he told me.” (“Shigaon” is normally translated as “lunacy.”)... “In order not to play into Iranian hands, and keep the other J.C.P.O.A. powers supportive, American leaders must make a conscientious effort to divorce from the nuclear deal any sanctions entertained in the context of missiles or terrorism,” he said." [NewYorker]
ON THE HILL -- by Aaron Magid: The House is expected vote today on four bills pressuring Iran and the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced H.R. 1698 that expands sanctions against Tehran for its ballistic missile program. Another bill restricting Hezbollah’s ability to fundraise by cracking down on foreign states that do business with them is authored by Royce and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). Legislation introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) that urges the European Union to designate Hezbollah’s political wing as a terror group will likely receive a floor vote.
TOP TALKER: "Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier" by Adam Entous and Devlin Barrett: "Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research. After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community... Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary. The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day." [WashPost]
KAFE KNESSET -- Everyone loves Rivlin again -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: After a couple of days of politicians fighting about President Rivlin because of his fiery speech in the Knesset, all that it took was someone calling him a Nazi to bring everyone back to the fold. Graffiti on a school in Bnei Brak calling Rivlin a Nazi made the headlines. Politicians on the Left pounced, calling it a result of “incitement” by the Right. Then the Right felt it had to condemn the graffiti, with even Netanyahu – who is not exactly Rivlin’s biggest fan – chiming in. The Haredi press, however, told a different story. It turns out that the graffiti was sprayed around a month ago when Rivlin visited the school, and it was never cleaned up. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset -- including the latest on legislation regarding investigating sitting prime ministers -- here [JewishInsider]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Private-equity giant Carlyle Group's co-CEOs David Rubenstein and William Conway are stepping down in biggest shakeup since it was founded [CNBC] The future of retail is 'micro malls,' says T5 Capital General Partner Mark Ghermezian [EdmontonJournal] Meet Wibbitz, one of the [Israeli] software startups that helps publishers make lots of videos very, very quickly [Recode] Bids due this week for Rolling Stone sale [NYPost]
NEW MISSION: "Billionaire Michael Bloomberg wants to live to 125 years old: 'Nobody's done that before'" by Sam Shead: "Bloomberg's billionaire founder and CEO Michael Bloomberg has said that he's aiming to live until he's 125-years-old — something no human has ever done before... "I look forward to another, I dunno, 50 years may be optimistic, but that's my objective, to live another 50 years. Nobody's done that I might point out so far," he said at his new desk in London. Bloomberg... made his comments after being asked whether he intends to run US president in the future. "Who knows what the future holds but I don't plan to," said Bloomberg... "I'll do everything I can to help our government and work on my foundation. It's a good chance to work in the commercial world and the philanthropic world and to spend time with my new grandchildren and daughter." [BI]
"Mark Zuckerberg has bigger plans than the White House" by Alex Thompson: "The world’s fifth-richest man has publicly committed $45 million — most of it in the first 10 months of 2017 — into groups aligned with two political causes: ending the era of mass incarceration and fixing the affordable housing crisis in American cities. The sum... represents the first series of investments by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (with wife Priscilla Chan), or CZI, which is setting goals to extend far beyond the next election cycle...With a $60 billion-plus funding commitment, CZI would be the biggest foundation in the world, almost 30 percent larger than the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at $43 billion." [Vice]
TALK OF THIS TOWN: "DC Judge Agrees to Ask Israel for Help in Case of Jewish Historical Texts Held by Russia" by Cogan Schneier: "A federal judge in D.C. agreed on Tuesday to officially ask Israeli authorities to get involved in a yearslong dispute over Jewish religious texts held by Russia. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement... has been fighting for years to secure the return of historical religious texts seized by the Russians in the early 20th century... Attorneys for Chabad told Lamberth in a conference Tuesday that an auction house in Israel obtained one of the books and intends to sell it... Nathan Lewin, a lawyer for Chabad, also indicated Tuesday that the group will file a motion this week for a temporary restraining order to block Kedem Auction House from selling the book. Lewin phoned into Tuesday’s conference from Jerusalem." [Law]
"'Hateful' town illegally targeted Orthodox Jews, [NJ] state says" by Sara Jerde and Allison Pries: "Fearing an influx of Orthodox Jews from New York State, the Township of Mahwah introduced two hateful and discriminatory ordinances that illegally targeted that community, the state Attorney General's office alleged in a stunning complaint filed against the town... "This is an extensive complaint ... but the bottom line is very simple -- the township council in Mahwah heard the angry, fear-driven voices of bigotry and acted to appease those voices," Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in a statement." [NorthJersey]
MEDIA WATCH: "Leon Wieseltier Admits ‘Offenses’ Against Female Colleagues as New Magazine Is Killed" by Jennifer Schuessler: "Leon Wieseltier, a prominent editor at The New Republic for three decades who was preparing to unveil a new magazine next week, apologized on Tuesday... “For my offenses against some of my colleagues in the past I offer a shaken apology and ask for their forgiveness,” he wrote. “The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them I will not waste this reckoning.” In his statement, Mr. Wieseltier also offered an apology to his current collaborators, including a staff of a half dozen. “I am profoundly sorry to my extraordinary collaborators at the journal we began together that the misdeeds of my past have made it impossible to go forward,” he said. “My gratitude to them is boundless.” [NYTimes]
HOLLYWOOD: "The most A-list wedding of the year?" by Carly Stern: "It takes a VIP to be able to drum up an A-list roster of celebrity guests at your wedding. But it takes a very, very important person to get them to come to your vow renewal a decade later. [Jerusalem-born] talent manager Guy Oseary, 45, tied the knot with wife Michelle Alves back in 2006, but the lovebirds reaffirmed their commitment with a second wedding on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — that is speculated to have cost a whopping $250,000. And they got some of the biggest names in the business to fly in for the lavish affair, including Madonna, Bono, Ashton Kutcher, Matthew McConaughey, Dakota Johnson, and Noel Gallagher." [DailyMail]
"Drake throws bar mitzvah-themed 31st birthday party" by Alexis Benveniste: "The rapper rang in his birthday with a bar mitzvah-themed celebration in Los Angeles on Monday night. He kicked off the evening at the Catch LA rooftop... The half-Jewish, Toronto-born rapper then moved the party on to the nightclub Poppy, where his “31 going on 13”-themed soiree was equipped with “Aubrey’s re-bar mitzvah” cups, pizza boxes with his picture on them, a basketball photobooth and an ice hockey dance floor... Guests noshed on Dippin’ Dots and pizza — because what’s a good bar mitzvah without good food?" [PageSix]
"J.J. Redick's Ideal Podcast Guest Is Barack Obama" by Alex Wong: "Harry Styles was amazing, So, Ben Winston [executive producer of The Late, Late Show with James Corden] is one of my best friends. He’s a great mate of mine and I’ve had many Shabbat dinners with him. I actually had a Shabbat dinner with Ben and Harry last season." [GQ]
BIRTHDAYS: US District Court Judge (now on senior status) serving in the Eastern District of New York, based in Brooklyn, appointed by President Reagan, Judge Edward R. Korman turns 75... Chief Policy and Strategy Officer of Oscar Insurance since 2016, following stints as a Supreme Court clerk, White House counsel, Chancellor of the NYC schools and EVP at News Corporation, Joel Klein turns 71... President of Dallas-based SPR Ventures and SPR Packaging LLC, a manufacturer of flexible packaging, he serves on the boards of Texas Capital Bancshares and Cinemark, Steven Rosenberg turns 59... Community engagement professional at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco, Rachel Elana Schonwetter turns 28...
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