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BREAKING: New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela will call for a vote at the UN Security Council on Friday afternoon at 3PM on a draft resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements. [Reuters]
"Israel Slams Obama, Kerry Over UN Resolution: A senior Israeli official said, "President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN. President Obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant but instead is pushing it. This is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace." [Twitter]
Jay Solomon: "Israel believed US & Palestinians were "coordinating" in preparing new UN resolution on Mideast peace process, says an Israeli official." [Twitter]
David Horovitz: "If — and as of this writing, we are still in “if” territory — the administration was, perhaps still is, ready to forgo its UN veto and let a Palestinian-designed resolution gain passage in the UN Security Council, condemning all settlements and potentially inviting new international diplomatic and financial pressure against Israel, it will instead have chosen a course of action that could sabotage its admirable two-term history of defending Israel’s against those international players that wish it ill. It will have essentially sided against Israel with those negative forces. It will have reversed and made a mockery of its own previous pledges and positions — notably when it vetoed a similar resolution five years ago with the explanation that the Security Council was not the right venue for tackling issues that need to be resolved by the parties themselves." [ToI]
Brent Sasley: "At this point of Obama presidency likely only consequence would be to tar Obama's name among many Jewish-Israelis & US Jews." [Twitter]
Mark Dubowitz: "As Aleppo burns, 500,000 dead Syrians, global chaos, Obama spends last 27 days cementing legacy as most anti-Israel president ever." [Twitter]
BEHIND THE SCENES -- “In a day of tweets, Trump suggests major change on national security issues” by Karen DeYoung: “Once it became clear late Wednesday that the settlements vote was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, Trump officials said the transition gave the administration a “heads-up” that the president-elect was going to publicly call for a U.S. veto After initial hesitation on whether Trump should weigh in, the statement was written late Wednesday by Jared Kushner... and Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, according to two people briefed on the deliberation who were not authorized to speak publicly. They said that Kushner and Bannon consulted with several allies in Israel and the United States but declined to name them. The effort represented perhaps Kushner’s most significant foray to date into foreign policy and the Middle East, where Trump has said he would welcome his son-in-law’s involvement.” [WashPost]
Robert Costa: "Kushner and Bannon worked together all night Wednesday on the UN Israel issue, per several people familiar with the discussions." [Twitter]
“Israelis called Trump to weigh in ahead of UN Security Council vote” by Elise Labott, Oren Liebermann and Nicole Gaouette: “The Israeli official told CNN that his country also approached the Trump campaign after it felt that it had failed to persuade the Obama administration to veto the planned vote. The official said that Israel "implored the White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump. We did reach out to the President-elect and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was not a simple thing to do," the official said.” [CNN; Haaretz]
“Trump discussed Mideast peace in call with Egypt's Sisi” by Emily Stephenson: “Trump discussed laying the groundwork for peace in the Middle East in a phone call on Thursday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a Trump transition official said. The official did not know whether Trump and Sisi talked specifically about Egypt's decision to postpone a vote... on a resolution demanding that Israel end settlement building.” [Reuters]
-- “In a statement, Mr Sisi's office said the two leaders had agreed the new US administration should be given a chance to deal with the issue. However, four other members of the security council warned that if Egypt did not press ahead with its resolution before the end of Thursday, other member states would do so. New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal said they reserved the right to move ahead with the vote.” [BBC]
--- "Asked about Mr. Trump’s comments, a visibly upset Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said, “He is acting on behalf of Netanyahu.”" [NYTimes]
Ambassador Dermer: “Israel deeply appreciates the clear and unequivocal call of President-elect Donald Trump to veto anti-Israel resolution at the UN.” [Twitter]
Jerusalem's view of the White House: "Israeli officials believed the Obama administration had planned its abstention for some time, and was angered by Egypt's decision to suddenly change course. The goal of the White House, according to the Israeli government's assessment, was to let off a parting shot at a prime minister with whom it has fought for years and to bind the incoming administration with new international language." [JPost]
"Pressure Mounting on Obama with UN Resolution’s Fate Unclear" by JI's Aaron Magid: "Remember you have all of these allies and adversaries out there trying to figure out what is Trump going to do when he actually becomes President,” explained Aaron David Miller... “I am not sure (Egyptian President) Sisi wants to put himself in a position as one of the opening acts of the administration to be on the wrong side of Mr. Trump on this issue.” FDD's Jonathan Schanzer credited “the deepening strategic ties between Egypt and Israel” in an interview with Jewish Insider... Since the Obama Administration’s likely intended for the settlement resolution to pass, Miller cited Obama’s personal ideological commitment to the Palestinian cause motivating him to abstain. “Frustration and real resentment that the Israelis weren’t listening combined with the fact that the administration was running out of time propelled them either to abstain or to vote in favor,” he explained."
-- WHAT IF Hillary had won? What would have happened yesterday? “A lot of Democrats would like for him to veto. The party is in bad shape, not only did they lose the presidential election but they also lost both houses of Congress,” CFR's Elliott Abrams told Jewish Insider. “They don’t need things that weaken the party further yet Obama is willing to see that happen. Had Clinton won, he would have had even less reason to be concerned about the condition of the Democratic Party,” Abrams added."
Jonathan Schanzer: "I could imagine that Hillary would have said, 'Don’t do this to me right now.' She probably wouldn’t have done it publicly, she probably would have done it privately saying. 'You are going to tie my hands as the next president you are going to make my life more difficult because it will appear as if I gave my blessing to this Security Council resolution.' It would have complicated her relationship with Netanyahu and the Israeli government at a time when she had been promising a lot of her supporters that things were going to change and they were going to get demonstrably better after a very rocky 8 years with Obama."
Aaron David Miller: "If she would have won, they would have consulted with her. She would have had to make a judgment that she was pretty hard over on settlements but not nearly as intensely as the President. In fact, if you look closely at her memoir, she didn’t want to box the Israelis in. They would have gone to her and said, 'We don’t want to box you in, are you ok with it?' I don’t know what she would have said. Part of her would have said I don’t want to be in a fight with the Israelis as my first foreign policy challenge. She might have basically cautioned. But we don’t know." [JewishInsider]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump, Obama on possible collision course over Israeli settlement vote” by Karen DeYoung: “The resolution, promoted by liberal Jewish groups in the United States, has been the subject of intense debate in recent days within the Obama administration. Secretary of State John F. Kerry has pushed for a clear statement of position before the administration leaves office. A Kerry speech outlining the U.S. stance that was tentatively scheduled for Thursday morning appeared to have been canceled within two hours of its planned delivery, according to U.S. officials, who said the matter remained unsettled within the administration.” [WashPost]
HEARD LAST NIGHT - Malcolm Hoenlein on David Greenfield’s weekly radio show: “I spoke to people in the administration, including Secretary Kerry's office, this morning, and they themselves did not know The administration played its cards very close to the vest, did not indicate at any time. I met with the US Ambassador (Samantha Power) and she said that at that point she did not know. It's a little strange that we had no indication from them, but there's broad speculation that there might not have been a veto... It would be a terrible way for them to go out of office, as well as I think with broader implications for the Democratic party [Trump’s statement] had an impact in the region and certainly with the Egyptians, who are aware of it. He has challenged the role of the United Nations and the bias against Israel there. I think for countries, including Egypt, looking forward the next four years, you have to take that very seriously. It was a message.”
“Trump's Ambassador Could (Accidentally) Benefit Israel” by Daniel Gordis: “Netanyahu and Abbas may both realize that time is actually not on their side. Could this be the moment for them to compromise and to try to negotiate a real deal? Friedman would not like it, but he would not be able to overrule an Israeli electorate in favor. Abbas could go down in history as something other than a failure. Netanyahu claims to want such a deal. If Israelis and Palestinians would broker the deal without American intervention, the American Jewish right could not stop the accord in Washington or in the Israeli government.” [Bloomberg]
Jewish Journal’s David Suissa: “Why J Street should welcome Trump and Friedman: “Donald Trump is that high energy electric shock to the heart; Friedman and others are there to follow his voltage. If Prime Minister Netanyahu is serious about his talks without preconditions, Trump will help him get there. You may have a nasty taste in your mouth for outspoken types like Trump, but you can’t deny two things. One, he is not ruling out a two-state solution, and two, he will bring a defibrillator to the operation.” [JewishJournal]
Ivanka Trump Accosted by Passenger on JetBlue Flight: “Ivanka was on a JetBlue flight leaving JFK Thursday morning with her family when a passenger started screaming, "Your father is ruining the country." The guy went on, "Why is she on our flight? She should be flying private." A passenger on the flight tells TMZ Ivanka ignored the guy and tried distracting her kids with crayons. JetBlue personnel escorted the unruly passenger off the flight. As he was removed he screamed, "You're kicking me off for expressing my opinion?!!" The husband of the unruly passenger tweeted an hour before the plane took off, "Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial. My husband chasing them down to harass them."” [TMZ] “What actually occurred is unclear, and Lasner's entire Twitter account has since gone down.” [CNN]
Account by the man seated in front of Ivanka: "When he got on and saw her, sitting behind me, he said "oh my god. This is a nightmare" and was visibly shaking. He said "they ruin the country now they ruin our flight!" He did not yell. He was also not what I would describe as calm. Agitated maybe... When the JetBlue staff went back to speak to the man I overheard Ivanka say to them "I don't want to make this a thing."" [Instagram]
TRANSITION TOWER: “Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn Is a Rising Power in Trumpworld” by Gabriel Sherman: “Cohn, one source said, has “walk-in” privileges that allow him to pop into Trump’s office whenever he wants... Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is particularly close with Cohn. One former Goldman executive told me that if Kushner can’t take a West Wing post for legal reasons, Cohn will be his proxy inside the administration But conservatives around Trump are skeptical of Cohn, who’s donated to both Republicans and Democrats. According to sources, Cohn has upset right-wing members of the White House economic team by attempting to block the appointment of CNBC commentator and avowed supply-sider Larry Kudlow to chair the Council of Economic Advisers.” [NYMag]
“Trump Rewards Kellyanne Conway With a Top White House Staff Slot” by Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump is deeply fond of Ms. Conway, whose job as counselor will give her frequent access to the president She has reportedly clashed at times with Mr. Priebus and Mr. Kushner. Both men were frustrated when she gave a series of interviews in which she criticized Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, who was being considered for secretary of state.” [NYTimes]
“Trump’s New White House Social Media Director Loves To Block People” by Emma Loop: “Adam Serwer, senior editor at The Atlantic and a former BuzzFeed employee, said on Twitter that Scavino blocked him because he once pointed out the difference between two Jewish observances. “Dan Scavino, who blocked me because I pointed out Shabbat is more important than Hanukkah, will be a WH press aide.”” [BuzzFeed]
Tevi Troy: “A Presidential Getaway Is No Vacation: In the modern era, presidents can go just about anywhere and remain in contact. But world events now happen faster than they used to, and Americans expect a response from their president, vacationing or not. As Mr. Trump prepares to take his first break since winning the election last month, he should be mindful of his predecessors’ experiences and stay alert even when away from Washington.” [WSJ]
DNC WATCH -- “Keith Ellison in letter to Conservative rabbis ‘regrets’ past ties with Farrakhan” by Ron Kampeas: “At the time, I did not grasp [Louis] Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism,” he wrote, referring to the movement’s leader “When I became aware that he made hateful statements about other groups, including the Jewish community with whom I was so close, I knew that I must reject his teachings. And I rejected them completely.” Ellison, who has routinely voted for defense assistance to Israel, also for the first time regretted his exceptional vote against additional missile defense assistance for Israel during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas “I cast a vote reflecting my commitment to restoring calm and quiet at a moment of violence,” he said... “My voice was not being heard and I felt in the moment that casting my vote was a vital way to amplify my message. It was the wrong way to speak out and it was the wrong way to vote. I regret it deeply.” [JTA]
“Reid: DNC was 'worthless' under Wasserman Schultz” by Jessia Hellmann: "I believe one of the failures of Democratic Party has been the Democratic National Committee, the DNC, has been worthless," Reid told Nevada Public Radio in an interview published Wednesday Reid said he hopes the DNC picks a chair who is "full-time," unlike "that congresswoman from Florida," refusing to say the name of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz "We need a full time DNC chair and what they should do — they can take my model if they want — it’s not rocket science.” [TheHill]
"In Emanuel emails, players ask favors big and small" by Rick Pearson, David Heinzmann and Jeff Coen: "Amid the thousands of emails released by Emanuel's attorneys this week to settle a lawsuit with the Better Government Association are myriad requests sent to the mayor's personal accounts from corporate heavyweights, campaign supporters and the politically connected aimed not only at helping their businesses but also their lifestyles." [ChicagoTribune] New emails reveal how Marc Andreessen courted Rahm Emanuel on Airbnb’s behalf [TheVerge]
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SPOTLIGHT: "Teva Settles Foreign Corruption Probe for $519 Million" by Samuel Rubenfeld: "Teva entered into a deferred-prosecution agreement that charges the company with violating the antibribery provisions of the FCPA, and it agreed to pay a $283.2 million criminal fine, continue to cooperate with a U.S. investigation and retain a compliance monitor. The Russian subsidiary pleaded guilty. The parent company also agreed to pay $236 million in disgorgement and interest to the SEC... Erez Vigodman, Teva’s president and chief executive, said in a statement Thursday that the conduct leading to the investigation had ended years ago, calling the behavior “regrettable and unacceptable.”" [WSJ]
KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev: Suspicion regarding Arab lawmaker Basel Ghattas, who allegedly smuggled cellphones and passed information to numerous Fatah prisoners sitting in Israeli security prisons, continued to captivate the Knesset this week. On Thursday, hours after having his immunity revoked, Ghattas was arrested by Israeli police. While Ghattas continues to dismiss the allegations as political persecution, the Knesset is confronting an unprecedented situation, raising various legal complexities and question marks. This is the first time in history a sitting MK has been arrested: Is he allowed to vote in the plenum? Will he still earn a salary? Can he even come to the Knesset?
According to the law, Ghattas could even demand to attend Knesset votes while he is under arrest, and can be suspended only after he is indicted. Next week, the parliament's ethics committee will convene to discuss various petitions–such as one calling for the annulment of Ghattas' right to participate in parliamentary activity. The coalition – and mainly members of the Likud party – are pushing to exercise the newly legislated impeachment bill, and since early this week Likud minister Zeev Elkin has been gathering signatures to initiate the process with a hearing. Elkin reached 60 signatures, but is missing the required 10 opposition MKs, who so far are adamantly refusing to join the initiative.
After Ghattas's arrest, Elkin is continuing his push, targeting Yair Lapid and his centrist party Yesh Atid as the main obstacle to his move, accusing him of protecting Ghattas. "Yair Lapid should wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and tell himself that he is the reason Ghattas is still an MK," he said this week. Lapid, for his part, has also vowed that he "will not rest until Ghattas is out of the Knesset," but has been objecting to the suggested Knesset intervention, claiming it could drag on for years and that the criminal procedure will be much more quick and effective. Earlier this week, even Netanyahu threw himself into the political firestorm surrounding Elkin's petition, accusing Lapid of being "a leftist who stands at the head of a leftist party." Lapid, currently perceived as Netanyahu's biggest challenger in the next election, has been trying to brand himself as a center-right leader, so the tactic is aimed at pressuring him to join the call. However, the direct confrontation from Netanyahu actually encouraged Lapid, as it also positions him as the PM's main rival.
TALK OF THE TOWN -- “No, A Jewish Family Didn’t "Flee" Town After Being Blamed For Christmas Play Cancellation” by Jim Dalrymple II: “The story seemingly escalated further when local news website Lancaster Online reported that a Jewish family “fled the county in fear because it’s being blamed for the cancellation.” The newspaper’s story did not name the family, but claimed to have spoken to them and reported that the parents became fearful and left town after seeing reaction to the Breitbart and Fox stories However, the Anti-Defamation League tracked down the family and discovered that they did not, in fact, flee. According to a statement released Thursday evening, “ADL investigated, and found that in actuality, the family left on vacation for winter break.” The statement goes on to call reports that the family fled “untrue and damaging.”” [BuzzFeed; JTA]
Weekend LongRead: "Inside Ivanka and Tiffany Trump’s Complicated Sister Act" by Sarah Ellison: "Years later, when an interviewer asked Ivanka whether she understood the consternation in the Jewish community after her father’s campaign tweeted an accusatory picture of Hillary Clinton next to the Star of David, Ivanka shot back that she thought the outcry was “ridiculous” because her father clearly did not think that the symbol was a Star of David. (Ivanka has told friends that her father wore a yarmulke at her wedding, and that “if my father had an anti-Semitic bone in his body, I would know about it.”)
"This past spring, as her father was preparing for the Republican convention, Ivanka asked Rabbi Lookstein, one of the most prominent rabbis in the country, if he would deliver an opening invocation. He agreed. But when the Ramaz alumni heard that their rabbi would be appearing on a stage with Trump... they circulated a blistering petition to protest his participation... Rabbi Lookstein backed down. One member of the Ramaz alumni group told me that the incident isolated Ivanka in the school community. “You are dropping off your daughter at Ramaz every day,” this person said, “where the alumni association says that your father is so despicable that the rabbi’s mere presence for three minutes is too much?” ... That member added that negative feelings about her father do not extend to Ivanka. Whatever the reality, the episode has left scars." [VanityFair]
Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week -- Alexander the Great – Amarolo: On certain rare occasions an encounter with even the greatest of wines can be overshadowed by the larger experience itself. This week in Paris was just such an occasion. I was sitting in an overstuffed leather chair, smoking Cuban cigars with my eldest son and a new friend (a great leader of the Moroccan Jewish Community), in the private smoking room of the new Peninsula Hotel. Steak, foie gras and cold cuts were staring us in the face.
Out comes the Alexander the Great Amarolo 2011. This is a wine so robust and present that in most situations it would not be overshadowed. There is an early impression of fermentation still going on the front palate. By mid-palate the wine drinker comes to terms, and has even accepted, the repercussions of a 40-month barrel-aging process. By the finish, the deep purple liquid becomes a soft silk and the taste comes through the heavy oak. The wine is comprised of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Shiraz and 3% Grenache. This can be a bit confusing to the palate at first, but it brilliantly comes together at the finish. Since I drank this wine with almost every cut of meat I can name, I would suggest loading up on cured meats to enjoy the ride. [AlexanderWinery]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Television producer, best known for his work on the 1980's television series "Cagney & Lacey," Barney Rosenzweig turns 79... Electrical engineer, who with Vint Cerf, invented the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), the fundamental techniques at the heart of the Internet, Robert Elliot "Bob" Kahn turns 78... Emmy Award-winning actor, voice actor, comedian, writer, musician, author, radio host, director and producer, currently artist in residence at Loyola University, New Orleans, Harry Shearer turns 73... Russian-born mathematician, living in France, known for important contributions in many different areas of mathematics, including geometry, analysis and group theory, Mikhail Leonidovich Gromov turns 73... Documentary filmmaker, finishing the DVD for her 2015 film "Rosenwald" and working on her next film about Moe Berg, the Jewish catcher and spy, Aviva Kempner turns 7-0... Political analyst, commentator, founder and editor at large of the political magazine "The Weekly Standard," William "Bill" Kristol turns 64... Israeli singer, songwriter, musician, and composer of the genre known as Mizrahi music, Dudu Aharon turns 32... Israeli fashion model who has appeared in major international campaigns for Armani, Ralph Lauren, Maybelline, L'Oreal and on many magazine covers, Shlomit Malka turns 23...
Professor of Education and Liturgy at Gratz College, Saul Philip Wachs turns 85... Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter for The Washington Post (1975-2015), now teaching a seminar at Stanford University's Stanford-in-Washington program, Walter Pincus turns 84... Former Director of the National Economic Council under both Presidents Clinton and Obama, Gene Sperling turns 58... Member of the UK Parliament since 2005, Leader of the Labour Party as well as Leader of the Opposition (2010-2015), Edward Samuel Miliband turns 47... Professor of Internet law and computer science at Harvard's Law School, Harvard's Kennedy School and Harvard's School of Engineering, Jonathan Zittrain turns 47... Pianist, singer, composer, songwriter, actor and musician, at 9 years old he became the youngest artist to have his own hour-long National PBS Concert Special, Ethan Jordan Bortnick turns 16... Co-founder, co-CEO and Rabbi of Ohr HaTorah in Venice, California and on the faculty of the Wexner Heritage Foundation, Mordecai Finley... Founder and chief investment officer of BlueStar Global Investors LLC, Steven Schoenfeld... Founder in 2010 of Ochstein Strategies, a firm to provide PR and digital strategy for startups, Jodi L. Ochstein...
Sociologist, author, fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, Kay Hymowitz turns 68... Israeli singer, songwriter, musician and painter, Yehuda Poliker turns 66... Partner in Definers Public Affairs, a DC-based consulting firm that applies political campaign communications techniques to the corporate world, former Jeb 2016 Communications Director, Tim Miller turns 35... Attorney in the regulatory and government affairs group at global law firm DLA Piper, Irene Jefferson Sherman turns 32... Executive Director at The America-Israel Friendship League, Daniella Rilov... Enterprise editor for CNN Politics Digital, previously deputy White House editor for Politico and Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post, Hilary Leila Krieger...
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