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DRIVING THE DAY: "John Kerry, in a Final, Pointed Plea, Will Outline a Vision of Mideast Peace" by David Sanger: “A senior State Department official said that Mr. Kerry will use his remarks to confront Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu The speech will make the case that “the vote was not unprecedented” and that Mr. Obama’s decision “did not blindside Israel.” Mr. Kerry, the official said, would cite other cases in which Washington officials had allowed similar votes under previous presidents. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a coming speech, said Mr. Kerry would also argue that, with the notable exception of Israel, there was a “complete international consensus” against further settlements in areas that might ultimately be the subject of negotiations."
-- "Mr. Kerry, the official said, has long wanted to give a speech outlining an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal but was held back by White House officials, who saw it as unnecessary pressure on Israel that would anger Mr. Netanyahu. But that objection was lifted last week... Mr. Kerry’s speech is important because the administration’s decision to let the resolution pass has created more political repercussions — including from Democrats — than the White House anticipated.” [NYTimes; WSJ]
"Top Democrat Urges Kerry Not To Engage In Israel-Palestinian Mediation" by Pranshu Rathi: "In a statement released by House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who is the second-ranking elected official in the House Democratic Caucus , he [said], “This flies in the face of the United States's longstanding position that such a formulation should be reached only through negotiations by the parties and not by the United States, the United Nations, or any other third party I urge Secretary [John] Kerry and the Administration not to set forth a formula, which will inevitably disadvantage Israel in any negotiation." he said in the statement." [IBTimes]
WATCH Kerry’s speech at 11:00 am EST here [CSPAN]
KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev: It has been ages since a John Kerry speech garnered so much attention in Jerusalem, but in the midst of another Netanyahu-Obama tit for tat, everyone will be following Kerry's words today quite closely. Kerry has already grown used to various Israeli characterizations, such as 'obsessive' and 'messianic,' coined by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, and the latest is 'pathetic,' as Likud Minister Gilad Erdan tweeted last night.
Ahead of this evening's speech and following the UNSCR 2334, the Zionist Union convened a special faction meeting this morning, to discuss the diplomatic omission. "BBDS" is the slogan the party, traditionally representing the Israeli peace camp, has been pushing in recent days, claiming the Prime Minister's punitive diplomatic measures against UNSC members and attacks on the Obama administration - are assisting BDS and deligitimization campaigns against Israel. "This is a complete collapse of our foreign policy," Isaac Herzog said, warning Netanyahu is once again causing damage to the holy alliance with the United States. "When you treat the incoming president like he's your puppet and the outgoing president like he is irrelevant - you are bound to pay a price someday," Herzog said.
Tzipi Livni said that "our job is to tell the truth: the Security Council decision is not against Israel but against the Israeli settlement policy, and it is a direct result of the land appropriation bill. We will not back a government who is turning our friends into enemies." The party was joined by Dov Weisglass, who served as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's special envoy, who recalled how he reached the Bush-Sharon understandings, which constituted a de facto US recognition of the settlement blocks. "Sharon understood that no one in the world accepts Israel's territorial demands, not even the Marshall Islands. The US traditionally adamantly opposed our presence in the West Bank," Weisglass said, noting that the Palestinians carefully and wisely used American wording in the resolution, making it almost impossible for the administration to veto. "Did anyone really expect that a US president would oppose a resolution which is based on former White House and State Department statements?"
TOP TALKER: "Israel postpones approval of new settlement construction amid spat with U.S." by Ruth Eglash: "Hanan Rubin, a member of Jerusalem’s city council, confirmed that the request had come directly from the Prime Minister, who wanted to avoid deepening the rift. He said the zoning committee agreed to abide because they had no interest in “causing a political storm.”" [WashPost]
FIRST LOOK: “Inside the coming war between the United States and the United Nations” by Josh Rogin: “In the days since the vote, three Republican senators and their staffs have been working up options behind the scenes for how to convert their threat into action: Graham, Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.). They believe they will have support for quick Senate action from both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a strong supporter of Israel"
"Some are considered “micro” options, such as passing a resolution that would bar any funding that might go to implementing the anti-settlement resolution. Other options include withdrawing the United States from U.N. organizations such as UNESCO or passing legislation to protect settlers who are American citizens and might be vulnerable to consequences of the resolution. Senators are also looking at ways to withhold U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority or perhaps punish the Palestine Liberation Organization representative office in Washington. Republicans in the Senate don’t plan to wait until Trump is actually in office; aides said to expect action as soon as senators return to Washington next week.” [WashPost]
Trump tweets today: "Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!... We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but.... not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!" [Twitter]
"Obama's Betrayal of Israel at the UN Must Not Stand" by Bloomberg's Editorial Board: "Fortunately, the bipartisan uproar sparked by Obama’s UN decision provides an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to rally around a more constructive policy. They should start by agreeing to President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- a step envisioned but never taken by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. That would provide a powerful reaffirmation to Israel –- a nation born after the slaughter of six million Jews, and under siege since its birth -- of the U.S.’s enduring commitment, and to the world of Israel’s right to exist. That reaffirmation, in turn, is essential in providing Israel with the confidence to move ahead with a two-state solution." [Bloomberg]
“Obama Fulfills His Prophecy on Israeli Settlements” by Eli Lake: “Michael Oren told me on Monday that the Knesset held in-depth hearings to prepare for what Obama would do to Israel in the window between the Nov. 8 election and the Jan. 20 inauguration. "We were not surprised because I know the worldview, I know the president's determination," Oren said Then there is the timing. Perhaps Obama never wanted to have done this "a long time ago," as Rhodes said Politically, the resolution would have been a gift to Republicans before an election. Imagine the campaign commercial saying Obama wouldn't stop genocide in Syria but makes Jewish homes in Jerusalem illegal. Obama himself has been attuned to the sensibilities of the pro-Israel community in election years He just never bothered to tell us that he would abet that isolation as his presidency came to a close.” [Bloomberg]
“Obama’s Parting Shot Against His Party” by Josh Kraushaar: “At a time when Democrats are trying to win back voters that abandoned them in this year’s presidential election, they can’t afford to alienate a bedrock constituency of their party. But that’s exactly what Obama’s last-minute slam of Israel threatens to do. It’s no coincidence that Obama waited until after the presidential election to take a final slap at Israel, knowing full well that it would have damaged Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Even though most Jews will continue to vote Democratic, small-scale defections among Democratic voters who care about Israel can make a big difference in states with sizable Jewish populations, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Trump’s narrow margin of victory in all three states is a reminder that every vote counts In addition, Obama’s positioning on Israel threatens to undermine his party’s fundraising capabilities.” [NationalJournal]
Obama confidant Alan Solow: “How Israel Brought UN Resolution on Itself With Irrational Settlement Push: A veto of Resolution 2334 would have sent an unmistakable signal to Israel’s pro-settlement wing, including the ruling coalition, that it can act without restraint The time has come to stop making excuses by pointing at others to escape the responsibility that Zionism imposes upon us to take control of our own destiny. The story of the Jewish people is not merely that we have always had enemies, but rather that we have had the ingenuity and strength — usually unconventional — to defeat them.” [Forward]
“Obama’s former Mideast envoy: U.S. should have vetoed UN resolution” by Yousef Saba: “I do think, if I might make a few other points on this issue, that President Obama would have been wise to veto this resolution,” George Mitchell said in an interview on MSNBC. “Not because of the policy implications but because of the timing and the circumstance that it leads to with respect to trying to get the parties together... It would have been wise, I think, to defer this if possible and, if not, to veto it." [Politico]
Mitchell on Netanyahu’s reaction: “The last thing Israel needs is further isolation in the world, and to this moment, to the best of knowledge, not a single country in the world has come out in opposition to this resolution. The Prime Minister going on and taking on, on hostile terms, Britain, France, Spain New Zealand Israel is already isolated in the Muslim world, which comprises now a 5th of the world’s population - soon to be a 3rd - and they don’t need further isolation from the whole rest of the world. They ought to be trying to get the world on their side, not just the United States.”
NEW DETAILS -- “Britain Pulled the Strings and Netanyahu Warned New Zealand It Was Declaring War” by Barak Ravid: “Last Friday, a few hours before the UN Security Council vote on the settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully Western diplomats say the conversation was harsh and very tense and Netanyahu let loose with sharp threats.. “If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences. We’ll recall our ambassador to Jerusalem.” McCully refused to back down from the vote The Western diplomats said that the British encouraged New Zealand to continue pushing for a vote even without Egyptian support The suspicion in Jerusalem is that the British had been working during all those days for the Americans to make sure the resolution was to U.S. President Barack Obama’s liking, but without the need to intervene directly in formulating it “The British helped tone down the text so it would meet the American threshold and so it could be passed without a veto,” one of the Western diplomats said.”
-- “A few hours before the vote, the Prime Minister called Russian President Vladimir Putin and tried to persuade him. Just the day before, Israel had acceded to a Russian request and had absented itself from a vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution regarding war crimes in Syria. It is not entirely clear what happened in the conversation between Netanyahu and Putin, but less than an hour before the vote a real drama took place at the UN headquarters in New York the Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin suddenly asked for a closed consultation. A Western diplomat said that Churkin shocked the other ambassadors of the 14 Security Council member-states when he proposed postponing the vote until after Christmas.” [Haaretz]
“Transcript claims to show US worked with Palestinians on UN resolution: In a meeting in early December with top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, US Secretary of State John Kerry told the Palestinians that the US was prepared to cooperate with the Palestinians at the Security Council Also present at the meeting were US National Security Adviser Susan Rice Kerry is quoted as saying that he could present his ideas for a final status solution if the Palestinians pledge they will support the proposed framework. The US officials advised the Palestinians to travel to Riyadh to present the plan to Saudi leaders. According to the Egyptian report, the US diplomats had expressed their mistrust of Netanyahu, saying he wanted destroy the two-state solution The transcript showed Kerry and Rice advising the Palestinians not to make any provocative moves when US President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20, calling him dangerous.” [ToI; Haaretz]
“Phone Call From Biden Said to Precipitate Ukraine’s UN ‘Yes’ Vote” by Vladislav Davidzon: “Tablet has confirmed that one tangible consequence of the high-level U.S. campaign was a phone call from Vice President Joseph Biden to Ukrainian President Pavel Poroshenko, which succeeded in changing Ukraine’s vote from an expected abstention to a “yes.” According to one U.S. national security source, the Obama Administration needed a 14-0 vote to justify what the source called “the optics” of its own abstention “That Biden told them to do it is 1000% true,” the source affirmed.” [Tablet]
Bethany S. Mandel: “I'd like to wish a mazal tov to the Obama admin. for doing what I thought was impossible: You've made me glad Donald Trump was elected.” [Twitter]
Washington Institute’s David Makovsky on the Trump factor: “Netanyahu will likely to seek to draw closer to Trump in the coming weeks, in part by backing the latter's call for relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He will also likely urge the resurrection of President George W. Bush's 2004 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which made clear that the United States supports Israel's eventual annexation of several settlement blocs as part of a final-status peace deal involving land swaps The Obama-Netanyahu relationship began to go downhill in 2009 when the president refused to endorse the Bush letter, and the new UNSCR could complicate efforts to revive it.” [WashInstitute]
Martin Indyk: "Trump can always use the American veto to protect Israel from further action there, but he will not be able to protect Israel from the actions of individual member states, nor prevent the Palestinians from taking the matter to the International Criminal Court, where the United States has no vote, let alone a veto, because it is not a member. .. It’s so complicated that one can imagine Trump throwing up his hands and just letting the settlers have their way. But he should then know that he will have no opportunity to make “the ultimate deal,” as he calls it." [Politico]
“Obama and Trump are engaged in a $3 billion game of chicken over Israel" by Jake Novak: The first response many Republicans and Trump allies are calling for is cutting or completely rescinding the massive U.S. portion of the U.N.'s annual funding, which now totals about $3 billion Because of how unprecedented and nasty this entire affair already is, it's really hard to believe that the Obama team's U.N. moves are simply some kind of petulant slam against Trump But sticking it to Trump also seems like the icing on the cake from the Obama perspective. The White House seems to be daring Trump to do the very nasty work of undoing whatever it does regarding Israel and the Palestinians in these final days.” [CNBC]
“Krauthammer: Trump should 'put his name on' UN headquarters and 'turn it into condos'” by Pamela Engel: “I think it's good real estate in downtown New York City, and Trump ought to find a way to put his name on it and turn it into condos." [BI]
“Team Obama is not done slamming Israel" by Jonathan Schanzer: The president was reportedly mulling punitive measures against Israel, either by sanctions or new guidance at the IRS. The goal, it appeared, was to deny 501c3 tax-deductible status to US-based organizations that funded settlement construction. A US official confirmed to me that he was tasked with exploring sanctions opportunities, but found the prospect “legally challenging.”” [NYPost]
Eli Lake: "Obama doesn’t hate Israel. He just hates the Prime Minister Israelis keep re-electing." [Twitter]
Ari Fleischer: “President Obama has taken more action against Israel for building houses than he has against Russia for interfering in our election.” [Twitter]
Howard Wolfson: "If only we were this tough on Putin" [Twitter]
ON THE HILL -- "Congressional Dems and R’s Rallied Against UNSC Resolution With Little Impact" by JI's Aaron Magid: "At least 71 Congressional members, from both parties, issued public statements against the UN Security Council measure. Not one Congressional member publicly urged for an abstention before the diplomats in New York voted. Nonetheless, President Obama ordered his UN Ambassador Samantha Power to abstain allowing the controversial resolution to pass... Aaron Keyak, Managing Director of Bluelight Strategies, told Jewish Insider, “At the end of the day, if (the President) wants to vote a certain way at the UN, there is no member of Congress that can stop them.”" [JewishInsider]
INBOX: "The American Jewish Congress urges immediate congressional hearings following the change of U.S. policy that resulted in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution... We urge the US Congress to investigate the actions taken by the Obama administration leading up to the vote. Such a seismic shift in America Foreign Policy in the transition period, must be fully reviewed and accounted for, specifically, Samantha Power and Ben Rhodes should explain the process which led to their actions, particularly in light of questions being raised."
2017 NYC WATCH -- “De Blasio, Israel’s Self-declared Defender, Silent on U.N. Vote” by Yochonon Donn: “As of Tuesday, four days since Israel was body-slammed at the United Nations, the mayor has yet to issue a statement in support of Israel. Several emails sent by Hamodia to four de Blasio press people did not get a response as we went to print.” [Hamodia]
TRANSITION TOWER -- Hallie Jackson: "Donald Trump set to meet with Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter [today] at Mar-a-Lago, per senior transition official... Remember: Perlmutter's a longtime Trump backer. Timing of meeting comes amid rising US-Israeli tension (Perlmutter's Israeli-American)." [Twitter]
“Trump’s Israel Advisor Tapped to Run ‘All Types’ of World Negotiations” by Robbie Gramer, David Francis and Elias Groll: “[Jason] Greenblatt’s name first emerged Dec. 23 as frontrunner for the new position. But it’s still unclear what exactly he will do. A statement released by Trump’s team said Greenblatt would assist “on international negotiations of all types, and trade deals around the world.” Given that the Trump statement Tuesday highlighted Greenblatt’s campaign advisory role on Israel issues, it’s likely he’ll be part of that effort Greenblatt has not expressed as much disdain for an independent Palestinian state as Friedman, according to Haaretz, and insists a two-state solution should not be taken off the table.” [FP]
“US Ambassador to Israel asks to stay in Israel so his daughter could finish school year” by Itamar Eichner: “Shapiro, who became an ambassador to Israel in July 2011, was expected to stay on had Hillary Clinton won the US presidential elections. But Donald Trump has appointed a new ambassador, David Friedman, meaning Shapiro will have to return to the US. His daughter is in the 11th grade and currently taking the Israeli matriculation exams. If allowed to stay, Shapiro will have to leave the ambassador's residence in Herzliya so Friedman could move in upon his approval by February or March.” [Ynet]
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LongRead: “How Donald Trump Beat Palm Beach Society and Won the Fight for Mar-a-Lago” by Mark Seal: “If you’re Jewish, there was a club for you, too, the century-old Palm Beach Country Club, “the top primarily Jewish club in the country—nothing else even comes close,” says a member. Other members have included Wall Street legend Henry Kaufman; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; private-equity-firm chieftain Henry Kravis; Seagram scion Charles Bronfman . . . and, infamously, Bernie Madoff, who found many of his victims there. This was the genteel and closed world of private clubs in Palm Beach prior to the arrival of Donald Trump Trump and his attorney had already implied that he and his club had been discriminated against because many of its members were Jewish, and, worse, that the council members who had placed the conditions on him had not placed those restrictions on their own clubs. The council members were “more than pissed off,” says Richard Rampell, as this “put them on the defensive.”” [VanityFair]
PROFILE: “The World v. Alan Dershowitz” by Simon van Zuylen-Wood: “Dershowitz was raised Orthodox Jewish in Borough Park, Brooklyn, during the 1940s and ’50s. (He hasn’t been strictly observant for decades.) His mother was a bookkeeper and his father ran a shop that sold workmen’s clothing. Alan, then “Avi,” worked his first job tying strings around the ends of hot dogs. In early October, I drive to pick up Dershowitz at his apartment. Our plan is to visit his childhood digs in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave of Borough Park We get to Borough Park the day after Rosh Hashanah has ended. Per custom, Dershowitz greets passersby with a friendly “Shanah Tova.” Hasidic Jews, generally being indifferent to non-Hasidim, stare blankly and say nothing. He says, “It’s a very vibrant community. Good food, good Jewish food. It’s completely Hasidic in the sense that if I walk down the street in Manhattan, people stop me all the time. Oh, we know you. Here nobody knows me, because they don’t watch TV and they don’t read secular newspapers.” He considers this. “Some of them do know me. Because I’m on YouTube. And they can do YouTube.”” [BostonMag]
“In Bahrain, Arabs and Jews Gather (and Dance) at a Hanukkah Celebration” by Russell Goldman: “Orthodox Jews in black coats and skullcaps danced with Arabs in flowing robes and checkered kaffiyehs at a Hanukkah celebration over the weekend in Bahrain, a Muslim-majority monarchy whose king has sanctioned celebrations of the Jewish holiday There are fewer than 50 Jews living in Bahrain, but the king has embraced them, adding Jews to his Shura Council, which advises him, and appointing a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, as ambassador to the United States in 2008 In a statement, Hamas criticized the celebration in light of [the] recently passed United Nations Security Council resolution.” [NYTimes]
"Israel Grapples With Military’s Plan to Open Combat Roles to Women" by Rory Jones: "When Maj. Or Ben Yehuda was shot in the hand by hashish smugglers in the Sinai Peninsula, she tended to a more seriously wounded male comrade while firing back at the gunmen and calling in reinforcements. “I didn’t feel the pain at all,” she said. “I kept commanding and just trying to make sure everything was under control.” Maj. Ben Yehuda, 27 years old, now cites that 2014 border clash in talks she gives at schools to encourage girls to follow in her footsteps. As more Israeli women push to join combat units, the military is opening more roles to them, but the moves have met resistance among some former soldiers and the religious community." [WSJ]
BIRTHDAYS: Comic-book writer, editor, publisher, media producer, television host, actor and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) turns 94... Film producer, director, screenwriter, author, publisher and photographer, Lawrence Schiller turns 80... Comedian, writer, producer, actor and host of NBC's "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Seth Meyers turns 43... Semi-finalist on "The Voice Israel" at age 16, then released multiple songs that have reached the top of the Israeli music charts, voted the Israeli singer of the year for 2014, Yuval Dayan turns 22... Actor, best known for his role as Sam Shakusky in the 2012 film "Moonrise Kingdom," Jared Gilman turns 18... CEO of Repair the World, a non-profit organization that promotes Jewish-American volunteerism, previously CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, David Eisner... Nina Hardoff...
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