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DRIVING THE DAY -- President Donald Trump is expected to announce U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital and direct the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S Embassy from Tel Aviv to an undetermined site in Jerusalem in a speech at the Diplomatic Reception Room. Livestream at 1 PM ET [CSPAN]
The move will take a few years for practical reasons, senior administration officials said in a press briefing yesterday. In the meantime, the President will keep signing the waiver every 6 months to avoid fairly significant cuts to State Department funding. Its a practical impossibility to move the embassy tomorrow. It will take time to find a site, address security concerns, design a new facility, fund a new facility... and build it. So this is not an instantaneous process.
According to the senior administration officials, "While President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue, he does not think it will be resolved by ignoring the simple truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel's legislature, its supreme court, its prime minister and as such is the capital of Israel... It seems clear now that the physical location of the American embassy is not material to a peace deal. It's not an impediment to peace and it's not a facilitator to peace... After having tried this for 22 years, an acknowledgment of reality seems like an important thing."
SWEETENERS -- The President will also announce that he's prepared to support the two-state solution if agreed to by both the Israelis and Palestinians, according to the White House.
-- However This is what Trump said in February during a press conference with Netanyahu: "I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. [CSPAN] Trump will also not declare that Jerusalem must be the undivided capital of Israel. [Politico]
NOT TAKING SCHUMER'S ADVICE: "Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, told The Weekly Standard Tuesday that he had advised Trump to declare Jerusalem as Israels undivided capital." [TheWeeklyStandard]
HOW IT'S PLAYING: U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as Israels Capital, Trump Says, Alarming Middle East Leaders [NYTimes] The Trump Administration Says It's Bowing to 'Simple Truth' on Jerusalem [TheAtlantic] Trump's Plan for Jerusalem Embassy Leaves Key Details Unresolved [Bloomberg] Warnings intensify as Trump readies Jerusalem declaration [AP]
New York Times editorial... "Does President Trump Want to Negotiate Middle East Peace? Mr. Trump boasts of being a consummate dealmaker, but dealmakers dont usually make concessions before negotiations begin, as the president has here." [NYTimes]
REACTIONS -- ZOA's Mort Klein tells us... "I am pleased that after 22 long years since the embassy bill passed that Trump is going to be finally recognizing the obvious. I am disappointed that he is signing a waiver two days after the deadline. I would have preferred he take the existing Consulate or another government-owned building, put a sign on it and say this is the embassy, immediately."
Klein on Kushner's appearance at Saban Forum on Sunday: "To say that instability in the Middle East is partly due to lack of peace between the Palestinians and Israel is ridiculous. It shows his inexperience and lack of knowledge of the region, and to irresponsibly assign this to Israel not having peace with the Palestinians is deeply troubling."
Abe Foxman, who recommended the gradual move last year, emails us... "I think it's the best approach... The American Jewish community - Democrats and Republicans - should applaud the fact that America is finally beginning to end its policy of hypocrisy on Jerusalem."
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) will run a full-page ad in the Thursday print edition of the New York Times, applauding Trump on his decision: "President Trump: You Promised. You Delivered." [Doc]
Newt Gingrich, who led the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act as House Speaker, in an interview with Israel Hayom: "Trump's decision is courageous both in terms of foreign policy and the State Department, just like President Harry Truman recognizing the State of Israel immediately upon its establishment. Truman had to deal with a revolt among his advisers, who threatened to resign. This is not the case with Trump's advisers, although the State Department has always objected to recognizing Jerusalem and transferring the embassy." [IsraelHayom; INN]
KAFE KNESSET -- View From Jerusalem -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Jerusalem is holding its breath: Excitement is building ahead of the Presidential address on Jerusalem this evening, but the Israeli PM is waiting to see what exactly will be said before celebrating. Immediately after his phone call with POTUS yesterday, Netanyahu ordered all of his aides and cabinet ministers not to make any public comments on Jerusalem or the Embassy, and explained that this was a US request. Netanyahu did not mention a word on Jerusalem even during a public appearance at the annual Diplomatic Conference sponsored by the Jerusalem Post, instead giving a dynamic TED-style talk about technology, with some Iran warnings thrown in for good measure.
While the world is in a frenzy awaiting US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, another potential hurdle to the ultimate deal could be coming up soon. The Knesset is slated to hold the final vote on the United Jerusalem bill, which states that any change in the status of the capital will require the approval of a special majority of 80 Knesset members, rather than the ordinary majority that the law would require today. The law creates an almost impossible political hurdle for any prime minister who will want to negotiate with the Palestinians about the status of Jerusalem and effectively prevents the possibility of negotiating – or dividing- the city... However, a senior political source said told Kafe Knesset that it might eventually be postponed, depending on the content of the Presidents declaration today. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
STATE DEPT WARNING: "U.S. Warns Americans About Travel to Jerusalems Old City and West Bank" by Felicia Schwartz: "The State Department barred U.S. government employees and family members from traveling in Jerusalems Old City and the West Bank, and warned other Americans to carefully consider travel plans, citing widespread calls for demonstrations to be held." [WSJ]
OUTREACH: The White House will hold a conference call with leaders of the Jewish community at 2 pm ET, according to an email invitation obtained by Jewish Insider.
TRUMPS WHITEBOARD: People familiar with the White House deliberations portray it as being driven by Trump's domestic political concerns. The President is increasingly worried about losing his political base and insists that he must be seen as fulfilling campaign promises on Israel The same source also stated that the President sees the Jerusalem issue as key to placating concerns among his core supporters that he's going soft on his campaign positions. [CNN]
"Palestinians cancel Capitol Hill Christmas over Trump remarks" by Bryant Harris: "The Christmas celebration was to have taken place Wednesday night; White House officials had earlier confirmed that they planned to attend. The party was to have been hosted by the PLO delegation to Washington." [Al-Monitor]
ON THE HILL -- House unanimously passes Taylor Force Act -- by Aaron Magid: The House of Representatives unanimously passed the Taylor Force Act yesterday. The House bill has undergone significant changes after it was first introduced. Exemptions have been included in the legislation to allow for continued US assistance to West Bank and Gaza wastewater programs, East Jerusalem hospitals, and childhood vaccinations, even if the aid were to directly benefit the PA. The House measure also includes a six year sunset provision. In August, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the Taylor Force Act, but it has not yet passed a floor-wide vote. Given the differences between the Senate and House versions, the legislation still needs to be reconciled between the two chambers before being signed into law.
Sander Gerber emails us: "The unanimous House vote makes clear what is plainly obvious: that with U.S. taxpayer support, the PA has created a legal infrastructure and budget to promote terror. It must stop!"
BIPARTISANSHIP: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY) will be hosting a joint Hanukkah and menorah lighting reception at the Library of Congress next Wednesday.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israeli investment group Viola just raised $100 million for a bank-backed fintech fund [CNBC] Elliotts Paul Singer amasses stake in Germanys Uniper [FinancialTimes] Israels El Al Airlines Struggles in a Newly Open Market [Skift] Kushner Companies rethinks high-concept tower add-on [NYPost] Phillip Schermer's Music Matters Taps Industry Veterans for Newly Created Board of Advisers [HollywoodReporter]
MEDIA WATCH: "Edgar Bronfman Jr. Dishes on His New Media V.C. Dynamo" by Joe Pompeo: "Bronfman, like many of his generation, is getting in on the start-up game. Bronfman has teamed up with veteran Silicon Valley investor Daniel Leff to co-found Waverley Capital, which next year will begin making a planned $100 million worth of early stage media investments. During an interview at Bronfmans Upper East Side office, where Bronfman was wearing jeans and a blue cardigan and Leff, 49, dialed in from Palo Alto, the duo broadly outlined their investing thesis. They were scant on specifics... Large media companies are looking for innovation both within and without, Bronfman said toward the end of an hour-long conversation in which terms like disruption and incumbents were tossed around with notable frequency." [VanityFair]
STARTUP NATION: "Israeli tech puts Iranian ride-hailing startups in bind" by Saeid Jafari: "Snapp drivers who did not uninstall Waze from their phones received this warning message every time they tried to pick up a passenger: Dear Driver: Because you have the Waze app, you will not be able to access the Snapp service. Remove the app or contact your system support." ... It should be noted that it is still possible to use both Waze and Snapp apps together through a virtual private network, or VPN. Additionally, some drivers carry two smartphones, with one using the Waze navigation app, and the other using the Snapp app, to pick up passengers." [Al-Monitor]
LongRead: "Weinsteins Complicity Machine" by Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, Susan Dominus, Jim Rutenberg and Steve Eder: "Executives at [Harvey] Weinsteins film companies who learned of allegations rarely took a stand, cowed by their volatile boss or worried about their careers. His brother and partner, Bob, participated in payoffs to women as far back as 1990. Some low-level assistants were pulled in: They compiled bibles that included hints on facilitating encounters with women... Mr. Weinstein held off press scrutiny with a mix of threats and enticements, drawing reporters close with the lure of access to stars, directors and celebrity-packed parties... He was so close to David J. Pecker, the chief executive of American Media Inc., which owns The Enquirer, that he was known in the tabloid industry as an untouchable F.O.P., or friend of Pecker. ... I know the president of the United States. Who do you know? Mr. Weinstein, a Democratic fund-raiser, would say during the years Barack Obama was in the White House..." [NYTimes]
"David Rockefellers Rolodex Was the Stuff of Legend. Heres a First Peek" by Joann Lublin: "Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state, garnered the most cards because he was among Mr. Rockefellers best friends, said Peter Johnson, the Rockefeller family historian... One Kissinger card mentions the time when Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in June 1995. He is not to be referenced as Sir Henry as he is an American, the card said, with the word not underlined for emphasis. During a lunch at his estate in 2015, Mr. Rockefeller gave Mr. Kissinger a copy of his 35 Rolodex cards... I am astonished that we have seen each other so much, Mr. Kissinger recalled telling his friend. Having a record of their frequent times together over the years meant a lot to me, he said in an interview." [WSJ]
"Hillary Rodham Clinton to LGBT synagogue: 'Resistance is high on the need list right now'" by Beth Greenfield: "Hillary Rodham Clinton... gave the keynote address at a fundraising event for Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), New York Citys LGBTQ synagogue, on Monday night... Clinton noted, There has never been a more urgent call to embrace the concept of tikkun olam, a tenet of Judaism which means, in translation, repair of the world. Or, as she said she learned growing up in her church, Do all the good you can for all the people you can in all the ways you can as long as ever you can. These are words from our respective traditions that should guide and inspire us. They certainly have helped pick me up and keep myself going when Ive been knocked down, which has happened from time to time." [YahooNews]
"Adolf Hitler's Neighbor Was a Jewish Boy. Now He's Telling His Story" by Zach Schonfeld: "Much of [Edgar Feuchtwanger's] academic research has focused on European empires of the 19th century, but his latest book, Hitler, My Neighbor: Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939, is more personal. It chronicles his 10 years of living alongside a man who would become the modern definition of evil... Feuchtwanger does not believe that white supremacists will have the same power here that the Nazis did in Germany. He seems to regard them as fringe groups, whose influence exists outside the government. Then again, like his uncle, he didnt expect our recent election to play out the way it did. Trump completely puzzles me. Why on earth was he elected or selected as a Republican candidate? One doesn't really know what his plans are, whether he has any plans or whether he has any rationale." [Newsweek]
"Another Jewish woman made Miss Germany history" by Sam Brodsky: "Last week, 21-year-old Tamar Morali made headlines for being the first Jewish woman in history with a chance to win Miss Germany. She claims pageant officials told her a woman of her faith has never made it this far in the compeition. This week, model Valeria Bystritskaia came forward with a claim of her own: She was the first Jewish Miss Germany. [Metro]
HEARD LAST NIGHT -- The Atlantic's Julie Ioffe on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: "I think the way [the Russians] see it: They think we've lost our damn minds, which we have a little bit. Even the people who acknowledge that the Russian interfered in our election, which they did - we know they did - even those Russians are like, 'Come on, we didn't throw your election. You guys created Trump. You created Fox News. You created Steve Bannon. You created a stupid Electoral College. You created a racist backlash to the first black president.' And they are totally right. The Russians didn't create any of that, and the Russians didn't make 60 some million people vote for [Donald Trump]." [Video]
DESSERT: "Students push Ohio State to offer kosher food" by Danae King: "Just days ago, Max Littman picked up one of the first kosher meals ever served on Ohio State Universitys campus. The student, a 19-year-old sophomore, took the boxed lunch from the Ohio Union dining area. It was a meal he had a hand in making available to himself and other students. Littman, who is Jewish and keeps kosher, learned on his first day at Ohio State as a freshman last year that the university didnt offer kosher food, or food that is certified under Jewish religious rules. It was a disappointment that a school this big ... didnt have any kosher options, Littman said. After the Undergraduate Student Government, of which Littman is a member, passed a resolution supporting the addition of kosher food on campus last year, he decided to get more involved in the cause." [ColumbusDispatch]
BIRTHDAYS: Israeli-born billionaire and producer of over 130 full-length films, Arnon Milchan turns 73... Judy Clark turns 83... Moshe Hochenberg turns 80... Owner and publisher of The New Republic from 1974 - 2015, Martin H. "Marty" Peretz turns 79... Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for 20 years (1994-2014) and active in a range of Jewish organizations, Lawrence Bergman turns 77... Reknowned artist whose sculpture, photography, neon and video works appear in museums world-wide, Bruce Nauman turns 76... Cell and molecular biologist who is the director of research and professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, David L. Spector turns 65... Founder of Craigslist, the San Francisco-based website used around the world, Craig Newmark turns 65... Faculty member at Harvard Law School since 1981, professor since 1986, she served as Dean of Harvard Law School (2009-2017), Martha Minow turns 63... Deputy Mayor of the City of Chicago, he has served previously as general counsel to the US Department of Transportation (2009-2013) and then counsel to Delta Airlines, Robert S. Rivkin turns 57...
Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, director, actor, and comedian, Judd Apatow turns 50... Member of Knesset for the Likud party since 2015, he was a fighter pilot for the IDF and then a civillian pilot for El Al before entering politics, Yoav Kish turns 49... Professor of economics at the University of Chicago, Michael Greenstone turns 49... Professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow, son and grandson of rabbis, Julian Zelizer turns 48... Director of communications at Tel Aviv's Start-Up Nation Central, he has served as an editor for The Wall Street Journal, Israel Hayom and the Jerusalem Post, Amir Mizroch turns 42... SVP in the NYC office of PR firm BerlinRosen, Dan Levitan turns 35 (h/t Playbook)... Researcher with a focus on the Mediterranean and Middle East at Rome's Istituto Affari Internazionali, Andrea Dess... Joe Blumenthal... Deputy Commander of the Israeli Air Force's Innovation Dept., Ilan Regenbaum...
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