Trump does nothing, says nothing, as West Bank settlement construction surges

Israel’s Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman told reporters yesterday that this year, 2017, is a record year in terms of Israeli West Bank settlement construction. “We went over all the Jewish settlement data, from the year 2000 through 2017 – Bush, Obama, and now. There has never been such a settlement momentum,” he said, pointing to a total of over 10,000 new homes approved for construction, most of them (some 7,000) still planed, and some 3,400 under construction.

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PeaceCast #23: Gaza Misery

Abby Smardon, the executive director of UNRWA-USA, the American organization that supports the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, returned to Washington after a couple of weeks in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It was her sixth consecutive annual visit to Gaza. She says it was the most distressing. The Gaza Strip, she says, has never experienced such a prolonged crisis. Starved for electricity, relief from the heat and hope for the future, the Gaza Strip's 2 million residents, most of them refugees, are struggling to survive while holding on to their humanity. Stephanie Breitsman and Ori Nir talked with Abby.

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Peace Now director Avi Buskila: "Todah Rabbah"

Avi BuskilaAs the Jewish calendar brings us to the end of another year, I am looking back at an extraordinary twelve months. The political environment in Israel gives us very little cause for celebration, yet Peace Now is indeed making a difference. We are confronting the extreme right and the occupation, advancing the cause of peace and democracy, and keeping the door open for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Our highlight event was the May 27th "Two States – One Hope" demonstration in Tel Aviv, marking 50 years to the occupation, which attracted over 30,000 peace activists from across the country. It was a huge success, thanks to the support of many of you.

Our flagship program, Settlement Watch, which analyzes and publicizes information on the Israeli government's role in the construction of settlements, was particularly prominent. We took policymakers and policy-shapers - including Israeli and international politicians, diplomats and journalists - on tours of the settlements. The British government wanted us to show its Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, on a private tour, what the settlements look like. Our legal department repeatedly took the government and the settlers to court, and scored several victories enabling us to make our case against the settlements and the occupation.

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses Prime Minister Netanyahu's urgent trip to Russia; whether the US is prepared to acquiesce in an Iranian power-play under Russian auspices in Syria; if the Putin-Netanyahu conversation yielded the desired breakthrough; how seriously Netanyahu takes the prospect of an Iranian military presence in Syria; and the results of the US peace delegation's recent trip to the region.

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West Bank settlements "benefit" Palestinians?!

Earlier this week, a private lawyer hired by the most right-wing government in Israel's history defended the new "Expropriation Law" before Israel's High Court of Justice. His defense of the law – which allows for the legalization of hundreds of illegal West Bank settlement outposts built in part on privately-owned Palestinian land – was that it would actually benefit the Palestinians.

Yes, you read that correctly. No wonder that the government’s Attorney General refused to defend the law before the Court.

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The Extremists Already Agree...

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PeaceCast #22: Major Departure? Trump and the Two State Solution

The title of this PeaceCast episode is Major Departure – with a question mark.

Episode 22 is a major departure from our typical modus operandi.

Unlike past episodes, this one is a round-table discussion by APN staff.

The topic of our discussion is whether the Trump administration's failure to endorse the two-state solution is a major departure from what has been a tenet of US foreign policy for the past fifteen years: a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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APN's Aaron Mann in Times of Israel: The right kind of ‘bias’

The comment by US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, made at a press briefing this past Wednesday, was as absurd as it was dangerous: “We are not going to state what the outcome [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] has to be. It has to be workable to both sides. And I think, really, that’s the best view as to not really bias one side over the other.”

By this logic, any expressed preference by the Trump administration for a two-state solution risks prejudging the outcome of the peace process in favor of either Israelis or Palestinians.

In reality, an explicit endorsement of a two-state solution is the most unbiased approach that the administration could take.

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Say "Two States"

Press Release: APN Outraged by Trump Administration's Backtracking on Two-State Solution

By refusing to publicly endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and suggesting that doing so would "bias one side over the other" regarding possible outcomes, the Trump Administration yesterday dropped a dangerous and unacceptable bombshell. The Administration turned its back on a core bipartisan foreign policy principle, thumbed its nose at an international consensus regarding the way to resolve the conflict, and handed a gift to extremists on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

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