Full article published in The Hill on January 28, 2019

In a perversely ironic turn, a law intended to aid American victims of international terrorist attacks will strike a serious blow to counterterrorism cooperation that keeps Israelis (and Americans visiting Israel) safe.

The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) will take effect on February 1. Unless it is adequately amended or repealed before then, the law will damage Israeli national security and U.S. foreign policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Time is short, and Congress must take action.

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Hard Questions, Tough Answers (January 28, 2018) - Is Everything Connected?


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.

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Tu B'Shvat - Hold Israeli Settlers Accountable

Two weeks ago, on January 8th, Palestinian residents of the tiny southern Hebron Hills village of al-Tuwani woke up to find some of their olive trees cut down and “revenge” and “death to Arabs” spray-painted in Hebrew on walls and rocks.

This was by no means an isolated incident. For decades, extremist Jewish settlers in the West Bank have vandalized Palestinian property and attacked (even murdered) Palestinians themselves. But in recent years, vandalizing Palestinian property has become routine. And trees, particularly olive trees, are the perpetrators’ favorite target. In 2018 alone, according to the United Nations, some 7,200 Palestinian trees were damaged. Most were olive trees.

Extremist settlers intentionally target olive trees. They know that in Palestinian culture, the olive tree enjoys an almost sacred status as a symbol of Palestinians’ attachment to their land. These settlers also know that olive trees, which cover about half of the West Bank’s agricultural land, are a source of income for some 80,000 Palestinian families.

Today is Tu Bishvat, a beautiful holiday in which Jews plant trees and cherish the fruit of the land. But in the West Bank, while they plant trees in their settlements, extremist settlers destroy thousands of olive trees belonging to their Palestinian neighbors. Why? Because they hope that by terrorizing Palestinians, they will eventually drive them out.

Israel’s Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) movement long ago concluded that settlements are the chief obstacle to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Shalom Achshav’s Settlement Watch Project researches, documents, and publicizes information and analysis on West Bank settlement activity, and often takes the Israeli government and the settlers to court to hold them accountable for illegal actions.

Your donation will help us and our Israeli colleagues at Peace Now confront the settlement movement and show Israelis and Palestinians alike that pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans strongly condemn the extremist settlers’ violent actions.

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LISTEN - APN Briefing Call on Israel Elections with Tal Schneider

On January 24th 2019, APN hosted Israeli political analyst Tal Schneider for a briefing call on the upcoming general elections in Israel. Less than three months out, Israel’s political arena is going through dramatic changes. New actors are joining the arena and some of Israel’s political fixtures are fading out. An election campaign that started as a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance and ethics seems to reflect some deeper undercurrents in Israeli politics.

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Action Alert: Tell Your Senators to Oppose the Combating BDS Act

In the midst of the longest government shutdown in US history, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has prioritized – and tried repeatedly to advance – a bill which attempts to distract from the shutdown by playing political football with Israel-related legislation.

The bill, S.1, combines four pieces of Middle East-related legislation, including the highly problematic Combating BDS Act (CBA). Its purpose of the CBA is to encourage state and local governments to adopt legislation which penalizes companies and individual contractors that choose to boycott Israel and/or Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The ACLU has filed suits against this legislation in a number of states, resulting (so far) in injunctions issued by two federal district courts, which ruled that these state laws violate the constitutionally protected right to boycott.

The legislation also conflates “Israel and Israeli-controlled territories,” attempting to blur the distinction between the two, legitimating Israeli settlements in the West Bank and securing them against protests.

So far, Senator McConnell has attempted to advance S.1 three times. Undeterred by defeat, he has entered a motion for a fourth vote. As this fight continues, let’s show the legislators who voted against advancing S.1 that they have our support.

Take action to thank your senators if they voted against advancing S.1 and the Combating BDS Act. And if your senators registered a pro-settlements/anti-free speech vote, take them to task for it.

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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.

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Last week, the Sabagh family received a notice from the Execution Office stating that it had to vacate its home in Kerem Ja'ouni in Sheikh Jarrah until January 23. If the family does not vacate the house by then, it will face eviction by force.

The eviction lawsuit against the Sabagh family was filed by a company called “Nahalat Shimon”, which represents settlers seeking to build a large settlement in Sheikh Jarrah. The settlers purchased the land from two Jewish associations, the Sephardi Community Committee and the Knesset Israel Committee, which in turn claimed to have purchased the land at the end of the 19th century.

In 1948 the land, which was then without structures, was transferred to the Jordanian rule. The Jordanians designated the land for the resettlement of dozens of Palestinian refugee families who exchanged their refugee statues for homes in the newly-built neighborhood in Sheikh Jarrah. After 1967, the Jewish organizations recovered the ownership rights on the land and began to demand that the refugee families vacate their homes. To that extent, the associations were exercising the "right of return" of Jews to assets taken in 1948 (a right not afforded to Palestinians).

Peace Now: "This is part of an organized and systematic campaign of settlers, with the assistance of government agencies, to expel entire communities in East Jerusalem and to establish settlements in their stead. Dozens of other families face the risk of eviction by legal proceedings in which settlers and government officials exploit discriminatory laws that allow Jews to return to pre-1948 assets yet forbid Palestinians from doing the same. In this way, settlers seek to create a buffer inside the Palestinian neighborhood and make it difficult to reach a territorial compromise in Jerusalem so essential to a two-state solution.

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i24 Spin Room (01/09/19): Shushan on Senate's "Combating BDS Act"

Debra Shushan, APN's Director of Policy and Government Relations, appears twice in the following Israel i24 News report from Dan Raviv about U.S. Senate Bill 1, which includes the so-called "Combating BDS Act" that APN opposes.

(UPDATE since the report below: Due to Democrat opposition, the Senate Bill 1 package that includes this act has been stalled both on Tuesday, January 8 by a vote of 56-44, and Thursday, January 10, by a vote of 53-43, neither enough to clear the 60-vote hurdle needed to advance.)

Americans for Peace Now Urges Senate to Reject the Combating BDS Act of 2019

(UPDATE: As of January 15, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has tried to advance S.1, the bill that includes the so-called "Combating BDS Act," three times. Each time, McConnell's motions have failed to clear the 60-vote hurdle to advance, thanks to the vast majority of the Democratic caucus voting against cloture. And each time, immediately after his cloture motions have failed, McConnell has filed for a subsequent vote, in the apparent belief that putting Democratic senators on record voting against advancing S.1 will enable Republicans to paint the Democratic party as insufficiently "pro-Israel."

The vote tallies are as follows. On January 8, S.1 failed to advance by a vote of 56-44. On January 10, the tally was 53-43. And on January 14, the vote was 50-43. During the first two votes, four Democrats joined with Republicans in voting to advance S.1: Senators Manchin, Menendez, Sinema, and Jones. In the third vote, Senator Menendez, dropped his support because “I don’t like the Majority Leader using the US-Israel relationship as a political pawn.” McConnell has entered a motion for a fourth vote to advance S.1, but as of this writing that vote has not yet been scheduled.)

Americans for Peace Now (APN) opposes any bill that encourages state and local governments to adopt legislation which penalizes citizens who boycott Israel and/or Israeli settlements.

The Senate’s first piece of legislation in the 116th session, dubbed S.1, does just that. Referred to as the “Middle East Security Bill” by its sponsor, Senator Marco Rubio, S.1 incorporates the Combating BDS Act of 2019 into a larger bill that would appropriate security funds for Israel and reauthorize defense cooperation between the US and Jordan.

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The state announced this week to court that the Lahav 433 police anti-fraud organization, as well as the State Prosecutor's Office, will be “examining” Peace Now’s complaints of two cases of illegal construction in the Binyamin Region Council area of the West Bank. The announcement came following two petitions that Peace Now filed to the High Court demanding that the Police and the State Prosecutor open investigations against the heads of the Binyamin Regional Council, the Amana settlement movement and other bodies that were involved in big projects of illegal construction in settlement outposts. One petition was about the establishment of the illegal outpost of Kerem Reim (west of Ramallah), and the other petition was against the construction of 21 housing units in the illegal outpost of Hayovel (south of Nablus).
The hearing of the petition concerning Hayovel will take place this Monday (7/1/19).
Peace Now: For 50 years now, a handful of settlers have been using public funds through the settlement councils and Amana to put facts on the ground that affect the future of all of us in violation of the law and of the government's decisions. The hesitation of the State Prosecutor's Office and the police to investigate the organized crime of illegal construction in the settlements is tantamount to granting immunity to the offenders and shows a lack of respect for the rule of law. The message the government is sending to the settlers is that they are above the law.

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