1. Killing two states with one plan: In what may be the Trump administration’s most pointed comments yet against the two-state solution concept, Jared Kushner, senior aide and son-in-law to US President Donald Trump, told a conference Tuesday that previous solutions put forward to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had “failed.”
- “We’ve taken what I think is an unconventional approach. We’ve studied the past efforts and how they failed and why they failed… We’ve tried to do it a bit differently,” he told the Time 100 conference.
- The comments are widely seen as an indictment of the two-state solution.
- Barak Ravid of Axios notes that Kushner was asked directly about the two-state solution but refused to answer; instead he “referred to the Arab peace initiative from 2002 — which called for a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital — as reflecting what he called ‘old talking points.’”
- “Two states? We’ll do something different,” reads a headline on the Mako website of Channel 12 news.
- After Sky News Arabia reported over the weekend that a senior US official, widely reported to be Jason Greenblatt, said the two-state solution term was not helping matters, a spokesperson confirms to ToI the comments: “The ‘two state solution’ term means different things to different people. There is no point in using a phrase that never achieved peace. Our plan provides a clear, realistic and detailed vision of what peace could actually look like.”
2. Change we can’t undo: In Politico, Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky argue that the administration is trying not only to change the conversation, but to change things in such a way that future administrations can never go back to the way things are, to the detriment of all.
- This includes not just the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but the Iran deal and a host of other policies.
- “Whatever Trump’s personal inclinations to prove he’s the world’s greatest negotiator on Iran, his hard-line advisers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, want to get rid of the mullahs who rule the Islamic Republic, not engage them. Pompeo and Bolton are now pulling out all the stops not only to provoke Iran into withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—and maybe into a fight as well—but to block a successor from engineering either a broader geopolitical pivot toward Iran or to engage in diplomacy to resolve outstanding US-Iranian differences,” they write.
- “As for Israel, whatever the president’s personal views on Israeli-Palestinian peace (and during the campaign they were more balanced than they are today), Jared Kushner and his team now seem hellbent on producing a ‘made in Israel’ peace plan that will be dead before arrival and drive the final nail in the coffin of a peace process that is already on life support,” they add.
- In Israel Hayom, Eyal Zisser also writes that the proposal will have far-reaching implications even if/when it goes nowhere.
- “First, the details of the plan will become the starting point for any future discussions about the conflict…. Second, the Trump proposal could pave a path to a solution by essentially removing several central issues from the agenda for both sides, chief among them the issue of Palestinian refugees. … And finally, the Trump plan could give the Israeli government an opportunity to advance its vision of applying Israeli law over swathes of Judea and Samaria, primarily the large settlement blocs with wall-to-wall consensus in Israel,” he writes.
3. Golan Towers: Kushner’s comments don’t get a ton of play in Israel, and what little coverage there is focuses on him saying both sides will need to make painful concessions. (And in the US they are overshadowed by his dismissal of Russian meddling in the investigation.)
- What does get a decent amount of play is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to name a new town in the Golan after Donald Trump.
- “Does any world leader get Trump more than Bibi,” asks Buzzfeed editor Miriam Elder on Twitter.
- But while Trump may be excited (and licking his lips at the licensing money he can demand for having a whole city named after him), Israelis who care about the Golan just seem happy that there will be a new town on the contested plateau.
- “We’re happy there will be a new town. We’ll work with the naming committee,” Golan regional council head Haim Rokach tells Army Radio.
- Blue and White MK-to-be Zvi Hauser writes on Twitter that “thanking Trump needs to be the start of a national plan to double settlement on the Golan.”
4. Dem Dems: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is catching some flak for calling the Netanyahu government “dare I say, racist.”
- In a tweet that does not mention Sanders directly, AIPAC tut-tuts over the “name-calling.”
- The group confirms to JTA that it is indeed talking about Sanders.
- Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi calls Sanders’s comments “strange” several times and says they deserve to be condemned.
- Haaretz’s Amir Tibon and Amos Harel write that Israel is concerned about Democrats wanting to re-enter the nuclear deal and making it an issue during the 2020 campaign.
- “Officials who have spoken with Haaretz in recent weeks described a ‘political nightmare scenario’ in which Israel is dragged into the presidential race because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials will make comments about the Iran deal, at the same time as Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee will spar over its fate,” they write.
5. Down and out in Ayoub Kara’s head: Yedioth Ahronoth writes that outspoken Likud Minister Ayoub Kara, who will soon be out of a job, is fuming at everyone over the seeming end of his political career.
- Among the many colorful terms he uses to describe what he thinks was done to him in the primary that led to him placing so low on the Likud slate that he is kaput: “they lynched me,” “they stabbed me in the back,” “they planned my assassination,” “they planned my downfall.”
- In Haaretz, Rogel Alpher has some choice words for incoming Likud loudmouth May Golan, calling her a “racist fascist,” for her views on asylum-seekers and a TV appearance in which she seems to revel in the fact that her counterpart in the studio, Blue and White’s Gadi Yevarkan, will be in the opposition.
- “She has no understanding of the democratic system … she only understands zero sum. I rule and you are nothing.”
6. Compromise or wish list? Israel Hayom reports that the ultra-Orthodox may be willing to compromise on a law to regulate members of their community being drafted into the military.
- The dispute with Yisrael Beytenu over the law had been seen as the main stumbling block on the way to a coalition, and the paper calls the compromise a surprise (though some might be mostly surprised at the fact that it’s being called a compromise.)
- According to the paper, the parties will agree to the Defense Ministry version of the law, which sets fines for draft dodgers and enlistment quotas, so long as a clause is added saying that anyone who wants to study Torah instead can do so.
- But that’s not all. They will also demand a Basic Law on the importance of learning the Bible, and that first they pass a law making it so the Supreme Court cannot strike down unconstitutional laws (as they would probably do to this.)
- In Yedioth’s op-ed page, former minister Limor Livnat writes that it looks like the old government will come back together exactly how it was, except with each party getting a little kosher pork for its base.
- “That unfortunately is the main business of ministers who come from specific sectoral communities,” she writes.
7. Putting the jam in Benjamin: Coalition talks won’t really get underway until after Passover, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making like the rest of the country and traveling around.
- During a trip to the beach in Caesarea on Monday, eagle-eyed journalists took notice of what looked to be a new and scarily giant-looking gun wielded by one of Netanyahu’s bodyguards.
— סקופים רוטר.נט (@RotterNews) April 23, 2019
- While it looks like a death ray, speculation is that the gun is just a UAV jammer, to keep prying eyes away, and it does appear to look exactly like the Chinese-made Hikvision Defender.
- “The reason for Israel using a Chinese product isn’t totally clear, but it seems it’s best suited for neutralizing drones made in China, which are more popular,” Channel 12 notes, adding that the Western versions of the same type of gun are much bigger.
8. Catch me if you can, Israeli journalism style: Some will do anything to get a picture of someone they aren’t supposed to. Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson writes on Twitter about the time he came up with a madcap plan to snap a picture of the famously paparazzi-shy Leonardo Dicaprio when he was in Israel with then girlfriend Bar Refaeli over 10 years ago.
- Levinson, who was then writing for Yedioth, writes that after getting a tip that the two were to tour the Western Wall tunnels at night, he decided to dress up as a Haredi groom, who have a tradition of praying there all night before their wedding.
- The ploy worked and he was allowed to stay when everyone else was kicked out. As the two celebrity lovebirds passed by, he surreptitiously snapped some pics. But when he tried to leave he was stopped by guards who punched him and grabbed his camera and broke his memory card.
- Luckily, he had managed to switch out the real memory card for a backup just before without them noticing. In the end, though, he realized he had the camera on the wrong setting the whole time.
- “In the end what came out was totally abstract in black and white,” he writes. “Without Leo and without Bar.”