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January 27, 2017

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 27, 2017 ag By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)--Two days after del- egates from more than 70 na- tions attended the Paris sum- mit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is clear that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Ne- tanyahu was wrong to label the meeting "useless." Admittedly the France- initiated event, which neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority attended, did not change the international community's understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nor did the gathering take any concrete steps to end the dispute. But itwas neither insignifi- cant nor useless from Israel's point of view. The summit saw Great Britain break ranks with the countries that did attend in a move that pleased Israel and perhaps the incoming administration of President- elect Donald Trump. Instead of demonstrating international consensus as intended by France under President Francois Hollande, the summit turned into a showdown between France and the United Kingdom over Israel. In an unprecedented manner, the rift exposed dis- agreements within a brittle European Union that is brac- ing for potentially turbulent relations with the United States under Trump. The first sign of dissent happened before the summit even began, when the United Kingdom dispatched only junior diplomats. By contrast, Hollande attended, as did 36 foreign ministers, including the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry. Then, the United Kingdom, alongwithAustralia, declined to join 70 other nations in co-signing a relatively mild statement about preserving the two-state solution, even though it matched positions long supported by the Brit- ish government--including in its rejection of "continued acts of violence and ongoing settlement activity" and the call for "meaningful direct negotiations." Itwas a stunning about-face that even caught longtime observers of Anglo-Israeli relations by surprise. "I was gobsmacked," Jona- than Hoffman, a former vice chair of Britain's Zionist Fed- eration, told JTA on Monday. "Itwas awatershed moment for U.K.-Israel relations and a huge change from anything I had seen before," he said, add- ing that the United Kingdom typically sides with its allies on policies toward the Jew- ish state. The British "snub"--as The Guardian termed it--of the Paris peace summit pleased Israeli diplomats, who openly dismissed the event as doomed to fail because it did not address the Palestin- ian Authority's refusal to negotiate without precondi- tions-in this case, a public commitment by Israel to halt construction in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. The summit "turned as flat as a failed souffle," Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israeli Foreign Ministry's senior spokes- man, wrote Sunday on Twitter. "A big show is no replace- ment for direct negotiations between the parties." In previous statements, Israeli officials described the summit as "laughable" in light of Western inaction on the humanitarian disaster in Syria. The British position was highly unexpected--espe- cially in light of Britain's lead- ing role, as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described it, in drafting and passing on Dec. 23 a U.N. Security Council resolution critical of Israeli settlements. Using far harsher language than that of the summit declaration, the U.N. resolution con- demned Israeli settlements as a "flagrant violation of international law." Trump has called for the United Kingdom to veto any further action on Israel at the United Nations. A midlevel British diplomat, who spoke to JTA on Monday under condi- tion of anonymity because he is not allowed to brief journal- ists on this matter, said his country will not support any further attempts in the near future to pass another resolu- tion on Israel. So did the United King- dom's decades-long policy on Israel radically change sometime between Dec. 23 and Jan. 15? Unlikely, according to Yigal Palmor, a former top spokes- man for the Israeli Foreign Ministry who currently works in a similar capacity for The Jewish Agency. The British move in Paris, he told JTA, is the result of a mix of factors, including a "desire to assert independence from the European Union"- which the British government under Prime Minister Theresa May is committed to leaving as per the result of a June referendum over the issue. May replaced David Cameron as prime minister last year as a result of the Brexit ref- erendum. Hoffman, meanwhile, said the apparent conflict between the British support for the U.N. resolution and its op- position to the Paris summit declaration could stem from power struggles between May and the country's Foreign Of- Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaking with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini during the Middle East peace conference in Paris, Jan. 15, 2017. fice, which does not share her relatively pro-Israel politics. In explaining its refusal to cosign the declaration, the British Foreign Office dropped another clue: A written state- ment objected that the sum- mit was "taking place just days before the transition to a new American president when the United States wilt be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement." The Foreign Office state- ment also pointed to "risks" that the conference "hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace." Whereas Kerry avidly sup- ported the summit, members of Trump's transition team signaled their disapproval to French officials, according to The Guardian. The news- paper suggested that May ordered the Paris snub to align her policy with that of Trump. Hoffman also attributed the apparent British about- face primarily to a Trump intervention. "It's such a dramatic de- parture from what we have seen in the past that a Trump intervention is the only thing that makes sense," he said. Ever since Obama spoke out last year in favor of Britain remaining in the European Union, Anglo-American rela- tions have become strained. Johnson, a former London mayor who became foreign minister following the Brexit vote, accused Obama of med- dling in British internal affairs and of harboring anti-British sentiment connected to the president's Kenyan roots. The Paris summit was not the first time that Israeli diplomacy benefited from those recent tensions. On Dec. 29, a spokesman for May openly criticized Kerry's Dec. 28 speech defending the U.S. abstention on the Security Council's anti-settlements resolution. The spokesman chided Kerry for "focusing on only one issue" of "con- struction of settlements," and for saying that the Netan- yahu government is the "most right-wing" in Israel's history. "We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democrati- cally elected government of an ally," May's office said in its unusual criticism of the Kerry speech. The cracks in the positions of Israel's allies offer the Ne- tanyahu government "some relief from international pressure" over some of the Jewish state's policies, Palmor observed. In that regard, the dissent benefits Israel, he said, but "ultimately it is not about Israel, not really." 1 2 3 4 L A M B 14 A L E R 17 C U T O 2O E M E K III 27 28 29 Y I S R 33 O C T 39 40 N O A H 45 A N G E Ill 59 6O S A C H 67 S T R A 7O A H A V 73 Y E M E IM 11A '3T ROSE C L A Y 36 37 38 E V E R 44 D ._0.0 .._P.P .~.E ,49 5,3 R S C H __l 63 64 65 ! 66 PASS E M A N N GO T R A W 154769823 876325491 329814765 732981546 645237189 981456237 518692374 463578912 297143658 By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- There's a striking difference between competing bids in Congress addressing last month's U.N. Security Coun- cil resolution condemning Israeli settlements. It's not that they differ on the United Nations--the two nonbinding congressional resolutions under consider- ation condemn the Security Council, as well as the outgo- ing Obama administration for abstaining and not exercising the U.S. veto. Here's the difference: Miss- ing from one of the resolutions are the word "two states." In the other resolution, the two-state outcome features prominently. Sponsors said little on the record about the differences, but what the simultaneous introductions signal is a battle over whether it becomes U.S. policy to regard the two-state solution as dead or alive. In one corner is the main- stream pro-Israel community, combining leftists and cen- trists and led by the American Israel Public Affairs Commit- tee, seeking to preserve two states as a viable outcome for Israel and the Palestinians. In the other is a deeply con- servative and often Orthodox a new minority of the American Jewish community that in- cludes figures who are close to President-elect Donald Trump. They want the two- state solution declared dead in order to pave the way for Israel to annex portions of the West Bank it still controls. The winner in Round 1: AIPAC. The Republican leadership of the incoming U.S. House of Representatives has sched- uled a vote for Thursday on the resolution being backed by the lobby. Reps. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Com- mittee, and the committee's senior Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., are the spon- sors. The other resolution, brought out by Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla.--the House deputy majority whip and a member of Trump's transition team -- is in limbo awaiting consideration by the Foreign Affairs Committee. The two-state outcome appears high in the Royce- Engel resolution, in the second paragraph: "Whereas the United States has long supported a negotiated settle- ment leading to a sustainable two-state solution with the democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a demilitarized, democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security." That resolution calls on the United States to seek the repeal or alteration of the Security Council resolution, so that "it is no longer one- sided and anti-Israel." But don't count out the oth- er side. Trump has nominated as ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who has been a major donor to the settlement movement, and named as his top official dealing with international relations Jason Greenblatt, who has said that settlements are notan impedi- ment to peace. The family of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has donated to settlements. Additionally, the Republi- can Party, in a platform revi- sion this summer, removed explicit references to two states. The Republican fun- draiser who helped engineer that change, Jeff Ballabon, told BuzzFeed News over the long weekend that now, within the GOP, "you have to justify the notion of a two- state solution." That might not be true yet, but the sponsors of the resolu- tion competingwith Royce's is awho's who of the party's anti- establishment right wing. They have scored impressive wins in recent years, not least of which is backing the win- ning candidate for president. While the resolution disap- proves of the U.N. resolution and the Obama administra- tion's abstention, it does not refer to the two-state solution. "Two states" was omitted, a Ross spokeswoman said, because the resolution was more narrowly focused. "The resolution is a very narrow response to the U.N.'s vote, specifically condemning President Obama's instruc- tion to abstain and abandon our closest ally," Joni Shockey told JTA. Whereas the Royce reso- lution emphasizes backing Israel in its quest for peace, the Ross resolution stresses the alliance, saying that Congress "affirms its commitment to the State of Israel as our loyal friend and strong ally in the Middle East." Ballabon told JTA that the Ross resolution made more sense, as it focused directly on the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334. "Instead of focusing on the real crime of 2334--its abandonment of Israel and its legitimization of ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Jewish homeland--Royce's resolution laments the dam- 2 states on page 15A