US to Free Jonathan Pollard for Palestinian Prisoners?

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Today’s Top Stories

1. John Kerry arrived in Israel for overnight meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to salvage peace talks. The big development is that the US appears prepared to release Jonathan Pollard. Haaretz sums up the deal now expected to keep the peace process alive. (The Palestinians haven’t signed on as this roundup goes to press.)

The official said that the proposed deal will include the following clauses: 1) The Palestinians will agree to extend the negotiations by a year – into 2015 – and avoid unilateral moves at the UN; 2) The U.S. will release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard before the Passover holiday; 3) Israel will release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners which will include 14 Israeli Arab prisoners; 4) Israel will release another 400 Palestinian prisoners “without blood on their hands” who are about to finish their sentences; Israel will choose which prisoners will be released and they will include women and minors; 5) Israel will freeze most of the construction in the settlements, with the exception of East Jerusalem and would halt government tenders, marketing of lands and planning.

Not that he’ll have much say in the matter, but it’s reported that Pollard opposes being freed for Palestinian terrorists. The Washington Post assesses the Pollard situation. See also Times of Israel coverage.

Israeli soccer2. Israel is at risk of getting kicked out of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the governing body of world soccer. According to an Inside World Football report in play, the Palestinians seek Israel’s expulsion from the organization over travel restrictions on players and coaches. But Israel insists that Palestinians politicizing the pitch is the real unsportsmanlike conduct.

HonestReporting explains how the Palestinian push is in line with the stated goals of the BDS movement to put Israel in the world’s penalty box.

3. Is Hamas moving to Jordan? Will the Islamists capitalize on Israeli-Jordanian ties strained by the death of Raed Zeiter?

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Israel and the Palestinians

Will Mahmoud Abbas deign to accept a “lite settlement freeze” as described by Reuters?

“The settlement freeze does not include East Jerusalem, private construction or building of public institutions,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another official involved in the negotiations said the Israeli government “will adopt a policy of restraint when it comes to state tenders for construction” in the West Bank.

 Plenty of commentary on Pollard and peace, including Jeffrey Goldberg (freeing Pollard won’t bring peace to Mideast), Shmuel Rosner (freeing Pollard is sign of US desperation), and Jonathan Tobin and David Weinberg (freeing Pollard for murderers is morally wrong).

Jeffrey Goldberg

• For more commentary/analysis, see Danny Ayalon (keeping America safe from BDS), Haaretz (Islamic Jihad rises as Hamas declines), Michael Curtis (UN bias against Israel continues), David Williamson (Obama has to decide whether to continue trying to climb the Mideast mountain that wrecked the ambitions of his predecessors), and Raphael Ahren (if nobody cares about Israeli diplomats on strike, how relevant is the foreign affairs ministry?).

Rest O’ the Roundup

Hezbollah’s reorganizing its security apparatus with the help of an Iranian officer to combat leaks and missteps. Daily Star coverage.

UN report assails Iran for persecution of religious minorities

• Yikes: The Bushehr nuclear facility is built in an active seismic region, and its 40 year-old design is vulnerable to earthquakes. The National Post raises lot of safety issues.

• Egyptian columnist Ahmad Al-Gamal urges Cairo to sue Israel for the Ten Plagues. Were the blood, frogs, locusts, etc. acts of God, or collective punishment?

We want compensation for the [Ten] Plagues that were inflicted upon [us] as a result of the curses that the Jews’ ancient forefathers [cast] upon our ancient forefathers, who did not deserve to pay for the mistake that Egypt’s ruler at the time, Pharaoh as the Torah calls him, committed.

This ranks up there with Dola Indidis, a Kenyan lawyer who tried dragging Israel and Italy to the International Criminal Court over the death of Jesus.

After Memri (video/transcript) flagged the latest in must-see Egyptian conspiracy theories, Damian Thompson wonders if Muslim fanatics ever tire of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

Times of London: David Cameron ordered an inquiry into the Muslim Brotherhood. This stems from concerns that the Brotherhood’s increasingly basing itself in Britain and engaging in radical activity.

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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