Daily Kickoff: Does Hillary have Christie’s ‘Occupation’ problem?; Bipartisan Senate Letter on PA GOV; Inside Story of (pending) Sterling Ballmer Deal

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

DRIVING THE DAYUPSET IN ISRAEL’S PRESIDENT ELECTION: Dovish Knesset member Meir Sheetrit surprised everyone this morning by surging to 2nd place in the first round of voting. Out of 117 qualified votes, frontrunner Reuven Rivlin came in first place with 44 votes, Sheetrit in second place with 31 votes and former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik with 28 votes. The momentum has now shifted towards Sheetrit as the top two face each other in the second round. WATCH LIVE BROADCAST [Knesset Channel] (more…)

Daily Kickoff: Comparing Bergdahl to Shalit; Jewish U.S. Amb. LeVine’s Trend: Will.i.am in Israel; New Yorker – “What will be with Beny Steinmetz?”

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

TOP TALKER: Obama administration to work with new PA-Hamas unity government: In what some are calling a new low in the U.S. – Israeli relationship, the Obama administration said on Monday that it will maintain relations and financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, earning a rebuke from Israel. “Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government, but will be watching closely to make sure it upholds the principles (honoring past agreements with Israel, renouncing violence and recognizing Israel) that President Abbas reiterated today,” DoS spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. (more…)

Daily Kickoff: P5+1 Talks Resume Today; Senators on Sanctions; Shelly Berkley to Touro; Ari Emanuel, with $2.5B Bid, set to become King of Hollywood

Top Talker: Senators Menendez, Kirk and Schumer Circulate New Iran Sanctions Bill: “Three top senators, including two Democrats, have begun circulating a draft of a new Iran sanctions bill that critics say could violate the terms of an agreement struck between Iran and the United States in Geneva last month. The bill, set for introduction by the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, along with top sanctions hawks Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), defies the Obama administration’s repeated requests for Congress to hold off on any new legislation that could imperil last month’s interim nuclear pact with Iran while talks continue towards a comprehensive final deal. (more…)

Daily Kickoff: Israel & Lebanon trade gunfire; Saudi Prince bashes Obama’s Foreign Policy; List of Jewish leaders’ salaries; Bloomberg Associates

David Ignatius: Q&A with Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister – Washington Post: Q: David Ignatius: Let me begin by asking about the state of the negotiations. After your delegation left technical negotiations in Vienna on Friday, your colleague Abbas Aragchi said that the U.S. announcement of a move to strengthen enforcement of existing sanctions “is against the spirit” of the Geneva deal” and said that Iran was evaluating an “appropriate response.” Can you clarify that and explain what you think Iran’s position should be.

A: Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian foreign minister: We are committed to ensuring that the process that we started — and it required a lot of courage on our side to reach his agreement — will lead to a satisfactory conclusion that would address the requirements as stated in the [Geneva interim] agreement — that is, to have an enrichment program in Iran while at the same time both concerns as well as restrictions imposed by the international community will be removed. This is the objective. Since we believe our program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, we have no desire to leave any ambiguity about the exclusively peaceful nature of our program. So on our side, we believe it is very easy to reach an agreement. Of course it requires serious political will and good faith in order to reach that agreement.” [WashPost]

Iranian Foreign Minister says no trace in Iran of missing Jewish ex-FBI agent: “There are no traces in Iran of the former FBI agent who disappeared there six years ago, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday.” [Reuters] (more…)