Daily Kickoff

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]

‘Missing’ Lebanese soldier found after he killed an Israeli soldier on Sunday: “The Lebanese soldier who reportedly went missing after opening fire at an Israeli military vehicle Sunday night on the northern border, killing an Israeli soldier, has returned to his base. The Israeli soldier who was killed, Master Sgt. Sholmi Cohen, 31, was a resident of Afula, according to the Israel Defense Forces. His family has been informed of his death and his funeral will be held in Haifa at 5 P.M. Monday. According to a report in Lebanon’s National News Agency on Monday, the Lebanese soldier had been hiding in a thicket since the shooting, and returned to his base to turn himself in Monday morning. It was not yet clear what actions – disciplinary or other – would be taken against him.” [AP]

White House advisor consulted Israeli officials on Iran deal: “President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice played host to a series of meetings with Israeli officials last week to try to gain their support for an interim deal with Iran aimed at containing Tehran’s nuclear program. The meetings, announced in a White House statement on Sunday, arose from talks between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month as the United States tried to persuade a skeptical Israel to support the Iran deal.”[Reuters]

McCain: Iran sanctions bill ‘very likely’ – “Sen. John McCain says it’s “very likely” the Senate will approve new sanctions against Iran that would take effect in about six months if there are no more breakthroughs in negotiations.” [Politico]

Saudi Prince Criticizes Obama Administration, Citing Indecision in Mideast: “An influential Saudi prince blasted the Obama administration on Sunday for what he called indecision and a loss of credibility with allies in the Middle East, saying that American efforts to secure a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians would founder without a clear commitment from President Obama.” [NYTimes]

Who says Qataris & Israelis can’t get along? – “In an article this week, the Times of Israelasked “Can Israel and Qatar learn to be friends again?” The answer may be yes as the Jewish luxury real estate broker brothers, Oren and Tal Alexander, whose parents are Israeli, visited and celebrated Doha Independence Day today with Ahmed Yousef Al-Rumaihi, the Consul General of Qatar, and Amina Almeer, the head of international communications and senior executive press attaché for the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” [JewishInsider]

Scholars’ Group to Disclose Result of Vote on an Academic Boycott of Israel: “A growing campaign among American professors to isolate Israel reaches a milestone on Monday when a large group of scholars is expected to reveal whether its members endorsed an academic boycott of Israel to protest Israeli treatment of Palestinians.” [NYTimes]

Israeli panel backs tax on donations to groups urging boycott: “An Israeli government committee gave initial approval on Sunday to a proposed law that would impose a 45 percent tax on overseas donations made to non-profit groups critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.”[Reuters]

Report: Palestinians Reject Kerry Peace Plan: “Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East peace plan appeared to unravel late last week after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected “most” of the key details, according to regional experts and media reports.” [FreeBeacon]

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today: Israeli journalist Ari Shavit discussing his new book “My Promised Land”

Ritz-Carlton opens its doors in Israel, eyes more branches: “Ritz-Carlton cut the ribbon of its first hotel in Israel Sunday at the Herzliya Marina, featuring the branch’s first kosher restaurant, after over four years of preparation and NIS 600 million of investment.” [JPost]

Ron Lauder offers to give Channel 10 shares to Maiman: “Ron Lauder has offered to give his Channel 10 shares to Yosef Maiman as well as a cash injection of NIS 25 million. However, Maiman is demanding the shares as well as NIS 50 million to be injected into the ailing TV station, according to sources close to Lauder. The cash injection is meant to help pay salaries and fund day-to-day operations. The sources also say that, ‘if nobody can be found at the last minute who is prepared to take Ron Lauder’s shares and the additional cash offered, then Channel 10’s board of directors will need to meet this week to decide how to move forward.” [Globes]

Happening Tonight: Former Ambassador Michael Oren speaks at the Tel Aviv International Salon [EventBrite]

Who Earns What at America’s Biggest Jewish Non-Profits – Forward: Top ten (in order) 1. Richard Joel – Yeshiva University; 2. Marvin Hier – Simon Wiesenthal Center; 3. Stephen Hoffman – Jewish Federation of Cleveland; 4. Frederick Lawrence – Brandeis University; 5. Abraham Foxman – Anti-Defamation League; 6. Jerry Silverman – Jewish Federations of North America; Matthew Brooks – Republican Jewish Coalition; 8. Howard Kohr – AIPAC; Matthew Levin – Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County; Alan Gill – American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee: [Forward]

Yeshiva University will sell off buildings, cut programs and give Richard Joel a $100K pay cut to relieve budget crisis: [Forward] — YU Students Chase 5th-Century Clues From a Woman’s Tombstone [NYTimes]

Black, Jewish Leaders Unite in Rally to Condemn ‘Knockout Game’ Attacks: As 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported, leaders of the black and Jewish communities joined together Sunday on the steps of Brooklyn Supreme Court to repudiate the violent “knockout game.” [CBS]

Rabbi’s web of charities under investigations: “Rabbi, lobbyist and charity chieftain Shiya Ostreicher is one of New York’s most powerful political players — and now, thanks to state investigators, one of the most scrutinized. He has a hand in five Brooklyn nonprofits that pull down millions of dollars in taxpayer cash and private donations. One is under state probe. Another’s murky paperwork has raised questions about its legitimacy. The president of that group says he didn’t know that he was on the board — let alone that he was its president.

–In less than a decade, Ostreicher, 43, has outgrown his Orthodox Brooklyn base to become a force in city and state politics. He is described as politically brilliant and on good terms with both Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. “There’s nobody who has the access that he has, which is on both sides, and that makes him very, very influential,” said one insider closely involved in New York politics. “So when he wants to get things done, he can do it.” He has also become a rainmaker for top politicians. “If you need help with your business or your company or a project, you show up to him and you ask him for help, and then, in return, he then asks you to raise money,” the source said.”[NYPost]

Post Mayoral Job: Bloomberg Focuses on Rest (as in Rest of the World) – “Michael R. Bloomberg, determined to parlay his government experience and vast fortune into a kind of global mayoralty, is creating a high-powered consulting group to help him reshape cities around the world long after he leaves office. To build the new organization, paid for out of his own pocket, the billionaire mayor is taking much of his City Hall team with him: He has already hired many of his best-known and longest-serving deputies, promising them a chance to export the policies they developed in New York to far-flung places like Louisville, Ky., and Mexico City.

–The organization, to be called Bloomberg Associates, will act as an urban SWAT team, deployed at the invitation of local governments to solve knotty, long-term challenges, like turning a blighted waterfront into a gleaming public space, or building subway-friendly residential neighborhoods. In a twist on the traditional business model of consulting, clients will not be charged. The group resembles a government in exile. Mr. Bloomberg has recruited at least half a dozen top aides from his administration, including Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner; Katherine Oliver, the commissioner of media and entertainment; and Kate D. Levin, the cultural affairs commissioner. Bloomberg Associates will be run by George A. Fertitta, who as chief executive of the city’s tourism agency oversaw a record increase in annual visitors to New York, to 54 million this year.” [NYTimes]

Brooklyn Tower Tussle – Proposal for Two Residential High-Rises on Waterfront at Center of Debate: “A proposal for two high-rise residential towers on Brooklyn’s waterfront is at the center of a debate over changes sweeping the Greenpoint neighborhood, where a dozen tall apartment buildings are planned along the East River. If allowed to build higher, developers Joseph Chetrit and David Bistricer would be expected to deliver 200 units of affordable housing and money for a long-promised park, softening the impact of thousands of new residents moving to the area.

–At the northwestern tip of Brooklyn, 77 Commercial St. is small compared to other projects moving forward in Greenpoint, but anti-development forces have focused on it because it is a rare site where the rezoning allowed only 15-story buildings, not 30-plus-story buildings. To build taller, Messrs. Chetrit and Bistricer plan to purchase development rights from a neighboring site owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, paying about $8.2 million to build a park there and agreeing to include below market-rate units. The additional height, though, still needs approval from the City Council. The deal is important to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration because it would help deliver on promises to create affordable housing and parkland along the East River, pledges that made the 2005 rezoning easier to swallow. Small portions of the parkland and affordable housing have been built.” [WSJ]

Sports Blink: Judgement due soon in Wilf fraud case – “The judge presiding over a fraud and racketeering case involving Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi, Mark and Leonard Wilf will decide this week whether to postpone awarding nearly $100 million in damages and fees to their former business partners. As early as Monday, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson also could rule on whether to disclose the Wilfs’ net worth, which the judge used to calculate damages in the fraud case.” [StarTribune]

Thats all folks, have a great Monday!

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