August 25, 2023


Government Affairs News Digest

I’m writing to share J Street’s statements and news updates.

I hope you’ll check out, or continue making use of, our regularly updated dossier on the Netanyahu government. As always, you can find our Congressional briefing book, background information on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recordings of previous briefings and more at J Street’s Congressional Resource Page.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions.

All the best,

Debra Shushan, PhD
Director of Policy, J Street
mobile: (757) 746-0366 | [email protected] | @DrShushan

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What we’re reading

Woman killed in West Bank shooting, 2 days after Israeli father and son shot to death in Huwara

An Israeli woman was killed and her driver injured in a shooting attack outside Hebron on Monday, the latest in a string of deadly attacks in the West Bank that included the killing on Saturday of a father and son in Huwara. Shay Nigreker, 60, and his son Aviad Nir, 28, had traveled to the Palestinian town from their home in Ashdod to do errands when they were shot to death while at a gas station. The town was the site of riots by Jewish settlers in February after two Jewish brothers were shot to death there… In both cases, according to Israeli media, Hamas and Palestinian Jihad praised the attacks but did not claim credit for them. The attacks come amid a surge in violence in the West Bank and Israel, which has included West Bank shooting attacks like the ones this week, attacks by Palestinians within Israel and frequent military raids on Palestinian cities. Since the beginning of the year, more than two dozen Israelis and more than 100 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in the violence… The Israeli government is divided over how to tackle the surging violence, with members of far-right parties, including Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, urging a harsher response including the demolition of homes belonging to the families of Palestinians identified as having committed attacks. “We prefer terrorists in the grave and not in prison,” Tzvi Sukkot, a member of the Knesset from Ben-Gvir’s party, said in response to Saturday’s shooting.
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US urges accountability in shooting of apparently unarmed Palestinian in West Bank

The US on Thursday called for a probe into an incident in which a seemingly unarmed Palestinian was shot in the back as he retreated from Israeli forces, an incident captured on video. “We are alarmed by reports of an Israeli shooting an unarmed Palestinian civilian from behind as the latter was walking away from an Israeli position,” a US State Department spokesperson said. “The United States urges a rapid completion of an objective, thorough investigation into the incident, which we understand is ongoing, and calls for full accountability in this case.” In a graphic video that was circulated on Monday by Palestinian media outlets, a man was seen in the northern West Bank town of Beita being shot, possibly in the head, while walking away from members of Yamas — the Border Police’s elite undercover counterterrorism unit — and toward another Palestinian wounded by Israeli forces. Palestinian media reports claimed that the man, named as Ameed al-Jaghoub, had died of his wounds, but the Palestinian Authority health ministry said his condition was critical. Haaretz reported Tuesday that the Police Internal Investigations Department had opened up an initial investigation into the matter… The incident came days after the Military Police’s Investigatory Unit launched a probe on Friday into footage showing an Israeli soldier shooting an unarmed Palestinian man near the West Bank city of Qalqilya.
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Major U.S. Jewish Groups Urge U.S. Lawmakers to Back Resolution Supporting Israeli Democracy

Seventeen leading U.S. Jewish organizations are urging members of Congress to support a resolution affirming Israel’s pro-democracy protest movement and condemning the far-right Netanyahu coalition’s judicial overhaul. The open letter, which is symbolic in nature, is the most thorough and organized affirmation of the protest movement from the U.S. Jewish establishment to date, and will undoubtedly encourage U.S. lawmakers previously fearful of any potential blowback to publicly offer their support… Describing Israeli democracy as “under threat,” they note how hundreds of thousands of Israelis have participated in protests — including Israeli military reservists, academics, business leaders and more. “These Israeli patriots and protesters would draw real strength from public support from Congress, which they have explicitly called for, of their vigorous attempts to save Israel’s liberal democracy,” they write… Leaders of several of these organizations have previously spoken at pro-democracy rallies across America, part of what has been considered a sea change in the U.S.-Jewish conversation on Israel in the months since Israel’s far-right coalition assumed power. The number of co-sponsors for the House resolution has more than tripled since its introduction last month from 12 to 43 Democrats, demonstrating the well-established and growing displeasure with Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul.
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3 small Palestinian villages emptied out this summer. Residents blame Israeli settler attacks

The Palestinian hamlet of al-Qabun in the central occupied West Bank was silent this week — the grazing fields for sheep deserted, the empty schoolhouse locked, the makeshift homes left as steel carcasses. The last families living there packed up two weeks ago, driven from their homes of nearly three decades by what they said was a year of intensified attacks and harassment by armed Jewish settlers living in unauthorized outposts on neighboring hilltops… The exodus from al-Qabun, a small Bedouin village northeast of the city of Ramallah that numbered 89 people before the evacuation, represents the third case over four months in which a Palestinian community emptied out, according to data from U.N. monitors. Residents blame mounting settler violence. For Palestinians, the recent wave of departures from Area C — the 60% of the West Bank that has remained under Israeli military control since interim peace accords from the 1990s — is emblematic of a new stage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as Jewish settlers double down on shepherding as a tool to seize land. United Nations officials warn the trend is changing the map of the West Bank, entrenching unauthorized outposts… “The displacement of Palestinians amid increasing settler violence is of a magnitude that we have not previously documented,” said Andrea De Domenico, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory. Settler attacks have displaced nearly 500 Palestinians, including 261 children, in the past year and a half, the office estimates.
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ANALYSIS | Getting Israeli-Saudi Rapprochement Right: No Deal Is Better Than a Bad One

Once wary of attempting to bring peace to the Middle East, the Biden administration is now considering a major diplomatic push in the region. The primary goal is not to revive the defunct Israeli-Palestinian peace process but to bridge the divide between two friends of the United States: to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. U.S. President Joe Biden hinted in late July that an Israeli-Saudi rapprochement could be on the way. Twice in the past month, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has visited Saudi Arabia. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Washington and Riyadh had agreed on the broad contours of a normalization deal, although major obstacles to such an accord remain. It is rare in the annals of Middle East peacemaking for three governments to openly pursue the same objective. And on its face, an Israeli-Saudi normalization deal would be a significant achievement. But Washington’s partners in this prospective arrangement are a repressive Saudi regime that seems increasingly to be working at cross purposes with the United States and an Israeli governing coalition composed of the most extreme right-wing parties and politicians in the country’s history. For that reason, not just any normalization agreement will advance U.S. interests in the region.The Biden administration must ensure that it does not give away too much to Riyadh without asking enough from Jerusalem, especially when it comes to the concerns of the Palestinians.
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