J STREET GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS NEWS DIGEST | March 1, 2024

March 1, 2024

 

Government Affairs News Digest

I hope you are doing well this Friday.

I’m writing to share important updates from the region, as well as J Street’s statements from this past week. As a reminder, you can always find our most recent statements on J Street crisis response page.

All the best,
Hannah


Hannah Morris
She/Her
Director of Government Affairs, J Street
Cell: 832-606-1817
J Street’s Congressional Resource Page

This week on j street

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STATEMENT

J STREET HORRIFIED BY REPORTS OF DOZENS KILLED IN AID CONVOY INCIDENT AMID HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE

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EXPLAINER

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT J STREET’S STATEHOOD PROPOSAL

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WORD FROM J STREET PRESIDENT, JEREMY BEN AMI

HOPE AMID THE PAIN

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STATEMENT

J STREET WELCOMES RESETTING AMERICAN POLICY ON SETTLEMENTS: ‘INCONSISTENT WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW’

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What we’re reading

Mounting international criticism of Israel, calls for probe over Gaza aid stampede

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International calls intensified Friday for a probe into the deaths of dozens of Palestinians clamoring around an aid convoy in northern Gaza a day earlier, with many countries accusing Israel of responsibility for the disaster and threatening diplomatic steps. The calls came as officials involved in talks for a temporary ceasefire and prisoner swap expressed cautious optimism that such a deal could be struck before the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, on March 10… Hamas blamed the IDF for the deaths, calling it a massacre, but the military has said most of the casualties were caused by a stampede and people being run over by the supply vehicles. Gunmen also opened fire in the area as they looted the supplies. The IDF said its fire was responsible for no more than 10 casualties. Hamas warned in a statement that the incident could lead to the failure of talks aimed at a deal on a truce and hostage release… The United States has [also] urged a thorough investigation, saying the incident shows the need for “expanded humanitarian aid to make its way into Gaza.” Nonetheless, the US blocked a UN Security Council resolution blaming Israel for the tragedy.
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Biden says U.S. will begin airdropping aid into Gaza in the coming days

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President Biden on Friday announced that the U.S. will begin airdropping humanitarian aid into Gaza in the coming days. The move underscores the growing concerns within the Biden administration about the worsening humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the difficulties of getting aid into the enclave, where the UN has warned “famine is almost inevitable” if nothing changes… Biden’s announcement comes a day after more than 100 Palestinians were killed in an incident around an aid convoy in northern Gaza. Palestinians blamed Israeli forces, who fired on a crowd of civilians, while Israel said most died by being trampled on or driven over as Palestinians stormed the convoy. A White House National Security Council spokesperson said the incident “underscores the importance of expanding and sustaining the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, including through a potential temporary ceasefire.”
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Palestinian prime minister submits government’s resignation, a move that could open door to reforms

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The Palestinian prime minister announced the resignation of his government on Monday, paving the way for a shake-up in the Palestinian Authority, which the U.S. hopes will eventually take on a role in postwar Gaza. Many obstacles remain to making a revamped Palestinian Authority a reality. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces were driven from Gaza by Hamas in 2007, has made clear that he would like the PA to govern the enclave after the war. But it is deeply unpopular among Palestinians, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has roundly rejected the idea of putting the authority in charge of the territory… The move appears to be the first step in a process toward ushering in reforms sought by the United States, as international negotiations ramp up to bring about a cease-fire.
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Netanyahu seeks open-ended control over security and civilian affairs in Gaza in new postwar plan

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A long-awaited postwar plan by Israel’s prime minister shows that his government seeks open-ended control over security and civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip. That was swiftly rejected Friday by Palestinian leaders and runs counter to Washington’s vision for the war-ravaged enclave… Deep disagreements over Gaza’s future have led to increasingly public friction between Israel and the United States, its closest ally. The Biden administration seeks eventual Palestinian governance in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a precursor to Palestinian statehood, an outcome vehemently opposed by Netanyahu and his right-wing government… U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had not seen details of the plan. But he said any plan should be consistent with basic principles the U.S. had set out for Gaza’s future, “including that it cannot be a platform for terrorism, there should be no Israeli re-occupation of Gaza, the size of Gaza’s territory should not be reduced.”
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White House reverses West Bank policy, calling Israeli settlements illegal

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a reversal of the previous administration’s position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank on Friday, saying they are “inconsistent with international law.” “Our administration maintains firm opposition to settlement expansion,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference in Argentina. “In our judgment, this only weakens — it doesn’t strengthen — Israel’s security.” The decision — which was also announced at the White House — was in immediate response to reports that the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was planning further settlement expansion, according to a U.S. official, one of several who discussed the decision on the condition of anonymity under administration rules. Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced plans late Thursday for approval of 3,000 new settlement homes after Israeli police said Palestinian gunmen opened fire near the existing Maale Adumim settlement, killing one Israeli and wounding five. The expansion plans, he said, were part of “deepening our eternal grip on the entire Land of Israel.”
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Concern rising among Biden officials Israel may launch incursion into Lebanon

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American administration and intelligence officials are concerned that Israel is planning a ground incursion into Lebanon that could be launched in the late spring or early summer if diplomatic efforts fail to push Hezbollah back from the northern border with Israel, senior administrations officials and officials familiar with the intelligence say. While a final Israeli decision has yet to be made, the worry is acute enough inside the Biden administration that the prospect of an incursion has made its way into intelligence briefings for senior administration officials… “We are operating in the assumption that an Israeli military operation is in the coming months,” one senior Biden administration official said. “Not necessarily imminently in the next few weeks but perhaps later this spring. An Israeli military operation is a distinct possibility.”
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U.S. wants Israeli written assurances on using U.S. weapons in Gaza by mid-March

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The Biden administration gave Israel until mid-March to sign a letter, provided by the U.S. on Tuesday, that gives assurances it will abide by international law while using U.S. weapons and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, three U.S. and Israeli officials told Axios. The assurances are now a requirement under a memorandum issued earlier this month by President Biden. While it doesn’t single out Israel, the new policy came after some Democratic senators expressed concern over the Israeli military campaign in Gaza. If the assurances aren’t provided by the deadline, U.S. weapon transfers to the country will be paused… A White House National Security Council spokesperson said “Israel has already indicated … it anticipates being able to provide the relevant assurances.” The spokesperson stressed that the assurances are not “Israel-specific” and the “timing is also expressly outlined” in the memorandum. The spokesperson added that the memorandum “did not impose new standards for military aid but instead provided a transparent, consistent structure for obtaining assurances for compliance with those preexisting standards.”
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Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: Netanyahu’s Messianic Coalition Partners Want an All-out Regional War. Gaza Is Just a First Step

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The supreme aim of the far-right duo National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is not the occupation of the Gaza Strip. Even settlement throughout the devastated Strip is not the final goal of the bunch of messianic hallucinators that has seized power in the state of Israel. Gaza is just the introductory chapter, the platform this gang wants to build as the foundation upon which the real fight they are eyeing will be conducted: the battle for the West Bank and the Temple Mount. The ultimate aim of this gang is “purging” the West Bank of its Palestinian inhabitants, cleansing the Temple Mount of its Muslim worshippers and annexing the territories to the state of Israel. The way to achieve this goal is blood-soaked.
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