News Roundup for April 16, 2024

April 16, 2024
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J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

J Street In the News

J Street Urges House to Reject Diversions, Immediately Pass Senate Supplemental Aid Package, J Street
The flood of legislation that Republicans are bringing to the floor this week will not materially enhance US or Israeli security. They will only deepen political divides, project reckless hawkish bluster, and tie the president’s hands as he pursues urgent diplomacy to de-escalate this crisis and prevent violence from spiraling out of control regionally. J Street urges Congress to reject party-first, country-second political ploys and instead focus on passing the only meaningful piece of legislation in front of it: The Senate supplemental.

Jeremy Ben-Ami Discusses Iran’s Attack Against Israel on MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin Reports, MSNBC
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami shares, “To all of these situations there is no military solution, that one of the things that I think is sometimes gets lost, that at the end of the day, if Israelis and Palestinians are going to ever find a way out of their conflict, there’s only a political resolution. If Iran is going to be held in check, then there has to be a diplomatic front that includes the Sunni Arab world together with Israel and the United States that stands up against it.”

J Street U Students Deeply Frustrated by ADL’s Campus Antisemitism Report Card, J Street
Even if we find some criticisms of Israel harsh and worth pushing back on, erroneously attacking them as antisemitic undermines our work to build bridges, hear each other out, and create safe, supportive campuses for all. It weakens our credibility when we seek to build coalitions to call out and confront real cases of antisemitism and bigotry.

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Military Pledges Response to Iran Attack Amid Calls for Restraint, Reuters
Israel’s military chief said on Monday his country would respond to Iran’s weekend missile and drone attack amid calls for restraint by allies anxious to avoid an escalation of conflict in the Middle East. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours to weigh how to react to Iran’s first-ever direct attack on Israel, a government source said. Israel’s military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said the country would respond, but provided no details.

White House Opposes Standalone Israel Funding Bill, Politico
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby threw cold water on House Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan to introduce a stand-alone bill funding Israel following the attacks from Iran over the weekend, saying it would not get President Joe Biden’s backing. “We would oppose a stand-alone bill that would just work on Israel,” said Kirby. The comments provide a clear signal to congressional Democrats that they should vote against the measure should it be brought to the floor.

US and Europe Seek to Dissuade Israel From Striking Back Against Iran, The Financial Times
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak both said Western countries were preparing sanctions on Tehran to prevent an escalation into a full-blown Middle East war. Blinken said Washington was “co-ordinating a diplomatic response to seek to prevent escalation,” while Sunak said the G7 was working on further diplomatic measures against Iran, which is already heavily sanctioned by the West. US President Joe Biden was “certainly not looking for a war with Iran”, John Kirby, the US National Security Council spokesperson, said on Monday.

Israel Delays Rafah Offensive Plans amid Heated Debate over Response to Iranian Attack, Sources Say, CNN
The Israeli Air Force was set to begin dropping leaflets on parts of Rafah on Monday, two Israeli sources said, amid preparations for a ground offensive into Gaza’s southernmost city where more than 1 million people are sheltering. One Israeli official said Israel remains determined to carry out a ground offensive in Rafah, although the timing of civilian evacuations and the coming ground offensive remains unclear at the moment.


Hezbollah Says It Planted a Bomb near Lebanon-Israel Border, Wounding Four IDF Soldiers, Haaretz
One soldier is in serious condition, two are in moderate condition and one is lightly wounded, the IDF added. Hezbollah took responsibility, stating it had planted explosives in Lebanese territory near the border with Israel and were activated when the Israeli forces arrived to the area.

Russian Weapons Help Iran Harden Defenses Against Israeli Airstrike, The Washington Post
Intelligence officials describe a deepening strategic partnership between Moscow and Tehran in the two years since Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine — an alliance that could emerge as a significant factor as Israeli leaders weigh possible military strikes in retaliation for the hundreds of drones and missiles launched against Israel over the weekend.

Jordan Let Israeli Jets Use Its Airspace During Iran Attack — Report, The Times of Israel
The report says Jordanian and Israeli fighters were coordinated by the US military, in what is thought to be the first time Israel and Jordan fought side by side.

Ukraine, Watching US Coalition Protect Israel, Feels Alone, The Washington Post
“The whole world saw that Israel was not alone in this defense — the threat in the sky was also being eliminated by its allies,” Zelensky said. “And when Ukraine says that its allies should not turn a blind eye to Russian missiles and drones, it means action is needed — a bold one.”

Israel Responds to High Court: We’re Fixing Gaza Strip Humanitarian Aid Problems, Haaretz
The government is working with international organizations and the private sector in Gaza to streamline the collection of the humanitarian supplies, the state added, citing the recent approval by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to bring in dozens of new trucks purchased by international organizations. Sixteen of these trucks are due to enter Gaza this week.

Biden Unlikely to Cut Iran’s Oil Lifeline After Israel Attack, Reuters
The political pressure to punish Iran creates a thorny problem for the administration: how to deter such attacks in future without escalating regional tensions, raising oil prices or antagonizing China, the biggest buyer of Iranian oil.

The House Plans to Hold Separate Votes on Aid for Israel and Ukraine After Delays, NPR
Iran’s unprecedent attack on Israel over the weekend increased pressure on Congress to act. Johnson plans to bring forward three separate bills on funding for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine.

Relief Group SmartAid Providing Thousands of Tents to Palestinians in Gaza, Says It’s the Only Israeli NGO Operating in the Strip, eJewish Philanthropy
“We have helped build three refugee camps; it is thousands of tents,” Shachar Zahavi, founding director of SmartAid, told eJP. “We have experience in war-torn areas for decades — this is a whole different ball game.”

Opinion and Analysis

Israeli Troops Separated a Gazan Grandma from Her Family. Her Death Will Haunt Her Descendants, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “The indifference of the cruel drone: In a video or reality game, operators sit far away, in safety, pressing buttons. They are immune from being accused of cruelty or indifference. Were the soldiers who saw up close a 94-year-old grandmother who wasn’t theirs, insisting that she remain at home alone, cruel or indifferent?”

Restraint or Retribution? Israel Faces Dilemma in Its Response to Iran’s Attack, CNN
Nadeen Ebrahim and Jeremy Diamond write, “While Israel may find it hard not to retaliate, he said, it may not conduct an immediate “full scale military attack against targets inside Iran” as Tehran has vowed to retaliate with an even bigger response than the attack launched over the weekend.”

Iran’s Risky Bid to Redefine Deterrence with Israel, Responsible Statecraft
Daniel Brumberg shares, “The role that the US, together with France and Britain (and quite possibly several Arab states including Jordan), played in knocking out Iranian drones and missiles has created a new reality. Hence forth, Israel’s deterrent capacity is inextricably linked to a military partnership with the U.S. and, in effect, some of its Western allies. This fact has grabbed the attention of Iran’s leaders, who, prior to and after their assault, openly warned Washington to “stay out of it.” Now that the U.S.—and the Biden White House– is very much in it, Iran will have to carefully contemplate how to retool resistance.”

The Best Way to Deal With Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis, Foreign Affairs
Shira Efron writes, “Giving the PA a leading role in relief operations would help accomplish several goals at once: it would bring greater efficiency to aid delivery by leveraging the presence the PA already has in Gaza. It would strengthen the new PA government and support the West Bank’s economy. And it would fill in the gaps between the grave, immediate crisis in Gaza and the ultimate vision of a two-state solution by reconnecting Gaza with the West Bank in tangible ways.”