News Roundup for April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024
Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

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

Statement on the UNSC Resolution for Palestinian UN Membership, J Street
Palestinian statehood is ultimately in Israel’s own interests as well, as the only way for Israel to remain secure and democratic as well as Jewish in character is with an independent Palestinian state alongside it. […] J Street has made clear for some time that the United States should not use its voice or vote to oppose Palestinian participation or membership in international organizations.

The Threat of an Israel-Iran War [Video], J Street
With the world urging restraint between Iran and Israel, more disturbing still is the risk that conflict slides toward all-out war. It would be a catastrophic conflict for the US, the region and far beyond. To discuss the risk level, the Biden Administration’s calculations, and how the next weeks and months may play out, J Street was joined by renowned experts Eran Etzion, a former Israeli diplomat, Dr. Naysan Rafati, analyst with the International Crisis Group, and Barbara Slavin, a Distinguished Fellow with the Stimson Center.

Top News and Analysis

Iran Fires at Apparent Israeli Attack Drones near Isfahan Air Base and Nuclear Site, AP
An apparent Israeli drone attack on Iran saw troops fire air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site early Friday morning near the central city of Isfahan, an assault coming in retaliation for Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on Israel. No Iranian official directly acknowledged the possibility that Israel had attacked, and the Israeli military did not respond to a request for comment.

The US Vetoes Resolution To Upgrade Palestine’s UN Membership, Time Magazine
The US was the only nation in the 15-member UN Security Council to vote against the resolution. Twelve — including Russia, China, France, and Japan — voted in favor, while two — the UK and Switzerland—abstained. Riyad Mansour, a Palestinian-American diplomat and the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, thanked those who voted in favor of the request and reiterated his people’s resolve. “The fact that this resolution did not pass will not break our will, and it will not defeat our determination.”

Blinken Is Sitting on Staff Recommendations to Sanction Israeli Military Units Linked to Killings or Rapes, ProPublica
The State Department was reviewing several of the incidents but had not imposed sanctions because the US government treats Israel with unusual deference. Officials told ProPublica that the panel ultimately recommended that the secretary of state take action.

Israel’s Response to Iranian Attack Impacts Legitimacy of an Operation in Rafah, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el shares, “The important piece of information in the report is that the US has already granted its consent to the conquest of Rafah in exchange for a limited strike against Iran – apparently under an outline to be agreed between Washington and Jerusalem – thereby creating a trade-off between revenge in Iran and the conquest of Rafah, which is not based on real strategic needs or an orderly plan that could be expected to end the war, but based on an urgent need to contain and limit the consequences of unplanned actions.”


Tehran Plays Down Reported Israeli Attacks, Signals No Retaliation, Reuters
The limited scale of the attack and Iran’s muted response both appeared to signal a successful effort by diplomats who have been working round the clock to avert all-out war since an Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel last Saturday.

US And Allies Penalize Iran for Striking Israel, and Try to Avert War, The New York Times
It was far from clear whether the new restrictions would curb military activity by Iran, which has spent decades finding ways to skirt hundreds of Western sanctions, in part through illicit shipments of oil. It was also far from clear that the sanctions would persuade Israel not to strike Iran in retaliation for the attack on Saturday.

The Number of Hostages Still Alive in Gaza Is a Mystery, Officials Say, NBC News
Asked whether there was a firm estimate of how many hostages remained alive, a former senior Israeli official said: “Not at all. No one reliable has this information. It’s all speculation.” US officials accused Hamas of making demands that it knows are unobtainable.

UN Official Says Israel Systematically Impeding Gaza Aid Distribution, CBS News
More than 40% of the requests made by the UN’s humanitarian aid agency for Palestinians, UNOCHA, to transport supplies through Israeli checkpoints inside Gaza were turned down last week, the agency’s boss told CBS News on Wednesday.

CIA Director Blames Hamas for Stalled Peace Talks, The New York Times
“It was a deep disappointment to get a negative reaction from Hamas,” said Mr. Burns, speaking at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. “Right now, it’s that negative reaction that really is standing in the way of innocent civilians in Gaza getting humanitarian relief that they so desperately need.”

NYPD Breaks up Pro-Palestinian Protest at Columbia University, NPR
The school’s student-run newspaper, the Columbia Spectator, reported that “over 100 individuals” were arrested at the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” beginning around 1 pm. The protest and encampment were organized by activists who want Columbia University to divest from companies that operate in Israel. Protesters also want a cease-fire in Gaza and the creation of a Palestinian state.

US and Israel Hold High-level Talks on Rafah Amid Iran Tensions, Axios
The Biden administration is still concerned that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would lead to massive civilian casualties, the US officials said. The officials flatly denied reports that Biden administration gave a green-light for an operation in Rafah if Israel declines to strike Iran in retaliation for last weekend’s unprecedented attack.

Opinion and Analysis

How Gaza’s Largest Mental-Health Organization Works Through War, The New Yorker
In an interview with Isaac Chotiner, Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme shares, “If someone was traumatized or just pulled from under the rubble, how can you help him or help her if the bombing sounds continue? It’s really very difficult. It’s a basic and essential thing for our work—to have a ceasefire, to allow some feeling of safety for children and their parents. The population is struggling with very basic needs. Struggling to hold the tent when it’s windy, struggling to find a place where you can just find a good meal, trying to find some resources, trying to find some food that is donated by different kitchens, for example.”

How Joe Biden Lost His Way in Gaza, The New York Times
Nicholas Kristof writes, “Biden had many crucial decisions to make in the weeks after the Oct. 7 attack, but perhaps none were more consequential than this: how to manage his relationship with Netanyahu as the war in Gaza got underway. How much should he defer to Netanyahu, how much should he embrace him, how much should he impose consequences when Netanyahu ignored his suggestions of restraint? Biden had choices, and as Indyk correctly observed, Biden thought that the best way to move Netanyahu was with an arm on his shoulder. That was, I believe, the first of Biden’s miscalculations.”

Qatar Is Part of the Solution to Gaza War, Not the Problem, Haaretz
Alon Pinkas writes, “Qatar’s humanitarian and mediation roles in Gaza are not new, are relatively transparent and are indispensable. The Qataris view mediation as a cultural foreign policy instrument and a political quality that allows a very small country to navigate its way through a tumultuous geopolitical environment. If Israel has a better candidate for mediation in mind, fine. If it does not, it would be wise to stop the attacks. They achieve absolutely nothing.”