News Roundup for April 2, 2021

April 2, 2021

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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.

Top News and Analysis

Hopes rise of breakthrough on US return to Iran nuclear deal, The Guardian
A potential breakthrough in the apparently deadlocked efforts to bring the US back into the nuclear deal with Iran is on the horizon after secret diplomatic talks in Frankfurt this week. The joint commission, the body that brings together the existing signatories to the deal, will meet virtually on Friday to discuss the outcome of Monday’s meeting amid growing optimism that unexpected progress has been made.

Islamist Leader Offered the Jewish Right an Olive Branch, but Can It Get Him Any Results?, Haaretz
Jack Khoury writes, “Israelis are used to turning on the evening news at 8 P.M. and finding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s face there. But on Thursday evening, instead of watching the prime minister enumerate his achievements in the war on the coronavirus, viewers saw the face of United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas – flanked by the green flags of the Islamic Movement – appealing to the Israeli public in Hebrew and during prime time. It was an extraordinary sight. ‘I, Mansour Abbas, a member of the Islamic Movement, an Arab and a proud Muslim, extend my hand … to create an opportunity for a shared life, in the holy and blessed land for the followers of the three religions and both peoples.’”

States’ attempts to roll back voting rights betray American values — and Jewish ones, The Forward
Daniel Isaak writes, “I always thought it was tragic that comparatively few American citizens took seriously their right to vote. Now, rather than celebrating after the 2020 presidential election had the largest turnout in more than a century, 43 state legislatures are considering 250 new regulations to make it more difficult to cast a ballot. These efforts are entirely attributable to Republican lawmakers ill-founded reactions to former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated and repudiated claims of voter fraud.”


Netanyahu’s far-right allies seethe after Islamist MK’s call for cooperation, Times of Israel
A primetime speech by Ra’am party chairman Mansour Abbas, in which he called for political cooperation between Jews and Arabs, drew praise from some left-wing and right-wing politicians on Thursday night. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right allies, however, were seething, with Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich reportedly refusing to take the premier’s phone calls to discuss the prospect of forming a right-wing government supported by Ra’am.

Biden administration quietly ramping up aid to Palestinians, AP
The Biden administration is quietly ramping up assistance to the Palestinians after former President Donald Trump cut off nearly all aid. Since taking office with a pledge to reverse many of Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian decisions, the administration has allocated nearly $100 million for the Palestinians, only a small portion of which has been publicized.

As deadline passes, Israel is left without a justice minister, Times of Israel
Israel was left without a justice minister as of early Friday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who is on trial for alleged corruption — refused to enable a permanent appointment for the post.

US must rejoin Iran deal ‘as quickly as possible’ – US lawmakers, The Jerusalem Post
Khanna said he was disappointed by the stalemate: “I don’t understand what the delay is,” he said. “Iran had 102 kilograms of enriched uranium when Trump took office; they have 2.5 tons of enriched uranium now. It has been a colossal failure, the maximum pressure campaign, and we continue to have the status quo. We ought to lift the sanctions, get back in the deal, and we can always have snapback sanctions.”

If at fourth he can’t succeed, Netanyahu signals he’s ready to try, try again, Times of Israel
In all, 53% of Israelis want him out of office, the poll found, compared to 41% who do not. It’s a figure similar to other polls, including by Kan and Channel 12, that asked the same question over the past two weeks.

Biden Plans to Repeal Trump-Era Sanctions on ICC, Foreign Policy
The Biden administration plans as early as this week to revoke a Trump-era executive order levying sanctions on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a top deputy, removing another source of friction in U.S. relations with key allies, including many of America’s European counterparts, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

Who will he back as PM? Bennett to meet with Netanyahu, then Lapid, Times of Israel
Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to hold negotiations on possibly forming a coalition government, in their first sit-down since last week’s inconclusive elections.

Opinion and Analysis

How Vaccine Nationalism Could Extend the Pandemic’s Run, Bloomberg
James Paton writes, “A study by Northeastern University in Boston concluded that monopolization of vaccines by wealthy nations — what’s known as ‘vaccine nationalism’ — could cause almost twice as many deaths as distributing them equally. One risk in allowing the SARS-CoV-2 virus to remain rampant in some parts of the world is that it will have more scope to develop dangerous variants, which will inevitably make their way elsewhere and may not be neutralized by existing vaccines.”

Israel and the ICC: Denial Isn’t Just a River in Egypt, Haaretz
Alon Pinkas writes, “Within a week, Israel must decide whether to ignore or cooperate with the court’s probe into alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza: Either have zero impact or contradict its opposition to the ICC’s very authority.”

In speech to Jewish Israel, Abbas crowns himself new leader of country’s Arabs, Times of Israel
Aaron Boxerman writes, “Islamist Ra’am’s support of a right-wing coalition would be astonishing. But if the center-left had been more willing to buck norms, Ayman Odeh may have been in Abbas’s shoes today.”