News Roundup for April 26, 2021

April 26, 2021

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J Street in the News

US aid should serve security purposes only, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “The Biden administration is returning to professional diplomacy in its conduct around the world. That means also using aid as a component of an entire diplomatic arsenal to implement policy, not as an altruistic charity, but as a tool for advancing American values ​​and interests. However, with regards to the military aid to Israel there are unjustified expectations the US will apply different standards. […] It is time for Israel’s leaders to ask, why would the US, which has returned to its traditional position of seeing the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the de facto annexation taking place in the “territories” as illegal, immoral and detrimental to US targets in the region, agree to fund it? Why will aid designed to promote the security of the State of Israel be used for activities that harm their vision of Israel’s security and its future continue to be tolerated by the US?”

America’s Unconditional Love for Israel Must End, Haaretz
“Everyone knows that people do not have to support their country’s current regime and its actions unconditionally. If this principle applies to individuals, it most certainly applies to international relations. A country does not have to keep lending its support to another country regardless of the latter’s actions. In fact, it would be plainly immoral to do so. Yet, this is a cornerstone of today’s U.S.-Israel relations. […] The tide may be turning. At the annual J Street conference this week, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren called for restrictions on U.S. military aid to Israel. The recent bill, introduced by several Democrats in Congress, would prohibit U.S. funding of certain Israeli occupation-related activities.

Top News and Analysis

EXPLAINER: New players add volatility in Jerusalem tensions, AP
The holy city of Jerusalem, a tinderbox of competing religious and political claims, has repeatedly triggered bouts of Israeli-Palestinian violence. This time around, there have been some additional sparks, including Jewish extremists who, emboldened by their political patrons’ recent election to parliament, staged a provocative march to Jerusalem’s walled Old City chanting “death to the Arabs.”

Virus surge in crowded Gaza threatens to overwhelm hospitals, Washington Post
More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, some of the worst fears are coming true in the crowded Gaza Strip: A sudden surge in infections and deaths is threatening to overwhelm hospitals weakened by years of conflict and border closures. Gaza’s main treatment center for COVID-19 patients warns that oxygen supplies are dwindling fast. In another hospital, coronavirus patients are packed three to a room.

White House says Israeli delegation will not change US position on Iran deal, Times of Israel
Israel’s delegation to Washington DC will not change the United States position on rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the White House press secretary said in a briefing Friday. On Monday, a high-level Israeli delegation will travel to Washington to voice objection to the US return to the Iran nuclear deal, but not to hold talks on the details


Israeli police remove East Jerusalem barricades after protests, Al Jazeera
Israeli police on Sunday removed barricades from near the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, in a move apparently aimed at easing tensions after days of violent confrontations. The barricading of the area near the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem’s walled Old City – a popular gathering place for Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan – was partly blamed for several nights of tensions.

Israeli ambassador: Israel will not abide by any Iran nuclear deal short of an end to enrichment, JTA
Israel will not abide by any renewed Iran nuclear deal that does not entirely end the country’s capacity for fissile material enrichment, its ambassador to the United Nations said.

Palestinian Authority reportedly set to announce election delay within days, Times of Israel
The Palestinian Authority has decided to postpone the upcoming elections and has informed representatives of the international community as well as Egypt of its decision, Army Radio reported Monday. It is expected there will be an official announcement from Ramallah in the coming days, and the Kan public broadcaster reported that the Palestinian leadership was set to meet on the matter on Thursday.

Israel Shuts Gaza Fishing Zone After Third Night of Rockets, Haaretz
Israel closed off Gaza’s fishing zone completely on Monday after a third night of rocket attacks from the enclave.Militants launched five rockets from Gaza into southern Israel on Sunday night, the military said, following two nights of rocket fire that intelligence officials have linked to violence in Jerusalem.

In further blow to Netanyahu, key panel set to form Knesset committees, Times of Israel
A key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conceded Sunday that Knesset committees will be staffed based on a proposal submitted by the bloc of parties seeking to oust the premier. Likud MK Miki Zohar, who chairs the Arrangements Committee that controls the legislative agenda in the new parliament until a government is formed, said in a statement that his panel would convene on Monday morning to vote on the “change bloc’s” proposal.

Senate passes legislation to improve hate crime reporting, JTA
The Senate passed a bill to help law enforcement respond to hate crimes and report them to the federal government, alongside legislation that specifically combats anti-Asian hate crimes. As anti-Semitism has risen in recent years, national Jewish organizations have urged the government to improve the hate crime reporting process.

Opinion and Analysis

I write to remember the brutality of Jewish violence I saw in Jerusalem, 972 Magazine
Orly Noy writes, “Since the beginning of Ramadan this month, Jerusalem Police have banned Palestinians from sitting on the wide steps at the entrance to Damascus Gate, the main plaza in the Old City, and holding evening gatherings in honor of the holy month. This arbitrary decision, for which no plausible explanation was given, have ignited widespread Palestinian protest. The police, as if just waiting for the perfect opportunity, has turned the place into a nightly battlefield.”

Will the Natanz incident produce maximum diplomacy?, Responsible Statecraft
Daniel Brumberg writes, “Just two days after what appeared to be an Israeli-backed sabotage of Iran’s Natanz enrichment facilities, The Washington Post’s editorial board declared that “Mr. Biden should persist with his diplomatic strategy—and hope that the Iranian regime chooses to make a distinction between Israel and the United States.” This blunt statement highlights the widening breach between President Joe Biden, who wants to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is resolved to undermine the United States’ indirect talks with Iran that began in Vienna on March 8. With Iranian and American officials reporting that this first round of talks had made real (if slow) progress, the timing of the Sunday, April 11, Natanz attack hardly seemed accidental.”

What is Israel’s policy during US-Iran negotiations?, Jerusalem Post
Ehud Eilam writes, “The Biden administration wishes to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. Israel is of the same mindset, and believes the United States should impose tough, long-term restrictions that will serve this purpose. Israel is also concerned about Iran’s long-range missile program and generally aggressive policy in the Middle East. However, Israel may not be able to tackle all of its concerns at once. More likely than not, Israel may have to focus on one issue, Iran’s nuclear program, at the expense of other matters.”