News Roundup for April 5, 2021

April 5, 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.

J Street in the News

ICC hopes for ‘new phase’ as Biden lifts sanctions on prosecutor probing Israel, Times of Israel
“The dovish J Street lobby organization welcomed the move. ‘By removing these sanctions, President Biden, Secretary Blinken and their team are sending an important message that whatever disagreements they may have with the ICC or other international bodies, they will not act to improperly interfere with their proceedings or to intimidate and bully their personnel,’ J Street said in a statement. The group has previously said it takes no position on the merits of the ICC probe.”

Biden Administration Lifts Trump Sanctions on ICC Officials, Haaretz
“The pro-Israel, left-wing J Street group welcomed the Biden adminsitration’s decision on Friday, saying the administration was ‘sending an important message that whatever disagreements they may have with the ICC or other international bodies, they will not act to improperly interfere with their proceedings or to intimidate and bully their personnel.’ They also criticized ‘right-wing advocates’ for ‘shamefully’ urging Biden to maintain sanctions, offering implicit criticism of AIPAC’s tactics. ‘We appreciate that the administration rejected such a harmful approach,’ J Street added.”

About collaboration with ideological opponents, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “As a Zionist, liberal, secular and opinionated person, I find myself in an unfamiliar situation. I am enthusiastic about the example of integration and pragmatism that Mansour Abbas provides us, although I strongly disagree with his views on most of the issues he promotes (except for the justifiable demand for equal rights for the Arab sector). I see Naftali Bennett’s political doctrine as a disaster to the future of Zionism, because it will lead to a bi-national catastrophe, but I really support a partnership with him in a coalition that will remove Netanyahu’s toxic and corrupt control of the Israeli politics.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu in court as Israel’s lawmakers mull over his political fate, The Guardian
Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to remain in power face a double-pronged challenge, with Israel’s prime minister back in a Jerusalem courtroom for his corruption trial while at the same time critical talks on his political future were held following last month’s inconclusive election. The witness testimony and evidence stage of a case assessing whether the 71-year-old leader is guilty of bribery, fraud and breach of trust – repeatedly delayed by the pandemic – began on Monday morning. Meanwhile, across town, the president, Reuven Rivlin, started key consultations at his residence with parliamentarians on how to form a government that could help save or end Netanyahu’s career.

Meeting parties, Rivlin says he ‘can’t currently see a way to form a coalition’, Times of Israel
Beginning an intensive day of meetings with political parties for consultations on each one’s preferred candidate for forming the next government, President Reuven Rivlin lamented Monday that “at the moment, I can’t see a way to form a coalition.” He also said if his first choice to form a government fails, he may send the mandate back to the Knesset to make a choice, rather than giving a second person a chance to do so first. And in stark comments, the president added that “after four election campaigns, democracy has exhausted itself.”


On defendant’s bench, Netanyahu accused of ‘severe governmental corruption’, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau appeared before the Jerusalem District Court on Monday at the start of the evidentiary stage of his corruption trial, with the lead prosecutor in the case accusing him of “a severe case of governmental corruption.”

Ex-Walla CEO: We nicknamed Netanyahu ‘Kim,’ for North Korea’s dictator, The Jerusalem Post
Former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua on Monday told the Jerusalem District Court presiding over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public corruption trial that he and a senior editor referred to Netanyahu as “Kim” in reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Yeshua said he and senior Walla editor Avi Alkalai did this because they felt dominated and in fear to tilt coverage toward Netanyahu.

Ahead of Israeli Holocaust remembrance, Blinken speaks of duty to stop evil, Times of Israel
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued a message Sunday ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, speaking of the responsibility to prevent “evil on a grand scale.”

Israeli PM back in court as parties weigh in on his fate, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was back in court for his corruption trial on Monday as the country’s political parties were set to weigh in on whether he should form the next government after a closely divided election or step down to focus on his legal woes.

Yamina nominates party head Bennett to be next PM, though no one else does, Times of Israel
The right-wing Yamina party nominated leader Naftali Bennett, a former right-wing ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the next prime minister Monday, deepening Israel’s political deadlock.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden reversed Trump’s sanctions on International Criminal Court officials. What happens now?, Washington Post
Kyle Rapp and Kelebogile Zvobgo writes, “On April 2, President Biden reversed the previous administration’s economic sanctions on International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and one of her deputies, Phakiso Mochochoko. The State Department also ended visa restrictions on ICC personnel. This comes after months of pressure on Biden, going back to the November election. Why were ICC officials sanctioned in the first place — and what was the response from the international community? And what does Biden’s reversal mean for the U.S.-ICC relationship?”

President Rivlin Finally Has the Chance to Take on Netanyahu, Haaretz
Amir Tibon writes, “President Rivlin began the process of consulting party representatives on Monday with a despondent statement: At the moment, he sees no path to forming a government. This was an obvious, but, at the same time, significant statement by the president, who is responsible for tasking a specific lawmaker with forming a government. Likud’s representatives told Rivlin that they will only support a government led by Netanyahu, even after Rivlin hinted that ‘ethical considerations,’ a veiled reference to Netanyahu’s legal troubles, could impact his decision.”