News Roundup for April 5, 2024

April 5, 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

Analysis: Does Biden Have a Jewish Voter Problem?, Forward
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, called it Republican “wishful thinking” that Jewish Americans will switch parties because of Israel. “The president, standing against some actions and policies of the Netanyahu government even as he supports Israel and its people, only further aligns him with the Jewish electorate,” said Ben-Ami.

Top News and Analysis

Biden’s Ultimatum to Bibi: Change Gaza Policy or We Will, Axios
President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when they spoke on Thursday that “an immediate ceasefire” is needed to “protect innocent civilians” in Gaza and improve the humanitarian situation, the White House said. Biden is making his strongest push for an end to the fighting in Gaza in six months of war, and warning for the first time that US policy on the war will depend on Israel’s adherence to his demands. Biden told Netanyahu that Israel must “announce and implement” a series of “concrete and measurable steps” to protect aid workers and address humanitarian suffering.

Israel Agrees to Open Erez Crossing for Gaza Aid After Biden Pressure, The New York Times
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council said that Israel had agreed to open the Erez crossing to allow aid into northern Gaza, to use the port of Ashdod to direct aid into the enclave and to significantly increase deliveries from Jordan — “at the president’s request.” “These steps,” the spokeswoman, Adrienne Watson, said, “must now be fully and rapidly implemented.” The Israeli government did not say when it would open Erez crossing. It said only that Israel would allow the “temporary delivery” of aid through the Erez crossing and the port of Ashdod.

Hamas Rejects Gaza Cease-Fire Proposal, Saying Israel Refuses to Budge, Haaretz
Hamdan said Hamas had once again told the mediators what its demands were for a deal: an end to the combat, a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the return of all displaced Gazans to their homes, particularly northern Gaza, and more aid. He said Israel continues to reject these demands, especially ending the war, he added.

Families of People Kidnapped by Hamas Deplore Gaza Violence but Demand Release of Hostages, NBC News
Gillian Kaye, the stepmother of Israeli American hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen, denounced the “horrific loss of life” in the Gaza Strip since the start of Israel’s retaliatory military campaign, saying in part: “How can you not look at [Gaza] and not feel unbelievable sympathy for the suffering that’s going on there?” But amid the brutal toll of the Israel-Hamas war, Kaye said she is concerned the world is starting to forget about the people who were violently captured in southern Israel on Oct. 7, igniting a brutal conflict that has devastated the Gaza Strip, jeopardized the stability of the Middle East and provoked intense political divides around the world.

Israel’s Top Court: Not Enough Humanitarian Aid Is Getting Into the Gaza Strip, Haaretz
During the High Court hearing on a petition filed by human rights organizations, justices asked the state to explain why more aid is not being allowed into the Strip. “The overall number is insufficient,” said Justice Vogelman. Justice Amit wondered about the limit set on the number of trucks entering the northern Gaza Strip. “I don’t understand why there aren’t more trucks directly entering that area,” he said.


Israeli Military Fires Two Senior Officers as Report Finds Strike on Aid Workers Was in ‘Serious Violation of Commands’, CNN
The IDF said Friday that “those who approved the strike were convinced that they were targeting armed Hamas operatives,” calling the attack “a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification.” The report said the strike was carried out in “serious violation of the commands and IDF Standard Operating Procedures.” In addition to the two dismissed officers, other IDF officials were formally reprimanded.

US Plans to Label Goods From Jewish Settlements in Occupied West Bank, The Financial Times
The final go-ahead for the move, and its timing, have not been decided but it is intended to increase pressure on Israel over rising settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, and comes amid US frustration with the Jewish state’s conduct of the war in Gaza. The move would reverse a policy introduced by the Donald Trump administration in 2020.

US Approved More Bombs to Israel on Day of World Central Kitchen Strikes, The Washington Post
The State Department approved the transfer of more than 1,000 MK82 500-pound bombs, more than 1,000 small-diameter bombs, and fuses for MK80 bombs, all from authorizations granted by Congress several years before the latest hostilities between Israel and Hamas began, said the US officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive arms deals.

Johnson Faces New Pressure From Democrats on Foreign Aid, Axios
Johnson will need Democrats to vote overwhelmingly for any foreign aid bills under a process that requires them to attain a two-thirds majority. Many House Democrats cited the lack of humanitarian aid for Palestinians as their basis for voting against a standalone Israel aid bill in February.

Former US Diplomat Argues for Stronger Tactics on Israel [Audio], NPR
Days after Israeli bombs hit World Central Kitchen aid workers, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly spoke with the Council on Foreign Relations ex-president Richard Haass about the US and Israel’s relationship.

US Looking at Report That Israel Used AI to Identify Bombing Targets in Gaza, Reuters
The US was looking into a media report that the Israeli military has been using artificial intelligence to help identify bombing targets in Gaza, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told CNN on Thursday.

Former Supreme Court Judges Say UK Arming Israel Breaches International Law, The Guardian
In a letter to the prime minister, the signatories, who also include former court of appeal judges and more than 60 KCs, say that the present situation in Gaza is “catastrophic” and that given the International Court of Justice finding that there is a plausible risk of genocide being committed, the UK is legally obliged to act to prevent it.

Netanyahu Says Israel Acting Against Iran, Will Defend Itself, Reuters
Israel braced on Thursday for the possibility of a retaliatory attack after its suspected killing of Iranian generals in Damascus this week, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country would harm “whoever harms us or plans to harm us.”

Blinken Says Israeli Offers to Increase Flow of Aid to Gaza Are Welcome but May Not Be Sufficient, Associated Press
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the measures the Israeli government has announced to expand the flow of aid into Gaza are welcome but may not be enough to meet the Biden administration’s demands for dramatic improvements in humanitarian conditions in the territory.

Tide Turns Sharply Against Israel’s War in Gaza, Axios
Israel’s killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers has the makings of a watershed moment in Washington, rapidly accelerating a months-long decline in U.S. support for the war in Gaza.

Opinion and Analysis

‘We’re Sad to Be Here’: What the Jerusalem Tent Camp Anti-Netanyahu Protest Really Was, Haaretz
Ilan, whose father-in-law Amiram Cooper is still in captivity, shares with Haaretz, “We didn’t want to get to this point. We know that we’re taking a risk by being here. We won’t be part of the consensus. But we think that in the end, the most important thing is doing the right thing for our loved ones, and we’ll do everything possible to bring them back. The way we understand it, to be here, to protest that Bibi needs to [give up power], is the right thing to do. It has nothing to do with what I did or didn’t believe before October 7. It has everything to do with the fact that we don’t believe [Netanyahu] can bring them back.”

Israel Offers a Glimpse Into the Terrifying World of Military AI, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “This may help explain the scale of destruction unleashed by Israel across Gaza as it seeks to punish Hamas, as well as the high casualty count. Earlier rounds of Israel-Hamas conflict saw the Israel Defense Forces go about a more protracted, human-driven process of selecting targets based on intelligence and other data. At a moment of profound Israeli anger and trauma in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, Lavender could have helped Israeli commanders come up with a rapid, sweeping program of retribution.”

Biden Is Stuck With Netanyahu. How Does He Move Forward?, The Chicago Tribune
Storer H. Rowley shares, “[Biden] could have slow-walked military assistance, but he hasn’t, said Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He could have demanded a complete cease-fire, but he hasn’t, preferring to urge Israel’s government to go ahead with a Rafah operation to root out Hamas — but only if they can do it cautiously with the least harm to Palestinian civilians. The US abstention on the UN resolution was a rebuke more than a change in US policy.”