News Roundup for April 8, 2021

April 8, 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

Biden reverses Trump’s aid cuts to Palestinians, including to UNRWA, Axios
The step was taken over Israeli opposition and fulfills a campaign promise from President Biden as he attempts to reengage with the Palestinians. The U.S. will provide more than $235 million in total aid, of which $150 million will go to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports Palestinian refugees.

U.S. prepared to lift sanctions inconsistent with Iran nuclear deal, Reuters
The United States is prepared to remove sanctions on Iran to resume compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, including those that are inconsistent with the 2015 pact, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday, without providing details. “We are prepared to take the steps necessary to return to compliance with the JCPOA, including by lifting sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA. I am not in a position here to give you chapter and verse on what those might be,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. He was referring to the pact formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Sirens blare as Israel comes to a standstill in remembrance of Holocaust victims, Times of Israel
Israel came to a standstill at 10 a.m. on Thursday as sirens wailed throughout the country in memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II. The annual Holocaust Remembrance Day is one of the most solemn days on Israel’s national calendar, with much of the country all but shutting down for those two minutes to honor those who suffered under the Nazi killing machine.


Biden restores $200m in US aid to Palestinians slashed by Trump, The Guardian
“[We] plan to restart US economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people,” the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said in a statement.

Israel slams Biden’s resumption of UNRWA funding for Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post
“Israel’s position is that the organization in its current form perpetuates the conflict and does not contribute to its resolution,” the Foreign Ministry stated.

After restoring aid to Palestinians, Biden endorses two-state solution, Times of Israel
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday promised to press for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he restored aid to the Palestinians. In a call with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, a longstanding US ally who recently faced down dissent within the royal family, Biden “affirmed that the United States supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” a White House statement said.

Settler Group Takes Over Three East Jerusalem Buildings, Expanding Jewish Enclave, Haaretz
Dozens of Israeli settlers moved into three building in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan in the early morning on Thursday, the latest move in settler group Ateret Cohanim’s years-long campaign to expand Jewish presence in that part of the city.

Scoop: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to visit Israel next week, Axios
This will be the first Cabinet-level visit to the Middle East from the Biden administration, which has been shifting attention away from the region and toward China and Russia.

Israeli Settler Assaults Left-wing Activist After Dispute on West Bank Grazing Land, Haaretz
An Israeli settler assaulted prominent left-wing activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman on Tuesday near the unauthorized Ma’aleh Ahuvia outpost in the West Bank, following a dispute over grazing land.

Netanyahu: We won’t be bound by ‘Iran deal that threatens us with annihilation’, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Wednesday that Israel will not be bound by a revitalized nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, declaring that the Jewish state is obligated only to defending itself against those who seek to destroy it.

Top Court Allows Minister to Withhold Israel Prize Over BDS Accusations, Haaretz
The Israeli High Court of Justice on Thursday accepted the education minister’s request to reconsider yet again a decision to award the Israel Prize to Prof. Oded Goldreich over his support for boycotting an Israeli university located in a West Bank settlement.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Osirak Option, Foreign Policy
Jay Mens writes, “As Netanyahu forms his government, the parallels between the politics that led to a strike on Iraq’s nuclear facility and those that could result in targeting Iran today are clear.”

The Latest Reported Israeli Attack on an Iranian Ship Seems Like a Deliberate Escalation, Haaretz
Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich write, “The Iranian ship Saviz, which was hit by a mine in the Red Sea on Tuesday in an attack attributed to Israel, was considered ‘a mothership’ for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, setting the latest incident apart from previous ones. It’s a part of a series of similar attacks against Iranian ships in the Mediterranean and Red Sea, and the second one reported in the past month, since the Wall Street Journal reported about a seaborne campaign Israel has launched against Iran.”

In 10-year low, Israel censored an average of four articles a day in 2020, +972 Mag
Haggai Matar writes, “2020 was a slow year for the IDF Censor. In fact, with an average of only one entire story banned from publication every three days, it was the censor’s slowest year in a decade. Throughout the year, the IDF Censor barred the full publication of 116 stories, while redacting an additional 1,403 pieces, according to figures released by the censor at the request of +972 Magazine and the Movement for the Freedom of Information, an Israeli NGO that works to establish governmental transparency.”

U.S. Conservatives Gave the Israeli Right Huge Political Power. When Will the Left Do the Same?, Haaretz
Rami Hod writes, “Funded by ideologically-driven American conservatives, the new right is redrawing Israel’s political map and government policies. The center-left needs to start adopting similar practices or risk being left behind.”

Two-Way Street for Yom Hashoah: Never Again is Not Just a Slogan, J Street
Rabbi Lisa Kingston writes, “Each year in our synagogue’s religious school, our middle school students are introduced to the period of history when Jews lost civil rights, places of worship and learning, homes, family and lives at the hands of the Nazis. The Shoah, the systematic attempt to annihilate the Jewish people, forever haunts our community while also offering us inspiration to act for justice. Never Again is not just a slogan, but a call to action for Jews to stop hatred of all kinds. “