News Roundup for August 20, 2021

August 20, 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

53 Dem lawmakers say US must ensure Israel, Egypt let aid into ‘occupied Gaza’, Times of Israel
Fifty-three Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have penned a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the Biden administration to ensure that Israel and Egypt allow humanitarian aid into the “occupied Gaza Strip.” […] The dovish Middle East lobby J Street, which helped organize the letter, commends the effort, noting that “people in Gaza currently have severely limited access to clean water, food, medicine and electricity. Humanitarian assistance is urgently needed, and the administration must do all that it can to ensure that it is delivered as soon as possible.”

The alleged American abandonment of Afghanistan, Jerusalem Post
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “The military has a defensive (the Israel Defense Forces, remember?) and deterrent role, and the use of force is occasionally justified. But it is important to realize that to achieve our long-term goals we cannot rely on military power alone; we must strengthen the muscle that we have allowed to atrophy over the years of diplomacy and soft power.”

Top News and Analysis

Deal Provides Aid to Gazans, but Reconstruction Is Elusive, New York Times
Millions in aid will be funneled to impoverished families in the blockaded Gaza Strip under a deal reached by the United Nations and Qatar on Thursday, marking a significant advance in efforts to firm up a cease-fire between Israel and the militant group Hamas. But the agreement does not address the broader issue of reconstructing Gaza, which suffered immense destruction in the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in May, according to a diplomat briefed on the deal.

Lebanon complains to UN over alleged Israeli strikes from its airspace, Times of Israel
Lebanon complained to the United Nations after Israeli jets allegedly violated its airspace to carry out an airstrike on targets in Syria late Thursday, Beirut’s defense minister said. Zeina Akar said Israeli planes “blatantly violated Lebanon’s airspace at low altitude, causing a state of panic among citizens,” Reuters reported early Friday.

Exclusive: Biden’s Iran envoy calls nuclear deal’s fate ‘one big question mark’, Politico
Robert Malley, the man President Joe Biden has tasked with putting the United States back into the Iran nuclear deal, isn’t supremely confident he’ll succeed in his mission. “It’s just one big question mark,” he told NatSec Daily during an exclusive interview in his State Department office. Rejoining the multinational accord “is not something that we can fully control,” he said, citing a lack of engagement from the Iranians.


Europeans express ‘grave concern’ over IAEA report on Iran, AP
The foreign ministries of Germany, France and Britain on Thursday expressed “grave concern” over the latest report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog that said Iran continues to produce uranium metal, which can be used in the production of a nuclear bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna confirmed earlier this week that Iran has produced uranium metal enriched up to 20% for the first time, and has significantly increased its production capacity of uranium enriched up to 60%.

Want to report settler violence? You may soon be under investigation, +972 Magazine
Palestinians and activists in the West Bank who file complaints of settler violence are finding themselves the targets of police interrogations.

4,000 Gaza students displaced after Israel attacks, Al Jazeera
Palestinians and activists in the West Bank who file complaints of settler violence are finding themselves the targets of police interrogations.

Germany’s Merkel Set for Three-day Israel Visit Just Weeks Before Stepping Down, Haaretz
German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to travel to Israel at the end of the month for a three-day visit. She will hold talks with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on August 29, and meet with President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, among others, deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said on Friday.

Larry David reportedly yelled at Alan Dershowitz over his ties to Trump and Republicans, JTA
Alan Dershowitz’s Martha’s Vineyard vacations are still prettay, prettay uncomfortable. Larry David “screamed” at the prominent legal commentator at a popular convenience store on the island, the New York Post reported Wednesday, over Dershowitz’s ties to the Donald Trump camp in recent years.

Opinion and Analysis

COVID Haunts Bennett at Home, but a Warm Welcome Awaits Him in Washington, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “As someone close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told me this week, except for the delta variant, things aren’t looking bad at all. The government is functioning. The cabinet ministers are working. The cabinet unanimously passed the budget, which will also be passed in the Knesset. Reforms are gearing up. The cabinet of extremes, which initially looked like a car wreck foretold – with many rookies and a prime minister who entered with hardly any public support – is chugging along in relative harmony without any bloody clashes.”

Israel’s prime minister gets a hard lesson in pandemic politics, The Economist
The Economist writes, “The Delta variant may have entered Israel before Naftali Bennett became prime minister on June 13th, but he has taken a beating over his handling of the outbreak. The government ‘received the country in the best state in the world in regard to coronavirus,’ says Binyamin Netanyahu, who preceded Mr Bennett and is now leader of the opposition. The prime minister, says Mr Netanyahu, has spoiled that success.”

Bennett Is Going to Washington. But Who Will He Represent There?, Haaretz
Israel Harel writes, “The ultimate question: What policy will Naftali Bennett present in Washington? Someone close to him told me that the only leeway in authority his partners grant him, and even that (sometimes) less out of love for him than hatred for his rivals, focus on a single area: fighting the coronavirus pandemic. When it comes to foreign policy, the real decision-makers are Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. To their left are the heads of the Labor Party, Meretz and the United Arab List. The leaders of Yesh Atid and Kahol Lavan have a great deal of influence. Gideon Sa’ar of New Hope barely says anything.”