News Roundup for August 24, 2021

August 24, 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

J Street Supports Robust Evacuation and Resettlement of Afghan Refugees, J Street
As the tense and tragic situation in Afghanistan continues to unfold, J Street is deeply moved and concerned by the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees who are desperately seeking to flee the Taliban takeover of their country. As an organization firmly rooted in Jewish values and committed to the rights of immigrants and refugees, we urge the Biden administration and Congress to secure the safe and speedy evacuation and resettlement of as many Afghans seeking safety as possible, along with any American citizens and other foreign nationals remaining in the country.

Ahead of PM Bennett’s White House visit, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “Bennett has an opportunity and a commitment to open a new chapter between Israel and the US after his predecessor inflicted dire damage on Israel’s relations with the Democratic Party and with the American Jewish community. It is incumbent on Bennett to maintain the nationally responsible line he has adopted thus far and avoid missing the opportunity to do so.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli strikes hit Gaza; Palestinian teen killed in Nablus, AP
Israeli warplanes struck targets in Gaza overnight, drawing machine-gun fire from Hamas in the heaviest cross-border fighting since an 11-day war in May. In the occupied West Bank, officials said a Palestinian teen was killed in a clash Tuesday with the Israeli military. Palestinian authorities said the 15-year-old boy died after being shot in the head during clashes with soldiers in the city of Nablus. The Israeli military said soldiers were carrying out an arrest raid in the Balata refugee camp when they came under attack from nearby rooftops.

Israeli PM will press Biden to prioritize Iran in White House visit, Axios
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will introduce a new Iran policy when he meets with President Biden on Thursday. Why it matters: With nuclear talks stalled and the White House consumed by the crisis in Afghanistan, Israeli officials worry that Iran will continue to develop its nuclear program without any pressure from the U.S. or its European allies.

Hamas and Israeli Right Push Bennett to Unnecessary Gaza Offensive, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “Somewhere between Tel Aviv and Hawaii, a new campaign was concocted on the back of Naftali Bennett. The prime minister, only partly to due to bad luck, fell straight into the trap. One can only hope that this incident, which was artfully exploited by the opposition and reported in a populist, excited manner by the media, will not lead in the end to an unnecessary escalation in the Gaza Strip.”


Israel Set to Approve Seizure of Palestinian Land in West Bank for Settlement Expansion, Haaretz
Israel is expected to approve Wednesday a plan to expropriate 68 dunams (17 acres) of land owned by Palestinians to widen a West Bank road that connects a central Israeli city to some Jewish settlements. The anticipated move will take place just one day before Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington on Thursday.

In Shift, Israel Quietly Allows Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount, New York Times
The Israeli government has long forbidden Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, a site sacred to Jews and Muslims. […] But recently the government has quietly allowed increasing numbers of Jews to pray there, a shift that could aggravate the instability in East Jerusalem and potentially lead to religious conflict.

Iran to move away from nuclear-centered foreign policy, Al Monitor
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Raisi’s pick for foreign minister, spoke on the parliament floor Aug. 22 to present his vision and plan. In short, Amir-Abdollahian and the new Iranian administration, in contrast the previous administration, will not seek to establish a foreign policy based on a nuclear deal with the West.

UN, EU condemn Palestinian Authority over activist arrests, Al Jazeera
The UN and the EU have expressed concern over a spate of arrests of activists by Palestinian security forces, as the death of a leading campaigner in custody sparked persistent protests. Demonstrators in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have demanded justice since the June death of Nizar Banat – a leading critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its 86-year-old president Mahmoud Abbas – who died in custody after security forces stormed his home in the flashpoint city of Hebron and dragged him away.

Israel lowers age of eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster to 30 – Health Ministry, Reuters
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Raisi’s pick for foreign minister, spoke on the parliament floor Aug. 22 to present his vision and plan. In short, Amir-Abdollahian and the new Iranian administration, in contrast the previous administration, will not seek to establish a foreign policy based on a nuclear deal with the West.

Opinion and Analysis

Is the Two-State Solution Still Viable?, Foreign Affairs
We at Foreign Affairs have recently published a number of pieces on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the viability of the two-state solution. To complement these articles, we decided to ask a broad pool of experts for their take. As with previous surveys, we approached dozens of authorities with specialized expertise relevant to the question at hand, together with leading generalists in the field. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to rate their confidence level in their opinion.

The Palestinian cause no longer binds the Arab world, The Economist
The Economist writes, “The Palestinian cause, once a central issue to the Arab world, is now just one among many. No Arab state has fought Israel in almost 50 years, and no non-Palestinian group since 2006. In effect, the Arab-Israeli conflict, which once did so much to stitch together the region, no longer meaningfully exists.”

Iran’s political shake-up and Ebrahim Raisi as president, Responsible Statecraft
Adnan Tabatabai writes, “Restoring the JCPOA to its full functioning would create a precedent that would serve as a solid argument in favour of continued engagement. […] The shift to the far right in Iran does not appear to have gone too far for the JCPOA to remain on the table. The opportunity to restore it should be seized.”

Them and Us: How America Lets Its Enemies Hijack Its Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs
Ben Rhodes writes, “No twenty-first-century event has shaped the United States and its role in the world as much as 9/11. The scale of the U.S. response remade American government, foreign policy, politics, and society in ways that continue to generate aftershocks. […] It is no coincidence that the governments of key U.S. partners in the war on terror—not just Egypt and Saudi Arabia but also Israel and Turkey, among others—have grown more repressive since 9/11, contributing to the rising tide of authoritarianism around the world that the United States wants to roll back.”