News Roundup for August 25, 2021

August 25, 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

In the US, Bennett believes he can succeed on Iran where Netanyahu failed, Times of Israel
Lazar Berman writes, “As he flies to Washington, DC, for his first visit as prime minister, Naftali Bennett believes that he can achieve two things that his predecessor was unable to: head off a deal between Iran and the US, and do so while avoiding harm to the US-Israel relationship and bipartisan support for the Jewish state. […] ‘There’s a mutual interest that Israel will be inside the conversation and not attacking from the outside, as was the case during the Netanyahu era,’ said Nadav Tamir, board member at the Mitvim regional policy think tank, and J Street Israel executive director.”

Top News and Analysis

New Israeli Leader Backs Hard Line on Iran but Softer Tone With U.S., New York Times
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, speaking days before his first meeting with President Biden as Israel’s new leader, said he would oppose American-led attempts to reinstate a lapsed nuclear agreement with Iran and continue Israel’s covert attacks on Iran’s nuclear program. In an interview with The New York Times, his first with an international news organization since succeeding Benjamin Netanyahu in June, he also said he would expand West Bank settlements that Mr. Biden opposes, declined to back American plans to reopen a consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem and ruled out reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians under his watch.

The deepening costs of 4 Gaza wars in 13 years, in 4 charts, AP
The latest war between Hamas and Israel followed a familiar – and troubling – pattern: Palestinian rocket fire, devastating Israeli airstrikes; a mounting loss of life and appeals for the “senseless cycle” to end. Left behind after each war in 2008-09, 2012, 2014 and 2021 is an enduring fear of the next one. In Gaza, Palestinians mourn the dead, try to resume life amid the ruins and rebuild. The United Nations says there has been more than $5 billion worth of damage over four wars to Gaza’s homes, agriculture, industry, electricity and water infrastructure.

Progressive Democrats Slam Palestinian Authority for Human Rights Abuses After Protesters’ Arrests, Haaretz
A number of progressive Democrats who normally voice support for Palestinian causes accused the Palestinian Authority of human rights abuses and authoritarianism following arrests of demonstrators on Saturday and Sunday. Some of these lawmakers have been at the forefront of the wave of criticism by U.S. lawmakers toward Israel in recent months.


Through four wars, toll mounts on a Gaza neighborhood, AP
The electricity is out again tonight in what’s left of Zaki and Jawaher Nassir’s neighborhood. But from the shell of their sitting room, its wall blown open by Israeli missiles, twilight and a neighbor’s fire are enough to see by. Here, down a narrow lane called Al-Baali, just over a mile from the heavily fortified border separating northern Gaza and Israel, cinderblock homes press against each other before opening to a modest courtyard below the Nassirs’ perch.

Israel Vaccinated Its Population Against COVID at an Astonishing Rate, but Some Groups Are Left Behind, Haaretz
Despite Israel’s success in inoculating over 5.8 million people since the end of 2020, more than 1 million people still remain unvaccinated, many of them young and of low socioeconomic status, the Health Ministry said in a survey released on Monday. Out of the 1,080,000 people eligible for the vaccine who have not yet received the shot, 16 percent belong to the ultra-Orthodox community and 31 percent are Israeli Arabs, with the rest belonging to the general population.

Palestinian shot by Israel in Gaza border clashes dies, ABC News
A Palestinian man died Wednesday from a bullet wound suffered during clashes with Israeli forces last week along Gaza’s border fence over the weekend, Palestinian health officials said.

Serious COVID Cases in Israel Plateau; Antibody Testing for Children Halted, Haaretz
Israel has paused on Wednesday its antibody blood testing campaign for children after a chaotic first few days, limiting it to parts of the country with high infection rates only.Meanwhile, serious coronavirus cases in the country have stabilized and now stand at 692. The number of serious cases among vaccinated Israelis is declining, while the unvaccinated serious cases continue to rise. The unvaccinated – who make up 20% of Israelis eligible for vaccination – now account for more than half of all serious cases.

Opinion and Analysis

The meeting with a foreign leader the Biden presidency desperately needs, CNN
Aaron David Miller writes, “The Bennett meeting won’t solve Biden’s Afghanistan problem, but it might offer the US President an easy chance to change the channel — however briefly — and project the confidence and assurance of a president consulting closely with a core US partner.”

And Then Biden Will Ask: ‘Bennett, Where Did the Palestinians Disappear?’, Haaretz
Aluf Benn writes, “Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has promised change and a new spirit, but en route to Washington, he stuck to the tradition that his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, practiced over many years – talking a lot about Iran and remaining silent when it comes to the Palestinians. Perhaps he hopes that his host, President Joe Biden, hasn’t heard about them. At their White House meeting on Thursday, Bennett may try to run out the clock talking about Iran until Biden has no time left to talk about the occupation, the settlements in the West Bank or about Gaza, where tensions are rising.”

Should Israel be apprehensive following the US abandonment of Afghanistan?, Jerusalem Post
Avi Gil writes, “The new government’s change of rhetoric is important, but ahead of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to Washington, it is crucial that we don’t indulge in delusions: Without a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the ongoing occupation will continue to poison our relations with American Jewry and threaten our special relations with the US.”

An Israeli Forest to Erase the Ruins of Palestinian Agricultural Terraces, Haaretz
Hanin Majadli writes, “On my trips to the West Bank and the occupied territories, when I passed by the expansive areas of Palestinian farmland, I was always awed by the sight of the long chain of terraces, mustabat or mudrajat in Arabic. […] When I grew up, I learned a little in school about Israeli history. I didn’t learn that Israel erased Palestinian agriculture in the Galilee and that the Jewish National Fund buried it once and for all, but I did learn that ‘the Jews brought trees with them’ and planted them in the Land of Israel. How sterile and green. Greta Thunberg would be proud of you.”