News Roundup for August 30, 2021

August 30, 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

Biden Hosts Israeli Leader After One-Day Delay, Voice of America
After a delay of a day due to the crisis in Afghanistan, U.S. President Joe Biden hosted Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, on Friday, discussing issues ranging from the plight of the Palestinians to Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. […] “It’s clear that there is a very welcome interest from both the U.S. administration and the Israeli government in working well together and finding numerous areas of common ground and close collaboration,” J Street, a group advocating American leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said in a statement. “At the same time, we believe it’s also critical for the Biden administration to be transparent and firm in stating its disagreement with key aspects of Prime Minister Bennett’s policies and worldview.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden, Bennett open new chapter in U.S.-Israel relations with White House visit, Washington Post
President Biden welcomed new Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett at the White House on Friday — a symbolic reset for an alliance whose leaders are poles apart politically but united in a desire to turn the page after the frictions under ousted prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Oval Office meeting was delayed one day because of the deadly terrorist attack Thursday in Kabul, and the tragedy hung over what would otherwise have been one of Biden’s most closely watched diplomatic engagements. Biden had called Bennett on Thursday evening, hours after their meeting had been postponed, and Bennett opened his public remarks with condolences for the loss of American troops.

In first top-level meeting in a decade, Gantz holds talks with Abbas in Ramallah, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Defense Minister Benny Gantz met in Ramallah on Sunday evening in the first high-level face-to-face talks in over a decade, Israeli and Palestinian officials announced. […] The talks come as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett returned from Washington after meeting with US President Joe Biden. Biden raised the Palestinian issue with the new Israeli leader during their discussions.

Israeli PM tells Biden he won’t publicly campaign against Iran deal, Axios
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told President Biden in their meeting on Friday at the White House that although he is against a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, he isn’t going to publicly campaign against it like his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, two U.S. sources briefed on the meeting told Axios. Biden and his senior advisers are veterans of the intense confrontations between Netanyahu and former President Obama on Iran.


Biden meets with new Israeli prime minister: ‘We’ve become close friends’, CNN
When Israel’s prime minister visited the White House on Friday, for the first time in 12 years it was someone other than Benjamin Netanyahu. That alone lent the talks a sense of renewal, even though stark differences remain between President Joe Biden and his new Israeli counterpart Naftali Bennett. […] “We’ve become close friends,” Biden said, though he’d just met the new prime minister for the first time an hour earlier.

Palestinians Finally Have Vaccines. But Will People Take Them?, New York Times
For months, the Palestinian authorities struggled to get doses. Now they have the shots, but disinformation and conspiracy theories have led to widespread hesitancy.

Scoop: Former Israel ambassador joins U.S. Iran team, Axios
Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has joined the State Department’s Iran team as a senior adviser, a senior State Department official tells Axios. Israel is pressing the Biden administration to start discussing a “Plan B” in case diplomacy with Iran fails. Shapiro, who has a personal relationship with many Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, is equipped to play a key role in any such talks. His portfolio will be the regional aspects of the Iranian issue and coordination with Israel.

Rashida Tlaib calls on Israel to release the body of a woman who tried to kill Israeli troops, JTA
Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib called for Israel to return the body of a woman who was killed while she attempted to kill Israeli soldiers. In a Twitter thread on Saturday, Tlaib, one of Israel’s harshest critics in Congress, slammed Israel for its policy of holding onto the bodies of assailants who are killed during an attack.

Hundreds of Gazans protest blockade along Israeli frontier, AP
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered Sunday night along the separation fence with Israel, setting tires on fire and throwing explosives as Gaza’s Hamas rulers pressed ahead with a campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to ease a stifling blockade of the territory. One protester was moderately wounded by Israeli gunfire. It was the second consecutive nighttime border protest and took place hours after Israeli warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on alleged Hamas targets in response to the unrest. Hamas officials have promised to hold nightly protests all week.

Helping hand: Israeli forces in the service of Jewish settlers, Al Jazeera
Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib called for Israel to return the body of a woman who was killed while she attempted to kill Israeli soldiers. In a Twitter thread on Saturday, Tlaib, one of Israel’s harshest critics in Congress, slammed Israel for its policy of holding onto the bodies of assailants who are killed during an attack.

Opinion and Analysis

Naftali Bennett and the Myth of the Status Quo, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “The situation on the ground serves only the opponents of a two-state solution. Proof of this could be found in Bennett’s own words, when he said that along with the supposed freeze, Israel will continue to expand settlements in the name of “natural growth.” Palestinians allegedly will also be allowed to build in “existing towns and villages,” meaning Israel will continue its illegal expansion, since that is what already exists, and the Palestinians will remain in their own domain.”

To Enjoy Peace and Security, Israel Must Consider the Palestinians, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “It is hard to square the aspiration for peace, security, and prosperity for both sides with shirking the necessity of uprooting the malady preventing their realization. Biden, who is well aware of the political and ideological dispute dividing the Israeli public and government, refrained from tossing a grenade on the scene that could shatter Bennett’s fragile coalition, and would have surely marred the visit. But in so doing, he appears to be adopting the Israeli position, which holds the status quo sacred and perpetuates the occupation.”

Home Invasions and False Arrests: What Happens to a Palestinian Who Protects His Land, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “Aref Jaber defies settlers’ attempts to take over his plot of land near Hebron, and finds himself facing harassment from the army too.”