News Roundup for December 16, 2020

December 16, 2020

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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

Daily Kickoff: Transition, Jewish Insider
“Nadav Tamir, a diplomatic advisor to former Israeli President Shimon Peres and the former Israeli consul general to New England, was named the new executive director of J Street Israel.”

Top News and Analysis

Three Pillars for a New U.S. Approach to Peace in Israel-Palestine, ICG
The International Crisis Group and the United States/Middle East Project (USMEP) write, “Over the years, US policies have had the unfortunate – at times unintended – effect of facilitating entrenchment of Israeli control over Palestinians. The unintentional became clearly purposeful under the Trump administration, which has encouraged settlement construction and released a ‘Peace for Prosperity Plan’ that tilted decisively in favour of Israel’s continued occupation. U.S. engagement should at a minimum aim to mitigate the fundamental asymmetry of power between Israel and the Palestinians; instead, it too often has done the opposite, and the Trump White House did that to an extreme. What is needed today is not a Nobel Prize-grabbing reach for a final peace deal but rather patiently putting in place those building blocks that are required to steer future generations of Israelis and Palestinians to a more peaceful and just future.”

Iran says it would rejoin nuclear deal within an hour of US doing so, The Guardian
Iran would return to compliance with the nuclear deal within an hour of the US doing so, its president said – but he faced further pressure from the outgoing Trump administration after it sanctioned two Iranian officials over their alleged involvement in the abduction of a former FBI agent.

Israel’s daily caseload reaches 2,862, a 2-month high, as new restrictions loom, Times of Israel
Israel’s daily coronavirus infections surged to almost 3,000 according to figures released Wednesday morning, the highest caseload in over two months, as the country’s outbreak raced toward the threshold set by the government for reimposing nationwide restrictions.


Gideon Sa’ar’s Party Would Be Second Largest in Knesset, Election Poll Shows, Haaretz
A poll released by Channel 12 News Tuesday shows the party led by former Likud lawmaker Gideon Sa’ar surging ahead to become Israel’s second largest party, were elections held now.

Liberman urges Sa’ar, Lapid, Bennett to join with him against Netanyahu: reports, Times of Israel
MK Avigdor Liberman, the leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party, has called on other leading opposition politicians to form a new bloc to oppose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party in the next round of elections, according to Wednesday reports.

Kushner to Lead American-Israeli Delegation to Morocco Next Week, Haaretz
Jared Kushner will lead an American-Israeli delegation to Morocco next week in order to advance normalization talks between the two countries, senior Trump administration officials said on Tuesday.

An oversized wedding in Chicago has divided Orthodox Jews and foiled contact tracers, JTA
About 150 guests attended the wedding in a Chicago suburb on Dec. 2 at a time when 14.8% of COVID tests in the surrounding county were coming back positive.

Gaza Health Care System at Risk of Collapse Due to Rising COVID-19 Cases, Haaretz
Senior officials in the Gaza Strip’s health care system warned Tuesday that the system was at risk of collapse due to the sharp rise in the number of coronavirus patients in serious condition and on ventilators. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, since Monday the number of seriously ill or ventilated patients has gone up by 40 and now stands at 226.

Opinion and Analysis

Why a Saudi deal with Israel could turn out to be a Biden victory, Washington Post
Frida Ghitis writes, “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, has undoubtedly watched closely how negotiations unfolded in the other deals. He’s feeling the pressure from Trump and Jared Kushner, who has spearheaded the president’s Middle East policy and is often reported to have a close relationship with the Saudi leader. But MBS, as the crown prince is known in the West, is keeping an eye on what comes after Trump and is saving this valuable card to make a deal with the new team.”

Vaccines for Both Peoples, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “Israel has the legal, moral and humanitarian responsibility to vaccinate the Palestinian population, which lives in distress under its control and whose lives intertwine with the lives of many Israelis. Israelis and Palestinians live in very close proximity to each other, so it really isn’t possible to eliminate the pandemic in Israel proper while it is still raging in the other territories it is responsible for.”

How Iran Has Brought Israel and Arab States Together, Bloomberg
Marc Champion writes, “For more than half a century, conflict between Israel and the Arab nations that surround it has been a defining feature of the Middle East, producing periodic wars, lost opportunities for trade and uncountable hours of fruitless diplomacy. The rift is far from resolved. Yet there’s been a shift. Israel has made peace deals with four Arab countries late this year, underscoring that it’s now Iran — rather than Israel — that’s the common enemy uniting many Arab rulers.”

Living in the West Bank – and in Limbo, Haaretz
Umm Forat writes, “I’m an Israeli lawyer, Jewish, married to a Palestinian resident of Ramallah. After years of wandering throughout the world, we returned to the West Bank with our two children, six-year-old Forat and three-year-old Adam. We are trying to lead ordinary lives in an extraordinary and unforgiving reality.”