News Roundup for December 21, 2020

December 21, 2020

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

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.

Top News and Analysis

A New U.S. Strategy for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, CNAS
Ilan Goldenberg, Michael Koplow, and Tamara Cofman Wittes write, “Donald Trump’s administration has fundamentally undercut the U.S. role in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking by taking a one-sided approach, rejecting core principles that underlay Arab-Israeli peace for decades, and aligning the United States with Israeli far-right policies while freezing out the Palestinians. But U.S. policy in the pre-Trump era, under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, also failed to produce lasting peace, and a simple return to those policies will not succeed. U.S. domestic politics are likely to change the American role as well. As political polarization colors American public attitudes toward Israel and its policies in the conflict, it creates both new constraints and opportunities for U.S. policy.”

Jon Ossoff Tells Haaretz How His Jewish Upbringing Taught Him to Fight for Justice, Haaretz
“I’m descended from Ashkenazi immigrants who fled pogroms in the early 20th century, and I grew up among relatives who were Holocaust survivors,” he told Haaretz in an exclusive interview last week. “So my Jewish upbringing instilled in me a conviction to fight for the marginalized and oppressed, and also to be vigilant where there’s the risk that authoritarianism may emerge.”

Israel is starting to vaccinate, but Palestinians may have to wait months, Washington Post
Israel, like many high-income countries, is moving quickly to roll out newly approved coronavirus vaccines, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu getting the symbolic first shot Saturday. But next door in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the prospects for vaccinating almost 5 million Palestinians are far less certain, as financial, political and logistical hurdles could delay inoculations against the raging pandemic for months.


Suspected Terror Attack: Body of Missing Woman Found Near West Bank Settlement, Haaretz
The police and Shin Bet are investigating the death of a 52-year-old woman after her body was found Sunday overnight in the northern West Bank. Her body was found in the Reihan forest in the northern West Bank after family members reported that the woman had not returned from her run. Police and a search unit found the body around an hour later, and are gathering evidence for investigation alongside a forensics team. Police suspect the killing was politically motivated.

US delegation set to arrive in Israel Monday ahead of 1st direct flight to Rabat, Times of Israel
A senior US delegation, headed by US President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, was set to land in Israel on Monday ahead of a joint visit with an Israeli team to Morocco.

Palestinians urge Biden and Israel to return to the negotiating table, JTA
In a stark contrast from the last few years of the Trump administration, the Palestinian foreign minister said Saturday that the Palestinian Authority is ready to restart the process of negotiating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Israel and the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Vaccine drive revs up as Israelis over 60 start getting virus shots, Times of Israel
Health providers nationwide began to vaccinate citizens over 60 against the coronavirus Monday, as Israel’s immunization effort reaches the general public for the first time. A day earlier, 10,000 health workers and some public officials received the vaccine, kicking off Israel’s vaccination campaign.

The Auschwitz museum director prefers to stay out of controversial debates. But he’s worried about this one in Israel., JTA
Cywiński decided to speak out this week about the controversy surrounding Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to appoint as its head Effi Eitam, a hawkish retired general and politician who, a growing number of critics say, has used racist rhetoric against Arab Israelis and Palestinians.

Settler youth killed in car crash during police chase in West Bank, Times of Israel
A far-right hilltop youth is killed in a car crash in the West Bank during a police chase, according to the Kan public broadcaster. The report says a group of young settlers were throwing rocks at Palestinian vehicles near the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar.

Trump Incentives for Signing Peace Accords With Israel Could Be at Risk, New York Times
Diplomatic sweeteners for joining the Abraham Accords that were offered to Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates could be rejected by Congress or reversed by the incoming Biden administration.

Blue and White MKs said to mull torpedoing deal that would stave off election, Times of Israel
A deal reportedly reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz to avoid the calling of elections this week appeared to be falling apart on Monday morning as several lawmakers from the defense minister’s party were said to be planning to vote against the proposal.

Swastika spray-painted onto Brooklyn yeshiva in apparent hate crime, JTA
Two men spray painted a swastika onto a Brooklyn yeshiva last weekend in an apparent hate crime, authorities said Saturday as they released surveillance video of the incident.

Poll shows Gideon Sa’ar on 19 seats, Blue and White barely returning to Knesset, Times of Israel
A television poll aired Sunday pointed to growing support for former Likud lawmaker Gideon Sa’ar’s new party, eating into the electoral strength of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc.

Opinion and Analysis

Democratic lobby group defends Israel’s demolition of Palestinian hamlet, Responsible Statecraft
Alex Kane writes, “Two weeks after the Israeli demolition, which took place under the cover of U.S. election day, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and 39 of his Congressional colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticizing Israel’s actions as ‘a serious violation of international law’ and an example of ‘creeping annexation.’ Pocan’s letter also demanded that Pompeo examine whether Israel had utilized U.S.-made equipment during the demolition operation […] Now, the lobby group Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) is trying to undermine the letter. In a DMFI memo sent to Democratic staffers in Congress obtained by +972 Magazine, the group says that the members who signed Pocan’s letter were ‘misinformed,’ and goes on to blame Palestinians living in the village for ‘knowingly put[ting] themselves in danger,’ effectively justifying Israel’s demolition operation.”

Israel’s Understanding of American Jews Is a Sad Joke, Haaretz
Eric H. Yoffie writes, “Many Israeli leaders are deeply ignorant about and/or indifferent to U.S. Jews. Netanyahu goes further: When he’s not systematically disregarding them, he deliberately tramples on their opinions and sensitivities.”

With the Nation-State Law, Israel’s religious right is deciding who is a Jew, +972 Mag
Ethan Nechin writes, “Israel’s Nation-State Law does not see Judaism as a diverse religion, but as an identity that guarantees supremacy over other people — including other Jews.”

Deal or No Deal, Gantz’s Surrender to Netanyahu Guarantees His Political Demise, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Kahol Lavan members have felt that their leader is starting to deteriorate, and on Sunday they understood the dimensions of the humiliation and disgrace that Gantz has wrought upon them.”

Seeking more Hanukkah light and love, not fixing ‘broken’ souls, WRAL
Eric Solomon writes, “Most Jewish Americans, especially those who live outside of the big cities, have had experiences where earnest Christian friends try to share their religion with a concern for our souls. There is something kind-hearted about it, but there is something anti-Semitic about it too.”