News Roundup for December 22, 2020

December 22, 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

The Black Jewish leader atop Canada’s Green Party, Jewish Insider
“The moment it became known that I was Jewish, I was bombarded with questions about my positions on Israel, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and the proposed annexation of West Bank territories,’ Paul wrote. ‘Despite having posted public statements on these matters, questions persist. My loyalty to Canada has also been called into question, and I have been accused of taking bribes from Israel, leading a Zionist take-over of the Green Party of Canada and of spreading hasbarah.’ Paul’s views on Israel are, at least from an American standpoint, primarily aligned with the liberal advocacy group J Street, says Richard Marceau, vice president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and a former member of the Bloc Québécois. Paul, who has visited Israel twice because her husband has family there, supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and opposes annexation as well as the BDS movement.”

Top News and Analysis

Knesset rejects bill to delay budget deadline, sending Israel to elections, Times of Israel
The Knesset overnight Monday-Tuesday narrowly rejected a bill that would have deferred a Tuesday midnight deadline for passing the 2020 state budget, and thus set Israel on an almost certain course to its fourth general election in two years. Barring a highly improbable rapprochement Tuesday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Knesset will automatically dissolve at midnight on Tuesday, and Israelis will go to the polls again, probably on March 23, 2021.

Palestinians Place Their Bets on Biden Undoing Trump’s Snubs, Foreign Policy
Jonathan Ferziger writes, “What Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas can hope for from the incoming Democratic administration is a will to restore balance. While Trump took his Middle East policy straight from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing playbook, he mostly ignored the 85-year-old Palestinian leader, who became persona non grata at the White House. Abbas recognizes that trying to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not an immediate priority for Biden, who will focus in his first year on U.S. domestic issues—above all, how to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and recharge the economy.”

Israel Is Being Dragged Into Elections Again, but This Time It’s a Whole New Ballgame, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Facing rivals who will be hard to paint as left-wing, Netanyahu looks to be heading into an election campaign with his worst starting numbers in months.”


It’s (almost) official: As key deadline approaches, Israel on verge of 4th elections in 2 years, JTA
Barring an unexpected last-minute deal, Israel’s government will likely dissolve this week after a bill to delay a crucial budget deadline was scrapped late Monday night.

Loeffler’s barbs against Warnock are ‘a broader attack against the Black Church,’ Georgia pastors say, Washington Post
More than 100 religious leaders condemned Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign tactics in an open letter over the weekend that spurned her attacks on the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) and claimed the Georgia Republican’s political ads were full of “naked hypocrisy” and “blatant contradictions.”

With over 3,500 new cases, virus czar says fast decision needed on lockdown, Times of Israel
National coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said on Tuesday that the country had reached a daily new caseload of over 3,500 newly confirmed infections, and that officials needed to make an immediate decision on sending the country into a full lockdown or tightening restrictions.

Kushner to lead maiden flight from Israel to Morocco, AP
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner announced Monday that he will join an Israeli delegation on the first direct flight to Morocco to celebrate the U.S.-brokered agreement establishing ties between the two Mideast countries.

Settlers, police clash in protest over car chase death of teen; 40 arrested, Times of Israel
Officers clashed with demonstrators late Monday in Jerusalem as some 200 protesters tried to break into police headquarters to protest the death of a young settler, who was was killed in a car crash when he and others tried to flee police after allegedly throwing rocks at Palestinians in the central West Bank.

Jared Kushner’s name to grace US Embassy courtyard and Jerusalem grove, JTA
David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Jerusalem, on Monday named a courtyard to the embassy after Kushner, a senior White House adviser to President Donald Trump who is in Israel for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The plaque includes Kushner’s quote from the embassy dedication on May 14, 2018.

Jared Kushner Makes the Rounds in Jerusalem Ahead of Joint U.S.-Israel Morocco Visit, Haaretz
Attending a tree-planting ceremony on Monday in Jerusalem with Jared Kushner, senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, ahead of a joint U.S.-Israeli delegation visit to Morocco, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a ground-breaking visit that will expedite the normalization of relations between Israel and Morocco.”

Palestinian teen opens fire on police near Old City gate, is shot dead, Times of Israel
None of the officers were hit, and the cops returned fire, striking and killing the shooter after a brief chase, according to police. The assailant was identified by police as a 17-year-old from the Palestinian village of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank.

Hamas slams PA for ‘politically-motivated’ arrests, The Jerusalem Post
Efforts to end the Fatah-Hamas rift suffered yet another blow as Hamas said on Monday that the Palestinian Authority was continuing its crackdown on supporters of the Islamist movement in the West Bank.

Opinion and Analysis

Settler’s Murder Reveals False Sense of Security for Israelis in the West Bank, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The fence that separates Palestinian communities from neighboring settlements has been breached for years, but this is the first case this year of a deadly attack on Israeli civilians in the West Bank.”

Why Palestinians found Moroccan normalization easier to take, Al-Monitor
Daud Kuttab writes, “Unlike the other countries, Morocco already had semi-normal relations with Israel because of the large Moroccan community in Israel and the 2,500 Jewish citizens living in Morocco. Jewish Moroccans have held cabinet-level positions and advisory roles to multiple monarchs.”

Gantz’s Political Party Was Last Year’s Largest. Now It’s the Walking Dead, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “There is no scenario under which the former military chief, now exhausted and discredited, can credibly lead his party into another election.”