News Roundup for December 4, 2020

December 4, 2020

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J Street in the News

Democrats elect Meeks as first Black Foreign Affairs chairman, The Hill
“Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the progressive pro-Israel group J Street, said he looks forward to working with Meeks ‘to help revitalize the State Department and American diplomacy, to return the United States to compliance with the JCPOA, to promote comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace and to oppose the dangers of creeping annexation in the West Bank.’”

Pro-Israel Democrat Gregory Meeks voted chair of key House foreign affairs panel, Times of Israel
“Meeks has long described himself as a major supporter of the US-Israel relationship, voting in favor of military aid for the Jewish state and against the BDS movement. He has ties to AIPAC and J Street, with both the establishment group and the dovish lobby calling the New York congressman a friend […] All three lawmakers auditioned for the job in meetings with the centrist Democratic Majority for Israel and J Street. They all said that US money should not be used to annex West Bank territory, a move that Israel’s government considered earlier this year […] J Street said it looked forward to ‘work[ing] together with Chairman Meeks to help revitalize the State Department and American diplomacy, to return the United States to compliance with the JCPOA (Iran deal), to promote comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace and to oppose the dangers of creeping annexation in the West Bank.’”

Top News and Analysis

Biden Needs to Move Fast if He Wants a New Deal With Iran, Foreign Policy
Saeid Jafari writes, “Moderates will lose the June 2021 presidential election in Iran unless there is a new agreement and sanctions relief—and the United States can forget diplomacy if hardliners win.”

The Desperate Campaign to Tar Biden as ‘anti-Israel’, Haaretz
Abe Silberstein writes, “You might think Biden’s lengthy pro-Israel record would inoculate, or at least modestly protect him from the overwrought, vituperative ‘Israel-hater’ hyperbole thrown at Obama. You’d be wrong.”

Israel Takes First Step Toward New Election, New York Times
Israel moved closer on Wednesday to another early election, its fourth in two years, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disenchanted coalition partners joined the opposition in a preliminary vote to bring down the unity government in which they serve.


Ex-CIA Chief: Israel Helped Kill Bin Laden, Netanyahu Is Not an Ethical Man, Haaretz
“If he thought a two-state solution would benefit his political interests, he probably would pursue it. But he has no principled commitment to doing what is right for the Palestinian people. And he recognizes that the Israeli right [wing] is where he gets his strength and support. So, when he floated the idea of Israel annexing the territories, I think it was designed to build support on the right. But he also knew it was going to give him a political chip that he could cash in later, which he did, with the Emiratis and the Bahrainis” – a reference to Netanyahu’s decision to shelve his annexation plan in order to normalize relations with the Gulf states.

In first meeting of FMs in years, Jordan urges Israel to resume peace talks, Times of Israel
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi met his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi at the Allenby Bridge border crossing Thursday, according to both the Israeli and Jordanian Foreign Ministries.

This Bedouin Family Lived in Peace and Quiet. Then They Tried to Enroll Their Kids in School, Haaretz
Widad Hasanat wanted to sign her three daughters up for a local public school, prompting a backlash from municipality, which sought to prove the family had trespassed onto their own territory.

Iran’s Zarif says nuclear deal ‘will never be renegotiated,’ rules out new talks, AFP
Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday urged US President-elect Joe Biden to abandon Washington’s “rogue” behaviour and lift crippling sanctions on his country, rejecting talk of renegotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.

How a Campaign to Legalize West Bank Outposts Settled Into Gantz’s Party, Haaretz
As settler leaders realized annexation would be shelved for the time being, they launched efforts to legalize outposts by depicting them as communities without access to basic needs such as water and electricity.

Opinion and Analysis

After nuclear scientist’s brazen killing, Iran is torn over a response — restraint or fury?, Washington Post
Kareem Fahim and Miriam Berger write, “Days after the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, competing camps in Iran are wielding his memory in a battle over the country’s political future and how it should deal with the United States. President Hassan Rouhani’s reformist camp seems eager to claim him, seeking a postmortem endorsement for engagement with the West. In old photographs publicized Tuesday, Fakhrizadeh is seen receiving state honors from Rouhani for helping to secure the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with the United States and other world powers. The same day, however, previously unreleased audio was aired with the scientist purportedly questioning the utility of negotiations with the United States. ‘America can’t be compromised with,’ Fakhrizadeh is heard to say, in a recording apparently made this year. It seemed like a reminder from Iranian hard-liners that Fakhrizadeh was really one of theirs.”

The Biden Administration and the Future of U.S.–Iran Relations [Panel Discussion], CNAS
To discuss the future of U.S.–Iran relations in the Biden era, CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine hosted a conversation with Robert Malley, President and CEO of International Crisis Group and former White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region, on Thursday, December 3, 2020. Mr. Fontaine and Mr. Malley were joined by Ilan Goldenberg, Director of the CNAS Middle East Security Program, Elisa Catalano Ewers, Adjunct Senior Fellow in the CNAS Middle East Program, and Kaleigh Thomas, Associate Fellow in the CNAS Middle East Program for an interactive panel discussion featuring live polling and Q&A from the online audience.

Hundreds of Palestinian Minors Are Imprisoned in Israel. This Is What Arrests Look Like, Haaretz
Gideon Levy and Alex Levac write, “Israeli soldiers burst into a refugee camp in the dead of night and abduct a teenager. They then hold him for a full day, with no food. Nearly 300 invasions like this take place every month in the West Bank.”

Why are Palestinians being forced to prove their humanity?, +972 Mag
Mohammed El-Kurd writes, “For years I policed the language that I used to describe my oppressor. But what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah has a clear name: ethnic cleansing.”