News Roundup for February 1, 2024

February 1, 2024
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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.

Top News and Analysis

State Department reviewing options for possible recognition of Palestinian state, Axios
Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked the State Department to conduct a review and present policy options on possible U.S. and international recognition of a Palestinian state after the war in Gaza, two U.S. officials briefed on the issue told Axios.

Biden expected to issue executive order targeting Israeli settlers in West Bank, Politico
President Joe Biden is expected to imminently issue an executive order aimed at punishing Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have been attacking Palestinians in the occupied territory, according to documents seen by POLITICO, a U.S. official and a congressional aide. The executive order is set to be released later Thursday, according to the documents and the U.S. official. It is expected to include sanctions against the settlers. The National Security Council declined to comment.

A Biden Doctrine for the Middle East Is Forming. And It’s Big., New York Times
Thomas Friedman writes, “We are about to see a new Biden administration strategy unfold to address this multifront war involving Gaza, Iran, Israel and the region — what I hope will be a “Biden Doctrine” that meets the seriousness and complexity of this dangerous moment. And if we don’t see such a big, bold doctrine, the crisis in the region is going to metastasize in ways that will strengthen Iran, isolate Israel and leave America’s ability to influence events there for the better in tatters.”

US Presses for Long Cease-Fire to Pave Way for End of Gaza War, Wall Street Journal
US negotiators are pushing for a cease-fire deal that could stop the war in Gaza long enough to stall Israel’s military momentum and potentially set the stage for a more lasting truce, according to US and Arab officials familiar with the negotiations.


US Is ‘Hopeful’ for a Truce in Gaza as Netanyahu Says ‘Total Victory’ Is the Only Option, Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel would achieve a “total victory” in its war against Hamas as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he is “hopeful” that the sides are nearing an extended truce.

Israeli Army Occupies Gaza Homes – Then Burns Them Down, Haaretz
Information obtained by Haaretz indicates IDF commanders have ordered soldiers to set fire to abandoned Gaza homes without legal approval. Several hundred have already been irreparably damaged.

Israeli PM Says UN Agency for Palestinians Must Close, Israeli Warplanes Strike Gaza, Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Wednesday for the closure of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) as his forces conducted more air strikes in Gaza amid diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire and release of hostages in the enclave.

Netanyahu: Gaza Hostage Deal ‘Not at Any Cost,’ IDF to Stay in Gaza, The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday night that he “has red lines” regarding the release of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas in Gaza. “We will not end the war, we will not remove the IDF from the Gaza Strip, and we will not release thousands of terrorists,” he said.

David Cameron pushes for ‘irreversible progress’ towards two-state solution, Financial Times
As the UK joins other states in stepping up its push to end the Israel-Hamas war, Cameron said there needed to be an immediate pause in the conflict; the release of all the hostages held by the militant group in Gaza; and “most important of all is to give the Palestinian people a political horizon”. Speaking at a reception for Arab ambassadors, he said Palestinians needed to see “there is going to be irreversible progress to a two-state solution and, crucially, the establishment of a Palestinian state”.

Details bedevil Gaza hostages-for-prisoners ‘framework’ deal, Washington Post
Negotiators are working on a six-week pause in Israel-Hamas fighting, which would see the release of all remaining civilian captives in exchange for Palestinian prisoners

Iran Warns It Will Retaliate After Biden Says He’s Decided How To Respond To Killing Of 3 U.S. Soldiers, Forbes
An Iranian official on Tuesday night warned that the country will retaliate against any attack, hours after President Joe Biden said he has made a decision on how to respond to the killing of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan in a drone attack by Iran-backed militants.

Houthis claim to have targeted US merchant ship in missile attack, Times of Israel
The group targeted the “American merchant ship KOI… with several appropriate naval missiles,” the Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea says in a statement.

Egypt-Israel ties in jeopardy over intensifying Gaza border dispute, Washington Post
As Israeli troops push farther south in Gaza, officials in Jerusalem are signaling what could be a central, and politically perilous, aim of the war’s next phase: taking control of the border crossing with Egypt.

How war destroyed Gaza’s neighbourhoods – visual investigation, The Guardian
Satellite imagery and open-source evidence lay bare the destruction to civilian infrastructure by Israel in its war on Hamas.

Opinion and Analysis

The Moment We Are In, The Future We Pray For, URJ
The Union for Reform Judaism writes, “With an eye toward the future we envision, we offer these steps we hope Israelis and Palestinians will take at this moment of intense challenge and deep pain. We do so because of the bond and love we feel for our Israeli siblings.”

Biden’s lonely stance on the war in Gaza, Le Monde Diplomatique
Eric Alterman writes, “President Joe Biden sees himself as Israel’s best friend, misjudging his influence on Netanyahu, and also the views of a majority of Americans. Meanwhile, a new McCarthyism is gaining ground on elite college campuses.”

With Gazans Starving and Freezing, the US Withholding Funds From UNRWA Is Unconscionable, The Forward
Marilyn Garson writes, “As far as I know, none of my friends in Gaza has a home any longer. Their losses are staggering, far too many to list when I say the Mourners’ Kaddish. They are sick from sleeping in flimsy tents through Gaza’s bitter winter storms, and they are more than hungry. Gazans are starving. Under these conditions, the choice of the United States, United Kingdom and 13 other countries to withhold funds pledged to UNRWA — the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East — for lifesaving humanitarian aid is unconscionable.”

An Israeli Charity for Palestinians Grapples With Oct. 7 Attacks, New York Times
Gal Koplowitz writes, “Before the war, Road to Recovery helped bring sick Gazans to Israeli hospitals. Several of its volunteers died in the Hamas attacks, and donations to the group have slowed.”