News Roundup for February 16, 2023

February 16, 2023

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J Street News Roundup

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Top News and Analysis

U.S. Weighs Further Steps Against Israel’s Settlement Expansion, Axios
The Biden administration is discussing additional steps it can take in response to Israel’s latest announcement on settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, U.S. officials told Axios. The Israeli Cabinet decision on Sunday to legalize nine illegal outposts and approve the planning and building of close to 10,000 housing units in existing settlements in the occupied West Bank was the single biggest settlement announcement ever made.

Israel Approves Law to Strip Arab Attackers of Citizenship, ABC News
Israel’s parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a law to strip Arabs convicted in nationalistic attacks of their Israeli citizenship or residency and deport them if they have accepted stipends from the Palestinian Authority. The decision, which could potentially affect hundreds of Palestinian citizens and residents of Israel, was condemned as racist by Arab lawmakers as well as Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Gov’t Circulates Draft Plan to Transfer Powers Over Civilian Life in the West Bank to Smotrich’s Control, Haaretz
Bezalel Smotrich, a minister in Israel’s Defense Ministry, had drawn up plans, to be implemented within a matter of months, to appoint a civilian to head the Civil Administration — which he also plans to remove from under the auspices of the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT). A draft of a government decision based on Smotrich’s plan was circulated on Wednesday to government ministries.


Schumer Expected to Visit Israel as Bibi Faces Criticism over Judicial Plan, Axios
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is expected to visit Israel next week with a delegation of Senate Democrats for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials told Axios. Democrats in Congress are increasingly voicing their concerns over Netanyahu’s controversial judicial overhaul plan and its implications for Israel’s democracy and the bilateral U.S.-Israel relationship.

UN Security Council Likely to Vote Monday on Call for Israel to Stop Settlements, Haaretz
The United Nations Security Council is considering a draft resolution, seen by Reuters on Wednesday, that would demand Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.” The 15-member council is likely to vote on Monday on the text, drafted by the United Arab Emirates in coordination with the Palestinians, diplomats said.

Lapid Seeks 60-day Overhaul Pause for Talks; Protesters Call Knesset Rally Next Week, The Times of Israel
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid demanded Wednesday that the government halt the progress of its judicial overhaul legislation for a period of 60 days in order to enable dialogue with opposition parties, a move that is expected to be rebuffed by the coalition.

Israel Demolishes West Bank Home of Palestinian Attacker, AP
Israeli forces demolished the home on Thursday of a Palestinian behind a deadly shooting in the occupied West Bank, as tensions and unrest surge in the region. The military said the demolition was carried out after an Israeli court rejected appeals to spare the residence. The home, in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron, was demolished in a controlled explosion. A flash and then grey tufts of smoke were seen emerging from the apartment in the early morning hours.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Collective Punishment Law Could Be a War Crime, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board argues, “Laws that permit Israel to violate international law and the laws of occupation will not only fail to thwart terrorism, but will drag Israel to the defendants’ dock of the international community.”

Zionist Dream Is A Nightmare, Israel-Palestinian Peace Is Less Possible, The Jerusalem Post
Gershon Baskin writes, “I do not profess to know what the solution is for finding a way to live in peace on this land. I do know that it can only be done by good people on both sides working together to make peace a reality.”

Israelis Fear Their Democracy Is Crumbling — and the U.S. Isn’t Coming to Help, Politico
Mya Guarnieri Jaradat reports, “[O]ne protester questions even the United States’ ability to rein in its closest ally in the Middle East. Jesse Fox, a 41-year-old doctoral candidate at Tel Aviv University, says that while he’d like to see the Biden administration raise some pressure, he believes Israel is already headed down “the path of Hungary” and other countries that have abandoned democratic principles…And as an American Jewish immigrant who has lived in Israel for the better part of 20 years, Fox adds, “I want Americans to realize that, right now, being ‘pro-Israel’ means opposing the Israeli government.””