News Roundup for February 17, 2021

February 17, 2021

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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

A two-state solution is a win-win for Israelis and Palestinians, Peres Center
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “As a retired diplomat, I am often asked what the most valuable trait is for successful diplomacy. My answer is that diplomacy leads international relations to the realm of a win-win situation, and distances it from becoming a ‘zero-sum game’ […] The realization that there is no conflict between empathy and assertive advocacy of our interests is necessary for effective diplomacy. The job of a diplomat is to advance beneficial arrangements with friends as well as enemies. Understanding the other side’s interests, even when the other side is an enemy, improves our ability to advance our own interests and to create something of joint value.”

JNF-KKL’s Proposal to Officially Fund Illegal Settlement Expansion Is Outrageous and Unacceptable, J Street
J Street is appalled that the executive committee of the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael (JNF-KKL) has voted to formally allow the organization to purchase land in the West Bank for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements — a vote that will now go to the group’s full board for approval. For Jews around the world who contributed through the JNF to the creation and building of the state of Israel, it is beyond upsetting that the organization is being turned into an arm of the West Bank settlement movement, acting in a way that violates international law, shows total disregard for the rights of Palestinians and dangerously undermines Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people along with the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. While JNF-KKL funds have a complex history of being used at times to help fund and facilitate land purchases and settlement growth beyond the Green Line in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they have not previously officially committed to this harmful project in such a brazen and explicit fashion.

Top News and Analysis

Biden: white supremacists are ‘the most dangerous people’ in America, JTA
“I got involved in politics to begin with because of civil rights and opposition to white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and the most dangerous people in America continue to exist,” Biden said. “That is the greatest threat to terror in America, domestic terror. And so I would make sure that my Justice Department and the civil rights division is focused heavily on those very folks, and I would make sure that we, in fact, focus on how to deal with the rise of white supremacy.”

First coronavirus vaccines arrive in Gaza Strip following blockage by Israel, Washington Post
The first coronavirus vaccines reached the Gaza Strip on Wednesday when at least a thousand doses of the Russian Sputnik serum crossed into the heavily guarded enclave of almost 2 million Palestinians. The shipment arrived after Palestinian officials accused Israel of blocking it for political purposes when an initial attempt at delivery was turned back Monday at a military checkpoint. Israel maintains tight control over goods and people entering Gaza, and some right-wing Israeli politicians and activists want to condition the delivery of vaccines on the release of hostages and human remains held by Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that governs the enclave.

U.S.’s Blinken: ‘The path to diplomacy is open right now’ with Iran, Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday “the path to diplomacy is open right now” with Iran over its 2015 nuclear deal but would not address whether the Biden administration has had any direct engagement with Iranian officials.


Experts reject Netanyahu’s claim Israel is almost ‘done with COVID’, Times of Israel
Doctors and health experts have been pouring cold water on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Israel may soon be “done with COVID, period” due to the success of the vaccination operation.

Arab-Israelis lag behind in Israel’s vaccination success story, The Forward
While the country has garnered international headlines for its speed and success in getting its 9 million people inoculated, Arab-Israelis have lagged behind. On Tuesday, the health ministry reported that 23% of Arab-Israelis had received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, compared to 33% of Haredi Jews and 49% of other Jewish Israelis.

Israel welcomes ICC prosecutor pick, but no evidence he’ll nix war crimes probe, Times of Israel
While experts say his appointment does not offer any definitive clues on how the court will proceed with its possible probe into alleged misdeeds by Israel and the Hamas terror group, some Israeli analysts are optimistic about the pick and the departure of outgoing prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

Elections Committee Disqualifies Israeli Arab Labor Candidate, Haaretz
Israel’s Central Election Committee voted on Wednesday to disqualify Ibtisam Mara’ana, number 7 on the Labor slate, for comments she made on social media.

In fact sheet, ICC rejects Israeli claim war crimes probe politically motivated, Times of Israel
The International Criminal Court released a fact sheet Monday on the recent decision that it has jurisdiction to investigate Israel and the Palestinians for alleged war crimes, rejecting the claim by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the decision proved that the court was politicly motivated.

Opinion and Analysis

Six Lies About Israel’s Wild West Settlement Outposts, Haaretz
Amira Hass writes, “The Israeli authorities’ lies, coupled with violence by settlers and soldiers alike, are allowing the continuous expansion of so-called individual farms – i.e., illegal outposts – in the occupied territories.”

Netanyahu’s pick of Iran file envoy signals confrontation with US, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “Picking national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat over real Iran experts such as Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen or retired Gen. Amos Yadlin means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not believe dialoguing with the Biden administration on Iran will do any good.”

From COVID to Corruption, Eight Issues That Will Decide the Outcome of the Israeli Election, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “From who wins the coronavirus narrative to whether Yair Lapid can break the 20-seat ceiling (and at whose expense), these are the key factors ahead of the March 23 Israel election…”