News Roundup for February 17, 2023

February 17, 2023

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J Street News Roundup

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.

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J Street In the News

First in Natsec Daily — Lawmakers to Israel, Politico
“Fifteen members of Congress will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Sunday as part of the J Street Education Fund’s largest delegation to the region yet. During the visit, the delegation will meet with Palestinian and Israeli officials, including Israeli President ISAAC HERZOG, who warned of “constitutional collapse” in a speech this week if Netanyahu’s far-right coalition overhauls the judicial system. Massive protests about the issue have roiled Israel, drawing international concern, including from Biden. “Now more than ever, it is critical for American leaders to pay close attention and listen to the voices of everyday Israelis and Palestinians who are being impacted by increased violence and backsliding democracy,” Rep. JIM McGOVERN (D-Mass.), who’s leading the delegation, told NatSec Daily. “I look forward to these important conversations and hope that our visit will serve as a catalyst for change.””

Top News and Analysis

UN Draft Resolution Demands Halt to Israeli Settlements, AP
A Palestinian-backed U.N. resolution that could be put to a vote in the Security Council early next week would demand an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement activities, condemn Israeli attempts to annex settlements and outposts, “and call for their immediate reversal.” In Washington, the State Department said it believed the resolution as drafted was “unhelpful,” but declined to say if it would veto the document or try to water it down to avoid a contentious vote. Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks were private, said the U.S. was seeking to replace the resolution, which would be legally binding, with a weaker presidential statement.

Tens of Thousands of Israelis Set to Protest Netanyahu’s Judicial Coup for Seventh Consecutive Week, Haaretz
Protests against the Netanyahu-led government’s judicial overhaul are slated to resume Saturday night in dozens of locations around Israel, including in the cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva. The main rally will take place for the fifth time at Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, starting at 7 P.M. Due to the expected crowds, Israel Police announced that several main roads will be blocked.


Israeli FM Promises Cooperation With Ukraine Against Iran, The Washington Post
Israel and Ukraine on Thursday agreed to step up cooperation in a shared struggle against Iran, Israel’s foreign minister announced, as he wrapped up the first visit to Kyiv by a senior Israeli official since Russia’s invasion last year.

Israeli Gov’t Tells High Court It Shouldn’t Interfere in Western Wall Policy, Haaretz
Israel’s government has responded to a lawsuit filed five years ago, in which several organizations demanded to change the layout of prayer areas in the Western Wall in Jerusalem. On Wednesday, the state gave its response to a High Court petition demanding that it implement a plan for the Western Wall under which a northern plaza would be reserved for Orthodox prayer and a southern plaza where men and women can pray together.

Gallant Says Iran in Talks With 50 Countries To Sell Missiles and Drones, The Times of Israel
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Friday accused Iran of advancing sales of missiles and drones to dozens of countries, in violation of a 2015 United Nations Security Council resolution. “Iran is currently holding discussions to sell advanced weapons, including UAVs and PGMs (precision-guided missiles), to no less than 50 different countries,” Gallant said at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Opinion and Analysis

Is Israel Democratic? The New Talking Point for Netanyahu Abroad, The Jerusalem Post
Daniel Shek writes, “It is already quite clear that the usual agenda items for discussion between the prime minister and his counterparts will now include a new, permanent topic: The nature of Israel’s regime.”

Itamar Ben Gvir: How an Extremist Settler Became a Powerful Israeli Minister, The Washington Post
Shira Rubin explains, “[Ben Gvir] occupies a position of immense power in the same system he has spent his life defying. His political rise is inextricably linked to the violent vigilante settler movement, and to his own rap sheet of anti-Arab provocations, which have inflamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and won him a devoted following.”