News Roundup for February 18, 2022

February 18, 2022
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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

Iran Nuclear Deal Inches Toward Revival but Faces Critics in U.S., The New York Times
“Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the liberal pro-Israel advocacy group J Street, described the opposition to the accord as a small number of Democrats and a concentrated Republican effort “to play politics with American foreign policy.” He said no Democrats who voted to support the 2015 deal lost elections in congressional midterm elections a year later. “There was no political fallout,” said Mr. Ben-Ami, whose group supported the agreement and is advocating its renewal. “The beauty of having this argument a second time is that we actually have the facts from the first time — the real-world experience both that the policy was good and that the politics didn’t hurt anybody who supported it,” Mr. Ben-Ami said. “And yet, here we are in 2022, going back and having the exact same argument.””

Top News and Analysis

Israel Says It Won’t Cooperate With UN Human Rights Probe, Axios
Israeli officials have notified a UN commission investigating alleged human rights abuses in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel that the country will not cooperate with its probe, claiming it is biased against Israel, according to a letter sent to the commission chair Navi Pilay that was obtained by Axios.

We Arrested Countless Palestinians for No Reason,’ Says Ex-top Shin Bet Officer, Haaretz
Haim Rubovitch, who served for 25 years in the Shin Bet in posts ranging from case officer to head of a directorate, spoke candidly with Haaretz about his experience, saying “If the goal is to continue to control [Palestinians] fate, then we had a great success. If we had any aspiration for a permanent solution, though, we didn’t move forward by even a millimeter…The situation that has been created [in which Israel controls the fate of the West Bank Palestinians] is not moral, not Jewish, not principled and not anything. Do you think the Palestinians will get used to it? That will never happen.”


PA’s Abbas Hosts US House Speaker Pelosi for Rare West Bank Meeting, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of a Congressional delegation in Ramallah on Thursday, with the Palestinian leader saying the two sides must “overcome the obstacles on the path to ties.” Pelosi was in Israel this week leading a delegation of eight Democratic Party lawmakers to the region. She met Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier on Thursday in Jerusalem. The sit-down was a relatively rare high-level meeting between Abbas and a senior American politician. The PA saw only a handful of such visits in recent years when ties soured during former president Donald Trump’s administration.

For First Time Since COVID, Israel to Allow Visitation Rights for Gaza Prisoners, Haaretz
Prisoners from the Gaza Strip, except for those affiliated with Hamas, will be allowed to receive family visits for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Israel Prison Service informed the High Court of Justice on Tuesday.

Israeli Legislator Promotes New ‘Peace Authority’, Al-Monitor
Head of the Knesset subcommittee on foreign affairs Emilie Moatti convened a meeting Feb. 15 on civil initiatives for advancing cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. She said, “Today is the first of a series of meetings I am planning throughout the year to examine our relations with the Palestinians. What the left and the right within the current coalition have in common is the unwillingness to cause suffering to the Palestinian people.”

Israel Shoots Down Hezbollah Drone Near Lebanon Border, Military Says, Haaretz
The Israeli military on Thursday said it shot down an unmanned aircraft launched by Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group into Israeli airspace. This is the sixth time Israel has shot down a Hezbollah drone in the past year, the last time being just last month.

Drone From Lebanon Triggers Sirens Across North, Evades Iron Dome, Times of Israel
The Israel Defense Forces fired an Iron Dome interceptor missile at a small unmanned aircraft that entered the country from Lebanon Friday, but missed it, the military said.

Opinion and Analysis

Striking for Freedom: Why Palestinian Detainees Are Boycotting Israeli Courts, (+972 Mag
Yuval Abraham reports, “For the past six weeks, hundreds of Palestinian administrative detainees have been boycotting Israeli military courts over their indefinite imprisonment with no trial or indictment. Since Jan. 1, the prisoners have announced that they will not arrive for hearings at courts, and that they are refusing to allow attorneys to represent them in absentia until Israel ceases its use of administrative detention.”

Who Looks After Israel’s Homeless?, Haaretz
Haaretz’s editorial board writes, “Ramat Gan does not operate shelters for homeless people, and the city has adopted a policy of referring people without housing to shelters in Tel Aviv. Many other Israeli cities also refuse to open dedicated shelters for people without homes. That is how two homeless people died in Bat Yam during winter storm Carmel in December. Given this situation – in which cities shirk their responsibilities, the Social Services Ministry neither supervises nor enforces and the shortage of beds only keeps growing – the national government must enshrine the rights of homeless people in legislation that will prevent them from being abandoned.”