News Roundup for February 22, 2022

February 22, 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.

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Authority Backs Down From Mount of Olives Park Plan, AP
Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority said on Monday that it was backing down from an expansion plan to encompass Christian holy sites on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives in a national park, following outcry from major churches. The plan called for expanding the Jerusalem Walls National Park to include property owned by several churches in the city. The heads of the major denominations believed the scheme would infringe on their rights at the sites.

Israel Says Police Didn’t Hack Civilians Without Court Approval, The New York Times
The Israeli justice ministry announced Monday that its weekslong investigation had found no evidence to suggest the Israeli police had systematically bypassed judicial oversight to hack the phones of civilians. The announcement contradicted recent claims in the Israeli news media that rogue detectives had used surveillance software made by NSO Group, a major Israeli spyware firm blacklisted in the United States, to illegally hack dozens of activists, local politicians, business executives and senior civil servants, as well as both critics and associates of Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister.


Israeli Officials Change Tune on Ukraine Crisis, Say They’ll Side With Biden, Haaretz
Should the Ukraine crisis escalate into a diplomatic and economic clash between Washington and Moscow, Israel would back the United States, several senior Israeli officials have said, indicating that Israel could still get drawn into the Ukraine conflict despite its efforts so far to remain neutral.

Israel Successfully Tests Naval Air Defense System, AP
Israel on Monday said it successfully tested a new naval air defense system, intercepting a series of threats in what officials called a key layer of protection against Iran and its proxies in the region. The “C-Dome” system is a naval version of the Iron Dome, which has been used to shoot down rockets fired from the Gaza Strip for the past decade.

Bleak Economy Pushes Gazan Women Toward Domestic Work, Al-Monitor
The bleak economy, the constant wars and the Palestinian division have pushed many women in the Gaza Strip to opt for domestic work. House cleaning can be a lifeline for families who have lost their breadwinner, either due to divorce or death. But some workers face harassment or accusations of theft and are afraid to speak up, let alone go to court, for fear of losing their jobs.

Israel Plans to Open Its Borders to Unvaccinated Tourists, The New York Times
Israel will reopen to all foreign tourists, regardless of their vaccination status, as the country eases travel restrictions amid a rapid decline in coronavirus cases from the Omicron variant.

Opinion and Analysis

A Palestinian-American Died in Israeli Custody. American Jews Help Fund the Unit Responsible, The Forward
Nora Berman argues, “Secretary of State Blinken and the Biden Administration must push Israel for real accountability: it is not okay for Palestinian-American grandfathers to have flannel stuffed in their mouths, be zip-tied and thrown to a cold floor, and left to die. And the broader American Jewish community should demand answers from the New Jersey-based Friends of Nahal Haredi — not because we are responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, but because Jewish values demand action in the face of such a flagrant miscarriage of justice.”

How the Occupation Fuels Tel Aviv’s Booming AI Sector, Foreign Policy
Sophia Goodfriend writes, “”Many Israeli surveillance technologies originate in the occupied Palestinian territories, where Israel’s military rule allows firms to prototype and refine their products before exporting them abroad. It has created somewhat of a revolving door between the Israeli military and tech sector: When private companies work closely with the Israeli military in largely unregulated contexts, army-trained engineers and analysts develop extensive technical skills, which they can put to use in Israel’s booming private surveillance sector once their mandatory service is up.”