News Roundup for February 23, 2024

February 23, 2024
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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

Ceasefire Efforts Gain Steam as US Envoy Visits. Mediators Report ‘Encouraging’ Signs, AP
A Western diplomat involved in the efforts said both sides want a pause. “What we have heard from our partners is that they are willing to give concessions,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Time is pressing them.” Israel is demanding the release of the remaining hostages as part of any pause but has vowed to press ahead with the offensive until Hamas’ military and governing capabilities are destroyed. Hamas wants an end to the war, a full withdrawal of troops and the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

Netanyahu Seeks Open-Ended Control Over Security and Civilian Affairs in Gaza in New Postwar Plan, The Hill
Israel seeks open-ended control over security and civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip, according to a long-awaited postwar plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was swiftly rejected Friday by Palestinian leaders and runs counter to Washington’s vision for the war-ravaged enclave. The Palestinian Authority denounced Netanyahu’s plan as “colonialist and racist,” saying it would amount to Israeli reoccupation of Gaza.

Relatives of Hostages in Gaza Endure a Nightmare, but Dream Their Loved Ones Will Be Freed, AP
Dozens of families whose relatives were taken to Gaza as hostages have endured a nightmare beyond their comprehension. Nearly five months into the Israel-Hamas war, they remain hopeful that the remaining hostages will be released, but are growing increasingly desperate for a resolution. After the fits and starts of multiple rounds of negotiations, they fret that both Israelis and the world are losing interest in their struggle.

Gaza Aid Delivery Hampered by Israeli Attacks on Police, Rising Chaos, The Washington Post
The volume of aid delivered to Gaza has collapsed in recent weeks as Israeli airstrikes have targeted police officers who guard the convoys, UN officials say, exposing them to looting by criminal gangs and desperate civilians. On average, only 62 trucks have entered Gaza each day over the past two weeks, according to figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs — well below the 200 trucks per day Israel has committed to facilitating.

A Baby Evacuated From Al-Shifa Hospital Reunites With Parents — But in Rafah, They Face Fresh Peril, NBC News
Most of the babies arrived at the hospital unaccompanied, with the whereabouts of their families unknown. Some babies have since been reunited with their parents, including two sets of twins, while the families of others have yet to be found. As of Thursday, nine babies remained in the nursery without their mothers. One baby, known only as “Halema,” believed to be his mother’s name, is among them. He lost an eye in Gaza and had a rare bacterial infection when he arrived at the Egyptian hospital. He’s now out of the NICU and recovering well, but his loved ones are believed to have died, with no one coming forward to claim him.

G20 Says Two-State Solution Only Answer to Israel-Palestinian Conflict, Reuters
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said earlier that there was consensus on the need for a two-state solution in Israel, supported by every speaker who addressed the conflict. “Everybody here, everybody, I haven’t heard anyone against it. There was a strong request for a two-state solution,” Borrell told reporters. “It is consensus among us.”

Trump and Tucker Hold the GOP Hostage. And Israel Is Paying the Price, Haaretz
Ben Samuels writes, “The Republican Party over the past several decades has attempted to turn Israel into a strictly partisan issue, where the GOP offered unconditional support as opposed to the “anti-Israel” Democrats growing increasingly disillusioned with Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. The GOP, however, has been forced to navigate the tension between its hawkish elements and the isolationist America First-ers empowered by the rise of Donald Trump.”


Israel Planning 3,000 New Settlement Homes in Response to Fatal Terror Attack, Haaretz
Israel is planning to build thousands of housing units in West Bank settlements in response to Thursday’s terror attack in which one person was killed and 10 wounded. Should Israel go through with the settlement announcement, it will likely trigger significant outrage from US officials both in public and behind the scenes.

US Isolated at G20 as Gaza Crisis Worsens, The Washington Post
US opposition to an immediate cease-fire in Gaza came under repeated criticism during a two-day meeting of the chief diplomats of the world’s 20 largest economies in the latest sign of Washington’s isolation on the issue. Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira began the meeting by decrying the “paralysis” at the UN Security Council, where Washington vetoed a third resolution for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza earlier in the week. “This state of inaction results in the loss of innocent lives,” Vieira said.

Army Okays Return to Many Communities Near Gaza, Including Some Where Hamas Attacked, The Times of Israel
The announcement Thursday by the IDF’s Home Front Command declared it essentially safe to return to all communities located between four and seven kilometers (2.5-4.3 miles) from the border with Gaza, along with 18 communities even closer to the Strip, including some practically abutting the war-ravaged enclave.

‘It Was an Execution’: Family Mourns Boy Shot Dead by Israeli Forces, The Guardian
The first bullet reportedly hit the 16-year-old in the leg. He collapsed, and as he tried to stand up, he was shot for a second time in the head, according to the schoolboy’s family. Nihal was the 100th Palestinian child to be killed in the occupied West Bank since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, according to the human rights group Defense for Children International.

Doctors WIthout Borders Slams US on Gaza at UN, Says Children as Young as 5 Want to Die, Reuters
The head of Doctors Without Borders told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that medical teams in the Gaza Strip have come up with a new acronym: WCNSF – wounded child, no surviving family. “Children who do survive this war will not only bear the visible wounds of traumatic injuries, but the invisible ones too,” Christopher Lockyear told the 15-member council.

Online Fundraisers for Violent West Bank Settlers Raised Thousands, Despite International Sanctions, AP
When the Biden administration imposed sanctions this month against Israeli settler Yinon Levi, his supporters quickly sprang into action. Within days, an online fundraiser collected over $140,000 for Levi and his unauthorized settler outpost from over 3,000 donors worldwide. Now, those contributions may be putting donors, crowdfunding sites and the financial services firms that process the payments at risk of penalties for violating the US sanctions.

Will Biden’s Gaza Stance Hurt Him in 2024? Michigan Is the First Test, The New York Times
Michigan’s primary election next week will put that discontent on the ballot for the first time, with Biden’s liberal detractors urging Democrats to vote “uncommitted” against him. Some of the president’s allies worry that a movement to register disapproval against him now could have lasting effects into the general election — especially if Biden does not alter his stance toward the conflict.

US Sen. Elizabeth Warren Slams Netanyahu, Calls for Formation of Palestinian State, Haaretz
“How do they have a Middle East that is peaceful,” Warren asked. “The answer is two states. Two states for two peoples. Where people can live with dignity and security and self-determination.” Warren’s interview was released the same day that Israel’s government unanimously approved a decision to oppose unilateral international recognition of a Palestinian state.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Messianic Coalition Partners Want an All-out Regional War. Gaza Is Just a First Step, Haaretz
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert writes, “The ultimate aim of this gang is “purging” the West Bank of its Palestinian inhabitants, cleansing the Temple Mount of its Muslim worshippers and annexing the territories to the state of Israel. The way to achieve this goal is blood-soaked. Israeli blood, in the state and in the territories it has been controlling for 57 years now, as well as Jewish blood in places elsewhere in the world. As well as a lot of Palestinian blood, of course, in the territories, in Jerusalem and if there is no alternative – also among Arab citizens of Israel.”

I Wish I Could Tell Those Negotiating the Fate of Israeli Hostages: My Daughter Naama Is No Bargaining Chip, The Guardian
Ayelet Levy, mother of remaining hostage Naama Levy, shares, “How can I have been promised time and again by world leaders that everything is being done to bring her back? Is it because no one in the room has their daughter being held captive? No one in those meeting rooms has their child locked in the depths of hell and they cannot understand the reprehensible reality that we are in. I often wish I was there. I would look into the eyes of those discussing the fate of my child, and so many other beloved hostages, and remind them of what they are debating. My daughter’s life is not up for debate. She is not a bargaining chip. She is my child, she is my world. She, and all of the hostages, must be brought home now.”

A Special Anguish Among Palestinian Citizens of Israel, The New York Times
Raghad Jaraisy and Ofer Dagan share, “The delicate position of Palestinian citizens of Israel provides a rare commodity in the region: the ability to see a broader and more nuanced picture and serve as a bridge to a long-lasting solution to the war and the larger conflict. The links between the two groups could be a model for a different future in the area, and a stronger Palestinian voice in Israel could increase the demand for a just and humane resolution to the war, helping both peoples. The Palestinian citizens of Israel are worth listening to.”

What ‘Winning’ the War Would Look Like, The Times of Israel
Rabbi John Rosove writes, “Too many Israelis are dead, injured and traumatized. Too many thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians have died and been injured and southern Israeli communities and the Gaza Strip lay in ruins. Gazans are facing widespread famine and disease. Israeli society, despite the unity of the people in the initial few months of this war is still deeply polarized. For the Jewish people to claim any kind of a “win” in the context of this awful war after October 7, however, I would hope that the following would materialize, sooner rather than later.”