News Roundup for February 24, 2021

February 24, 2021

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

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

Key Jewish Groups Ask Joe Biden To Revoke Trump’s Parting Gift For Israel’s Netanyahu, Huffington Post
“A coalition of influential Jewish American groups seeking peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians wants President Joe Biden to revoke a planned Trump administration policy that treats occupied territory crucial to a future Palestinian state as already part of Israel. […] ’The upcoming implementation deadline for this requirement provides the Biden administration with an important opportunity to make absolutely clear that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements located in occupied Palestinian territory to be part of Israel,’ Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president, told HuffPost […] In criticizing Israeli demolitions earlier in February, J Street issued a statement suggesting Biden has little time to waste as ‘creeping annexation’ continues. ‘At a time when the Israeli government’s disinterest in serious negotiations with the Palestinians toward two states has never been more evident, the new Biden administration should act swiftly and decisively to change this paradigm and establish a new norm,’ the organization said then.”

J Street Condemns Bigoted Smear Campaigns Against Biden Administration Officials, J Street
“This seemingly endless cycle of smear campaigns is clearly rooted in the bigoted idea that public servants from these backgrounds are somehow inappropriate or unfit choices to work on important issues of foreign policy and national security, or that they somehow pose a threat to their fellow Americans. The same media outlets and politicians who often decry so-called ‘cancel culture’ hypocritically tend to launch their attacks on the basis of views or affiliations that incoming officials were associated with long before their many years of outstanding public service. They also tend to treat any history of sympathy with or advocacy for Palestinian rights as if it is somehow sinister, disqualifying or even ‘antisemitic.’”

Top News and Analysis

Biden moves to reengage with Palestinians after Israel focus, AP
The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America’s closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden’s administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state.

Israel Gives Vaccine to Far-Off Allies, as Palestinians Wait, New York Times
The Israeli government has pledged to send thousands of spare coronavirus vaccines to foreign allies, reigniting a debate about Israel’s responsibilities to people closer to home: Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. On Tuesday, the governments of the Czech Republic and Honduras confirmed that Israel had promised them each 5,000 vaccine doses manufactured by Moderna. The Israeli news media reported that Hungary and Guatemala would be sent a similar number, but the Hungarian and Israeli governments declined to comment, while the Guatemalan government did not respond to a request for comment. The donations are the latest example of a new expression of soft power: vaccine diplomacy, in which countries rich in vaccines seek to reward or sway those that have little access to them.

Soros, ‘Cultural Marxism’ and QAnon: How the GOP Is Energizing and Entrenching Antisemitism in America, Haaretz
Shane Burley writes, “While Greene may be a particularly spectacular example of barely-covert antisemitism, the conspiratorial bigotry she she cheerleads has become part and parcel of the Republican Party, which, in the Trump era, has been refashioned from dedication to establishment financial interests to championing increasingly unhinged ideas about America and the world in an attempt to channel a vague populist anger. “


U.S.’s Blinken stresses two-state solution to Palestinian conflict in call with Israeli minister, Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Israeli counterpart on Monday that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was best for the future of Israel, the U.S. State Department said.

Israeli checkpoint killing of Palestinian was an execution, report claims, The Guardian
Israeli forces executed a 26-year-old Palestinian at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank last year, a report has alleged, challenging Israeli police claims that the man was a “terrorist” conducting an attack.

A Month to Israeli Election, Bennett Says He Won’t Join Lapid-led Government, Haaretz
In an interview with Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, Bennett said that “we have no problem with Lapid joining the coalition but ultimately we will not be part of a left-wing government.”

Bennett: I’m more right-wing than Bibi, but I don’t use the tools of hate, Times of Israel
He’s not in the business of boycotting political rivals, but he is a man of “the national camp” — a firm and proud right-winger who will oppose Palestinian statehood forever, under any and every circumstance; who wants to extend Israeli sovereignty to some 60 percent of the West Bank; who thinks Israel has already relinquished too much of its Biblical land.

Blinken: US to run for UNHRC seat, abolish anti-Israel bias, The Jerusalem Post
“I’m pleased to announce the United States will seek election to the Human Rights Council for the 2022-24 term,” Blinken said as he spoke at the virtual high-level meeting of the 46th session which opened Monday and ends on March 23.

Defending candidacy in Supreme Court, Arab would-be Labor MK again apologizes, Times of Israel
Labor candidate Ibtisam Mara’ana, banned by a Knesset panel from running in the election over controversial remarks she had made in the past about Memorial Day, along with other comments some have called anti-Zionist, again apologized at a Supreme Court hearing on her candidacy on Wednesday.

Israeli police enter Qalandia Refugee Camp, assault Palestinian teen, fire indiscriminately, and injure five, B’Tselem
While the officers were in the house and after their departure, residents of the camp hurled stones and heavy objects at them. Several police snipers opened live fire, including 0.22-inch caliber bullets (two-twos), at residents in the camp — without distinguishing between those who took part in the clashes and passers-by — injuring four people. ‘Ali Hamad (25) was hit in the abdomen while on the family’s roof after the police arrested his two brothers; Ahmad Rum (29) was shot in the chest as he stood at an intersection near the Hamad family home; ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Qader (16) was hit in the hip near his grandmother’s house, about 100 meters from the Hamad home; and Muhammad Khalil (47) was hit in the leg below the knee as he tried to help the wounded ‘Abd al-Qader. Another resident was wounded by shrapnel.

Palestinian Suspected of Attempted Stabbing Attack in West Bank, Haaretz
An Israeli man said Wednesday that a Palestinian attempted to stab him near the Yizhar Junction in the West Bank, without injuring him.

Opinion and Analysis

Iranian nuclear deal: hopes grow for the JCPOA, but time is tight, The Guardian
The Editorial Board writes, “Credit is due to the E3 for shoring up the JCPOA against the odds, despite intense pressure from the Trump administration and its inability to find an effective economic mechanism for support. That commitment has paid off. But much more still needs to be done to save the deal. The US does not want to look like it is going easy on Tehran. But it could quietly end its obstruction of Iran’s $5bn (£3.5bn) IMF request for Covid relief, or give the nod to the release of frozen funds in other countries under arrangements ensuring they are used for humanitarian purposes.”

COVID-19 Vaccines for the Palestinians, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “Needless to say, this is not only a legal and humanitarian duty but a medical necessity: Not only are the fates of our two nations entwined, so are the people themselves. The Israelis and Palestinians live within a single territorial unit, such that the road to eradicating the pandemic within Israel’s sovereign borders also runs through the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “

Biden won’t let Netanyahu affect US policy toward Israel, Responsible Statecraft
Mitchell Plitnick writes, “Biden certainly wants to avoid being a factor in the Israeli election, another stark contrast to Trump who was proud to feature himself in support of Netanyahu. He will need to work closely with the victor, and, while the alternatives to Netanyahu are unlikely to break radically with his policies regarding the Palestinians, they might be more amenable to working with Biden, rather than against him, with respect to Iran, even if they are wary of the nuclear deal.”