News Roundup for February 25, 2022

February 25, 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

Vienna Dispatch: Subdued Iran Talks Head to Endgame in Shadow of Russian War on Ukraine, Substack
“If an agreement to restore the JCPOA is achieved, we may well be heading to a full Congressional review under INARA, given that reentry will require the undoing doing of steps that resulted from Trump’s abrogation of the deal, and therefore by their nature are not covered in the text of the 2015 pact,” Dylan J. Williams, Senior Vice President for Policy and Strategy of the center-left group J Street, told me by email. “We’re hoping to block a resolution of disapproval from ever reaching the president’s desk in the first place by ensuring that at least 41 Senators support the deal,” Williams said.

Top News and Analysis

Biden Hits Russia with New Sanctions, Shifts Troops to Germany, AP
President Joe Biden ordered broad new sanctions targeting Russia on Thursday after its invasion of Ukraine, declaring that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “chose this war” and his country will bear the consequences. The sanctions target Russian banks, oligarchs and high-tech sectors, Biden said. The United States and its allies will block assets of four large Russian banks, impose export controls and sanction oligarchs. Biden also said the U.S. will be deploying additional forces to Germany to bolster NATO after the invasion of Ukraine, which is not a member of the defense organization. Approximately 7,000 additional U.S. troops will be sent.

First Female Arab Knesset Member to Head Israeli Diplomatic Mission, Al Monitor
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has appointed Knesset member Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of Meretz as Israel’s new consul general to Shanghai in a milestone for women. Zoabi will be the first Arab woman to be appointed to one of Israel’s top diplomatic posts. Zoabi thanked Lapid, saying, “It is an enormous privilege to be the first Arab woman to serve in such a senior diplomatic position. I am glad to have a chance to contribute to the important mission of promoting economic, commercial and cultural cooperation with one of Israel’s most important partners anywhere, from the consulate general in Shanghai, one of the major nerve centers of the global economy.”


Israeli Leaders Discuss Russian Invasion Implications, Prepare to Help Ukraine Jews, The Times of Israel
Top Israeli officials met on Thursday to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, deciding to persist in their efforts to get Israeli citizens out of the area while preparing to send aid to Kyiv. The meeting was led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and attended by Defense Minister Benny Gantz; Foreign Minister Yair Lapid; the IDF chief of staff; the national security adviser; and other top defense and diplomatic officials. “During the meeting, they reviewed all of the ramifications of the crisis in different areas (diplomatic, financial and security),” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Israel Seeks Answers to Iranian Drones, Al Monitor
The infiltration of a Hezbollah aircraft into Israeli sovereign airspace Feb. 18 and its return to Lebanon unharmed caused only psychological/public opinion damage to Israel. But it may be that the incident attests to a more serious problem, which is the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) limited capacity to address the growing threat of unmanned aircraft on that front. The drone that was sent to Israel last Friday was not especially large, and the route its operators chose — close to the ground — reportedly made it very difficult to locate and take down. Nonetheless, IDF systems managed to identify its approach to Israeli territory and track its flight, at least at the initial stage. When the identification was ascertained, Israeli security forces decided to deploy all possible means to take it down: electronic weapons, fighter planes and an Iron Dome interceptor.

Opinion and Analysis

We Have Sinned, New Jersey Jewish News
Martin Levine, member of the steering committee for J Street’s New Jersey chapter, writes, “Historically and culturally, we Jews have not sought to blame others for our misfortunes but have looked inward to see where we have fallen short. True, we have sometimes overdone this, failing to take a stand against our oppressors, but there is also something noble in this tradition, something holy even. I think, on the whole, it is a tradition we can and do take pride in. When others shirk responsibility for their misdeeds, we accept that responsibility. Why then, when the misdeeds of Israelis are revealed, is our first response so often, ‘But what about the Palestinians? Why aren’t you talking about their crimes?’”

The PLO Central Council’s Latest Moves Offer a Way Forward, The Times of Israel
Regarding the recent meeting of the PLO Central Council, Bishara A. Bahbah writes, “Notwithstanding the harsh criticism – including well-founded challenges to the legality of the meeting and appointment process – the Central Committee’s actions paved a way forward that can potentially improve conditions for West Bank Palestinians, crucially by providing a path for Hussein Al-Sheikh to replace Abbas. It also reinforced the current relationship between the PA/PLO with both Israel and the United States albeit with many issues still unresolved or not executed. And, unfortunately, it cemented the rupture between the PA/PLO and Hamas in Gaza.”