News Roundup for February 28, 2023

February 28, 2023

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J Street News Roundup

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

U.S. Calls on Israel To Hold Settlers Responsible for Hawara Rampage To Account, Axios
The Biden administration Monday called on Israel to pursue with “equal rigor” the Israeli perpetrators of Sunday’s rampage in the Palestinian town of Hawara as it does with Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israelis. Israeli security officials say they see the attack on the town by hundreds of settlers, shortly after a Palestinian killed two Israelis in the same area, as one of the most significant hate crimes committed by Israelis against Palestinians in recent years.

Israel Says Motorist Killed in West Bank Held US Citizenship, The Washington Post
Israeli authorities said Tuesday that a motorist shot to death by a suspected Palestinian gunman in the occupied West Bank held both American and Israeli citizenship. It was the latest in a bloody string of violent attacks roiling the region. The government identified the slain man as Elan Ganeles, 27, of West Hartford, Conn. A friend told local media he had been visiting Israel for a wedding and driving on a highway near the Dead Sea when he was shot. The attackers remained at large Tuesday.


Biden Administration Under Pressure As Israel-Palestine Violence Escalates, The Guardian
The US has a decision to make. Having redipped its toe in the Palestinian question by orchestrating the Jordan summit, it will have to decide whether to do more than make a minimal ritualistic call for restraint on both sides. It could possibly ask pointed questions about the motives of the Israeli politicians nominally controlling the military. It could start to question the democratic direction of Israel. So far, there has been little sign that Biden is prepared to do that, but many more nights like those in Hawara, and the calculation may change.

In Rare Move, Leading U.S.-Jewish Groups Strongly Condemn Israeli Settler Violence, Haaretz
The United States’ leading Orthodox and Conservative Jewish bodies have sharply condemned Sunday’s rampage by Israeli settlers in a West Bank town, decrying the fact that Jews could commit such acts. The strongly worded statements released Monday by the Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Assembly came a day after a Palestinian in Hawara, near Nablus, was killed and hundreds injured in response to a terror attack in the town that killed two Israeli brothers. Numerous Palestinian properties and cars were set ablaze in the most shocking act of settler violence in years.

Elite IDF Intel Unit Veterans Threaten To Boycott Reserve Duty Over Legal Overhaul, The Times of Israel
Veterans of the Military Intelligence’s elite Unit 8200 have joined a growing list of army reservists threatening to refuse to perform reserve service in protest of the government’s controversial plans to remake the judiciary. In a letter published by the Walla news outlet on Monday and addressed to key figures in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, the veterans expressed their fears over the “integrity and security” of the country.

German FM Airs ‘Concern’ Over Israeli Judicial Overhaul, Death Penalty for Terrorists, Haaretz
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed “concern” over the Israel’s plans to overhaul the judiciary and to introduce the death penalty for terrorists during a press conference in Berlin with her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is looking to defang the country’s judicial with a highly-contested series of laws.

Opinion and Analysis

There Is No Democracy With Occupation, The Times of Israel
J Street’s Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “It is possible that we now understand that we cannot truly exist as a democracy within, while maintaining a dictatorship without. In the end, one side will prevail over the other. Either democracy will win by ceasing military control over another nation, or dictatorship will prevail, by applying the totalitarian means that are deployed in the territories towards the citizens of Israel. As we speak, a despotic grip is tightening around the throat of Israel’s democracy, and many who believed that we could remain disengaged from the events in the occupied territories now begin to understand, perhaps, that they too are paying the price of the occupation.”

Israel’s Far-Right Government Is at the Heart of a Surge in Violence, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor argues, “The Biden administration has largely sought to engage Netanyahu without truly reckoning with his far-right allies. That approach may prove untenable in the months to come. Similar concerns may be felt among the leadership of countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, where warming ties with Israel could be undermined by a major bout of violence in the West Bank.”