News Roundup for February 7, 2024

February 7, 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.

J Street In the News

What the US Recognizing a Palestinian State Would Mean, NBC News
“The idea has some supporters at home. “These are important deliberations. This moment calls for bold action,” J Street, a Washington-based advocacy group that describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans,” said this week.”

How Oct. 7 Drove a Wedge Into the Democratic Party, The New York Times
“[J Street] also wants American politicians to put pressure on Netanyahu to curb the excesses of his government. “As a pro-Israel advocate, it is really, really disturbing to see that the result of decades of Israeli policy that has refused to deal with the most critical problems the country faces has led to a point where it’s creating unnecessary enemies and adversaries for itself,” says Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street.”

Top News and Analysis

Hamas Proposes Three-Stage Ceasefire Over 135 Days, Leading to End of War, Reuters
According to a draft document seen by Reuters, the Hamas counterproposal envisions three phases lasting 45 days each. The proposal would see militants exchange remaining Israeli hostages they captured on Oct. 7 for Palestinian prisoners. The reconstruction of Gaza would begin, Israeli forces would withdraw completely, and bodies and remains would be exchanged.

More Than a Fifth of Hostages in Gaza Are Dead, Israel Says, The New York Times
Israeli intelligence officers have concluded that at least 30 of the remaining 136 hostages captured by Hamas and its allies on Oct. 7 have died since the start of the war, according to a confidential assessment that was reviewed by The New York Times. Four officials said that Israeli intelligence officers were also assessing unconfirmed information that indicated that at least 20 other hostages may have also been killed.

Over a Million Palestinians Are Trapped in Rafah. As Israeli Troops Approach, There’s Nowhere Left to Run, CNN
Displaced Palestinians crowded into tents in Rafah are waiting with dread for an anticipated Israeli ground assault on the city – with nowhere left to flee once troops move in. One million people are estimated to be crammed into a tent city in the southern Gaza location, with satellite images showing that the makeshift shelter is rapidly expanding.

House Fails to Pass Standalone Israel Aid Bill, Politico
The White House had derided it as a “cynical political maneuver,” as Republicans roundly reject a more comprehensive and bipartisan border security-foreign aid deal negotiated in the Senate. “It’s just a political stunt by the Republicans and the speaker,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee. “This political stuff does not include any humanitarian assistance.”

Israeli Army Investigating Dozens of Suspected Violations of International Law by Its Soldiers in Gaza, Haaretz
The Israeli army have begun investigating dozens of incidents in the current war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip that have raised suspicions that orders were disobeyed, in which commanders on the ground exceeded their authority or where it is suspected that the international laws of war were violated. Incidents in Gaza being examined by the IDF include those in which large numbers of innocent civilians were reportedly killed, along with attacks on hospitals and schools.

Israel-Based Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations Call for a Ceasefire, B’Tselem
B’Tselem and other human rights groups including Breaking the Silence, Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights Israel, write, “We thus call on all parties to reach an immediate ceasefire and we call upon Israel to allow unfettered entry and delivery of humanitarian aid and goods into and throughout Gaza, as directed to do so by the International Court of Justice. Hamas must unconditionally release all people taken hostage on October 7. We call on the international community to uphold its legal obligation to restore respect for international humanitarian law and protect civilians.”


Senate Democrats Push to Require That Biden Consult Congress on Weapons Sales to Israel, AP
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced an amendment that if passed would strike language in the $118 billion national security supplemental allowing for the administration to expedite funding for any future arms sales to Israel without first notifying Congress. “Congress and the American people deserve full transparency about military assistance to all nations,” Kaine said in a statement.

Israel Hostage’s Terminally Ill Mother Hopes for Final Farewell, Reuters
Suffering from terminal brain cancer, the mother of Israeli hostage Noa Argamani just wants a chance to hug her daughter one last time and bid her farewell. Argamani, 26, has been held hostage in Gaza since she was kidnapped along with her boyfriend Avinatan Or from the Supernova festival in Israel’s Negev Desert on the morning of Oct. 7.

The US Deported A Palestinian To Gaza — And He Was Killed A Few Months Later, HuffPost
Alhelou fled Gaza in 2018 after Hamas, the militant group controlling Gaza, threatened him because he had tried to avoid serving with them. He was denied refugee status in multiple countries, including Turkey and Argentina, before arriving in the United States in December 2021, as HuffPost first reported in 2022. The US denied him asylum and instead held him in detention. In July 2023, he was deported to Gaza.

US, Allies Hope to Soon Announce Steps to End Israel-Hezbollah Fighting, Axios
The US and four of its European allies hope to announce in the next few weeks a series of commitments made by Israel and Hezbollah to diffuse tensions and restore calm to the Israel-Lebanon border, according to two Israeli officials and a source briefed on the issue. Preventing a war between Israel and Hezbollah has been a key objective for the Biden administration.

For Israeli Settlers Sanctioned by US, Many Allegations of Violence, Little Time Served, The Times of Israel
All four settlers sanctioned by Biden have been accused of violent crimes against Palestinians, but only David Chai Chasdai, the most prominent of the bunch with a raft of convictions going back over a decade, has ever served any time. Like Chasdai, Yinon Levi is a known figure within radical settler activist circles, but despite being accused on numerous occasions of violence and harassment towards Palestinians in the West Bank, he has never been prosecuted.

Drone That Killed US Troops in Jordan Likely Went Undetected, The Washington Post
The early findings, which have not been previously reported, indicate that the drone may have been missed “due to its low flight path,” a US defense official told The Washington Post. Additionally, this person said, the base was not outfitted with weapons that can “kill” aerial threats like drones, and instead relied on electronic warfare systems designed to disable them or disrupt their path.

Palestinian Authority to Reduce Salaries as Israel Blocks Gaza Funds, The Times of Israel
The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday it will pay public sector workers only 60 percent of their December salaries this week as it grapples with the longrunning fallout of Israel’s refusal to transfer tax funds earmarked for Gaza. Funding from international donors has also been squeezed, falling from 30% of the $6 billion annual budget to around 1%, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said.

Opinion and Analysis

How UNRWA Aid Helped My Entire Family Survive, Time
Sami Almalfouh shares, “UNRWA ensured that my grandparents, then my parents, and later my siblings and I, had the basic necessities that we needed to survive. My parents, now retired, made decent wages teaching in UNRWA schools. The education I received at UNRWA elementary and middle schools was on par, if not superior, to the education my own children receive in California, where we all live. […] UNRWA must be allowed to continue its critical work, which is carried out by thousands of courageous employees at great risk to themselves.”

Writing These Words in Gaza Could Cost Me My Life, Haaretz
Abdullah, a Gaza resident, shares, “These terrible events are pushing us far from any shred of hope we once held, and the only ones prospering from the war are the far-rightists on both sides. They are shamelessly using the war and blood for political gain. The conflict has spawned two peoples on this land. Neither can eliminate the other. The only solution is to find a way to live side by side in partnership.”

The War Ended Israel’s Democracy Protests, but Not the Threat to Democracy, The New York Times
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “Outside the courtroom, Israel falls short of liberal democracy — most egregiously in its continuing rule over disenfranchised Palestinians in the West Bank. A tectonic political shift, not a court decision, is needed to end the occupation. But a precondition for that shift is open democracy within Israel proper. […] The court’s decision is a crucial reminder: In Israel’s internal conflict, the war is at most a moratorium. The fight to preserve democracy is far from over.”

The Biden Doctrine: An Independent Palestinian State and a US-Israel Defense Treaty are the Right Solution, Substack
Shemuel Meir writes, “Biden understands what many Israelis have not understood. Only a reduction in the Palestinian motivation for violence and terror can bring peace and calm to Israel. It is possible to achieve this goal by providing an answer to the Palestinian aspiration for their own independent state. A demilitarized state that does not stand in contradiction to Israel’s national security.”