News Roundup for February 9, 2024

February 9, 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

Biden Places New Conditions on US Military Aid Following Criticism of Israeli Campaign, Jewish Insider
“Van Hollen’s amendment earned the support of J Street, which has for several years sought additional restrictions on US aid to Israel and on Thursday praised the new policy. “J Street has for years called for greater oversight and accountability over arms and materiel provided by the United States to other countries, including Israel. American assistance – even to our closest allies – must not be provided in the form of a blank check,” J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami told JI. “This memorandum also confirms America’s commitment to ensuring that its partners and allies do not restrict or impede the transport or delivery of humanitarian assistance,” he continued.”

Trump in the White House Means No Democracy for Us, The Times of Israel
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “Netanyahu has realized that his standing in the polls is not going to change significantly. He understood that the electorate has no reason to let him stay in power following the greatest disaster in the history of the State of Israel, which occurred on his watch. He comprehends that the only political card up his sleeve is the return of Trump to the White House and followed by embraces of two dictators in the making.”

Top News and Analysis

Calling Israel’s Response in Gaza ‘Over the Top,’ Biden Conditions Defense Aid on Allowing Humanitarian Assistance, JTA
Biden is conditioning US defense assistance on not impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid, a key point of tension between the US and Israeli governments during the Gaza war. The White House national security memorandum requires that all countries receiving arms from the US to commit in writing that, in a war arena where US weapons are in use, “the recipient country will facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance and United States Government-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance.”

US Intelligence Officials Tell Congress That Israel Is Not Close to Eliminating Hamas, The New York Times
US intelligence officials told members of Congress this week that Israel had degraded Hamas’s fighting capabilities but was not close to eliminating the group, the principal war aim of the Israeli government, American officials said. Netanyahu, speaking after a meeting with Secretary of State Blinken, emphasized again on Wednesday that his goal was to destroy Hamas.

Israeli Bombs Target Gaza’s Crowded Rafah as the US Warns Israel Against Sending Troops There, AP
Airstrikes overnight and into Friday hit two residential buildings in Rafah, while two other sites were bombed in central Gaza, including one that damaged a kindergarten-turned-shelter for displaced Palestinians. Twenty-two people were killed, according to AP journalists who saw the bodies arriving at hospitals.

‘Bring Them Back’: Freed Israeli Hostages Plead With Netanyahu for Deal, The Guardian
Moments after Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rejected the terms of a ceasefire in Gaza proposed by Hamas, five Israeli hostages who were freed in November pleaded with him to push for a deal. “Everything is in your hands,” a tearful Adina Moshe, 72, said in a direct appeal to the prime minister. She said she feared the remaining hostages and their families would pay the price for Netanyahu’s pursuit of “absolute victory” over the militant group.

Inside the ‘Very Tough’ Vote for House Democrats on Israel Aid, Axios
The White House was calling Democrats to flip them against House Republicans’ Israel aid bill, Axios has learned. But 46 voted for it anyway. The 46 breakaways were roughly in line with what leadership anticipated, senior Democrats said. One told Axios many members were “really conflicted.” Another Democrat pointed to pro-Israel groups like AIPAC being “very aggressive in their outreach,” saying some swing-district members “are just scared of them.”

Meet the Settlers Targeted by Biden’s Sanctions — And Their Victims, +972
Oren Ziv reports, “+972 Magazine and Local Call spoke with Palestinians and Israelis who have been directly impacted by the violence of the targeted settlers and their comrades in arms. Most welcomed the executive order but wondered whether it would have any effect on the ground; whether it would deter other settlers; whether sanctions would be extended to other settlers involved in the violence; and whether such sanctions would ultimately reach the leadership of the settlement movement, including those sitting in government.”

Netanyahu’s Delusional, Deadly Quest for ‘Total Victory’, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “In the wake of Oct. 7 and the ruinous Israel-Hamas war, the need for a lasting solution is on the front burner. Arab leaders, including the influential Saudis, now say a path to Palestinian statehood is a prerequisite for any engagement in a postwar scenario in Gaza. Some US lawmakers concur. There are suggestions that a frustrated Biden administration could formally recognize a Palestinian state, even if, as an entity, it remains more theoretical than real.”


Satellite Images Show Significant Growth in Tent Housing Around Gaza Border City, ABC News
Rafah’s population has grown amid intense fighting and expanding evacuation orders to the north in the past few weeks. International aid organizations tracking the increase in internally displaced people in Rafah have warned about the potential humanitarian consequences of a threatened incursion by the IDF.

Blinken Cancels Gaza Crossing Visit After Israel Doesn’t Commit to Stopping Aid Protests, Haaretz
Secretary of State Blinken canceled a planned visit to the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday because Israel couldn’t promise that the passage of aid through the crossing wouldn’t be disrupted by right-wing demonstrators while he was there. The visit was meant to enable Blinken to evaluate the passage of aid trucks through the crossing firsthand.

The War in Gaza Is Wiping Out Palestine’s Education and Knowledge Systems, The Conversation
In the past four months, all or parts of Gaza’s 12 universities have been bombed and mostly destroyed. Approximately 378 schools have been destroyed or damaged. The Palestinian Ministry of Education has reported the deaths of over 4,327 students, 231 teachers and 94 professors. Numerous cultural heritage sites, including libraries, archives and museums, have also been destroyed, damaged and plundered.

Family of Israeli Man Killed in Oct.7 Attack Informed Body Held in Gaza, Haaretz
Godard lived in Be’eri from the age of 13, and over the years he managed the mini-market and the pool at the kibbutz and also served as its chief economist. His children describe him as “the most devoted and loving father and grandfather, a family man who took care of those around him, a man of sea and of love, and a devoted Hapoel Tel Aviv fan.”

US Seeking Answers After Chicago Brothers, Louisiana Mom Detained in Gaza, West Bank, The Times of Israel
The White House said Thursday it was seeking more information from Israeli authorities about two young adult American brothers detained in Gaza and the arrest of an American woman in the West Bank. Borak Alagha, 18, and Hashem Alagha, 20, two brothers born in the Chicago area, were detained along with their Canadian father in Gaza, relatives said Thursday. On Monday, Samaher Esmail, 46, was taken from her home in the West Bank and detained.

Nearly 100% of Arabs Say US Policy on Israel-Gaza ‘Bad’, Responsible Statecraft
Israel’s war in Gaza – and Washington’s support for it – is inflicting serious damage on US standing across the Arab world, according to a representative poll of 16 Arab countries released Thursday by the Arab Center Washington DC. An aggregate average of 82% of respondents across the region described the US response to the war as “very bad,” while another 12% described it as “bad.”

Some Arab American Leaders Left Frustrated After Meeting with Biden Officials in Michigan Over Israel-Hamas War, CNN
In statements after the meeting, which lasted about two hours, some of those involved vented their frustration with what they heard. A spokesperson for one group said it was “met with yet another failure from the Biden administration to call for an immediate ceasefire that saves lives.”

Opinion and Analysis

Biden’s Sanctions Crucially Reinstate the Distinction Between Israel and the West Bank, Haaretz
Carolina Landsmann writes, “Any Israeli revival requires returning to the distinction between sovereign Israel and the West Bank, between the legitimate Israel and the occupying one, between civilians and settlers. To liberate Palestinians from the occupation, we first have to liberate Israelis from the settler occupation.”

It’s Not Too Late to Give Gaza a Better Future, The Atlantic
Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib shares, “Gaza’s future, after the most horrific and destructive war in its history, must not be undermined by poor planning, intransigence, and lack of imagination. That Hamas is already reemerging in parts of Gaza vacated by IDF ground troops should serve as a warning of what will happen throughout the Strip, unless some alternative course is immediately pursued. After months of horrendous slaughter, destruction, and suffering, the people of Gaza desperately need a new future.”

There Sure Are a Lot of Republican Billionaires Funding the Democratic Primaries, Slate
Alexander Sammon reports, “AIPAC has made it a clear goal to defeat every progressive Democrat it can in 2024. At the end of January, Federal Election Commission filings revealed that the United Democracy Project super PAC already had $40 million on hand by the end of 2023, nearly double the $26 million it spent on the 2022 midterms. Those numbers will likely skyrocket further. Massive though it is, the dollar figure is actually less notable than who donated it. Of the top 10 biggest donors to the Democrats-only super PAC during the past six months, boosters of Donald Trump abound.”

Building the Palestinian State with Salam Fayyad [Audio], The New York Times
Ezra Klein hosts former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad and asks him about his time building a Palestinian state. “What did he learn working with the various factions — including Hamas — in Palestinian politics? What did he learn working with Israel? How did we still end up here? And what, given all he’s seen and done, does he think should happen now?”