News Roundup for January 12, 2021

January 12, 2021

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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

Restoring Iran nuclear deal is good for Israel, The Jerusalem Post
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “The claim against immediate return to JCPOA (compliance for compliance) is that the Biden administration is relinquishing the leverage created as a result of the steps taken by Trump against the Iranian economy. In reality, there are many sanctions – unrelated to the JCPOA – that Biden can use as leverage. On top of that, the broad international coalition against Iran, which Biden would also try to extend to US Sunni allies in the region, would provide far more leverage over Iran than American pressure alone. We have all seen in the years since Trump withdrew from the agreement that American pressure has failed to cause Iran to change policy, even though it has done much damage to the Iranian economy. In fact, the contrary is true. Economic pressure is of no value if it is not accompanied by a diplomatic route that will allow Iranian leaders to justify a policy change.”

Top News and Analysis

House Sets Impeachment Vote to Charge Trump With Incitement, New York Times
House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump on Monday for his role in inflaming a mob that attacked the Capitol, scheduling a Wednesday vote to charge the president with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” if Vice President Mike Pence refused to strip him of power first. Moving with exceptional speed, top House leaders began summoning lawmakers still stunned by the attack back to Washington, promising the protection of National Guard troops and Federal Air Marshal escorts after last week’s stunning security failure. Their return set up a high-stakes 24-hour standoff between two branches of government.

Israel will OK over 800 new settlement homes during the week of Biden’s inauguration, JTA
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that he will advance plans to build over 800 new settlement homes next week, days before Joe Biden is sworn in as president of the United States. The move is likely to rile Biden, who like most past U.S. presidents opposes new settlement construction. “We’re here to stay. We’re continuing to build the Land of Israel!” Netanyahu wrote on Facebook.

Traumatized by Trump, U.S. Jews Are About to Get Battered by Israel, Too, Haaretz
Eric Yoffie writes, “If and when American Jews emerge from their own country’s horror show and pay attention to Israel’s upcoming election, they won’t like what they’ll see. As Trump exits the White House stage, more right-wing nationalists are surging towards power in Israel […] Bibi believes in nothing but himself, and his right-wing rhetoric is as much a matter of style as substance. Sa’ar, on the other hand, actually believes in a Jewish state from the Jordan to the sea, and would likely be more supportive than Bibi has ever been of the right wing’s vision of a single state in Eretz Israel.”


Netanyahu approves hundreds of new homes for West Bank settlers on eve of Biden presidency, Washington Post
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday approved the construction of 800 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, launching a potentially provocative expansion in the Israeli-occupied territory just days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Critics immediately accused the prime minister, who has been closely allied with the pro-settler administration of President Trump, of needlessly antagonizing Trump’s successor. “The Biden administration still hasn’t taken office and the government is already leading us to an unnecessary confrontation,” tweeted opposition leader Yair Lapid, who hopes to be part of one of the coalitions aiming to unseat Netanyahu in March elections.

IAEA chief says matter of weeks left to revive Iran nuclear diplomacy, Reuters
Reviving Iran’s nuclear deal must happen within the coming weeks, U.N. atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Monday after Tehran resumed 20% uranium enrichment and its parliament threatened to curb access for U.N. inspectors in February. “It is clear that we don’t have many months ahead of us. We have weeks,” Grossi said in an interview for the Reuters Next conference.

FBI warns ‘armed protests’ being planned at all 50 state capitols and in Washington DC, CNN
The FBI has received information indicating “armed protests” are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington, DC in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, according to an internal bulletin obtained by CNN.

Trump falsely blames Antifa for Capitol insurrection, Axios
President Trump on Monday privately — and falsely — blamed “Antifa people” for storming the Capitol, even though clear video and documentary evidence exists showing the rioters were overwhelmingly Trump supporters. Despite facing an impeachment vote for an assault he helped incite, the outgoing president is still sticking with his tried-and-true playbook of deflecting and reaching for conspiracies.

Israel is a non-democratic apartheid regime, says rights group, The Guardian
Israel is not a democracy but an “apartheid regime” that enforces Jewish supremacy over all the land it controls, a leading domestic rights group has alleged in a position paper bound to provoke fierce controversy […] “Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it,” said the body’s executive director, Hagai El-Ad. “It is one regime between the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid.”

I Was Wrong to Join Netanyahu’: Gantz Calls for Broad Center-left Coalition, Haaretz
Gantz, addressing the press in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, once again cited the coronavirus crisis as the reason for going into a unity government with Netanyahu, saying: “I shook the hand of the man I vowed to replace… because Israel is at war and I’m its soldier, first and foremost. I was wrong… He cheated me and cheated you.”

After approving settlements, Gantz advances permits for Palestinian construction, Times of Israel
Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved a number of preliminary steps for Palestinian construction projects in the West Bank, his office said Monday, in an apparent effort to offset any potential blowback for his approval of some 800 housing units in Israeli settlements earlier in the day.

Opinion and Analysis

A clean return to the Iran nuclear deal should be Biden’s first option, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Eric Brewer writes, “Returning to the deal is not only viable but also presents the best chance of preventing an Iranian bomb. It is the best path toward building on the agreement and addressing some of the shortfalls that critics deride. Moreover, with a bit of planning, the Biden team could address several key concerns about the US return.”

Why U.S.-Iran Tensions Are Rising as Trump’s Term Ends, Bloomberg
David Wainer writes, “Tensions between the two nations have soared anew during Donald Trump’s last weeks as president, with his critics expressing concern that he would order a military strike against Iran. Even without the fresh strains, calming U.S.-Iran relations is a tall order.”

Biden’s Choice for CIA Director Shows Where He’s Headed on Iran, Haaretz
Ben Samuels writes, “William Burns has long argued that the nuclear deal actually makes Israel safer, despite Netanyahu’s long-standing, vocal objections to it.”

My Georgia Jewish family lived in the KKK’s shadow. The Warnock-Ossoff victory is a miracle., The Forward
Jenna Ben-Yehuda writes, “We were banned from the same country clubs, hated by the same groups. But we didn’t bond only through our shared outsider status. Our two communities had a rich history of shared struggle and of partnership, although as time marched on much more of the brunt of that hatred and discrimination continued — and continues — to be shouldered by our Black brothers and sisters. Many Jews have, in recent decades, been given access to levels of privilege that remain closed to Black people. Now, many of us see it as our responsibility to repair an alliance that has become frayed at points, and fully torn at others.”

How Israeli elections disregard women voters, +972 Mag
Noa Balf writes, “By ignoring women’s policy preferences, Israeli parties are not just deepening gender inequality — they’re shifting the country further right.”

Israel and the shameful, dangerous final days of Donald Trump, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “Few leaders were closer to the disgraced president than Netanyahu. Few nations consider themselves to have benefited more from his policies. We’re already seeing the consequences…”

Why is everybody talking about Kristallnacht?, The Forward
A right-wing pundit, a congressman with white nationalist sympathies and an action star-turned-governor of California have all made public analogies to Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in the last 24 hours. Are any of them right?