News Roundup for July 29, 2021

July 29, 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

National Security Daily: Cruz Clashes with J Street, Politico
The left-leaning, pro-Israel organization is bashing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for blocking a unanimous consent request on passage of the Israel Relations Normalization Act. […] “Senator Cruz’s obstructionist stunt makes one thing clear: he and his right-wing allies are fundamentally opposed to a two-state peace agreement,” Debra Shushan, J Street’s director of government affairs, said in a statement. “Cruz has evidently watched years of the endless Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, where Palestinians lack basic rights and dignity while Israelis face the constant threat of violence and instability, and decided that the unjust and destructive status quo suits him just fine.”

New oversight provision passes House alongside $3.3 billion in aid to Israel, Jewish Insider
The House of Representatives voted last night to approve $3.3 billion in security aid to Israel as part of Congress’s annual appropriations process. […] In a statement, J Street praised the proposal. “J Street lobbied both for the full provision of the $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing security assistance for Israel pledged in the MOU, and for new measures to help ensure that equipment purchased with such aid is not used to support acts of creeping annexation, violations of Palestinian rights, or in other ways contravene longstanding U.S. interests and values,” Debra Shushan, J Street’s director of government affairs, told Jewish Insider.

House passes the 2022 State and Foreign Operations funding bill, Jerusalem Post
The progressive group J Street released a statement as well, saying the organization “applauds the House of Representatives’ passage of a State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill that ensures robust assistance to Israel and the Palestinian people, as well as critical US funding for multilateral organizations and diplomacy worldwide.”

Republican senators seek to codify Trump settlement import-labeling policy, Jewish Insider
Seven Republican senators are seeking to codify import-labeling rules implemented by the Trump administration on products produced in West Bank settlements, Jewish Insider has learned. […] Several left-wing Jewish organizations, including J Street and Americans for Peace Now, have also urged the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees import labeling, to repeal the policy.

Top News and Analysis

Illinois seeks Ben & Jerry’s divestment over Israel stance, AP
Illinois regulators plan to warn the owner of Ben & Jerry’s to reverse the company’s decision to stop selling ice cream in the West Bank and east Jerusalem or face divestment by the state, an official said Wednesday. The Israeli Boycott Restrictions Committee of the Illinois Investment Policy Board will meet to approve setting a 90-day deadline for Unilever to reverse the decision by Ben & Jerry’s, committee chairman Andy Lappin said.

Israeli and Palestinian officials are speaking again, Axios
Relations between the new Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have shifted substantially in recent weeks, with Israeli officials going so far as to call it “a renaissance.” During Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as prime minister, relations deteriorated to the point where there was almost no contact other than security coordination.

We’re Ben and Jerry. Men of Ice Cream, Men of Principle., New York Times
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield write, “We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel. But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government. As such, we unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which a majority of the international community, including the United Nations, has deemed an illegal occupation.”


Israel Secretly Detained Innocent Palestinians in Remote Desert Camps in Sinai, Haaretz
An investigative report reveals that hundreds of Gazans, including families of suspected Fatah terrorists, and young men not suspected of anything were jailed in detention camps in 1971 for almost a year

‘We will return’: the battle to save an ancient Palestinian village from demolition, The Guardian
The ancient Palestinian village of Lifta sits on a quiet hillside minutes from Jerusalem’s bustling modern centre. Abandoned when its residents fled during the 1948 war, it has been left unchanged – frozen in time – ever since. Today, however, its overgrown domed stone houses with arched windows, built during the early Ottoman Empire and resting on even older ruins dating back to the Iron Age, are at risk of being demolished to make way for a luxurious resort of villas, hotels and shops.

Palestinian President Abbas to reshuffle government amid growing backlash, Axios
Amid growing domestic criticism, Abbas is planning to reshuffle the Palestinian government and replace a number of ambassadors and governors. A senior Palestinian official told me the changes would include appointing a new minister of the interior and a new minister of endowments, the officials responsible for the security forces and for religious affairs and Muslim holy sites, respectively.

Israeli lawmakers urge Ben & Jerry’s to drop settlement ban, AP
Three-quarters of the members of the Israeli parliament on Wednesday called on Ben & Jerry’s to reverse its decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and contested east Jerusalem. In a letter to the Vermont-based ice cream maker, the lawmakers said they were “standing together against the “shameful actions” of the company.

Scoop: Israel weighs a return to UNESCO, Axios
The Israeli government is weighing rejoining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which Israel left in 2019 together with the U.S., Israeli officials tell me. An Israeli return to UNESCO, which promotes the preservation of cultural sites around the world and holds educational programs, could help pave the way for the Biden administration to rejoin the organization — and help fend off criticism from Republicans.

Israel Police Officials Say Anti-corruption War Ended Out of Fear, Haaretz
“A cold wind is blowing on large corruption investigations. People understand that it will shock the system and want to avoid it.” This spirit comes from the top, from Shabtai himself, said the sources. The message is that it’s best to avoid such investigations because they will only hurt the police force in the end.

White House raised NSO spyware concerns with Israel, Axios
The White House raised concerns with Israeli officials about reports that spyware from Israeli firm NSO was used to spy on journalists, human rights activists and opposition figures in several countries around the world, Israeli officials tell me. The Israeli government gave NSO export licenses to sell its Pegasus spyware to several countries. Media reports about abuse of the technology have already created uproar in Congress and in several European countries, and Israel fears a possible diplomatic crisis.

Opinion and Analysis

Will Abbas Get Tripped Up by the Palestinian Diaspora?, Foreign Policy
Jonathan Ferziger writes, “Among West Bank Palestinians, Abbas is grudgingly tolerated. In the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, he is ignored and mocked. And in diaspora communities around the world—once the stronghold of Palestinian political power—the grim-faced, white-haired president generates frustration and despair.”

Here in Jerusalem, we Palestinians are still fighting for our homes, The Guardian
Mohammed el-Kurd writes, “In May, our efforts to resist this takeover received a surge of solidarity from Palestinians across Jerusalem and further afield, in what became known as the Unity Uprising. […] Palestinians mobilised and resisted, and around the world people demonstrated in support of the Palestinian right to liberation and decolonisation. But after the ceasefire, the world’s attention has moved away. The reality for Palestinians, however, has not changed.”

Can Enemies Become Allies in the Fight Against Climate Change?, Foreign Policy
Limor Simhony writes, “Climate change should not only be considered a threat. It can also be an opportunity for cross-border collaboration. […] Disputes over water resources, for example, increase tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, especially in Gaza, where there is a major water shortage. More than 90 percent of the water in Gaza is not suitable for drinking due to high salinity levels and pollution from sewage, and the majority of drinking water comes into Gaza from Israel.”