News Roundup for June 15 2021

June 15, 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

People who know Biden say he’s glad to see the back of Netanyahu, The Independent
“A spokesperson for the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, Logan Bayroff, said it’s too soon to tell whether Netanyahu’s ouster will herald a wave of pro-democracy results in other countries that underwent a recent authoritarian populist wave. That wave brought leaders such as Trump, Brazil’s Bolsonaro, and the Philippines’ Duterte into office, but may now be receding. Bayroff noted that Netanyahu himself made such a prediction last week: ‘Netanyahu has identified himself clearly with the global illiberal democracies and more authoritarian leaders like Trump, [India’s Narendra] Modi, [Hungary’s Viktor] Orban, and other who aren’t afraid to traffic in ethno-nationalism, and he even was saying last week, that his own downfall would be a blow to the right wing worldwide.’”

Top News and Analysis

Israel braces for unrest ahead of right-wing Jerusalem march, AP
Israelis prepared for possible unrest ahead of a planned march by Jewish ultranationalists through east Jerusalem on Tuesday that poses a test for the country’s fragile new government and the tenuous truce with Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers. Palestinians consider the rowdy march, which every year winds through the Old City’s Damascus Gate and into the heart of the Muslim Quarter, a provocation. Hamas has called on Palestinians to “resist” the parade, a version of which was held at the height of last month’s unrest in the city and helped ignite the 11-day Gaza war.

Biden Administration Sees a Fresh Face and a New Start in Israel’s Naftali Bennett, Wall Street Journal
It took only two hours for President Biden, in Europe on his first overseas trip, to call Naftali Bennett after he was sworn in Sunday as the new prime minister of Israel. A White House readout of the call and an earlier statement sent minutes after Mr. Bennett took the oath of office made one thing clear: The Biden administration is looking to start off on the right foot with the new Israel government.

New Israel government vows change, but not for Palestinians, AP
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s best hope for maintaining his ruling coalition — which consists of eight parties from across the political spectrum — will be to manage the conflict, the same approach favored by his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, for most of his 12-year rule. But that method failed to prevent three Gaza wars and countless smaller eruptions. That’s because the status quo for Palestinians involves expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank, looming evictions in Jerusalem, home demolitions, deadly shootings and an array of discriminatory measures that two well-known human rights groups say amount to apartheid. In Gaza, which has been under a crippling blockade since the Hamas militant group seized power in 2007, it’s even worse.


New Israeli foreign minister stresses need to repair ties with Democrats, Axios
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a ceremony on his first day in office on Monday that the new government must repair Israel’s relationship with the Democratic Party, which he said had badly deteriorated during Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister. “The previous government took a bad and lightheaded bet to focus only on the Republican Party and abandon Israel’s bipartisan status in America,” said Lapid, who is also the alternate prime minister and heads the biggest faction in the new coalition. He called Netanyahu’s behavior toward the democrats “disgraceful and dangerous.”

New Israeli government is just as bad as the last, says Palestinian PM, The Guardian
Benjamin Netanyahu’s ousting closes one of the “worst periods” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but the new government headed by a settler advocate, Naftali Bennett, is just as bad as the last, the Palestinian prime minister has said.

Israel’s New Coalition Takes First Steps, Including Mending Fences With U.S., New York Times
Israel’s fragile new coalition government gave a first glimpse of its priorities on Monday, as ministers announced plans to repair Israeli ties with the U.S. Democratic Party and the Jewish diaspora, investigate a disaster at religious site last month that killed 45, and permit a far-right march through Jerusalem on Tuesday that some fear will lead to violence.

Netanyahu is out, but his legal woes aren’t going anywhere, Washington Post
Benjamin Netanyahu lost his long battle to remain Israel’s top political leader this weekend, leaving office after a run of 12 years as prime minister. Now he faces a legal battle against the graft charges that came to dominate his final years in office.

Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Parties, Shorn of Influence, Vow to Unseat Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Wall Street Journal
For the past four decades, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties have spent more time in government than out. Now they join their ally Benjamin Netanyahu in opposition, and have already begun taking aim at new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition as they try to preserve some of the hard-won privileges they enjoy in Israeli society.

From Israel to Ireland, longtime opponents have formed odd coalitions to seize power, Washington Post
The new governing coalition that took power Sunday in Israel is one of the oddest in recent memory: It unites ardent supporters of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and staunch advocates of an autonomous Palestinian state. Incorporating eight parties from across the political spectrum, the alliance includes factions with strong commitments to Orthodox Jews, others who believe government should be strictly secular, and, for the first time, an Arab Islamist party.

Three-quarters of American Jews say they’re more concerned about antisemitism following the Israel-Gaza conflict, JTA
Three-quarters of U.S. Jews said their concern over antisemitism in the country has grown following the fighting last month in Israel and Gaza, according to a survey published Monday by the Anti-Defamation League. More than 40% of the respondents said they are now more concerned for their personal safety as well than they were before the 11 days of warring.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu just showed that he’s as graceless and selfish as Trump, Washington Post
Max Boot writes, “Netanyahu has genuine accomplishments to boast of — from Israel’s covid-19 vaccination campaign to winning recognition of Israel from four Muslim states. He is much smarter than Trump and much more skilled at politics. But his farewell speech shows why so many of his former allies turned against him and ultimately turfed him out of office. Like Trump, Netanyahu suffers from a crippling character defect. He lies, schemes and backstabs because politics, for him, is ultimately about self-promotion — not national service. His farewell address showed why he should never be given another chance to lead.”

The End of the Netanyahu Era, Foreign Affairs
Martin Indyk writes, “In the end, Netanyahu’s politics became so divisive and his sense of entitlement so great that to have him replaced by a true unity government of eight diverse parties working together for the common good will certainly be welcome to many Israelis. Far from merely surviving, it might even thrive.”

Israel’s New Coalition Government Is More Stable Than It Looks, Foreign Policy
For the past four decades, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties have spent more time in government than out. Now they join their ally Benjamin Netanyahu in opposition, and have already begun taking aim at new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition as they try to preserve some of the hard-won privileges they enjoy in Israeli society.

Netanyahu just showed that he’s as graceless and selfish as Trump, Washington Post
Henry Olsen writes, “Israel’s Knessett voted to depose longtime prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, ending (for now) the Bibi era. With the inclusion of a member from the Arab Ra’am party in the nation’s new governing coalition, the Jewish state now has an opportunity to usher in an era of reconciliation.”

The real earthquake in Israeli politics, CNN
Anthony David writes, “This is why Abbas is such a revolutionary. If the coalition survives the relentless attacks by Netanyahu — he has vowed to topple the “fraud government” — it will pour billions of dollars into the Arab sector. If past investments in the Ultra-Orthodox community are any guide, such a massive infusion of funds could result in rising employment rates, better education, housing and health care.”

The Palestinian political class has become a heavy burden on the people, Washington Post
Nidale Bertare and Hazem Youness write, “If anything has been made clear by the current developments in Palestine, it is the weakness of the traditional Palestinian political system and its disconnect from the Palestinian people. The historical conditions that produced the traditional Palestinian leadership do not exist anymore, and there is no longer a unified political project. The leadership is now fractured and controlled by different regional and global alliances and loyalties.”

Netanyahu’s legacy: Allying with US hawks and fomenting division in Washington, Responsible Statecraft
Mitchell Plitnick writes, “The most distinctive mark of Netanyahu’s time in office is his handling of foreign affairs. From the Abraham Accords, which normalized Israel’s relationships with several Arab states, to Iran, to the polarization of Israel’s relationship with the United States, Netanyahu made a mark that was truly his own on Israel’s foreign policy, with profound repercussions for other countries.”

Sorry, but as an Arab, Israel’s New Government Doesn’t Make Me Happy, Haaretz
Hanin Majadli writes, “The whoops of delight from the center-left about the super-exciting coalition between the conservative-Jewish right and Islamic religious conservatism are a little silly. It’s nice to congratulate the UAL for its pragmatism and courage in integrating into that imagined version of Israeli-ness, but where was the courage and pragmatism of that same center-left camp when the Joint List of Arab parties, with its 15 Knesset seats, could have been brought in, to possibly create a genuine government of change? Where were the democratic camp and the Israeli left then?”