News Roundup for June 17 2021

June 17, 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

Any new US aid to Israel should prioritize peacebuilding, not more weapons, Responsible Statecraft
J Street’s Dylan Williams writes, “If U.S. taxpayers were to spend an extra $1 billion to help secure Israel from Hamas rockets and other acts of terrorism on top of existing support for its missile defense systems, a priority for additional funding should be programs that address the root causes of the cycle of violence and help erode Hamas’s power.”

Rivlin proved the importance of the presidency, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “The importance of the presidency stems from the fact that we have no constitution, that our political system encourages a short-term political tactics over long-term strategic statesmanship, and both of the above are especially critical when power is held by a man like Netanyahu, whose entire focus was on his political and legal survival.”

How St. Louis Jews feel about Israel’s change in prime minister, St. Louis Jewish Light
Neil Jaffe, chapter chair of J Street St. Louis, writes, “It’s hard to say how much Netanyahu had done to cause damage to the Israeli democracy, to the civic institutions, to the rule of law. It’s going to be hard to come back from, but I think there is great relief that Netanyahu is out and that there is a new group in place. I think Bennett is a thoroughly right-wing politician. He worked closely with Netanyahu, but he only holds six Knesset seats, so I think the whole coalition is really going to depend on the inclusion and buy-in of the center and center-left and left-wing parties. I think that with other parties occupying critical ministries, there is an opportunity for this new coalition to strengthen Israeli democracy, strengthen Israeli civil society and hopefully address and end the occupation of the Palestinians.”

Don’t let Mideast peace slip from our grasp again, Morning Call
J Street Leader Richard Master writes, “We must push Israel to cease onerous restrictions on Gaza and usher in major humanitarian assistance for the suffering. We must see to it that a political solution is negotiated that ends the occupation and guarantees the political rights, safety and self-determination of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel-Hamas Tensions High as Gaza Militants Launch More Flaming Balloons, Wall Street Journal
Palestinian militants in Gaza launched more flaming balloons into Israel on Wednesday, as a new round of violence between Israel and Hamas entered a second day and threatened to trigger another conflict. Little-known militant groups in Gaza claimed responsibility for the arson attacks, which ignited four fires in agricultural zones in southern Israel, according to Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority.

Iran nuclear deal hangs in balance as Islamic Republic votes, AP
Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers hangs in the balance as the country prepares to vote on Friday for a new president and diplomats press on with efforts to get both the U.S. and Tehran to reenter the accord. The deal represents the signature accomplishment of the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s eight years in office: suspending crushing sanctions in exchange for the strict monitoring and limiting of Iran’s uranium stockpile.

Naftali Bennett: How Israel’s new PM plans to handle relations with Biden, Axios
New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is signaling he intends to move cautiously at first on issues like Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an approach that will suit the Biden administration just fine. Bennett is aiming to avoid an early confrontation with the U.S., and his fragile and ideologically diverse government will have a hard time taking any groundbreaking steps on foreign policy in the first place.


Israel to halt nighttime ‘mapping’ of Palestinian homes, AP
The Israeli military says it is reining in a controversial practice of conducting late-night raids of Palestinian homes in the West Bank aimed at gathering information about the houses and their inhabitants. The military has in the past defended the practice, known as “intelligence mapping,” as a necessary measure to counter militant groups. But human rights groups say the policy served only to intimidate civilians.

Why balloons strapped to explosives are the latest flashpoint in Israel-Hamas tensions, CNN
The balloons are designed to frighten, cause damage, and start fires. Much of the land immediately surrounding Gaza are fields, nature reserves or farmland. Other than explosives attached to the devices potentially landing in residential areas and causing injuries or damage, the fires from the balloons burn crops and nature reserves. According to the Israeli Parks and Nature Reserve Authority, such fires have burned more than 3,657 acres of the area surrounding Gaza from 2018 until May 25, 2021. Israeli authorities say the fires have destroyed thousands of acres of crops.

With election fraud claims, Peru’s Keiko Fujimori takes a page from the Trump playbook. She’s not alone., Washington Post
While politicians the world over have long sought to contest election outcomes, with and without basis, some experts say Fujimori’s approach, following Trump’s effort to discredit the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election over false claims of fraud, could signal the emergence of a trend. […] Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s long-standing prime minister until Sunday, cast a deal among opposition lawmakers to remove him from power as “the fraud of the century,” and himself as the victim of plots by Israel’s “deep state.” His supporters blasted right-wing parties that joined the winning coalition as “traitors” and threatened leading politicians.

Israelis Wonder When or Whether Netanyahu Will Exit Official Residence, New York Times
Suspicions that Mr. Netanyahu might be reluctant to leave the stately home where he has lived for the past 12 years were bolstered this week when he hosted Nikki Haley, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, at the official residence as if he were still running the show. Unlike in Washington, there is no set time by which an outgoing Israeli premier must move out and hand the house over to the victor and it can often take weeks.

Family left in shock by shooting of young Palestinian woman, AP
Mai Afaneh appeared to have a happy family life and a fulfilling career. So when she left her West Bank home early on Wednesday, no one thought anything was wrong. But a short while later, her family received the devastating news that she had been shot and killed by Israeli troops, allegedly after carrying out an attempted car-ramming attack.

Roadblocks upend Palestinian family’s life in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah, Reuters
For 15-year-old Tala Abu Diab each day is a reminder that the quiet side street she grew up on has turned into a fear-filled obstacle course. Twice a day the young Palestinian schoolgirl has to present her papers to the armed Israeli police stationed 24 hours a day at roadblocks both ends of her street, waiting for permission to go to and from her home. “Our life is not a regular life anymore, I cannot go outside to see my friends nor can they come in to see me,” Abu Diab said.

These Three Lawmakers Are Threatening to Topple Israel’s Government, Haaretz
Two of the Bennett-Lapid government’s lawmakers are teetering, making the jerry-built coalition fragile. […] The upcoming challenge will be the vote on the budget, which at the moment is the most significant threat to the coalition’s survival.

Black-Palestine solidarity is making its way to Capitol Hill, +972 Magazine
Progressive Black Democrats are reviving a radical tradition of Palestine solidarity in Congress, challenging Black leaders in their own party and Washington’s support for Israeli state violence.

Opinion and Analysis

For the Good of Both Countries, U.S. Military Aid for Israel Must Be Conditional, Time
Hadar Susskind writes, “If the U.S. wants to nurture peace and support international law, we must explicitly ensure that our tax-payer dollars serve our foreign policy objectives, that they do not go towards human rights violations, and that there are specific consequences if they do. This puts Israel on equal footing with every other country who receives U.S. aid, all of whom receive it conditionally.”

Women Are the Key to Israel’s Government, Foreign Policy
Yardena Schwartz writes, “With little agreement on anything more than uniting a deeply divided nation and keeping Netanyahu out of office, many here wonder how long the government can last. Yet one largely overlooked area of consensus—and hope for many—is the issue of women’s rights. In addition to including an Arab party for the first time in Israel’s 73-year-history, this government also boasts a record number of female ministers—nine out of 27.”

Arab States, Israel Have a Stake in Iran’s Election, Bloomberg
Hussein Ibish writes, “Iran’s Middle Eastern neighbors have a great deal at stake in the outcome of its presidential election on Friday. But the key to reducing friction in the region lies not in the outcome of the vote, but on the winner’s attitude toward the U.S.”

Israel’s New Leaders Won’t Stop “Death to Arabs” Chants, but They Will Feel Bad About Them, The Intercept
Robert Mackey writes, “Palestinians in Jerusalem were given a stark demonstration of how little has changed for them since Israel’s so-called change coalition took power this week, as they watched Israeli police officers close the center of the Old City to its Palestinian residents on Tuesday so that Jewish supremacists could wave Israeli flags and chant “Death to Arabs” outside their homes.”

We Jews Need a Real Reckoning With Our Role in American Racism, Haaretz
Jacob Morrow-Spitzer writes, “After a painful year of public violence against American communities of color, the Biden White House is now proposing important changes to how educators should teach the history of racism and the lasting legacies of white supremacy in American schools. […] It’s time we Jews do the same.”