News Roundup for June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

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J Street News Roundup

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.

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Top News and Analysis

Rifts Seem to Appear Between Israel’s Political and Military Leadership Over Conduct of the Gaza War, AP
The Israeli army’s chief spokesman on Wednesday appeared to question the stated goal of destroying the Hamas militant group in Gaza in a rare public rift between the country’s political and military leadership. “This business of destroying Hamas, making Hamas disappear — it’s simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military spokesperson, told Israel’s Channel 13 TV. “Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It’s rooted in the hearts of the people — whoever thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong.”

Netanyahu Accuses Biden of Withholding Weapons. White House: We ‘Do Not Know What He’s Talking About’, JTA
White House officials denied withholding weapons from Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video statement criticizing the Biden administration for an “inconceivable” delay in delivering weapons. The exchange came following reports that the administration had pressured congressional Democrats to sign off on a major arms sale.

White House Cancels Meeting, Scolds Netanyahu in Protest Over Video, Axios
President Biden’s top advisers were enraged by the video — a message U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein delivered personally to Netanyahu in a meeting hours after it was published, two U.S. and Israeli sources say. Then the White House decided to go a step farther by canceling Thursday’s meeting. “This decision makes it clear that there are consequences for pulling such stunts,” a U.S. official said “The Americans are fuming. Bibi’s video made a lot of damage,” a senior Israeli official said.


UN Rights Office: Israeli Gaza Strikes May Have ‘Systematically Violated’ Laws of War, The Times of Israel
According to the report, which documented six Israeli strikes in Gaza during the first three months of the war, UN monitoring “strongly indicates that the Israel Defense Forces have systematically failed to comply” with the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions, as well as the prohibition on indiscriminate attack.

Hezbollah Threatens War Against Cyprus if It Helps Israel, Politico
“Opening Cypriot airports and bases to the Israeli enemy to target Lebanon would mean that the Cypriot government is part of the war, and the resistance will deal with it as part of the war,” Hassan Nasrallah said. He added that Hezbollah would fight with “no rules” and “no ceilings” if a broader regional conflict were to erupt.

Netanyahu Says Israeli Army ‘Obligated’ to Goals Set by Gov’t After IDF Doubts on Hamas Destruction, Haaretz
Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the “security cabinet defined one of the war’s goals as the destruction of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities” and that the Israeli army “is of course obligated to this.” Netanyahu’s statement comes after Israeli army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari said earlier Wednesday that the “idea of destroying Hamas is throwing sand in the face of the Israeli public.”

Freed Israeli Hostage Recounts Ordeal in Gaza, Where She Says She Was Held in a Hospital and Civilian Homes, CBS News
In an interview aired Wednesday, Ada Sagi told CBS News partner network BBC News that she was taken by two kidnappers on a motorcycle from her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz into Gaza on Oct. 7. She said she was forced to leave her shoes behind, and her foot was badly burned by the exhaust pipe of the bike. She said she was put between her two captors on the motorcycle, one of whom had a Kalashnikov.

Amid Multiplying Spats, Netanyahu Urges Coalition Partners to ‘Get a Grip’, The Times of Israel
Netanyahu’s appeal came after his Likud party engaged in a high-profile quarrel with Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir, whom it accused of leaking “state secrets,” and amid intense ultra-Orthodox anger at the premier’s decision to drop his backing for a controversial municipal rabbis appointments bill sought by the Shas party.

US Officials Don’t See Clear Path to Ending War in Gaza as Cease-Fire Talks Stall, Politico
Biden administration officials increasingly doubt that Israel and Hamas will reach a comprehensive cease-fire deal under the current framework, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the negotiations. Phase 2 is “the sticking point,” one of the officials said. “If Phase 1 could’ve been done in a vacuum, we would’ve done it by now.”

Senate Dems Stew Over Biden’s Military Sale to Israel, The Hill
A small group of Senate Democrats is calling on the Biden administration to hold back a military sale to Israel so it could be leveraged to influence the conduct of the war in the Gaza Strip and Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. The sale includes about 50 F-15 fighter jets, air-to-air missiles and Joint Direct Attack Munition kits that transform unguided explosives to precision bombs.

Israeli Tanks Push Deeper Into Rafah, Forcing People to Flee Again, Reuters
Israeli tanks backed by warplanes and drones advanced deeper into the western part of the Gaza Strip city of Rafah on Wednesday, killing eight people, according to residents and Palestinian medics.

When the Only Escape From War in Gaza Is to Buy a Way Out, The New York Times
The only way for almost all people in Gaza to escape the horrors of the war between Israel and Hamas is by leaving through neighboring Egypt. And that is usually a complicated and expensive ordeal, involving the payment of thousands of dollars to an Egyptian company that can get Palestinians on an approved travel list to cross the border.

Opinion and Analysis

Is the US Poised to Sanction an Israeli Minister for the First Time?, The Times of Israel
Jacob Magid reports, “Privately, though, the idea (to sanction Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich) has been raised by senior Biden aides in recent weeks, as alarm and frustration in Washington peak over the potentially imminent collapse of the PA, a US official told The Times of Israel, noting that Ramallah cannot continue to pay its employees without the tax revenues being withheld by Smotrich. Such a step has never been taken against an Israeli minister, and the US official acknowledged that it is unlikely to be seen through. But the fact that it is even being considered highlights how concerned the US is about the possibility that Ramallah will stop functioning.”

Why I (Finally) Took Down My ‘We Stand With Israel’ Sign, The Forward
Josh Katz writes, “In the initial aftermath of Oct. 7, many of us experienced a tribalism that felt comforting, justified and necessary. As anti-Israel sentiment has been uncovered at campuses and other institutions, that tribalism continues to be a comfort and to seem necessary. I have also never wavered in my belief that Israel’s war in Gaza is both moral and being conducted morally. But tribalism breeds groupthink and is inherently illiberal, two things that make me uncomfortable. I watched as support for Israel and the fight against antisemitism became the lens through which some of my fellow Jews viewed everything — and I was pretty sure the lens was cloudy.”

Why Palestinian Unity Matters, Foreign Affairs
Salam Fayyad argues, “Some analysts and policymakers want to ignore Hamas and simply focus on reforming the PA so it can assume its purview in Gaza. But the Palestinian polity, Hamas included, must be united in order to give the PA the political power and legitimacy it needs to govern. The body does also need to upgrade its capacity to govern. Yet first and foremost, the PA needs to secure the national Palestinian consensus necessary for it to assume its role and responsibilities in postwar Gaza.”

Wikipedia Called the ADL ‘Unreliable.’ It’s a Wake-up Call the Civil Rights Organization Badly Needs, The Forward
Rob Eshman shares, “Serious ADL research presents findings with appropriate caveats and footnotes. But public-facing ADL statements often create misleading headlines. Saying antisemitism is at its highest rate since 1979, without properly accounting for the vast amount of new, online antisemitism, is advocacy — not an objective sharing of data, but a subjective representation of a fundamentally complicated reality. Experts in antisemitism say the ADL’s statistics are not always reliable as a way to measure the place of Jews in society. […] We need that kind of ADL, and it begins with the organization acknowledging where it has misstepped and how it can do better.”