News Roundup for June 21 2021

June 21, 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

Poll: Most American voters back banning Israel from using U.S. funds to annex land or detain Palestinian children, JTA
“A majority of U.S. voters endorsed restrictions that would keep Israel from spending U.S. defense assistance to detain Palestinian minors, destroy Palestinian buildings, or annex parts of the West Bank, according to the results of a new poll conducted during the most recent Israel-Gaza conflict. […] The reference in the poll question is to a bill introduced in April by Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota, that so far has garnered 27 Democratic cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Two major liberal pro-Israel groups, J Street and Americans for Peace Now, back the bill.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli-Palestinian Vaccine Deal Collapses Amid Expiry Date Dispute, New York Times
On Friday morning, the new Israeli government went some way toward answering its critics, announcing a deal to supply from between one million and 1.4 million vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority. […] But just hours later, the authority ripped up the agreement, sending back about 100,000 doses that Israel delivered earlier in the day, amid a public disagreement between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships about whether or not the vaccines were too close to their expiration date.

U.S. wants nuclear deal done before Iran’s new president takes power, Axios
The Biden administration wants to finalize a deal with Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal in the six weeks remaining before a new Iranian president is inaugurated, a U.S. official tells Axios. The official said it would be “concerning” if talks dragged on into early August, when Iran’s transition is due to take place. “If we don’t have a deal before a new government is formed, I think that would raise serious questions about how achievable it’s going to be,” the official said.

Who Is Ebrahim Raisi? Hard-Line Judge Wins Iran’s 2021 Presidential Election, Wall Street Journal
Iranian chief justice Ebrahim Raisi won the country’s presidential election early Saturday, after the remaining candidates in the race conceded, including his politically moderate main challenger. […] Mr. Raisi, a conservative judge, was the front-runner heading into the vote. The 60-year-old cleric lacks political experience but has a long career in the judicial system, which has earned him a reputation as a hard-liner with little patience for political dissent.


Palestinians say Israel has eased some restrictions on Gaza, AP
Israel on Monday eased some restrictions on the Gaza Strip that have threatened a fragile cease-fire, Palestinian officials said. Hamas, however, said the move was really Israel’s attempt to pressure the militant group into making concessions. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said 11 truckloads of clothes were exported through Kerem Shalom crossing for the first time in 40 days. On Sunday, Israel said it will allow limited agricultural exports from Gaza.

Iran’s New Hard-Line President Poised for Pivotal Role in Nuclear Talks, Wall Street Journal
When Iranian diplomats resume talks with Western officials to revive a battered nuclear deal, one name will stand out on the list of individuals Tehran wants removed from the U.S. sanctions list: Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s president-elect. The 60-year-old hard-line judge, who won Friday’s presidential election in Iran, was sanctioned two years ago by the Trump administration for his close ties to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. As Iran’s president-elect, Mr. Raisi has emerged in a pivotal role that could determine the fate of the 2015 multination accord.

After cease-fire, Israel and Hamas revert to calibrated routine of provocation and reprisal, Washington Post
On just the second day of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s tenure, Jewish nationalists marched through East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war, yelling, “Death to Arabs.” In what Hamas said was a response, the group launched incendiary balloons from Gaza, injuring no one but burning crops and wildlands. Hours later, Israeli warplanes struck two “military sites” in Gaza, injuring no one but unnerving residents. This was a version of the finely calibrated dance of provocation and reprisal well known to residents on both sides of the Gaza-Israel border.

Iran’s hard-line president-elect says he wouldn’t meet Biden, AP
Iran’s president-elect said Monday he would not meet with President Joe Biden nor negotiate over Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its support of regional militias, sticking to a hard-line position following his landslide victory in last week’s election.

Nuclear Talks Drag On After Iran Elects Hardline President, Bloomberg
World powers and Iran failed after a sixth round of negotiations in Vienna to revive a nuclear deal that would lift U.S. sanctions on the oil-rich Islamic Republic in exchange for it scaling back its atomic activities. A day after hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi was declared the winner of Iran’s presidential election, diplomats adjourned their sixth round of meetings with significant gaps remaining to mend the six-year-old accord. It’s the third time since talks began in April that negotiators have missed self-imposed deadlines to rejuvenate the agreement.

Violence renews on Temple Mount and in West Bank amid escalating tensions between Israel and Gaza, JTA
Nine Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount amid escalating tensions on the Gaza border, less than a month after the end of a round of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas. The clashes on Friday occurred as a crowd of Palestinians exited the Temple Mount, which Muslims revere as the Noble Sanctuary. According to the police, members of the crowd threw rocks at the police officers, who responded by firing sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades.

Outgoing Israeli President Rivlin to Meet With Biden at White House, Haaretz
President Reuven Rivlin will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday, June 28, according to a White House statement.

Donald Trump says American Jews ‘don’t love Israel enough’ and more should have voted for him, JTA
Donald Trump is still trying to figure out why more American Jews didn’t vote for him, arguing in a haredi Orthodox magazine interview this week that they “don’t love Israel enough” and the Israel-related moves he made as president should have earned him a larger share of the Jewish vote.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden Can Keep the Two-State Solution Alive, Foreign Affairs
Ilan Goldenberg writes, “President Joe Biden and his team came into office understandably hoping to deprioritize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They saw Washington-led negotiations as a trap that had ensnared previous U.S. administrations, and the prospects for progress looked bleaker than ever. But some issues can’t be ignored. As last month’s escalation between Israel and Hamas underscored, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires regular U.S. engagement to avoid spasms of violence that sap Washington’s ability to deal with other priorities.”

This Is Still Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel, New York Times
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Naftali Bennett has been sworn in as prime minister, ending the 12-year rule of his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, but this is still very much Mr. Netanyahu’s Israel. […] there is the intractable conflict with the Palestinians and the same divisions within Israeli society. For the new government to have any realistic chance of survival, it can’t completely dismantle Mr. Netanyahu’s legacy, lest it unravel its fragile coalition. The clock cannot be turned back on the 12 years of his long rule. And though Mr. Bennett and his colleagues will not admit so openly, in some aspects they don’t want it to be.”

Iran elected a hard-liner president. What does that mean for the nuclear deal?, Washington Post
Henry Rome writes, “The hard-liner’s election probably does not mean the death of the JCPOA, which experts believe is in Iran’s economic interest. But the transition is likely to complicate the deal’s implementation and add additional barriers to subsequent negotiations. This may weigh on the longer-term sustainability of the deal.”

Trump dashed dreams of reform in Iran. The country’s new hardline president is living proof, CNN
CNN Staff write, “The message from Iran’s election will resonate around the region: in these most uncertain of times, only autocrats can ensure stability. Some of the biggest cheerleaders for authoritarianism — Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad — were quick to congratulate Raisi on his win. Proponents of Middle Eastern regimes will argue that the growing gap between the region’s leadership and its people is a lesser danger to states than the risk posed by clumsy Western interventionism.”

Why Democrats Shouldn’t Rush to Embrace Israel’s New Government, Haaretz
Avner Gvaryahu writes, “The real problem we in Israel face is not about our dealings with the United States but about our relationship with and subjugation over the Palestinians. Until we end our oppression against the Palestinians, Israeli policy should not return to being a bipartisan issue in the United States.”