News Roundup for June 22 2021

June 22, 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.

Top News and Analysis

Palestinians, settlers clash in tense Jerusalem neighborhood, AP
Palestinians and Jewish settlers hurled stones, chairs and fireworks at each other overnight in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood where settler groups are trying to evict several Palestinian families, officials said Tuesday. The threatened evictions fueled protests and clashes in the runup to last month’s 11-day Gaza war and pose a test for Israel’s new governing coalition, which includes three pro-settler parties but is hoping to sideline the Palestinian issue to avoid internal divisions.

Israeli Government, Biden Admin Split in Reactions to Iran’s Election, Haaretz
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett used the victory of Iranian hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi to pressure world powers to reconsider their intention of signing a new nuclear agreement with Tehran. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has taken a different, more cautious approach, insisting that diplomacy with Iran remains the best way to stop the country from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran’s election unsettles Biden’s hope for a nuclear deal, AP
Biden administration officials are insisting that the election of a hard-liner as Iran’s president won’t affect prospects for reviving the faltering 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. But there are already signs that their goal of locking in a deal just got tougher. Optimism that a deal was imminent faded as the latest talks ended Sunday without tangible indications of significant progress. And on Monday, in his first public comments since the vote, incoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi rejected a key Biden goal of expanding on the nuclear deal if negotiators are able to salvage the old one.


Fight Over a Gentle Stream Distills Israel’s Political Divide, New York Times
Who gets to enjoy the Asi, an exquisite squiggle of water? The question has come to symbolize the identity politics that divide Israeli society.

Progressives count their foreign policy wins with Omar flap in rear view, Politico
Ilhan Omar started out in Congress as a somewhat lonely critic of decades of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Now, six months into her second term, the Minnesota Democrat has new and diverse allies. […] “It’s a generational shift of prioritizing human rights and having a human-rights focus in American foreign policy,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). “And it’s definitely a recognition that those rights include Palestinian human rights.”

Why This Proudly Jewish Lawmaker Is One of Israel’s Biggest Critics in Congress, Haaretz
Democratic Rep. Andy Levin tells Haaretz how his Reconstructionist Judaism informs his work as a congressman, even when it comes to criticizing Israeli policy

Netanyahu attacks Lapid for Israel’s “no surprises” agreement with U.S., Axios
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he rejected requests from the Biden administration to inform the U.S. in advance of Israeli operations against Iran’s nuclear program, and falsely claimed Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid made such a commitment to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week.

‘Open Gaza immediately,’ says manager of Israel-Gaza crossing, +972 Magazine
Opening up Gaza “is clearly in Israel’s interest,” said the manager of the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza, Shlomo Tzaban, during a talk with students at Ben-Gurion University last week. “Gaza has to be opened up immediately, without linkage to prisoners and missing persons and without linkage to Hamas,” he said. “If we open it [Gaza] today, there will be no suicide bombings and Hamas will be severely weakened.”

Lapid Tells U.S. pro-Israeli Group How He Plans to Restore Ties With Democrats, Haaretz
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday held a video call with the board of directors for Democratic Majority for Israel, the pro-Israel organization founded by veteran pollster and senior Lapid adviser Mark Mellman. In what the group described as Lapid’s first call with an American organization, DMFI said that Lapid “made clear that a strong U.S.-Israel relationship benefits both countries, is a core strategic asset for Israel, and requires a bipartisan approach, working with both Democrats and Republicans.”

Netanyahu finally agrees to leave the prime minister’s residence — in 3 weeks, JTA
After being blasted by critics for staying in the Israeli prime minister’s residence well over a week past his ousting from the role, Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to leave — in another three weeks. He and his successor, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, released a joint statement Saturday that says Netanyahu will depart by July 10 and until then, no official state meetings will be held there.

Israel Police Set Up Posts at Damascus Gate. They Became a Site to Beat Up Palestinians, Haaretz
Numerous instances have been recorded of police officers dragging Palestinian protesters to the posts and beating them outside Jerusalem’s Old City

Opinion and Analysis

Iran’s next president is a hard-liner who could cause problems for Biden, and Trump helped pave the way for his victory, Business Insider
John Haltiwanger writes, “Former President Donald Trump in some ways helped pave the way for Raisi’s rise to power by withdrawing from JCPOA in May 2018, imposing harsh sanctions on Iran as part of a “maximum-pressure” campaign, and ordering a controversial drone strike in January 2020 that killed the country’s top general, Qassem Soleimani. Experts say Trump’s approach to Iran empowered hard-liners in the Iranian government by bolstering their talking points about how the US is a foe who cannot be trusted.”

This Is the Biggest Problem Facing Israeli Public Diplomacy, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “It’s no coincidence that senior Israeli public diplomacy officials, like their retired colleagues from security institutes, understand better than the rest of the public the truth behind the national cover-up: With Israel’s continued control over Gaza and with not even a trace of effort to reach a diplomatic solution, one cannot make a persuasive case to a liberal audience.”

A new LGBT agenda for the government of change, Times of Israel
Eran Globus writes, “Will the newly formed ‘change government’ finally bring about a rights revolution, or will there be nothing new under the sun? We’ll find the answer soon, which will probably be somewhere in the middle. Although six of the coalition’s eight parties support a new agenda for the LGBT community, its thin margins of security deter its heads from any ideological friction.”