News Roundup for June 24, 2021

June 24, 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

Under Bennett, Israel Approves Construction in West Bank for First Time in Six Months, Haaretz
For the first time in over six months, construction plans in West Bank settlements have been approved by the relevant subcommittee of the Israeli military’s Civil Administration in the West Bank. The news Wednesday also marks the first time construction plans in the settlements have been approved since the formation of the new government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid on June 13, and the first time in seven months that the subcommittee has convened.

Iran, world powers making progress in nuclear talks – Germany’s Maas, Reuters
Iran and world powers have been making progress in talks to revive their 2015 nuclear accord but still have to overcome major hurdles, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday. “We are making progress but there are still some nuts to crack,” Maas told a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, adding that a deal was possible even after the election victory of a hardline Iranian president.

Iran Atomic Agency Says It Thwarted Attack on a Facility, The New York Times
Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday that an attack on one of its facilities early in the morning had been foiled, with no casualties or structural damage to the site. The agency’s statement did not reveal the name of the site, but the targeted building was one of Iran’s main manufacturing centers for the production of the centrifuges used at the country’s two nuclear facilities, Fordow and Natanz, according to an Iranian familiar with the attack and to a senior intelligence official.


Lapid to meet US Secretary of State Blinken in Rome next week, Times of Israel
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold his first meeting with new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid next week, both of their offices announced Wednesday. Lapid will fly to Rome on Sunday to meet Blinken, who will be in Italy as part of a trip to Europe, a US official said.

Iran to Decide Whether to Extend IAEA Monitoring Deal After Expiry -Official, US News and World Report
Iran will decide whether to extend its monitoring deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency after its expiry on June 24, Iranian state TV’s news website quoted presidential chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi as saying on Wednesday.

Ra’am MK says party will vote against the Palestinian family reunification law, Times of Israel
A lawmaker from the Ra’am party on Tuesday said the Islamist party would vote against extending the so-called “family reunification law” if it comes up for a Knesset vote, denouncing the legislation as “racist and anti-democratic.” Without the backing of Ra’am and several MKs from the left-wing Meretz and Labor parties, the coalition currently lacks a majority to extend the law.

Americans disapprove of how Biden is handling Israeli-Palestinian conflict, poll finds, JTA
A majority of Americans disapprove of how President Joe Biden is handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — they are split about why. More Republicans are saying Biden should be more supportive of Israel, while more Democrats want better backing for the Palestinians, according to a poll published Wednesday.

Israel greenlights controversial project in Hebron’s mosque, Al-Monitor
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved on June 10 the implementation of a project to install an electric elevator and build a road to facilitate access for settlers with special needs to the Ibrahimi Mosque (the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron in the southern West Bank. The project entails seizing the lands surrounding the mosque. According to the Palestinians, the new project will strengthen Israeli control over the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is believed to have been built on the tomb of the Prophet Ibrahim. They believe the Israeli project will alter the architectural and historical features of the site.

Top Coalition Members Say Gantz Endangering Israeli Government’s Stability, Haaretz
Senior coalition members have been furious with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in recent days and said he is jeopardizing the new government’s stability, after he announced two new moves without coordinating them with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett or any other coalition partners.

Biden administration says it’s pushing Ramallah to reform terror payment policy, Times of Israel
The Biden administration is committed to pushing the Palestinian Authority to reform its welfare policy that includes payments to security prisoners and families of Palestinians killed while carrying out terror attacks, a senior State Department official told The Times of Israel.

Dissident Dies in Palestinian Authority Custody, Family Claims He Was Beaten, Haaretz
A Palestinian man who was a relentless critic of the Palestinian Authority and its leaders died Thursday morning after being arrested in his home before dawn by Palestinian security forces. The family of Nizar Banat, originally from the southern West Bank town of Dura, says that he was severely beaten by the Palestinian forces during his arrest.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel, Jordan try to rebuild ties, trust after Netanyahu, Al-Monitor
Osama al-Sharif observes that “despite having some allies in the new Israeli government, Amman is wary that the nuts-and-bolts issues — Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and settlement building — will continue to hamper good relations.”

This organization was supposed to unite Jews. A debate over Black Lives Matter may fuel its demise., JTA
Ron Kampeas and Asaf Shalev report that “The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the grassroots-driven community relations network, is in talks about its future with the Jewish Federations of North America, the umbrella body for the federations network. Neither the JCPA nor Jewish Federations would comment for this story, but some insiders say the likely outcome is the incorporation of the JCPA into the federations umbrella. Such a move would end JCPA’s 75-year history of consensus-driven civil rights advocacy and leave standing a single voice that is deeply beholden to wealthy donors to speak on behalf of Jews on national issues.”

Reality of a West Bank Outpost: Four Dead Palestinians and a Drone Spraying Tear Gas, Haaretz
Amira Hass reports, “The protest around the illegal outpost of Evyatar has claimed four lives in six weeks. Palestinians on whose lands the outpost was built tell of armed civilians walking amidst Israeli soldiers.”