News Roundup for June 25, 2021

June 25, 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

73 House Democrats Urge Biden: Reverse Harmful Trump Policies on Israel-Palestinian Conflict, Haaretz
“Seventy-three House Democrats are urging U.S. President Joe Biden to reverse the Trump administration’s “abandonment of longstanding, bipartisan U.S. policy” relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including support for a two-state solution. Led by Reps. Gerry Connolly, Peter Welch and Jan Schakowsky, the lawmakers welcomed the administration’s initial release of aid for the Palestinians, as well as its inclusion in next fiscal year’s budget request, but made several specific suggestions to align U.S. policy with his call for supporting Israel and ensuring equal measures for Israelis and Palestinians…J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said the letter sends a critical message to the administration that it can and should do more to stop the ongoing deterioration of the situation. ‘In the wake of last month’s terrible escalation in violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory, a wide range of leading Democrats are making clear that much more action is needed to address the root causes of the conflict and truly support the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians,’ Ben-Ami said. ‘With a new government taking office in Israel, the U.S. has a critical opportunity to demonstrate publicly that our support for a lasting two-state solution is more than just lip service.’”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu Trying to Harm Israel’s Ties With Biden, Government Sources Allege, Haaretz
“Sources within Israel’s new government have accused opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of deliberately trying to harm Israel’s strategic relationship with the United States, at a sensitive time when the Biden administration is planning its next moves regarding the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Ever since he lost power two weeks ago, Netanyahu has made a series of public comments related to the U.S.-Israel relationship that have angered members of the new government. The Likud leader made these comments not only in Hebrew, in order to influence domestic public opinion, but also in an English-language statement posted on his popular social media accounts – a step his critics called a direct attempt to sabotage Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s working ties with the Biden administration.”

Autopsy shows head blows in death of Abbas critic, Palestinian group says, Reuters
“A Palestinian activist who died in the custody of President Mahmoud Abbas’s security forces on Thursday took blows to the head, a Palestinian rights group said after conducting an autopsy, adding the wounds indicated “an unnatural death”. The family of Nizar Banat, a well-known critic of Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, said PA forces broke into his house in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron overnight and hit him repeatedly with a metal rod before arresting him…Earlier, hundreds of angry Palestinians marched towards Abbas’s presidential compound in Ramallah to demand he resign over Banat’s death, which drew calls by the United Nations, the U.S. State Department and the European Union for a transparent investigation.”

Unauthorized Settlement Creates Stress Test for Israel’s New Government, The New York Times
Patrick Kingsley and Adam Rasgon report on the Evyatar settlement outpost. “The settlement is illegal under Israeli law, and the Israeli Army has ordered it razed, subject to the approval of the government. If the new right-wing prime minister, Naftali Bennett, backs the settlers, he will alienate the leftist and Arab members of his coalition. If he permits them to be evicted, he will allow the Israeli right to paint him as a turncoat. An eviction could come as soon as Sunday, but could be delayed by legal proceedings.”


Israel to further ease restrictions on Gaza border crossing, extend fishing zone, Times of Israel
Israel will further reopen the Kerem Shalom Border Crossing to goods and expand the Gaza fishing zone tomorrow, after several days of quiet along the Gaza border, the military announced Thursday. Starting Friday, Israel will allow raw materials for critical industries into the Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom. Until now, Israel has significantly limited the entrance of goods into the enclave following last month’s 11-day conflict, saying it would only expand the type of products allowed into Gaza if the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, releases two Israeli civilians held in captivity, along with the remains of two soldiers.

Thousands Protest in West Bank After Death of Dissident in Palestinian Authority Custody, Haaretz
Protesters in Hebron and Ramallah accused the PA of carrying out a political assassination, while some clashed with Palestinian police in Ramallah. Protesters also called on President Abbas and the PA to be “overthrown.”

Bennett appears to hint at Israeli involvement in attack on Iran nuclear site, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appeared to hint at Israel’s role in a recent attack on an Iranian nuclear site during a speech at a graduation ceremony for Israeli Air Force pilots on Thursday. “Our enemies know — not from statements, but from actions — that we are much more determined and much more clever, and that we do not hesitate to act when it is needed,” Bennett said in his speech at the IAF’s Hatzerim Air Base, outside Beersheba.

U.S. ‘Deeply Disturbed’ by Death of Dissident in Palestinian Authority Custody, Haaretz
The State Department said it was “deeply disturbed” by the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat, as well as in the information that has been reported regarding the circumstances of his death.

As Deadline Looms, Coalition Seeks Difficult Consensus on PM Term Limits Bill, Haaretz
On Sunday the leaders of the coalition are expected to discuss the law to limit the prime minister’s term in office. This comes amid significant disagreements between the various parties over which of the proposed bills to promote. Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu demand a draconian version of a term limits law that would include a “cooling-off clause” limiting a former premier’s eligibility to be elected to the Knesset as well. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina, on the other hand, has made it clear that they will not support such a law.

Opinion and Analysis

Lasers and flaming torches light up battle over new Israeli settlement, Reuters
Ali Sawafta and Rami Ayyub report, “The ‘Night Disruption’ protests south of Nablus are aimed at halting the rapid growth of a settler outpost that began in early May and is now home to 53 Israeli families on what the Palestinians say is their land. Israeli troops have shot dead five Palestinians during stone-throwing protests since Givat Eviatar was set up, Palestinian officials said….On Sunday Israel’s military rejected an appeal by the settlers against evacuation, saying the outpost “undermined security stability” in the area.”

A ‘Radical’ Idea for Future Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks: Involve Women, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “According to a new report published this week, the prospective solutions have all had one thing in common: women have almost never been directly involved in their development. As a result, the daily lives of women living in the city have received little attention in the proposed plans…The report is built around extensive interviews with Jewish and Palestinian women in Jerusalem.”

Delayed reconstruction in Gaza exacerbates suffering of homeowners, Al-Monitor
Owners of houses partially or totally destroyed during the recent war on Gaza are concerned about the delayed reconstruction due to the political dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.