News Roundup for June 26, 2023

June 26, 2023

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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

Biden Admin Reverses Trump Policy that Allowed Funding to Research in Israeli Settlements, Axios
The Biden administration notified Israel two weeks ago that it was reimposing a ban that prohibits US taxpayer funding from being used in any research and development or scientific cooperation projects conducted in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to three US and Israeli officials. The Biden administration’s decision reverses a Trump administration policy from late 2020 that allowed US taxpayer funding to be used for science and technology projects in the settlements for the first time since 1967.

‘Not Alone in the Driver’s Seat’: US Thinks Netanyahu has Lost Control of Coalition, The Times of Israel
As emboldened settlers ramp up West Bank activity and Netanyahu’s government plows ahead with a plan to curb the High Court of Justice’s power, three Biden administration officials acknowledged last week to The Times of Israel that Washington is not convinced the longtime Likud leader is in control of his coalition. The US official recognized that the premier is constrained by domestic political concerns, but Washington is not giving him a pass. “This was the coalition he wanted,” they said.

Violence in Israel Puts Spotlight on the ‘One-State’ Reality, The Washington Post
Critics said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given a greenlight to the extremist, pro-settler factions within his coalition to advance an agenda that seeks the de facto annexation of large chunks of the West Bank, which is home to 3 million Palestinians and comprises much of the land that would make up a future Palestinian state. On Tuesday, UN Secretary General António Guterres called on Israel to “cease” its expansions of settlements, which are understood to constitute violations of international humanitarian law. Analysts and policymakers also see it as a clear impediment to the long-mooted “two-state” solution.


Knesset Restarts Judicial Overhaul with Bill to Broadly Outlaw ‘Reasonableness’ Test, The Times of Israel
Deliberations began Sunday on the coalition’s bill to broadly outlaw judicial review of the “reasonableness” of government or ministerial decisions, officially restarting the judicial overhaul three months after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze the controversial legislative package. Speaking in the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, bill sponsor and committee chair MK Simcha Rothman said the move “serves the democratic interest” by giving more weight to the decisions of elected leaders than to those of unelected judges.

Israel’s Ben-Gvir Rebukes Police Over ‘Collective Punishment’ of Settlers, Reuters
Israel’s far-right police minister rebuked the force on Sunday for what he called “collective punishment” of Jewish settlers, as cracks widened between the security services and the government over violence convulsing the occupied West Bank. Settler rampages in Palestinian towns and villages after the killing of four Israelis in a Hamas gun ambush have drawn international condemnation and US statements of concern.

Israeli Military Kills Palestinian Gunman as Settlers Rampage Through Palestinian Town, AP
A Palestinian assailant opened fire at an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank on Saturday before being shot and killed, Israeli police said. Elsewhere in the occupied territory, settlers rampaged through a Palestinian village, hurling stones, spraying bullets and setting fire to homes, the latest in a series of settler attacks last week.

Morocco Nixes Israeli-Arab Diplomatic Summit Amid West Bank Escalation, Haaretz
Morocco officially announced on Friday that the second Negev Forum summit, which includes Israel, the United States, and several Arab countries, will not take place this summer as planned. According to the Moroccan Foreign Ministry, the conference was canceled due to “uncomfortable diplomatic relations.” This follows a recent escalation in the West Bank and a series of pronouncements by Israel over the expansion of housing construction in the settlements.

I Routinely Gave Netanyahu Gifts, Hollywood Producer Tells Israeli Court, The Guardian
An Israeli producer of blockbuster Hollywood films has taken the stand in Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial, describing how he routinely delivered tens of thousands of dollars worth of champagne, cigars and other gifts requested by the Israeli prime minister. Arnon Milchan is a key witness whose testimony is essential for prosecutors who are trying to prove that Netanyahu committed fraud and breach of trust in one of three cases brought against him.

Israel’s Netanyahu Briefly Freezes Golan Wind Turbine Project that Set Off Rare Clashes, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a brief freeze in construction on a wind turbine project in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights that set off a rare clash between Druze residents and police. The Druze oppose the plan, which would install more than two dozen 200-meter (660-foot) tall turbines throughout their land. The landowners said the turbines will harm their agricultural output and that the energy company behind the project didn’t consult with them in good faith, a claim the company denies.

Opinion and Analysis

How Reality Surprised Theory in the Reform Protests, The Jerusalem Post
Daniel Statman argues, “For dozens of years, philosophers, politicians and journalists have been telling us that there is an unbridgeable contradiction between nationalism and liberalism or, in the local version, between Jewish nationalism and democracy. But one of the fascinating and surprising lessons that the present protest has taught us is that, under certain conditions, not only is there no contradiction between the two but, on the contrary, nationalistic loyalty strengthens the commitment to liberal and democratic values.”

A Dangerous Shift Is Underway in the West Bank, The New York Times
Ori Nir writes, “But even as the settlers terrorize their Palestinian neighbors with increasing frequency and ferocity, their actions have come with little consequence; Israeli authorities seldom prosecute or convict them. In some recent attacks, Israeli military and police officers have even been documented standing idly by as settlers stormed and burned Palestinian villages.”