News Roundup for March 11, 2021

March 11, 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

Coronavirus: Israel must vaccinate our Palestinian neighbors, The Jerusalem Post
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, ” Time and again Israel demonstrates its incredible capabilities at the professional level – of civil servants, the private sector and the nonprofit sector, alongside with the failure at the political level. The issue of vaccines is a prominent example. Israel is leading the world in vaccination rate, thanks to our wonderful healthcare system, which the vaccine manufacturers see as a model for testing their products, and due to the HMO’s ability to vaccinate the population at record speed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did well to leverage these capabilities in favor of vaccinating the country’s residents. The Israeli government, on the other hand, refrains from doing the right thing, namely to help our Palestinian neighbors. Instead, Israel offers vaccines to its favorite dictators.”

Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilders prepare for $250m US government injection, Times of Israel
“The Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), a network of some 130 peacebuilding nonprofits and shared society groups working with Israelis and Palestinians, led the lobbying effort for the funding. Behind ALLMEP was a coalition of organizations, such as AIPAC, J Street, American Jewish Committee and New Israeli Fund.”

Top News and Analysis

Blinken on nuclear talks: No US concessions, the ball is in Iran’s court, The Jerusalem Post
“I think we have an interest in getting Iran back into that nuclear box,” said Blinken. “We have fundamental problems with Iran’s actions across a whole series of things, whether it is support for terrorism, whether it’s a ballistic missile program – it’s increasingly dangerous, whether it’s destabilizing actions throughout the region. And Iran with a nuclear weapon or with a threshold capacity to have one, is an Iran is likely to act with even greater impunity when it comes to those things, so we have a real incentive to do that.” He went on to say that “the most sustainable way to do that is through tough-minded diplomacy,” and that the administration made clear that it is prepared to re-engage in that diplomacy. “There was an invitation from the European union to all of the parties, to the JCPOA including Iran, including the United States,” he added. “We said we would attend; Iran so far has said no. I think the ball is in their court to see if they’re serious about re-engaging or not.”

As Israel Heads to Fourth Election in Two Years, Poll Predicts Political Deadlock, Haaretz
Less than two weeks before Israelis vote in their fourth election in two years, a poll released Wednesday shows no clear path to Knesset majority for either major bloc. Four parties are teetering on the verge of the 3.25-percent electoral threshold, and any one of them that eventually end up out of the Israeli parliament after March 23 could tip the balance.

Benjamin Netanyahu: Court ruling creates danger of Israel being ‘overrun’ by ‘fake’ converts from Africa, JTA
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his take Tuesday on a recent Supreme Court decision requiring the government to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions performed in Israel: It could lead to the country being “overrun” with “fake” Jewish converts from Africa.


Biden administration aims to avoid public feud with Israel over Iran, Axios
State Department Iran envoy Rob Malley tells Axios the U.S. and Israel want to avoid the sort of public confrontation over Iran that took place during the Obama administration.

Yair Netanyahu battles in court to cancel libel verdict against him, Times of Israel
Last March, the court ordered Yair Netanyahu to pay NIS 286,000 ($71,000) to Alkalay, a witness in the most serious of the three corruption cases against the prime minister, over posts the younger Netanyahu shared on social media claiming the editor was “a mole” working with the state prosecution against his father. Because Netanyahu never filed a statement of defense, the court had automatically ruled in favor of Alkalay.

Israel pushes White House ceremony to seal Sudan normalization deal, Axios
Israel is encouraging the White House to host an official ceremony marking the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Sudan, Israeli officials tell me.

Complaints of Racism in Israel Triple From 2019 to 2020, Gov’t Report Shows, Haaretz
There were three times as many complaints about racism in 2020 than in 2019, according to an annual report issued on Wednesday by a government unit that coordinates steps against race-based abuse.

Abbas party sacks a longtime member over election breakaway bid, Reuters
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party expelled one of its senior officials on Thursday over his attempt to field a separate list of candidates in a parliamentary election.

Opinion and Analysis

In final push, Netanyahu and Lapid turn on their own camps, Times of Israel
Haviv Rettig Gur writes, “There’s a cruel irony to this election: To win, each leader must cannibalize his own camp. But go too far and you hand the election to the other side,”

Will Oil Spill Conspiracy Theories Help Netanyahu Win?, Foreign Policy
James Roslington and Jason Pack writes, “The spill has impacted more than 90 percent of the country’s coastline, with environmental agencies declaring an ecological disaster that will take years to remedy. Just as the Exxon Valdez scandal showcased Exxon’s lack of planning and capacity to deal with an oil spill even though it was one of the world’s largest companies, the current tragedy has laid bare Israel’s woeful inability to handle an environmental crisis even though it is usually considered among the world’s foremost nations at disaster response.”

How the haredi Orthodox are changing Israel, JTA
This Q&A, which has been condensed and lightly edited, was adapted from a recent public Zoom conversation featuring Gilad Malach, director of IDI’s Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program, which provides the Israeli government with policy proposals for integrating haredim into Israeli society while allowing them to preserve their unique identity, and Nechumi Yaffe, a researcher in the program and a faculty member at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Public Policy.