News Roundup for March 12, 2021

March 12, 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

Blinken grilled for maintaining Trump’s sanctions on war crimes court, Responsible Statecraft
Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the Trump administration’s position on the International Criminal Court at a Wednesday congressional hearing and refused to say whether U.S. sanctions against war crimes investigators would be lifted. Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Biden administration wants a “productive relationship” with the ICC, but echoed the Trump administration’s “concerns” about the Hague-based war crimes court attempting to investigate Israeli and U.S. troops. “Are you saying there is legitimacy to the sanctions that were placed under Trump on the ICC?” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) asked. “No, all I’m saying is that it’s something that is under review, and at the same time we have real concerns about some of the assertions of jurisdiction with which we disagree,” Blinken replied. He declined to answer why the sanctions had not been lifted, or whether they would be lifted at all.

The U.S. Billionaires Secretly Funding the Right-wing Effort to Reshape Israel, Haaretz
The Kohelet Policy Forum has wielded increasing influence on Israel’s decision-making centers, with an ideology that weds conservative, settlement-supporting politics to free-market economics. Who is the guiding force behind this under-the-radar enterprise – and who’s bankrolling it?


It’s Not the First Time a Palestinian Dies This Way During a Nighttime Israeli Army Raid, Haaretz
A 69-year-old Palestinian woman suffered a fatal heart attack in her home when Israeli soldiers arrived in the middle of the night to arrest a relative – who wasn’t present. Last year IDF troops invaded some 2,500 homes in the West Bank

Marjorie Taylor Greene calls David Cicilline ‘Rep. Mussolini.’ His response: ‘I’m an Italian and a Jew.’, JTA
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican congresswoman from Georgie not known for being understated, called Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline “Mussolini” for seeking a rule change to stop her disruptive tactics. “I’m an Italian and a Jew,” Cicilline shot back on Twitter. “Mussolini was a fascist dictator in league with Adolf Hitler, who murdered six million Jews. Marjorie Taylor Greene can get lost.”

Israel’s Netanyahu cancels UAE trip in pre-election setback, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off a visit to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, citing a diplomatic disagreement with Jordan, in an embarrassing setback for his re-election campaign just days before the vote.

Israel’s military says it has reached herd immunity to COVID, JTA
The Israeli military declared that it has reached herd immunity to COVID-19 after 80% of its personnel had either been vaccinated, had the disease or both. The announcement makes the Israel Defense Forces perhaps the first military in the world to achieve immunity to the disease.

A Rundown School for Palestinian Children Awaits U.S. Aid, New York Times
Work on the project stopped in 2019 after the Trump administration effectively ended aid to the Palestinians.

Biden aides hold talks with Israel on Iran, regional issues, AP
Top U.S. and Israeli national security officials met Thursday by secure video conference for their first round of talks on Iran and other regional issues as the Biden administration looks to avoid antagonizing Israel while attempting to resurrect the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.

European, Arab diplomats attempt to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, Times of Israel
Leading European and Arab world diplomats announced potential ‘small steps’ Thursday toward reviving Middle East peace efforts after upcoming Israeli and Palestinian elections.

Opinion and Analysis

From courts to campuses, US Palestine advocates are reclaiming their free speech, +972 Mag
Amjad Iraqi said, “With US courts striking down anti-boycott legislation as unconstitutional, and cross-movement organizing helping to undermine efforts to smear Israel critics as antisemitic, Palestine advocates are in a much better position to press the Biden administration ‘to do more and to do better.’”

Why Some Voters in ‘Settler Heartland’ Are Ready to Turn Their Backs on Netanyahu, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “A tour of Gush Etzion in the West Bank finds settlers disillusioned with the Prime Minister and pledging their allegiance to other right-wing parties on March 23. Will ‘Bibi fatigue’ decide the election?”