News Roundup for March 16, 2021

March 16, 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

Life After the Vaccine in Israel [The Daily], New York Times
Half the country has been inoculated, ushering in a kind of normalcy that is largely defined by the people it excludes.

Labor joins Meretz in saying it will back Lapid as next prime minister, Times of Israel
A Labor party candidate in next week’s Knesset election said Tuesday that the center-left party would recommend Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid to be tasked with forming the next government, following a similar announcement by the more left-wing Meretz faction.


Settler head urges vaccinating Palestinians, paid for by tax revenues sent to PA, Times of Israel
A prominent settler leader on Monday called on Israel to vaccinate Palestinians in the West Bank and pay for it by deducting the cost from the tax revenues Jerusalem transfers to Ramallah. The statement from David Elhayani, who chairs the Yesha umbrella council of settler mayors, followed a meeting he held in his office at the Jordan Valley Regional Council with Muhammad Arif Masad, an anti-Palestinian Authority activist who heads a union representing Palestinian workers in Israel and the settlements.

Labor Party Will Back Lapid to Form Government After Israel Election, Candidate Says, Haaretz
Labor Knesset candidate Nachman Shai said Tuesday that the party will recommend that President Reuven Rivlin task Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid with forming the next government after the March 23 election.

Netanyahu calls off campaign event in south after threat from Gaza terror group, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a scheduled campaign appearance at an event in southern Israel on Monday, shortly after a Gaza terrorist group released a threatening video aimed at the premier.

Israel’s Left-wing Camp Didn’t Shrink. New Poll Finds What Happened to Its Voters, Haaretz
Many supporters of a two-state solution have switched from leftist parties to Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, thereby giving the right a massive majority in the next Knesset, a new poll shows. According to most recent polls, rightist parties will have around 80 seats in the next Knesset, significantly more than they had in the recent Knessets. Center-left parties are polling at a combined 30 seats on average, down from 45 in the current Knesset and 47 in the previous one.

Ra’am said to be leaving door open to cooperation with anti-Netanyahu bloc, Times of Israel
Ra’am party chairman Mansour Abbas reportedly has conveyed a message to New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar indicating that he is interested in cooperating with the bloc opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the March 23 election, against the backdrop of claims that his Islamist party will grant the Likud leader the support necessary to form a narrow right-wing government.

Opinion and Analysis

How Do You Say ‘Stop the Steal’ in Hebrew?, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu stands a good chance of winning yet another national election later this month, but in case he doesn’t, some of his surrogates are already circulating an explanation: Bibi’s opponents are planning to steal the vote. The very Trumpian claim—backed up by no discernible evidence—is just one way Netanyahu’s campaign looks increasingly like the one run by the former U.S. president last year. Bibi has made baseless allegations against rivals, deflected attention from coronavirus-related deaths, and emphasized his own role in the successful vaccination drive. He even has a former Breitbart columnist as his campaign advisor.”

After Four Elections, Israeli Voters Are Losing Their Party Loyalty, Haaretz
Israeli voters tell Haaretz why they will vote differently in next week’s election.

Why does Netanyahu keep winning, and whatever happened to the Israeli left?, JTA
This Q&A was adapted from a recent public Zoom conversation featuring Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, and Ron Kampeas, JTA’s Washington bureau chief.

Why elections are key to re-energizing Palestinian politics, +972 Mag
Omar H. Rahman writes, “Instead of discouraging voting in the PA elections, Palestinians should use the opportunity to finally shake up their unaccountable political leaders.”