News Roundup for March 17, 2022

March 17, 2022
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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

Israel’s Bennett Emerges as a Mediator in Russia-Ukraine War, The Washington Post
A year ago, Naftali Bennett was struggling for his political survival as Israel headed toward its fourth consecutive election. Today, the Israeli prime minister is at the forefront of global efforts to end the war in Ukraine. Just as Bennett took advantage of unique circumstances to become the most unlikely of prime ministers, he has managed to leverage Israel’s good relations with both Ukraine and Russia and his personal rapport with their leaders to turn himself into an unexpected mediator.

As Ukraine War Rages, Diplomats Near Iran Nuclear Agreement, AP
As the war in Ukraine rages on, diplomats trying to salvage the languishing 2015 Iran nuclear deal have been forging ahead with negotiations despite distractions caused by the conflict. They now appear to be near the cusp of a deal that would bring the U.S. back into the accord and bring Iran back into compliance with limits on its nuclear program.


Instead of Army Service, Israel Allows People to Volunteer at Illegal West Bank Outposts, Haaretz
Israelis doing national service are now able to ‘protect’ illegal Jewish-owned farms in the West Bank, pushing out local Palestinian farmers, by signing up through an NGO.

Palestinians With Ukraine Ties Empathize With Victims of War, AP
The al-Astal family in the Gaza Strip is once again confronting the horrors of war — air raids, food shortages, power cuts, frantic phone calls. But this time, they are on the outside looking in. They are among dozens of Palestinian-Ukrainian families in the isolated territory who have experienced several wars firsthand — the most recent last May — and are now watching another unfold in Ukraine, where many of them have loved ones.

Two Israeli Soldiers Report Settlers for Attacking Them Near West Bank Outpost, Haaretz
An Israeli officer and soldier filed a complaint with the police on Tuesday after settlers reportedly attacked them near the West Bank outpost of Homesh. The IDF released details of the incident, which occurred on Monday evening, and told that an Israeli vehicle breached the checkpoint near Homesh, hitting the legs of the two soldiers. They did not require medical treatment.

U.S. Works To Maintain Calm in Jerusalem as Holidays Near, Axios
The Biden administration is working to maintain calm in Jerusalem ahead of an unusual situation that happens once every 10 years (when important Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays coincide), U.S. ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said yesterday.

$309 Million Set Aside for Palestinians in New US Budget, The Jerusalem Post
$309 million has been set aside for Palestinians in a new budget signed by US President Joe Biden, including $219 million for economic support, $40 million for security forces training in the West Bank and $50 million for the Nita Lowey MEPPA Fund, according to US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.

Abbas Strips Palestinian Rivals of Diplomatic Passports, Al-Monitor
In a new step against his political rivals, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has revoked the diplomatic passports of several former officials.

Opinion and Analysis

The Iran Nuclear Deal Was Working. Restoring It Is the Right Course., The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe Editorial Board argues, “Americans should recall what happened when Trump and his team made the extremely unlikely perfect the enemy of the already-established good. Not only was no progress made, but Iran moved closer to a possible bomb, making the Middle East a more dangerous place.”

Advocacy Groups Criticize AIPAC’s Recent Endorsements, The Jewish Review
Chuck Tauman, member of the Greater Portland JStreet Chapter executive committee, writes, “The bottom line: for generations, AIPAC and others have described Israel as “the only democracy” in the Middle East – indicating that they understand the importance of defending democracy. But how can AIPAC claim to defend democracy when it endorses lawmakers who clearly don’t believe in democracy? Financially supporting those who opposed the peaceful transfer of power in 2020 is shameful political pandering. AIPAC owes its supporters a reasonable explanation for its anti democratic positions, or face loss of support from Jews who support democracy – both here and in Israel.”