News Roundup for March 22, 2024

March 22, 2024
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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

US Calls for Immediate Gaza Ceasefire and Hostage Deal in Draft UN Resolution, The Guardian
The US resolution comes amid mounting pressure on Israel to halt its military campaign and allow the delivery of substantial amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Blinken characterised the UN resolution drafted by the US as calling for “an immediate ceasefire tied to the release of hostages”. The wording of the new US draft resolution presented on Thursday, seen by the Guardian, was more ambiguous than Blinken about the linkage. It said an “immediate and sustained ceasefire” was “imperative” adding that “towards that end” unequivocal support should be given to the hostage negotiations. A European diplomat at the UN said the stress on an “immediate” ceasefire and the phrase “towards that end” showed significant movement in the US position. “I think it is a shift in saying that a ceasefire is not contingent on a specific deal,” the diplomat said.

Prominent Progressive Jewish Donors Urge Biden to End ‘Unconditional’ Israel Support, The Times of Israel
A number of prominent Jewish donors are signed onto a letter from more than 100 Democratic funders calling on US President Joe Biden to pull back his “unconditional” support for Israel’s war effort, and warning that it may harm his reelection prospects… Other prominent Jewish names include Barbara Dobkin, a philanthropist who has given to Jewish and Israeli feminist causes; Carol Winograd, who has funded progressive Jewish groups including J Street and Bend the Arc

Back From Gaza Hospitals, Doctors Tell Washington of Horrors Amid Ceasefire Push, The New York Times
Screaming families carrying bloodied loved ones through the doors of an overcrowded hospital. A boy trying to resuscitate a child who looked not much older than himself. What he saw at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in southern Gaza — after a missile strike on an aid distribution site — has haunted Dr. Zaher Sahloul, an American critical care specialist with years of experience treating patients in war zones, including in Syria and Ukraine. He and other volunteer doctors who have returned from hospitals in Gaza took their firsthand accounts to Washington this week, hoping to convey the suffering to the Biden administration and senior government officials and to press for an immediate cease-fire.

Gaps Are Narrowing in Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Talks, Blinken Says During Mideast Visit, ABC News
In an interview Wednesday with the Al-Hadath network in Saudi Arabia, Blinken said the mediators worked with Israel to put a “strong proposal” on the table. He said Hamas rejected it, but came back with other demands that the mediators are working on. “The gaps are narrowing, and I think an agreement is very much possible,” Blinken said

A Sit-Down With Schumer After His Break With Netanyahu [Audio], The New York Times
In a pointed speech from the Senate floor this month, the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, called for Israel to hold a new election and for voters to oust the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Annie Karni, a congressional correspondent for the Times, sits down with Senator Schumer to understand why he did it.

Gazans Increasingly Back a Two-State Solution, as Support for Hamas Drops, NBC News
Support for Hamas as a political party has fallen to 34% among Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, a 12-point drop from December 2023, according to a poll released Wednesday by a leading Palestinian research institute. According to the poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, while the war is eroding Palestinians’ view of Hamas as the governing body in Gaza, relative support remains high for the militant group’s role in the war.


Seven Israelis Wounded Following West Bank Shooting, IDF Kills Terrorist, Haaretz
The Israeli army sent troops and attack helicopters to the West Bank settlement of Dolev following the shooting. Following several hours of gunfire, two missiles were fired at the terrorist, killing him.

Israeli Forces Kill 10 Palestinians in West Bank in 24 Hours, WAFA News Agency Says, Reuters
Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, increasing to 10 the number of Palestinians killed in the territory over 24 hours. Since the Gaza war began, Israel has stepped up military raids in the West Bank, where violence had already been surging for over a year.

Israel Seizes Trove of Intelligence on Hamas in Gaza Offensive, Officials Say, NBC News
The intelligence has been gleaned from hard drives, cellphones, laptops, maps and other material seized during Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, as well as electronic eavesdropping conducted by the US, the sources said. The intelligence successes most likely enabled Israel to locate and kill Hamas’ No. 3 official, Marwan Issa, in an airstrike last week in Gaza, current and former officials said.

Israeli Defense Minister Will Bring a Long Weapons Wish List to Washington, Axios
Austin told Gallant that he needs to be aware of the atmosphere in Washington regarding the war in Gaza, specifically when it comes to the growing humanitarian crisis in the enclave. The defense secretary told his Israeli counterpart that he needs to bring with him to Washington new policies and new ideas for how to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza that demonstrate Israel is removing any roadblocks for getting aid into Gaza, the officials said.

Majority in US Say Israel Has Valid Reasons for Fighting; Fewer Say the Same About Hamas, Pew Research
Roughly six-in-ten Americans say Israel’s reasons for fighting Hamas are valid. Only around one-in-five Americans think the way the Israeli government is carrying out the war against Hamas will make the Israeli people more secure than they were before the war. When asked about Hamas’ reasons for fighting Israel, far fewer Americans (22%) describe them as valid. And just 5% of US adults say the way Hamas carried out its Oct. 7 attack on Israel was acceptable, while 66% describe it as completely unacceptable.

EU Leaders Will Call for Sustainable Ceasefire in Gaza, Borrell Says, Reuters
“Today the Council goes much further,” than in previous months, Borrell said before the summit. “Asking for a sustainable ceasefire, certainly asking also for the freedom of hostages, but showing a strong concern for the situation of the people in Gaza, which is unacceptable.” Borrell called on Israel to make sure more aid reaches Gaza and said he hoped EU leaders would do the same. “They are starving. So I hope that the council will send a strong message to Israel, stop blocking, stop preventing the food to come into Gaza and take care of the civilians,” he said. “Certainly Israel has the right to defend, (but) not to revenge.”

Netanyahu Would Face Widespread Boycott on Capitol Hill, Axios
Netanyahu is poised to face a sprawling boycott from congressional progressives should he accept a planned invitation to address Congress. It’s a sign of how strained relations between some Democrats and Israel have become since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war. House Speaker Mike Johnson said Thursday he plans to invite Netanyahu to address Congress. Schumer signaled he is willing to give his consent for an address to a joint session to Congress.

Top US Rabbi Says Gaza’s Plight, Distrust of PM Make Israel-Support Harder for US Jews, The Times of Israel
“I think that it’s been really challenging, as the war continues, to see the continued loss of life in Gaza,” Angela Warnick Buchdahl, the senior rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City, said. “Americans are seeing very different news” on Gaza than Israelis. American Jews, she added, are “seeing the devastation and the loss… of some children and women and innocent lives, as well as, of course, a war that is necessary to defend Israel, but the destruction of entire cities.”

Dec. 2023: Israel Continued Its Lethal Open-Fire Policy in the West Bank, Killing 62 Palestinians, Over Half of Them Endangering No One, B’Tselem
Since the Gaza war began, Israel has employed a lethal open-fire policy in the West Bank. In the last three weeks of October 2023, Israeli soldiers and police killed 115 Palestinians, 79 of whom were endangering no one; in November, soldiers and police killed 116 Palestinians, 48 of them endangering no one. In December, soldiers and police killed 62 Palestinians in the West Bank, 17 of them minors. Of the persons killed, 36 were endangering no one: 11 were shot while throwing stones or burning tires during clashes, 18 were shot while standing by clashes without taking part (9 of them by an aerial bombing), and 6 were killed in other circumstances. Regarding 1 other Palestinian, B’Tselem could not determine whether he was killed by soldiers or settlers.

Opinion and Analysis

Chuck Schumer’s Right: The US Must Help Reshape Israel Before It’s Too Late, Haaretz
Carolina Landsmann shares, “We have to get rid of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Without that, there’s no point in even beginning to imagine any kind of future for Israel. But to get out of its hole, Israel needs to undergo a metamorphosis. And I have no idea what that looks like, because this is a change that exists only on the other side of an event that hasn’t happened yet. In my naivete, I thought October 7 was that event. But given what is happening now, Israel is still far from understanding that it must change fundamentally. Terrifyingly, it seems instead to be insisting on total defeat.”

The Brutal Conditions Facing Palestinian Prisoners, The New Yorker
Isaac Chotiner interviews Tal Steiner, the executive director of The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel who shares, “We know that this means extreme overcrowding of prisons. We’ve heard and collected reports of cells that are designed to hold five or six people holding as many as twelve, or more. We know that this has led to severe shortages of food, of electricity, of sanitary conditions, of being able to walk outside. We know that the International Committee of the Red Cross has been banned from visiting Israeli prisons since October 7. We also know — through evidence that NGOs have collected — of what we view as systemic abuse and violence by prison guards toward Palestinian detainees.”

Republicans Abandon Their Strategic Silence on the Israel-Hamas War, New York Magazine
Ed Kilgore writes, “In the heat of the current conflict over US policy, it’s been lost on many Americans that the GOP has in recent years been the party aligned uncritically and vociferously with the most belligerent expansionist elements in Israeli politics […] So it’s probably not an accident that Trump has pursued what looks like strategic silence on the Israel-Hamas War, and for the most part Republicans have followed him. It makes sense politically […] Now this silence seems to have come to an abrupt end, signaled by Trump’s explosion of invective triggered by Chuck Schumer’s call for new Israeli elections to oust Netanyahu.”