News Roundup for March 25, 2024

March 25, 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.

J Street In the News

Chuck Schumer is Right, The Jerusalem Post
J Street Israel Executive Director Nadav Tamir writes, “Schumer is not one of the progressives that the Netanyahu government likes to attack, and he is not alone in his disappointment with the prime minister and his policies. More and more senior American officials who for years supported all Israeli governments and their policies, regardless of their party and political identity, are changing their attitude and intensifying their criticism of the Netanyahu government.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Agrees to US Proposal on Prisoner-Hostage Exchange and Is Awaiting Hamas’ Response, CNN Analyst Says, CNN
Israel has agreed to a US proposal on a prisoner-hostage exchange that would release around 700 Palestinian prisoners, among them 100 serving life sentences for killing Israeli nationals, in exchange for the release of 40 Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, according to CNN analyst Barak Ravid’s reporting on the recent round of talks in Doha, Qatar.

Witnesses Describe Fear and Deprivation at Besieged Hospital in Gaza, The New York Times
Interviews with other witnesses in the hospital, residents in or near the facility and the Gazan authorities in recent days, as well as with others who have left the complex over the past week, described a situation of fear and deprivation, interrogations and detentions of Palestinian men by Israeli forces, and a persistent lack of food and water. The military assault on Al-Shifa began last Monday with tanks, bulldozers and airstrikes. The military said it was aimed at senior officials of Hamas.

Israel Announces Largest West Bank Land Seizure Since 1993 During Blinken Visit, The Washington Post
Israel’s far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, announced the seizure of 10 square kilometers (3.8 square miles) of Palestinian territory in the West Bank on Friday. The move marks the single largest land seizure by the Israeli government since the 1993 Oslo Accords, according to Peace Now, a settlement watchdog group. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law.

Israel’s Netanyahu Rebuffs US Plea to Halt Rafah Offensive. Tensions Rise Ahead of Washington Talks, AP
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday once again left the Middle East empty-handed as Israel’s prime minister rejected American appeals to call off a promised ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which is overflowing with displaced civilians. The tough message from Prime Minister Netanyahu sets the stage for potentially difficult talks next week in Washington between top US officials and a high-level Israeli delegation. Netanyahu said Israel is ready to “do it alone” in Rafah if necessary.

Israel Will No Longer Approve UNRWA Food Aid to Northern Gaza, Agency Says, The Guardian
The head of UNRWA said on Sunday Israel had informed the UN that it will no longer approve UNRWA food convoys to the north of Gaza. “This is outrageous and makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine. These restrictions must be lifted.” The UNRWA spokesperson, Juliette Touma, said the decision had been relayed in a meeting with Israeli military officials on Sunday. It followed two denials in writing for convoy deliveries to the north last week.


UN Chief Blames Israeli ‘Obstacles, Chokepoints’ for Looming Famine in Gaza Strip, The Times of Israel
The only effective and efficient way to deliver heavy goods to meet Gaza’s humanitarian needs is by road and includes an exponential increase in commercial deliveries, Secretary General Antonio Guterres asserted. “But those arteries are clogged,” Guterres said, with massive lines of trucks piled up on the Egyptian side, only trickling in as the humanitarian situation worsens. Calls have mounted for Israel to ease its restrictions on aid and open more crossings into Gaza.

Harris Says US Has Not Ruled Out ‘Consequences’ if Israel Invades Rafah, ABC News
“We have been clear in multiple conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake,” Harris told ABC. “Let me tell you something: I have studied the maps. There’s nowhere for those folks to go,” Harris said.

Jeff Yass, Billionaire Invested in TikTok and Israel’s Judicial Coup, Is Top Spender in 2024 Elections, Haaretz
Pennsylvania-based Jewish billionaire Jeffrey Yass allegedly helped fund Netanyahu’s judicial coup. This US election cycle, he has donated more than $46 million to conservatives and is providing Donald Trump with a financial lifeline. Now his name is being floated as the possible Treasury Secretary – if Trump defeats Biden.

A Firework Is Lit, a Boy Is Shot. Israel’s Use of Deadly Force Against Palestinians Is Scrutinized, AP
Israeli police said the firework was directed toward its forces and endangered them. Open-fire regulations permit officers to shoot someone who is aiming a firework at another person in a life-threatening way. The Israeli government says the shooting of 12-year-old Rami Halhouliis under investigation. The day after Halhouli died, a provocative, high-ranking Israeli official who oversees the police said the officer who shot him should be commended, not investigated.

Amid Arms Embargo Calls, Data Shows 99% of Israeli Weapon Imports Are From US, Germany, The Times of Israel
The SIPRI report stated that US sales of fighter jets to Israel over recent decades have played “a major role in Israel’s military actions against Hamas and Hezbollah.” All of the Israeli Air Force’s current manned aircraft are American-made, aside from one helicopter built by France’s Airbus Helicopters.

Blinken Greets Protesters in Israel Demanding Return of Gaza Hostages, Reuters
Secretary of State of State Antony Blinken shook hands and chatted on Friday with demonstrators in Tel Aviv demanding Israel focus on the release of hostages held by Hamas, promising them that he was working to bring them home. “We’re working to bring them home,” Blinken said to the line of demonstrators.

Israeli Settlers Step up Attacks on Palestinian Farms, Expanding West Bank Outposts, NPR
Eleanor Beardsley reports, “Israel has promoted the settlements, which much of the international community condemns as a violation of international law. But settlers are trying to expand those settlements by building a network of smaller outposts, without Israeli government approval, and eating into more Palestinian land. The UN human rights office says there are now more than 160 unauthorized outposts in the region. Violent settlers and unauthorized outposts are a growing source of tension between Israel and the United States.”

Opinion and Analysis

The Children Who Lost Limbs in Gaza, The New Yorker
Eliza Griswold reports, “UNICEF estimates that a thousand children in Gaza have become amputees since the conflict began in October. ‘This is the biggest cohort of pediatric amputees in history,” Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a London-based plastic-and-reconstructive surgeon who specializes in pediatric trauma, told me recently.’”

The Great Rupture in American Jewish Life, The New York Times
Peter Beinart writes, “For the last decade or so, an ideological tremor has been unsettling American Jewish life. Since Oct. 7, it has become an earthquake. It concerns the relationship between liberalism and Zionism, two creeds that for more than half a century have defined American Jewish identity. In the years to come, American Jews will face growing pressure to choose between them. They will face that pressure because Israel’s war in Gaza has supercharged a transformation on the American left. Solidarity with Palestinians is becoming as essential to leftist politics as support for abortion rights or opposition to fossil fuels.”

A House Is Not a Home, The New York Times
Iman Fayyad shares, “As a child, I loved wandering around Jerusalem with members of my family, listening to them narrate the city’s storied landscape. […] Ironically, the city where I feel I most belong is the one place that can never function as my home again. I enjoy more rights and live a more dignified life in New York than I would as a Palestinian of my status in Jerusalem. Israel effectively denies me the right to earn a living, own or rent a house or even drive a car in Jerusalem. […] Nonetheless, Jerusalem will never be displaced from my personhood.”

Israel-Gaza Briefing: Is Now the Time Palestinian Politics Can Start Afresh?, BBC
Lucy Williamson writes, “A poll this week by the respected Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah suggested that a majority of Palestinians think the PA should be dissolved. And satisfaction with its president in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas, was just 8%. Preparing for elections is, Sabri Saidam believes, the biggest feasible step to restore faith in Palestinian politics. The first priority will be reconstructing Gaza, he said. “But my personal take is that, once we engage in reconstruction, it will be extremely helpful if we set an election date within a year-and-a-half. And that the world realises we are serious.”