News Roundup for March 3, 2021

March 3, 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.

J Street in the News

Strong diplomacy — including with Palestinians — is pro-Israel, Washington Jewish Week
J Street’s Dylan Williams writes, “For those of us with a deep and abiding investment in Israel’s security and its long-term future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, an appreciation for the value of diplomacy and aid is vital. It’s why we should welcome the Biden administration’s intention to return to the Iran nuclear agreement, to re-establish diplomatic ties with the Palestinians and restore congressionally appropriated aid funds that support the Palestinian people. Each of these steps will help to repair America’s influence, promote security and help empower moderate voices for peace and diplomacy across the region.”

Top News and Analysis

PLO says Hamas is on board with a 2-state outcome and ‘peaceful’ resistance, JTA
The Palestinian Liberation Organization says it has secured Hamas’ agreement to a two-state outcome and the terrorist group’s commitment to peaceful action. The commitments were laid out in a letter the PLO sent last month to Hady Amr, the top Biden State Department official dealing with Israel and the Palestinians. The letter was based on an official statement that came out of a meeting in September between Hamas and the PLO, and was aimed at outlining for the Biden administration common Palestinian agreement on the terms for a deal with Israel.

Number of seriously ill COVID patients drops to lowest point since December 30, Times of Israel
The number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Israel dropped to its lowest point since December 30 on Tuesday, according to Health Ministry figures. New deaths and infections continued to decline since highs in January.


Israel sentences Palestinian lawmaker to two years in prison, AP
An Israeli military court has sentenced a prominent Palestinian lawmaker to two years in prison in a plea bargain that convicted her of belonging to an outlawed group. But the court found insufficient evidence to press more serious charges against her, the army said Tuesday.

Coronavirus: Gov’t approves reopening of Israel’s skies, The Jerusalem Post
The coronavirus cabinet on Tuesday approved an outline to partially reopen the skies, allowing Israelis to enter and leave the country on authorized flights from Sunday.

Left-wing Meretz Fails to Enter Knesset in Latest Israel Election Poll, Haaretz
An election poll published Tuesday by Channel 12 News shows Israel’s perennial left-wing party Meretz not crossing the electoral threshold.

Opinion and Analysis

Israelis, Demand Palestinians Get Vaccinated, Too. Or the Pandemic Won’t End, Haaretz
Nadav Davidovitch and Joseph Bruch write, “The effort to vaccinate Palestinian laborers is welcome news, but it is not sufficient. As part of the public health community, we call on the Israeli government to take responsibility and assure the vaccination of all Palestinians. We demand that any excess supply of coronavirus vaccines is prioritized for Palestinians […] Our demand is unequivocally justified by the urgency of the public health emergency in the West Bank and Gaza, as well by public health ethics.”

How Europe is undermining Biden’s Middle East agenda, Responsible Statecraft
Eldar Mamedov writes, “Iran’s decision to reject, at least for now, the informal talks between the E3, United States, and Iran proposed by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demonstrates the failure of the ‘use the leverage’ strategy. In the absence of a credible U.S. move, Tehran will not view Biden any differently from how it viewed Trump. The latter also purported to want to talk to Iran but was left empty-handed as he failed to offer any sanctions relief. Seen from Tehran, nothing has changed so far with Biden in charge. The extreme mistrust of Washington also makes Tehran unwilling to give more time to Biden, who’s only been in office for little more than a month.”

Not Just a Few Bad Apples, Violent Settlement Outposts Pose a Danger to Israel, Haaretz
Rikki Sprinzak writes, “It’s important to know that alongside bourgeois West Bank communities like Ofra and Kedumim, there are also outposts and towns like Yitzhar, Kumi Ori, Kochav Hashahar, Maoz Esther and others, which pose a great inherent danger. Every couple of days there are reports of extreme right-wing activists who live in these places entering a Palestinian village or town to spray-paint anti-Palestinian slogans or calls for revenge on the walls or vandalize cars. Often the perpetrators even leave a signature – ‘Regards from the hill in Yitzhar’ – on the cars and homes that are damaged.”