News Roundup for March 30, 2021

March 30, 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

U.S. tries to break Iran nuclear deadlock with new proposal for Tehran, Politico
If President Joe Biden is serious about rejoining the Iran nuclear deal, then the next few weeks could prove make-or-break as the politics in both Washington and Tehran appear poised to intensify….Biden administration officials, mindful of the increasingly unfavorable calendar, plan to put forth a new proposal to jump-start the talks as soon as this week, two people familiar with the situation told POLITICO.The proposal asks Iran to halt some of its nuclear activities, such as work on advanced centrifuges and the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, in exchange for some relief from U.S. economic sanctions, said one of the people, who stressed that the details are still being worked out.

Did the US downgrade its Palestinian ties by ‘upgrading’ its Jerusalem mission?, Times of Israel
Jacob Magid reports, “Today, as the Biden administration looks to repair ties with the Palestinians, diplomats who were stationed in Jerusalem at the time of the consulate closure say reversing the move will be essential to getting the relationship back on track. Speaking to The Times of Israel, the officers have pulled back the curtain for the first time on the extent of internal opposition to the merger of the Agron Street consulate with the new Jerusalem embassy, which they say was carried out in a slapdash manner and resulted in serious harm to the ability of diplomats to engage the Palestinian Authority.


Sa’ar could agree to government in which Lapid, Bennett rotate as PM — report, Times of Israel
New Hope party chief Gideon Sa’ar may join a government led by Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, if Lapid and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett rotate the prime ministership between them, according to a television report Monday. Sources close to Sa’ar told Kan news that if Lapid is able to put together a ruling coalition but Bennett does not join, “it’s just a left-wing government.”

Seeking extra seat, Likud team said hunting for forged Arab votes, discrepancies, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly formed a team that will search for potential mistakes and problems with votes for the Joint List, seeking to annul some 2,600 votes to win a seat for the Likud party at the Arab party’s expense and shift the Knesset balance slightly in his favor.

Israeli Health Ministry Dispute With Emergency Services Delays COVID Vaccine for Thousands of Palestinians, Haaretz
In recent days, hundreds of residents have contacted MDA, the Home Front Command and the municipality, asking to be vaccinated – many having received the first dose more than three weeks ago. Many were told they would have to wait since there are no vaccines currently available in East Jerusalem.

Report: Thousands in Gaza to get vaccine to be able to cross Israel to West Bank, Times of Israel
Planning is underway for an internationally led effort to vaccinate thousands of merchants in the Gaza Strip against coronavirus, so that they can cross the border into Israel and travel to the West Bank, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper reported Tuesday, citing diplomatic sources. Israel is said to be willing to cooperate with the idea, which would see the traders vaccinated by teams of doctors from abroad at special sites set up on the Israeli side of the Erez border crossing.

Senators introduce bill to strengthen Israeli-Arab normalization agreements, Al-Monitor
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation on Friday to bolster and expand the normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states.

Haredi Leaders Face Dilemma as Cracks Start to Show in Support for Netanyahu, Haaretz
While Arye Dery’s Shas is continuing to stick with Benjamin Netanyahu, in United Torah Judaism the situation is more complicated. Agudat Yisrael, which represents the Hasidic wing of the party, said on Monday it would back Netanyahu either way, as Degel Hatorah, which represents the Lithuanian stream, is focusing on averting another election – even if it would mean endorsing a different candidate for prime minister.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Democracy Is Broken, and Netanyahu Is to Blame, NY Mag
Jonah Shepp writes, “As we Americans have learned the hard way, when your country is deeply divided over one polarizing political figure, the normal rules of politics no longer apply. As long as Netanyahu remains the center of attention, Israel will not be able to move on from the toxic political climate he has created. What comes after him might not be all that progressive, peaceful, or positive, but prospects for any kind of change in Israel will remain dim until he exits the scene.”

How Palestinians reacted to Israeli election results, Al-Monitor
“Although the Palestinians perceive the Israeli elections as an internal Israeli matter, they are worried about the current results affecting their political reality, thus further hindering any future negotiations and creating yet other facts on the ground in the West Bank.”

The Only Way to Form a Government Is to Break One of These Taboos, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer breaks down “some of the main promises, taboos and precedents that need to be overturned for a government to finally be sworn in.”

Europeans Fear Iran Nuclear Window Closing, Foreign Policy
“The debate over reengaging with Iran has opened fissures within the Democratic Party. Progressives worry that the White House is yielding to political pressure from Menendez, even though “his hawkish views are out of step with his caucus, and out of step with the vast majority of voters who support diplomacy over war,” said one congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity. “This is a political calculation,” the aide added. “It’s worse. It’s a bad political calculation.”