News Roundup for March 5, 2021

March 5, 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

ICC investigation is Israel’s wake-up call, The Jerusalem Post
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “I am repeatedly shocked by the indifference of the Israeli public to the reality of the occupation, both morally and in terms of its strategic implications for the future of Zionism.”

Statement on ICC Prosecutor’s Decision to Investigate Alleged Violations of International Law in Palestinian Territories, J Street
“The latest ICC decisions are already being met with vitriol, including charges of antisemitism and a belief that pursuit of legal redress in a court of law is in some way an attack on the state of Israel or the Israeli people. Those mounting such attacks are saying, in effect, that the Israeli government has the right to take whatever actions it wants in the occupied territory without ever facing accountability for its actions or consequences if it is violating international law. We cannot support such a claim of total impunity.”

Report shows younger Jews are less partisan, but Democratic support remains steady, The Forward
“Halie Soifer, chief executive of the Democratic council, touted an exit poll conducted by J Street that showed Jewish voters supported Joe Biden over Donald Trump by an overwhelming 77-21 percentage point margin. The spin was that Jews in battleground states put Biden over the top.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu speaks to Harris, tells her he won’t allow Iran to obtain nukes, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday spoke to US Vice President Kamala Harris, with the conversation focusing on the pandemic, the Iranian nuclear program, and the International Criminal Court’s decision to open an investigation into Israel over alleged war crimes, his office said.

Election Poll: Netanyahu Allies, Opponents Fail to Gain Clear Majority; Small Parties May Tilt the Scales, Haaretz
An election poll published on Thursday by Kan public broadcaster showed no clear path for a majority for either the bloc of parties backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or those calling to replace him, while several parties are teetering on the brink to the 3.25-percent electoral threshold.


As Palestinians Clamor for Vaccine, Their Leaders Divert Doses to Favored Few, New York Times
Amid a debate about Israel’s duty to supply vaccines to Palestinians living under occupation, Palestinian leaders are facing criticism for siphoning off some of the few vaccines already delivered to the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu drops in polls, Lapid hits 20, Bennett and Sa’ar tie in third, The Jerusalem Post
The poll for The Jerusalem Post and Ma’ariv found that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud had fallen from 29 seats last week to 27. The seven-seat difference between Likud and Yesh Atid is the smallest gap between the parties since the election campaign began.

‘Sickening’: Palestine advocates slam Biden administration for rebuking ICC, Middle East Eye
“The United States is always going to stand up for human rights,” Price said at a media briefing on Wednesday, before pivoting to a familiar declaration of Washington’s support for the two-state solution. Unsatisfied with the answer, Associated Press correspondent Matthew Lee kept asking while Price was delivering the generic lines: “Where do they go? Where? Where? Do they go to the Israeli courts? Where do they go? Where. Do. They. Go?”

Greenpeace Slams Israeli Minister’s ‘Baseless Claim’ Accusing Iran of Eco-terrorism in Devastating Oil Spill, Haaretz
The Israeli chapter of the international environmental organization Greenpeace castigated Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel on Thursday after she repeatedly asserted that the ruinous oil spill off the Mediterranean coast was an act of Iranian terrorism.

Israel is updating attack plans against Iran’s nuclear sites – Gantz, The Jerusalem Post
The IDF is updating its attack plans against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed on Thursday in an interview with Fox News. “We have them [the attack plans] in our hands, but we will continue [to] constantly improve them,” Gantz said.

Netanyahu Ally Defends Campaign Ad Likening Reform Jews to Dogs: It Was ‘Merely Showing the Truth’, Haaretz
The leader of an ultra-Orthodox Israeli party doubled down on his party’s portrayal of Reform Jews as dogs in a campaign video, defending the ad as “merely showing the truth.”

Opinion and Analysis

Why hasn’t Biden reversed one of Trump’s most controversial sanctions orders?, Washington Post
Adam Taylor writes, “One of the most contentious Trump sanctions decisions remains firmly in place: the use of measures usually reserved for dictators and terrorists against the staff of the International Criminal Court (ICC). More than a month after Biden’s inauguration, a number of human rights organizations have been demanding to know: What is the holdup?”

Israel and the International Criminal Court: From Victims to Criminals, Haaretz
Michael Sfard writes, “It had taken the international community 50 years to establish a permanent tribunal to try anyone suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression and the so-called crime of crimes – genocide. From 1948, when the idea of such a court was first raised in a UN General Assembly resolution, to 1998, when the Rome Statute was adopted, Israel aspired to take a leading role among countries pressing to establish the court. With the pathos of those speaking on behalf of the ultimate victims, Israeli delegates ostensibly represented the conscience and morality that only victims of discrimination and persecution of pogroms and extermination like us could and were entitled to represent.”

The Two-State Solution Won’t Save Itself, Mr. President, Newsweek
Ksenia Svetlova writes, “The old proverb says that if it ain’t broken, don’t touch it, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict might now seem as the less urgent in comparison to regional disasters of Syria, Yemen or Lebanon. However, it is not going anywhere (despite the reassurances of the settlement lobby) and the situation is as explosive as ever. In absence of clear and consistent American policy, the unmaking of Trump’s legacy in Israel and PA might not be enough to salvage the two-states solution and to prevent the deterioration of the situation on the ground.”

Biden Still Hasn’t Reversed Trump’s Most Ridiculous Assault on International Law, Slate
Joshua Keating writes, “The Biden administration has already reversed many of the Trump administration’s retreats from international agreements and organizations, rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change and the World Health Organization, planning a return to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and attempting to resuscitate the six-country 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. But, notably, the administration has not yet undone one of Trump’s most egregious assaults on a multilateral institution: the sanctions on the International Criminal Court.”

A State That Has Nothing to Hide Has No Reason to Fear an ICC Investigation, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “No attempt to tar the investigation as antisemitic and wage a campaign against the court can serve as a substitute for Israel’s obligation to conduct its own honest investigation into the incidents that gave rise to the complaint against it, halt the kinds of actions that put it on a collision course with the international community and cooperate with the court. A state that doesn’t consider itself to be guilty has no need to fear an investigation.”