News Roundup for March 6, 2023

March 6, 2023

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J Street News Roundup

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

Porter Describes ‘Constructive Exchange’ Between Democratic Delegation and Netanyahu, Jewish Insider
“Porter described a largely constructive exchange when the group of 15 Democratic House members was welcomed by Netanyahu late last month…In a statement to JI, Logan Bayroff, J Street’s vice president of communications, said the organization was “very proud to host Rep. Porter and 14 of her House colleagues” on its “largest ever delegation to Israel and the West Bank,” adding: “At a time of escalating violence, deepening occupation and serious threat to Israel’s democratic future, it was important for these members to be able to take a nuanced, in-depth firsthand look at the realities on the ground — and how U.S. policy could do more to make a positive impact.””

Evangelical Christians Flock to Republicans Over Support for Israel, The Guardian
“Debra Shushan, policy director of J Street, a group founded to promote “pro-Israel, pro-peace” policies that opinion polls show are backed by a majority of American Jews, said that influence has distorted US policy toward Israel. “Christian Zionism, particularly of the variety that has become predominant among American evangelical Christians in recent decades, which sees Jewish control and settlement in the entire land of Israel as a requirement for fulfilling their end-times prophecies, has been extremely detrimental to US politics, and US policy toward Israel,” she said.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu: Remarks To Erase Palestinian Town ‘Inappropriate’, The Washington Post
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said the remarks by a key Cabinet ally calling for a Palestinian town to be erased were inappropriate, after the United States demanded that he reject the statement. In a Twitter thread posted in English shortly after midnight, Netanyahu did not appear to condemn the remarks outright and implied that the ally, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, misspoke.

U.S. Considering Denying Israeli Minister Visa After Call To “Wipe Out” Hawara, Axios
The State Department held internal consultations on whether to deny Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich a visa ahead of his expected visit to the U.S. next week after he called for the Israeli government to “wipe out” the Palestinian village of Hawara, one U.S. and one Israeli confirmed. If the U.S. denies Smotrich — a senior minister in the Israeli government — a visa, it would be an unprecedented move in the U.S.-Israel relationship.


West Bank, Gaza Palestinians To Be Banned From Entering Israel During Purim, The Times of Israel
The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday announced the closure of crossings with the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the upcoming Purim holiday. The closure was set to begin on Monday, March 6, at 5 p.m. and last until Wednesday, March 8, at 11:59 p.m. The IDF said the border crossings for Palestinians were to reopen on Thursday “subject to a situational assessment.”

Video Reveals: Israeli Soldiers Were Present at Palestinian’s Killing During Settler Rampage in Hawara, Haaretz
The fatal shooting of Sameh Aqtash in the village of Za’tara, on the evening that hundreds of settlers rioted in the nearby town of Hawara, took place in front of soldiers who were standing next to a group of settlers. It is not known whether Aqtash was killed by a soldier or a settler. Aqtash was standing with other Palestinians behind a fence in a closed compound when he was shot, and while the rioters were throwing stones at the Palestinians, soldiers and another security official were standing next to them.

Israeli Ministers Approve Bill on $270,000 Gift to Netanyahu, The Washington Post
Israeli Cabinet ministers on Sunday advanced a bill that would allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep a $270,000 donation he received from a relative to pay for his legal bills as he fights corruption charges. The bill is part of a proposed overhaul of Israel’s legal system by Netanyahu’s new government. The plan has drawn fierce protests for over two months in Israel, the largest seen in years.

Israel ‘Closer Than Ever’ to Compromise on Judicial Overhaul, President Herzog Says, Haaretz
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog said Monday that there has been significant progress towards a compromise on the judicial overhaul bills being advanced by the Netanyahu government. Herzog spoke to over 100 local council leaders at an event held at his residence in Jerusalem. During the event, he said that “we’re closer than ever to an agreed compromise. Behind the scenes there are agreements on most issues. Now it’s up to our national leaders, in the coalition and opposition, who need to meet the moment.”

Opinion and Analysis

In West Bank, New Armed Groups Emerge, and Dormant Ones Stir, The New York Times
Patrick Kingsley and Hiba Yazbek spent four days in Nablus, in the West Bank, speaking with young Palestinian gunmen, veteran former fighters and Palestinian officials.

Israel Is at a Crucial Crossroads: It Can Save Itself or Slide Into Despotism, The Guardian
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “About two years ago, a popular satirical show joked that Israel needed a civil war to settle its divisions, but no one is laughing now. Many are scared. Beyond that extreme scenario, Israel has two paths: in one version, the pro-democratic, moderate right, centre and leftwing elements make newfound common cause and win the next elections; they may not solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but they can preserve Israel’s institutions and international positioning.”

In Bulldozing Israeli Democracy, Benjamin Netanyahu Could Become the BDS Movement’s Greatest Ally, The Intercept
Daniel Boguslaw reports, “The Israeli government’s far-right turn has spurred tens of thousands of Israelis from across the political spectrum to take to the streets in protest — and BDS members are watching closely as its goal of making Israel an economic and cultural pariah is finally materializing on the horizon. “The BDS movement has tracked the most recent divestments and threats of divestment from Israel, concluding that the self-identified ‘Start-up Nation’ is increasingly and gradually looking like a Shut Down Nation,” Omar Barghouti, one of the co-founders of the BDS movement, told The Intercept.”