News Roundup for March 8, 2021

March 8, 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

Biden faces calls to lift Trump’s controversial ICC sanctions, Al-Monitor
“The executive order should have been rescinded on Day 1,” said Katherine Gallagher, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights who is representing victims in both the Afghan and the Palestinian cases. “Both administrations have the first female African chief prosecutor on a sanctions list,” Gallagher said. “It is concerning that a policy that was so extreme by the Trump administration wasn’t immediately denounced and rescinded by the Biden administration.”

Labor chief calls on Gantz to quit race: ‘Doesn’t really stand for anything’, Times of Israel
Labor leader Merav Michaeli on Saturday called on Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz to quit the Knesset race, saying his party “doesn’t really stand for anything.”

With 41% of the country fully vaccinated, Israel begins reopening, JTA
With millions of Israelis already vaccinated and infection rates in the country steadily dropping, Israel began to reopen Sunday, ending its third lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic. The reopening comes as 41% of the country has been fully vaccinated and 55% have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.


Lapid: My ambitions can wait; if Netanyahu wins, Israel will enter dark times, Times of Israel
Yair Lapid, the leader of the Israeli opposition, is certain he is ready to become prime minister. He has the qualities, he says. He has the experience. But there’s something “way more important” at stake in the March 23 vote: The imperative to “say our farewells” to Benjamin Netanyahu.

Labor’s Michaeli: ‘We need to replace Netanyahu and Netanyahuism’, AFP
Tasked with reviving an Israeli Labor party seen as near death just weeks ago, new leader Merav Michaeli is campaigning for social democracy, feminism and environmental issues. “Labor has lost its credibility and its backbone,” Michaeli, 54, said.

Despite czar’s warning, gov’t officials say no new lockdown before election, Times of Israel
Rebuffing warnings by coronavirus czar Nachman Ash that a rise in infection rates could lead to a fresh lockdown even before Israel’s March 23 Knesset election, government officials said Sunday that such a scenario would not occur, Kan News reported.

‘It isn’t Jewish’: Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi denigrates Reform conversions, JTA
One of Israel’s chief rabbis said Reform and Conservative Jews “have nothing” and that Reform conversions are not Jewish.

Arab Israelis fret over lagging vaccination rates as Ramadan approaches, Times of Israel
With coronavirus cases rising and conspiracy theories chilling vaccine turnout, Arab Israeli health officials say they are facing an uphill battle to crush the infection curve before the advent of the Ramadan holiday in about a month.

Israeli Army Says Foiled Two Stabbing Attacks in West Bank, Haaretz
The first attack took place in the Palestinian city of Tubas, where an assailant tried to stab a soldier and lightly wounded his hand. The second attempted attack happened hours later at the Sde Ephraim outpost in the West Bank. The army said a women tried to enter a farm and stab the owner’s wife, and was apprehended by residents of the outpost.

Renegade Arab MK doesn’t rule out backing Netanyahu for PM after election, Times of Israel
“We aren’t committed to anyone, not to Benjamin Netanyahu or Yair Lapid or Gideon Sa’ar or Naftali Bennett. We are committed to the Arab community,” MK Mansour Abbas told Channel 13 in an interview Sunday. “Those who want Ra’am’s support must contact us and offer things, and respond to Ra’am’s demands and then we can proceed.

Opinion and Analysis

How a Journalist-Turned-Politician Became the Best Hope for Israel’s Anyone-but-Bibi Camp, Foreign Policy
Neri Zilber writes, “You have a prime minister with three serious criminal indictments against him and who has defined the future government he wants to form as a coalition … with the worst kind of dark, racist, ultra-nationalist, and bigoted [forces],’ Lapid said. ‘There’s a fierce attack ongoing against the rule of law, the Supreme Court, the media, and the entire concept of Israel as a liberal country.’”

Yes, Israel should vaccinate all Palestinians. Here’s why., The Forward
Sari Bashi writes, “The Israeli government exercises control over 14 million people who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including five million Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It refuses, however, to distribute vaccines to Palestinian residents, with the exception of 5,000 doses pledged for health care workers and a promise to vaccinate at least some of the more than 100,000 Palestinians employees of Israeli workplaces.”

“All I can do is film, and it breaks my heart”, +972 Mag
Basil al-Adraa writes, “Entire communities in south Hebron are under threat of expulsion, while Israeli soldiers try to prevent activists like me from filming the demolitions.”