News Roundup for March 9, 2021

March 9, 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

Iran enriching with new set of advanced machines at Natanz -IAEA, Reuters
Iran has started enriching uranium with a third set of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its underground plant at Natanz, the U.N. nuclear watchdog told its member states on Monday, a further breach of Tehran’s 2015 deal with major powers. The move is part of a recent acceleration by Iran of its violations of restrictions under that deal, which granted Iran relief from financial sanctions in return for curbs to its nuclear activities. It began breaching limits after then-U.S. President Donald Trump quit the deal and re-imposed sanctions in 2018.

After delays and ethics debates, Israel begins vaccinating 100,000 Palestinian day laborers, Washington Post
Israel on Monday kicked off its two-week campaign to vaccinate more than 100,000 Palestinians carrying Israeli work permits even as inoculations remain a distant dream for most residents of the West Bank.

Israel established 41 herding posts in West Bank under Trump, The Jerusalem Post
The Israeli Right helped solidify its hold on Area C of the West Bank through the creation of 41 herding outposts during the four years former US president Donald Trump was in the White House, according to a report by left-wing NGOs Kerem Navot and B’Tselem.


Meretz head sparks uproar by saying ICC probe against Israel legitimate, Times of Israel
The chairman of the left-wing Meretz party said Saturday that while he was pained by the International Criminal Court’s opening of a war crimes probe against Israel, “there were grounds for the decision,” sparking immediate uproar from other lawmakers, mostly on the right. “I say this with great sadness, there were grounds for the decision. I don’t want Israel to face these situations… but Israel needs to ask itself what it needs to do to prevent that,” he added, urging the government to cooperate with the Hague-based international court — something it has not done thus far.

Barred from marrying by the rabbis, Israelis find a pandemic workaround — in Utah, Washington Post
For generations, the iron grip of Orthodox rabbis on Israeli family law has meant that mixed couples, gay couples or even couples in which one partner is not deemed Jewish enough have been denied the right to marry within the country’s borders. To circumvent the rabbis, thousands of Israelis jetted off each year to nearby countries like Cyprus or Greece for weddings that the government later recognized as civil unions. But when the pandemic closed even that window, it also opened another: Zoom weddings, administered 7,000 miles away — in Utah.

Israel to bus COVID patients to polling stations, may set up booths at airport, Times of Israel
Israel will fund special shuttles to polling stations for active COVID-19 patients during the March 23 Knesset elections, a top official said Monday, alongside further adaptations forced by the pandemic that will turn the election into the most expensive in the country’s history.

Joe Biden’s Syria Airstrike Was ‘Highly Dangerous,’ Iran Says Amid Rising Tensions, Newsweek
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said that President Joe Biden’s airstrikes against Iran-aligned Iraqi militias in Syria last month was “highly dangerous” and a risk to Middle East stability, as Tehran continues to press the White House for sanctions relief.

IDF troops shoot two Palestinian teens suspected of firebombing cars, Times of Israel
Israeli troops shot two Palestinian teenagers who were suspected of throwing firebombs at cars along a central West Bank highway on Monday night, the military said.

Opinion and Analysis

Working towards a two-state solution, UK Government
UK Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said, “In order to build trust between the parties and populations, unilateral acts must also cease. The UK has called on the Government of Israel to end the demolition of Palestinian homes and structures in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The latest demolitions in Humsa Al-Baqai’a have again made this vulnerable Palestinian community, including children, homeless. We urge the Government of Israel to allow the unimpeded delivery of vital humanitarian aid. We also call on the Government of Israel to refrain from the destruction or confiscation of such aid once it’s delivered.”

Between Israel’s Labor and Meretz Parties, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “Merav Michaeli’s election as chairwoman of Labor, together with the makeup of her party list, prompted a theory that there’s no longer any real difference between Labor and Meretz […] To clarify the difference, just before the lines seemingly disappear altogether, Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz is trying to highlight Michaeli’s Achilles’ heel: the fight against the occupation. He also maintains that the Jewish-Arab partnership in Meretz is stronger than the seemingly gimmicky one in Labor, which is now trying to hide its Arab candidate.”

Missile attack escalation highlights need for Iran nuclear deal revival, Responsible Statecraft
Sajjad Safaei writes, “That the two countries could so rapidly climb the rungs of the escalation ladder and then teeter perilously on the brink of all-out war should serve as another reminder to the Biden administration of the imperative need to resuscitate the JCPOA by lifting sanctions on Iran. Doing so can play a key role in preventing the fertile breeding-ground for military escalation to spawn.”

The Israeli Left’s Most Daunting Election Problem: Centrist Voters, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Horowitz and Michaeli have campaigned over their careers on different issues, but as far as most Israelis are concerned, including center-left voters, they occupy much the same spot on the Israeli political spectrum. Both are typical liberal Israelis. Both come from very much the same Tel Aviv middle-class background. And both had successful careers in media before entering politics, which they both began during their military service in IDF Radio.”