News Roundup for May 10, 2024

May 10, 2024
Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

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.

[Action Alert] J Street supports the Biden Administration’s decision to halt the transfer of certain munitions to Israel to signal deep concerns over the potential of a full-scale Israeli assault on the city of Rafah. You can show your support to the President for taking this measured, necessary step and sign our petition here >>

J Street In the News

Behind Biden’s Israel Weapons Pause: A Defiant Netanyahu, a Tense Phone Call, Reuters
There have been “months and months of discussion about ‘What are the messages being conveyed by this government to the Israeli government’ and ‘To what extent do they take it seriously,’” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal Jewish advocacy group J-Street. The fact that this became public is part of the message,” said Ben-Ami. It’s a message to the world that…you can’t have carte blanche with American aid.”

‘They Should Be Ashamed’: Trump Doubles Down on Attacks against Jewish Biden Supporters, The Daily Dot
J Street, a pro-Israel and liberal advocacy organization, posted that “Trump continues to weaponize the Jewish community and our grief as a political wedge – all while peddling antisemitism and dual loyalty himself. It’s despicable and we cannot risk his return to the Oval Office.”

Top News and Analysis

UN Sounds Alarm over Aid as Israel Pushes Assault into Rafah, Reuters
Residents described almost constant explosions and gunfire east and northeast of the city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip on Friday, with intense fighting between Israeli forces and militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas said it ambushed Israeli tanks near a mosque in the east of the city, a sign the Israelis had penetrated several kilometres from the east to the outskirts of the built-up area.

Blinken Report Expected to Criticize Israel, but Say It Isn’t Breaking Weapons Terms, Axios
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to submit to Congress as soon as Friday a highly critical report about Israel’s conduct in Gaza that stops short of concluding it has violated the terms for its use of U.S. weapons, three U.S. officials said. The White House’s top Middle East advisor, Brett McGurk, told a group of Middle East experts from several think tanks on Thursday that the report will be submitted to Congress on Friday, according to people who attended the briefing.

UN to Vote on Resolution That Would Grant Palestine New Rights and Revive Its Un Membership Bid, AP
The final list of rights and privileges in the draft annex includes giving Palestine the right to speak on all issues not just those related to the Palestinians and Middle East, the right to propose agenda items and reply in debates, and the right to be elected as officers in the assembly’s main committees. It would give the Palestinians the right to participate in U.N. and international conferences convened by the United Nations — but it drops their “right to vote” which was in the original draft.

US Says It’s Not Abandoning Israel, Asserts Rafah Offensive Would Embolden Hamas, The Times of Israel
“We actually think that a Rafah operation would weaken Israel’s position both in these talks and writ large,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a subsequent briefing. “A major military operation in Rafah would further weaken Israel’s standing in the world, further create distance from its partners in the region who actually share Israel’s goal of seeing Hamas defeated and want to see Hamas replaced with a different governance structure in Gaza.

Benjamin Netanyahu Reacts With Defiance to US Warning Over Rafah, The Financial Times
On Thursday evening the Israeli prime minister posted a video in which he appeared to rebuff Biden’s warning, declaring: “If we have to stand alone, we will stand alone.” Netanyahu’s combative message, without mentioning the US by name, came a day after Biden said the US, Israel’s largest arms supplier, would not provide weaponry for a full-scale offensive in Rafah, the city in southern Gaza where more than 1mn Palestinians have fled.


Biden Faces New Democratic Divisions After Israel Shift, NBC News
Whether his handling of the conflict affects how voters make up their minds in November is still an open question. A key concern for Biden’s re-election effort is that voters who oppose his approach stay home, potentially tipping the scales for former President Donald Trump in crucial battleground states such as Michigan, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

UN Aid Agency Says Israelis Set Fire to Its East Jerusalem Headquarters, Axios
UNRWA and other UN staff were at the headquarters at the time of the fires. Lazzarini added that “Israeli extremists” had been regularly staging protests outside the UNRWA compound over the past two months and staff have been harassed, intimidated and even threatened with guns. A crowd of Israelis had gathered in front of the compound Thursday and chanted, “burn down the United Nations,” he added.

White House Aide Warns Israel Against ‘Smashing Into Rafah’, The New York Times
The United States believes that Israel has “put an enormous amount of pressure on Hamas, and that there are better ways to go after what is left of Hamas in Rafah than a major ground operation.” Mr. Kirby said the United States was still working with Israel on ways it can help it defeat Hamas, such as ensuring that the border between Gaza and Egypt cannot be used for smuggling weapons and targeting Hamas’s leaders.

Israel Due to Get Billions of Dollars More in US Weapons Despite Biden Pause, Reuters
Congressional aides estimated the delayed bomb shipment’s value as “tens of millions” of U.S. dollars. A wide range of other military equipment is due to go to Israel, including joint direct attack munitions (JDAMS), which convert dumb bombs into precision weapons; and tank rounds, mortars and armored tactical vehicles, Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.

Far-Right Israeli Protesters Block Aid Trucks Bound for Gaza, Haaretz
The protesters, mostly far-right religious Israelis, were from Tzav 9 – a movement whose mission is to block aid to Gaza until the last hostage returns, blocked the entrance from 8 A.M., and were only dispersed at 4 P.M. after police fired a water cannon toward them. Among the protesters was mayor of Mitzpe Ramon, Elia Winter.

Republicans Want to Force Biden to Send Arms to Israel, Axios
Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas) introduced the Immediate Support for Israel Act on Thursday, which would require transfers of some weapons to Israel to occur within 30 days of procurement. Israel is currently engaged in a war with a terrorist organization that is still holding over 100 civilian hostages. There is simply no excuse for this delay, Van Duyne said in a statement. The bill would only apply to weapons approved in the $95 billion foreign aid package that Congress passed last month, however. The shipments Biden has paused were authorized and appropriated by earlier legislation.

Cease-Fire Talks Stall as Anger Flares Over Israel’s Incursion Into Rafah, The New York Times
High-level hostage negotiations in Cairo were put on hold Thursday, according to officials briefed on the negotiations and Egyptian state media, with one official saying that anger had flared among participants over Israel’s incursion into the southern Gazan city Rafah. The pause is a setback given that some people watching the negotiations closely had seen signs that an agreement might be in reach this week. Still, one official briefed on the talks said that negotiators did not believe Hamas or Israel were leaving the negotiations permanently and were interpreting the suspension as a temporary pause rather than a derailment.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden’s Weapons Warning to Israel May Be a Gaza Turning Point, The Daily Beast
David Rothkopf writes, “It would be a mistake to be too hopeful for an immediate breakthrough. Rather, we must be thankful that the one leader who has repeatedly acted in the interests of both Israel and the United States, Joe Biden, has done so again. And we must hope that behind their public posturing, Israel’s leaders at the very least recognize that crossing Biden’s red line would not only cut off arms supplies that their current yelps of discomfort suggest they need, but that it would do profound and lasting damage to their most important international relationship.”

‘We Would Need to Make Choices’: Why Biden Is Threatening Israel Now, Politico
Alexander Ward states, “It’s still unclear what the administration precisely defines as a “major” operation. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby took a stab at it Thursday on a call with reporters, saying it’d be recognizable by the movements of many forces and damage to civilian infrastructure “as opposed to more precise, more targeted, more limited kinds of operations, quite frankly like we are seeing right now down at the Rafah crossing.”

Will Biden Finally Stop Enabling Netanyahu’s Extremist Government?, The Guardian
Mohamad Bazzi argues, “Biden and his top aides have another opportunity this week to change course and end US complicity in Israel’s war. A new national security memo that Biden issued in February, under pressure from some Democrats in Congress critical of his unconditional support for Israel, requires the administration to certify to Congress that recipients of US weapons are abiding by international law and allowing the transport of humanitarian aid during active conflicts.”