News Roundup for May 17, 2024

May 17, 2024
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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

President Joe Biden Was Right to Pause Bomb Shipment to Israel, The Chicago Tribune
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami shares with columnist Storer H. Rowley, “A full-scale Rafah operation risks the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinians, puts (Israeli) hostages in more danger, jeopardizes negotiations and risks further escalation on all fronts. U.S. aid to Israel must not be a blank check. The Israeli government should be held to the same standards of all aid recipients, including requirements to uphold international law and facilitate humanitarian aid.”

Top News and Analysis
House Passes Bill Forcing Biden to Approve Israel Arms Shipments, Axios
The White House and Democrats have pushed hard against the bill, casting it as an unprecedented infringement on Biden’s foreign policy prerogatives as chief executive. The bill is unlikely to get a vote in the Senate, and the White House has said Biden would veto it. The House voted 224-187 to pass the bill, which would require the “prompt delivery” of congressionally appropriated aid to Israel.

US Military Says Aid Is Now Being Delivered into Gaza over a Floating Pier, NPR
Already, the site has been targeted by mortar fire during its construction, and Hamas has threatened to target any foreign forces who “occupy” the Gaza Strip. Biden has made it clear that there will be no U.S. forces on the ground in Gaza, so third-country contractors will drive the trucks onto the shore. Navy Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said “the United Nations will receive the aid and coordinate its distribution into Gaza.”

US Ambassador: We’ve Been Saying for Months Israel Needs a Plan for Post-Hamas Gaza, Haaretz
“There’s going to have to be an ability for Gaza to be governed, and we agree that it can’t be [governed by] Hamas,” the ambassador said. He added that neither side wants the Israeli military to create a permanent occupation of Gaza. “You need to have a plan for what comes next. The Rafah crossing is indicative of the need to answer that question,” he added.

What Did ICJ Ruling Mean in South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel?, BBC
Joan Donoghue, retired ICJ Judge said “It did not decide – and this is something where I’m correcting what’s often said in the media… that the claim of genocide was plausible,” said the judge. “It did emphasise in the order that there was a risk of irreparable harm to the Palestinian right to be protected from genocide. But the shorthand that often appears, which is that there’s a plausible case of genocide, isn’t what the court decided.”


Israeli Cabinet Rifts over Gaza Break Out into the Open, Reuters
The comments from Defence Minister Yoav Gallant brought out the sharp split between the two centrist former army generals in the cabinet, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, who both backed Gallant’s call, and the hard right nationalist religious parties led by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Internal Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who condemned the comments.

Netanyahu Government Tells High Court It Plans to Advance Gantz’s Haredi Draft Bill, Haaretz
Israel’s Attorney General said that the conscription law submitted by lawmaker Benny Gantz and approved at first reading in the previous government, is not adapted to the country’s present security situation. In spite of that, government ministers say they plan to approve it by the end of July.

In First, UN Security Council Holds Meeting Solely Focused on Hostages Held by Hamas, The Times of Israel
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the meeting in a UN conference room that the demand of the United States, its 25 co-sponsors, all Israelis, and many others is simple: bring the hostages who come from 20 countries home. “This is a responsibility that President (Joe) Biden feels, to his core, and he’s committed to seeing through,” she said.

Doctor Who Saved Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s Life Says He’s Trapped in Gaza but Still Helping Patients, NBC News
In the sense that Hamawy and other doctors cannot leave without becoming targets in the war, “yes, we are trapped,” he said. “What helps in that sense is we’ve got something to do,” Hamawy said, including operating on and caring for people. “We’re all happy that we have that ability to do something, and we’re not, you know, just looking out the window and hoping for the best.”

Israel Moves into North Gaza Hamas Stronghold, Pounds Rafah without Advancing, Reuters
Israel’s tanks pushed into the heart of Jabalia in northern Gaza on Thursday, facing anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs from militants concentrated there, while in the south, its forces pounded Rafah without advancing, Palestinian residents and militants said. The slow progress of Israel’s offensive highlighted the difficulty of achieving Prime Minister Netanyahu’s aim of eradicating the militant group.

Israel Tells World Court South Africa Case Makes a Mockery of Genocide, Reuters
Israeli Justice Ministry official Gilad Noam called South Africa’s case, which accuses Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, “completely divorced from facts and circumstances”. (The case) makes a mockery of the heinous charge of genocide, Noam said. He called it “an obscene exploitation of the most sacred convention,” referring to the international treaty banning genocide, agreed after the Holocaust of European Jews in World War Two.

Opinion and Analysis

A Message of Support, The Union for Reform Judaism
Rabbi Rick Jacobs writes, “We hope for a future when both peoples can live safely on their shared land. That future is surely not imminent, but a better tomorrow begins with the awareness that the current reality is untenable. We pray that, during the hot summer, the 132 hostages will go free, that humanitarian aid will reach all innocent Palestinians in desperate need, and that a negotiated truce will lead to better days ahead.”

The Disastrous Relationship Between Israel, Palestine and the U.N. [Audio], The New York Times
In this conversation, Aslı Ü. Bâli, a professor at Yale Law School who specializes in international and comparative law, “traces the gap between how international law is written on paper and the realpolitik of how countries decide to follow it, the U.N.’s unique role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from its very beginning, how the laws of war have failed Gazans but may be starting to change the conflict’s course, and more.”

Netanyahu’s Politics of Deceit Serves His Lust for Power, Haaretz
Haaretz Editorial Board shares, “Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had said that he would support a conscription law that enjoyed broad support. Netanyahu thereby hoped to trap everyone in a political spiderweb in which everyone else would lose, including the state, but he himself would once again win. And the conscription issue? That’s the last thing that interests Netanyahu. Just let him buy a little more time to satisfy his lust for power.”

The View Within Israel Turns Bleak, The New York Times
Megan K. Stack argues, “Israel has hardened, and the signs of it are in plain view. Dehumanizing language and promises of annihilation from military and political leaders. Polls that found wide support for the policies that have wreaked devastation and starvation in Gaza. Selfies of Israeli soldiers preening proudly in bomb-crushed Palestinian neighborhoods. A crackdown on even mild forms of dissent among Israelis. The Israeli left — the factions that criticize the occupation of Palestinian lands and favor negotiations and peace instead — is now a withered stump of a once-vigorous movement.”