News Roundup for May 20, 2024

May 20, 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.

Top News and Analysis

Prosecutor Requests Warrants for Netanyahu and Hamas Leaders, The New York Times
While Mr. Khan’s request must still be approved by judges from the court, the announcement is a blow to the government of Mr. Netanyahu and will likely fuel international criticism of Israel’s strategy in its seven-month campaign against Hamas and the war’s toll on Gaza’s civilian population.

Israel War Cabinet Minister Vows to Quit if There Is No Post-War Plan for Gaza, BBC
Gantz set a June 8 deadline for a plan to achieve six “strategic goals”, including the end of Hamas rule in Gaza and the establishment of a multinational civilian administration for the territory. “If you put the national over personal, you will find in us partners in the struggle,” he said. “But if you choose the path of fanatics and lead the entire nation to the abyss, we will be forced to quit the government.” Netanyahu dismissed the comments as “washed-up words” that would mean “defeat for Israel.”

Helicopter Crash That Killed Iran’s President and Others Could Reverberate Across the Middle East, AP
The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has drawn in other Iranian allies, with each attack and counterattack threatening to set off a wider war. It’s a combustible mix that could be ignited by unexpected events, such as Sunday’s deadly crash.

US Security Adviser Urges Netanyahu to Connect War to ‘Political Strategy’, BBC
Sullivan “reaffirmed the need for Israel to connect its military operations to a political strategy that can ensure the lasting defeat of Hamas, the release of all the hostages, and a better future for Gaza,” a White House statement said. The US national security advisor also spoke with Netanyahu about his talks in Saudi Arabia and “the potential that may now be available for Israel, as well as the Palestinian people.”

Applications for Arrest Warrants in the Situation in the State of Palestine, International Criminal Court
ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC states, “Today we once again underline that international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all. No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader – no one – can act with impunity. Nothing can justify wilfully depriving human beings, including so many women and children, the basic necessities required for life. Nothing can justify the taking of hostages or the targeting of civilians.”


3 Recovered Hostages Laid to Rest in Israel, 7 Months After They Were Slain by Hamas, The Times of Israel
The death of Louk had been confirmed by the military back in October, but the fate of the other three hostages was unknown until this weekend. Louk, Buskila and Gelerenter had all been at the Supernova music festival that day, while Benjamin was out on an early morning bike ride.

Israel Vows to Broaden Rafah Sweep amid Heavy Fighting in Parts of Gaza, Reuters
Israel made a new push in central Gaza on Monday, bombarded towns in the north of the Strip and said it intended to broaden its military operation in Rafah despite US warnings of the risk of mass casualties in the southern city. Gaza medics said at least 23 people had been killed in the latest fighting, and residents said battles were intense in Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian enclave.

Bibi Blocks Israeli Intel Chiefs’ Meetings With US Officials, Axios
Netanyahu’s most recent push to control the messaging about the war came three weeks ago, when he banned directors of the Mossad and Shin Bet intelligence and security agencies from meeting with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the U.S. officials said.

US National Security Adviser, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Meet to Discuss ‘Semi-final’ Security Deal, AP
“The semi-final version of the draft strategic agreements between the kingdom and the United States of America, which are almost being finalized — and what is being worked on between the two sides in the Palestinian issue to find a credible path — were discussed,” the statement released after the talks said.

In Israel, Stefanik Denounces Biden and Praises Trump, The New York Times
Stefanik’s speech — which she said was made at the invitation of Amir Ohana, the speaker of Israel’s Parliament — builds on Republican attempts to capitalize on Democratic divisions over Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attacks.

White House Hits Back at Stefanik After She Blasts Biden in Israel, The Hill
In a statement, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates reaffirmed Biden’s “ironclad” support for Israel’s security and said, “There has been no better friend to Israel than President Biden.“He was the first American president to visit Israel during war time — in the aftermath of the horrific October 7th terrorist attacks — and the first president to order the U.S. military to defend Israel from a foreign nation’s attack,” Bates added.

Biden Tells Morehouse Graduates That Scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas War Break His Heart, Too, AP
Biden said there’s a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, “that’s why I’ve called for an immediate cease-fire to stop the fighting” and bring home hostages still being held by Hamas after its militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7. The president’s comments came near the end of a commencement address in which he also reflected on American democracy and his role in safeguarding it.

Israeli Settlers Torch Cars in West Bank Village, Raid Truck Carrying Aid for Gaza, Haaretz
Scores of settlers gathered at two junctions in the West Bank and threw stones at Palestinians earlier Sunday while others raided a truck near the settlement of Eviatar, claiming it was delivering aid to Gaza.

Opinion and Analysis

Letter from the Holy Land, Manchester Journal
Rabbi Michael M. Cohen shares, “One of the stumbling blocks preventing an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis is in the pro-Palestinian and the pro-Israeli orientations of too many Israelis and Palestinians and their supporters overseas, including in the United States. That bearing creates a closed-minded tendency about self-reflection and self-criticism. We need to do better. One way to do better is to strengthen and embolden those individuals and organizations that model not the hopeless status quo but a different and better reality and future for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Raisi’s Death Is a Blow for Iran Regime, but Its Proxy War against Israel Is Far from Over, Haaretz
Amos Harel states, “Many will suspect that Raisi was done away with to make room for Khamenei junior. This will damage the legitimacy of the remaining successor, who is not popular as it is. This could lead to unrest, increasing the younger Khamenei’s dependence on the Revolutionary Guard, in the hope of preventing riots around the country.”

From Beirut to Gaza, The Jerusalem Post
Gideon Argov writes, “In international relations there is no such thing as unconditional support. Netanyahu – who has always fancied himself as a master strategist – is learning an expensive and avoidable lesson which was articulated simply in an old American pop song – “you don’t tug on Superman’s cape.” It is a lesson that is also creating enormous and unnecessary damage to Israel’s international standing and destroying Netanyahu’s legacy.”

The Revolt Against Binyamin Netanyahu, The Economist
The Economist reports, “The pivot against Netanyahu began not with the politicians but with the IDF in the past week or so. In off-the-record briefings generals have accused him of blocking any day-after plans for Gaza and “squandering” Israel’s gains in the war. “It’s the prime minister’s job to set strategy,” says a general. “But when there is no strategy it is the army’s job to warn of the dangers.” Because Netanyahu has blocked the creation of an alternative force or authority to govern Gaza, there has been a vacuum which the remnants of Hamas have re-emerged to fill.”