News Roundup for May 21, 2024

May 21, 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

Exclusive Interview: ICC Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants Against Sinwar and Netanyahu for War Crimes Over October 7 and Gaza, CNN
Asked by Amanpour about the comments made by Netanyahu, Khan said: “Nobody is above the law.” He said that if Israel disagrees with the ICC, “they are free, notwithstanding their objections to jurisdiction, to raise a challenge before the judges of the court and that’s what I advise them to do.”

Biden Says What’s Happening in Gaza Isn’t Genocide Amid ICC Warrant Request, Axios
“Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security,” Biden said. Secretary of State Blinken also rejected the warrants and called the equivalizing of Israel and Hamas “shameful,” in a statement. “This decision does nothing to help, and could jeopardize, ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that would get hostages out and surge humanitarian assistance in, which are the goals the United States continues to pursue relentlessly,” Blinken’s statement said.

Israel Resists Grand Bargain as US and Saudis Work on Security Pact, The New York Times
There are no signs that Israeli leaders are moving to join them, despite the symbolic importance for Israel of establishing ties with Saudi Arabia, the most powerful Arab nation. That resistance, along with a potential full-scale assault by the Israeli military on the Palestinian city of Rafah, puts in jeopardy a potential three-way grand bargain that Biden envisions.

Israel Moves to More Limited Rafah Assault Plan, to Which US Will Not Object, The Times of Israel
Washington Post analyst David Ignatius said, based on conversations with unidentified officials with knowledge of the matter, that a previous plan to send two divisions into the city will not move forward, and operations will instead be more restrained. Washington believes the new plans will result in fewer civilian casualties and thus is not expected to oppose them, Ignatius wrote.

ICC Warrant Request Appears to Shore Up Domestic Support for Netanyahu, The New York Times
Mr. Netanyahu, a renowned political phoenix, may have been given a political lifeline and a new boost of popular support, at least for a little while. “For now, it strengthens Netanyahu,” said Ben Caspit, a biographer and longtime critic of the prime minister and a columnist for Al-Monitor, a Middle East news site. “He is happiest in the role of the persecuted victim,” Mr. Caspit said of Mr. Netanyahu, adding that the international court’s opprobrium is likely to bring supporters who had grown sick of the conservative leader back into the fold.


Biden’s Top Military Adviser Chides Israel for Losing Ground to Hamas, Politico
Brown, who rarely chides Israeli forces, stressed that the Israeli tactic of pushing Hamas fighters out of one area and then leaving makes achieving lasting stability more difficult. Instead, he suggested, they are ceding ground for Hamas to return and undermine humanitarian efforts to help the population in Gaza.

These Photos Show Palestinians’ Quick Exodus From Rafah After Israel Issued Evacuation Orders, AP
In the three days between the photos, at least half of the hundreds of tents cramming the area disappeared, likely from Palestinians packing up and departing. Before the evacuation orders, some 1.3 million Palestinians — many already displaced from other parts of Gaza — had taken shelter there, according to the UN.

Back From War, These IDF Soldiers Demand New Leadership, The New York Times
Before the war, controversial plans to overhaul Israel’s judiciary proposed by the Netanyahu coalition, the most right-wing and religiously conservative administration in Israel’s history, led to months of massive street protests, dividing Israeli society. Brothers in Arms, a group of reservists who played a central role in the movement, asserted that the proposed changes were an assault on Israeli democracy and threatened to resign en masse from the Israeli military, a move that sent shockwaves through the country.

Johnson Threatens ICC Sanctions Vote Over Netanyahu Arrest Warrant Application, Axios
Congress is reviewing all options, including sanctions, to punish the ICC and ensure its leadership faces consequences if they proceed, Johnson said in a statement. Johnson accused the Biden administration of helping to advance the prosecution with its efforts to rein in Israel’s military operations in Gaza. Biden called the application “outrageous” in a statement that also criticized Khan for equating the actions of Israel with those of Hamas.

Doctors Implore WHO to Use Leverage for Well-being of Hostages in Gaza, Haaretz
Regarding the timing of the petition, Barshack said: “There is a feeling that the world is forgetting the hostages. For example, the World Health Organization would pay lip service in previous declarations by mentioning the hostages. Now it doesn’t even mention them.” Barshack noted that more than 1,000 physicians have signed the petition since it began circulating on Sunday evening, mostly through WhatsApp.

Former Trump Officials Meet in Israel With Netanyahu, The New York Times
Mr. O’Brien, who served as national security adviser to Mr. Trump and is expected to play a significant role in any second Trump administration, was joined in the meetings by two other former Trump officials — the former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, John Rakolta, and the former ambassador to Switzerland, Ed McMullen.

Seven Palestinians Killed in Israeli West Bank Raid, BBC
Seven Palestinians, including a doctor, have been killed by Israeli forces during an operation in Jenin in the north of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry has said. Dr Aseed Jabareen, a 50-year-old surgeon at Jenin Government Hospital, was shot dead on his way to work, according to the ministry.

Trump-Backed GOP Front-Runner for Wisconsin Senate Seat Has History of Invoking Antisemitic Slurs, Haaretz
Eric Hovde, who has secured the backing of the Republican presidential candidate ahead of his August GOP primary, has used the term ‘shysters’ on numerous occasions and promoted the Great Reset conspiracy theory.

Gazans ‘Shackled and Blindfolded’ at Israel Hospital, BBC
Medical workers in Israel have told the BBC that Palestinian detainees from Gaza are routinely kept shackled to hospital beds, blindfolded, sometimes naked, and forced to wear nappies – a practice one medic said amounted to “torture”. A whistle-blower detailed how procedures in one military hospital were “routinely” carried out without painkillers, causing “an unacceptable amount of pain” to detainees.

France Backs ICC after Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants for Israel’s Netanyahu, Reuters
If such warrants are issued, however, members of the court, which includes nearly all countries of the European Union, could be put in a diplomatically difficult position. France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence and the fight against impunity in all situations, the foreign ministry said in a statement late on Monday. While U.S. President Joe Biden called the legal step against Israeli officials “outrageous”, the French foreign ministry took a different stance.

IDF Releases Hamas Propaganda Video Recovered from Gaza of Former Child Hostage, The Times of Israel
Hagari said that Ela told the military that the Hamas terrorists “forced her to read from a script, forced her to change her clothes, and forced her to re-film this terrifying scene over and over and over again.” In an interview with Channel 12 news in January, Dafna said that when the girls arrived in Gaza, “lots of Gazans ran after us, wanted to come and beat us up, so [the captors] got us quickly into a house there and simply locked the door.”

Opinion and Analysis

I Was Shot in Vermont. What if It Had Been in the West Bank?, The New York Times
Hisham Awartani shares, “The dehumanization we face is twofold: Beyond the day-to-day aspects of our lives, it permeates the media coverage of what we experience. In the news, our militancy is presumed, our killers unnamed, and our deaths repackaged into statistics. Somehow, we die without being killed.”

Why Iran Believes It’s Winning Against Israel, Foreign Policy
Ali Vaez states, “While Israel and its partners largely succeeded in neutralizing the attack, Tehran boosted its standing among its supporters, and perhaps its reputation as an avowed defender of Palestinian rights on the Arab street as well. It achieved all this without distracting international attention from the horrors of the war in Gaza—a fact further highlighted by the pro-Palestinian protests on university campuses in the United States and some European countries.”

We EU Parliamentarians Condemn the Israeli Lawmaker Calling for a Second ‘Nakba’, Haaretz
Pierre Larrouturou and European Parliament members stated, “MK Kallner’s remarks serve to perpetuate a narrative of dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinian people, which only serves to deepen divisions and fuel hatred. It is incumbent upon all parties involved to refrain from using language that incites violence and instead work towards building bridges and fostering understanding.”