News Roundup for May 23, 2024

May 23, 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 NewsJ Street Calls European Recognition of Palestinian Statehood “Important Step” to Long-Term Conflict Resolution; Urges US Leadership, J Street
“J Street urgently calls on President Biden to lay out a bold vision – a ‘Biden Doctrine’ – for the region that includes a clear commitment to American recognition of a demilitarized Palestinian state. The President should outline clear, achievable steps that Palestinian leaders must take to gain that American recognition and should pledge to be the President who will bring the State of Palestine to full realization and acceptance.”

60 Jewish Groups, From Left to Right, Back Bill Creating National Coordinator to Fight Antisemitism, The Forward
“The joint effort is an expression of American Jewish political solidarity not seen in years. Groups that signed a letter supporting the bill range from J Street on the left to the Zionist Organization of America on the right. The signatories include organizations whose leaders rarely share the same stage and who have accused each other at times of enabling antisemitism. They include Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and Haredi Orthodox groups.”

Joint NGO Letter to President Biden on the International Criminal Court, Coalition for the International Criminal Court
“The ability of the ICC to provide justice for victims requires full respect for its independence. A selective approach to judicial decisions undermines the credibility, and ultimately, the force of the law as a shield against human rights violations and abuses. Your administration appeared to recognize this in repealing the Trump-era sanctions, noting that U.S. concerns “would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process.”We urge you to ensure that any disagreement about the court’s process is pursued through proper judicial channels under the court’s treaty.”

Top News and AnalysisIsrael Orders Recall of Ambassadors to Ireland and Norway, Reuters
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the decision to recognise a Palestinian state undermined Israel’s right to self-defence and efforts to return the 128 hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza. Israel will not be silent, Katz said. “We are determined to achieve our goals: restoring security to our citizens and the removal of Hamas and the return of the hostages.”

Israel’s Latest Offensives Unleash ‘Hell’ in Gaza, Aid Groups Say, The Washington Post
As fighting intensified in the east of Rafah, along with Israeli bombardment and artillery shelling across the city, hospitals and clinics were shuttered. Warehouses storing thousands of tons of food supplies became unreachable. Border crossings that were southern Gaza’s lifeline were closed or hard to access, keeping food, nutritional supplements and medicines out — and thousands of critically injured patients penned in.

US Says Palestinian State Should Come via Talks, Not Unilateral Recognition, Reuters
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told a regular news briefing each country could make its own decision on recognition of a Palestinian state, but that Biden thinks direct negotiations by the parties is the best approach. President Biden believes that a two-state solution that guarantees Israel’s security and also a future of dignity and security for the Palestinian people is the best way to bring about long-term security and stability for everyone in the region, Sullivan said.

US Worried Netanyahu May Torpedo Normalization Deal with Saudi Arabia, The Guardian
Sullivan briefed that US and Saudi elements of the agreement were close to being finalised, and he was “deeply disappointed” by the Israeli response. “With Bibi, there isn’t going to be normalisation with Saudi Arabia,” the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted him as saying, using Netanyahu’s moniker. The sentiment was echoed by Israel’s national security director, Tzachi Hanegbi, who told Channel 13 News on Tuesday: “If there is a Palestinian state as a condition, there won’t be normalisation.”

NewsInside the European Attempt to Reassure Biden Before Palestinian Statehood Decision, Politico
Given all of the drama involving the Middle East this week, including the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, the three countries’ efforts may not have much impact, the U.S. official argued. “They tried to make enough of a group so that it would make a splash, but in our view, it’s more like a ripple,” the official added.

Israeli Hostage’s Family Hope Kidnap Video Reminds World of Need for Deal, BBC
The Hostages and Missing Families Forum said: “The disturbing video has been the reality of Agam, Daniela, Liri, Naama, Karina, and 123 other hostages for 229 days. The video is a damning testament to the nation’s failure to bring home the hostages. The Israeli government must not waste even one more moment and it must return to the negotiating table today.”

War Cabinet Tells Negotiating Team to Continue Talks for Hostage Deal, The Jerusalem Post
The war cabinet instructed the negotiating team to continue efforts to reach a hostage release deal on Wednesday night, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Gallant Lifts Order Barring Access to Evacuated Settlements in Northern West Bank, The Times of Israel
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday declared the end of restrictions barring Israelis from areas of the northern West Bank that Israel pulled out of 19 years ago, while a fellow lawmaker urged the creation of new settlements in response to the announcement by three European countries that they would recognize a Palestinian state.

On Campus, a New Social Litmus Test: Zionist or Not?, The New York Times
Through chants, statements and sometimes physical obstruction, many protesters have made clear they don’t want to share space with people they consider Zionists — and indeed, that they find the ideology unacceptable. Given that a large majority of American Jews say caring about Israel is an important part of their Jewish identity, these instances of exclusion have led to a debate over whether the encampments are de facto antisemitic.

Israeli Public Wants Elections, KAN Poll Shows, The Jerusalem Post
A majority of the Israeli public believes elections in Israel should be held in advance, while half the public thinks they should be held now, according to a poll published on Thursday by KAN News. The poll also revealed that a near majority of the public supports a ground operation against Hezbollah in the North.

Israeli Officials Fear ICJ Will Rule to Halt Gaza Fighting, Brace for Sanctions, Haaretz
The main concern in Israel is that the court – which a few months ago compelled Israel to increase humanitarian aid entering Gaza but did not issue an order to stop the war in the Strip – may take a more hardline position this time against Israel, potentially exposing it to international sanctions.

Colombia’s Petro Orders the Opening of Embassy in Palestinian Territory, Reuters
Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ordered the opening of an embassy in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Foreign Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo told journalists on Wednesday. President Petro has given the order that we open the Colombian embassy in Ramallah, the representation of Colombia in Ramallah, that is the next step we are going to take, Murillo said.

Yellen Warns Israel Against Cutting off Palestinian Banks, The New York Times
Ms.Yellen said on Thursday that the plight of the Palestinians would be a topic of discussion with her counterparts and that a move to cut Palestinians off from the international financial system could fuel a “humanitarian crisis.” The Palestinian economy uses shekels, Israel’s national currency, and relies on Israeli banks to process transactions.

Opinion and AnalysisBibi Is Choosing Stefanik and Trump. President Biden, Don’t Be Fooled, The New York Times
Thomas Friedman shares, “My rule: Never listen to what Bibi tells you in private in English. Only watch what he says in public in Hebrew. For months, the Biden team has beseeched Netanyahu to articulate a post-Gaza vision that would involve Palestinian and Arab control over Gaza and a long-term pathway to demilitarized Palestinian statehood — so that the United States is not facilitating an Israeli occupation of Gaza, along with the West Bank — and to pave the way for a U.S.-Saudi security pact that could also produce normalized relations between Israel and the Saudis.”

Netanyahu Won’t Grab the US-Saudi Lifeline Because of His Far-right Coalition Partners, Haaretz
Amos Harel argues “[Netanyahu] was on the verge of having an arrest warrant issued against him, on suspicion of perpetrating war crimes. A historic deal with Saudi Arabia could be his get out of jail free card. Even though the international court follows an independent path, it’s likely that an international institution will find it difficult to prosecute a leader who is on the brink of signing a deal with the most important Arab country.”

Flattened Buildings, Widespread Destruction: This Is What Israel’s ‘Limited Operation’ in Rafah Looks Like, Haaretz
Haaretz reporters Yarden Michaeli and Avi Scharf write, “Between May 8 and May 20, about a thousand buildings in the Rafah governorate were either damaged or destroyed, according to U.S. researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek of the University of Oregon and Cory Scher of CUNY, who have been tracking the damage to buildings by analyzing satellite data. According to their analysis, from the start of the war through this week, 38.5 percent of the buildings in Rafah have been damaged or destroyed.”

Can European Recognition Bring Palestinian Statehood Any Closer?, The New York Times
Roger Cohen writes, “The recognition of a Palestinian state by Spain, Norway and Ireland is part of that scramble, which may have come too late. It reflects a widespread feeling that “enough is enough.” It is part of a global exasperation that might contribute to forward momentum if a multitude of things change — not least the replacement of the current Israeli and Palestinian leadership, the end of the war and the establishment of some governing authority in Gaza that has nothing to do with Hamas.”