News Roundup for May 24, 2024

May 24, 2024
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J Street News Roundup

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

The UN’s Top Court Says It Will Rule Friday on Israel’s Offensive in Rafah, NPR
The court has no way to enforce its orders, but the case, brought by South Africa, has put increasing international pressure on Israel to show more restraint in its military campaign in Gaza. Last week, as part of its defense at the U.N.’s International Court of Justice in The Hague, Israel characterized its military operation in Rafah, which lies on Gaza’s border with Egypt, as “limited and localized.” It argued that the court’s judges should not restrict Israel’s actions in Gaza. Lawyers for South Africa argued that Israel’s Rafah offensive was “the last step in the destruction of Gaza and the Palestinian people.”

Israeli Army Recovers Bodies of Three Hostages in Gaza, Reuters
The Families Forum, a group that represents families of the hostages, called on the government to increase efforts for an agreement to get back the remaining hostages still held in Gaza. “The recovery of their bodies is a silent but resolute reminder that the State of Israel is obligated to immediately dispatch negotiation teams with a clear demand to bring about a deal that will swiftly return all the hostages home: the living for rehabilitation and the murdered for burial,” it said in a statement.

Biden Administration Straddles Its Own ‘Red Line’ on Rafah Invasion, The Washington Post
There was “no mathematical formula” for assessing the scale of the IDF offensive, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. “What we’re going to be looking at is whether there is a lot of death and destruction from this operation or if it is more precise and proportional.” But humanitarian organizations on the ground say the administration is simply refusing to acknowledge what it doesn’t want to see. As Israeli forces have entered Rafah from the east and moved steadily westward toward the center, the city “is now comprised of three entirely different worlds,” Suze van Meegan, head of operations in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said.


House Races to Sanction ICC Over Israel War Crimes Allegations, The Hill
The Foreign Affairs chair emphasized a number of times that he wants the ICC bill to be bipartisan and bicameral, a departure from other Israel-related measures spearheaded by Republicans in recent weeks that have been written in a way to divide the Democratic caucus, where pro-Israel lawmakers have been at odds with pro-Palestinian progressives up in arms about the mounting humanitarian deaths in Gaza.

CIA Director to Meet With Israeli Counterpart This Weekend Over Cease-Fire Talks, The New York Times
The resumption of talks, at an undisclosed location in Europe, is expected to take place over the next few days. It is not clear if Egyptian and Qatari negotiators will join Mr. Burns and David Barnea, the chief of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, to directly take part in the discussions. Mr. Burns, however, has been in close contact with Egyptian and Qatari negotiators as the mediators look to get the talks back on track, said a U.S. official.

Netanyahu to Address Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson Says, NBC News
It is unclear when the address will take place. Johnson told reporters Wednesday that he was working with Netanyahu on a date and would be sending the formal invitation this week. “This will be a timely and, I think, a very strong show of support to the Israeli government in their time of greatest need,” Johnson said.

Israel’s FM Cuts Ties Between Spanish Embassy and West Bank Palestinians After Recognition of Palestinian State, Haaretz
Israel will prohibit the Spanish Embassy from providing services to West Bank Palestinians, Israel’s foreign minister announced Friday, following Spain’s move toward recognition of a Palestinian state and remarks by the deputy prime minister considered antisemitic by foreign minister Israel Katz.

Israeli Forces Kill Dozens of Palestinians in Gaza Strikes, Battle Hamas in Rafah, Reuters
Israeli forces killed at least 60 Palestinians in aerial and ground bombardments across the Gaza Strip on Thursday and battled in close combat with Hamas-led militants in areas of the southern city of Rafah, health officials and Hamas media said.

Recognizing Palestinian State ‘Not a Gift to Hamas,’ EU’s Top Diplomat Says, Politico
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, “Recognizing the Palestinian state is not a gift to Hamas, quite the contrary. Reinforcing the Palestinian Authority is not reinforcing Hamas; quite the contrary. It’s aimed at giving greater strength to the part of Palestinian society which we recognize and with which we work.”

Opinion and Analysis

It’s Not ‘Pro-Israel’ for Congress to Host Netanyahu, Despised by More Than Half His Country, Haaretz
Amir Tibon states, “It’s not a coincidence that other top Israeli officials have found the time to meet those people, but Netanyahu hasn’t. He’s also devoted much less time comparatively to meeting with families of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. In fact, even a number of foreign leaders – such as President Joe Biden and British Foreign Minister David Cameron – have met with some hostages’ relatives more often than Israel’s prime minister has.”

The ICC Arrest Request Is a Fire Alarm for Israel. Will It Take Heed?, The Guardian
Jo-Ann Mort argues, “This situation was accelerated by the war with Hamas. But the reality is that the international reckoning would have come regardless. That’s because a 57-year occupation of the Palestinian people without a just resolution, coupled with a fascistic, racist government led by the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu – and reinforced by the far-right settler leaders Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister, and the homeland security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir – cannot play without consequences in polite global company.”

Can America’s Special Relationship With Israel Survive?, Foreign Affairs
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “If Trump succeeds in defeating Biden, and continues policies that favor the Israeli right, the current rift between the two countries, at least at the government level, may shift to a populist right-wing alignment. But it seems likely that in the years to come, the shifts that have already taken place among younger voters in both countries will continue, presenting a significant challenge for the two allies as they seek to agree on a common policy agenda.”

Who’s Afraid of Recognizing a Palestinian State?, Haaretz
Alon Pinkas shares, “Mr. Netanyahu is still living in October 6 while telling everyone it’s 1948. Recognizing a Palestinian state is not a taboo for France, French President Emmanuel Macron said while hosting King Abdullah of Jordan in February. That same month, British Foreign Secretary (and former prime minister) David Cameron said there will be a time when Britain would look to recognize a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations.”

Are We Making the Same Mistake With Anti-Zionism as We Did with BDS?, Times of Israel
Andy Schatz writes, “As with BDS, the unwillingness to discuss openly the legitimacy – and importance – of a Jewish state, as well as the questions that arise from that, may simply confer greater weight (and “legitimacy”) on anti-Israel views. Addressing arguments against Israel/Zionism simply with claims of “antisemitism” leave the arguments unrebutted by facts and reason […] Refusing to dialogue also misses the opportunity to moderate views and work toward a solution of deeper issues – by both sides. Cutting off discussion doesn’t allow your opponents to see your humanity nor merits in your positions – nor you to see theirs.”