News Roundup for May 5, 2023

May 5, 2023

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J Street In the News

Pro-Israel Groups’ Favorite Announces Bid to Oust Ted Cruz in 2024 Senate Race, Haaretz
“Israel will undoubtedly play a role in any potential Cruz-Allred battle, with both lawmakers largely embodying where their respective political parties stand on the matter…He visited Israel earlier this year on the largest-ever J Street congressional delegation, amid significant concern from the Democratic Party’s rank-and-file regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul. Allred would go on to sign a letter alongside more than 90 Democrats warning that the overhaul would compromise Israel’s standing as a democracy…J Street’s PAC has already begun fundraising for Allred, who has accused Cruz of “cheering on the mob” during the January 6 insurrection and traveled to Cancun, Mexico, during a 2021 winter storm and power grid failure that killed an estimated 240 people. “We don’t have to be embarrassed by our senator,” Allred said. “We can get a new one.” AIPAC PAC included Cruz in its first round of endorsements for 2024 prior to Allred’s announcement.”

Top News and Analysis

The Muslim prayer hall that may spark the next Israeli-Palestinian battle, Religion News Service
Daoud Kuttab writes, “The Bab al-Rahmeh controversy has been returned to the front burner by the new Israeli minister of security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, who has publicly called for the right of Jews to pray on what Jews call the Temple Mount. The call for change would violate the long-standing status quo agreement as well as a Jordanian-Israeli understanding that was restated only months ago at the security summits in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh. Local Muslims suspect that the reason Israel wants to keep Muslims out the Bab al-Rahmeh is that they have their own plans to one day turn it into a synagogue. The building can become accessible from an unused gate that would allow Jews to enter and leave the site without having to go through the mosque area.”

‘Day of Equality’ sought to revitalize protests; limited turnout underlines challenge, Times of Israel
Jeremy Sharon reports, “Thursday’s “Day of Disruption” was therefore an effort to reinvigorate the struggle and rebuild the incredibly powerful momentum of the protests which led so dramatically to the legislative freeze in March…But organizers’ efforts had limited success, with the number of protesters at the dozens of events around the country significantly lower than the vast crowds who participated in previous “Disruption Days”…Ultimately, as the protest movement leaders and organizations said back in February and March, they are unlikely to be satisfied until the legislation which is on the brink of final approval is formally retracted from the legislative process.”


Israel Tensions in Spotlight at U.S. Envoy to Jordan’s Senate Confirmation Hearing, Haaretz
Senior U.S. diplomat Yael Lempert, the Biden administration’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, on Thursday stressed the Hashemite kingdom’s “indispensable role” in helping deescalate Israeli-Palestinian tensions during her Senate confirmation hearing. Lempert downplayed tensions between Israel and Jordan, which reached a near-boil last month concerning the Temple Mount status quo, noting it is “a strong relationship, a relationship that’s not without its struggles, like all relationships.”

‘Scores settled’: IDF kills Palestinians who allegedly shot dead 3 Dee family members, Times of Israel
Two Palestinians accused of killing Lucy Dee and her daughters Maia and Rina in a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley last month were shot dead by Israeli troops Thursday morning in the West Bank city of Nablus along with a third Palestinian gunman. In a joint statement, the Shin Bet security agency, Israel Police, and Israel Defense Forces said troops entered the Nablus Old City in order to arrest Hassan Qatnani and Moaz al-Masri, the Hamas terrorists who allegedly carried out the deadly attack on April 7.

Despite Criticism, Israel to Send Far-right Ben-Gvir to EU Event, Haaretz
Israel is set to send National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir as its representative to a European Union event, without previously informing the EU embassy, an EU official told Haaretz. This is despite the fact that Ben-Gvir, along with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, are considered a red rag among European countries.

Report: Levin in talks with Ra’am’s Abbas in bid to muster support for overhaul, Times of Israel
Justice Minister Yariv Levin is engaged in ongoing talks with Ra’am chair Mansour Abbas in a bid to garner his support for the government’s judicial overhaul as a “safety net,” in case ongoing negotiations at the President’s Residence do not produce a compromise reform package, according to a report Thursday evening.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Problem: ‘Nuclear Iran’ Means Different Things for Jerusalem and Washington, Haaretz
Alon Pinkas writes, “At this point, Israeli and Iranian core interests and policy trajectories indicate an almost inevitable flare-up unless one, or both, change course and their mode of thinking. What the Americans fear most is that this conflict would not be confined to a limited trading of blows, but would create circumstances that also involve the United States. While circumstances and the geopolitical landscape have changed, Israel remains anchored in a policy that seems increasingly out of touch with developments – particularly the improvement in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, despite the two being suspicious of each other and vying for influence throughout the region.”