News Roundup for May 7, 2021

May 7, 2021

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J Street in the News

In Washington, a debate grows over conditioning aid to Israel, Al Jazeera
“For decades, US military aid to Israel has been a sacred cow, with Republicans and Democrats in the United States shielding it from criticism, scrutiny and especially, any calls for restraint. In April, US Congresswoman Betty McCollum introduced a bill that aims to ensure the $3.8bn that the US gives to Israel every year is not used in rights abuses against Palestinian children, the destruction of Palestinian property, the removal of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank, or Israel’s attempts to further annex Palestinian land. The proposed legislation has the support of more than a dozen members of Congress, including Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, and dozens of Palestinian, human rights and liberal Jewish organisations, including J Street.”

Top News and Analysis

European powers tell Israel: stop settlement expansion, Reuters
France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain urged Israel on Thursday to halt its decision to further building of new settlements in the West Bank. “We urge the government of Israel to reverse its decision to advance the construction of 540 settlement units in the Har Homa E area of the occupied West Bank, and to cease its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” the European nations said in a joint statement.

US says fate of nuclear pact up to Iran as talks resume, AP
The Biden administration is signaling that Iran shouldn’t expect major new concessions from the United States as a new round of indirect nuclear talks is set to resume. A senior administration official told reporters Thursday that the U.S. has laid out the concessions it’s prepared to make in order to rejoin the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. The official said success or failure now depends on Iran making the political decision to accept those concessions and to return to compliance with the accord.

Washington Has Enabled Israeli Extremism, Foreign Policy
Khaled Elgindy writes, “Two weeks ago, Jerusalem was rocked by violence as bands of Jewish Israeli extremists rampaged through Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem chanting ‘death to Arabs.’ […] The police crackdown was, unsurprisingly, one-sided—resulting in the arrests and beatings of numerous Palestinian youths while Jewish attackers went largely unpunished. […] Washington’s response to the violence was notably muted.”


Palestinians, Israeli settlers scuffle in east Jerusalem, AP
Palestinians and Israeli settlers hurled rocks and chairs at each other in a tense east Jerusalem neighborhood on Thursday before Israeli police moved in to separate them, arresting at least seven people. The violence broke out in Sheikh Jarrah, where dozens of Palestinians are at risk of being evicted following a long legal battle with Jewish settlers trying to acquire property in the neighborhood, which is just north of Jerusalem’s Old City.

US says ‘swift’ return to Iran deal possible ahead of Vienna talks, The Hill
An agreement between the U.S. and Iran on a pathway back to the 2015 nuclear deal that former President Trump withdrew from in 2018 is “doable,” and could happen before mid-June, a senior State Department official said Thursday. A fourth round of talks between U.S., Iranian and international participants to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are expected to resume in Vienna on Friday, with U.S. officials hopeful that an agreement between Washington and Tehran could lead to a “swift” return to the deal for both countries.

Over 180 Israeli Intellectuals, Scientists Warn ICC: Don’t Rely on Israel to Probe War Crimes, Haaretz
More than 180 Israeli scientists and intellectuals have called on chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague not to accept Israel’s conclusions arising from its investigation into alleged war crimes. Instead, the group of Israelis suggested in a letter addressed to Chief ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that the court obtain the assistance of Israeli human rights organizations to gather evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israelis.

PM said to repeatedly dismiss US objections to building beyond Green Line, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly dismissed objections made by the Biden administration in the past month over Israeli expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to a Thursday report. Three times since the beginning of April, US officials reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office to express their opposition to Israeli steps beyond the Green Line, Channel 12 reported.

With ambassador picks, Biden faces donor vs. diversity test, AP
President Joe Biden is facing a fresh challenge to his oft-repeated commitment to diversity in his administration: assembling a diplomatic corps that gives a nod to key political allies and donors while staying true to a campaign pledge to appoint ambassadors who look like America. […] Thomas Nides, a former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman from Florida, are under consideration for ambassador to Israel.

Hamas rallies opposition to Abbas after elections pushed back, Al Monitor
After he postponed the Palestinian legislation elections scheduled for May 22, political opponents are considering ways to oust Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli soldiers fatally shoot Fahmeyeh al-Hrub (60), although she posed no danger, B’Tselem
On Sunday, 2 May 2021, at around 8:30 A.M., Fahmeyeh (Rihab) al-Hrub (60), a resident of the village of Husan, west of Bethlehem, arrived at a bus stop at the Gush Etzion junction. […] Finally, two shots are heard, and al-Hrub falls to the sidewalk.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Apartheid Doesn’t Make a Difference, Foreign Policy
Steven Cook writes, “In April, Human Rights Watch released a report called ‘A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,’ arguing that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel have met the definitions of apartheid and persecution—and thus, of crimes against humanity. The report is damning. But it seems unlikely to have much influence on the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians or on the Western powers that express an interest in ending it.”

Ohana, Netanyahu responsible and guilty for Meron, disasters, Jerusalem Post
Ehud Olmert writes, “When the investigation process is completed, those responsible will be identified. No one will be held criminally liable.”

‘Equality’ is finally breaching Washington’s debate on Israel-Palestine, +972 Magazine
Mitchel Plitnick writes, “A policy paper centering equal rights for both peoples marks a radical break from the Israel-centric discourse of mainstream U.S. think tanks.”

How Netanyahu Learned to Love Israeli Arab Parties, Foreign Policy
Yohanan Plesner writes, “The prime minister who once presented Arab citizens and political leaders as a threat has legitimized them as potential coalition partners.”

Lapid, Bennett need to form a unity government, Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post editorial board writes, “The time has come for a national unity government. Unlike what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement earlier this week – that use of the term ‘unity’ is ‘laundering words’ and an attempt to mislead the public – such a government, from Yamina on the Right to Meretz on the Left, is exactly what the torn and split country needs right now.”