News Roundup for November 16, 2020

November 16, 2020

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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 News

From Iran sanctions to asylum restrictions, here’s what Jews are watching in Trump’s chaotic lame-duck period, JTA
“But in a first for a sitting secretary of state, Mike Pompeo is making a trip to a West Bank settlement during his Israel trip next week. And Logan Bayroff, the communications director for the liberal Middle East policy group  J Street, said there was still a possibility that Trump, and particularly advisers who are close to Netanyahu, like U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, could push through incremental changes. He cited a decision, made just before the election, to allow science cooperation funding in West Bank settlements, a break with longstanding policy to keep U.S. government funds away from settlements. ‘I would expect them to look for more stuff like that, to sort of check off the list, to push forward that kind of creeping annexation as much as possible so they can get as much out of the way before Biden comes in,’ he said.”

47 Groups Back Rep. Joaquin Castro for House Committee Chair Post to ‘Build a More Restrained and Progressive Foreign Policy’, Common Dreams
“During a J Street webcast last month, Castro said that ‘for the long-term stability of both Israel and the Palestinians, I think the United States—especially on the congressional level—being able to hear the different voices would actually be helpful. And so I hope that we can make that happen next term.’”

Resolution 25 was inappropriately characterized as anti-Semitic and dangerous, The California Aggie
J Street U’s Ethan Wellerstein writes, “As a Jewish student myself, I strongly object to this disingenous mischaracterization that deliberately ignores the resolution’s intent, oversimplifies the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, conflates criticism of the occupation with anti-Semitism and misrepresents the entire Jewish community as supporters of the current Israeli government.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel advances plans in sensitive east Jerusalem settlement, AP
A settlement watchdog group said Sunday Israel is moving ahead with new construction of hundreds of homes in a strategic east Jerusalem settlement that threatens to cut off parts of the city claimed by Palestinians from the West Bank. The group, Peace Now, said the Israel Land Authority announced on its website Sunday that it had opened up tenders for more than 1,200 new homes in the key settlement of Givat Hamatos in east Jerusalem. The move may test ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to take a firmer tack against Israeli settlement expansion after four years of a more lenient policy under President Donald Trump, who has largely turned a blind eye to settlement construction.

Wendy Sherman: Renegotiating Iran nuclear deal ‘will be difficult, hard work’, PRI
“Circumstances have changed. And even though the deal was kept together by our European allies and by Russia and China, in the last year, I would say it has started to unravel a bit. And although Iran has said it has taken reversible steps, nonetheless, we’re not in the same place. So, this will be difficult, hard work. And I would suspect that President-elect Biden and his team will first start by talking with our European allies, with France, Great Britain, Germany, with the European Union, and then with Russia and China, to see what might be the best way forward.”

Al Qaeda’s No. 2, Accused in U.S. Embassy Attacks, Was Killed in Iran, New York Times
Israeli agents shot Abu Muhammad al-Masri on the streets of Tehran at the behest of the U.S., officials said, but no one — Iran, Al Qaeda, the U.S. or Israel — has publicly acknowledged the killing.


UN Mideast Envoy Mladenov Calls on Israel to Stop Jerusalem Settlement Project, Haaretz
“It would significantly damage prospects for a future contiguous Palestinian State and for achieving a negotiated two-State solution based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states,” Mladenov said, adding that “settlement construction is illegal under international law and I call on the authorities to reverse this step.”

EU envoy chased away from site of planned new East Jerusalem settlement project, Times of Israel
Right-wing demonstrators chased the European Union’s top representative to the Palestinians away from the East Jerusalem site of a planned new settlement housing project, calling him an anti-Semite and a supporter of terrorism. “What we’re seeing right now here is a de facto annexation attempt. And that cannot go on,” EU representative to the Palestinians Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff said.

Israelis protest EU delegation’s visit to planned settlement, AP
The diplomats went to Givat Hamatos, in east Jerusalem, to voice their opposition a day after Israeli authorities announced tenders for more than 1,200 new homes. The new construction would further sever east Jerusalem from the nearby Palestinian town of Bethlehem and the southern West Bank.

Revealing Assassination of Al-Qaida’s No. 2 Was Message to Biden, Israeli Sources Say, Haaretz
According to intelligence sources in Israel, revelation of the assassination of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Mohammed al-Masri, is meant to convey a message to President-elect Biden, who intends to renew negotiations with Iran. Israel wishes to portray Tehran as a terror incubator for the organization that was responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Deputy AG likens Netanyahu’s attacks on judiciary to Protocols of Elders of Zion, Times of Israel
Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber lambasted the government and Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday, likening the premier’s attacks on the judiciary and other opponents to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious fabricated anti-Semitic text from 1903 purporting to describe a Jewish cabal plotting global domination.

Israeli military strikes Hamas targets in Gaza after rockets, AP
In a statement, the military said fighter jets, attack helicopters and tanks hit Hamas underground infrastructure and military posts. It said two rockets were launched into Israel, with one reaching the southern Israeli city of Ashdod and the other stretching into central Israel.

Union for Reform Judaism creates new role to focus on race and inclusion in synagogues, JTA
The Union for Reform Judaism has announced that Yolanda Savage-Narva will fill the newly created role of director for racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

For Holocaust survivors, Trump’s refusal to concede is a bad memory, The Forward
“I had worried so much before the election. I was happy to find out that maybe I was wrong and that I had overreacted, but now I can’t help but feel alarmed,” said Fogel-Weiss, a survivor from the Czech town of Botragy, now in Ukraine. “Everyday reminds me and others like me of the history we thought we left behind. It’s not an easy time for survivors or immigrants who get how easily it can happen here.”

Opinion and Analysis

Trump Still Has 70 Days to Wreak Havoc Around the World, New York Times
Robert Malley and Philip H. Gordon write, “Of the countless challenges President-elect Joe Biden will face when he assumes office, few will be as daunting as reversing President Trump’s legacy of bulldozing multilateral institutions, ripping up past international agreements, shattering norms and undermining longstanding alliances.”

US poll chaos is a boon for the enemies of democracy the whole world over, The Guardian
Simon Tisdall writes, “Consider, for example, the implications of the Israeli army’s operation, on US election day, to raze the homes of 74 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in the occupied West Bank village of Khirbet Humsa. The pace of West Bank demolitions has increased this year, possibly in preparation for Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley – a plan backed in principle by Trump.”

What the history of coups tells us about Trump’s refusal to concede, Washington Post
Federico Finchelstein writes, “To be sure, Trump’s clumsy attempts to deny President-elect Joe Biden’s win already look to be failing. But his actions — denying and attempting to overturn the results of the election and getting top Republicans and Attorney General Barr to indulge these dangerous efforts — are still symptoms of the fragility of American democracy at this moment.”

The clock starts now: Biden must make the right signals to Iran on nuke deal, Responsible Statecraft
Trita Parsi writes, “The election of Joe Biden provides a four-month window to restore the historic 2015 nuclear agreement. But the months before Biden enters the White House may be even more important. The wrong signals from Biden can close the window even before he takes the Presidential oath; the right signals can prepare the ground for the successful restoration of the nuclear accord – and more. “

Biden’s Biggest Priority on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Isn’t a Peace Plan, Haaretz
Susie Gelman writes, “Broadly speaking, President-elect Biden will need to reset American policies with three objectives in mind: dialing back tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, restoring the U.S.-Palestinian relationship, and reinforcing clear tenets undergirding a future peace agreement, even if the new administration does not prioritize actually pursuing one.”