News Roundup for November 23, 2021

November 23, 2021

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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

Why Biden Should Reopen the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Washington Monthly
“President Joe Biden’s plan to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem—once a de facto embassy serving Palestinian interests—would be a major step after the Trump administration ruined America’s capacity to serve as an honest mediator in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations….Some members of Congress want to go further. In September, Representative Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat, introduced the Two-State Solution Act, seeking to assure that American policies are truly aligned with the goal of a fair and equitable peace agreement…“This bill outlines actions the United States can and should take,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a pro-security, pro-peace advocacy group. “It is the most comprehensive and far-reaching bill ever introduced to make the United States an active partner in promoting a two-state solution in deed and not just in word.”

Democratic Lawmakers Warn Against ‘Doomsday’ Israeli Settlement Plan, Haaretz
“Twenty-six House Democrats on Monday urged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to pressure the Israeli government to prevent settlement construction in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the West Bank. The lawmakers – led by Rep. Mark Pocan, who recently visited Israel and the West Bank – expressed their “immense concern” about Israeli efforts to advance approval of the settlements, highlighting how settlements entrench the occupation, undermine the prospects of a two-state solution, diminish the viability of a Palestinian state, and represent a violation of international law…’J Street is proud to support this letter, led by Rep. Pocan and signed by 25 Reps, calling on the US govt to oppose Israeli settlement construction in the E-1 area of the West Bank, which would further entrench the occupation and damage the possibility of a two-state solution.’”

Rep. Peter Welch enters Vermont Senate race, likely clearing Democratic field, Jewish Insider
“Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) announced Monday that he would seek to replace retiring Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), entering the race as the odds-on favorite to win the seat and likely clearing the Democratic field well ahead of the August 2022 primary…The Vermont congressman, who spoke at a 2019 J Street conference, was an original cosponsor of a bill introduced by Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) in September that would bar Israel from using U.S. aid to support Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.”

Top News and Analysis

Highway of hope and heartbreak, Washington Post
Washington Post correspondents explore the mounting obstacles being placed in the path of Palestinian statehood. “The troubled state of statehood is immediately visible out the windows of vehicles traveling Route 60. There are the Israeli settlements that have not only grown larger in recent years, now home to a half-million Jews in the West Bank, but also are reaching deeper into occupied territory, hollowing out any future Palestine. Israeli businesses are proliferating, attracting Palestinian labor and spending, while the local economy that would sustain a state founders….Fifteen miles south of Nazareth, there is no doubt when Route 60 crosses from Israel into the West Bank. Past the last Israeli gas station and a handwritten Hebrew sign advising Jewish farmers about an evening prayer service, the highway funnels through an Israeli military checkpoint. Beyond, the signs on garages and shops are all in Arabic, men in plastic chairs smoke hookah pipes, and women in headscarves bag up fruit in the markets. Separating these two worlds is the Green Line, the internationally recognized boundary between Israel and the land it captured in the 1967 war. Many Palestinians envision the line as the border of any state. Many Israelis pretend it doesn’t even exist.”

Government okays bill setting term limits for PMs, aims for Knesset vote Monday, Times of Israel
Ministers on Sunday approved a bill limiting prime ministers to eight years in office, with the coalition reportedly aiming to bring it for a Knesset vote on Monday. The legislation must clear three Knesset plenum readings before becoming law.

We’re a Small Arkansas Newspaper. Why Is the State Making Us Sign a Pledge About Israel?, The New York Times
Arkansas Times publisher Alan Leveritt writes, “I was surprised when in 2018 I received an ultimatum from the University of Arkansas’s Pulaski Technical College, a longtime advertiser: To continue receiving its ad dollars, we would have to certify in writing that our company was not engaged in a boycott of Israel…In 2017, Arkansas pledged to enforce support for Israel by mandating that public agencies not do business with contractors unless those contractors affirm that they do not boycott Israel….Though boycotting Israel could not have been further from our minds and though state funding is a significant source of our income, our answer was no. We don’t take political positions in return for advertising. If we signed the pledge, I believe, we’d be signing away our right to freedom of conscience. And as journalists, we would be unworthy of the protections granted us under the First Amendment.”


Israel Is Heading Toward a One-state Reality. We Cannot Accept It’, Haaretz
Former Israeli Foreign Minister and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is warning that Israel is sliding toward a “one-state reality” that would threaten the country’s Jewish and democratic character. Speaking at the Haaretz-UCLA conference on Israeli national security, Livni expressed hope that the U.S. administration and the new government in Israel would take steps to keep open the possibility of a two-state solution.

Nearly 1 in 3 Israeli Jews will be haredi Orthodox by 2050, per Israeli economic projections, JTA
Israel’s current population of 9.2 million is expected to grow to 16 million by the year 2050. Of those 16 million, about a quarter are projected by Israel’s National Economic Council to be haredi Orthodox. The new population figures projected by the council point to a future in which Israel’s Jewish population continues to make up about 80% of its population but in which that Jewish population skews far more heavily Orthodox than ever before.

PA’s Abbas to meet Putin in Russia on Tuesday, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow in Sochi, Russia, the Kremlin says. “The two leaders will discuss issues pertaining to the further development of bilateral cooperation and the situation in the Middle East, taking into account Russia’s efforts toward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” Putin’s office says in a statement.

Israel Arrests Dozens of Hamas Operatives Suspected of Planning Terror Attacks, Haaretz
Over 50 Hamas operatives suspected of planning terror attacks have been arrested in the West Bank, the Shin Bet security agency said Monday. The agency said it had uncovered in recent weeks a major Hamas network in the West Bank seeking to commit terror attacks, including within Israel. The Shin Bet added that it had found a variety of weapons, including materials for assembling four explosive belts.

Opinion and Analysis

The Long Reach of Restraint, Jewish Currents
Elisheva Goldberg writes, “Faced with its own waning legitimacy, the court has developed a pattern of avoiding the political fights that could further damage its credibility. In particular, it has shied away from questions related to discrimination against Palestinians both inside and outside the Green Line, punting on issues that lie at the core of Israel’s identity as a “Jewish” state in which millions of Palestinians live. This is the double-bind in which the Supreme Court is caught: As Israel’s elected leaders work to exclude Palestinians from the body politic, it remains the only institution capable of intervening—but to exercise that power might be to lose it. As it seeks to avoid being written out of Israel’s system of checks and balances, the court is ceding its ability to serve that very purpose, and its place in some of the most fundamental debates about the nature of the state.”

Israeli tourists return to Jericho, Al-Monitor
Danny Zaken writes about Israeli tourism in the West Bank. “[W]hen planning a vacation in Jericho, Israeli visitors must take into account its location in the West Bank’s Area A. The Oslo Accords stipulate that the Palestinians have both security and civil control there and Israelis are required to ask for IDF approval to enter Jericho. It is reportedly easier for Arab-Israelis to enter Area A, which explains why Arab-Israelis make up the bulk of people who stay at these low-priced Jericho villas and hotels.”

Israel Is Enlisting King David to Sell the Abraham Accords, Foreign Policy
Ben Lynfield reports, “Israel has a plan to attract more Emirati tourists, part of a push to cement Arab-Israeli ties after the Abraham Accords normalized relations between Israel and several Arab countries. But the decision to include on the tourist itinerary a controversial archeological park in East Jerusalem run by far-right Jewish settlers is stoking tensions in the region and drawing criticism from both Israeli and Palestinian experts.”

Bibi’s Former Fixer Testifies That Vain PM Spent as Much Time on His Own Image as National Security, Daily Beast
Noga Tarnopolsky relates, “A fearsome fixer turned star witness finally took the stand in the corruption trial of Benjamin Netanyahu Monday, exposing some of the most intimate secrets of the former Israeli prime minister’s time in office. Bibi’s former right-hand man, Nir Hefetz, told the court that his boss had been a vain man who spent as much time on media coverage as national security. He told the trial, which is gripping the nation, that Netanyahu was obsessed with consolidating power and controlling his image, all while he was being dominated by his wife and son.”