News Roundup for November 24, 2020

November 24, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Biden transition gets govt OK after Trump out of options, AP
The federal government recognized President-elect Joe Biden as the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election on Monday, formally starting the transition of power after President Donald Trump spent weeks testing the boundaries of American democracy. He relented after suffering yet more legal and procedural defeats in his seemingly futile effort to overturn the election with baseless claims of fraud.

US House progressives urge Pompeo to decry Israel’s razing of Palestinian hamlet, Times of Israel
Forty progressive Democrats in the US House of Representatives signed a letter last week urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to condemn the Israeli demolition of a wildcat Palestinian village in the West Bank and demanded to know if American-sourced equipment was used in the razing. “This single act was the largest Israeli displacement of Palestinians in four years — behavior only made possible by continued silence from the American government,” the letter spearheaded by Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan reads. “This is a grave humanitarian issue that demands your immediate attention and our collective condemnation.”

Palestinian Authority Reaches Understandings With Biden Staff, Haaretz
Senior Palestinian Authority officials have begun talks with associates of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, according to Western diplomats who heard this from their Palestinian counterparts and associates of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the diplomats, preparations are being made for a phone conversation between the two leaders, after Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Monday.


Netanyahu, Pompeo hoped for normalization, but Saudis said no, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had hoped for a breakthrough in normalization talks with Saudi Arabia during Netanyahu’s face-to-face meeting Sunday with Riyadh’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but their hopes were frustrated, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported Monday.

‘He’s Not Kushner’: Israelis Who’ve Worked With Blinken Welcome His Pick as Secretary of State, Haaretz
President-elect Joe Biden’s choice of Antony J. Blinken as his secretary of state is being welcomed and praised by Israeli foreign policy veterans on both sides of the political map.

High Court upholds light plea deal for soldier who killed Palestinian, Times of Israel
The High Court of Justice rejected a petition on Monday night to reexamine a military court plea bargain that would give an Israeli soldier three months of community service for the wrongful shooting of two Palestinians, one of whom died, saying it did not have justification to intervene in the case.

Where Biden’s secretary of state choice Tony Blinken stands on Jewish issues, from immigration to Israel, JTA
Blinken’s record has earned him respect from Israeli officials, even when he hasn’t always agreed with them. Michael Oren, a conservative former U.S. ambassador to Israel, called Blinken a man of “singular intelligence and warmth” in a passage of his 2015 book “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide” — even in describing how Blinken rebuked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for expanding settlement building after agreeing not to.

In bumbling speech, Netanyahu accidentally says ‘women are animals… with rights’, Times of Israel
During an impassioned plea to halt violence against women, the prime minister got himself into a muddle and ended up saying that “women are animals… with rights.”

‘We’re in the foxhole together’: House Democrats reckon with a diminished majority, Washington Post
The governing implications for President-elect Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic congressional leaders are stark: Pushing any sort of partisan measure through the House will require near-unanimity inside their party, forcing careful negotiations with various factions of lawmakers and perhaps fewer aspirational “messaging” bills meant to set out Democratic ideals but not necessarily become law.

‘This is going nowhere’: Gantz, Netanyahu shout at each other at cabinet meeting, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly got into a shouting match with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi during a coronavirus cabinet meeting Monday night, as friction within the coalition was widely expected to lead to the fall of the government by next month.

Opinion and Analysis

Secret Flight Shows Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman Joining to Face Biden, Foreign Policy
Jonathan H. Ferziger writes, “As the Trump era ends, both Israel and the Gulf states are anxious about what to expect from the new administration and positioning themselves for a return to the familiar policy outlines followed by Obama, including defusing the Iran conflict, sympathy for the Palestinians, and a stress on human rights. It’s clear that Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman share some deep concerns before Trump’s departure, said Ebtesam al-Ketbi, president of the Emirates Policy Center in Abu Dhabi. ‘They want to be sure that what Biden is going to do will not affect their mutual interests.’”

Zionism is not racism – BDS isn’t always anti-Semitism, Times of Israel
Kenneth S. Stern writes, “There are Jews who are anti-Zionist for theological reasons, such as Satmar Hassids. And there are Jews for whom the religious command about how to treat the stranger is front and center. Many of these Jews can’t square that injunction with the creation of a Jewish state in a land where Palestinians, who also crave national self-expression, are denied it. And there are Palestinians who view Zionism as responsible for their predicament. There’s enough fault on all sides for the current state of affairs, but to say that a Palestinian who bemoans what happened in 1948 when the state of Israel was declared does so because he hates Jews, or sees a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, misses the reality that there are competing national narratives in play, not uniform Jew-hatred.”

Saudis may stall on Trump’s Middle East peace plan now he’s on the way out, The Guardian
Martin Chulov writes, “During the last year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the question of whether Saudi Arabia would make peace with Israel had come down to a question of when. The terms of such a deal were more or less agreed during Trump’s tumultuous term, thrashed out between his envoy and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the kingdom’s effective ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, who held a very different view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from other Saudi leaders.”

In tapping Blinken, Biden will be served by confidant with deep Jewish roots, Times of Israel
Jacob Magid writes, “US secretary of state nominee’s work with president-elect spans decades, and while the two sparred with Israel over Iran, they remain guided by fundamental support for Jewish state.”

A Palestinian guide to Jewish American allyship, +972 Mag
Tom Pessah writes, “As American Jews increasingly enter the Palestinian rights movement, the power dynamics between the two groups often lead to tensions. One activist opens up about the complexities of navigating those dynamics, and what Jews should be doing to center Palestinian voices.”

Yad Vashem Is Selling Its Soul to Shady Right-wing Racists and Populists, Haaretz
Moshe Zimmerman and Shimon Stein write, “Yad Vashem should stop dirtying its hands. It should focus on fulfilling its mandate, keep out of partisan politics, and keep away from politicians who use and abuse Holocaust memory.”

Why Biden must ignore Sen. Coons’ ‘caveats’ and stay on course to return to the Iran deal, Responsible Statecraft
Assal Rad writes, “Despite the musings of some Washington think tankers and pundits who would have us believe that a Biden administration will not be able to simply undo the damage of the Trump administration, the path to diplomacy is open. However, in order to repair the harm done by Trump, Biden will have to move quickly and resolutely.”

Gantz’s Party Is Falling Apart Before His Eyes, Haaretz
Chaim Levinson writes, “In practice, Gantz’s Kahol Lavan today is split into three separate factions in the Knesset, which barely have any ideological connection with each other. The first group is an opposition faction consisting of former Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir, MKs Ram Shefa and Miki Haimovich – and to a certain degree also Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn. They think that any possibility of working in a normal way with Likud is dead and gone, and that it would be better to dissolve the Knesset and call for a new election than to continue to bang their heads against the wall.”