News Roundup for November 29, 2021

November 29, 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.

Celebrate Hanukkah with J Street! Every night of the holiday, we’re sharing with you something to ponder, something to enjoy, and something to do. The first night’s offerings are already up at Check back each night as you light the candles to help guide your evening discussion with family and friends.

J Street in the News

Israel Is Launching A Complicated ‘Reset’ With The U.S. After Netanyahu, HuffPost
“Five months after gaining a new government, Israel is hoping to shore up its vital alliance with the U.S. ― and to court Democrats who are increasingly critical of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians and rarely questioned American aid for the country…But Bennett’s policy on building permits shows that Israel will likely continue to frustrate Palestinians and human rights watchdogs despite his team’s conciliatory rhetoric. The policy links new Palestinian construction to more than 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law and are opposed by many Democrats, including President Joe Biden. Boosting settlements makes it harder for Israel to ever relinquish control of the region and accept the establishment of a Palestinian state, critics say, while hurting the millions of Palestinians who live in the West Bank. ‘When it comes to the occupation, the record of the new government so far has mostly been a dismal extension of the Netanyahu years,’ Debra Shushan of the influential Jewish American group J Street wrote this week. She noted that Israeli settlers who often receive government protection are becoming more violent toward Palestinians, according to United Nations experts, and Israeli forces that control the West Bank are continuing to demolish Palestinian homes.”

Top News and Analysis

Palestinians Decry Herzog’s ‘Embrace of Settlements’ in Hebron Hanukkah Event, Haaretz
“The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Hebron for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on Sunday, in a statement calling for its cancellation…Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police outside the ceremony after Palestinian factions in Hebron called for mass prayers at the site in protest….Several Israeli anti-occupation groups including Peace Now, Breaking the Silence, Crime Minister, Mothers Against Violence and the Mechazkim NGO prepared to protest the ceremony, but several busses carrying activists were blocked on Sunday from reaching the area due to an IDF order restricting non-residents from reaching the city. Peace now said, “While the president is lighting a candle with Baruch Marzel and the Kahanists, security forces are preventing law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to protest.”

Iran nuclear talks to restart as US emphasizes it’s ‘prepared to use other options’ if diplomacy fails, CNN
“The US and its allies restart Iran nuclear talks on Monday unsure how Tehran’s new government will approach negotiations, not optimistic about the prospects ahead and emphasizing that if diplomacy fails, the US is “prepared to use other options. The parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will reconvene in Vienna after almost six months to discuss a mutual return to the deal by both the US and Iran, but the hiatus has given time for new obstacles to take root. On Friday, Iran announced yet more advances in its uranium enrichment, which reduces the amount of time Tehran would need to develop a nuclear weapon, if it chooses to, an announcement clearly meant to give Iran leverage when it arrives in Vienna for talks.”


Slamming the door on Omicron, Israel closes its borders to tourists, Times of Israel
Israel closed its borders to non-citizens at midnight Sunday in an effort to block the Omicron coronavirus variant from spreading to the country, as new entry rules entered effect. Israelis returning home will now be placed under a tightened quarantine regime and can be subjected to controversial phone tracking by the Shin Bet security service if confirmed to have the new strain.

Iran Wants Verifiable Sanctions Removal, Envoy Says Before Talks, Bloomberg
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator said world powers must secure full, guaranteed and verifiable sanctions removal for Tehran when they resume talks on Monday aimed at reviving a landmark 2015 deal and ending a standoff with the U.S. “The West needs to pay a price for having failed to uphold its part of the bargain,” Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and the official leading the country’s nuclear negotiating team in Vienna, wrote in an op-ed in the Financial Times published on Sunday, referring to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear accord in 2018.

Gantz says Israel, Morocco ‘leap together’ in historic agreement, Al-Monitor
For Israeli Defense Minister Lt. Gen. (Res.) Benny Gantz, the height of his historic visit to Morocco this week was a tour of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces base housing the First Infantry Airborne Brigade. It took him back some 40 years to one of his first military postings as commander of the vaunted Israeli Paratroopers Brigade, whose maroon beret he sported on his epaulets to the top post of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Moroccans welcomed Gantz at the base with great honors, and he himself did not hide his emotions.

Israel’s Lapid Departs for London, Paris Ahead of Iran Nuclear Talks, Haaretz
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will visit London and Paris for a round of diplomatic meetings ahead of the resumption of negotiations surrounding Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna. Due to the detection of a new COVID variant the British and French delegations have been reduced to a minimum, and only several meetings and events will take place.

Opinion and Analysis

Seeking Backers for New Fund, Jared Kushner Turns to Middle East, The New York Times
“[I]n a move that has raised eyebrows among diplomats, investors and ethics watchdogs, Mr. Kushner is trying to raise money from the Persian Gulf states for a new investment firm he has founded. So far, he is having only mixed success…his inquiries to Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds have raised questions about the ethics — or at least the optics — of seeking to raise large sums from officials he had dealt with on behalf of the U.S. government as recently as January, especially given the possibility of Mr. Trump running for president in 2024.”

Three Years Late, Israelis Finally Hear the Truth About Trump, Haaretz
Amir Tibon writes, “Netanyahu presented Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal as his own personal achievement, and a mostly shallow, compliant Israeli media adopted the story with very little questioning…It took two more years, however, for the men who worked closest to Netanyahu in those critical moments – his former Mossad chief, defense minister and top general – to publically acknowledge that it was all a big lie. Trump’s Iran policy…ended in failure. Iran was closer to nuclear military capability on the day he left office than it was when he first entered the White House….But their warnings were drowned out by Netanyahu’s boisterous victory campaign. Now that they are finally speaking out, the Israeli media has a moral obligation to bring their words of truth to the public, after years of irresponsibly carrying Netanyahu’s water.”

The fifty-year persecution of Raja Eghbaria, 972 Magazine
Jonathan Shamir reports, “For decades, Israel has repeatedly targeted and imprisoned activist Raja Eghbaria without charge. Now the Palestinian citizen is being indicted under the same law that banned six human rights groups last month.”