News Roundup for October 13, 2021

October 13, 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.

Top News and Analysis

U.S. hopes Abraham Accords will help Israeli-Palestinian issue – officials, Reuters
The United States is working to expand normalisation agreements between Israel and Arab nations, known as the Abraham Accords, and hopes restoring such ties can be leveraged to advance progress on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, senior State Department officials said on Tuesday. In a briefing with reporters previewing U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meetings on Wednesday with his Israeli and Emirati counterparts, officials repeated that the Abraham Accords were not a substitute for the two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.

Former Mossad Chief: Netanyahu’s Iran Policy Was a ‘Dismal Failure’, Haaretz
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a “big mistake” by trying to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal as it brought Tehran closer to acquiring nuclear weapons, said Efraim Halevy, the former Mossad chief during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister…Withdrawing from the agreement, he asserted, brought Iran closer to a bomb. The fact that “Israel says that Iran has never before been as close to a breakthrough into a nuclear mode is testament to the fact that the entire policy of the former government was a dismal failure. It was an unfortunate failure, and it might be an historic failure.”


US: Blinken to warn Lapid of risks of cooperating with China in ‘candid’ talk, Times of Israel
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will have a “candid” conversation with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, during which he will caution against Chinese investment in the Israeli economy, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

Progressives, Center-left Lawmakers Lobby Tzipi Livni to Head Jewish Agency, Haaretz
Concerned by the growing possibility of a right-wing takeover at the Jewish Agency, following the withdrawal of the only self-described centrist candidate from the race, representatives of the progressive Jewish movements and center-left Israeli parties are searching for a new “big name” who could represent them. Among the names being circulated in recent days is Tzipi Livni, the most prominent woman in Israeli politics in recent decades.

Poll shows scant support for Edelstein in Likud leadership battle with Netanyahu, Times of Israel
A day after Likud MK Yuli Edelstein announced that he’d challenge Benjamin Netanyahu for the party leadership, a television poll on Tuesday found that only a handful of Likud voters would back him and the party would suffer at the polls with him at the helm. Among Likud voters polled by the network, a whopping 86 percent said they would back Netanyahu in party primaries, 6% would back Edelstein, and the rest were undecided.

Hateful Graffiti Scrawled, Tires Punctured in West Bank Hate Crime, Haaretz
Malicious graffiti was scrawled and property was damaged Wednesday in the Palestinian village of Marda in the West Bank. Hateful writings reading “Price tag” and “Destroying for enemies and not for Jews” were spray-painted on eight vehicles and the walls of buildings in the village, which is located near the Jewish settlement of Ariel. Police and military forces arrived at the scene.

Israeli soldiers beat, arrest Palestinian activist during olive harvest, 972 Magazine
Israeli soldiers violently arrested a prominent Palestinian activist and two left-wing Israelis on Monday during the annual olive harvest in the occupied West Bank. The arrest took place in the Salfit region near the illegal settlement outpost of Havat Nof Avi, which was erected last year on land belonging to Palestinian residents of the area. One soldier was documented punching and later stepping on Mohammed Khatib — who is active with the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, which helps organize nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation and settlement enterprise — after his arrest.

Opinion and Analysis

Year of changes place Abraham Accords supporters on rockier ground, Al-Monitor
Mazal Mualem writes, “Even if Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is opposed to reviving the Palestinian channel for peace talks, he has apparently little control over it. Bennett came into the coalition with only six Knesset seats. His political weakness makes it impossible for him to prevent left-leaning ministers in his government from going to Ramallah to promote peace initiatives of their own.”

Frustrated with US, but reluctant to fight, PA envoy looks elsewhere for help, Times of Israel
Jacob Magid reports, “While Palestinian frustration is growing over Washington’s lack of enthusiasm for expending political capital on advancing a two-state solution, the PA does not appear to have the luxury of again going to war with Washington after doing so under Trump…As a result, the PA is walking a fine line, trying to press its claims while steering clear of angering the Biden administration, whose support is critical at this time of need. At the same time, Ramallah is looking for other world powers to pick up the mediator mantle seemingly cast aside by Washington, to keep ever-dimming hopes of political sovereignty alive.”