News Roundup for September 15, 2021

September 15, 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

Israel Can Live With a New Iran Nuclear Deal, Defense Minister Says, Foreign Policy
Israel would be willing to accept a return to a U.S.-negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Foreign Policy—but Israeli officials are also pressing Washington to prepare a serious “demonstration of power” in case negotiations with Tehran fail. The remarks, made during an exclusive interview last week, appear to reflect a shift in policy for Israel, which under the leadership of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loudly opposed the 2015 nuclear agreement and worked to undermine it.

New Jersey moves to divest from Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever over settlement ban, Times of Israel
Following in Arizona’s footsteps, the state of New Jersey announced Tuesday that it could divest funds from Ben & Jerry’s, along with its parent company, Unilever, over the ice cream firm’s decision to cease sales in Israeli settlements, becoming the second US state to do so. […] While Ben & Jerry’s sought to differentiate between Israel, where it expressed a desire to continue its business, and the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” that it said it would boycott, the New Jersey review determined that the latter position was akin to boycotting Israel according to state law.

Trial Over Killing of Activist Drives Dissent Against Palestinian Leadership, Wall Street Journal
A Palestinian military court began the trial of 14 members of its security forces who are accused of beating to death a critic of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a case that has highlighted what activists say is the growing reach of paramilitary troops in the West Bank and a creeping culture of authoritarianism. Nizar Banat’s death in June sparked widespread protests in Ramallah and Hebron, where he lived.


Interview: Former prime minister Ehud Olmert says the two-state solution is not dead, Forward
In an hourlong interview last month in his Tel Aviv office, Olmert took partial credit for Netanyahu’s ouster, offered his early assessment of now-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s “change government” and President Biden’s Middle East policies, attempted some revisionist history on his own legacy and shared thoughts on the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Scoop: Blinken to host event marking Abraham Accords anniversary, Axios
Secretary of State Tony Blinken will hold a virtual meeting on Friday with his counterparts from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords. This is the most active and public show of support by the Biden administration for the agreements, which were President Trump’s landmark foreign policy achievement.

‘Israeli intelligence torturing Palestinian prisoners’: Lawyers, Al Jazeera
Two of the four re-arrested Palestinian political prisoners have told their lawyers they are being subjected to physical and mental abuse and torture by Israeli interrogators, in the first meeting they had with them since being taken into custody last week.

House Progressives Renew Effort to Block Bomb Deliveries to Israel, Jewish Currents
Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Mark Pocan are leading a renewed effort to prohibit the delivery of US-made bombs to Israel. The three progressive legislators submitted an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Biden administration to halt the export of Boeing-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs to Israel for a year. The bombs were used by the Israeli Air Force to strike targets in Gaza during May’s escalation in violence.

Larry Ellison, Netanyahu Trial Witness, Offers ex-PM Seat on Oracle’s Board, Haaretz
The American-Jewish billionaire Larry Ellison, who founded the giant software firm Oracle, has asked former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join the board of directors of the company. Sources close to Netanyahu and Ellison said they did not know if Netanyahu accepted the offer or even responded to it. Netanyahu denied receiving the offer from Ellison. […]

Opinion and Analysis

The False Promise of the Abraham Accords, Foreign Affairs
Jeremy Pressman writes, “Achieving normal relations between states is itself a positive development. But in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it would be misguided to consider normalization a panacea. The Palestinian question may not carry the same weight in the region that it once did, but it is not resolved. Notwithstanding Israel’s progress in building ties with some Arab countries, the occupation remains a potent issue and a source of instability. Bypassing it through regional diplomacy will not make it go away.”

Why Are U.S. Jews Still Calling Jimmy Carter an Antisemite?, Haaretz
Kai Bird writes, “The American Jewish establishment, which has wrongly and perniciously attacked Jimmy Carter as an intransigent foe of Israel and even a Jew-hater, needs to start apologizing. Call it atonement.”