Israel–PA to exchange vaccines; new US Ambassador to Israel: Israel Update
June 18, 2021
US President Joe Biden’s announced that he intends to appoint Thomas Nides as the country’s next ambassador to Israel. The decision was met with a wave of approval from both liberal and conservative Israelis and Americans.Nides, who most recently served as managing director and vice-chairman of Morgan Stanley, also worked as part of the team that led to the approval of a $38 million, 10-year loan guarantee package for Israel, under the Obama administration. He also fought against limiting support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and for UNESCO. Nides will still need to make it through a Senate confirmation hearing, but no significant opposition is expected.
Israel said it will transfer roughly 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in exchange for a similar number of doses that the PA expects to receive later this year. While Israel has fully reopened after vaccinating approximately 85 percent of its adult population, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have had limited access to vaccines. The new Israeli government, which was sworn in on Sunday, said it would transfer the Pfizer vaccines soon, and that the PA would transfer back a similar number of vaccines when it receives them from the pharmaceutical company in September or October. As many as 1.4 million doses could be exchanged, the health ministry said in a statement. “We will continue to find effective ways to cooperate for the benefit of people in the region,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted after the deal was announced.
Hundreds of Israelis paraded in East Jerusalem in the march of flags Tuesday, in a show of force that threatened to spark renewed violence. Some marchers were heard chanting threats aimed at Arabs. Yair Lapid rebuked the march saying, “The fact that there are extremist elements for whom the flag of Israel represents hate and racism is revolting and unforgivable...It is incomprehensible that people can hold the Israeli flag in one hand and shout ‘Death to Arabs’ at the same time. This isn’t Judaism or Israeliness, and it is definitely not what our flag symbolizes." The march posed a test for Israel’s fragile new government, as well as the tenuous truce that ended last month’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas. Palestinians in Gaza have responded in recent days by launching incendiary balloons towards Israel, sparking at least 10 fires in southern Israel. Israel retaliated with targeted airstrikes on militants in Gaza.
Israel is working towards establishing ties with Southeast Asia's Muslim-majority nations, its ambassador to Singapore said on Thursday, despite their condemnation in May of Israeli air strikes on Gaza. The region's three Muslim-majority states—Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei—sharply criticized Israeli actions during hostilities in May, and even urged the United Nations to step in. Sagi Karni, Israel's ambassador to Singapore, said the criticism from the three nations' leaders ignored "the true nature of the conflict," which he said was between Israel and Hamas and not the Palestinian people. Despite that, he maintained that Israel was "willing to talk, willing to meet, and the door is open as far as we are concerned." The three Asian countries do not have formal ties with Israel, but Israeli officials are hoping to change that in the coming years.
Join us for our virtual 2021 Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 29 at 7:00 PM to celebrate our 2020 accomplishments, welcome new leadership and introduce our inaugural Leaders in Light cohort. Our keynote speakers will be Integrity First For America's Executive Director Amy Spitalnick and Lead Counsel Robbie Kaplan, who are taking on extremists responsible for the violent attacks in Charlottesville. RSVP here.
On Monday, June 21 at 12pm ET, JFNA's Israel & Overseas team is hosting a webinar with Times of Israel editor, David Horovitz, entitled "Israel's New Government: What Can We Expect — and Can it Survive?" Jeff Schoenfeld will moderate this conversation on how PM Naftali Bennett and his cabinet will reshape the political landscape, policy toward Iran, issues of religion and state, Diaspora relations, and so much more. Register here.