Israel's UAE embassy opens; US-Israel begin a new chapter: Israel Update

July 2, 2021

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Rome on Sunday as their governments hope to begin a new chapter in US-Israel relations. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US President Joe Biden are both focused on pragmatic diplomacy, rather than initiatives that could foment opposition at home or distract from other priorities. “In the past few years, mistakes were made,” Lapid told Blinken as they sat down for talks in a Rome hotel. “Israel’s bipartisan standing was hurt. We will fix those mistakes together.” Blinken noted that even though the two governments are new, “the foundation that we’re working on is one of an enduring partnership, a relationship, friendship between the United States and Israel." On Monday, outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Washington at Biden’s invitation. A group of House Democrats is also planning an official trip to Israel when Congress begins its Fourth of July recess.


In his first phone call with Naftali Bennett since Bennett took office two weeks ago, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed Egypt's support for reaching a fair and permanent solution between the Palestinians and Israelis. Al-Sisi urged the importance of an Egyptian drive to help rebuild Gaza following the fighting in May between Israel and Hamas—the Islamist terror group currently ruling Gaza. A statement from Bennett's office said the Israeli leader had thanked Egypt for its role in brokering the ceasefire that ended the fighting, and for mediating efforts to help find Israelis who are missing or believed captured in Gaza. To improve the prospects for the ongoing negotiations—and in anticipation of Prime Minister Bennett's first trip to the United States as Israel's leader—Egypt has added high-level intelligence official Amr Nazmi to their team. Some have speculated that Egypt is eager to demonstrate progress in the talks to gain favor with the new Biden administration. 


As a rift deepens between Israel and Poland after a bill on Holocaust restitution was advanced in Polish parliament, the countries have each summoned the other's envoys for meetings. The legislation, which passed by a 309-0 margin, with 120 abstentions, places a 10-to-30-year cutoff date on contesting past administrative decisions on restitution. Critics of the law argue that it will effectively prevent Jews from reclaiming property that was seized before and during the Holocaust. Poland is the only country in the European Union that has failed to pass legislation calling for the return of private property confiscated by Nazis or Nazi Germany, or equivalent compensation.


Israel's air force bombed a Hamas weapons factory in the Gaza Strip early Friday in response to a wave of incendiary balloon attacks launched at Israel from the coastal enclave on Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said. The balloons sparked four fires near Israeli towns along the southern border, ending two weeks of calm since the last wave of similar arson attacks. The response by Naftali Bennett's new government indicated a shift in policy from the Netanyahu administration, which sought to avoid escalation along the southern border by not always responding to the arson balloon attacks with airstrikes, and never as quickly or as forcibly as Friday's strikes.


A couple of dozen college students from Cincinnati are spending their summer interning in Tel Aviv and traveling around the country as part of Onward Israel. Follow their experiences in this week-by-week blog.


For the remainder of the summer, we will be sending the Israel Update every two weeks. We look forward to connecting with you again on July 16. 


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


P.S. If you or a friend would like to get our own, up-to-the-minute Israel Update, you can sign up here; when asked for "interests" click "weekly Israel Update."

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Join the Jewish Federation on an Israel adventure from the comfort of your home with Hidden Treasures: A Virtual Journey Along the Israel TrailThere are multiple tour dates, the next one on July 11, and experiences to see so you can learn more and RSVP for the ones that interest you. 


Together, we can do virtually anything. If you or a loved one needs help during this crisis, please reach out to our COVID-19 Hotline.


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