Sherwin Pomerantz

Hamas Needs to Answer NOW!

The US House of Representatives voted 247 to 155 on Tuesday to pass the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act. The America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) commented that the bill responds to the “morally bankrupt and legally baseless attack against Israel” leveled by Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, a United Nations agency located in The Hague. Khan announced that he was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as for Hamas leaders. “The ICC’s attack on Israel is a dangerous precedent that could be used in future efforts against America,” AIPAC  noted.

The bill, which Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) introduced, calls the ICC’s actions against the Jewish state “illegitimate and baseless,” requires the US president to sanction those who assist the ICC in its investigation, arrest, detention or prosecution of “a protected person” and sanctions and imposes visa bans on such people and their families, according to AIPAC.

Earlier in the day, Matthew Miller, the US State Department spokesman, was asked if the State Department supported the bill. “We have made clear that while we oppose the decision taken by the prosecutor of the ICC—we don’t think it was appropriate, especially while there are ongoing investigations inside Israel looking at some of these very same questions—and we are willing to work with Congress on what a response might look like, we don’t support sanctions,” he said.

The IDF said on Tuesday it was carrying out a new wave of airstrikes and ground raids around Bureij in central Gaza, hitting, among other targets, a UN school building where it claimed Hamas fighters were “embedded.” The Israeli offensive in Bureij came after Israeli forces pulled out of Jabaliya in northern Gaza last week, after weeks of intense battle that left it in ruins.

The C.I.A. director and the White House’s Middle East coordinator are returning to the Middle East this week, officials said, as President Biden steps up pressure on Israel and Hamas to agree to a deal that would end the fighting. The Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurkis expected to go to Cairo for talks about a possible deal on a cease-fire and hostage release, as well as to the military situation in Rafah. The C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, will travel to Qatar for meetings on the hostage talks, a US official said.

Some Palestinians in Gaza expressed hope that peace talks might advance after President Biden endorsed an Israeli road map toward a permanent cease-fire and called on Hamas to accept the plan. But many remained skeptical that US influence would help bring an immediate end to the war and their suffering. After eight months of devastating bombardment, many in Gaza believe Hamas should make any compromise necessary to end the war and allow rebuilding to begin.

Hamas has said it was responding “positively,” but has kept Palestinians in suspense for days about whether it would formally agree. On Tuesday, Sami Abu Zuhri, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, accused the Netanyahu government of not being serious about reaching a deal. He said Mr. Biden was pressuring his group to accept the plan “despite the White House knowing that the problem lies with” Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel — who remains under pressure from far-right members of his coalition opposed to the deal — has neither publicly accepted nor rejected the proposal, but he has insisted that Israel will not end the war without the “destruction” of Hamas’s governing and military capabilities.

United Airlines and Delta Airlines are set to resume flights to Israel this week, after long pauses in service due to the ongoing war with Hamas. Israel’s flag carrier El Al has been one of the only airlines with regular flights since October 7 after most foreign carriers halted services.

United is set to resume flights to Israel on Thursday, after a suspension of several weeks. The airline was the first American carrier to resume direct flights to Israel in March since pausing after October 7, but temporarily halted service again a few weeks later following the Iranian attack. Daily flights to Newark are currently scheduled to resume on June 6, and twice daily from June 20.

Delta is set to resume service to Israel on Friday, with a daily flight to New York’s JFK airport. “The decision to resume the route on June 7, 2024, which was temporarily suspended in October 2023, follows an extensive security risk assessment by the airline,” the airline said in a statement. “Delta continues to closely monitor the situation in Israel in conjunction with government and private-sector partners.”

American Airlines has not resumed flights to Israel since October 7 and at the time of writing all routes were to remain suspended until the end of October this year.  Air Canada, which like United resumed flights to Israel in March and paused after the Iranian attack in April, was also due to resume flights this month but recently extended the suspension to August. Other foreign carriers, such as Lufthansa, Swiss, and British Airways, have already resumed their Israel routes on a limited basis.

Plane ticket prices to and from Israel have more than doubled in recent months due to surplus demand and a shortage of supply of flights, as foreign carriers sluggishly resumed services amid the ongoing fighting with Hamas in Gaza. When war broke out in the aftermath of the terror group’s October 7 onslaught in southern Israel, almost all major international airlines suspended flights to Tel Aviv.

Today is Jerusalem Day, a national holiday marking the 67 years since the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli control as a result of the Six Day War. While the population of the city is far from integrated, the fact that people of all stripes live together in what passes here for relative quiet is an accomplishment in a city that has been a battleground of internecine battles for centuries. Let us hope that next year’s Jerusalem Day will be celebrated at a time of peace and security in Israel.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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