News Roundup for December 29, 2022

December 29, 2022
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J Street News Roundup

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.

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J Street In the News

Don’t Let the Far-Right Define What It Means To Be ‘Pro-Israel’, The Forward
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “I am pro-Israel because I care about the future of the country and feel meaningfully connected to its people. I understand its security challenges and I want to help ensure its long-term safety. I am pro-Israel because my vision for the country aligns with that of its founders, who wrote in the Declaration of Independence that the Jewish state “would be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.” My pro-Israel activism has always envisioned an Israel that is the national home for the Jewish people even as it provides full, equal rights for all who live there — regardless of race, religion, ethnicity and more.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Far-Right Government Sworn In Amid Surge of Resistance, The Washington Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurated the most right-wing government in Israel’s history on Thursday, launching a divisive chapter of national politics that pits newly influential ultrareligious, ultranationalist leaders against an opposition that warns democracy is in peril. The new government returns Netanyahu — Israel’s longest-serving leader who is embroiled in a corruption trial — to power for the third time, after a year and a half on the sidelines. His coalition, which controls 64 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, was billed as a return to stability after years of political crisis. But it is anchored by Religious Zionism, a bloc of once-fringe, far-right parties that have promised to transform the country in their image.

Israel’s New Hard-Line Government Raises Hackles Ahead of Inauguration, The New York Times
Israel’s incoming prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, concluded coalition agreements on Wednesday to form the most right-wing and religiously conservative government in the country’s history, a day ahead of an expected vote in Parliament to install the new leaders. Even before the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, a broad public backlash against the government prompted an unusual intervention by Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, who reflected the alarm in some constituencies at home and abroad over the most contentious clauses in the coalition agreements.


Shas Secures Billions for Welfare, Healthcare, Religious Benefits in Coalition Deal, The Times of Israel
In its coalition agreement with incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party secured billions of shekels in promises to advance its core agendas, including supporting disadvantaged Israelis, benefits to the religious community and its institutions, and improving healthcare services, especially in the so-called periphery.

Religious Overhaul to Include Crackdown on Aliyah, Women of the Wall Ban, Haaretz
The coalition agreements submitted to the Knesset on Wednesday represent a devastating blow to the cause of religious pluralism in Israel and are bound to alienate millions of Diaspora Jews. If implemented, they would dramatically reduce the number of people eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return; end recognition of conversions performed by non-Orthodox rabbis and privately run Orthodox rabbinical courts; and ban Women of the Wall, the feminist prayer group, from the main prayer plaza at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

Israeli Minister Sees Possible Attack on Iran “In Two or Three Years”, Reuters
Israel could attack Iranian nuclear sites in two or three years, its defence minister said on Wednesday, in unusually explicit comments about a possible timeline. With international efforts to renew a 2015 nuclear deal having stalled, the Iranians have ramped up uranium enrichment, a process with civilian uses that can also eventually yield fuel for nuclear bombs – though they deny having any such design.

Israeli Defense Officials Warn of West Bank Flare-up as New Far-right Government Is Sworn In, Haaretz
Israeli defense officials warned of escalation in the West Bank due to the changes to the IDF decided upon in the coalition deals of the incoming Netanyahu-led government. The changes include the transfer of military powers to the heads of the far-right Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties – Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Opinion and Analysis

This Is Netanyahu’s Dream State: Racist, Religious and Authoritarian, Haaretz
Editor-in-chief of Haaretz Aluf Benn writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu will return to the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday to take apart and put together the state of Israel, which from now on will be more racist, religious and authoritarian. This is the state Netanyahu wants to lead: a state that preaches Jewish supremacy and regards its small Arab minority as a demographic threat and a community of criminals. A state that sees Orthodox Jewish law as a supreme command, kicking aside human and civil rights. A state without constitutional checks and balances, which were flimsy to begin with, and will now be revoked in the name of “governance.””

You’ve Heard of Bibi and Ben Gvir. Now Meet the Rest of the New Government, +972 Mag
Nate Orbach explains who Members of Netanyahu’s coalition include, and outlines their agendas.

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