News Roundup for February 8, 2023

February 8, 2023

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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.

Top News and Analysis

Israel Steps Up Jerusalem Home Demolitions As Violence Rises, The Washington Post
Last month, Israel demolished 39 Palestinian homes, structures and businesses in east Jerusalem, displacing over 50 people, according to the United Nations. That was more than a quarter of the total number of demolitions in 2022. For many Palestinians, the gathering pace of home demolitions is part of the new ultranationalist government’s broader battle for control of east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war and claimed by the Palestinians as the capital of a future independent state.

Hundreds of IDF Reservists March in Protest of Netanyahu’s Proposed Judicial Shakeup, Haaretz
Hundreds of Israel Defense Forces reservists embarked on a 50-kilometer march Wednesday morning in protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s plan to severely weaken Israel’s legal system. IDF reserve officers and soldiers and their families are expected to march for three days, starting in the central town of Latrun and ending at with a rally at the steps of the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem.


Israeli Rights Groups Slam EU’s Top Diplomat For Implying That Amnesty’s Apartheid Report Is Antisemitic, Haaretz
Twelve leading Israeli human rights organizations published a joint statement on Tuesday expressing “grave concern” regarding the European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell Fontelles’ remarks insinuating that Amnesty International’s report accusing Israel of practicing apartheid against Palestinians is motivated by antisemitism.

Minor Earthquake Hits Israel, West Bank, The Times of Israel
The Israeli military’s Home Front Command confirmed that a minor earthquake hit Israel Tuesday night, with tremors reported in Jerusalem and in areas near the capital in the West Bank. The 3.5-magnitude tremor occurred at 11:14 p.m. local time and was centered around 15 kilometers (9 miles) southeast of the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank, the Energy Ministry’s Seismology Division said. Ariel is about 38 kilometers (24 miles) north of Jerusalem, where residents reported feeling the quake alongside Israelis living in Mevasseret Zion, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) west of Jerusalem, and as far west as Beit Shemesh, about 35 kilometers (21 miles) away.

Israel Breaks 20-Year Record for Administrative Detention of Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post
According to the NGO HaMoked, the IDF recently broke its record for administrative detentions of Palestinians, dating back around 20 years to the 2002-2003 era of the Second Intifada, when the number passed the 1,000 mark. Even during the later years of the Second Intifada and during the “Knife Intifada” of 2015-2016, the number of administrative detainees was more in the 700 range.

Top Int’l Economists to Netanyahu: ‘Undermining Judiciary Detrimental to Prosperity and Growth’, Haaretz
Fifty-six world-renowned economists, including 11 Nobel laureates, have signed an open letter protesting the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government’s plan to weaken Israel’s democracy and damage judicial independence. Among the known and respected economists are Peter Diamond and Daron Acemoglu of MIT; Luigi Zingales and Marianne Bertrand of the University of Chicago; Eric Maskin, Lucian Bebchuk and Oliver Hart of Harvard; Paul Milgrom of Stanford; and Daniel Kahneman of Princeton.

Opinion and Analysis

A Message to the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, The Times of Israel
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “Contrary to the common wisdom among most Israelis, the Minister of the Diaspora (and the fight against anti-Semitism and delegitimization of Israel) is one of the most important positions in the government. This is due to the mission of the State of Israel according to the Zionist vision and as formulated in the Declaration of Independence to be a national home for the entire Jewish people.”

The End of Israeli Democracy?, Foreign Affairs
Eliav Lieblich and Adam Shinar argue, “Taken together, these proposed reforms amount to an assault on Israel’s already flawed democracy. The government’s agenda and the authoritarian turn it portends have already provoked a mass protest movement. They have also stirred broad concern outside Israel, prompting countries including France and the United States to express reservations about the impending changes. If Netanyahu and his coalition continue to drag Israel down the Hungarian route, they will threaten not just the country’s democratic institutions but also its relationships with allies.”