News Roundup for July 13, 2023

July 13, 2023
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Top News and Analysis

Will Israel Push Judicial Overhaul Slice by Slice?, The New York Times
Outnumbered in Parliament, Israel’s opposition parties are powerless to vote down the proposed judicial legislation on their own. But the popular backlash has come from the centers of power of Israeli society, including hundreds of volunteers in the most elite ranks of the military reserves, along with people from the high-tech industry, academia, the medical profession and the powerful trade unions. All of these power players joined forces and compelled Mr. Netanyahu to pause the judicial overhaul plan a few months ago.

Netanyahu Gov’t Revises Key Judicial Coup Bill on ‘Reasonableness Standard’, Haaretz
Israel’s Netanyahu-led coalition published on Wednesday a revised version of the key judicial overhaul bill concerning the reasonableness standard in preparation for its final two votes. In the updated version, the reasonableness standard will not be entirely revoked, as courts will be able to declare mayoral appointments “unreasonable.” The coalition is presenting this minor change as a softening of the original bill, despite the fact that the revised version also specifies that the court will be unable to declare the government’s failure to convene the Judicial Appointments Committee “unreasonable.”


Soldier, Civilian Charged with Terror Offenses Over West Bank Rioting, The Times of Israel
Two Israelis, one of them an off-duty soldier, were charged with terror offenses Wednesday relating to rioting last month by hundreds of settlers and their supporters as they rampaged through Palestinian West Bank communities in the wake of a deadly terror attack. The accused are Yedidya Siani, 22, and David Oved, 30. Oved is from the hardline West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, according to Hebrew media reports that did not give Siani’s place of residence. Siani is a soldier in the IDF.

Trump’s Latest Fundraising Email Uses Antisemitic Imagery Showing Soros As a ‘Puppet Paster’, The Forward
The campaign of former President Donald Trump has escalated its attacks on Jewish billionaire George Soros, depicting him as a powerful “puppet master” controlling President Joe Biden. A recent fundraising email included an illustration of a looming Soros pulling puppet strings attached to Biden in front of a picture of the White House. Casting a Jewish individual as a puppet master who manipulates national events for malign purposes is a common antisemitic trope.

Republicans Threaten US State Dept. Nominations Over Biden’s ‘Boycott’ of Israel, Haaretz
Republican members of Congress and presidential contenders are amplifying their criticism of US President Joe Biden’s Israel policy, largely centered around Biden’s decision to stop transferring funds to research institutes or scientific and technological projects in the West Bank. This is despite the fact that Biden stopped short of reversing the majority of Donald Trump’s doctrine on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Palestinian Leader Visits City Israel Raided, Trying to Signal Strength, The New York Times
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority made his first visit in years to Jenin, the battle-scarred and impoverished Palestinian city in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank that was the target of a two-day raid by the Israeli military last week. Mr. Abbas’s visit was an effort to demonstrate to both Israelis and Palestinians that he retains authority and control over Jenin, a city in which his security forces are passive spectators to street battles between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militias opposed to his rule.

Israeli Raid on West Bank Refugee Camp Cut Water Access for Thousands, Left 173 Homeless, UN Says, CBS News
The UN’s humanitarian agency says thousands of people living in the Jenin refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank still have no reliable access to fresh water a week after Israel’s military carried out a deadly, two-day raid on the camp. Israel has defended the raid, arguing that it was necessary to target Palestinian militant groups that operate out of the refugee camp.

Opinion and Analysis

Smotrich Wants One Million West Bank Settlers. That’s Not So Far-fetched, +972
Ben Reiff writes, “In stage one of his “Decisive Plan” — a detailed proposal penned in 2017 for “winning and ending” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — Bezalel Smotrich outlined a vision he called “victory through settlement.” The Israeli lawmaker, who currently serves as finance minister and as the government’s West Bank overlord through a special ministerial role created for him in the Defense Ministry, explained in the essay that his plan would require “the encouragement of tens and hundreds of thousands of residents to come live in Judea and Samaria,” using the Biblical name for the West Bank.”

Israel Faces an Ongoing Constitutional Crisis — Without a Constitution, The Washington Post
Miriam Berger notes, “The crisis is rooted in the same unanswered questions about fundamental rights and governance that prevented Israel’s founders from formalizing such a document. In many democracies, a constitution codifies the structure of government and its fundamental legal principles. In practice, constitutions can: achieve near-unalterable status, as in the United States; be frequently rewritten, as in many other countries in the Western hemisphere; be used to justify authoritarian forms of rule; or come to be entirely disregarded.”

Israel-US Ties Fray as Netanyahu Proceeds with Judicial Overhaul, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit argues, “Israel’s ties with Washington are increasingly tense over the decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to push forward components of its judicial overhaul plan, forsaking compromise negotiations. Washington keeps criticizing the current Cabinet in Jerusalem, and an invitation for its prime minister to visit the White House is nowhere on the horizon. Truth be told, just when you think Israel has hit rock bottom, someone comes along and proves you wrong.”