News Roundup for July 26, 2023

July 26, 2023
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Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Supreme Court Says It Will Not Block Law That Limits its Power – For Now, CNN
Israel’s Supreme Court said Wednesday that it will not issue an injunction to temporarily block a controversial new law that curbs its power to strike down government decisions. The so-called reasonableness law, part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to weaken the judiciary, has now entered into force.

Israel’s Justice Minister Gives Away the Real Aim of the Judicial Coup’s First Law, +972
The architects of the law stripping the reasonableness standard, chief among them Justice Minister Yariv Levin, claim that abolishing the reasonableness standard is a democratic necessity, taking power out of the hands of a few unelected judges and returning it to those in whom the public placed their trust. However, Levin’s own speech ahead of the vote in the Knesset plenum on Monday told a rather different story — one that centers around entrenching Israel’s control over the Palestinians and eliminating resistance to it.


Iranian, Hamas Officials Discuss Response to Upheaval in Israel, The Times of Israel
Top Iranian security officials and the Hamas terror group held a closed-door meeting last week to discuss a response to the societal upheaval in Israel sparked by the government’s judicial overhaul, according to a Tuesday report. The two sides agreed that the judicial crisis has already damaged Israel, but that they should not make any “direct interference” to exploit the situation because getting involved could allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deflect blame outward, to foreign enemies, the report said.

Morgan Stanley Lowers Israel’s Sovereign Credit as Moody’s Issues Warning, Al-Monitor
The US investment bank Morgan Stanley lowered Israel’s credit worthiness on Tuesday on the backdrop of the government’s controversial judicial reform plans, as the financial agency Moody’s warned of “significant risk” as judicial overhaul crisis continues. “There is a significant risk that political and social tensions over the issue will continue with negative consequences for Israel’s economy and security situation,” Moody’s said in a statement sent to Al-Monitor.

Israeli Settlers Break Into Palestinian Homes Accompanied by Soldiers, Haaretz
Israeli settlers broke into Palestinian homes in the West Bank villages of Tuba and El-Abid in the southern Hebron hills on Tuesday morning, escorted by Israeli soldiers. At least one of the settlers was armed. Others broke into storage closets and stole equipment, the Palestinian homeowners said. In one of the videos recorded in Tuba, settlers are seen ordering a Palestinian woman to open a storage closet in her home. Another shows the settlers searching the closet, and a soldier filming it. In El-Abid, a settler was recorded entering a home as a soldier stands by the door.

Gantz, Opposition Bloc Continue to Lead in Polls, The Jerusalem Post
Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party leads Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party by five seats the day after the reasonableness standard law was passed, according to a new poll published by Channel 13 on Tuesday. If elections were held today, the National Unity Party would earn 30 seats, with the Likud trailing with 25 seats, according to the poll.

Israel’s New Judicial Law Could Threaten Attorney General’s Role, The New York Times
Critics of the right-wing Israeli government’s new judicial law fear it could threaten a key state watchdog: the attorney general, Gali Baharav-Miara. As Israel’s chief prosecutor, Ms. Baharav-Miara is also charged with overseeing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial. Mr. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of “a witch hunt” by state prosecutors. The new law, which curbs the courts’ ability to overrule government decisions based on whether judges think they are “reasonable,” could allow Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition to eliminate Ms. Baharav-Miara with greater ease, legal experts said.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Government Frightening Steps Against Women, Explained, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer notes, “Handmaids cloaked in red, heads down and silent – sometimes with their mouths taped shut – have become an integral part of the protests against the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul. When they first began, critics described the handmaid displays as overdramatic. But eight months into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing, religious government, evidence has mounted that the fears of a severe regression in Israeli women’s status are justified.”

The Death of the Old Paradigm, The Times of Israel
Daniel Bral argues, “For months we’ve been warned by virtually every corner of Israeli society – from former heads of state to respected military generals, labor leaders, tech titans, right-wingers with no axes to grind, etc. – that the greatest threat to the idea and existence of the Jewish state isn’t coming from the usual suspects. This time, the house is on fire and the arsonist is the homeowner.”

Israel’s Crisis Is Just Beginning, Politico
Noga Tarnopolsky writes, “Yet this time — with skunk water cannons turned on peaceful protesters, army reservists resigning and global banks and credit ratings agencies downgrading Israel — Israel’s seven-month crisis is past and chaos has taken over. It feels as if the country’s DNA has been transformed. As always, it’s been a long time coming, but the change feels brutal and shocking. The air feels different.”