News Roundup for July 31, 2023

July 31, 2023
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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.

J Street In the News

Clevelanders Protest Israel Judicial Reform Vote Outside Israel Bonds Event, Cleveland Jewish News
“As Gilad Erdan, permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations, spoke July 25 at Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood, about 50 people gathered outside in protest of Israel’s latest judicial reform measure. The protest was “an ad hoc, spontaneous act” in response to the Knesset passage of the Reasonableness Standard Law on July 24. […] A group from J Street Cleveland joined the protest as chair Loree Resnik told the CJN, “Cleveland is not quiet. We are not quiet about this issue or any other issue. We are working as hard as we can to advocate with congressional representatives, senators, our administration here in America to make things get better in Israel.”

Top News and Analysis

Will Israel’s Supreme Court Fight Back?, Foreign Policy
Such an intervention by the court would be unprecedented. Though justices have struck down regular laws in the past, they have never ruled on the legality of a Basic Law. Israel has a total of 13 Basic Laws, which many legal experts and politicians view as the basis of a proto-constitution—though passing a basic law or an amendment requires only a simple parliamentary majority. Since the legislation in question is an amendment to a Basic Law, the court would be effectively ruling that the constitutional amendment is unconstitutional, a contortion that law professor Suzie Navot describes as “an unconventional weapon.”

US Democrats Advance Congressional Resolution in Support of Israel’s Protest Movement, Haaretz
A group of Democratic congressmen are advancing an official congressional resolution in support of Israel’s pro-democracy protest movement. If accepted – though not binding in any way for the US government – the resolution would reflect the public opinion among Democratic Party voters, and may encourage President Biden to continue his opposition to the judicial overhaul legislation led by the Benjamin Netanyahu government.


Netanyahu Won’t Commit to Ruling if Supreme Court Blocks Controversial Law, CNN
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to say if he would abide by any potential Supreme Court ruling striking down his controversial judicial reform law, as Israelis agonize over a looming showdown between their government and the court. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Netanyhu warned that the country could enter “uncharted territory” if the Supreme Court overturned the law, which strips the court of its power to block government actions.

Israel Opposition Demands 18 Month Freeze in Judicial Overhaul, Reuters
Speaking to parliament on Sunday, opposition leader Yair Lapid said that if the government wanted the consensus talks to resume, it should pass legislation jointly with the opposition to pause its overhaul for 18 months. Changes made during that period would require a two-thirds majority, he said. “If the government wants to reach broad consensus, the burden of proof is on it,” Lapid said. “As long as there is no freeze of the legislation, there is no point nor logic to discussing other laws or other agreements, because it is entirely clear that the government will again run away at the last moment.”

A Sense of Mission at Risk as Israeli Reservists Resign to Protest New Law, The New York Times
More than 10,000 reserve pilots, intelligence officers, commandos, military instructors, army medics and infantrymen had threatened to resign from volunteer duty if the government pressed ahead with the judicial overhaul bill that was approved by Parliament on Monday. It is too soon to tell how many will make good on their promises because reservists are called up on a rolling basis. But estimates provided by reservists prominent in the protest movement suggest that at least 1,000 have so far made the wrenching decision to resign.

Settlers from Flashpoint West Bank Settlement Said to Torch Palestinian Field, The Times of Israel
Israelis on Saturday descended from the flashpoint northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar and torched fields belonging to the adjacent Palestinian village of Burin, according to the Yesh Din rights group. Footage shared by the organization showed masked settlers standing on a hilltop as flames and smoke engulfed the fields, before slowly walking back toward the settlement. No arrests were made, as is largely the case in incidents of settler violence. Indictments are more scarce and convictions are even rarer.

Palestinian Factions Meet Seeking Reconciliation as Violence Surges in West Bank, AP
Palestinian factions met Sunday in Egypt to discuss reconciliation efforts as violence in the occupied West Bank surged between Israel and Palestinian militants. The main groups, Hamas and Fatah, have been split since 2007 and repeated reconciliation attempts having failed, so expectations for the one-day meeting were low. Participants at the closed-door meeting gave no indication of what was discussed. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who initiated the session in the Egyptian city of el-Alamein on the Mediterranean Sea, said at its conclusion only that the meeting was a “first and significant step” in efforts to end the long-running division.

Opinion and Analysis

Potential Saudi-Israel Normalization Could See Palestinians Thrown Under the Bus, The Times of Israel
Tal Schneider writes, “But beyond potential intransigence by some in Jerusalem, sources familiar with Israeli security issues in the region say that it is possible that the Saudis are not actually interested in helping the Palestinians, or conditioning a major agreement on Israel making a commitment to the Palestinians. A normalization document, they suggest, could merely contain a general statement about the continuation of the peace process, using the kind of wording that could be accepted even by those members of the coalition with messianic beliefs who want to build a Third Temple (a move that would detonate the region). The Palestinian issue would then remain Israel’s to deal with on its own.”

Will Israel Escape Civil War? Even if it Does, it Will Surely Lose its Soul, The Guardian
Dahlia Scheindlin notes, “I’m not optimistic, but I am skeptical that there will be a civil war. As a public opinion researcher, I’ve listened to people in many countries who were so divided that their nations seem paralyzed. I hail from the US, where people murder each other arbitrarily at horrifying rates for a political principle; Americans see their second amendment as a God-given right to bear arms, but it’s actually a symbol that stands for irreconcilable worldviews.”