News Roundup for June 20, 2023

June 20, 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

US Must Act to Counter Destructive New Moves by Netanyahu Government, J Street
“The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced two sets of moves that could severely undercut Israel’s adherence to the rule of law and imperil its future as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people. The decisions to move forward with eroding the independence of Israel’s judiciary and to take significant new steps toward the illegal annexation of occupied Palestinian territory must be met with a firm, meaningful US government response – one that goes beyond mere rhetoric.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel to Expedite Major West Bank Settlement Expansion Next Week, Defying Commitments to U.S., Haaretz
The Israeli cabinet approved a resolution on Sunday that would shorten the process of approving construction in West Bank Jewish settlements and give Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich – who also serves as a minister in the Defense Ministry – the authority to approve one of the stages. The decision would change a system that has been in effect for the last 27 years.

Coalition Moves to Restart Overhaul, Sets Plan to Limit High Court’s Judicial Review, The Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition decided on Monday to reignite its controversial plan to shake up Israel’s judiciary, setting a goal to curtail judicial review of the “reasonableness” of government decisions before the Knesset recess next month. Legislation to take control of judicial appointments — the core and most controversial element of the overhaul — will be scheduled for the winter session, which opens in October.

At Least 5 Palestinians Killed in Clashes After Israeli Raid in West Bank, The New York Times
An Israeli raid into the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank turned deadly on Monday, with at least five Palestinians killed in a gun battle, and Israeli helicopter gunships were sent into the area for the first time in decades to secure forces trying to extricate armored vehicles that had been disabled by a powerful roadside bomb. The five people killed included a 15-year-old boy, and dozens more Palestinians were wounded.


US Says Overhaul Consensus Crucial as Netanyahu Coalition Unilaterally Restarts Push, The Times of Israel
The White House on Monday said it opposed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push to advance judicial reforms without support from across the aisle, after leaders in Jerusalem readied to begin passing controversial legislation as compromise talks with the opposition broke down.

As Israel Seeks West Bank Expansion, a Controversial Outpost is Revived, The Washington Post
The drive to restore Homesh over American objections is being driven by far-right members of Israel’s new government, who have demanded an expansion in settlement activity in exchange for supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition. Reviving the derelict town, would boost Israel’s presence in one of the few sections of the West Bank not already carved up by Jewish settlements — and the restrictions on Arab residents that come with them.

Netanyahu Says He’s Opposed to Any Interim US-Iran Deal on Nuclear Program, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he opposes any interim agreement reportedly being negotiated between the US and Iran over its nuclear program. Netanyahu spoke after reports in Israeli media said understandings are being reached between Washington and Tehran that would seek to hold back Iran’s nuclear program somewhat, in exchange for some sanctions relief.

Israel to Work with Egypt, Palestine to Develop Gaza Gas Field, Al-Monitor
Israel’s government announced on Sunday that it had granted preliminary approval for the relevant Cabinet ministries to cooperate with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to develop the Gaza Marine offshore gas field. The Marine undersea gas field was discovered in 2000 by British Gas, but was never developed due to Israeli objections on the grounds of political and security reasons.

Violent Crime within Israel’s Palestinian Minority Reaches New Heights Under Netanyahu’s Government, AP
A relentless wave of violent crime within Israel’s Palestinian minority is turning cities and towns into bloody battlefields, exasperating a community feeling increasingly forsaken by Israeli authorities. Anger over the mounting insecurity is directed at Israel’s government and its ultranationalist minister in charge of police, Itamar Ben-Gvir. Critics say that with his history of anti-Arab rhetoric, he cannot be trusted to combat the rising scourge.

Opinion and Analysis

Don’t Feel Sorry for Netanyahu. He Owns This Disaster, Haaretz
Dahlia Scheindlin argues, “At best, maybe Netanyahu thought he could unleash dangerous forces, confident that he could keep them under tight control to prevent them from spreading. If so, maybe it’s not the “new Netanyahu” notion that’s wrong, but the old image of how clever – or ideologically committed to the law in Israel – he ever was.”

Biden Administration Engages in Long-Shot Attempt for Saudi-Israel Deal, The New York Times
“The White House, which for more than two years has largely been content to sit out the poker game of Middle East diplomacy, has decided to make a bet and push some of its chips in. The United States is now in the midst of complex negotiations among three leaders who have their own reasons for a deal but are making demands that might prove to be too costly. And they simply do not much like or trust each other.”