News Roundup for June 29, 2023

June 29, 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.

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Netanyahu Revives Judicial Overhaul Stripped of Most Controversial Piece, The Wall Street Journal
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would drop the most controversial part of his plan to remake the country’s court system, pushing ahead with legislation stripped of a provision that would have given the national legislature the power to overturn rulings by the Supreme Court. “It’s out,” Netanyahu said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that also touched on relations with the US, his decision not to supply weapons to Ukraine and his concerns about deepening ties between Russia and Iran.

IDF Chief: Officer Who Turns Blind Eye to Violence Against Palestinians Unfit to Serve, Haaretz
The IDF’s Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi stated on Wednesday that any officer who stands by as “an Israeli citizen” torches a Palestinian house, “cannot be an officer.” Addressing the commencement ceremony of the IDF’s officers course, Israel’s top general implied that recent terror incidents in the West Bank have ignited subsequent “illegal and immoral acts,” referring to last week’s settler rampages on Palestinian villages following a deadly shooting attack by Palestinian terrorists near the settlement of Eli.


Gallant Orders Detention Without Charges for 4 Israelis Over West Bank Riots, The Times of Israel
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signed administrative detention orders on Wednesday to hold four Jewish extremists involved in recent attacks against Palestinians without charges, in line with recommendations from the Shin Bet security service. The four are currently imprisoned, the Defense Ministry confirmed. Administrative detention enables them to be held in custody without charges for renewable six-month periods, practically indefinitely. The measure, which is rarely used against Jewish Israelis, comes amid pressure on Israel to curb vigilante attacks on Palestinian villages, which followed a Palestinian terror shooting that killed four Israelis last week.

Scoop: White House Expressed Concern that Israel is Leaking Info on Indirect Iran Talks, Axios
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan in a tough call with his Israeli counterpart last week expressed concern that Israel is leaking information to the press about indirect talks between the US and Iran, three US and Israeli officials told Axios. Recent press reports by Axios and other media outlets about the indirect talks, which have been confirmed by Iran but not officially by the Biden administration, generated criticism among congressional Republicans, who are demanding the Biden administration seek congressional review for any agreement with Iran.

Blinken Says US Told Israel that Violence with Palestinians Could Jeopardize Possible Normalization with Saudi Arabia, CNN
The United States has stressed to Israel that the explosion of tensions with the Palestinians will make it virtually impossible to expand normalization agreements with Arab nations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday, adding that the Israeli government has taken some escalatory steps, including on settlements. “We told our friends and allies in Israel that if there’s a fire burning in their backyard, it’s going to be a lot tougher, if not impossible, to actually both deepen the existing agreements, as well as to expand them, to include potentially Saudi Arabia,” Blinken said.

Dozens of Israeli Air Force Vets Threaten Not to Serve After Netanyahu Resumes Judicial Overhaul, AP
Dozens of Israeli air force reservists said Wednesday they’ll refuse to show up for duty if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government moves ahead with a contentious plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary. The threat comes after Netanyahu said his government would proceed with the overhaul after talks with the opposition to find a compromise faltered. Israeli media reported that 110 air force veterans signed the letter Wednesday saying that if the parliament passes the law moving through the chamber now, or any other law proposed as part of the overhaul, the reservists will not show up for duty.

Former Israeli PM and Ex-parliamentarian Investigated by Police, The Guardian
The former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and a former parliamentarian, Yair Golan, are under police investigation for alleged incitement related to their calls for non-violent protest against the government’s proposals to overhaul the judiciary, according to Hebrew media. Israeli news outlets reported on Tuesday that law enforcement agencies were reviewing statements made by the politicians, who represented Israel’s center-left Labor party and leftwing Meretz party respectively, on the grounds of alleged sedition.

Opinion and Analysis

Is the ‘Antisemitism Crisis’ on US College Campuses Real?, +972
Journalist Arno Rosenfeld explains how the narrative pushed by establishment groups is disconnected from most Jewish students’ experiences on campus, especially around Israel. “American Jews by and large report that their largest concern is right-wing antisemitism. This also comes up when you’re on college campuses talking to Jewish students. There are a handful of college campuses where there is really vocal, some might say aggressive, activism around Israel, but there are many more campuses around the country, many of which get very little attention from national Jewish organizations, where students are encountering people who have never met Jews before and are making offensive comments about them, either through ignorance or malice.”

Why These Pogroms Continue, The Times of Israel
Rabbi Arik Ascherman writes, “We arrived in Turmus Ayya just after pogromists seeking vengeance had left the village and as clashes continued at the nearby Shilo Junction. Omar Qattin z”l, a 27-year-old father of two, died in the arms of two activists who were with me. I was nearby putting out one of the fires that had been lit by settlers. The pogroms and the inexcusable response or lack of response by Israeli security forces in Turmus Ayya, Hawara and so many other incidents that have not received media coverage cannot be blamed solely on “violent settlers.” They are also not the sole fault of the current government. We all share responsibility and must change the deeply ingrained doctrines, in place for decades, certainly for the twenty or so years I have been working to protect the farmers of Turmus Ayya.”