News Roundup for March 17, 2023

March 17, 2023

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J Street News Roundup

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.

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J Street In the News

More Democrats Now Sympathize With Palestinians Than Israelis, Gallup Poll Finds, Semafor
“Logan Bayroff, vice president of communications at the liberal advocacy group J Street, which advocates for a two-state solution, objected to the wording of Gallup’s question on sympathy. He argued that it sets up an “unhelpful false dichotomy” by asking Americans to favor the Israelis or Palestinians in the conflict. “It’s in the vein of ‘this is a conflict and you need to choose sides,’” Bayroff said. “That is the flawed thinking that has infected bad policy making both in the region and in the U.S.” Bayroff agreed, though, that domestic politics as well as greater concerns about policies of Netanyahu’s government since the start of the year are likely influencing opinions. “What I think you have is greater awareness that the situation in the region is headed in a worse and worse direction,” Bayroff said.”

Top News and Analysis

Palestinians: 4 Killed in Israeli Army Raid in West Bank, The Washington Post
An Israeli army raid killed four Palestinians, including a teenage boy, near the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday, Palestinian officials said. It was the latest bloodshed in a year-long wave of violence in the region. The Israeli military confirmed its troops were operating in the Jenin refugee camp, but provided no further details. The area is known as a stronghold of Palestinian militants, and Israel frequently conducts military raids in the area.

An Effort to Resolve Israel’s Impasse Stalls on How to Pick Judges, The New York Times
On the streets of Israel and in the corridors of power, a standoff over the government’s plan to take greater control over the country’s courts was as heated as ever on Thursday. Protesters opposed to plans by the government to overhaul the judiciary clashed with police in Tel Aviv on Thursday and also scuffled with counter-demonstrators, angered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to compromise on the issue.


Elite Officers in Israel’s Military Plan Sunday Walkout, AP
Hundreds of elite officers in Israel’s military reserves say they will not show up for duty starting on Sunday in protest over the government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system. The firm date is the first time set for an unprecedented political protest within the security services. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial legal overhaul has sparked weeks of mass protests across Israel amidst a deteriorating security situation in the occupied West Bank and rising tensions with Palestinians.

Israel Is Hurtling Toward Dictatorship, Previous Shin Bet Chief Warns, Haaretz
The former director of the Shin Bet security service has harshly criticized the Israeli government’s overhaul of the judicial system, saying that the only person who can halt the process is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In an television interview, Nadav Argaman described the planned reform, which critics say enfeebles the judicial system for political reasons and which has led to weeks of massive public protests, as “a car hurtling toward the abyss.”

Ben Gvir Says Attorney General Must Be Fired, Is Acting As De Facto Opposition Chief, The Times of Israel
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Thursday called for Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara’s ouster, claiming that she has been “serving as the de facto opposition leader.” In a letter to fellow coalition party chiefs urging them to back the move, Ben Gvir claimed Baharav-Miara’s approach since the December 29 establishment of the hardline coalition has been to “automatically reject any decision or bill backed by the government or those related to it.”

Germany’s Scholz Urges Bibi To Consider Israeli President’s Judicial Compromise, Axios
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that in his meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday he expressed concern over the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul plan and called on the Israeli prime minister to consider a compromise proposal put together by the Israeli president. Germany is Israel’s second most important ally after the U.S.. Any damage to the Israeli-German relationship could have wider implications for Israel’s standing in Europe.

Former Israeli Premier Urges World Leaders To Shun Netanyahu, AP
Israel’s former prime minister on Thursday urged world leaders to shun Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as he presses ahead with a plan to overhaul the country’s justice system. The United States and Germany, two of Israel’s closest allies, called on Netanyahu to slow down. The rare calls for restraint and international intervention came as thousands of Israelis once again took to the streets to protest Netanyahu’s plan. Ehud Olmert, who served as prime minister from 2006-2009, told The Associated Press that global leaders should refuse to meet with Netanyahu.

Opinion and Analysis

What Are the Israeli Protests About and What Happens Next?, The Guardian
Bethan McKernan explains, “Netanyahu’s trial triggered four years of political crisis in which Israel was split over whether he was fit to lead the country. After five elections since 2019, in which politicians on both sides failed to form stable governments, a bloc of rightwing and religious parties headed by Netanyahu’s Likud won a clear majority in elections last November, and went on to form the most rightwing administration in Israeli history. Full annexation of the occupied West Bank, a rollback of pro-LGBTQ+ legislation, axing laws protecting women’s and minority rights, and a loosening of the rules of engagement for Israeli police and soldiers, are all on the coalition’s agenda.”