News Roundup for March 20, 2023

March 20, 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.

Top News and Analysis

Biden Expresses Concern Over Israel’s Judicial Overhaul in Call With Bibi, Axios
President Biden spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and discussed the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul plan, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and a U.S. official said. It is the first time Biden and Netanyahu have discussed the Israeli government’s controversial plan to weaken the country’s Supreme Court. A senior U.S. official said in a briefing with reporters that during the call Biden expressed concerns over the Israel government’s judicial overhaul plan “and said as a friend of Israel, that he hopes a broad consensus can be found around the judicial reform.”

Amid Violence, Israeli and Palestinian Officials Meet to Promote Calm, The New York Times
Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Egypt on Sunday, along with other Middle Eastern and United States representatives, in an effort to lower tensions and the potential for violent conflict during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts this week. The meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh came amid fears that this Ramadan could be a particularly violent time, after the deadliest start to a year in more than two decades for Palestinians and Israelis. So far in 2023, more than 80 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, according to Palestinian officials, most in armed clashes during arrest raids by Israeli forces, and about 14 Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians.

Israeli Minister Condemned for Claiming ‘No Such Thing’ as a Palestinian People, The Guardian
An Israeli minister has claimed there is “no such thing” as a Palestinian people as Israel’s new coalition government, its most hardline ever, ploughed ahead with a part of its plan to overhaul the judiciary. Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition said it was pushing a key part of the overhaul – which would give the coalition control over who becomes a justice or a judge – before the parliament takes a month’s holiday break next week.

Former US Marine Seriously Injured in West Bank Shooting Attack in Huwara, JTA
An Israeli-American former U.S. Marine was seriously injured in a terror attack in the Palestinian West Bank village of Huwara. David Stern, a resident of the Israeli West Bank settlement of Itamar, was driving through the village with his wife when a Palestinian gunman shot at their car. Stern was hit in his head and shoulder and fired back at the attacker, according to Israeli reports. He was taken to a hospital and his condition has since stabilized. His wife has also been treated for traumatic shock.


Netanyahu Urges Military Chief To Contain Reservist Protest, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the military’s chief of staff on Sunday to contain a wave of protest from within the ranks over a contentious government plan to overhaul the judiciary. Netanyahu’s remarks come as Israel is embroiled in a major crisis that has sent tens of thousands of people into the streets protesting every week for the last two months. The divide over Netanyahu’s plans to change the legal system has not spared the country’s military, its most trusted institution, where many reservists have pledged not to show up for duty under what they see as impending regime change.

Palestinian Militant Group: Commander Assassinated in Syria, The Washington Post
A commander in the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad was killed in Syria on Sunday in what it described as an assassination by Israeli agents. The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad group, said in a statement that Ali Ramzi al-Aswad, 31, was killed Sunday morning in the Damascus countryside in a “cowardly assassination with bullets bearing the fingerprints of the Zionist enemy,” referring to Israel.

Israel Reaffirms Pledge for Temporary Freeze on New West Bank Settlements at Egypt Summit, Haaretz
Israel once more reiterated its pledge to temporarily restrict discussions on new West Bank settlements and the legalization of outposts following multilateral talks with a Palestinian delegation at a summit in Egypt. According to a joint communique agreed upon by the parties and released by Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, Israel reaffirmed its previous commitment to a freeze on talks to establish new West Bank settlements for four months and to halt the authorization of outposts for a period of six months.

IDF Locks Down Huwara Surroundings After Terror Shooting, The Jerusalem Post
The IDF locked down the area surrounding Huwara on Sunday evening after David Stern and his wife, both olim from the US, were injured in a shooting attack in Huwara in the northern West Bank in the afternoon, exactly three weeks after two Israelis were killed in a shooting attack in the Palestinian town.

Opinion and Analysis

I Witnessed a Shocking Attack on Palestinian Civilians. What I Saw May Be a Sign of What’s to Come, Time
Rula Salameh reflects, “What unfolded in Huwara may point to levels of horrors yet to come. And yet, I found a sliver of hope in the torched cars. The rampage was intended to destroy lives and property, to crush our spirit and resistance. Instead, it kindled a unity among all Palestinians that I have not felt in decades. Politicians and civil society actors alike put aside political rifts and came together in the aftermath of the devastation. Families all over the West Bank provided shelter to people whose homes were destroyed. Palestinians of every political stripe are calling for freedom, dignity, and basic rights. What I experienced that day was a fraction of what the residents of Huwara went through, and of what Palestinian families undergo daily living under brutal military occupation. It will take time to repair the damage and to heal. But our determination to be free and unified in our homeland has only been strengthened.”