News Roundup for March 28, 2023

March 28, 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.

J Street In the News

On Historic Day for Democracy, J Street Proudly Stands With Israeli Protesters, J Street
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “Today, Netanyahu has announced that he will postpone the votes on judicial reforms until the next legislative session beginning in May – while pledging to still work to secure their passage. The fight is far from over. But this is a very significant victory for the pro-democracy movement and today, it’s more important than ever to show and sustain our support. With Israel’s democratic future in the balance, J Street is deeply proud to stand in unequivocal solidarity with Israeli protesters. As pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans, we support their struggle.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Tensions Ease As Netanyahu Pauses Judicial Overhaul, The Washington Post
Israel’s political factions opposed to embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began setting up negotiating teams Tuesday after he paused a controversial judicial overhaul plan that had triggered unprecedented street protests and a spiraling domestic crisis. But compromise seemed elusive and Netanyahu’s legacy was on the line in a standoff over the fundamental issue of what kind of country Israel should be — and positions only appear to have hardened. Three months of demonstrations against the overhaul plan intensified this week and Israel’s main trade union declared a general strike, leading to chaos that shut down much of the country and threatened to paralyze the economy.

With Judicial Overhaul Paused, U.S. Offers Olive Branch to Netanyahu, The New York Times
In a sign of easing tensions in Israel after the suspension of a contentious judicial overhaul, the United States ambassador to Israel said on Tuesday that President Biden would host the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Washington in the coming months. The announcement of such a meeting, long coveted by Mr. Netanyahu, came after other shifts in tone overnight from the Biden administration, as Washington signaled its support for Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to delay the divisive judicial plan.


Despite Pause, Government Files Contentious Judicial Selection Bill for Final Votes, The Times of Israel
Opposition lawmakers fumed Tuesday morning as it became apparent that despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement Monday night that his government was pausing its judicial overhaul push in order to launch negotiations with the opposition, one of its most controversial bills had nevertheless been submitted to the Knesset for its final votes, which would enable it to be brought for approval at any later date.

Far-right Activists Attack, Injure Israeli Reporter at Jerusalem Protest, Haaretz
An Israeli reporter suffered internal injuries after being attacked by far-right activists at a demonstration in support of Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial coup in Jerusalem on Monday. Channel 13 News reporter Yossi Eli suffered a fractured rib and possibly an injury to his spleen after he was hit with a stick by a member of La Familia – a far-right soccer fan club from Jerusalem.

Bill That Enables Hospitals To Ban Hametz on Passover Passes Into Law, The Jerusalem Post
A bill known as the “Hametz Law” which will enable Israel’s hospital directors to block leavened bread (hametz) from entering their hospitals during the Passover holiday passed into law on Tuesday morning. Labor MK Gilad Kariv said in response, “The Hametz Law is the harbinger of a wave of unprecedented religious legislation. Just like all of the other laws that violate the freedom of religion and conscience, this law will not increase respect for Jewish tradition and will not encourage tolerance and mutual consideration.”

Netanyahu Loyalist Appointed to Justice Ministry, Haaretz
Likud lawmaker David Amsalem was appointed on Wednesday as a minister within the Justice Ministry, Minister of Regional Cooperation and liaison between Knesset and the government. 37 lawmakers voted in favor of the appointments while 25 voted against it.

Opinion and Analysis

A Historic Crisis and a Historic Opportunity, The Times of Israel
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “The struggle between the defenders of the Jewish democratic state and the supporters of a dictatorship might be hard and long, and perhaps it is inescapable. Because the struggle is no longer between right and left, but between those who seek freedom and those who wish to take hold of a stick of oppression. Its outcome could be a new covenant between the state and its citizens, a covenant that has at its core an Israeli constitution that guarantees the rights of all the citizens of the state, be they in the majority or the minority. A constitution that will not allow us to keep on ignoring the elephant in the room, the 56-year-old occupation that is indifferent to human rights and has after all these years spilled over the green line, threatening now to bring about our destruction.”

Israel Needs a Strategic Alliance With the US, The Jerusalem Post
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir argues, “We must not forget. Israel needs a strategic alliance with the US. Ze’ev Snir, until recently head of the Atomic Energy Commission, recently told Yediot Ahronot columnist Nadav Eyal, “Without American backing, the State of Israel will find it very difficult to exist, to say the least.” Now, in order to satisfy the political lust of the extreme Right, the Israeli government continues to sabotage this alliance – an alliance on which the existence of Israel depends.”