News Roundup for March 9, 2023

March 9, 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

Israel’s Judicial Overhaul Plan Ignites Debate Among American Jews, The New York Times
“More than 80 House Democrats have signed a letter they plan to send to Mr. Biden on Thursday urging him “to use all diplomatic tools available to prevent Israel’s current government from further damaging the nation’s democratic institutions…” Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the liberal Washington lobbying group J Street, which strongly supports a peace agreement with the Palestinians, argued that the judicial overhaul plan was driven by a desire to “get the court out of the way” of the right wing’s goal of annexing and controlling Palestinian territories, a factor critics should make more clear.””

Top News and Analysis

Mass Protests Over Government’s Court Plans Sweep Israel, The New York Times
A new wave of mass demonstrations against a government plan to limit judicial independence swept across Israel on Thursday, with protesters restricting road access to the country’s main airport hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to fly to Italy later in the day. Thousands of demonstrators, some of them in a convoy of tractors, disrupted traffic in several cities, and others sailed a flotilla of boats through a maritime shipping lane near a major port.

Netanyahu Airlifted to Airport After Protesters Block Road, The Washington Post
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to be airlifted on Thursday to the country’s main international airport for an official overseas trip, after throngs of cars and protesters prevented him from driving there. The demonstrations were part of nationwide protests underway for more than two months against Netanyahu and his government’s contentious plan to overhaul the judiciary.

3 Palestinian Militants Killed in Israeli Raid in West Bank, AP
Three Palestinian militants were killed in a shootout with Israeli troops on Thursday, the latest deaths in a surge of Israeli arrest raids in the occupied West Bank. Israeli security forces said they raided the village of Jaba in the northern West Bank to arrest suspects wanted for attacks on Israeli soldiers in the area. The suspects opened fire on Israeli troops, who shot back and killed three people, all affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, police said.


Boundaries Between West Bank Factions Blur As Resistance to Israeli Occupation Grows, The Guardian
In defiance of the West Bank’s semi-autonomous governing body, the Palestinian Authority (PA), armed resistance to the Israeli occupation is growing, and the boundaries between factions are blurring as their interests begin to merge.

Israel Protests Force Pentagon Chief To Cut Tel Aviv Trip Short, Israeli Officials Say, Axios
The planned “day of resistance” protests over the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul and expected roadblocks forced Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to delay his arrival in Israel to Thursday and will confine his visit to a location within the airport grounds, according to Israeli officials. Austin, who was initially expected in Israel on Wednesday night, has become very involved in the Biden administration’s efforts to de-escalate the situation in the occupied West Bank and prevent things from worsening during the historically sensitive period of Ramadan and Passover.

History ‘Favors the Strong’: Israel PM Netanyahu Before Meeting With ‘Post-fascist’ Italian Prime Minister, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his government’s controversial judicial overhaul this week in his first interview with a foreign print publication since nationwide protests against the plan broke out more than two months ago, telling Italy’s la Repubblica newspaper that the demonstrations actually “show how solid our democracy is.”

U.S. and Israel Looking at Iran From “Much Closer Point of View”, Axios
The U.S.-Israel talks on Iran this week were positive and showed that the two countries are looking at the issue from a “much closer point of view,” a senior Israeli official told Axios. The talks at the White House, which were the first of their kind since the new right-wing Israeli government assumed office, took place amid growing concerns over the unprecedented advancement of Iran’s nuclear program.

Opinion and Analysis

The “Two Revolutions” That Explain Israel’s Massive Protests, Vox
Jonathan Guyer writes, “This moment is a crisis for Israel’s democracy — sparked by these proposals, but built from decades of right-wing policies promulgated by Netanyahu. The crisis is also inseparable from the erosion of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. Netanyahu and his allies are pursuing a shock doctrine that amounts to crippling the Israeli governance system and a total reordering of the Israeli occupation.”