Israel, Palestine/Gaza February 2023-

Written by  //  March 29, 2023  //  Israel  //  1 Comment

14 September 2022
Two years on, what is the state of the Abraham Accords?
More on Israel

Ian Bremmer: Israel’s political crisis, explained
… The showdown came to a head over the weekend when Bibi summarily fired Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister and a member of his own Likud Party, for publicly warning that the legislation would be detrimental to national security.
Mass spontaneous demonstrations erupted almost immediately across the country. Critically, Israel’s largest labor union, representing nearly a quarter (!) of the total workforce, announced a general strike for the first time in its history, shutting down everything from Ben Gurion Airport to shopping centers, hospitals, universities, local governments, and every McDonald’s in the country (they were … not lovin’ it). This prompted more Likud members to speak out against the bills, raising concerns that they would not get enough votes to pass.
Bibi finally blinked on Monday night, delaying a vote on the legislation until the Knesset’s summer session (which starts after Passover and goes until July) in what he called “a timeout for dialogue.” By Tuesday morning, the trade unions had called off the strike.
And so, the crisis was defused — for now.
Who wins and loses from the suspension?
After three months of ceding no ground despite the damage done to Israel’s social, economic, and military fabric, one could be tempted to see Bibi’s announcement as a climbdown or a concession. It’s not. The pause is a pit stop, a tactical breather to lower tensions and deprive the opposition of momentum that doesn’t commit the government to any genuine concessions in return.

22 March
Israeli Democracy Faces a Mortal ThreatIf Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition have their way, my country could deteriorate into a dictatorship.
By David Grossman
(The Atlantic) Israel now finds itself in one of the gravest crises it has ever known. Even after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the dangers the country faced were less tangible: In November 1995, it was clear that a new prime minister would be instated in a lawful, orderly transition. The situation now is different. Three of the Israeli Parliament’s most extremist, nationalistic members—Minister of Justice Yariv Levin; Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chair Simcha Rothman; and Benjamin Netanyahu, the near-omnipotent prime minister—are acting with all their might and no qualms to create a new legal system in place of the present one, which they claim discriminates against them and does not represent their worldview or values.

20 March
Palestinians ‘an invention’ of past century: Israel’s Smotrich
After calling for Palestinian village to be ‘wiped out’, Israeli finance minister stirs new outrage by denying the existence of Palestinians.
“The Palestinian people is an invention that is less than 100 years old,” added Smotrich, an ultranationalist who also oversees civilian administration in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli-Palestinian de-escalation talks
(GZERO Daily) With Ramadan starting later this week, Palestinian and Israeli mediators met on Sunday in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh – along with Jordanian, Egyptian, and US representatives – to try and de-escalate tensions in Israel and the West Bank.
After talks in Jordan last month failed to make progress, this weekend’s summit aimed to halt the cyclical flare-ups at flashpoint sites that Jerusalem has seen during Ramadan and Passover in recent years.
Both sides agreed on Sunday to set up a mechanism to thwart violence. But reports of a shooting near the town of Huwara in the northern West Bank, which gravely injured one Israeli, cast doubt on the success of the talks. Indeed, it’s the same town where two Jews were killed in a Palestinian terror attack several weeks ago, prompting Jewish settlers to pillage the village and burn scores of Palestinian homes in retaliation.

17-19 March
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.
Starting Sunday, more than 700 elite officers from the Air Force, special forces, and Mossad said they would stop volunteering for duty. The typically taboo talk of refusal to serve in a military that is compulsory for most Jews and is highly respected by the Jewish majority underlines how deeply the overhaul plan has divided Israel.
Lt. Gen. Herzl Halevi, has reportedly warned Netanyahu that the reservists’ protest risks harming the military’s capabilities. He has pledged to make sure it doesn’t and keep the military outside of the public debate on the overhaul.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid tweeted in response that if Netanyahu suspended the overhaul, reservists would stop refusing to serve.
Elite officers in Israel’s military plan Sunday walkout

12 March
Netanyahu’s Response to Iran-Saudi Deal Shows a Growing Detachment From Reality
Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that he is the one leading the Western world’s fight against Iran and that peace with the Saudis is within reach shows how disconnected he is both at home and abroad
(Haaretz) …as Haaretz’s military commentator Amos Harel explained, the Iranian-Saudi rapprochement is not about Israel. The dictators of both countries have a multitude of reasons for choosing this path. And then there are their Chinese brokers, who have been working to fill the vacuum that successive U.S. administrations have left in the region. Jerusalem may be the center of the world, but it isn’t even a bit player here.

10 weeks of street protests in Israel have failed to sway Netanyahu’s nationalist government. So what might?
Israel’s street protesters approach their moment of reckoning
Israel sees one of its biggest-ever protests
On Saturday, protest organisers said as many as 500,000 demonstrators took to the streets across Israel for the 10th consecutive week, in what the Haaretz newspaper called “the largest demonstration in the country’s history”.
In remarkable scenes, crowds applauded Tel Aviv police chief Amichai Eshed as he walked in uniform through the rally.
On Thursday, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had said he was transferring Mr Eshed to head a training division, amid reports the ultra-nationalist politician accused the commander of being too soft on protesters, whom he calls “anarchists”.
The clash over the commander’s position is significant. It comes amid predictions of a possible constitutional crisis, involving Israel’s civil service and security forces being unable to take orders from the government, if no compromise is reached on the planned reforms, says the BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem.
Speaking at the demonstrations in Tel Aviv, former Israel police chief Moshe Karadi described Mr Ben-Gvir’s control of the force as an unprecedented danger.
He said the minister was “a convicted felon, enacting a hostile takeover of the police and trying to turn it into a private militia to serve his political purposes”.

11 March
Saudi Arabia Offers Its Price to Normalize Relations With Israel
The Saudi crown prince is seeking a civilian nuclear program and security assurances from President Biden, a steep price for an agreement long sought by Israel.
(NYT) Riyadh’s ambitious request offers President Biden the chance to broker a dramatic agreement that would reshape Israel’s relationship with the most powerful Arab state. It could also fulfill his pledge to build on the Trump-era Abraham Accords, which brokered similar diplomatic deals between Israel and other Arab nations, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

10 March
Saudi Deal With Iran Surprises Israel and Jolts Netanyahu
Israel had long hoped to isolate Iran and seal ties with Saudi Arabia. A thaw between Riyadh and Tehran has complicated that goal — and was perceived as politically damaging to the prime minister.
Patrick Kingsley, Jerusalem bureau chief, covering Israel and the occupied territories
(NYT) Israeli leaders have for years considered Iran an existential threat, viewed Saudi Arabia as a potential partner and hoped that shared fears of Tehran might help forge formal relations for the first time with Riyadh.
The news of a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia on Friday was therefore greeted in Israel with surprise, anxiety and introspection. It also compounded a sense of national peril set off by profound domestic divisions about the policies of the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And it seemed to catch Mr. Netanyahu — who has long presented himself as the Israeli leader best qualified to fight Iran and most able to charm Saudi Arabia — off guard.
The announcement undermined Israeli hopes of forming a regional security alliance against Iran. It suggested that while other countries in the Middle East may see Iran as a menace, they see little gain in isolating and opposing Tehran to the extent that Israel does.

Israel’s unraveling
(GZERO) The situation in Israel continued to unravel on Thursday when protesters against the government’s planned judicial overhaul took to the streets in a national “day of resistance.” In a bid to create a balagan (state of chaos), Israelis blocked the Ayalon Highway, a main artery leading to Tel Aviv’s international airport, to try to disrupt PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s planned trip to Rome (he got out)! [See Comment from Tomer Avital below]
Indeed, footage shows police using heavy-handed tactics to break up the crowds, but that didn’t appear tough enough for far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who proceeded to fire the Tel Aviv district commander, decrying police for “not fulfilling my orders.” Israel’s attorney general has since ordered the freezing of the police chief’s ouster, citing legal concerns. Meanwhile, in a very rare emotional speech, President Isaac Herzog – who holds a mostly ceremonial position and remains above the fray of day-to-day politics – urged the government to ditch the judicial reforms. Crucially, things took a turn for the worse Thursday night when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on gatherers in central Tel Aviv, wounding at least three people. With deepening twin crises at home – a constitutional catastrophe and deteriorating security situation – Bibi is going to have a harder time than ever keeping his discordant far-right coalition intact.
The Social Rifts That Led to Israel’s Judicial Crisis
Israeli society is locked in a deep dispute over the future of its judiciary and democracy. The conflict is rooted in shifts of the last three decades.
Patrick Kingsley, Jerusalem bureau chief, covering Israel and the occupied territories
(NYT) The government’s effort to overhaul the judiciary reflects how Israel has changed over the last three decades and highlights the rising influence of two groups that have long locked horns with the court: ultra-Orthodox Jews and West Bank settlers.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews resent the court for opposing handouts and conscription exemptions for their community, while settlers see the court as an unwanted brake on their aims of exerting even more control over the West Bank.
“What you’re now witnessing is a backlash,” said Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington. “They have long memories. They want to settle the score. And they are settling it now — big time.”

7 March
As Israel’s democracy erodes, its government delegitimizes criticism
European partners need to use their power to stop the erosion of the country’s democracy.
Dvir Aviam Ezra, Israeli-Dutch lawyer and human rights activist based in Tel Aviv.
(Politico Eu) The new government’s plans now include a reform to the judiciary, which would effectively give politicians full control over supreme court appointments and allow parliament to override judicial decisions. Meaning, that if the government gets its way, there would be a de-facto ban on Arab-minority parties running in elections. Furthermore, Netanyahu’s coalition wants to impose religious restrictions on a whole host of activities.
Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is set to be completely frozen. Indeed, not a single party in the incumbent coalition backs the two-state solution, and most even deny Palestinian nationhood and support the deepening of Israel’s occupation in the West Bank. NGOs and activists opposing the occupation may be restricted, as proposed laws would push the narrative that they’re foreign agents, and senior ministers are promising to prevent investigations of violent soldiers, as well as withhold funding from movies dealing with the occupation.
In such an environment, it isn’t surprising that criticism of Israel’s actions — both inside the country and the West Bank — is mounting. But the government has fallen back on a time-worn playbook — equating any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and violence, thus seeking to delegitimize critics. This is a dangerous approach.

28 February-1 March
Jennifer Rubin: Israel has angered its closest supporters
Netanyahu’s government, in its aggressive assaults on the courts, the media and other democratic institutions, and in its incendiary rhetoric toward Palestinians, coupled with indulgence of settlers, risks rupturing ties with its strongest backers. Unless Israel is willing to endure permanent damage to its international economic, diplomatic and moral support system, it needs to reevaluate the right-wing government’s approach.
If it remains defiant, Netanyahu’s government will become an existential threat to the survival of the Jewish state.
Israeli Gov’t Earmarks 2.5 Billion Shekels for ultra-Orthodox Coalition Partners
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also pledges to increase tax credits for working parents, extends subsidy for school aftercare introduced by previous government
(Haaretz) …the Finance Ministry confirmed that 2.5 billion shekels would be budgeted for demands made by ultra-Orthodox parties. This is part of the 12 billion shekels in demands the parties made for 2023-2024 in the coalition agreement. It’s not clear which budgetary items these items fall under, meaning it’s not clear where exactly the money will be going – for instance, how much of it will be going to yeshivas. Representatives of the ultra-Orthodox parties had expressed anger over the past few days that the coalition agreements were not being honored.
Thomas L. Friedman: Netanyahu Is Shattering Israeli Society
Violence between settlers and Palestinians is not new. But when it coincides with the most ultranationalist, ultra-Orthodox government in Israel’s history — that is now driven by messianic religious zealots, whose goal is to annex the whole West Bank and who now control key police, finance and military portfolios — the traditional sober Israeli ministers who would normally draw a line against such actions have been replaced by those who want to erase lines altogether.
Lethal attacks by Palestinian youths against Israelis are coinciding with an expansion of Israeli settlements and the torching of Palestinian villages by settlers, as well as with a popular uprising against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial power grab. Together they are threatening a breakdown in governance the likes of which we’ve never seen before in Israel.
It is a measure of how serious the situation has become that several former chiefs of the Mossad — some of the most respected public servants in the country — have denounced Netanyahu’s judicial putsch, most recently Danny Yatom. He told Israel Channel 13 News on Saturday night, according to Haaretz, that if Netanyahu continues with his plans to effectively eliminate the independence of Israel’s high court, fighter pilots and special forces operatives will be able to legitimately disobey the orders that come from the government.
… In the past few days, some 250 officers from the Military Intelligence’s Special Operations Division have signed a public letter stating that “they would stop showing up for duty” should the government proceed with its autocratic judicial overhaul, The Times of Israel reported. They added their voices to “groups of pilots, tankists, submariners, sailors and other special forces who have penned similar letters.”
Israel has never experienced a Palestinian intifada, a Jewish settler intifada and an Israeli citizen judicial intifada all at once. But that’s begun to unfold since Netanyahu’s far-right government took office.
On Sunday, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli Jews near Nablus to avenge the deaths of 11 Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli forces in Nablus a few days earlier. Settlers then set fire to and vandalized at least 200 buildings in four Palestinian villages in the area where the shooting happened. And that was after some 160,000 Israelis came out in the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to oppose Netanyahu’s judicial takeover, in the wake of Netanyahu telling his cabinet ministers, “I want to give you a fist to strike them” — the protesters.
Israeli settlers on the rampage isn’t a shock – it’s daily life for Palestinians in the West Bank
Nimer Sultany
It’s no accident that the Israeli army didn’t stop the violence in Huwara: such intimidation is key to how the state rules over my people
(The Guardian) One cannot ignore the recurrent nature of settlers’ violence and the way it acts as a pillar of Israel’s rule over the Palestinians. The infliction of violence with impunity, the army’s enabling of this violence and the denial of basic rights embody the existing order.

One Comment on "Israel, Palestine/Gaza February 2023-"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 11, 2023 at 3:39 am · Reply

    Tomer Avital:
    “Of all the disruptions this is one that will go down in history.
    A prime minister tries to fly abroad – and the citizens of the country succeed, [with] zero violence, to disrupt it all the way.
    The pilots are being rebels.
    The plane is replaced because there is no one to fly it.
    And as if this wasn’t enough, targeted blocks lead him to perform a drill and fly to the port in a helicopter. Piece of a joke. Right wing media dubbed this a “successful deception exercise”, as if there could be something “successful” in a leader forced to do evading stunts from his people 😂
    And abroad? Netanyahu will only meet more demonstrations!
    No less amazing the way it all happened – without any leadership and inclusion. Every piece of the puzzle was a local initiative. Or actually the other way around. There was an inspiring coordination because the protesters are broke as ever and willing to sacrifice their time and money. Even when a pilot for the Prime Minister was found – within an hour a spontaneous demonstration was organized in front of his house and in front of his deputy – and they also knew immediately to cancel when the public seemed to see something exaggerated in it.
    And Netanyahu? In cutting off champagne tyrants refuse to grasp the size of the joke. Refuses to realize that it is much bigger than the right left. Refuses to accept that he has already lost. Not a big deal. The token is yet to fall.
    And in any case, of all the disruptions this is one that will go down in history.”

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm