Israel, Palestine/Gaza August 2023-

Written by  //  September 20, 2023  //  Geopolitics, Israel  //  No comments

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

Israel faces an ongoing constitutional crisis — without a constitution
Miriam Berger
Israel is on the verge of a constitutional crisis — in part because it doesn’t actually have a constitution.
(WaPo) For months, Jewish Israelis have been taking to the streets to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to remake the country’s judiciary. …
Experts and scholars call this kind of conflict, a fundamental rift between branches of government over the function of the state, a “constitutional crisis” — but in Israel’s case, it is in a country without a constitution in the first place.
The crisis is rooted in the same unanswered questions about fundamental rights and governance that prevented Israel’s founders from formalizing such a document. In many democracies, a constitution codifies the structure of government and its fundamental legal principles. In practice, constitutions can: achieve near-unalterable status, as in the United States; be frequently rewritten, as in many other countries in the Western hemisphere; be used to justify authoritarian forms of rule; or come to be entirely disregarded.
Israel, Britain and New Zealand are outliers, as they do not have constitutions, said Hanna Lerner, the author of “Making Constitutions in Deeply Divided Societies.” The United Kingdom and New Zealand rely on common law, bodies of legal thinking and precedent developed over centuries, which serve a de facto constitutional role.
U.K. common law is considered so fundamental that it is interwoven in originalist interpretations of U.S. constitutional law. Israel, a far younger country, relies on Basic Laws with quasi-constitutional status, developed over the past 75 years. (12 July 2023)
Abraham Accords: Support for normalisation deals with Israel plummets in Gulf countries
Increasing Israeli hostility in occupied Palestinian territories and limited benefits of the Accords have resulted in declining popular support (31 July 2023)

19-20 September
Biden and Netanyahu Meet to Try to Soothe Tensions, With Some Success
The president put aside his frustrations with the Israeli prime minister over his “extremist” government to focus on issues of mutual interest, like Iran and Saudi Arabia.
(GZERO) … It was hardly the White House meeting Bibi had been hoping for – particularly after the Biden side released a cool statement saying the two had a “candid and constructive” conversation on issues including “upholding our democratic values.” This was likely a nod to the White House’s disapproval of the Israeli government’s current attempt to gut the power of the independent judiciary that’s led to some of the biggest protests in Israel on record.
Still, in the broader realm of geopolitics it was a pretty good day for Bibi: On Wednesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave a rare interview to FOX News where he said that Israel and Saudi were inching close to a normalization deal, a huge foreign policy priority for the Netanyahu government.
This Is My Shortest Column Ever: What Biden Should Ask Netanyahu
Thomas L. Friedman
President Biden, you are meeting Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, for the first time since he returned to office in December. He’s formed the most extreme government in Israel’s history and yet your administration is considering forging a complex partnership with his coalition and Saudi Arabia.
1. Do you intend to annex the West Bank, or will you negotiate its future disposition with the Palestinians? Yes or no? We need to know. Because if you intend to annex, all your normalization agreements with Arab states will collapse, and we will not be able to defend you in the United Nations from charges of building an apartheid state.
2. Bibi, you told your first cabinet meeting last December that your top priorities include stopping Iran’s nuclear program, as well as expanding Israel’s growing relations with the Arab world. But we saw you decide instead to prioritize a judicial coup to strip the Israeli Supreme Court of its ability to hold your government accountable. That, in turn, distracted your military leadership, fractured your air force and elite fighting units, bitterly divided your society and weakened your diplomatic alliances from Washington to Europe. Iran, meanwhile, moved in with a diplomatic offensive, patching up its ties with all your Arab neighbors and eating your lunch. Why should we make confronting Iran’s nuclear program our priority when you haven’t?
3. Prime Minister, the Saudis are ready to do something hard — normalize relations with Israel. We are doing something hard to help facilitate that — forging a mutual defense treaty with Saudi Arabia. What hard things are you ready to do vis-à-vis the Palestinians to complete the deal?

12-14 September
(The Conversation) The Oslo Accords: 30 years after a historic handshake
Recognition versus reality: Lessons from 30 years of talking about a Palestinian state
Philip Leech-Ngo, Senior Research Fellow, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa
This week marked the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords aimed at bringing about Palestinian self-determination. The occasion has served as a stark reminder of the unfulfilled promises and unresolved struggles of the Palestinian quest for statehood.
The simplistic question of whether Palestine has statehood or not obscures its broader struggle for recognition, dignity and human rights.
Oslo accords: 30 years on, the dream of a two-state solution seems further away than ever
John Strawson, Honorary Professor of Law and director of LLM programs, University of East London
It has been widely reported that as a condition for a potential Saudi-US-Israel deal the Israelis will commit to making gestures towards a two-state solution. This was the original vision, 30 years ago, when the Oslo accords were signed, when it seemed that a Palestinian state recognised by, and living side-by-side with Israel, might indeed be a realistic prospect by the end of the 20th century.
Now, in the third decade of the 21st century, the Palestinian leadership merely hopes for some more of the occupied West Bank to be handed over to its control. A sovereign Palestinian state does not seem to be on the agenda.
The Oslo accords, which were secretly negotiated between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Israeli government between 1992 and 1993, provided for three phases of negotiations. The first involved a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Jericho area in the West Bank and most of Gaza together with the creation of institutions for Palestinian self-government.
Second there would be an interim agreement which would create an elected Palestinian Council and expand the area under its direct control. Third there would be permanent status talks to resolve the difficult issues of the status of Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, borders and relations with neighbouring states.
A paradox of the past 30 years has been that while the negotiations promised by Oslo have failed, the Palestinian institutions created by the Oslo process have persisted.
The Palestinian Authority created by the Cairo Agreement in 1994 remains in place with Mahmoud Abbas as president. The Legislative Council created in 1995 remains in session in Ramallah – even if there have been no elections since 2006.
Since 2012, the United Nations has recognised Palestine as a state. It is now recognised by about 140 countries and has joined international organisations only open to states, such as the International Criminal Court.
30 years after Arafat-Rabin handshake, clear flaws in Oslo Accords doomed peace talks to failure
Maha Nassar, Associate Professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, University of Arizona
On Sept. 13, 1993, the world watched as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn. It was a stunning moment. The famous handshake between adversaries marked the beginning of what became known as the Oslo Accords, a framework for talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives, mediated by U.S. diplomats.
Thirty years later, it is clear the Oslo Accords have achieved neither peace nor a two-state solution
Certainly, there is plenty of blame to go around. But as a scholar of Palestinian history, it is clear to me that the Oslo peace process failed because the framework itself was deeply flawed in three key ways.
First, it ignored the power imbalance between the two sides. Second, it focused on ending violence by Palestinian militant groups while overlooking acts of violence committed by the Israeli state. And third, it sought peace as the end goal, rather than justice.

12 September
Israeli Supreme Court hears first challenge to Netanyahu’s divisive judicial overhaul
(AP) — Israel’s Supreme Court heard the first challenge Tuesday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious judicial overhaul, deepening a showdown with the far-right government that has bitterly divided the nation and put it on the brink of a constitutional crisis.
Netanyahu’s coalition, a collection of ultranationalist and ultrareligious lawmakers, unveiled the overhaul earlier this year, saying it was necessary to rein in an unelected judiciary they believe wields too much power.
Critics say the plan — which would weaken the Supreme Court — is a profound threat to Israeli democracy and that it would concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies.
The case that opened Tuesday focuses on the first law passed by parliament in July — a measure that cancels the court’s ability to strike down government moves it deems to be “unreasonable.” Judges have used the legal standard in rare cases to prevent government decisions or appointments viewed as unsound or corrupt.
The hearing puts Israel’s Supreme Court in the unprecedented position of deciding whether to accept limits on its own powers. In a sign of the case’s significance, all 15 justices are hearing the appeal together for the first time in the country’s history, rather than the typical smaller panels. The proceedings were also livestreamed and aired on the country’s main TV stations.
A ruling is not expected for weeks or even months, but the session Tuesday could hint at the court’s direction. The marathon hearing was largely businesslike, though at times the arguments became tense and heated.
Protests against Israel’s judicial overhaul kick off at Supreme Court a day before crucial hearing

12 August
Israel’s Democracy Movement Has Something Important to Teach Us
Rejecting moralistic hectoring in favor of democratic patriotism, Israel’s protest movement appeals to a people’s sense of what their country can and should be.
By Susie Linfield
(The Atlantic) Like the country itself, the Israeli democracy movement is radically imperfect. A mass movement doesn’t include everyone (although recent polls show that the Netanyahu coalition would fall if an election were held today). Divisions between Ashkenazi and Sephardim, between the central cities and the poorer periphery, are deep. Few Arab Israelis are taking part, though they are more imperiled than Jewish Israelis by the governing coalition’s plans. (In February, 200 prominent Arab Israelis released a statement urging Arab citizens to participate in the protests: “A regime change is taking place that will affect the lives of all citizens … and the Arab public will be the first victim,” they wrote.) And despite its wide tent, the movement is, in some sense, dominated by the elite.
The brutal occupation is Israel’s central, but often unacknowledged, moral and political catastrophe—one that underlies all others and points to two simultaneous, confounding truths. First, Israel can’t rid itself of its racism, ultranationalism, and religious fanaticism until the occupation ends.
Second, the occupation won’t (and some, even on the left, say can’t) end tomorrow. The upshot is that, paradoxically, the defense of democracy can’t wait for its precondition to emerge.

In Israel and the U.S., ‘apartheid’ is the elephant in the room
(WaPo Today’s World View) For months, tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in defense of their democracy, which they fear may be greatly imperiled by the far-right ruling coalition’s desire to curtail the independent powers of the country’s judiciary. But the protests have seldom dovetailed with a recognition of the other profound mark against Israeli democracy — the ongoing occupation of the West Bank and the denial to millions of Palestinians the same rights as their Israeli neighbors, including half a million Jewish settlers.
In a letter with more than a thousand signatories, a group of prominent academics in the United States and Israel pointed to this exact “elephant in the room.” The statement, which was first published online this past weekend and has been accruing hundreds of signatories daily, called out the “regime of apartheid” that prevails for Palestinians living under Israeli control. And it offers yet more evidence of a shifting discourse on Israel among even some of the Jewish state’s staunchest supporters in the United States.
The Elephant in the Room
“We, academics and other public figures from Israel/Palestine and abroad, call attention to the direct link between Israel’s recent attack on the judiciary and its illegal occupation of millions of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Palestinian people lack almost all basic rights, including the right to vote and protest. They face constant violence: this year alone, Israeli forces have killed over 190 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and demolished over 590 structures. Settler vigilantes burn, loot, and kill with impunity.
Without equal rights for all, whether in one state, two states, or in some other political framework, there is always a danger of dictatorship. There cannot be democracy for Jews in Israel as long as Palestinians live under a regime of apartheid, as Israeli legal experts have described it … ”

8 August
Why Saudi-Israel ‘peace’ will cement a violent future
Far from resolving conflicts, Saudi-Israel normalization will serve as a pillar of a repressive architecture that brings no justice for Palestinians or Arab peoples.

6 August
“I don’t hate you. Well, actually, I kind of do…”
A music video that has gone viral in Israel in the last couple of days captures well some of the more widely expressed feelings many of the players on all sides have.
In these tumultuous times, one of the things are are seeking to provide in Israel from the Inside is a look at some of the issues, personalities, ideas, and even signs, songs and other cultural expressions that provide a window on what Israel is today, and which are for the most part not being covered in the English press.

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