ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan slam Israel after deadly IDF raid on Nablus

Riyadh calls operation a ‘serious violation of international law,’ while Doha warns of ‘explosion of tensions’ amid escalation; UAE, Bahrain and Morocco remain mum so far

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces during a raid in Nablus, on February 22, 2023. (Zain Jaafar / AFP)
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces during a raid in Nablus, on February 22, 2023. (Zain Jaafar / AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.

US ‘deeply concerned’ by large number of civilian injuries, deaths in Nablus raid

Palestinians carry away a wounded man during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, on February 22, 2023. (Photo by Zain Jaafar / AFP)
Palestinians carry away a wounded man during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, on February 22, 2023. (Photo by Zain Jaafar / AFP)

US State Department spokesman Ned Price says the Biden administration “is extremely concerned by the levels of violence in Israel and the West Bank” following today’s IDF counter-terrorism raid in the Nablus in which “10 Palestinians, including both militants and civilian bystanders, were killed and over 100 were injured.”

“We wish a speedy recovery to those injured and our hearts go out to the families of the innocent bystanders who were killed today,” Price says.

“We recognize the very real security concerns facing Israel. At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the large number of injuries and the loss of civilian lives,” he adds.

“We had productive conversations in recent days with the parties and with US regional partners in support of efforts to prevent further violence. We are deeply concerned that the impact of today’s raid could set back efforts aimed at restoring calm for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Today’s events further underscore the urgent need for both sides to work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank. We also call on all parties to desist from actions, such as incitement to violence, evictions of families from their homes, demolitions, settlement advancements and the legalization of outposts. Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety and security,” Price says.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad says it will respond to Nablus ‘crime without hesitation’

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces during a raid in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, on February 22, 2023. (Zain Jaafar/AFP)
Palestinians clash with Israeli forces during a raid in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, on February 22, 2023. (Zain Jaafar/AFP)

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad Al-Nakhala calls the deadly IDF raid on Nablus earlier today a “huge crime.”

Ten Palestinians, including at least six terrorist operatives, were killed in the IDF raid which targeted the Lion’s Den terror group.

“It is our duty as resistance forces to respond to this crime without hesitation,” says Al-Nakhala.

Smotrich said to threaten PM with budget vote in row over West Bank powers

Finance Minister and head of the Religious Zionism Party Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a conference of the Religious Zionism party in Jerusalem, February 19, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister and head of the Religious Zionism Party Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a conference of the Religious Zionism party in Jerusalem, February 19, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is reportedly threatening to vote against the state budget if he is not handed authority over the West Bank Civil Administration.

According to a Channel 13 report, Smotrich is threatening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will not vote in favor of the upcoming budget if he does not move immediately to carry out the move promised in the coalition agreement between Likud and Religious Zionism.

The coalition agreement between the two parties granted Religious Zionism control over the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration, but the move faced significant pushback from the security establishment as well as the Biden administration, and it has yet to be implemented, infuriating Smotrich

A cabinet meeting on the state budget is slated to be held tomorrow at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Air Force chief meets counterpart during official visit to Morocco

Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, the new chief of the Israeli Air Force, at a ceremony on April 4, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, the new chief of the Israeli Air Force, at a ceremony on April 4, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Chief of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, began an official visit to Morocco yesterday, the military says.

Bar meets with his counterpart, Gen. El Abed Alaoui Bouhamid, who will be giving him a tour of several Moroccan Air Force bases.

The Israel Defense Forces says the visit is aimed at “strengthening the cooperation between the armies.”

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar slam Israel after deadly IDF raid on Nablus

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces during a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, February 22, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces during a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, February 22, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar join Jordan in condemning today’s deadly Israeli military raid in Nablus in which 10 Palestinians were killed and 102 were injured.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry calls the “Israeli occupation forces’ storming of the Palestinian city… a serious violation of international law.” Riyadh calls on the international community to stop such escalations.

Egypt’s foreign ministry slams the IDF raid and expresses its “deep concern” that the operation will further escalate tensions, harming Cairo’s efforts to instill calm.

Qatar’s foreign ministry “strongly condemns” the raid, calling it an “extension of [Israel’s] continuous and systematic crimes against the Palestinian people.”

Doha “warns of an explosion of tensions in the Palestinian territories as a result of the Israeli escalation” and calls on the international community to act to stop such “Israeli attacks” and to “provide protection” to the Palestinian people.

All three governments reiterate their support for a two-state solution on the pre-1967 lines — a proposal that is not supported by the current Israeli government.

As they did when Israel announced the approval of new outposts and settlements in the West Bank last week, Abraham Accords signatories UAE, Bahrain and Morocco have thus far refrained from joining fellow Arab states in condemning the raid.

IDF: 2 soldiers lightly hurt during Nablus raid

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces during a raid in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, on February 22, 2023. (Zain Jaafar/AFP)
Palestinians clash with Israeli forces during a raid in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, on February 22, 2023. (Zain Jaafar/AFP)

Two Israeli soldiers were lightly hurt during this morning’s raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, the military says.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the pair were hurt by shrapnel from other troops’ gunfire at gunmen in the city.

The two were taken to a hospital for treatment, and their families have been notified, the IDF adds.

Rothman arrives at president’s residence amid judicial legislative push

Chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee MK Simcha Rothman (center) at a hearing, with committee legal adviser Attorney Gur Bligh (right), February 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee MK Simcha Rothman (center) at a hearing, with committee legal adviser Attorney Gur Bligh (right), February 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, head of the Knesset Constitution, Justice and Law Committee, arrives at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Rothman is seen as one of the key architects of the government’s plan to radically overhaul the justice system.

President Isaac Herzog has repeatedly implored members of the coalition to pause the plan in order to allow for talks with opposition figures to reach a compromise on the highly contentious legislation.

Netanyahu meets with a range of visiting US lawmakers from both parties

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) meets with US lawmakers in his office in Jerusalem on February 22, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) meets with US lawmakers in his office in Jerusalem on February 22, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with a range of US lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu meets one-on-one with Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

“I enjoyed meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu today. We discussed the security and economic interests America shares with one of our most important partners, Israel,” Cotton tweets. The senator arrived in Israel on a direct flight from Riyadh with the US Air Force, he tweeted yesterday, adding: “Hopefully many more flights between the two countries to come.”

Separately, Netanyahu also meets with a delegation of Democratic members of Congress led by the lobbying group J Street, including Rep. Katie Porter of California, who has announced she is planning to run for the Senate in 2024.

And in a different meeting, Netanyahu sits down with a bipartisan delegation of members of Congress led by the US Israel Education Association.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu emphasized “the importance of the bipartisan relationship between Israel and the US” in all his meetings and discussed both the Abraham Accords and Iran’s nuclear activities.

Jordan slams Israel for ‘incursion’ following IDF raid on Nablus

Smoke from fires fills the air as Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus, February 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Smoke from fires fills the air as Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus, February 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Jordan lambastes Israel for this morning’s deadly IDF raid in the Palestinian city of Nablus.

The country’s foreign ministry issues a statement saying it has “consistently condemned Israeli incursions into occupied Palestinian cities, including today’s raid in Nablus.”

Jordan reiterates its call on Israel to cease such actions in order “to avoid further deterioration” that damages prospects for a two-state solution.

Hamas says its ‘patience is running out’ after deadly Nablus raid

Palestinians wave flags and burn tires along the border fence between Israel and Gaza, Feb. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians wave flags and burn tires along the border fence between Israel and Gaza, Feb. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A spokesman for Hamas threatens Israel in the wake of a deadly IDF raid in Nablus which killed 10 Palestinians.

“The resistance in Gaza is observing the enemy’s escalating crimes against our people in the occupied West Bank, and its patience is running out,” says Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the terrorist group.

Palestinians in Gaza burn tires along its border with Israel in protest over the raid, the latest in a series of West Bank operations in recent months.

Palestinian UN envoy demands action from secretary-general after Nablus deaths

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian representative to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, January 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Riyad Mansour, Palestinian representative to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, January 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK — Palestinian envoy to the United Nations Riyad Mansour demands action against Israel after 10 Palestinians were killed during a raid by Israeli forces against terrorists in the West Bank city of Nablus.

“The United Nations, which is supposed to stand by the weak and the vulnerable, should stand with the Palestinian people,” Mansour says, speaking after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a periodic pro-Palestinian session at the UN headquarters in New York.

“We are losing credibility, you are losing credibility, this fabulous system is losing credibility,” Mansour says, calling on the UN to use all of its resources “to put an end to these massacres against our people.”

He accuses the Israeli government of “atrocities” and using “all kinds of pretenses in order to slaughter our people and to create havoc and create horror.”

“The international community should act, should implement its resolutions and should step up to the plate to protect the Palestinian population,” Mansour says, adding that the Palestinian mission will send a letter today to Guterres, the UN Security Council and the president of the General Assembly requesting further action against Israel.

Mansour also warns that the “occupied Palestinian territories are on the verge of a massive eruption because of the policies and practices, particularly of this Israeli government.”

After Nablus raid, Palestinian official says PA will ‘request international protection’

Smoke rises as Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus, February 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Smoke rises as Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus, February 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

A senior Palestinian Authority official says the PA leadership has decided to again turn to the UN Security Council to intervene after today’s deadly IDF raid in the Palestinian city of Nablus.

Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh tweets that the PA will “request international protection for our Palestinian people in light of the continuing crimes of the occupation.”

Al-Sheikh does not specify how Ramallah is hoping the Security Council will act.

The PA has repeatedly called for international forums to intervene on its behalf and had managed to lobby the United Arab Emirates to draft a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate halt to Israeli settlement activity earlier this month. But the initiative was shelved following pressure by the Biden administration and Security Council members sufficed with a rare, albeit non-binding joint statement on the matter.

The last time such a deadly raid took place in the West Bank, the Security Council did agree to hold an emergency session where members urged the sides to take steps to calm tensions.

Ohana bucks Likud party line to vote in favor of gay adoption bill

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with new Knesset speaker Amir Ohana and Ohana's children after the swearing-in ceremony of the new Israeli government at the Knesset, on December 29, 2022. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with new Knesset speaker Amir Ohana and Ohana's children after the swearing-in ceremony of the new Israeli government at the Knesset, on December 29, 2022. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana voted in favor of a bill that would allow same-sex couples and singles to adopt in Israel, while the rest of his Likud party voted against the legislation put forward by Yesh Atid.

The bill failed a preliminary vote, 37-54.

Ohana and his husband have two children born through surrogacy — a process that was only legalized for gay couples in Israel last year.

Earlier today, the first baby conceived via surrogate to a gay couple in Israel was born.

UN secretary-general warns against Jerusalem ‘provocations,’ settlement expansion

Illustrative: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on February 18, 2023. (Amanuel Sileshi/AFP)
Illustrative: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on February 18, 2023. (Amanuel Sileshi/AFP)

NEW YORK — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns against “provocations” at Jerusalem holy sites and escalating violence in the West Bank at a pro-Palestinian event at United Nations headquarters in New York.

Guterres also decries settlement activity and calls for more support for Palestinians during a periodic meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, held as violence surges between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory is at its most combustible in years,” Guterres says. “The situation in Jerusalem/Al-Quds is becoming more fragile amidst provocations and acts of violence in and around the holy sites. It radiates instability across the region and beyond.”

Police on high alert nationwide following deadly IDF raid in Nablus

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (center) and colleagues patrol in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, November 25, 2022. (Police spokeperson)
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (center) and colleagues patrol in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, November 25, 2022. (Police spokeperson)

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai tells National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir that police are on high alert for any disturbances or vengeance attacks following an Israeli raid in Nablus earlier today in which 10 Palestinians were killed.

Jordan sentences 3 citizens to death for IS-linked bombing attacks

A Jordanian court sentences three people to death by hanging on charges of belonging to the Islamic State group and staging two bombing attacks, an AFP correspondent says.

A total of 11 people are handed sentences in the same case, relating to attacks in 2018 that killed six members of the Jordanian security forces.

The court condemns three to death, including one in absentia, over accusations of “involvement in terrorist acts using weapons and explosives that led to the death of one person.” The remaining convicts were handed prison sentences ranging between five and 20 years.

Three others, including two women, are acquitted and released.

Knesset advances bill to expand power of state-run rabbinic court system

The Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court seen on August 3, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
The Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court seen on August 3, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The Knesset votes 58-43 in a preliminary vote to advance legislation that would expand the powers of state-run rabbinic courts, giving them the authority to again hear civil cases.

Until 2006, state-run rabbinic courts could hear such cases — disputes between workers and employees, between businesses, or between landlords and renters, for instance — but the High Court found that the rabbinic judges did not have legal authority to do so and they were stripped of that power. Currently, rabbinic judges are limited to overseeing marriage and divorce proceedings for all Jewish Israelis, as well as certain issues dealing with conversions, and occasionally with wills and inheritances. Private rabbinic courts could still hear civil cases if both parties agreed.

The bill, backed by the ultra-Orthodox Shas and UTJ parties, would restore the power of state-run rabbinic courts to adjudicate civil matters, provided both sides agree to such a move.

Karhi accuses public broadcaster of biased coverage of government judicial plan

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi speaks at the Knesset on January 30, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi speaks at the Knesset on January 30, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi slams the public broadcaster Kan for what he calls its misleading coverage of the government’s plans to overhaul the justice system.

In letter, Karhi accuses Kan of being “conspicuously biased” in its coverage of the controversy, pointing in particular to it calling the government’s plan the “weakening” of the judicial system.

Karhi, who has threatened to shut down or drastically cut Kan’s budget, writes that the public broadcaster is “not giving a platform to significant portions of the public who want to hear a different voice” and not “serving the general population.”

‘Hametz bill’ passes initial Knesset reading 60-49

View of the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem on August 17, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem on August 17, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Legislation that would forbid bringing leavened goods into public hospitals during Passover passes an initial Knesset reading 60-49.

The legislation proposed by United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni would not only permit public hospitals to ban hametz, but would require them to do so. The bill is opposed by the Attorney General’s Office, which found that in its current form the legislation goes too far and would be difficult to defend in court.

For years, most hospitals and other public institutions banned hametz during the week-long Passover holiday — when Jews traditionally refrain from eating leavened goods — with some even instructing guards to search people’s bags for forbidden foods at the doors. But in 2020, the High Court of Justice declared that hospitals could not conduct such invasive searches — after years of pushing the government to find some compromise or pass some legislation on the issue — and last year the court issued a similar ruling regarding army bases.

Gafni says the legislation is yet another move to combat High Court intervention in Israeli life.

Knesset advances bill to make internal police investigations subordinate to Justice Ministry

A discussion and a vote in the Knesset plenum on February 22, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A discussion and a vote in the Knesset plenum on February 22, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset votes 62-52 to advance legislation that would move the Police Internal Investigations Department to within full control of the Justice Ministry.

The bill, submitted by Likud MK Moshe Saada, a former deputy head of the PIID, will now move to a committee before returning to the plenum for three more readings before it can become a law.

The legislation is linked to an overall push by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to make the Israel Police more subordinate to the government.

Lapid slams Levin: ‘When the Israeli economy is crushed, it will be on your head’

Opposition leader Yair Lapid speaks in the Knesset plenum on February 22, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Opposition leader Yair Lapid speaks in the Knesset plenum on February 22, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition leader Yair Lapid slams the government, especially Justice Minister Yariv Levin, for saying they are open to talks on judicial reform while still advancing highly contentious legislation.

“Don’t play around with us by talking while you’re also passing the bill… What conversation are you talking about? Enough with the lie,” Lapid says to Levin in a speech from the Knesset podium.

The opposition leader mocks the justice minister, saying that he is “the real prime minister… in six months when the Israeli economy is crushed, in half a year when the country starts to fall apart, it will be on your head.”

“The government of Israel approved a job for a convicted criminal today,” Lapid tweets, a reference to legislation aimed at reinstating Shas chief Aryeh Deri as a minister. “Yes, that’s what they’re dealing with — not the cost of living, not security. The country doesn’t interest them, the citizens don’t interest them, they only care about themselves.”

Israeli delegation lands in Abu Dhabi for I2U summit with India, UAE, US

Ronen Levi, Foreign Ministry director general (left) meets with Jose Fernandez, US undersecretary of state (second from left), UAE Minister Ahmed Al Sayegh, and India's Economic Relations Secretary Shri Dammu Ravi (right) in Abu Dhabi on February 22, 2023. (Foreign Ministry)
Ronen Levi, Foreign Ministry director general (left) meets with Jose Fernandez, US undersecretary of state (second from left), UAE Minister Ahmed Al Sayegh, and India's Economic Relations Secretary Shri Dammu Ravi (right) in Abu Dhabi on February 22, 2023. (Foreign Ministry)

Foreign Ministry Director General Ronen Levy lands in Abu Dhabi at the head of Israel’s delegation to the first in-person summit of the I2U forum, consisting of Israel, India, the US and the UAE.

“This forum is evidence that the fruits of the Abraham Accords and new connections between peoples and countries sharing their capabilities and know-how can contribute to prosperity in the Middle East and beyond,” says Levy.

The group came together last July as a follow-on to the Abraham Accords, when they announced the partners would cooperate on water, energy, transportation, space, health and food security.

Israel’s delegation of 40 includes representatives from private sector companies as well as officials from the Economy, Energy, Agriculture, Health and Transportation ministries and members of Israel’s Innovation Authority, Export Institute, Manufacturers Association, Water Authority and Space Agency.

The Space Agency officials will lead a new space initiative examining ways to deal with climate change at the summit.

Report: Israeli strike on Syria this week targeted visiting Iranian officials

The scene of an alleged Israeli airstrike in the Kafar Sousah neighborhood of Syria's capital, Damascus, early February 19, 2023. (Social media)
The scene of an alleged Israeli airstrike in the Kafar Sousah neighborhood of Syria's capital, Damascus, early February 19, 2023. (Social media)

A rocket strike on Syria earlier this week hit a gathering of Iranian officials, according to a report in Reuters.

The strike, which Damascus blamed on Israel, was said to kill five people and wound 15 others.

According to Reuters, the site targeted was an installation where a group of Syrian and Iranian experts were meeting to discuss drone manufacturing. A source quoted by the news agency says that an Iranian official was killed, although he was not high-ranking.

Schools to shut down tomorrow as part of nationwide strike

A closed school in the northern city of Safed, March 13, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)
A closed school in the northern city of Safed, March 13, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Schools across Israel are expected to be shuttered tomorrow as part of a strike protesting the government’s plans to slash funding from local authorities in the upcoming budget.

The Teachers Union has also said it is joining the strike. The Jerusalem Municipality says it will not be taking part in the strike and school will continue in the capital as usual, but it is unclear if teachers will be showing up.

Students in high, middle and elementary schools as well as children in preschools and daycare are slated to stay home.

The full list of those local authorities taking part remains unclear at this point.

The director general of the Education Ministry says in a letter that the only schools that will remain open tomorrow are special education schools.

The strike is said to center around a dispute over pay for classroom assistants and other budgetary concerns.

Knesset advances ‘Deri bill’ to neuter court oversight of ministerial appointments

Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Shas faction meeting in Knesset, January 23, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Shas faction meeting in Knesset, January 23, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset advances a bill tailored to returning Shas leader Aryeh Deri to the cabinet, weeks after the High Court of Justice found his two ministerial appointments “unreasonable in the extreme” due to past offenses.

Initiated by Shas MK Moshe Arbel, the bill eliminates court oversight over ministerial appointments, and could open a door for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reappoint Deri, after the court and attorney general forced him to fire the Shas leader from his cabinet last month.

The bill clears its preliminary reading 62-53, and will go to the Knesset House Committee for determination on where it will land for further processing, in advance of its next three required readings on the floor.

Deri himself is absent for the vote.

Bill to make legislation immune from judicial review passes initial Knesset vote 62-51

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center)  and Justice Minister Yariv Levin celebrate in the Knesset plenum on February 21, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Justice Minister Yariv Levin celebrate in the Knesset plenum on February 21, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

As part of its effort to remake the relationship between the Knesset and the judiciary, the coalition advances a bill to allow the Knesset to pass legislation which is preemptively immune to judicial review.

In addition to allowing this so-called “notwithstanding clause,” which provides immunity even to bills that conflict with quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, the bill would also constrain judicial oversight to unanimous decisions by a full panel of the court’s 15 justices.

Despite being proposed as an “override” bill making changes to two Basic Laws, it does not include a so-called override clause, by which the Knesset could reinstate legislation struck down by the court. Rather, the bill focuses on provisions that curtail the court’s power to strike down legislation from the outset.

Nearly identical to a parallel bill being discussed in the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, the private bill by committee chair Simcha Rothman clears its preliminary reading 62-51. On Monday, the committee’s legal adviser warned that by circumscribing laws from judicial review, the Knesset is stripping protection from civil liberties, including equality and freedom of speech — rights both established by the court.

As the second bill in the coalition’s judicial reform plan, it follows separate legislation to cement coalition control over judge selections, as well as block the Supreme Court from reviewing any of the country’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, which passed its first Knesset reading on Monday night.

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