The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
The Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative think tank that helped shape much of the government’s judicial overhaul package but has recently acknowledged it goes too far, announces that it has drafted a compromise deal that it says could bridge most of the gaps between the controversial plan’s proponents and critics.
In a statement, Kohelet says it supports a reform to curb the judiciary’s allegedly excessive power, but adds it views it as very important that changes be done with wide support. It says its members have in recent months held “countless hours” of covert talks with experts opposed to the overhaul aimed at finding a widely accepted compromise version.
“We found out that on many issues, the gaps are bridgeable,” the statement says.
“This is the case on the way the High Court will be authorized to strike down regular laws, this is the case on the use of the reasonableness clause, and on the status of legal advisers’ legal opinions,” it adds, without going into detail about what the compromise proposes.
“The fears about oppressive use of the legislation of [quasi-constitutional] Basic Laws can be healed by setting an inflexible procedure for legislating and amending Basic Laws (such as demanding a fourth [Knesset plenum] reading in the following Knesset, with a majority of 61 MKs in each of the votes), alongside a clarification that they are immune from oversight,” Kohelet says.
It adds that the override clause — allowing the Knesset to re-legislate laws struck down as unconstitutional by the High Court — can be left out of the reform, alongside a solution for specific cases by introducing “non-justiciability rules.”
Kohelet admits one issue remains without agreement — the makeup of the Judicial Selection Committee and whether the coalition will have complete control over the selection of judges.
“We believe a solution can be reached that will cancel the veto power currently held by the Supreme Court justices, will give the coalition the upper hand in the committee, and will also boost the influence of the opposition,” it says. “This can be done, for instance, by having professionals be appointed [to the committee] by the coalition.”
Kohelet urges President Isaac Herzog to adopt these principles in his efforts to negotiate a compromise, which has proven elusive as the opposition refuses to enter talks unless the legislative process is temporarily frozen, and the coalition refuses to slow the process.
Kohelet says its outline would “fulfill the reform’s main goals, improve Israel’s system of governance, address the concerns voiced by the reform’s opponents, and restore trust between the branches of government and between all parts of the public in Israel.”
It expresses hope that its proposal will “help heal the public atmosphere” and “enable progress toward introducing an agreed constitution for the State of Israel, which would also include a bill of rights.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed all ministers to avoid meeting US government officials until he is invited to the White House by US President Joe Biden, Channel 12 news reports.
The unsourced report says Netanyahu is angry he has not been invited yet, and believes any minister meeting American government officials while visiting the United States would emphasize that the premier himself has not been invited.
The report adds that the United Arab Emirates is not currently interested in inviting Netanyahu, which is why Netanyahu’s recent and upcoming overseas trips are all to European countries.
Netanyahu’s office doesn’t respond to repeated requests for comment by The Times of Israel.
The United States has summoned Russia’s ambassador to protest today’s crash of an American drone over the Black Sea after a Russian warplane collided with it, the State Department says.
“We are summoning the Russian ambassador to the State Department,” spokesman Ned Price tells reporters.
Demonstrators against the government’s legal overhaul push rally in Bnei Brak outside the home of United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, a top coalition leader.
Eggs are hurled at some of the protesters.
Police say a suspect has been arrested for macing an officer, who was treated at the scene.
ביצים הושלכו לעבר מפגינים מול ביתו של גפני בבני ברק, תושב נעצר לאחר שריסס גז פלפל לעבר שוטר pic.twitter.com/BDW2fN1Tk4
— ynet עדכוני (@ynetalerts) March 14, 2023
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant rejects a letter signed by 50 ministers and coalition MKs that demanded the release of four Jewish settlers under administrative detention.
In a letter, Gallant says the arrest warrants, which enable the detainees to be held indefinitely and without charge, were issued lawfully at the request of the Shin Bet based on “significant intelligence material testifying to the detainees’ high dangerousness.”
He says two of the detainees took part in the recent settler rampage in the Palestinian West Bank town of Huwara and also planned additional violent and “indiscriminate” acts that “endangered the lives of many residents.” They also have “a rich past of violent acts against security forces,” and previous efforts have failed to deter them, Gallant says.
Gallant says that while he admires the settler movement, “this case deals with individuals who chose to act against the law, don’t represent the settler movement and are actively harming it.”
He calls the Huwara rampage “a watershed moment and a mark of shame for our society.”
“I recommend that those who signed the letter trust the Shin Bet recommendations and the defense minister’s decisions, which are made based solely on security-related and intelligence considerations. We must not give headwind to terror of any kind.”
The ruling Likud party punishes MK Yuli Edelstein for not showing up yesterday to a government-sponsored vote to prevent the High Court of Justice from having the power to suspend a prime minister from office due to conflict of interest.
Coalition whip Ofir Katz informs Edelstein that he won’t be able to file private law bills and agenda items or to speak in the Knesset on behalf of Likud for the next three weeks of Knesset activity.
Some 500 protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul hold a rally near the Herzliya home of Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, turning up the heat on him to unequivocally come out against the legislative plan.
Yesterday, Edelstein avoided taking part in a vote to prevent the High Court of Justice from having the power to suspend a prime minister from office. He also questioned the current overhaul push.
“Yesterday we saw Edelstein in a display of ‘half-courage,'” protesters say. “That’s more than nothing, but less than what’s needed. Therefore, until Edelstein takes an unequivocal stand, we’re here.”
A Russian fighter jet dumped fuel today on an American drone over the Black Sea and then collided with it, causing the drone to crash, the US military says.
US European Command says two Russian Su-27 fighters intercepted the unmanned MQ-9 Reaper over international waters and one clipped its propeller.
“Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,” it says.
NATO diplomats in Brussels confirm the incident, but say they do not expect it to immediately escalate into a further confrontation.
A Western military source, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, says diplomatic channels between Russia and the United States will be activated.
“To my mind, diplomatic channels will mitigate this,” the source says.
Protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul announce plans to demonstrate at and around Ben Gurion Airport tomorrow afternoon, with the aim of disrupting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s flight to Germany.
The rallies last week forced Netanyahu to take a helicopter from Jerusalem to the airport ahead of his trip to Italy.
The protest organizers say thousands of vehicles will again attempt to drive slowly at the access roads to the airport, causing traffic jams, starting at 12:30 p.m., several hours before Netanyahu’s flight. They note that they won’t disrupt train access.
“The incoming dictator Netanyahu will meet us in every corner, flight or conference he attends,” the organizers say in a statement. “We won’t let him destroy the Zionist vision and turn the State of Israel into a dictatorship.”
In an unusual statement, Yoav Gallant’s office says the defense minister has held a number of security assessments over the past day due to unspecified “security incidents.”
His office says the meetings were held with top army and defense officials, including IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar.
The officials presented Gallant with “preliminary findings from the investigation of the incidents,” Gallant’s office says.
“The defense minister instructed to continue efforts to ensure the daily routine of Israeli citizens,” his office adds.
The recent incidents are not detailed in the statement due to security concerns and ongoing investigations.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich discusses removing the so-called grandchild clause in the Law of Return in his meeting with Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein.
That clause allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent to immigrate freely to Israel so long as they do not practice another religion. Many immigrants to Israel, particularly but not only from the former Soviet Union, obtain citizenship under this aspect of the Law of Return.
“We talked about how we have to get rid of the grandchild clause,” Klein tells The Times of Israel, arguing that the provision has led to a gradual shrinking of Israel’s Jewish population.
“He was very serious about that and expressed his fear that we’re losing Israel as a Jewish state,” Klein says.
The ZOA president says the two are in agreement about the need for judicial reform, but Klein says he told Smotrich that he disagrees with the legislation the coalition is seeking to pass that would allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court decision with a simple majority of 61 MKs.
“I told him I thought it should be 65 MKs,” Klein says, noting that Smotrich was non-committal in response.
The ZOA president met with Smotrich privately in New York and the right-wing group’s board will be meeting with the finance minister tomorrow.
“I was really impressed about how optimistic he was about the future of Israel,” Klein says.
A letter signed by 50 current ministers and coalition lawmakers demands that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant order the release of four settlers held under administrative detention, including two who were detained days after hundreds of extremist settlers rampaged through the Palestinian West Bank town of Huwara, burning homes and cars and causing a death — under unclear circumstances — and many injuries.
The letter calls administrative detention — which enables the state to hold suspects indefinitely, without pressing charges or even telling them what they’re suspected of — “an aggressive measure used against the settler community” to “blatantly circumvent the court.”
Administrative detention is primarily used against Palestinian terror suspects — with hundreds of detainees — although it is sometimes also used against suspected Jewish extremists.
The letter was initiated by Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech, and is signed by her party leader, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, as well as ministers Shlomo Karhi, Orit Strock and Idit Silman, as well as dozens of others, including from Gallant’s ruling Likud party.
The letter names the detainees as David Hisdai and 17-year-old Tzadok Hacohen — held after the Huwara rampage — as well as Elhai Carmeli and Avraham Yered, who were arrested three months ago by former defense minister Benny Gantz and are still in custody.
“We believe that the use of administrative detention, without holding legal proceedings, should be kept for particularly extreme cases, such as acts of murderous enemies from the ranks of Israel-haters,” the letter reads.
“In all four [of these] cases, the court immediately released the detainees. If there are still suspicions against them, police should open a criminal probe like in every other criminal case in the country.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich made a previously unannounced visit to a New York City Jewish site last night, prompting minor protests at a different location.
Smotrich made the visit to the Ohel Chabad-Lubavitch, the resting place of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the spiritual leader of the Chabad movement.
Smotrich appears to have organized the visit with a member of the Chabad community from Israel, without coordinating with the movement’s leadership in New York.
Protesters opposed to the government’s judicial overhaul and the far-right minister caught wind of Smotrich’s planned visit shortly beforehand, and staged a small rally against his appearance in New York.
However, the demonstrators believed Smotrich was going to visit Chabad’s World Headquarters, located next to Schneerson’s former residence. The headquarters are in the borough of Brooklyn and the Ohel is in Queens.
שר האוצר בצלאל סמוטריץ' המקיים בימים אלו סבב פגישות בארה"ב, הגיע הלילה לציונו הקדוש של הרבי מליובאוויטש, בשכונת קווינס. pic.twitter.com/IgSjL6Clxa
— לוי נוישטט – levi noishtat (@levi_noishtat) March 14, 2023
The demonstrators, representing a protest group of Israeli expats in New York and other groups of mainly left-wing US Jews, gathered outside the headquarters in the rain, bearing signs, and were greeted by Chabad community members with hot drinks.
Smotrich says he plans to meet other Jewish community leaders while in New York, without specifying who. The Orthodox Union and Zionist Organization of America have said they plan to meet with Smotrich, who has been shunned by other US Jewish groups and American officials.
The Ohel is a major religious site for Jews in New York, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors per year, including Jews from different movements, non-Jews and elected officials from Israel and the US.
For the first time since resuming the premiership, Benjamin Netanyahu has held a discussion on Israel’s policy regarding aid to Ukraine in face of the Russian invasion and war, his office says.
The statement says the meeting included Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, Mossad chief David Barnea, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Foreign Ministry Director-General Ronen Levy, Netanyahu’s military secretary Avi Gil and others.
Hebrew media says it discussed the option of providing military assistance.
No decisions have been made and the discussions will continue, the reports say.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid blasts reports that the Foreign Ministry sent out talking points of a partisan nature ahead of the European Parliament debate this evening on Israeli democracy and the judicial overhaul.
“Every attempt by the Foreign Ministry to run a political campaign outside Israel’s borders is a serious strike at the Foreign Ministry’s role and a total violation of the diplomatic rules, which will cause Israel significant diplomatic damage,” tweets Lapid.
He adds that it is “a gross and overt violation of the rules and even of the separation of powers.”
The Walla news site reported earlier today that Assaf Moran, the ministry’s department chief for Multilateral European Organizations and NATO, sent on Saturday night a letter to Israel’s envoys in EU countries with talking points to share with friendly parliamentarians ahead of the debate, saying that the November elections “express a clear decision by the Israeli public about the identity of the government and its agenda.”
The message also includes a talking point that the legislative process about the reform is far from over, “and it is better to allow it to play out without external interference.” This is despite many of the relevant bills nearing their final votes, which could be held as early as next week.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich tells Citibank executives in New York that the “noise” surrounding the government’s effort to overhaul the judiciary will “settle down in the near future” and that the coalition will adopt a compromise agreement that Israel’s “mainstream” will be able to live with.
“We will calm down the markets. We will calm down the economy. I really think that investment in Israel today is one of the safest investments one could make,” Smotrich tells the US bank executives in Hebrew remarks shared with the press.
During the meeting, the sides also discuss the impact of the SVB and Signature Bank collapses, international investment, investments in Israeli technology and other economic issues, according to a readout from Smotrich’s office.
“Israel’s economy is strong, stable and relatively easy to manage in times of crisis,” Smotrich tells the Citibank executives, making his pitch for them to further invest in the Jewish state, despite the ongoing political and economic turmoil.
The meeting is one of only a handful Smotrich has held since arriving in the US on Sunday. US government officials, representatives from the International Monetary Fund, the US Chamber of Commerce and dozens of Jewish groups across the political spectrum have refused to meet with him after he called to wipe out the Palestinian town of Huwara earlier this month. The finance minister has since apologized.
Smotrich spoke at the Israel Bonds conference on Sunday and visited the Holocaust Museum and the Israeli Embassy in Washington yesterday. He arrived in New York last night and visited a Chabad house there, his spokesman says, adding that he will be meeting with additional Jewish community leaders before returning to Israel tomorrow. He will also be meeting with the leadership of the Zionist Organization of America and the Orthodox Union.
The mayor of the Haredi West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, near Jerusalem, has said he ordered Arabs to be taken off buses entering the city, even if they have Israeli citizenship.
Speaking yesterday with ultra-Orthodox news outlet Haskupim, Mayor Meir Rubinstein took pride in the practice, acknowledging that it’s illegal.
The interview comes after Beitar Illit was put under lockdown on Thursday after a suspected terrorist left explosive devices on a local bus. The bombs were discovered after they caught fire, without exploding. The perpetrator hasn’t been caught.
“We stopped the buses at the entrance to the city, we took off dozens of Palestinians with blue (Israeli) ID cards,” Rubinstein said, adding that he ordered the policy continued even after police and the Defense Ministry asked him about it.
“I gave them an order to continue with it, and if there are problems they could contact me. I’m willing to be prosecuted for it,” he said.
The Beitar Illit Municipality later issued a statement saying Rubinstein had “ordered Palestinians who are not Israeli residents to be prevented from boarding public transportation, thus avoiding checks at [military] checkpoints.
“In case it was misunderstood, we are clarifying that his intention was residents of the territories, holders of orange (Palestinian) ID cards.”
A French human rights organization says Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is “not welcome” on a planned visit to France next week.
The Human Rights League (LDH) describes Smotrich as “arabophobic, homophobic, ultra-colonialist and ultra-religious,” adding that it feels “outrage” at the visit planned for Sunday and “condemns everything this character represents.”
Smotrich has a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians. He recently called for a Palestinian town to be “wiped out” after two Israeli settlers were killed there in a terror attack. After intense international condemnation, he walked the comment back and said he “did not mean harm to innocents.”
In addition to being finance minister, he is also a minister in the Defense Ministry in charge of settlement policies in the West Bank.
The French foreign ministry has told AFP no official contact with Smotrich is planned.
The European Parliament is set to discuss Israel’s proposed judicial overhaul this evening in a session titled “Deterioration of democracy in Israel and consequences on the occupied territories.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will speak at the start and close of the hour-long session, and is likely to take a critical stance. However, several pro-Israel MEPs will speak, including Antonio López-Istúriz White, chair of the delegation for relations with Israel, and delegation member Ilana Cicurel.
The debate will begin at 6:30 p.m. Israel time, but there will be no vote or resolution passed.
In recent days, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has called on European countries and the EU to refrain from interference in Israel’s internal affairs, including in a phone call earlier today with Borrell.
In a conversation with Josep Borrell, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen blasts the European Union foreign policy chief for allegedly drawing a comparison between Palestinian terror attacks and IDF operations, the Foreign Ministry says.
“There is no place for comparisons and creating a balance between Israeli terror victims and Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority,” says Cohen, according to the Israeli readout.
In an article last week, Borrell wrote that “indiscriminate attacks and violence are taking many Israeli lives.”
“Violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods – almost always with impunity,” he continued. “Moreover, Israeli military operations frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning Holy Sites is eroding.”
Cohen also asks that the EU refrain from interfering in internal political issues, a reference to the ongoing fight over judicial reform in Israel.
Cohen tells his interlocutor that the EU’s positions on Israel continue to be slanted, and demands that the union take into account Israel’s complex security reality.
The foreign minister has made similar statements recently. In a press conference last night with Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, Cohen asked his counterpart to work to prevent European involvement in Israel’s domestic matters and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The EU spokesperson’s office declines to comment.
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman releases a report saying the initiative to develop an Israeli COVID vaccine “failed” and accusing the Institute for Biological research of misleading officials on its progress and costs, causing a waste of money and resources.
The report says NIS 230 million ($63.5 million) was invested in the project before it was scrapped in July 2022.
“Even if we could accept this in the initial emergency period, we cannot condone conduct that contradicts rules of proper practice after that,” the report says.
Englman sharply criticizes the institute’s former chief, Prof. Shmuel Shapira, including for a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that prompted the premier to authorize the production of the vaccine.
More than 1,000 Israeli writers, artists and intellectuals call on Germany and Britain to cancel upcoming visits by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying his plan to overhaul the judicial system has put the country on a destructive course.
In a letter addressed to the German and British ambassadors in Israel, the figures say the country is in the midst of the most extreme crisis in its history and that Netanyahu is trying to turn the country into a “theocratic dictatorship.”
“In the face of Mr. Netanyahu’s dangerous and destructive leadership, and in light of a vast democratic civilian resistance against the destruction of state institutions by undemocratic law-making, we are asking that Germany and Great Britain swiftly announce to the defendant Netanyahu that his planned state visits to your countries are canceled,” reads the letter. “If these visits go ahead as planned, a dark shadow will hang over them.”
The letter has been signed by internationally acclaimed author David Grossman, novelist Dorit Rabinyan, Oscar-nominated director Uri Barbash and scores of academics, business figures and professionals.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday in Berlin, where Israeli expats say they are organizing a large protest against their visiting prime minister.
An estimated 93% of buildings in northeast Israel marked as the most at risk will collapse in the event of a strong earthquake, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman says in a new report, a month after a powerful tremor killed over 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
The 1,208 buildings earmarked in 2018 for urgent upgrading are close to the Great Rift Valley — an area prone to earthquakes — in cities and towns such as Tiberias, Safed, Beit She’an, Kiryat Shmona and Hatzor Haglilit. Despite repeated warnings, the vast majority of them haven’t been strengthened.
The ombudsman also says that out of 54 earmarked schools, only 38 — 70% — have been upgraded.
The report warns that at the current rate, it would take decades to protect all the existing at-risk buildings from earthquakes.
Palestinian terror group Hamas warns Israel it will react to any potential “violations” at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Temple Mount site during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, issues the warning less than two weeks before the start of Ramadan and amid an escalation in violence and terror attacks.
Salah al-Arouri, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, says the risk of escalation entirely “depends on the Israeli occupation’s violations across Palestine and at Al-Aqsa Mosque” — the Muslim name of the Temple Mount compound, the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest to Muslims.
Any Israeli attempt to “impose” its policies during Ramadan would be met with the “reaction of our people,” Arouri says in remarks carried by his movement’s official website.
Hamas, meanwhile, has no plans to initiate an escalation during Ramadan, according to the English-language version of Arouri’s remarks, although such a clarification does not appear in the Arabic version.
Facebook owner Meta announces a wave of job cuts, part of what CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls the company’s “year of efficiency” as the US tech sector continues to downsize.
In an email to employees, Zuckerberg says Meta will shed 10,000 jobs over the next few months, targeting middle management, and that 5,000 other roles will remain unfilled. The cuts follow a cull of 11,000 jobs announced by the company in November.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir responds to the police decision to summon his party member Zvika Fogel for questioning on suspicion of incitement to terrorism, again targeting Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara for approving the move.
Two weeks ago, Fogel explicitly backed extremist settlers who torched Palestinian homes and vehicles in the northern West Bank town of Huwara. He later tweeted that his words had been “distorted,” without explaining how.
“The attorney general’s harassment of Otzma Yehudit members and the right is continuing,” Ben Gvir says in a statement.
He goes on to list a series of officials and former officials — including former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai — who have “preached to rebellion against the government” over its judicial overhaul plan and “called for war in the streets,” lamenting that the attorney general “hasn’t ordered investigations into them” or into Joint List MK Ayman Odeh, who “heaped praise on terror group Hezbollah.”
The attorney general only has a say on whether police probes are opened against members of Knesset.
Ben Gvir adds: “This is an attorney general who, instead of serving the elected government, is trying to hinder and harass it. This isn’t a ‘gatekeeper,’ it is an official that discriminates and acts in service of the opposition.”
A report by an Israeli nonprofit argues that UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, has failed to remove hateful content glorifying terrorism and demonizing Israel from its school curriculum.
The report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE), written jointly with the UN Watch nonprofit, finds 47 new instances of alleged incitement by UNRWA teachers and staff, despite previous pledges by the agency to remove such content and adopt a zero tolerance policy for employees who incite to racism or murder.
It finds that the agency’s staff and schools, which teach Palestinian children throughout the Gaza Strip and elsewhere, “regularly call for the murder of Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis, and incite antisemitism,” according to a statement by IMPACT-SE.
The report “captures evidence taken from inside UNRWA classrooms, showing the teaching of these materials, and revealing how UNRWA’s own content directs students to study specific hateful passages in Palestinian textbooks — which the organization claims teachers are told to skip.”
It “identifies 133 UNRWA educators and staff who were found to promote hate and violence on social media, and an additional 82 UNRWA teachers and other staff affiliated with over 30 UNRWA schools involved in drafting, supervising, approving, printing, and distributing hateful content to students.”
Amid escalating rhetoric from ministers and coalition members against Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, 42 former senior legal advisers — including former attorneys general — write a public letter supporting her.
The rare letter — signed by former legal advisers to government ministries, other state bodies and the police — argues that the government’s judicial overhaul legislation “leads Israel to a regime coup and a severe weakening of the justice system.
“Government and coalition spokespeople are openly accusing the legal counsel of being politically slanted,” the letter says, addressing Baharav-Miara. “The calls for your ouster are no longer veiled and are said explicitly, and only because you and your employees are doing your jobs and sticking to legal principles.”
The signatories call on current legal advisers “not to break in the face of political pressure.”
A ministerial committee on the state budget unanimously votes to accept Tourism Minister Haim Katz’s request to remove the proposal to add a VAT charge on products and services for tourists visiting Israel.
The government’s planned move would have hiked prices for tourists by 17%, a move Katz says would have dealt a “severe blow” to the tourism industry.
Katz thanks the prime minister, the finance minister and fellow ministers for their backing, which comes after the Finance Ministry had earlier demanded that the measure be included in the state budget.
The High Court of Justice responds to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s request to allow him independent legal counsel in petitions against him and his ministry, saying he should first contact Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara with the request.
Ben Gvir complained to the High Court yesterday that he has no faith in the attorney general’s willingness to represent his position in legal proceedings, describing her behavior toward him as “illegal, unreasonable, disproportionate and unfair.” He also accused her of failing to consult him before ordering that the decision to remove the Tel Aviv District Police Commander Amichai Eshed from his position be frozen.
Baharav-Miara has reportedly asked to meet Ben Gvir to discuss the proceedings against his conduct surrounding anti-government protests, and surrounding the government’s bid to expand Ben Gvir’s power over police policy. She has said his request for independent counsel — which Channel 13 reported last night wasn’t even formally sent to her — cannot be weighed without such a meeting taking place first.
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