The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Knesset votes to repeal Disengagement Law for northern West Bank
The Knesset votes to roll back legislation that ordered the evacuation of four northern West Bank settlements concurrent with Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005, passing the repeal in second and third (final) Knesset readings early Tuesday morning.
The law, passed in a 31-18 vote, repeals the clauses of the Disengagement Law that banned Israelis from the area where the settlements of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sa-Nur once stood. They were the only West Bank settlements to be cleared during what is termed the disengagement from Gaza 18 years ago.
The move helps the coalition’s efforts to legalize a wildcat outpost currently occupying the site of Homesh.
#Breaking The Knesset just passed legislation cancelling the Disengagement Law, which barred Israelis from returning to four northern West Bank settlements that were evacuated during the 2005 Gaza withdrawal. (1/3)
— Jacob Magid (@JacobMagid) March 21, 2023
The head of the IDF central command will still need to sign a military order allowing Israelis to return to those areas.
The destroyed towns have been a symbol to settlement supporters of an injustice they seek to undo, while to Palestinians they are another section of West Bank territory stripped from them. The High Court of Justice has ruled that at least one of the communities was illegally built on private Palestinian land.
The bill is contentious internationally and its final Knesset readings come at a tricky time. Earlier this week, Israel — in the presence of US, Egyptian, and Jordanian officials — reaffirmed its pledge to the Palestinian Authority to refrain from advancing settlement plans for four months and from advancing the legalization of West Bank outposts for six months.
This promise, and an accompanying Palestinian promise to freeze unilateral actions that are opposed by Israel, are aimed at lowering Israel-Palestinian tensions that frequently simmer around Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, expected to begin on Thursday.
The bill is sponsored by MK Yuli Edelstein and also backed by several other Likud MKs, ultra-Orthodox Shas lawmakers and members of the ultra-nationalist Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties. Among them is freshman Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech, a former resident of Homesh whose first husband was killed in a terror attack while living there.
Likud MK threatens police chief over handling of anti-government protests
Firebrand Likud MK David Amsalem threatens police chief Kobi Shabtai, telling him that the coalition will soon set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the police’s handling of anti-government protests over the past few months and that he could face prosecution.
The police, he says in a clip from the Knesset podium Monday evening, should be out there “keeping the public order and stopping the coup,” a common refrain in right-wing circles that the hundreds of thousands of people protesting the government’s judicial overhaul, and those economists, legal professionals, reserve soldiers, and academics voicing their opposition to the plan, are trying to undo the November election where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc won 64 seats out of 120.
Likud bulldog Dudi Amsalem threatens IsraelPoliceCommish for insufficient roughness on protesters: "We're going to set up a Commission of Inquiry into what went on here these 2 months. Just wait & see how many get prosecuted. Shabtai– don't be one of them" pic.twitter.com/KAX0rhQKau
— Noga Tarnopolsky נגה טרנופולסקי نوغا ترنوبولسكي (@NTarnopolsky) March 20, 2023
“Don’t be afraid of them [the protesters], they are threatening you,” says Amsallem, addressing Shabtai. “I’ll tell you something, Kobi Shabtai, one day, soon, we will set up a national commission of inquiry on everything that has happened here in the last period. You will see how many people will be questioned under caution, and will face prosecution just for [the events of] the past two months. I advise you not to be one of them.”
As other MKs yell at Amsalem to stop, he continues addressing Shabtai: “You are responsible, this is on your watch. Your officers want to clear them [the protesters] but they are afraid!”
The police have been under coalition attack, especially by police minister and far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, who has raged at the force for not taking harsher measures against protesters and appearing lenient and restrained.
Levin warns High Court not to intervene against new bill on judicial appointments
Justice Minister Yariv Levin, a key figure in the government’s judicial overhaul push, warns the High Court against intervening against a new proposal to cement political control over the selection on judges, including to the top court.
Speaking with the pro-Netanyahu Channel 14, Levin asserts the changes address critics’ concerns that the proposal will lead to a constitutional crisis and remove doubts that the coalition’s true aim is give itself power to determine the makeup of the courts.
“This would be a red line that we won’t accept,” he says, referring to a decision to strike down the measure once passed into law.
Bill aimed at returning Deri to cabinet passes first plenum reading
The Knesset advances a bill to enable Shas leader Aryeh Deri to return to his ministerial posts after the High Court of Justice ruled his position in the cabinet was unreasonable in the extreme due to a recent criminal conviction.
The proposal clears its first plenum reading, with 63 votes in favor to 55 against.
The bill is an amendment to Basic Law: the Government, and prohibits all courts, including the High Court, from exercising judicial review over ministerial appointments.
The legislation does provide for extra Knesset oversight over ministerial appointments and also grants the Knesset the ability to remove a minister from office under certain circumstances.
The High Court’s decision ordering Deri to be dismissed in January generated outrage among coalition parties and Shas in particular, which they argued interfered with the will of the electorate.
“We believe that this law will strengthen the standing of the judicial branch, which can return to focusing on those fields in which it has an advantage of other branches of government, and will not encroach on the boundaries of the legislative branch,” says coalition whip MK Ofir Katz, who sponsored the bill.
National Unity MK Gideon Sa’ar lambasts the bill however for seeking to circumvent the High Court.
“What are the motivations for these amendments?… It is just personal interests. This purpose of this law is transparent, to try and take care of someone whose appointment the High Court struck down, and have him appointed a minister despite this decision,” says Sa’ar.
IDF says Megiddo Junction bomber did not cross into Israel from Lebanon via tunnel
The Israel Defense Forces says it has solved the way in which the suspected Hezbollah terrorist who planted a bomb at the Megiddo Junction crossed into Israel from Lebanon.
The IDF says the possibility of the terrorist crossing via a tunnel has been completely ruled out.
The military, however, does not detail exactly how the man who planted a bomb crossed into Israel.
“The IDF continues to study and investigate the incident and draw the necessary operational conclusions,” the military says.
Shekel falls to rate of 3.7 against the dollar
The shekel fell further today to a rate of 3.7 against the dollar, its weakest showing in some four years, as the government continues to advance its plans to curb the judiciary.
Yossi Freiman, CEO of the Prico and Freiman Holdings Group, tells The Marker that his financial company expects the currency to drop further if legislation continues.
Jordan summons Israeli envoy for reprimand, demands Jerusalem condemn Smotrich
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Israel’s ambassador for a reprimand over Finance Minister Smotrich’s claim that there are no Palestinian people, while standing before a map of Israel that included the territory of modern-day Jordan.
The ministry says Smotrich’s use of the map was “a grave, inciteful act” and demands that the Israeli government take a clear stance against his conduct.
Meanwhile the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has also urged Jerusalem to disavow Smotrich’s comments.
He told reporters in Brussels that his statement “cannot be tolerated” and that “it is wrong, it is disrespectful, it is dangerous.”
Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, dubs the minister’s remarks “completely unhelpful,” stressing the Palestinian people “obviously” exists.
“We continue to support their rights and to push for a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he says.
Report: IDF reservist no-shows rising as Gallant warns PM army could ‘fall apart’
Channel 12 says Defense Minister Gallant warned Netanyahu in recent talks that if the judicial overhaul is not softened, “the IDF will fall apart” and he would “have to act accordingly,” apparently a reference to resigning.
Gallant reportedly told Netanyahu that refusal to serve was growing and the military could reach the stage in which it cannot function. He urged the premier to listen to reservists who are concerned about the overhaul.
The network reports on alleged “quiet refusal” growing within the ranks of the army, with many reservists failing to show up for duty in recent weeks.
In one training session this week of a top unit in the Paratroopers Brigade, several companies saw only 30% of reservists show up, and a few of those who did arrive later announced they could not serve.
The report says IDF personnel involved in calling up reservists have increasingly been told by individuals that they will not show up due to conscientious objections over the judicial overhaul.
The IDF has refused to comment on the details of the report.
Report: Levin failed to convince Histadrut chief to support new judicial proposal
Channel 12 reports that Justice Minister Yariv Levin spoke today with Histadrut labor federation chair Arnon Bar-David to try to convince him to support the new legislative proposal to allow the coalition to appoint Supreme Court judges.
The network says Bar-David did not agree to do so, though it is not yet clear whether he will actively oppose it either.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich made similar efforts in a meeting with various top business officials, the network says, but was unsuccessful.
Likud faction votes in favor of bill to assert political control over judge selection
Likud’s Knesset faction votes to approve the coalition’s new proposal to assert political control over the Judicial Selection Committee.
The party says it voted “with a huge majority for the bill that brings back balance to the Judicial Selection Committee and ends the undemocratic state in which judges appointed themselves.”
It asserts that “this system whereby public representatives elect judges is accepted in almost all democracies in the world. The claim that ending the system through which judges appoint themselves is the end of democracy is baseless.”
Four MKs voted against the bill at the faction meeting: Danny Danon, David Amsalem, Moshe Saada and Moshe Pasal.
The amended proposal would give a governing coalition full control over the first two appointments to the Supreme Court which open up during its tenure, but require the support of others for further appointments to that court. It would also change the Supreme Court presidency appointment process to allow the coalition to appoint the chief justice.
Opposition parties and national protest organizers have rejected the proposal, saying it is an attempt to mislead the public into thinking the judicial overhaul plan has been softened, while ensuring politicization of the court and causing grievous harm to Israel’s democratic system.
Controversial bill to ban leavened bread at hospital advances in Knesset
The Knesset Health Committee passes second and third readings of a bill proposing to allow hospital directors to announce bans on bringing leavened bread into their institutions on Passover.
The bill, submitted last year by seven lawmakers for Orthodox parties, does not qualify administrators to search bags or enforce the ban, but merely to inform those coming into the hospital about the regulations forbidding it, one of the lawmakers who cosigned the bill says at a debate in committee.
An opposition lawmaker calls the law the first salvo in future legislation to restrict individual freedoms and coerce seculars to practice religious principles.
Gallant warns refusal to serve is ‘dangerous,’ harms IDF’s capabilities
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant repeats his warning that refusal to serve by reservists is “dangerous” and “could harm the IDF’s ability to carry out its missions.”
He makes the statement amid growing threats of refusal by reservists, who say the government’s judicial overhaul plans are an attempt to erode Israel’s democracy.
“I am working to keep the IDF above any political disagreement and to condemn any service refusal. The IDF belongs to us all, we must safeguard it.”
Foreign Ministry says Israel ‘committed to 1994 peace agreement with Jordan’
After Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich gave an address behind a map of “Greater Israel” that includes modern-day Jordan, the Foreign Ministry releases a statement affirming that “Israel is committed to the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan.”
“There has been no change in the position of the State of Israel, which recognizes the territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom,” the ministry tweets in Hebrew and in English.
Earlier, Amman blasted the map and Smotrich’s claim that the Palestinian people are a fiction as “reckless incitement and a violation of international norms and the Jordanian Peace Treaty.”
Israel to ease Palestinians’ entry to Jerusalem ahead of Ramadan
The military’s liaison to the Palestinians announces an easing of entry restrictions for West Bank and Gazan Palestinians to Jerusalem ahead of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
In a statement, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) says women of all ages, children up to the age of 12, and men above the age of 55 from the West Bank will be allowed to enter Israel to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Fridays without an existing entry permit.
For Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, an unspecified quota of Palestinians will be allowed to visit Jerusalem between Sundays and Thursdays during Ramadan. COGAT says such permits will be given to women above the age of 50 and men above the age of 55.
Additionally, COGAT says visits by West Bank Palestinians to family members in Israel are also to be approved, as well as visits by foreigners to Palestinians in the West Bank, all of which are subject to “security approval.”
The easing of restrictions is subject to further security assessments and may change depending on developments, COGAT says.
Trump’s call for protests gets muted reaction by supporters
Former US president Donald Trump’s calls for protests ahead of his anticipated indictment in New York have generated mostly muted reactions from supporters, with even some of his most ardent loyalists dismissing the idea as a waste of time or a law enforcement trap.
The ambivalence raises questions about whether Trump, though a leading Republican contender in the 2024 presidential race who retains a devoted following, still has the power to mobilize far-right supporters the way he did more than two years ago before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. It also suggests that the hundreds of arrests that followed the Capitol riot, not to mention the convictions and long prison sentences, may have dampened the desire for repeat mass unrest.
Still, law enforcement in New York is continuing to closely monitor online chatter warning of protests and violence if Trump is arrested, with threats varying in specificity and credibility, four officials tell The Associated Press. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included calls for armed protesters to block law enforcement officers and attempt to stop any potential arrest, the officials say.
Further reporting from inside Likud meeting on judicial appointments
Likud’s internal faction meeting is currently in recess, to allow MKs to vote on the Knesset floor against no-confidence measures against the government staged by opposition parties.
Sources within the meeting say that the discussion was divided, but not stormy.
MKs will reconvene after the three no-confidence votes to hold their own vote on whether or not to support Constitution, Law and Justice Committee head Simcha Rothman’s latest proposal on remaking the judicial appointment process.
Several lawmakers were frustrated over not being brought into a policy-crafting process they are now being asked to support, with at least one MK poised to vote in the faction against supporting the new direction.
Lawmakers’ phones were confiscated during the nearly three-hour-long discussion.
Likud says report on Gallant’s potential resignation is untrue
Likud issues a terse statement declaring the report in several media outlets that said Netanyahu had warned coalition officials that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant could quit if the judicial overhaul moves forward without change “is untrue.”
A spokesperson for Gallant, meanwhile, does not deny the report, instead refusing to comment on it.
Report: Likud MKs express misgivings over latest proposal to change how judges are selected
According to Channel 12 reporters, at Likud’s faction meeting several MKs are expressing their opposition to the current proposal to change the selection process of Supreme Court justices.
MKs David Bitan and Avi Dichter are expressing reservations about the plan, with Bitan saying he’ll vote in favor but “this is the last time we are not consulted” while Dichter has wondered out loud why the coalition “wants to control all three branches [of government].”
Meanwhile, Hanoch Milwidsky and Moshe Saada are expressing anger at what they perceive as a too-soft proposal.
Iran abuses could be ‘crimes against humanity’ — UN expert
A UN human rights expert says that Iranian authorities have committed widespread and serious rights violations since the death of Mahsa Amini, noting those breaches could amount to crimes against humanity.
Speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Council, the body’s top expert on the situation in Iran, Javaid Rehman, warns that the country is seeing the most serious violations in four decades.
“The scale and gravity of the violations committed by Iranian authorities, especially since the death of Ms. Amini points to the possible commission of international crimes, notably the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual violence, and persecution,” he says.
Presenting his latest report to the council, Rehman says he examined the circumstances around Amini’s death in custody following her arrest six months ago for flouting Iran’s strict dress code for women, and the subsequent protests. Drawing on evidence, including eyewitness testimony and comments from reliable medical sources, the report says it was clear she had died last September 16 “as a result of beatings by the state morality police.”
The UN rights council decided last November — over protests from Beijing and Tehran itself — to launch a fact-finding mission into the repression of peaceful demonstrators after protests erupted around Iran.
“Protesters including children were beaten to death,” Rehman says, adding that “at least 527 people, including 71 children, were killed, and hundreds of protesters severely injured.”
He also says dozens of protesters “have lost their eyes because of direct shots to the head,” while Iranian doctors reported that women and girls participating in the demonstrations “were targeted with shotgun fire to their faces, breasts and genitals.”
Rehman highlights mass arrests, including of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and students, as well as reports of torture and ill-treatment of those involved in the protests.
1,600 new immigrants say judicial overhaul will ‘destroy Israel’s democracy’
A group of some 1,600 new immigrants to Israel sign a petition calling on the government to halt its judicial overhaul legislation.
They are “devoted Israeli citizens by choice, who made an active choice to leave everything that was familiar to us in our countries of origin and weld our destinies to the destiny of this country,” they say. “The Zionist vision that inspired us — and all the Olim who came before us — has been hijacked by extremists who threaten the very fabric of this country as a Jewish and Democratic state.
“The judicial overhaul being rammed through the Knesset will destroy… Israel’s democracy,” they warn.
Jordan blasts Smotrich: ‘Reckless incitement, violation of the peace treaty’
After Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s declaration that there are no Palestinian people, while standing before a map of Israel that included the territory of modern-day Jordan, Amman lambastes his actions as “reckless incitement and a violation of international norms and the Jordanian Peace Treaty.”
A spokesman for Jordan’s Foreign Ministry also condemns “the racist and extremist inciting statements made by the extremist Israeli minister against the brotherly Palestinian people, their right to exist, and their historical rights in their independent and sovereign state on the Palestinian national soil.”
He calls on the Israeli government to condemn Smotrich’s statements and says Jordan “will take all necessary political and legal measures to address such extremist, hateful actions and statements,” adding that they “represent a dangerous escalation that threatens security and stability.”
Knesset set to repeal 2005 ban on entering evacuated northern West Bank settlements
The Knesset is set to repeal today a nearly two-decade-long ban on Jewish entry into and settlement of four destroyed towns in the northern West Bank.
The bill would repeal the clauses of the 2005 Disengagement Law that ban Israelis from living in the area where the four former settlements of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sa-Nur stood in the West Bank region of Samaria. The four settlements were the only West Bank settlements uprooted at the time of Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
These destroyed towns have remained a symbol to settlement supporters and an irritant to Palestinian communities, which reject Jewish settlement in the West Bank in general and point to Supreme Court acknowledgment that at least one of the communities was illegally built on private Palestinian land.
The bill is being planned for its final Knesset readings at a tricky time. Yesterday, Israel — in the presence of US, Egyptian, and Jordanian officials — reaffirmed its pledge to the Palestinian Authority to refrain from advancing settlement plans for four months and from advancing the legalization of West Bank outposts for six months.
This promise was geared toward lowering tensions that often simmer during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, set to begin later this week.
Liberman: Coalition’s new proposal ‘a fraudulent trick’
At his own faction’s meeting, Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman says the coalition’s new proposal “is a fraudulent trick.”
He says the only basis for talks between the coalition and opposition is a halt to all current legislation and the start of negotiations based on the president’s proposal (which the government has rejected).
He says the coalition’s legislative efforts are “all steps on the way to a halachic state.”
Reports: Netanyahu warned coalition defense minister could quit over shakeup
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his coalition overnight that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant could quit the government if they do not compromise on the judicial overhaul plan, multiple outlets are reporting.
Reports on Channel 12 and Ynet say Gallant had warned Netanyahu in recent weeks of increasingly worrying trends in the military and the security establishment, where numerous top officers in the reserves have threatened to stop showing up for service over the plan to radically change the balance between Israel’s branches of government.
Settlers suspected of puncturing tires of 25 cars in Palestinian town
The tires on at least 25 cars have been punctured in the Palestinian town of Salfit, near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, in a suspected settler hate crime.
The Yesh Din rights group publishes images showing the damage caused to the cars, as well as graffiti sprayed on some of the vehicles and the wall of a building.
A slogan in graffiti on the wall reads “Price Tag.”
תחקירני יש דין מדווחים על פשע שנאה בסלפית:
נוקבו צמיגים של 25 מכוניות וכותבות רוססו בכפר. pic.twitter.com/WKJsKVQmEb
— 🟣 rivka vitenberg (@clavlavi) March 20, 2023
Footage published by Yesh Din shows masked youths, suspected to be settlers, puncturing the tires overnight.
Tires on 25 cars in the Palestinian town of Salfit have been punctured in a suspected settler hate crime. pic.twitter.com/jC02SPle0N
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) March 20, 2023
Police are expected to launch an investigation into the suspected hate crime.
Incidents of vandalism against Palestinians and Israeli security forces are commonly referred to as “price tag” attacks, with far-right perpetrators claiming they are retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies seen as hostile to the settler movement.
MK Maoz says he won’t vote with coalition this week over failure to fulfill deal
Noam’s sole lawmaker, MK Avi Maoz, steps up his threats against the coalition, three weeks after quitting the government in protest over not receiving the powers promised to his tiny faction in his coalition agreement with Likud.
“This week I won’t vote with the coalition. I’ll vote my conscience,” Maoz tells reporters at the outset of his Knesset faction meeting.
“If the coalition agreement with me… even one line of it, is not respected, I will act from outside the coalition,” he says.
However, Maoz says he won’t act to topple the coalition.
“This government will not fall by my hand,” he says.
Lapid: I believe High Court will rule against law that gives coalition control of justices; not sure we’ll still have a country on 75th anniversary
At a faction meeting of his Yesh Atid party in the Knesset, opposition leader Yair Lapid decries the coalition’s fast-moving “hostile takeover of the judicial system.”
Regarding the coalition’s updated legislation that gives it the right to fill the first two empty High Court justice seats in each Knesset session, and heavy sway over any after the first two, Lapid notes: “If they control the justices, there is no separation of powers. There is no independent judiciary. Israel is not a democracy.”
If the law passes, as the coalition vowed late Sunday would happen before the Knesset’s Passover recess, “we’ll go to the High Court,” Lapid says.
“If it passes, Israel stops being a democracy. We won’t let this happen. The liberal camp simply will not live in an Israel that is not a democracy. Hundreds of thousands of patriots will continue to take to the streets.”
He says the opposition is prepared to debate judicial reform on the basis of President Herzog’s alternative proposal.
“If the coalition wants to stop the destruction of the economy, the harm to security, the collapse of Israel’s international standing,” and the internal rift, Lapid says, it must stop the legislation. “Then we can talk — about a constitution based on the Declaration of Independence.”
Asked whether he will seek to suspend mass public demonstrations against the overhaul during the state ceremonies when Israel’s marks its 75th Independence Day late next month, Lapid says: “We’ll wait and see if we still have a country for the state ceremonies, because they are gradually destroying it.”
“If the law passes, there is no Judicial Selection Committee,” he says. “We’ll appeal to the High Court and I believe and hope that the High Court will rule that the law is illegal and there is no [legitimate] Judicial Selection Committee.”
Labor chief: Coalition’s new proposal is a trap
Labor party leader Merav Michaeli says the coalition’s claim of “compromise” in its new proposal for changing the judicial selection process is “spin.”
“It’s not a compromise plan or a softening plan, it’s Hungary and Poland on steroids,” she says. “It is the exact opposite of the principle of separation of powers.”
She adds: “We mustn’t fall into this trap. This government, like thieves in the night, has presented a new and updated plan for a complete takeover… of the Supreme Court.”
Gantz dismisses coalition’s offer to talk once law passes on choosing judges, pleads with PM to ‘stop,’ prevent civil war
MK Benny Gantz, the opposition’s most bullish figure on reaching a negotiated compromise on changes to be made to the judiciary, says that he rejects the coalition’s latest proposal for selecting judges as well as its offer to negotiate further judicial changes once that central element of the overhaul becomes law.
Speaking at the outset of his National Unity’s Knesset faction meeting, Gantz says that he and his party “unequivocally reject the coalition’s proposal.”
“What’s being offered is not a unilateral compromise. It’s a unilateral disengagement from democracy and Israel’s values.”
Gantz renews his call to the coalition to “halt” its entire legislative package and to “enter into negotiations based on the president’s framework,” a separate reform proposal that the coalition swiftly rejected last week. Then we can discuss “an overall formula, rather than the [coalition’s] phased plan for a revolution in the way Israel is governed.”
The centrist leader says that his party will not engage in talks during the Knesset’s upcoming April recess if the coalition enacts before the recess, as it insists it will, legislation that gives the political majority extensive control over the appointment of justices.
“Saying that choosing judges politically will increase confidence in the judicial system is divorced from reality,” he says, countering the coalition’s argument that giving politicians more or full control over selecting judges will shore up an eroding sense of trust in the institution.
“I call on every decent jurist to withdraw his candidacy for the position of Supreme Court judge if the legislation passes, and not to agree to be appointed with a political mark on his forehead and his rulings,” Gantz adds.
Gantz says the politicization of the judiciary marks the first stage of the coalition’s “salami” plan to destroy Israeli democracy.
“I confess that I dread to think what will happen on Remembrance Day” next month for IDF soldiers, he says. “Will there be families who tell themselves that the sacrifice was not worth the price?”
“I almost plead with Netanyahu to stop,” he says. “We’ll mark our 75th anniversary amid a terrible rift… We must stop the disaster. We owe it to all of those in the history of Zionism, right and left, Orthodox and secular, Holocaust survivors… heroes [of Israel’s wars]… bereaved families who lost what is most precious for the state.”
He says Israel must ensure a Jewish and democratic country for its children and grandchildren. “We have to stop the civil war,” he says. “If you don’t try, the public will not forgive you,” he tells Netanyahu and the coalition.
“Only with a halt and broad agreement on judicial reform will the people of Israel win,” he concludes.
Or Eshkar, 32-year-old victim of Tel Aviv terror attack, succumbs to wounds
Or Eshkar, a victim of the terror attack on Tel Aviv’s busy Dizengoff Street earlier this month, has died 11 days after being critically wounded in the shooting.
Roni Gamzu, director of Ichilov Medical Center, says: “Unfortunately, the severity of his wounds was deadly. After a heroic struggle of long days, in which we saw a man of steel fight for his life, we were forced to declare his death.”
Eshkar’s family will donate his organs to patients in need.
Eshkar’s mother Natali says in a statement: “A light has been extinguished for us today… He gave only goodness and love to all he came upon.”
Eshkar, 32, was critically hurt in the terror attack while on his way to a wedding. His friends Rotem Mansano, 34, and Michael Osdon, 36, were seriously and moderately injured respectively when a 23-year-old Palestinian terrorist opened fire on them as they were walking outside a cafe on the corner of Dizengoff Street and Ben Gurion Street in the center of the city.
The attacker, Mutaz Salah al-Khawaja, fled the scene before being gunned down in a shootout with police officers.
Israeli officials, US ambassador celebrate Persian New Year in Tel Aviv
Senior Israeli and international diplomatic officials celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year, at a dinner at the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv yesterday night, in an event intended to show solidarity with the Iranian people.
US Ambassador Thomas Nides and Bahrain Ambassador Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma joined Iran-born “Tehran” actress Liraz Charhi, former national security adviser Eyal Hulata, and foreign and Israeli correspondents at the event, sponsored by the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies think tank.
“Both the United States and Israel do not see the Iranian people as an enemy, but only the extreme Islamic regime, which oppresses the Iranian people and wreaks havoc wherever it gets a foothold,” said FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz in his address. “The free world should be united in calling to condemn the ayatollah regime and act for the Iranian people.”
“Precisely as an American research institute that focuses on the negative effects of the regime in Iran on the peoples of the region and the entire world, we chose to celebrate Nowruz and send an optimistic message of brotherhood and peace to the Iranian people,” said Dubowitz.
Knesset hosts panel on state of Jewish communities in Ukraine
Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli holds a special conference in the Knesset on the state of Jewish communities in Ukraine to mark the war’s one-year anniversary in late February.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk stresses his country’s need for air defense systems, which Israel has refused to provide so far.
At the same time, Korniychuk strikes a positive note, saying that “from the very first days, we experienced enormous support of the Israeli people, Israeli companies, Israeli NGOs, everyone.”
The conference is attended by Mks, Ukrainian rabbis, Israeli humanitarian NGOs, and diplomats. Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky joins by Zoom from Kyiv.
Leading Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Azman of Kyiv discusses his efforts to create a new town in Israel for Ukrainian immigrants, and recounts his efforts to help thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish Ukrainians escape the country.
Knesset panel convenes on new judicial selection plan; Likud to vote on proposal
The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is currently meeting to discuss committee chair Simcha Rothman’s proposal giving the government greater control over the country’s Judicial Selection Committee.
The amended proposal would give a governing coalition full control over the first two appointments to the Supreme Court which open up during its tenure, but require the support of others for further appointments to that court.
Meanwhile, Likud is slated to take a vote on the altered proposal during its faction meeting today.
The coalition is moving to push through its proposal to completely change the way judges are selected over the next two weeks, while delaying a host of other proposed bills to allow for negotiations.
Some right-wing proponents of the judicial overhaul are criticizing the softened bill as a surrender to countrywide protests.
But critics have rejected the move as not a true softening. Opposition leader Yair Lapid called the new proposal “a framework for a hostile political takeover of the judicial system,” suggesting it would allow the government to appoint political associates to the bench — “which is exactly what they’ve been planning from the very first day.”
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That’s why we started the Times of Israel eleven years ago - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.
So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.
For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel