Congressional Products | February 16th, 2023
Recent Israeli Policy Changes:
- In light of Palestinian efforts to address the Israeli occupation of the West Bank at the International Court of Justice, the Israeli Cabinet announced new sanctions against the Palestinian Authority.
- Israel will use $40 million in Palestinian tax revenue to compensate victims of terrorist attacks committed by Palestinians, freeze all building permits for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, and deny Palestinian officials VIP permits allowing freedom of movement between border checkpoints.
- Last week, Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin presented a set of judicial reforms that limit the power of the Supreme Court.
- The proposals allow a Knesset majority to override Supreme Court decisions and end the “reasonableness standard,” which permits the High Court to intervene in government decisions ruled as unreasonable.
- Additionally, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir ordered Israeli police to remove Palestinian flags from public spaces, labeling the flags as incitement of terrorism against Israel.
Domestic and International Responses:
- On January 7, thousands of Israelis protested the reform proposals and the new coalition government in Tel Aviv.
- Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused the Israeli government of attempting to topple the Palestinian Authority and wage a “new war against the Palestinian people.”
- Former Israeli Supreme Court head Aharon Barak denounced the judicial overhaul, expressing concern for potential human rights abuses and tyranny of the majority.
- While the Biden administration has taken steps to improve Palestinian relations, including appointing a Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs and re-authorizing funding to the Palestinian Authority cut during the Trump administration, diplomatic engagement with the new Israeli government has simultaneously progressed.
- On January 9, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer arrived in Washington to meet with White House and State Department officials.
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will visit Israel this month to discuss Israeli security, Iran’s regional threat, and the Abraham Accords.
- J-Street condemned the punitive sanctions against Palestinian leadership and called on the United States government to oppose the measures.
Background on New Israeli Government:
- Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned for a third term in a coalition deal between his Likud party and several far-right religious parties. He is the longest serving prime minister in Israeli history.
- Israel’s new government is the most right-wing administration in the country’s history. Many have attributed this rightward shift to changing generational demographics in Israel: 64 percent of Israeli Jews aged 18 to 34 identify as right-wing, versus only 47 percent of those over 35.
- Notably, left-wing party Meretz failed to gain Knesset representation for the first time since its 1992 establishment.
Policy Changes in Israel's New Government