Why Israel’s Instability Matters to the US CNN policy

A version of this story appears in CNN’s What Matters newsletter. Sign up for free to get it in your inbox Here.


The images from Israel are incredible: Seas of demonstrators are rising across the country.

A general strike disrupted daily life and threatens to paralyze the economy.

The country’s defense minister was fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The focal point for all of this is Netanyahu’s controversial plan to transform the country’s judicial system, weaken its Supreme Court and give Israel’s parliament – the Knesset, which his government currently controls – more say in the appointment of judges.

Netanyahu’s government acknowledged the pushback and took a month-long pause on this judicial overhaul plan late Monday, perhaps to try to cool things down without abandoning the plan.

Read the updates from all Monday.

The frustration with the court extends beyond Netanyahu, but his efforts happen to coincide with his corruption trial. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and any connection between the judicial changes and his trial – but not everyone takes his denials at face value.

“He embraced this judicial reform movement — it’s actually a revolutionary movement — to try and give him the opportunity to stack the Supreme Court in a way that people, Israelis in general, suspect will protect him from the consequences of prosecution, the process he’s going through now,” former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk noted on CNN on Monday.

“So that’s what it looks like a personal agenda rather than a national agenda that he is pursuing.”

Netanyahu has defended the plan, arguing in a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that it maintains the independence of the judiciary without leaving it “unbridled.”

Indyk noted that other members of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition have their own reasons for wanting to overhaul the country’s Supreme Court.

Netanyahu’s far-right allies don’t want the court to protect Palestinian land rights in the West Bank, Indyk said, and religious parties don’t want the court to force their Orthodox religious students to serve in the army like other Israelis.

CNN’s Hadas Gold, which has covered the protests all day, has delved deeply into the judicial overhaul effort, who is backing it and why it has sparked so much controversy. Read her story.

The protests have been building for months, but it is a general strike that has brought daily life to a standstill and Netanyahu’s sacking of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant that seem to have changed the situation.

“It’s clear he’s lost control of the country,” Indyk said. “There has never been a general strike like this, closing the ports, the airport, the hospitals and the schools.”

Netanyahu has few opportunities to withdraw from the judicial overhaul plan, Amir Tibon, a senior editor at Haaretz newspaper, told CNN International on Monday.

“On the one hand, he has a coalition based solely on Israel’s right-wing, ultra-religious, far-right nationalist political elements,” Tibon said, noting that these elements have long wanted to limit the powers of the Supreme Court. which they see as a liberalizing force in Israel that has championed LGBTQ and women’s rights in the country.

“On the other hand, the people who are on the streets in Israel protesting against this judicial reform are really the backbone of the Israeli economy,” Tibon said. “It’s the high-tech industry, it’s the science, a lot of people come from the high ranks of the military.”

Gallant warned before his sacking that the country’s military could disintegrate if there is a perception that it is moving away from democracy.

Tibon envisioned another flare-up a month from now when the judicial overhaul plan returns, and feared the Knesset could be on a collision course with the courts.

“Israel’s enemies are watching and rubbing their hands with joy,” Indyk said. “And that also affects US national security interests because we depend on Israel to stabilize the region.”

President Joe Biden, who Indyk says has a long history with Netanyahu, “needs to take the ‘friends don’t let friends drive drunk’ approach, put his arm around Bibi (a commonly used nickname for Netanyahu) and say, listen, old bro, you back down must, and quickly – not only for the sake of Israel, which is very close to our hearts. But also in the interest of American national security interests.”

Netanyahu may resent Americans trying to influence the judicial overhaul plan, but he has similarly meddled in US domestic politics. He actively opposed the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration in the US and became very close to former President Donald Trump, who ended it. The relationship between Trump and Netanyahu has deteriorated since then.

Efforts by the Biden administration to restore the deal have so far failed.

The US subsidizes Israel’s security with billions of dollars. In addition to a 10-year deal to fund Israel $3.3 billion annually, the US is also spending $500 million a year on the country’s missile defense system. In fact, according to a. “the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid since World War II”. latest report from the Congressional Research Service.

Biden, like most US politicians, likes to say that US support for Israel is absolute, but frustration with Israel is growing within his Democratic Party.

In fact, for the first time since, Democrat sympathies are more likely to lie with the Palestinians over Israel Gallup began tracking the issue in 2001. This shift is being driven primarily by young Americans—millennials born between them 1980 and 2000.

There is vocal opposition to Israel’s political moves among democratic lawmakers.

“What Bibi is doing is alarming, appalling and dangerous to the relationship between our two countries,” said Senator Brian Schatz, the Democrat from Hawaii. said on Twitter. “We stand for democracy”

The Biden administration will convene its second virtual one Summit for the Promotion of Democracy an incredible coincidence this week as she watches an important struggle for democracy. Israel has been invited to attend, and Netanyahu is scheduled to attend the summit on Wednesday, although he is not listed on the event’s public schedule. US officials familiar with the planning told CNN’s White House team that there are currently no plans to change Netanyahu’s attendance at the event.

Ultimately, there is much more at stake than the judicial reform push that has sparked recent events out of.

“It’s about what the nature of Israel is,” former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday. “Will Israel (become) remain a Jewish democratic state or a non-democratic … dictatorship or a more religious country?”

Source : www.cnn.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *