What’s behind the escalating strikes, protests and violence in Israel?
Criticism of Israel’s new far-right, ultra-religious coalition government continues amid backlash over plans to reform its judiciary and rising violence between Israeli security forces and Palestinians. Below is the latest on what’s happening, and why.
Thousands of Israeli workers They went on strike on Monday. It follows a weekend of mass protests over plans by Israel’s far-right government to overhaul the country’s judiciary. Critics say the changes being made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government would allow the executive branch to overturn decisions by Israel’s Supreme Court and undermine the country’s system of democratic checks and balances. will
Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets over the past two months to protest against changes by Netanyahu’s government, and the protests escalated dramatically this weekend when the prime minister Fired his defense chief for demanding that the plan be halted. Judicial reforms.
The strike action, called by Israel’s largest umbrella labor union group, saw workers in sectors ranging from transport to diplomacy walk off the job, amid reports that Netanyahu was under pressure. He is about to announce a pause on reform projects.
Israeli reservist air force pilots joined protests against the proposed reforms earlier this month. In a letter from dozens of reserve pilots to their chiefs of staff, published by Israeli media on Sunday, the reservists said they would not attend the next scheduled training. Military reservists are often called to participate in a limited period of training each year in Israel, where military service is mandatory.
“We will continue to serve the Jewish and democratic State of Israel at all times and across borders… [but] We have decided to take a day off to discuss the troubling process the country is going through,” he said in his letter.
Despite meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jordan to try to maintain an increasingly fragile peace, violence and anger continue to boil over. Tensions often rise in the heart of the Middle East as Jews celebrate Passover and Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.
Since the beginning of the year, a series of Israeli army raids have killed and injured scores of Palestinians in the West Bank. Meanwhile, seven Israelis were killed in an attack outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem, the deadliest of its kind in years.
After two young Israeli men from a nearby settlement in the West Bank city of Hawara were killed, Israeli settlers rampaged through the area, setting fire to houses and cars in what they described as “massacres”. ” is defined as
Netanyahu recently Started his sixth term. As Prime Minister of Israel – the veteran politician’s return to power was made possible by forming alliances with members of extremist, far-right and ultra-religious political parties that had long been on the fringes of Israeli politics. were
After returning to office, Netanyahu appointed some of these controversial figures to leadership roles within his government, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smutrich, a self-described “proud homophobe” who Was once arrested on suspicion of organizing a terrorist attack.
After the riots in Hawara, Smutrich called on the Israeli government to “wipe out” the Palestinian village. His remarks drew a sharp rebuke from US State Department spokesman Ned Price, who called them “irresponsible, disgusting and despicable”.
Smutrich later backtracked on his remarks, and Netanyahu said over the weekend that he “wants to thank Minister Bezalel Smutrich (sic) for making it clear that the vigilante attacks on Harawa after the killing of the Yanio brothers “His choice of words was inappropriate and he is strongly opposed to intentionally harming innocent civilians.”
Another controversial government minister is Atmar Ben Guerr, an extremist ultranationalist who has in the past chanted “death to the Arabs” and been convicted of inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization. . As the new Minister of National Security, Ben Gower is now in charge of Israel’s police.
Munir Marjia, a lawyer for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, told CBS News that Palestinians living in the occupied territories expect more violence at the hands of Israeli police and military forces and further reductions in rights under the new extremist coalition.
“Palestinians are fighting a system that is built on Jewish domination, hegemony and supremacy,” Marjeeh said. “To stay here, it’s a daily struggle to stay here.”
In February, Israel’s parliament passed a law that allows the government to strip Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship or residency rights if they commit nationalist attacks and receive money from the Palestinian Authority. If received, they should be sent to the West Bank or Gaza. Critics call the law racist and say it violates international law.
It was Ben Gower’s first act in his new role. Visit the most sensitive site in Jerusalem. Which Jews call Temple Mount and Muslims call Haram al-Sharif i.e. the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque. His visit was seen by many inside and outside of Israel as a challenge to the status quo arrangements that have long managed to keep the site peaceful. visit A warning was issued by the US State Department. “Against any unilateral actions that undermine the historic status quo.”
“What Ben Guerre has done is very dangerous in many ways,” Marjieh said. “We’re talking about one of the most volatile geographical locations in Jerusalem… there’s a very clear arrangement that governs that place. Violation of that arrangement has explosive potential.”
Ben Guerr has already banned the flying of the Palestinian flag in public places. He is trying to amend gun laws to make it easier for Israelis to buy firearms, and has promised to Speed up settlement construction. Building new settlements in the occupied West Bank undermines any eventual two-state solution that would create an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. He has also vowed to loosen rules of engagement for police and soldiers and promised to treat Palestinian prisoners harshly.
“I think there are plenty of reasons to feel constant, to feel constant fear after the appointment of this Israeli politician,” Marjieh said.
Boaz Bismith, a member of Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, from Netanyahu’s Likud party told CBS News that Ben Gower “has made mistakes in the past … but he told me, ‘I made mistakes. I Changed,’ and I believe. Him.”
Bismuth said Ben Gower “hates terrorists … but does not hate or hate Arabs.”
US Secretary of State Anthony Blanken Visited the area. in January and met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He voiced continued U.S. support for a two-state solution, but said ending the conflict “fundamentally depends on them. They have to work together to find a way forward that both ends the current violence.” It will reduce the distance and, I hope, it will also lead to that. Positive steps to restore some confidence.”
When asked if he supported a two-state solution, Bismuth said, “No.”
He said that my message to America is that thank God we are friends. “We share the same values. Yet we can also disagree.”
“A Dramatic Change”
Some Americans who have built their lives in Israel expressed deep concern about the new government and the direction the country is headed. Tens of thousands of Israelis Protesters have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv for weeks to protest against proposed judicial reforms as well as proposed changes to anti-discrimination legislation that could curtail the rights of women, LGBTQ+ people, liberal Jews and other minority groups. , in some cases religious reasons.
“Americans have to know that this is not just a continuation of other right-wing governments. This is a dramatic change,” said Moshe Chertov, who grew up in California and moved to Israel in the 1970s to live on a socialist kibbutz. told CBS. News “I don’t understand what kind of extreme Judaism this is. It’s certainly not the Judaism I knew or would say 75 percent of American Jews know.”
Some leading Jewish Americans in the United States also have concerns about the changes coming from Israel’s new hardline government. Last month, about 170 American Jewish leaders published a report. An open letter Calling for “an important and necessary debate about Israeli policies”.
“Our criticism is tempered by love for Israel and continued support for its security and well-being,” the letter said. “Some will try to dismiss their legitimacy by labeling them as anti-Semitic. We want to make it clear that whether or not one agrees with a particular criticism, such criticisms of Israeli policy are not anti-Semitic. Indeed, they reflect a real concern that the direction of the new administration mirrors the anti-democratic tendencies we see emerging elsewhere—in other nations and here in the United States, rather than reinforcing those shared democratic values. Which is the basis of US-Israel relations.
Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and former leader of the Anti-Defamation League, told CBS News that if the new Israeli government undermines civil rights or democracy in Israel, it will leave many American Jews with some serious questions. can
“The increase in violence makes it more imperative for Netanyahu’s government to compromise some proposed legislation to retain support from allied democracies and immigrant Jewish communities,” Foxman said. “The Jewish community, especially in the United States, is a liberal community. Judaism has liberal values. If the values in the state of Israel change compared to relations with the LGBT community, non-Orthodox, Arabs, etc. I want Let this government know that if it tampers with democracy, if it tampers with the fundamental relationship between Israel and the Jewish people, there will be consequences. Israel is much harder to defend.”
Reform Rabbi Gilad Kario, an opposition Israeli Knesset member, told CBS News that only about half of Israelis voted for the new government, and the majority are not deeply religious.
“Our duty is not to give up. Our duty is to remember that many Western democracies have faced great challenges in the last few years and still today,” Khario said. “We are part of one. Global Wave The rise of extreme nationalism and the far right. You see it in Europe. You see it in America too. And we have a duty to remember that there are millions of Israelis who are fully committed to Israel’s core democratic and liberal values.”