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THE WEEK AHEAD: Bill on the Judicial Selection Committee moves ahead, more protests in Tel Aviv, Azerbaijan opens its embassy, Israelis and Palestinians on a different time zone

Here are the stories we are watching...

MK Simcha Rothman with Justice Minister Yariv Levin seen during a discussion and a vote in the Knesset assembly hall in Jerusalem, Mar. 22, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Judicial reform

  • Tel Aviv’s ‘Democracy Week’

  • Azerbaijan opens embassy

  • Time zones

JUDICIAL REFORM

A new week in the holy land brings new progress on the government’s push to overhaul the judicial system, as well as new protests against it. One fundamental bill in the reform could pass in parliament in third reading and draw strong backlash from opponents, while the votes on other bills would be postponed until after Passover, which takes place from April 5 to 13.

The controversial bill would redefine the makeup of the committee that selects Supreme Court judges in Israel. If passed and approved, the bill would guarantee the coalition would have a majority in the committee for the first time ever, bringing an end to a system in which judges can elect or veto their own colleagues.

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin said Israel’s Supreme Court chooses to strike that legislation down – it would amount to crossing of a “red line.”

Any attempts to reach a broad compromise have so far failed. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to get “deeply involved” in such endeavors. His coalition has rejected the outline proposed by President Isaac Herzog, deeming it “one sided” and “biased.”

The coalition has instead offered to pass a ‘softened’ version of the initial reform, after considering some of the opposition’s arguments against it. The newly narrowed-down legislation was introduced after U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the issue with Netanyahu in a phone call. Almost three months after retaking office, Netanyahu still hasn’t been invited to visit the White House.

TEL AVIV’S ‘DEMOCRACY WEEK’

The city of Tel Aviv is often considered a left-wing, liberal “bubble” in central Israel. As such, it is the main stronghold of opposition to the government’s judicial reform. The Tel Aviv municipality will hold a series of public events this week under the title “freedom, oppression and our lives.” It will offer cultural activities and lectures with former prominent lawmakers such as former Meretz party leader Nitzan Horowitz, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and former President Reuven Rivlin.   

AZERBAIJAN OPENS EMBASSY

Azerbaijan will inaugurate its embassy in Tel Aviv this week, after announcing the historic decision on Nov. 18, 2022 and appointing an ambassador in January of this year. This will mark the first time that a predominantly Shiite nation opens a diplomatic mission in the Jewish state. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov will arrive in Israel on Wednesday to take part in the event, a first-of-its-kind visit in over a decade. The minister is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and President Isaac Herzog.

Azerbaijan-Israel relations have strengthened in recent years and turned increasingly more public in nature. Azerbaijan’s escalating tensions with its southern neighbor Iran, and its conflict with Armenia, have contributed to its deepening strategic security cooperation with Israel. During the Second Armenia-Azerbaijan War in 2020, Israel provided the Azeri army with military and technological support, including drones worth billions of dollars. According to a Haaretz news report, should Israel decide to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, Azerbaijan will allow the Jewish state to use its airfields, as it is also Israel’s largest supplier of oil.

TIME ZONES

Israel shifted to daylight saving time on Friday, two weeks after the United States. But while the Jewish state moved the clock forward one hour and got a little closer towards summer, the Palestinian Authority hasn’t done so. The PA decided to postpone the change of clock until the end of the Ramadan fast to make it easier for those observing it. That means that in the coming weeks Israelis and the Palestinians, though geographically adjacent, will be in different time-zones.

This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:

  • ... Proposed legislation would outlaw sharing the Gospel in Israel and send violators to prison – could it become law?

  • ... Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘We will not advance any law against the Christian community’

  • ... To what extent do Democrats sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israelis? New poll reveals

  • ... Why is Assad welcomed so warmly in the UAE?

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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