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THE WEEK AHEAD: Energy Minister Israel Katz goes to UAE, peace with Saudi Arabia is on the agenda and a rescue operation underway in Ethiopia

Here are the stories we are watching...

Israel Katz, minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water at the Energy Conference in Tel Aviv, March 13, 2023. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Judicial reform

  • Ethiopian Israelis

  • Funds for Arabs

  • Katz in UAE

  • Israel-Saudi deal

  • Meet the MKs



The judicial reform continues to be a hot-button issue in Israel, even though the Knesset is still in its summer recess. This week’s contentious debate deals with the status of Basic Laws in Israel: Do they qualify for judicial review or not?

This comes as the High Court debates the Incapacitation Law, a controversial amendment to the Basic Law of the government that determines when and how a prime minister can be removed from office. The amendment that passed in the Knesset in March blocks the attorney general from declaring an incumbent prime minister unfit to serve the country.

Meanwhile, anti-government protests continue to take place while coalition members are on their vacation. Protesters waited for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside a northern resort in the Golan Heights, where he vacationed with his wife, Sarah. Last week, protesters clashed with Likud party minister May Golan and her mother at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.


As violent clashes escalated in northern Ethiopia, many Ethiopian Israelis are expected to protest on Sunday, calling on the government to rescue their relatives from the war-torn country. More than 350 Israeli Ethiopians sent a letter to Netanyahu last week, urging him to announce an emergency operation to extract Ethiopian Jews from the besieged area of Gondar. They noted that their lives are in imminent danger.  

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was monitoring the situation and working to ensure evacuation options for Israeli citizens and eligible immigrants. On Thursday, the ministry announced that more than 200 Israelis and those entitled to immigration to the Jewish state were rescued in four flights from Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa.

The recent flare-up in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region involves fighting between Ethiopian military forces and a local rebel group known as the Fano militia. The violence comes less than a year since a truce went into effect in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, ending two years of bloody conflict between government forces and militias.  


Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich was expected to follow through on his promise to freeze certain state funds originally allocated to Israel's Arab sector by the previous government. At the time, however, then-Prime Minister Netanyahu intervened and promised it would not happen.  

Smotrich claimed last week that some of those budget funds intended for East Jerusalem and Arab towns were a political pay-off by the Bennett-Lapid government that relied on the support of an Arab-Israeli party. He stated that, without further oversight, the funds could end up in the hands of criminals and terrorists from the Islamic Movement.  

“Some of the biggest Arab criminal organizations grew, thanks to state funds that they received,” Smotrich said. He claimed that such organizations are taking advantage of Arab state authorities and extorting them to win bids while increasing crime in Arab towns. 


Energy Minister Israel Katz will fly to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to meet with his Emirati and Jordanian counterparts to discuss regional energy projects. Katz’s visit comes after opposition leader Yair Lapid met with UAE’s foreign minister in Italy last week, raising the ire of some coalition members. 

Netanyahu has still not met with any UAE officials since resuming office in December 2022. His visit to the UAE was supposed to take place more than six months ago but was eventually postponed in January after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir ascended the Temple Mount. Netanyahu had reportedly ordered that no other government representative coordinate a visit to the Abraham Accords partner nation before he goes there himself.


The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have reached a broad understanding of the outline for a Saudi-Israel peace deal. Even though the White House later threw cold water on the bombshell headline, Israel might soon be required to clarify where it stands regarding the demands presented by each of the sides.

In exchange for peace, Saudi Arabia is reportedly expecting Israel to make “significant concessions” that would help promote the creation of a Palestinian state. The report did not elaborate on what these steps would entail but stated that Netanyahu’s hardline right-wing coalition would pose a “major hurdle” for negotiators.

For that reason, the Saudi crown prince told his advisors he was in no rush to get a deal, according to the WSJ. He also said he was not yet ready to fully normalize ties with Israel in a similar manner to the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.


A new YouTube series will offer the Israeli public an up-close introduction to their representatives in the parliament. The show will dedicate two-minute segments to different Israeli lawmakers who are members of the Knesset, and allow them to present themselves to their constituents in a personal light, outside of their political work. The official Knesset Channel and Israel’s Government Press Office will upload new episodes twice a week.

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

  • … Can the Israeli Supreme Court exercise judicial review over Basic Laws?

  • … Why the sudden fears of an Israeli civil war?

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

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