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THE WEEK AHEAD: The political fight over the authority of Israel’s Supreme Court takes off, former Israeli PM Lapid cancels a trip to the U.S. and Netanyahu postpones a visit to the UAE

Here are the stories we are watching...

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ester Hayut arrives for a court hearing in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Dec. 1, 2022. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israel’s justice system reform

  • Former Israeli PM Lapid cancels US trip

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu cancels UAE visit

  • Knesset legislation

  • Top Israeli singer moves to Dubai

  • Knesset legislation

  • Timna Desert Run

ISRAEL’S JUSTICE SYSTEM REFORM

The coming weeks in Israel will see extensive political fights, drawn-out debates on news programs and heated public conversations in the streets. At the eye of the storm is a reform to overhaul the country’s justice system, following a plan presented in a fierce speech last week by Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin.

The plan aims to overturn the Constitutional Revolution of 1992-1995, through which Israel’s judicial branch accumulated powers, which the right-wing majority consider “overreaching” and “disproportionate.” 

Levin’s reform would curb the court’s authority to reverse parliamentary decisions and would give the public more say – through their elected officials – in the selection process of Supreme Court justices. Opponents from the left fear the reform will remove protections for minorities and will upset the balance of power.

Will the justice system reform the balance of power or harm democracy? You can read arguments for and against here.

FORMER ISRAELI PM LAPID CANCELS US TRIP

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who now leads the opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, believes the justice system reform will “crush the court” and “crush Israeli democracy.” Under these political circumstances, Lapid canceled a planned trip to meet with Jewish communities in the United States. According to Israel’s Channel 13 news, Lapid’s goal for the trip was to “recruit American Jewish communities against the [Israeli] government.”

Lapid delivered the rebuttal to Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s speech on Wednesday, vowing to roll back the justice reform, if passed, once the opposition gains control of the government in the future.

ISRAELI PM NETANYAHU CANCELS UAE VISIT

Lapid is not the only Israeli official to cancel a trip abroad this week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was preparing to take the first foreign trip of his current tenure to the United Arab Emirates. 

The visit had been postponed following National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir's visit on the Temple Mount last week, Israeli media reported. The UAE, along with other countries, condemned the 15-minute visit and initiated a discussion at the U.N. Security Council, at the request of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu was to meet with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, in what could have been his first official public visit to Abu Dhabi after signing the Abraham Accords normalization treaty in 2020. The last time Netanyahu served as prime minister, he canceled planned trips to the UAE four times.

TOP ISRAELI SINGER MOVES TO DUBAI

The greatness of the Abraham Accords peace agreements is that even when relations between governments turn sour, people-to-people ties still hold power. Against this backdrop, Omer Adam, one of Israel’s leading performers, who sings Mizrahi (Oriental-Middle Eastern) music, is planning to move to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, for a few months, the Mako website reported.

Adam has visited the Gulf nation several times, met with local leaders and made friends with the local Jewish community. The singer recently announced that he is taking a break from musical activity for a short period and dedicating his attention to business ventures made possible thanks to the Abraham Accords peace initiative.

KNESSET LEGISLATION

The new Israeli government aims to pass a number of amendments, several temporary measures and emergency legislation, which is about to expire. Among these are provisions to give more authority to Jewish Power party leader Itamar Ben Gvir in his role as national security minister. Ben Gvir also oversees the Israel Police and was granted unprecedented control over the police force. Upcoming votes could allocate the police commissioner’s authority to him and allow Ben Gvir to determine the length of time dedicated to police investigations. 

TIMNA DESERT RUN

About a thousand runners from 40 different countries are set to participate in the unique Timna Challenge, a run through one of the largest attractions in southern Israel. Timna Park is located 17 miles north of Eilat in Israel’s Negev Desert. On Jan. 12-13, the park will host cultural and sports activities in a pop-up runners’ village, against breathtaking desert views. 

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

  • ... Who is Israel’s new defense minister, Yoav Gallant – and will he pull the trigger on Iran?

  • ... Which countries condemned Netanyahu's government after Ben Gvir’s Temple Mount visit?

  • ... Which Israeli singer made it into the Rolling Stone’s list of top 200 singers of all time?

  • ... Will new Israeli ministers succeed in pushing extremist policy changes?

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

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