THE WEEK AHEAD: Will Israel move ahead with ‘strengthening’ settlements, revoking terrorists’ citizenship? And how is the ‘New Year of the Trees’ celebrated?
Here are the stories we are watching...
Revoking terrorists’ citizenship
Torah burning in Sweden
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed one week ago to implement a series of measures against Palestinians in retaliation for deadly terror attacks that killed seven Israelis and wounded five others. Besides the sealing of the perpetrator’s house, Netanyahu’s government has also announced plans to cancel social security benefits for the terrorists’ families and simplify the process by which Israelis can be issued a gun license.
In addition, the government pledged to “strengthen” Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This could mean adding security around existing communities or giving the green light for new construction. While no progress has been made on that front, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Israel last week may result in seeing some new developments.
REVOKING TERRORISTS’ CITIZENSHIP
A bipartisan initiative in the Knesset is calling to revoke the citizenship of convicted terrorists who receive payments from the Palestinian Authority. The bill stresses that anyone who committed actions that “seriously harms the State of Israel” and was then rewarded for it by the PA is in fact, “testifying that he renounces his status as a citizen or resident.”
The bill passed in Israel’s parliament on its first reading and further discussions are scheduled for this week. It was supported by 89 members of Knesset from both the coalition and the opposition, with only 8 voting against. If accepted, those affected by the bill will see their citizenship stripped and would be transferred to PA territory in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip after serving their time in jail.
Protests against the Israeli government’s push to reform the nation's judicial system are not letting go, even though they might have lost some steam. Protesters were encouraged by Blinken’s on-the-record remarks, alluding to the reform. Blinken said that “building consensus for new proposals is the most effective way to ensure they’re embraced and that they endure.”
The current reform is far from being in consensus and is mainly supported by right-wing Israelis, however, polls have shown that the majority of the population would like to reach a compromise around it. Neither side has come up with a concrete suggestion so far.
While Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut reportedly called on Netanyahu to freeze all judicial reform implementations, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has laid out a plan to mitigate the gaps between the two sides. He called to freeze the work on the reform for a period of 14 days and hold discussions at his residency led by a special designated committee. In their meeting, Blinken commended Herzog for “the clarity of your voice when it comes to finding a good way forward that builds consensus on the question of judicial reform.”
Tu B'Shvat, the holiday known as the “New Year of the Trees” will be celebrated across Israel on Sunday, Feb. 5. It takes place on the 15th day of the month of Shvat on the Jewish calendar. This day marks the season throughout the land of Israel in which the earliest trees in bloom emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. The celebration of nature usually includes the tradition of planting trees and eating dried fruit and nuts.
Both New York and Los Angeles will host the Kosher Food & Wine Experience this week. The annual festival attracts hundreds of Jews and non-Jews alike, enjoying the opportunity to taste some of the finest wines and spirits, including more than 400 brands from Europe, the Mediterranean, New Zealand, Australia, California and Argentina. Along with the wines, the event offers signature dishes from an impressive variety of cuisines, including sushi, BBQ, Asian, French, Mexican, Caribbean, all from top from kosher chefs, restaurants, specialty food companies and caterers. Attendees are advised to come hungry.
TORAH BURNING IN SWEDEN
An Egyptian man who resides in Sweden is planning to submit an application to local authorities this week to get approval for staging a provocative protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm. His plan includes the burning of a Torah scroll, following a series of Quran-burning incidents by some far-right European politicians.
According to a report in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the man said his actions are not aimed at the Swedish Jewish minority but that he wishes to highlight a double standard in the treatment of Muslims and Jews in Sweden. “I want to remind about Israel’s killing of Palestinian children,” he added.
In another example of deepening ties following the Abraham Accords, Morocco’s Paralympics committee will host an Israeli team for the first time on Thursday. The wheelchair basketball team from Rishon LeZion, a city in central Israel, will compete in a friendly match in Marrakech.
This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:
... First woman president? Nikki Haley will announce her run for presidential nomination
... Is Russia threatening Israel following a drone attack in Iran?
... Why Joel Rosenberg loved Steven Spielberg's ‘The Fabelmans’ and what surprised him.
... Why Israel’s decades-long dependency on drinking water from the Sea of Galilee is over.
... Alan Dershowitz: Netanyahu’s judicial reforms are dangerous, must be modified. Why?
... How is Israel’s High Court crushing democracy? Expert says legal reform is urgently needed.
... 'Supreme Rulers?' Committee chairman says judicial reform will expand Israeli democracy
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.