Israel: Capitol Hill at the High Court, „Apartheid“ in the Westbank and CBW against Hezbollah?

Israel: Capitol Hill at the High Court, „Apartheid“ in the Westbank and CBW against Hezbollah?

Now things are getting exciting and crucial in Israel. Despite Israeli President Herzog’s call for a compromise with the opposition, Netanyahu is initially rejecting any changes to the judicial reform. He does not seem to want to accept any compromise from the opposition, but is now expecting the High Court to approve his dictatorship justice reform, which is intended to disempower the Constitutional Court. The High Court should decide on its own removal from power. A “Liberty demonstration” by the right-wing radicals in front of the High Court, who claim that it has no right to impose judgments on the Basic Law and that if it still rejects the changes, they will not accept it. And then? Capitol Hill 2.0, this time on the High Court or what? And is there no counter-demo? As the Times of Israel reports:

“Masses expected at Jerusalem pro-overhaul rally ahead of constitutional face-off

‘Liberty Demonstration’ to be held near Supreme Court, days before justices mull voiding reasonableness law; organizers: Court lacks authority to ‘nullify the people’s choice’

By ToI Staff Today, 8:48

Right-wing Israelis attend a rally in support of the government’s planned judicial overhaul, outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, on April 27, 2023. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

With tensions fraying ahead of a series of high-profile High Court of Justice hearings on whether to nullify controversial laws passed by the coalition, masses of right-wing supporters of the current government’s judicial overhaul were set to rally in Jerusalem Thursday evening and urge the top court not to intervene.

Dubbed the “Liberty Demonstration” by its organizers, the protest will argue that the country’s top judges “don’t have the authority to nullify the people’s choice” and will call on them not to “drag the state into a constitutional crisis.”

Speakers at the event were set to include Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Prof. Elisha Haas, Dr. Keren Asayag and lawyer Michael Dvorin.

Police said Thursday that roads around the Supreme Court and the Knesset would be blocked from around 4 p.m.

The rally comes days ahead of a September 12 High Court hearing on petitions against the reasonableness law — part of the government’s controversial judicial overhaul — which bars courts from intervening in government and ministerial decisions based on their “reasonableness.” Later, on September 28, a separate hearing will be held on petitions against a law shielding prime ministers from forced recusal.

Both pieces of legislation are amendments to Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, none of which the High Court has ever voided. The process for legislating Basic Laws is the same as other bills in Israel’s unicameral parliament, with no special majority needed.

Ahead of the demonstration, Smotrich said in a statement Wednesday that “we won’t let the Supreme Court nullify Basic Laws, which clearly means taking our ballots [from the election] and chucking them into the trash.

“When the High Court voids Basic Laws, the High Court takes our liberty and our right to choose, and decides it is the legislator, instead of the Knesset,” he added.

The reasonableness legislation, an amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary, prohibits all courts, including the top court, from using the judicial yardstick of “reasonableness” to review and potentially reverse government and ministerial decisions. It was the first major law passed in the government’s far-reaching judicial overhaul plans.

The court is set to review the highly contentious legislation with a full bench of all 15 justices for the first time in its history.

Overhaul supporters have contended that since no law authorizes the High Court to strike down Basic Laws, it lacks the power to do so. Ministers and coalition MKs have argued that the reasonableness law is necessary to stop the High Court from imposing its own worldview on government decisions and actions, and have noted that the dismissal of senior law enforcement officials will still be subject to other tools in administrative law and therefore will not be completely impervious to court review.

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana suggested Wednesday that the coalition may not accept a potential ruling to nullify the reasonableness law, warning that such a decision could “plunge us into the abyss” and that the Knesset “won’t submissively allow itself to be trampled.”

“Israel is democratic, and in a democracy, the sovereign is the people. In a democratic state, the justice system respects the sovereign — the people and its elected officials — and this respect is mutual. There is no debate, and there cannot be one, over the question of whether the Knesset has authorized the court to nullify Basic Laws,” he said, arguing that the court possesses no such power.

However, critics — who have held weekly mass protests against the overhaul for 35 consecutive weeks — say a Basic Law can be struck down if it is determined that lawmakers misused their power to legislate such laws by passing them for a narrow, short-term, political or personal reason.

The petitioners against the reasonableness law argue that it could potentially undermine the independence of senior law enforcement agencies, since without the reasonableness standard it will be difficult to challenge arbitrary dismissals of officials.

The High Court will also soon hear petitions against Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s refusal to convene the Judicial Selection Committee, which he is trying to reconfigure as part of the judicial shakeup to give the coalition control over appointing judges.

Apparently other parts of the opposition are now hoping for Benny Gantz and a new goverment without amnesty for Netanyahu and without compromise on the dictatorship justice reform that is supposed to eliminate the High Court:

“Benny Gantz is now the alternative to Netanyahu – and he won’t save him – analysis

If a willingness to compromise thrust Benny Gantz into the political stratosphere, why did he give a speech saying he doesn’t trust Benjamin Netanyahu and put out the fire of a compromise plan?

 Benny Gantz addresses the crowd, September 5, 2023 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

Benny Gantz addresses the crowd, September 5, 2023

(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

Facing Ben Gvir´s and Smotrich’s provocations of the Palestinians and their violence, Netanyahu’s former Mossad chief now speaks out and declares that there is „apartheid“ in the West Bank and that fixed borders with the Palestinians should finally be decided in order to achieve peace and also an Israel – Saudi Arabia deal to come along with new Abraham Accords, as has just happened with Bahrain, where an Israeli embassy has now been opened, while the Libyan Foreign Minister had to resign because of an alleged meeting with Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Italy and also through the mediation of Italy , while tehre were demonstrations for the Palestinians in Libya. Netanyahu explains that this is a „false statement“, while parts of the Likud and the right-wing radicals see this as a further proof that the IDF and Mossad are infiltrated by left-wing radicals and need to be purged. In any case, BDS and post-colonials will be happy about this.

“Israel is committing apartheid in West Bank, former Mossad chief claims

“In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state.”


Published: SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 21:12

Updated: SEPTEMBER 7, 2023 12:22

 Tamir Pardo, Former Director of the Mossad at the Herzliya Conference, on May 22, 2023.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Tamir Pardo, Former Director of the Mossad at the Herzliya Conference, on May 22, 2023.

(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Right-wing politicians attacked former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo for accusing Israel of executing an apartheid system against Palestinians in the West Bank, during an interview he gave to the Associated Press that was published on Wednesday.

“There is an apartheid state here,” Pardo told AP, as he referenced the West Bank, which is outside the borders of sovereign Israel.

“In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state,” said Pardo, who led the Mossad from 2011-2016.

This isn’t an “extreme” viewpoint, he said, “it’s a fact.”

In his conversation with AP, Pardo said that failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict posed a greater existential threat to Israel than a nuclear Iran.

Israel, Pardo said, has to finalize its borders if it wants to remain a Jewish state.

“Israel needs to decide what it wants. A country that has no border has no boundaries,” Pardo told AP.

Likud says former Mossad head made ‚false‘ statements

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party attacked him for making “false” statements against his country.

“Instead of defending the State of Israel and the IDF, Pardo slanders Israel. Pardo – shame on you,” the Likud stated.

“No country in the world acts against terrorism at the high level of morality at which Israel acts,” it emphasized.

It pointed to the status within sovereign Israel, even though Pardo’s comments had been limited to the West Bank.

“The IDF acts morally to protect the citizens of Israel while preventing injury to innocents. Hospitals in Israel treat Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians alike. Arabs and Jews study and work together in Israel,” the Likud said.

Palestinians have long accused Israel of the crime of apartheid, as they compared their situation to that of South Africa during the era of apartheid, which ended in the early 1990s.

Israel’s harshest critics have leveled that accusation against both sovereign Israel and the West Bank, while others like Pardo have limited it just to the latter.

The West Bank, which is home to over two million Palestinians and half a million Israelis, is divided into three sections, areas A, B, and C.

Areas A and B, which comprise 40% of the West Bank, are under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.

The remainder of the West Bank, some 60%, is under the IDF military and civilian control. The close to half a million Israelis who live there are under IDF military rule but maintain the same individual rights as those who live in sovereign Israel. The over 300,000 Palestinians who live there, do so both under IDF military rule, but maintain some rights from the Palestinian Authority.

It was this two-tiered system under IDF control that Pardo referenced. Politicians in Netanyahu’s government are pushing to extend Israeli laws to Israelis in Area C as part of a campaign to apply sovereignty to that area.

While Iran is currently conspicuously holding back from provocations against Israel and the USA, there are fears that the Ayatollahs could wage a proxy war against Israel through Nasrallah’s Hezbollah. That’s why an opinion commentary, a concise summary of the current situation, also appears in the Jeruasalem Post. The author claims that in an emergency, UNIFIL will run away and is of no use. Therefore, as a middle ground, the article calls for the reactivation of the Campaign Between the Wars (CBW) strategy based on the Syria model, which includes strikes not only against “lesser targets”, although with the risk of escalation:

“Israel needs a new strategy against Hezbollah – opinion

By initially subjecting Hezbollah to targeted strikes on “lesser” targets that they can manage, Israel can progressively escalate its operations to target higher-value objectives and so forth.


Published: SEPTEMBER 7, 2023 01:53

The UN Security Council’s decision on August 31 to extend UNIFIL’s mandate in Lebanon was portrayed as a significant political and diplomatic achievement for Israel. This perception stems from the Security Council’s inclusion of a provision in the agreement that grants UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon the autonomy to conduct patrols throughout all of southern Lebanon, rather than confining their activities to the border region with Israel. 

Essentially, UNIFIL forces will now have the authority to conduct surprise patrols across the entirety of southern Lebanon, a departure from their previous mandate. 

However, it is crucial to temper the enthusiasm from the Israeli perspective. Firstly, the decision contains a general reference to UNIFIL’s coordination with the Lebanese army, even though it grants them the ability to patrol independently. This creates a weak pretext for the Lebanese army and Hezbollah to obstruct these patrols. Secondly, and of greater significance, Israel should not place excessive trust in peacekeeping forces or expect them to shoulder the burden in southern Lebanon.

Historical instances have repeatedly demonstrated that when faced with critical situations, UN peacekeeping forces often falter. This was seen, for instance, during the onset of the Arab Spring in Syria when most UNIFIL forces withdrew from the region. Additionally, UNIFIL has been operating in southern Lebanon for over a decade, during which time Hezbollah has grown into a formidable terrorist army with approximately 200,000 rockets and seemingly dozens of precision missiles in their possession.

The endorsement of UNIFIL’s mandate by the UN Security Council occurs amid ongoing tensions in the northern region between Israel and Hezbollah. Since the start of 2023, Hezbollah has engaged in several ambiguous actions and unattributed provocations against Israel.

These provocations include triggering an improvised explosive device at the Megiddo junction; orchestrating the firing of 34 rockets into Western Galilee by operatives affiliated with a Hamas offshoot in Lebanon; launching an anti-tank missile towards Israeli territory; establishing tents with armed Hezbollah operatives on Israeli sovereign land; and making repeated attempts to damage the border fence and infiltrate into Israeli territory.

How can Israel fight Hezbollah’s increased boldness?

Hezbollah’s increased boldness can be attributed to a continuous erosion of Israeli deterrence, as a result of a number of variables. 

First, the maritime border agreement signed between Israel and Lebanon was made with clear threats and pressure exerted by Hezbollah, who threatened to take military action against Israel if it began producing gas from its Karish reservoir without signing the agreement with Lebanon. At the same time, Hezbollah sent three UAVs towards a gas rig in Israel on July 2, 2022.

In addition, Israel did not respond to most of the provocations and actions by Hezbollah in the past year, including the establishment of the military tent located in sovereign territory on Israeli soil (as of this writing it has not been evacuated); and the terror attack in Megiddo. This reality has significantly weakened the deterrence against Hezbollah and increased its appetite for further aggression.

Israel’s current stance is not geared towards escalating tensions in the northern region and entering into a conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The nation is currently facing more pressing political and security challenges, including internal divisions within Israeli society, including the IDF; efforts to advance normalization with Saudi Arabia through a tripartite agreement involving the United States; the ongoing development and expansion of the Abraham Accords; and the intricate task of addressing the Iranian threat – including the nuclear deal and potential undisclosed interim agreements between the United States and Iran.

Nevertheless, it remains imperative for Israel to bolster its deterrent capabilities against Hezbollah. Consequently, a middle ground must be sought, and the Campaign Between the Wars (CBW) strategy should be activated in Lebanon, mirroring Israel’s actions in Syria and various other locations in the Middle East. This operation must be carried out discreetly and with ambiguity, to minimize potential reactions from Hezbollah.

By initially subjecting Hezbollah to targeted strikes on “lesser” targets that they can manage, Israel can progressively escalate its operations to target higher-value objectives and so forth. Israel’s primary objective should be to disrupt Hezbollah’s military power buildup, including its missile precision program while striving to prevent a retaliatory response from the terrorist organization.

This strategy inherently carries the risk of escalation, which must be factored into the equation. Consequently, Israel must prepare in advance for the possibility of a brief, multi-day conflict with Hezbollah, during which it can exploit the opportunity to inflict substantial damage on the organization’s missile and rocket stockpiles, along with its military infrastructure.

The writer has a PhD in political studies. He is a military strategy and national security expert, and a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) and at the Israel Defense and Security Forum (Habithonistim).

Stem cell research continues, including in Israel.

“Israeli scientists grow human embryo models from stem cells

Breakthrough could promote new research directions on early pregnancy failure, birth defects, infertility and the production of replacement tissues and organs.

 Israeli scientists grow human embryo models from stem cells (photo credit: WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE)

Israeli scientists grow human embryo models from stem cells


Without needing human sperm to impregnate human eggs to create embryos, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot have created complete models of human embryos from stem cells cultured in the lab and managed to grow them without a womb up to the 14th day.

The team built on their recent achievement of creating synthetic stem cell–based models of mouse embryos.

The team said their breakthrough could open new avenues of research into infertility, early pregnancy failure, birth defects, drug testing and growth of tissues for transplant – as well as help scientists peer into the dramatic first weeks of embryonic development. 

How to create models of human embryos

A research team headed by Prof. Jacob (Yaqub) Hanna has created complete models of human embryos from stem cells cultured in the lab – and managed to grow them outside the womb up to day 14. As just published in the prestigious journal Nature under the title “Complete human day 14 post-implantation embryo models from naïve ES cells,” the synthetic embryo models had all the structures and compartments characteristic of this stage including the placenta, yolk sac, chorionic sac and other external tissues that ensure the models’ dynamic and adequate growth. 

Born in Rama, a Christian (and Druze) village in the Galilee region of Israel, Dr. Jacob (Yaqub) Hanna earned his doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology and an MD in clinical medicine from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Massachusetts and joined the Weizmann Institute in 2011. h was greatly influenced and inspired by the success of his uncle, Nabil Hanna, who invented the first antibody therapy approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in humans (Rituxan, a blockbuster anti-CD20 mAb drug for treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma).

He is a pioneer in induced pluripotency and reprogramming of adult cells that have regenerative properties almost identical to those of embryonic stem cells, but can be created from adult cells without using an egg or fetal material. Today, he leads an interdisciplinary group of scientists interested in understanding embryonic stem cell biology, early development and advanced human disease 

Little is known about the early embryo because it’s so hard to study for both ethical and technical reasons, yet its initial stages are crucial to its future development. During these stages, the clump of cells that implants itself in the womb on the seventh day of its existence becomes, within three to four weeks, a well-structured embryo that already contains all the body organs. Given their authentic complexity, the human embryo models developed by his team could provide an unprecedented opportunity to shed new light on the embryo’s mysterious beginnings. 

“The drama is in the first month, and the remaining eight months of pregnancy are mainly lots of growth,” Hanna said. “The first month is still largely a black box. Our stem cell-derived human embryo model offers an ethical and accessible way of peering into this box. It closely mimics the development of a real human embryo, particularly the emergence of its exquisitely fine architecture.”

But what one should imagine by a “synthetic embryo” or a “human embryo model” is also an interesting language. Life advocates, Pro- Life- activists, right-wing Christians and abortion opponents would probably see this as an embryo and a life worth protecting, not as synthetic, artificial or model, but as a human embryo and everything else was Nazi ideology, Dr. Mengele and Frankenstein. And that in Israel. How do the US evangelicals loyal to Israel as the Nibelungs see this or is this even more reason for them to support fundamental religious and right-wing radical forces like Smotrich and Ben G`vir?

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