Israeli Judicial Reforms Advance Over Vocal Opposition

Happy Thursday! Rumor has it a bassist named Paul McCartney and a drummer named Ringo Starr have been collaborating with a guitarist named Keith Richards and a singer named Mick Jagger, recording in Los Angeles in recent weeks. We wish them luck—it’s hard for newbies to break into the music industry at such an advanced age.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) are visiting Iran after a Bloomberg report revealed that the agency had detected uranium enriched to 84 percent—near weapons-grade levels. “One thing is true,” Rafael Grossi, the director general of IAEA, said last month. “[Iran has] amassed enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons, not one at this point.”
  • At least 11 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded in a gun battle following an Israeli military raid Wednesday in the West Bank city of Nablus. A statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said security forces were seeking to arrest three Palestinian terrorists responsible for previous attacks and planning more “in the immediate future.” Palestinian terror groups claimed six of the 11 killed—including the three originally targeted for arrest—and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad promised retaliation. The IDF is anticipating a response to the raid.
  • Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and other top Taiwanese officials met with senior U.S. officials including Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Taiwanese media reported—the first Washington visit by top Taiwanese officials since the U.S. recognized China’s current government 44 years ago.
  • The Biden administration released a proposed rule this week that would bar most migrants arriving at the southern border from receiving asylum in the U.S. unless they demonstrate they were denied refuge in a nation they passed through on their way. The policy—which mirrors a Trump-era proposal blocked in court—is scheduled to take effect May 11, when the Title 42 policy blocking most asylum applications is set to expire.
  • The Department of Justice charged eight people Wednesday with blocking access to an abortion clinic in Michigan in August 2020. The indictment, which cites livestream footage of the incident, alleges the individuals “engaged in a conspiracy” to prevent people from accessing the clinic in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The charges come after an anti-abortion protester was acquitted last month of charges of FACE Act violations related to a demonstration at a Philadelphia clinic in 2021.
  • Special Counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner as part of an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, the New York Times first reported. It’s unclear whether the former president will try to block their testimony by invoking executive privilege, as he has with previous witnesses. Former Vice President Mike Pence and former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows have also been subpoenaed, but Pence has vowed to resist testifying on the grounds of legislative privilege.
  • Montana Sen. Jon Tester announced on Wednesday he will seek reelection for a fourth term, boosting Democrats’ chances of holding the Senate in 2024. No Republican challengers have announced yet, but Montana Republican Reps. Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke are reportedly both considering bids.

Israeli Judicial Reforms Move Forward

Protesters hold Israeli flags in front of the Knesset. (Photo by Saeed Qaq/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

When the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, suggested on a podcast last week that Israel’s government should “pump the brakes” on judicial reforms now moving through the Israeli parliament, Amichai Chikli—a top official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government—had a curt response: “Mind your own business.”

Lawmakers kept their foot on the gas this week, forging ahead with changes limiting the powers of a judicial branch they view as bloated and obstructionist by overhauling the Supreme Court’s appointment process and limiting its oversight of laws passed by the Knesset, or parliament. Despite thousands of protesters gathering in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for weeks on end—as many as 100,000 people congregated outside the parliamentary building at one point—members of the Knesset voted in recent days to advance portions of the plan.

As Harvest detailed in a recent explainer for the site, the reform package encompasses a number of individual proposals. The first, an “override proof clause,” would allow the Knesset to supersede any judicial nullification by simply re-passing the law in question with a majority vote, and a version advanced on Wednesday goes even further, permitting certain pieces of legislation to be preemptively exempted from judicial review altogether. Another element of the package—yet to be introduced—would ax the judicial standard that allows the Supreme Court to use “reasonability” as a justification to block legislation, government appointments, or other administrative actions. The third proposal would rework the judicial appointment process, replacing two representatives of the Israel Bar Association on the Judicial Selection Committee with two people chosen by the justice minister, effectively giving the governing majority control over the selection process for the 15-justice Supreme Court. 

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