Six people were injured in a shooting attack by a Palestinian gunman today in Maale Adumim, a large West Bank settlement east of Jerusalem. Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns this terrorist attack and wishes full recovery to the people who were hurt.
A collection of US organizations today issued the following statement regarding the judicial crisis in Israel.
On Monday, Israel’s governing coalition passed a law that would allow the government and its agencies to take steps that would otherwise be deemed by the Supreme Court as unreasonable and therefore illegal. The law would prohibit the Court from challenging executive branch measures on the grounds of reasonability.
The so-called “Reasonability Law,” is not only repugnant on its merits, but is also alarming because it is the first in a series of laws planned by the government, which are designed to eliminate checks on its power and pave the path for policies that would transform the very character of the State of Israel. Among these policies is a plan, anchored in coalition agreements signed by Netanyahu’s Likud Party, to officially annex the West Bank to Israel. The ongoing process of annexation is catastrophic for Israelis and Palestinians.
We welcome the expressions of deep concern coming from US elected officials – in the White House, on Capitol Hill and throughout the nation – as well as similar reactions by US Jewish organizations, including ones that seldom publicly criticize the government of Israel. We urge the Biden administration, Congress, other elected officials and opinion leaders, as well as fellow US Jewish organizations, to help protect Israel from the irresponsible actions of its current government. Not doing so would make a mockery of America’s commitment to the shared values that we cherish as the foundation for the US-Israel “special relationship.”
We salute, applaud, and stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets in protest. At the same time, we recognize that the persistent instability in Israel‘s political life is rooted in the ongoing occupation. Without a society-wide movement to address that, Israel’s democracy remains deeply flawed.
Americans for Peace Now (APN) condemns today’s Knesset vote on the so-called “reasonableness law” which bars
Israel’s Supreme Court from challenging unreasonable laws and executive measures. This vote is, according to the
very members who supported it, only the first step towards more unreasonable, anti-democratic legislation by the
government, including measures to move forward with the annexation of the West Bank and perpetuate the
APN calls on the Biden administration to move past declarations of concern and respond by iterating the
concrete steps it will take in response to the actions of the Netanyahu government. APN also urges fellow American
Jewish organizations to speak out loudly and clearly against the anti-democratic trajectory of Israel under
Netanyahu’s government of nationalistic zealots.
APN strongly supports the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have been demonstrating for over six months
against the government and its anti-democratic policies and practices. We stand in solidarity with them and
encourage them to further escalate their protest. By embarking on its anti-democratic “legal reform” today, the
governing coalition underscored the protesters’ assertion that the government, while legally elected, is
illegitimate and should be treated as such.
We hope that some members of the ruling government coalition would appreciate and understand what the
demonstrators are concerned about, change course, and work to protect the rights of all citizens of Israel - Jewish
and non-Jewish alike. We also encourage Israelis to look beyond specific legislation to push for creating a
constitution that would protect all Israelis and avoid the fiasco that Israel has been experiencing in the past few
There could hardly be a greater disconnect between tomorrow’s US Congressional salute to Israel and its democracy, and the anti-democratic campaign that Israel’s government is ramming through the Knesset. While the US government in Washington is embracing Israel’s ceremonial head of state, President Isaac Herzog, Israel’s political head of state, Benjamin Netanyahu, is systematically working to wreck the very values of democracy, equality, justice and peace that Washington wishes to see and respect in Israel.
President Herzog, aware of this discordance, told President Biden in the White House today that “Israeli democracy is sound and resilient” and that the heated internal Israeli debate over the so-called legal reform is testament to that resilience. But Herzog knows how endangered Israeli democracy is as the government of Israel works to gut it by denying it basic judicial checks on the already vast powers of the executive branch.
Furthermore, both Presidents Herzog and Biden know that Israel cannot and will not be a true democracy as long as it continues occupying the West Bank and ruling over millions of Palestinians who lack national sovereign rights and human rights.
Americans for Peace Now’s President and CEO Hadar Susskind said: “President Biden and other leading Democrats have spoken about their concerns regarding Israel’s character as a democracy. Israel’s democracy is indeed important and worth fighting for. But the administration and Congress need to see past Herzog’s ‘shared values’ platitudes and address the issues of settlement expansion, settler violence, and creeping annexation.
“What Israel needs from its friends in Washington is not more enabling, but rather a reality check, an intervention, which would clearly define what the US is and is not willing to accept from a state that wishes to continue enjoying a values-based ‘special relationship’ with America. The red lines should be clear and so should the consequences if they are crossed.”
Last Night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government of ultra-nationalist zealots drove Israel further away from its roots as a liberal democracy and toward unabashed fascism.
As Netanyahu and his government allies recklessly curtail the power of the judiciary to serve as a check on the executive and legislative branches of government, Americans for Peace Now (APN) is deeply concerned about Israel’s future. APN calls on the Biden administration to make clear to Netanyahu that these actions have consequences and that the United States will reassess its relationship with Israel if its government turns the state into a hollow democracy.
The Knesset Last night passed by first vote (out of three) a bill that would remove the power of Israeli courts to use the standard of reasonableness as a criterion to strike legislation and government executive orders. The bill (an amendment to Basic Law: Judiciary) reads: “Notwithstanding what is stated in this Basic Law, those who have jurisdiction to adjudicate according to law, including the Supreme Court in its function as a High Court of Justice, shall not discuss the reasonableness of the decision of the government, of the prime minister or of another minister, as well as of another elected official which shall be determined by law, and shall not issue an order against any of them in such matter."
Israel has almost no separation of powers between its executive and the legislative branches. The government, which enjoys a coalition majority in the Knesset, can legislate as it deems fit. The only check on the government is therefore the judicial branch and specifically the Supreme Court. Once the executive/legislative branch removes that check, Israel will become a hollow democracy.
The government of Israel can still halt its march toward the destruction of Israeli democracy by not bringing
the bill to a second and third vote.
As Israel’s military intensifies its operation at the Jenin Refugee Camp in the northern West Bank, Americans for Peace Now (APN) is dismayed at the rapid escalation of violence in the West Bank. APN is alarmed at the harm caused to Palestinian civilians and calls on Israel to exercise extra care in protecting noncombatants. Using bulldozers and armed drones in such a small, cramped area multiplies the risk to noncombatants and to civilian infrastructure.
Any operation in a densely-populated area such as the Jenin Refugee Camp (more than 11,000 people living in 0.16 square miles) is bound to put civilians at risk. But under any law (international, American, or Israeli) that risk must be minimized. At the moment, many of the Camp’s residents lack running water and electricity. The IDF’s cutting of water and power, on its face, is collective punishment of the local civilian population.
Americans for Peace Now (APN) welcomes the letter sent today by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 21 additional members of the House of Representatives urging US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield to advocate for the United Nations to adopt its own comprehensive, nuanced, and action-based approach similar to the US National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.
The National Strategy exemplifies the Biden Administration’s unwavering dedication to fighting this deeply rooted form of hatred, while simultaneously protecting free speech and safeguarding the rights of all individuals. The incorporation of multiple definitions of antisemitism into the strategy is an inclusive and comprehensive approach that recognizes the diverse manifestations of antisemitism and allows for a more tailored response to each unique context. This approach should serve as a model for nations around the world.
We commend Representative Schakowsky and the 21 other signatories for their commitment to combating antisemitism, both domestically and internationally, and echo their call for the Biden Administration to advocate for this model to be implemented globally.
Hadar Susskind, President and CEO of APN said “As the United Nations formulates its own plan to combat antisemitism, this is a crucial opportunity for the United States to advance this pragmatic and nuanced approach to combating antisemitism on a global scale. I am grateful to Congresswoman Schakowsky and her colleagues for their support for a framework that protects speech rather than a definition that weaponizes antisemitism to quash legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies and practices.”
Americans for Peace Now (APN) welcomes the announcement made by the Biden administration concerning the issuance of guidance aimed at restricting scientific and technological cooperation with Israeli institutions beyond the Green Line. This significant step represents a crucial reversal of one of the detrimental policies inherited from the Trump administration concerning Israel and Palestine.
Americans for Peace Now urges the Biden administration to react with concrete steps to the Israeli government’s
plan to double the size of the West Bank settlement of Eli and to the government’s failure to prevent settlers’
pogroms against Palestinians.
Yesterday, two Palestinian terrorists shot dead four Israelis and injured four others near the West Bank settlement of Eli. The gunmen were killed by the IDF. APN strongly condemned the attack.
Hours after the attack, hundreds of armed settlers descended on some dozen Palestinian villages in the vicinity of Eli, torched homes, vehicles and fields, vandalized property, and attacked Palestinians. A Palestinian man was shot dead by an Israeli police officer in the village of Turmus Ayya following settlers’ violent attack.
According to eyewitness reports and video clips, IDF troops were present at or nearby the sites of these pogroms, and did nothing. According to press reports, none of the perpetrators has been arrested. As happened time after time in such circumstances, Israel’s occupation authorities in the West Bank fail to prevent, deter or punish settler violence.
The past few days have demonstrated yet again how dangerous the Israeli government’s occupation policies are. The Biden administration must take determined action to stop the Israeli government from destroying any chance for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
On Sunday, the Israeli government approved a measure that grants responsibility for West Bank planning procedures to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a zealot national-religious settler who publicly proposed a plan to annex most of the West Bank by doubling the number of Israelis who live there. The measure also stipulates that planning procedures for settlement construction will no longer require approval by the Minister of Defense, as they did in the past.
Yesterday, it was officially announced that the West Bank Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Committee, the body currently responsible for all construction planning in areas under Israeli control in the West Bank, will discuss next week the promotion of a whopping 4,799 housing units through 28 plans for 18 settlements, including the authorization of an illegal (even by Israeli law) outpost.
Also yesterday, an IDF incursion into the West Bank town of Jenin triggered one of the most intense firefights in over 20 years, involving a high-powered roadside bomb used by Palestinians against Israeli armored personnel carriers as well as the use of an attack helicopter by the IDF to help rescue Israeli soldiers caught in in the fighting. The toll was high. Six Palestinians were killed, including a 15-year-old, and almost 100 were injured, some of them critically. On the Israeli side, 7 soldiers were injured, some of them badly.
And today, there was a deadly terrorist attack near the Israeli settlement of Eli, near Ramallah. A gunman shot and killed four people and injured four more, further escalating tension in the West Bank.