APN condemns West Bank ramming attack; Calls for action to stop violent spiral

Americans for Peace Now strongly condemns today’s ramming attack near the West Bank Makabim checkpoint, which left one Israeli soldier dead and six other people injured. Our condolences to the soldier’s family and recovery wishes to the injured.

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APN condemns West Bank shooting attack, the second in two days

Americans for Peace Now strongly condemns today’s shooting attack in the southern West Bank, the second in two days.

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APN condemns Huwara shooting attack

Americans for Peace Now strongly condemns the murder of two Israeli citizens, father and son, at the West Bank town of Huwara near Nablus on Saturday, August 19th. We send our condolences to the Nigerker-Nir family.

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Americans for Peace Now (APN) today sent a letter to President Biden signed by 163 Jewish leaders who care about Israel’s future, calling on the President to take concrete action to safeguard Israeli democracy.

The letter is unique in going past generic statements and calling for specific actions that the President can take to assert his concern about the Israeli government damaging its shared values with the United States. By doing so, the letter says, Biden would “protect Israel's future and its relationship with the United States.”

APN urged prominent American Jewish leaders to endorse the letter, and within days gathered an impressive group of signers. 

Alex Soros, Chair, Open Society Foundations, said: “Americans who care about Israel are horrified to see the government assault on the state’s democratic norms and institutions.  President Biden’s concerns went unheeded. The time has come to take action to protect Israel's democracy and America’s interests in the region.”

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers President and APN Board of Directors member said: "President Biden stands for democracy at home and around the world. Israel needs him now, to embrace all who are fighting to protect and deepen democracy at such a critical time." 

Hadar Susskind, Americans for Peace Now’s President and CEO, said: “We sent this letter because Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear that he will not heed President Biden’s words, so it is time to move to actions. We are gratified to see that so many Jewish leaders joined us in signing this letter and we hope that President Biden will follow our advice.”

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APN Condemns Maale Adumim Shooting Attack

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.

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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.

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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 occupation.

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 months.

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Statement- APN to Biden and Congress: Challenge Herzog on Democracy and the Occupation

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.”

  

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Statement- An Unreasonable Standard

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.

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Statement- APN Dismayed at West Bank Violent Escalation; Urges Israel to Protect Civilians

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. 

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