Region of Concern: Israel
Written By Beatrice Cirrone; Edited by Cameron Munoz and Jennifer Loy
Date: March 27, 2023
People demonstrating against the judicial reform
Event: On March 27, amid nationwide anti-government demonstrations, tens of thousands of people in Jerusalem protested the government's proposals to reform the judicial system by partially subjecting it to political power. The intensity of the protests increased on Sunday evening due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to remove the Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, who had favored halting the reforms. Police responded by using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd gathered in front of the Parliament and Presidential residence in Jerusalem, but no arrests were reported. The protest led by Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition party, was combined with a nationwide strike in several sectors, such as hospitals, airports, banks, and universities. Netanyahu decided to delay the justice reforms after the mass protests on Monday afternoon.
Significance: The government's lack of openness will very likely exacerbate the political polarization between conservative coalition supporters and protesters, leading to further strikes and protests. Protesters will likely increase the intensity of the demonstrations using more violent methods against the police, such as Molotov cocktails, and they will very likely target government buildings in Jerusalem. The nationwide strike will likely fuel further social upheaval and discontent of people who did not protest and cause losses to the Israeli economy. The protests will likely spread to moderate conservative parties and military sectors, compromising national security and weakening the tightness of the government coalition. If a compromise cannot emerge in parliament, some moderate coalition parties will likely threaten to withdraw their confidence in the government. The increased security force deployment will likely curb efforts and resources to counter Palestinian terror attacks in the West Bank.
Recommendations: The government should increase deployments of Israeli Defense personnel in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to protect government employees. The United States and international organizations, like the UN and EU, should take diplomatic measures to encourage communication between the protesters and the Israeli government. The government should compromise with the military elite sectors to ensure national integrity and avert coups. The government, through the National Intelligence agencies, should focus on counterterrorism efforts against Palestinian terrorist attacks and limit the country's current internal vulnerability. The government should come to an immediate agreement with the labor unions to ensure that the strike doesn’t paralyze the supply of basic services, such as health, and public transportation, and limit the social and economic impact of the protests. Security forces should cooperate with Israeli intelligence to monitor the organization of future protests, their targets, and the weaponry available to protesters.
 Israel government in chaos as judicial reform plans draw mass protests, Reuters, March 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israeli-president-urges-halt-judicial-overhaul-after-protests-2023-03-27/
 Israel's Workers' Union announces widespread strike, The Jerusalem Post, March 2023, https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/article-735517