This past week, the High Court of Justice struck down a portion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial plan on regulating natural gas. Specifically, it objected to a stability clause that promised gas companies no changes in government policy for a decade. Netanyahu will have a year to find a new arrangement that satisfies both the drilling companies and the court.
The gas policy has been through a government roller-coaster ride, leading to the resignation of the last anti-trust commissioner, a cabinet reshuffle, and the first ever use of Article 52, a law that lets the government bypass antitrust objections on national security grounds. The court did not object to the legality of those moves.
Interior Minister Arye Deri, who served jail time for corruption the last time he was Interior Minister, is being investigated for corruption. The Attorney General opened a criminal investigation into how Deri and his wife Yaffa acquired multiple real estate properties, despite reporting to tax authorities that they only own one apartment in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood.
Labor leader Isaac Herzog is also being investigated for possible illegal campaign spending in his 2013 race for Labor Party chairman against then-incumbent Shelly Yacimovich. The Herzog probe remained in the preliminary stages and the attorney-general had not ordered the opening of an official criminal investigation.
The IDF prosecutor said they would seek manslaughter rather than murder charges against an IDF soldier that shot and killed an already immobilized Palestinian attacker.
The killing caused a huge uproar in Israel, prompting demonstrations in support of the soldier and a campaign against the IDF chief of staff, who denounced the killing as a breach of the IDF’s ethics code and rules of engagement. The prosecutor said they felt highly confident they could get a manslaughter conviction, which carries heavy jail time.
US Sen. Patrick Leahy, a democrat from Vermont, wrote a letter asking Secretary of State John Kerry to investigate Israel over “possible gross violations of human rights.” Leahy penned a 1997 law that would require the State Department and Department of Defense to cut foreign assistance to any country found to be violating human rights.
Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Leahy’s letter by saying that the IDF operates under the “highest moral standards,” and that Leahy should direct his complaints against those who “incite youngsters to commit cruel acts of terrorism.”
The one item that may be blocking a new defense deal between the US and Israel may be political. A senior Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post that Israel did not want to conclude a deal while the Obama administration is considering a UN Security Council Resolution on Israeli-Palestinian peace. The thinking is that once a deal is signed, Obama would have the political leeway to move forward with a resolution.
In a speech in Washington DC, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he expects positive results from an upcoming meeting between Turkey and Israel. The countries have vowed to boost cooperation on counter-terrorism after three Israelis were killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul. Shortly after the attack Erdogan had a phone call with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, his first conversation with an Israeli leader in three years.
Israel was reportedly preparing to ease fishing restrictions on Gaza, expanding the area available from six to nine nautical miles off the coast. According to Israeli estimates, the decision could lead to a NIS 400,000 boost to Gaza's economy.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has a new Jewish grandson. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism in 2009 and is married to New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, gave birth to Theodore James Kushner, on Sunday.
And sitcom legend Roseanne Barr came to Israel to speak out against the BDS Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement. In a 20-minute speech at a Jerusalem convention on the topic, the comedian said “BDS doesn’t want peace, nor do they want peace negotiations.” She also said her once-critical views on Israel had changed in recent years.