14 Days: New cabinet

Israeli news highlights from the past two weeks.

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen at a meeting of his new cabinet in Jerusalem. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen at a meeting of his new cabinet in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the first meeting of his new cabinet, Israel’s 37th government, after presenting it to the Knesset on December 29. Netanyahu told the 30 ministers that the government has four main goals: “First of all, to block Iran. This is an existential question. Primarily, we will see to our existence and security. Second, to restore security and governance within the State of Israel. Third, to deal with the cost of living and the housing problem. Fourth, and I believe that this is within reach, to dramatically expand the circle of peace.” Netanyahu, 73, noted that this was the sixth time he has formed a government and that he was starting his 16th year as prime minister. 


Israel slammed the UN General Assembly for a resolution it passed on December 30 to refer Israel’s  “occupation… of Palestinian territory” to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. In response, the new Security Cabinet approved a series of punitive steps against the Palestinian Authority, including the withholding of tax revenues and penalizing PA officials. The UNGA resolution, passed by 87 votes to 26, calls on the ICJ to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”

 Barbara Walters (credit: LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS) Barbara Walters (credit: LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)


Justice Minister Yariv Levin on January 4 unveiled a plan for radically reforming Israel’s legal system, curtailing the power of the High Court of Justice, including an “override clause” of 61 Knesset members, giving the government control of the judicial selection committee, and allowing ministers to appoint their own legal advisers. Levin made the announcement a day before the High Court heard a petition against Shas leader Arye Deri’s appointment as a minister. “Many sectors of the public look to the judicial system and do not find their voices heard,”  he said. “That is not democracy.”


The US joined other countries in condemning as “unacceptable” National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount  on January 3. “We oppose any unilateral actions that undercut the historic status quo. They are unacceptable,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said. In response, the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is committed to strictly maintaining the status quo, without changes, on the Temple Mount.”


The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on December 27 announced that it had arrested the perpetrator of the Jerusalem bus stop bombings that killed two Israelis on November 23. It said that six days after the attack, its agents had arrested Eslam Froukh, 26, an Arab from east Jerusalem who supported ISIS, for detonating two bombs at bus stops – one at the entrance to Jerusalem and one in Ramot. According to the Shin Bet, Froukh recently completed engineering studies and also studied radical Islamic ideology, learning how to make explosive devices online.


Some 70,000 new immigrants from 95 countries made aliyah in 2022, the Jewish Agency said in a special report published on December 22 – the largest number of immigrants to arrive in 23 years. Most came from Russia and Ukraine, according to the report, which also showed that the rate of aliyah from most countries has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Some 37,364 olim (new immigrants) arrived from Russia and 14,680 came from Ukraine. In addition, 3,500 olim arrived from North America with assistance from Nefesh B’Nefesh; 2,049 from France; 1,993 from Belarus; 1,498 from Ethiopia; 985 from Argentina; 526 from Britain; 426 from South Africa; and 356 from Brazil. Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry announced that 2.67 million people visited Israel in 2022, adding that “it was a year of recovery after the corona crisis.”


Barbara Walters, the legendary American Jewish newswoman and celebrity interviewer, died at 93 on December 30. The announcement of her death was made by ABC News, where Walters regularly appeared on shows such as 20/20 and The View. Walters was raised in Boston by parents descended from Jewish immigrants, married four times, and had a daughter with theater impresario Lee Guber. Among the many famous personalities she interviewed were Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin before they completed negotiating a peace treaty in 1979. She won a dozen Emmy awards, 11 of them working at ABC, the network said.