David Stern, a 41 year old former US marine, martial arts expert and firearms instructor currently living in the settlement of Itamar, was shot and seriously wounded while driving with his wife through the village of Huwara yesterday. The attack took place near where 2 Israeli brothers were murdered by a terrorist a few weeks ago. Stern managed to fire back and hit the terrorist. IDF forces later captured the terrorist, who was hiding in a nearby house with serious wounds. The terrorist fired at Stern’s car using a homemade submachine gun.
Israel, the United States, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority issued a joint statement Sunday evening in which they said that Israel has pledged not to discuss the construction of new housing units in the settlements for four months and not to approve outposts for six months. Meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Israel and the Palestinian Authority reaffirmed their commitment to promoting security, stability, and peace. They also emphasized the importance of creating a diplomatic prospect for peace and addressing pressing issues through direct dialogue. Both sides have pledged to stop unilateral actions, although the construction in the settlements and the approval of outposts were the only specific mentions. They also agreed to establish a mechanism to prevent and control violence, incitement, and inflammatory statements and actions.
The Israel Police said they were stepping up the security measures ahead of Ramadan, that starts later this week. In previous years there has been rioting and violence on the Temple Mount during Ramadan.
US President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday and urged him to reach a compromise on the judicial reform initiative. This is an unusual intervention by a US President in Israel’s internal affairs. According to a White House statement, Biden “underscored his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship, that democratic societies are strengthened by genuine checks and balances, and that fundamental changes should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support.” Biden and Netanyahu also spoke about the Iran threat and the fear of escalating tensions with the Palestinians during Ramadan.
According to the statement from the Prime Minister’s office, Netanyahu informed Biden about the terrorist shooting attack in Huwara, in which a U.S.-Israeli citizen was wounded, and assured him that Israel will “continue to take action against terrorists and architects of terror.” He also reassured Biden that Israel will remain a strong and vibrant democracy committed to his government’s legal reform and thanked the U.S. leader for his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.
In a show of apparent compromise, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the government would hold off on moving forward with the judicial reform until April 30, when the Knesset reconvenes after the Passover break. The original plan was to push through the legislation before the Knesset goes on break on April 2. The government also announced a slight modification of the legislation on Supreme Court judge selection, which appears to give the government less control than the original proposal. Now we wait and see what the opposition says.