Israel News for 3-31-2023
Syrian state media is reporting that Israel conducted airstrikes in Damascus early this morning. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the strikes targeted an arms depots for government forces and Iran-backed groups just south of Damascus. This is the second alleged Israeli strike in the last 2 days.
After halting the judicial reform process, Prime Minister Netanyahu promised National Security Minister Ben Gvir that he would fulfill his request to establish what could be called a “National Guard” as an independent security force, not under the direction of the police. Ben Gvir claims that the force will be used to combat crime with a focus on offenses emanating from within the Arab-Israeli community, or “extortion in areas with criminal organizations and mixed cities.”
Tens of thousands of judicial reform supporters marched in Tel Aviv last night in what they called a “Freedom March.”
Azerbaijan opened an embassy in Tel Aviv this week. The country, which gained independence in 1991, has a Shia Muslim majority. There are also 18,000 Jews living there. Israel has had diplomats there since 1993.
The U.S. State Department said that Israel has not met the eligibility requirements to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Israel is yet to grant free passage for Palestinian Americans at its airports and into the West Bank, which Washington says is required for Israel to meet the condition of reciprocity to join the program, which would allow Israelis visa-free access to the United States. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel would address the issues preventing it from joining the program, but did not give any details on how that would happen.
Republican Presidential candidate Nikki Haley blasted US President Biden for pressuring Israel to halt the judicial reform process. She said, “It’s outrageous for Joe Biden to lecture Israel on a matter that is entirely their domestic concern. We would never want the Israeli government to push America on issues surrounding our Supreme Court, and they wouldn’t do it. We should let Israelis decide this themselves.”