US business leaders warn of boycott if Israel pushes through judicial reforms
More than 250 US business leaders and politicians warned in an open letter Sunday night that Israel’s judicial reform will make it “increasingly difficult” to defend the country internationally.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned law to transform the country’s judiciary has been dubbed a “judicial coup”.
If passed, the highly controversial law would allow politicians to overturn High Court judgments and appoint judges by a simple majority.
“Many leaders in the business community will feel compelled to reassess their reliance on Israel as a strategic destination for investment, talent sourcing, building engineering centers and preserving intellectual property,” company leaders warned in their open letter.
Israel is in the midst of a political crisis, pitting Netanyahu’s far-right government against civil society, the country’s academic and business elite, and former ministers and military.
“We wish to express our deep dismay at the proposed changes to the country’s judicial and legal system,” the signatories warned, adding that “the divisions within the country on this issue are destabilizing and, of course, discouraging.”
Signers included former US Treasury Secretary Jeffrey Goldstein, Tom Glocer, a former CEO of Thomson Reuters, and several other senior former US government officials. The names of many other business leaders were not disclosed.
The letter, addressed to Netanyahu, expressed his admiration for the prime minister’s personal commitment [the] Service to Israel and truly appreciate your contributions.”
Netanyahu is on trial for corruption and the reforms could allow him to evade conviction or have his case dismissed. Since his indictment in 2019, Netanyahu has publicly railed against the justice system, calling it biased against him.
“Please do not allow your legacy to be the erosion of the country’s identity as the strongest (and only) democracy in the Middle East, the destruction of the nation’s great economic success and the creation of a colossal rift within Israel and with the rest of the business community ‘ the letter added.
Following the open letter, Josh Kadis of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said, called “The past few weeks have shown that it is possible for them [international] Community, especially the Jewish diaspora, to mobilize against Israeli policies. There was widespread resistance, protests and many even supporting boycotts, divestments, sanctions – instruments that were previously taboo.”
Israel has been mired in political turmoil for over two months as tens of thousands continue to take to the streets in mass protests.
Protesters want the government to scrap a controversial judicial overhaul plan they say threatens control and balance in the country.
The demonstrations are growing, drawing supporters from various professions, including the military, the judiciary and high-tech industries.
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Israel’s currency has depreciated in the face of proposed reforms and leading US financial institution JPMorgan has warned of a growing risk of investing in the country.
Separately, Israel has been hit by rising tensions in the occupied West Bank. The situation has worsened with nighttime Israeli raids that have resulted in the killing of scores of Palestinians.
At least 81 Palestinians have been killed that year, including 15 children, a rate of more than one murder per day.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, it is the bloodiest start to the year since 2000.
Palestinians have killed at least 13 Israelis this year.
Before April, when Passover, Easter and Ramadan overlap, fears are growing that a major outbreak of violence could erupt.
CIA Director William Burns recently said the current tensions bear an “unfortunate resemblance” to the Second Intifada, referring to about five years of heightened conflict since the beginning of this century.