How the Israeli Government’s Instability Paved the Way for an Expansion of Religious and Economic Freedom

On Sunday, a Knesset committee will vote on what is known as the arrangements law, a complex piece of omnibus legislation that covers a great swath of government business, and must accompany every biennial budget. Failure to pass it will trigger snap elections and the collapse of the government. Included in the bill are sweeping reforms easing regulations and allowing for more competition in everything from kosher certifications to agricultural products—even as it introduces more regulation in other areas. Haviv Rettig Gur explains why these changes, likely to have salutary effects on the Israeli economy, are suddenly on the table:

These reforms share one characteristic: all have been advocated for many years, but could not advance due to resistance from industry groups, government agencies, or various political factions. Ḥaredi parties stood in the way of taxing sugary drinks and plasticware, while farmers’ and manufacturers’ lobbies resisted the agriculture and import reforms. [So] what explains the sudden uncorking of all that resistance all at once? It isn’t the personalities involved: the reforms are being pushed by different ministers from a broad cross-section of parties.

It may, in fact, be a result of the Bennett-Lapid government’s fragility and instability.

The new government’s ability to advance bold reforms comes not from its leader, but from its lack of one. No single politician dominates this coalition as Netanyahu did its predecessors. It’s a government keenly aware that any of its member factions could topple it at any moment. It is in that sense a more egalitarian cabinet than any in Israel’s history. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and [his main coalition partner] Yair Lapid must cajole and convince; they have too little parliamentary wiggle room to demand or to punish. . . . And, of course, the coalition’s fragility makes each minister and faction all the more eager to be seen achieving major victories quickly.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Israeli economy, Israeli politics, Knesset

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security