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

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy