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Poll: 60% of Jewish Israelis fear fight against judicial reform will end in violence

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Tuesday’s events as they unfold.

Ex-Pink Floyd partner brands Roger Waters antisemitic, lip-synching Putin apologist

Pink Floyd star David Gilmour and his wife Polly Samson step up the long-running feud with former bandmate Roger Waters with a scathing attack on Twitter.

Samson, an acclaimed novelist, tweets at Rogers: “You are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense.”

Gilmour then retweeted her, saying “Every word demonstrably true.”

Every word demonstrably true

— David Gilmour (@davidgilmour) February 6, 2023

The post apparently comes after Waters, long known for his antisemitism and anti-Israel activism, gave an interview in which he expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said it was “really sad” his former bandmates had recorded a song in support of Ukraine, and reiterated his comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany.

Religious Zionism vows no West Bank settlement freeze amid reports of US pressure

The far-right Religious Zionism party vows there will be no freeze in settlement construction in the West Bank following a report on the Axios news site that the US is pressuring Israel to halt construction.

“There will be no freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria. Period,” reads a statement from Religious Zionism, using the biblical names for the region.

The Axios report says that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement construction as part of an effort to reduce tensions in the West Bank.

The Palestinian were asked to halt moves against Israel in international forums like the UN and the International Court of Justice.

Axios also reported that Israel refused to stop building, but said that it would reduce some of its actions.

Religious Zionism also promises to maintain “deterrence” against terror and to fight illegal Palestinian construction in the West Bank’s Area C. Much of the latter is built on so-called “open lands,” where Palestinians struggle to receive permits.

“There will be no damage to Israeli deterrence against terrorists. Period. There will be no continuation of illegal construction and Arab takeover of the open areas. Period,” the party says.

UNESCO: Several World Heritage sites damaged or destroyed in quakes

The United Nations’ cultural agency says it has undertaken a preliminary survey of damage to heritage sites in the earthquake-hit areas, with an aim to help rapidly secure and stabilize them.

The Paris-based UNESCO is “particularly concerned about the situation in the ancient city of Aleppo” in Syria, which is on the list of endangered World Heritage.

“Significant damage has been noted in the citadel. The western tower of the old city wall has collapsed and several buildings in the souks have been weakened,” the statement says.

In Turkey, UNESCO said it was saddened by the news of the collapse of several buildings at the Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens, a World Heritage site that goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times.

Iran unveils new underground air force base

Iran unveils its first underground air force base, Reuters reports citing the IRNA news agency.

“It is one of the army’s most important air force bases, with fighters equipped with long-range cruise missiles and built in the depths of earth,” IRNA says.

The base, named “Eagle 44,” in an undisclosed location, is part of an attempt by Iran to put key military and nuclear facilities out of the way of potential strikes.

Tech workers block roads protesting judicial overhaul plan

Dozens of high-tech workers take to Tel Aviv’s busy Kaplan Street to protest the government’s judicial reform plan, partially blocking traffic.

Many of them carry signs reading: “No freedom, no high-tech” and Israeli flags.

The demonstrations joined others in Herzliya, Jerusalem, and northern tech hub Yokne’am.

Due to the extreme weather, the protest also included Zoom sessions, according to participants.

In recent weeks, senior executives from Israel’s business and tech community have publicly voiced their concern over the judicial overhaul advanced by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, which would severely limit the High Court’s ability to strike down laws and allow the Knesset to re-enact legislation that the court has struck down. It would also give Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition government control over judges’ appointments and allow ministers to appoint their own legal advisers.

60% of Jewish Israelis fear struggle against judicial overhaul will end in violence

Some 60% of Jewish Israelis think that there is a high to certain likelihood that opposition to the government’s plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary will end in violence, while 35% of the population fear civil war, according to a poll published today.

The survey by the  Jewish People Policy Institute says the fear of violence exists equally across the political spectrum.

Only 31% think the chance of such an outcome is low or not possible.

“These numbers appear unrealistic at first glance, but in fact, as we double and triple checked, we found that Israelis don’t think the possibility of some sort of violent conflict is just political rhetoric or media spin; it’s a real concern,” says JPPI President Yedidia Stern.

The poll, which has a margin of error of 4%, was conducted among a representative sample of 600 Israeli Jewish adults, January 30-31, 2023.

However, a similar recent poll found that only 31% thought violence was likely.

The Netanyahu coalition is pushing a dramatic judicial restructuring that would increase government control over the judiciary. Critics say that along with other planned legislation, the sweeping reforms will impact Israel’s democratic character by upsetting its system of checks and balances, granting almost all power to the executive branch, and leaving individual rights unprotected and minorities undefended.

The plan has drawn intense criticism and warnings from leading financial and legal experts, as well as weekly mass protests and public petitions by various officials, professionals, and private companies.

Netanyahu has pushed back against the criticism, saying that the proposals would strengthen democracy rather than hasten its end, and that his government was carrying out the will of the people.