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Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv , Israel , 28 October 2023.

Abir Sultan/Reuters

What happens if the ICC issues an arrest warrant for Netanyahu?

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, on Monday announced that he’s seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders over allegations of war crimes on and since Oct. 7.

Israel’s top diplomat called the decision a “disgrace.”

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Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from Lebanon towards Israel over the Israeli Lebanese border, as seen from northern Israel, April 12, 2024.

REUTERS/Ayal Margolin

Iran strikes Israel. How will Netanyahu respond?

On Saturday, Iran launched roughly 300 drones and missiles at Israel in retaliation for Israel’s April 1 bombing of the Iranian consulate in Syria. Some 99% of Iranian projectiles were destroyed by a combination of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, US firepower, and assistance from Britain, Germany, and reportedly Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Israel suffered minimal damage and no casualties.

The question now is what comes next, for the region, the Israel-Hamas war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the world’s great powers?

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Luisa Vieira

Israel’s political crisis, explained

What happened, exactly?

Since taking office last December, the far-right coalition led by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu had been trying to get legislation passed that would give the executive full control of the supreme court’s composition and allow the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to overturn supreme court rulings with a simple majority.

While many of the reform’s proponents are motivated by a desire to check what they’ve long viewed as an overly activist, liberal, and anti-democratic judiciary, Bibi himself primarily saw it as a means to stay out of prison and in power.

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Fire burns as people attend a demonstration after Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the defense minister, Tel Aviv, Israel, March 27, 2023.

REUTERS/Nir Elias

Netanyahu’s climbdown

After civil unrest swept Israel in recent days, PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu announced Monday night that he would suspend the divisive judicial overhaul that, among other things, would allow the government to almost exclusively select judges.

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Demonstrators drape the national flag of Israel on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Bibi’s defiance, US strikes in Syria, Lula’s China visit, Putin’s Hungary refuge, India vs. free speech

Bibi’s not backing down

Israelis waited with bated breath on Thursday evening as news broke that PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu was preparing to brief the nation after another “day of disruption” saw protesters block roads and strike over the government’s proposed judicial reforms.

The trigger for the impromptu public address was a meeting between Bibi and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, also from the ruling Likud Party, who has voiced increasing concern that the looming judicial reform would threaten Israel’s national security, particularly as more and more army reservists are refusing to show up for training.

That never happened. While he talked about healing divisions, a defiant Netanyahu came out and said he will proceed to push through the reform, which, among other things, would give the government an automatic majority on appointing Supreme Court judges. This came just a day after the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, passed a bill blocking the attorney general from declaring Netanyahu unfit for office due to a conflict of interest over his ongoing legal woes and his bid to dilute the power of the judiciary. In response, the attorney general released a letter Friday saying Netanyahu's involvement in judicial reform is "illegal," suggesting a much-dreaded constitutional crisis may have begun.

Two things to look out for in the days ahead: First, what does Defense Minister Gallant do next? If he threatens to – or does – resign, it could set off subsequent defections and be a game changer. Second, how do the markets respond? Indeed, markets rallied Thursday before Bibi’s address in hopes that the government was set to backtrack on the reforms that are spooking investors, but the shekel value slumped after the speech.

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