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Andrey Bystritsky

Russian state-owned news agency TASS on Monday suggested the United States strongly influences the situation inside Israel and its role in masterminding mass protests in the country cannot be ruled out.

The news agency cited Andrey Bystritsky, Chairman of the Moscow-based think tank Valdai Discussion Club, who cautioned that “it would be an oversimplification to say the protests in Israel are a result of direct US impact,” but noted that at the same time, “it is obvious that the United States’ influence on the current situation inside Israel is strong. Certain parts of the US elite are biased toward the current leader of Israel. This is also a hard fact. As one of the factors for the current situation in the country US influence is not ruled out.”


Much like several thinkers on the right side of the debate in Israel, Bystritsky believes the anti-judicial reform movement had been a protest waiting for a cause (the initial attempt was to fire up the streets over the appointment of religious advocate Avi Maoz to a senior post dealing with public education – but it failed to ignite much concern – DI).

“It is clear that the content of this reform of the judiciary as such cannot cause such a protest. The way I see it, this is an effect of psychological fatigue and annoyance within Israeli society, which, undoubtedly, is being fueled by a certain kind of ties between a part of the Israeli elite and the United States,” Bystritsky suggested.

He believes the protest demonstrations in Israel are well organized, indicating that there are experienced string-pullers behind them.

“I have no doubt about this,” he said. “Whether they are directly connected with some US groups is hard to say for sure, but in all likelihood, they are connected. The range of ties between the US and Israel is vast. There are very influential pro-Israeli lobbyists in the US. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an independent and controversial political figure. A large part of the Israeli and US establishment are critical of him, so logical conclusions are easy to derive.”

The first public statement from the Biden administration against the judicial reform came on January 30, during Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Israel. He advised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that building consensus around new proposals is the best way to make sure they are adopted and last. And then he cautioned that relations between Israel and the US are based on common values – chief among them the rule of law, the protection of minority rights, and the strengthening of democracy.

“We believe that maintaining these values is critical to protect the values of democracy that we are committed to preserving,” Blinken stressed. The implied threat hung over that meeting like a dark cloud. That same day, some 50 American law professors signed a letter expressing their objection to Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s legislation.


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