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No, Bill Maher, Netanyahu's campaign was indeed racist

Citing example after example of racism and stoking ethnic tensions in U.S. history, the HBO host finds a way to justify Netanyahu’s warning that Arabs are voting.

American television personality Bill Maher addressed Israeli elections on his show a few days ago, specifically, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election-day warning that Arabs are voting en masse.

Maher, who has made a career shrugging off the constraints of politically correct discourse on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” argues that playing the race card in order to galvanize one’s base is an acceptable political tactic.

How do we know? Well, because it’s happened in the United States — so it must be okay.

“Like Reagan didn’t win [presidential] races with racism? Like Nixon, like Bush? They didn’t play the race card?” Maher posits. If those guys did it, what could be wrong?

But that was only the beginning.

Rejecting his own hypothetical in which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney warns of black voters, Maher continued: “I think that would be a good analogy if America was surrounded by 12 or 13 completely black nations who had militarily attacked us many times, including as recently as last year. Would we let them vote?”

I think I see where you’re going, Bill. Would the United States allow its own citizens to vote if they were of the same race as a country that the U.S. recently fought? It certainly has done some ugly things we don’t like to bring up very often, but at the end of the day the arc of history bends toward justice, or something like that, and America is different today — right?

Not so much on Real Talk.

“I don’t know,” Maher continued. “When we were attacked by the Japanese we didn’t just not let them vote, we rounded them up and put them in camps.”

And there you have it. In an attempt to justify electoral race-baiting by Israel’s prime minister, Bill Maher suggests that arbitrarily putting over 100,000 American citizens in internment camps — on the basis of race — in response to a threat that never materialized was somehow justified?

When the world noticed Netanyahu’s racist campaigning last week I wrote about how Americans should rethink the idea that the bonds tying together Netanyahu’s Israel and the United States are cemented with shared values. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe...

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The one thing that could have defeated Netanyahu — hope

There was a sense of misplaced joy on some parts of the Israeli Left as Netanyahu’s carefully crafted messaging began to unravel in the days leading up to elections. Finally, the world would see his true colors. But the same thing that keeps Netanyahu in power is the same thing that perpetuates the occupation: lack of an alternative vision.

It would have been pretty tempting to write a headline along the lines of, “Netanyahu rules out two-state solution, Israel votes for him anyway.” But that would have been silly. First off, Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t support the two-state solution when he was elected six years ago — and that was following the most intense and hopeful peace talks in a decade. Secondly, the voters whom he attracted with his last-minute confession were most likely going to vote for the Jewish Home, which has been far more adamant and open about opposing Palestinian statehood.

There was a nearly tangible sense of misplaced joy on some parts of the Israeli Left as Netanyahu’s carefully crafted messaging began to unravel in the days leading up to the elections. Finally, the world would see his true colors. Finally, all those Israelis who support peace and want their society to be more egalitarian will wake up and vote Bibi out of office.

The problem with that sentiment is, the reason Bibi waited until the last minute to publicize the less palatable points of his platform is that they were not ever issues in the election. His opponents did not campaign on a platform of equality or support for the two-state solution — it was simply not on the agenda.

It would be amiss at this point to condemn the 38 percent of Israelis who voted for right-wing nationalist parties (Likud, Israel Beitenu, Jewish Home and Yahad) on Tuesday. And sure, many of them, particularly supporters of Jewish Home and Yahad, are settlers and ultra-nationalist ideologues whose views are simply incompatible with contemporary values. The main point is that Netanyahu offers mainstream Israelis stability in a scary world.

Sure, Netanyahu fear-mongers and plays up threats for electoral and political gain. But Israelis aren’t stupid. There are real threats out there. ISIS, while not synonymous with Hamas, really is only an hour’s drive away. Enough Palestinians do want to harm Israelis that “peace” feels unsafe in the current climate. A nuclear-armed Iran, whether it...

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[Updated] Netanyahu soars ahead of Zionist Camp

Netanyahu has best chances to form a government but President Rivlin says will work for a unity government. (Updated below with 90% of votes counted.)

Update (4:30 a.m. local, 10 p.m. EST):
The following is the expected distribution of seats with over 90 percent of votes counted as calculated by Nehamia Gershuni, who runs independent polling site Project 61:



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and challenger Isaac Herzog came out tied with 27 seats out of 120 in the first exit polls in Israeli elections on Tuesday.

The Joint List received 13 seats in the initial exit polls, an increase of two seats for the Arab parties that individually had 11 seats in the past Knesset. The Joint List will most likely be the third-largest party in the next Knesset.

With the numbers released early on election night it would be much easier for Netanyahu to form a government, although President Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday night that he would work for a unity government.

The president grants one Knesset member the right to form a government so his inclinations have significant weight.

With even more power than Rivlin, however, is Moshe Kahlon of the Kulanu party. With nine seats and not clearly committed to either the right- or left-wing camp, Kahlon can — at least in theory — anoint the next prime minister. He is expected to initially support Netanyahu but is possible that he would also join a Herzog-lead government.

Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home settler party shrunk significantly to eight seats. Even smaller was Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu party, which had only five seats.

Left-wing Meretz held steady with five seats, dropping only slightly from its current six. Earlier in the day there were rumors that the party would not cross the threshold and make it into the Knesset.

The two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism were predicted to have 13 seats between them.

Voter turnout in the election was 71.8 percent, over 4 percent more than in the previous elections. According to the Joint List, turnout among Arabs was reportedly up to 67 percent, a dramatic rise.

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The next time Netanyahu talks about 'common values'

Hours after disavowing the two-state solution, the Israeli prime minister makes clear that his version of democracy includes as few Arabs as possible.

A few hours after the polls opened in Israeli elections on Tuesday, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a message that offends the very spirit of democracy and equality.

Invoking military terminology, the prime minister warned that his own “right-wing regime” is in danger because “the Arabs are mobilizing in large numbers … to the polls.”

Lamenting that the Right doesn’t have its own get-out-the-vote movements, Netanyahu said it does have its “Order 8,” an emergency call-up order in Israeli military parlance.

The racism that capped off Netanyahu’s campaign on Tuesday followed an equally audacious statement the day before. In an interview Monday, Netanyahu made clear that no Palestinian state will come into existence on his watch should he be re-elected.

Next time the prime minister, in whatever capacity, talks about the shared values of the United States and Israel, the next time he accuses an Arab leader of saying one thing in English and another in Arabic, remember this.

Remember that Netanyahu’s version of democracy includes as few Arab voices as possible, simply because they are not Jewish.

Remember that the peace processes he has overseen for decades were not genuine, that he never had any intention of ushering in, let alone seeking, a two-state solution.

A government that values the voice of one group of its citizens more than others does not share the values espoused by the United States.

A state that has kept millions of people under military rule with no say in how they are governed, no say in their future, and which does not seek to end that disenfranchisement, that state does not share America’s values.

A leader who no longer even pays lip service to the values of democracy and civil rights is not a man with whom Americans shares common values.

Remember all of that next time Benjamin Netanyahu appeals to his supporters in Washington and says, you and I are the same.

I, Mr. Prime Minister, am nothing like you.

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If Netanyahu is re-elected, Israel has a Europe problem

Nobody ever thought the window for a two-state solution would ever truly close — or be closed. Benjamin Netanyahu just declared it so in a last-ditched attempt to rally his base ahead of elections.

Forget whatever temporary crisis Benjamin Netanyahu created with the United States in his campaign speech on the Hill. If Netanyahu is re-elected on Tuesday, Israel is going to have a much more serious problem with Europe.

In an interview with Israeli news site NRG one day before elections, the prime minister made clear what he has only hinted at and skirted around for years.

The interviewer wasn’t going to have it. “If you are prime minister, a Palestinian state will not be established?” he asked.

“Indeed,” responded Netanyahu.

And therein lies the problem. The very foundation of Netanyahu’s strategy vis-a-vis the Palestinians and the international community has been to stall, to muddle, to talk the talk but not walk the walk.

His strategy has paid off thus far. Nobody in the world fully believes that Netanyahu ever earnestly went all-in to peace talks, but as long as the process continued, as long as there was a chance, the gravest consequences of Israel’s intransigence have been held at bay.

In Brussels last year senior EU bureaucrats crafting Europe’s policy in the Middle East made clear to me that the ongoing peace process was the only thing stopping them from implementing what can only be described as sanctions.

But if the Israeli government were to declare officially that two states were off the table and if the peace process were to be declared definitively dead, then there would be no more “business as usual.”

Last year, the idea seemed fantastical. No-one — neither diplomats nor analysts — believed the Israeli side would ever say say ‘game over.’ But things have changed.

And it is important to note that Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, which gives it tremendous influence.

Netanyahu’s declaration, should he be re-elected, would also provide the Palestinian Authority with reasons beyond reproach to move ahead in the United Nations and other international institutions.

This will make things a bit awkward for the United States. How can it continue to veto anti-settlement resolutions in the UN Security Council if the Israeli government’s official position is that Palestinian statehood is off the table —  that the West Bank belongs to Israel and not...

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Poll: Israelis don't believe either candidate will make peace

Six days before Israelis head to the polls, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his challengers, Herzog-Livni, are closer than ever. According to a new survey, most Israelis support a continued peace process, but don’t think it will succeed — regardless of who is at the helm.

The past two-and-a-half months of campaigning leading up to next week’s elections have been cast as a choice between “us and them,” between the stability of an incumbent and the change offered by his challenger.

While the latest polls show Israelis almost evenly split — both among so-called Left and Right blocs, but also among those supporting either Benjamin Netanyahu or his challengers, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni — the public at large doesn’t actually expect much change, regardless of who wins the election.

Nearly 60 percent of those polled said they believe there will be no progress on the peace process regardless of who forms the next government, “because there is no solution to the disputes between the two sides.”According to a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), a full full two-thirds of Jewish respondents said they agreed that no progress will be made.

An identical number of respondents (taking into consideration the margin of error) said they support continuing to hold peace negotiations. Maintaining the contradictions that have become so enshrined in public polling on the peace process, however, 65 percent of respondents said they do not believe such negotiations will lead to peace in the coming years.

The IDI poll also found a significant gap in the public’s hopes and expectations regarding the elections. While 38 percent of those polls said they want a center-Left bloc to form the next government, only 23.7 percent said the center-Left has a better chance of forming a ruling coalition than the Right. Roughly one-fifth of the respondents, however, were undecided or declined to answer.

The two main candidates, Netanyahu’s Likud and Herzog and Livni’s Zionist Camp, are closer than ever in the most recent polls, as published by Project 61, an independent polling project that aggregates and attempts to correct biases in the major pre-election surveys.

The Zionist Camp has a slight lead over Likud, but the possible blocs necessary for forming a government are closer than ever. A possible center-Left coalition consisting of the Zionist Camp, Yesh Atid, Meretz and Kulanu would garner 47 out of the necessary...

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50,000 Israelis show up at the wrong protest

Imagine what would happen if tens of thousands of Israelis marched on the Qalandia checkpoint demanding that the occupation end immediately.

Some 50,000 people showed up on Saturday at a rally demanding change: a change in government, a change in attitude toward the Palestinian issue, a change in the state’s approach to social issues.

The main theme in most of the speeches at Saturday night’s rally in Rabin Square was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lack of strategic vision on the Palestinian issue, and the need to reach an agreement to end the occupation and the conflict. Two former senior security officials, ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amiram Levine, both warned that Israel is heading toward a reality of apartheid if it continues its 47-year-old regime of military rule over 4 million Palestinians.

But if those 50,000 people truly wanted change, if they wanted to unequivocally demonstrate that the occupation must end, then they showed up at the wrong rally.

Earlier that day in Jerusalem, some 1,500 Israeli and Palestinian women marched toward both sides of the Qalandia checkpoint — that separates Jerusalem and Ramallah — with more articulate demands for change: an end to the occupation.

Imagine if 50,000 Israelis marched on Qalandia to demand an end to Israel’s undemocratic military rule over Palestinians, an end to the checkpoints that restrict Palestinian freedom of movement while allowing Israelis to drive through unhindered, an end to separate laws and permit regimes that do indeed bring up images of South African apartheid.

Imagine if all of those people who are angry enough about Netanyahu’s lack of vision on the Palestinian issue directed their anger at the occupation itself instead of the leader who administers it, conveniently ignoring that their leader has no vision for ending it either.

Imagine if it became socially acceptable in the Israeli mainstream for Israelis to peacefully march on checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers, demanding that said checkpoints be dismantled and that full equality be Israeli society’s primary goal. Imagine if that were something society as a whole cared enough about to demand.

That is the brilliance and tragedy of the occupation. While half of Israelis consistently express that they want the occupation to end (in the framework of a two-state solution), only a marginalized few, so-called radical activists, take any action against the occupation...

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Tens of thousands in Tel Aviv demand Netanyahu's ouster

Ten days before Israelis head to the polls, masses turn out in anti-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv. Latest polls put Zionist Camp ahead of Likud but it’s still unclear who can form a coalition.

Tens of thousands of Israelis attended a rally to demand a new government Saturday night in Rabin Square. Israel Police estimated that 40,000 people attended; the event’s organizers claimed more than 80,000 people showed up.

The rally was held under the banner, “Israel wants change,” and was being billed as an anti-Benjamin Netanyahu event.

Among the speakers scheduled to take part in the event were former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, Michal Kestan-Kedar ( the widow of a lieutenant-colonel who was killed in Operation Defensive Edge), a social justice activist, journalists and others.

In his speech, Dagan told the crowd that he is more scared of Israel’s leadership than its enemies. Saying that he wants neither a bi-national state nor an apartheid state, the former Mossad chief derided the current leadership for using fear and threats to present peace as unattainable.

“To those who say we don’t have any alternative, as somebody who worked directly with three prime ministers: there is a better alternative,” Dagan said.

“Just as there are unavoidable wars there are also unavoidable elections,” the visibly ill former Mossad chief said, describing the upcoming elections as an emergency call-up that Israel cannot ignore.

Former Israeli general Amiram Levine also addressed the crowd, stressing the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative. Addressing Israeli settlers in the West Bank, Amiram argued that peace “is the only way to preserve the settlement project, the settlement blocs and to hold on to the Golan Heights.”

Both men used the word “apartheid” in their warnings of the direction Israel is headed.

The event comes 10 days before Israelis head to the polls with no clear winner predicted. Labor and Tzipi Livni’s “Zionist Camp” is showing as the largest party in most polls, although Netanyahu’s Likud is not far behind.

Behind the Zionist Camp (23) and Likud (21), the Joint List of Arab parties grew in the most recent polls to up to 15 seats, according to aggregate polling Project 61.

Netanyahu has ruled out the possibility of forming a unity government with the Zionist Camp, leaving two possible coalitions: a far-right government that includes one or two of the centrist parties and the ultra-Orthodox; and, a...

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Does Herzog have a chance at unseating Netanyahu?

While Herzog’s chances appear to be higher than they have been for most of the campaign season, he still faces an uphill battle to unseat Netanyahu in an election almost entirely devoid of debate on the issues.

For one of the first times in the current election campaign, the centrist “Zionist Camp” actually has a chance of ousting incumbent prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Israel’s parliamentary system, the premiership is held by the Knesset member who is able to form a coalition around him or herself. Almost no single party has been able to form a government without a coalition constituting a 61-seat majority of the Knesset.

In 2009, for example, Tzipi Livni headed the largest party but was unable to form a coalition of 61 or more members of Knesset to form a government, leading the way for Netanyahu’s second government.

The rise of centrist party Yesh Atid and most recently, Kulanu, the traditionally large Left and Right parties have shrunk, with both polling between 23 and 25 seats for the next Knesset. As explained here in my previous election analysis, the scattered power of smaller and medium-sized parties makes forming and holding together a governing coalition difficult, which is the reason cited by Netanyahu for calling new elections.

The allegiances of the newer centrist parties, much like the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties in the past, are expected to be less principled and could easily join either a left- or right-leaning government led by Herzog or Netanyahu, respectively. However, Lapid’s “Yesh Atid” is less likely to support a Netanyahu government and Moshe Kahlon’s “Kulanu” is more likely to join Likud, the party which he broke off from.

With the Zionist Camp and Likud virtually tied in the polls, the name of the game is coalition building. As it stands, either side could ostensibly form a government with the support of the ultra-Orthodox and one or more of the centrist parties.

A Labor government, according to the latest polls, could consist of: the Zionist Camp (24 seats), Yesh Atid (11 seats), Kulanu (eight seats), United Torah Judaism (seven seats), Shas (seven seats), and Meretz (five seats), for a total of 62 seats, just enough to form a government.

If you assume that the Arab Joint List will throw its support behind the formation of a Herzog-led government from the backbenches, then Herzog could ostensibly have the support...

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The road to a fourth Netanyahu gov’t runs through Haneen Zoabi

The ‘Zionist Camp’ needs the Arab parties in order to form a government. Its decision to vote for disqualifying Zoabi makes that support less and less likely.

The Central Elections Commission on Thursday disqualified MK Haneen Zoabi and candidate Baruch Marzel from running in Israel’s upcoming elections. The decision is not final without the approval of the Supreme Court, which is not expected to uphold the disqualification.

The Zionist Camp, comprised of the Labor Party and Tzipi Livni’s party, reversed its already-reversed position and joined the majority in voting to disqualify Zoabi. Only six votes were cast against disqualifying the Balad MK, which came from Meretz and the Arab parties.

While the disqualification itself is an act of political theater in an election increasingly straddling one axis — whether, and how Zionist each party and candidate is — it may very well have a definitive effect on the next government.

After the elections, the president asks all of the parties in the new Knesset to recommend who should be given an opportunity to form the governing coalition. Taking those recommendations into consideration, the president then chooses the head of one party, who has 42 days to build a coalition of at least 61 MKs.

The president is not compelled to choose the largest party; he can also choose somebody who is likely to be able to form a viable coalition. For example, after the 2009 elections, Tzipi Livni headed the largest party but she was unable to form a coalition so Netanyahu was given an opportunity — and succeeded.

This is where the Zionist Camp’s vote to disqualify Haneen Zoabi comes into play as perhaps the biggest gamble of its campaign.

Where the polls stand today, the Zionist Camp doesn’t have a large enough block of parties to form a coalition but if it is nevertheless chosen to form a government, it could pull in some of the centrist parties that are more flexible about what type of government they are willing to sit in.

In order to be given the chance to form a government at all, however, they would need the support of the Joint List of Arab parties. By voting to disqualify one of the Joint List’s members, the Zionist Camp runs the risk of losing their support.

All of that means that even if the Zionist...

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The political brilliance of Netanyahu's Congress speech

Whether or not Israel faces consequences for his diplomatic strong-arming, the Israeli prime minister will have accomplished the only two things that matter to him: trying one last time to kill an Iran nuclear deal and convincing Israeli voters that he is the only one who knows how to ensure their survival.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s maneuver to give a pre-election speech to a joint session of Congress is politically brilliant. Within the bounds of his political considerations, Netanyahu can’t lose, even if the political blowback and diplomatic consequences continue to snowball.

It’s easy to forget but there is only one issue that Netanyahu truly cares about, one to which everything else — from the Palestinian peace process to free trade deals to domestic social and societal issues to diplomatic relations — takes a back seat: Iran.

The prime minister fashions himself the savior of the Jewish people and in his mind, the number one threat to the survival of his people is the Islamic Republic of Iran. That attitude endears him to a significant portion of the Israeli electorate — even if he’s inadequate in every other realm of political interest. He sows fear about the crazy people in Tehran and then positions himself as the only person crazy enough to stop them.

He is the strongman. He foresees danger. He will not be stopped by anything.

And that’s the image that he will strengthen by going to Congress and giving the most impassioned speech he’s ever given about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. President Obama’s naïveté for negotiating with “the Ayatollahs.”

Read +972′s full election coverage here

Netanyahu’s stubborn and undiplomatic efforts to derail American-led nuclear talks with Iran by coopting the Republican Congress perfectly fits the image he so carefully fosters back home, especially if he faces consequences for it — that he will burn every bridge he has to cross if it means saving the Jewish people.

And if it doesn’t work?

Even if Netanyahu doesn’t manage to stop an already unlikely P5+1 deal with Iran, even if he can’t secure sanctions that bring us closer to war, he will still have won. Netanyahu will have rallied the Republican Party around his cause. That same Republican Party will be his ally for the next two years, especially as it readies itself to become the most formidable obstacle to...

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What do you call a politician who promises more war?

Election season is a time when most people expect to be presented with a hopeful vision for the future. In Israel, every single leading political figure is promising more of the same.

Israel’s election season officially went into full swing over the weekend as lists of candidates were finalized and the deadline for parties to merge came and went without any last-minute surprises.

While very few of the major parties have published official platforms for the upcoming elections, their leaders and senior officials are beginning to shape what voters can expect from them.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Israel Beitenu party, which is currently embroiled in a massive corruption scandal, is a subscriber of a two-state future of sorts. His vision centers on forced population transfer and the encouraged migration of Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

Liberman on Sunday pivoted his campaign on something else: fear. Instead of offering Israelis hope for a better future, the strongman politician promised more war.

“A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable,” Liberman told Ynet. He added that his party will never sit in a left-wing government, essentially shifting his two-state support into something far-off and unimportant.

His political foes aren’t offering anything more hopeful.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, running together on a joint list they are calling the “Zionist Camp,” all but made the same promise — offering an identical path vis-à-vis Hamas in Gaza that the current government embarked upon, while deriding Netanyahu for compromising and reaching a cease fire.

Speaking near the Gaza border a day after announcing their joint ticket, Livni said: “Hamas is a terrorist organization and there is no hope for peace with it… the only way to act against it is with force – we must use military force against terror… this is instead of Netanyahu’s policy to come to an agreement with Hamas.”

Regarding the more mainstream idea of making peace with more “moderate” Palestinians in the West Bank, Livni and Herzog have used the word hope. But that hope lies entirely in the same framework for peace that has failed for over two decades. Good intentions, maybe; hope, not so much.

Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising to never evacuate West Bank settlements and has in the past said he would not relinquish Israeli control over the...

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The Israeli government's election gift to West Bank settlers

Netanyahu tells supporters at a settlement campaign event that Israel will continue to build in the West Bank, as his Likud party competes with more hawkish parties for settler votes. Erekat calls for boycott, divestment in response.

Less than a month and a half before general elections, the Israeli government published tenders for 430 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

The move could be interpreted as a gift of sorts to the right-wing electorate as the ruling Likud party fights for votes with the further-right Jewish Home party headed by Naftali Bennett. While Netanyahu has ruled out a withdrawal from the West Bank, which would necessarily preclude Palestinian statehood. Other prominent members of the Likud and the entire Jewish Home party outright oppose a two-state solution.

The settlement construction tenders are issued via the Housing and Construction Ministry, headed by Minister Uri Ariel of Jewish Home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue settlement construction this week, speaking to young Likud supporters in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

“We will not hesitate to stand up and say: we are here, we are staying here, we will build here and cultivate here,” Netanyahu said. “Ariel is a part of the State of Israel, that’s the way it was and that’s how it will be.”

The prime minister also ruled out handing over the central West Bank hill country to the Palestinians, warning of a “second Hamasastan.” Netanyahu put his refusal to withdraw from the West Bank in even clearer terms in July. “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” he said.

The plans include new construction in the settlements of Adam, Elkana, Alfei Menace and Kiryat Arba, according to AFP.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is scheduled to attend a dedication ceremony Monday for a new community center in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, which abuts the Palestinian city of Hebron and the Jewish settlement inside the city. Rivlin is a Likud veteran but has put great effort to stay above party politics since assuming the presidency.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the latest settlement announcement “unsurprising when viewed in the context of the culture of impunity granted to Israel by the international community.”

Erekat called on the international community to hold Israel accountable, saying the world...

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