The Israeli prime minister called elections hoping to strengthen his coalition, but he underestimated the personal resentment many Israelis feel toward him. One shouldn't, however, confuse the fierce competition for power with a battle over ideas: even if Labor wins, the end of the occupation is not around the corner. When Benjamin Netanyahu decided to fire Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and send Israelis to the polls for the second time in a little over two years, many people (myself included) defined these elections as “a referendum on Netanyahu.” Final results will only be in on…Read More... | 12 Comments
The senator from Jerusalem will take all the help he can get these days. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on February 11. Coincidently, Netanyahu’s speech will take place a month and a half before the Israeli elections. According to most polls, Netanyahu is extremely vulnerable, and is still far from an absolute majority that will win him another term as prime minister. If you think this is the real reason he was invited to Washington, you are in good company. Netanyahu’s campaign, which is having some trouble…Read More... | 77 Comments
Netanyahu has more paths to the Prime Minister's Office than Herzog, but also more party leaders who oppose him personally. Seventy-one days ahead of Israel’s general elections, two major stories are dominating the political news cycle: the showdown between Shas’s former leaders – Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai – and the corruption affair involving senior politicians from Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu party. Both Shas and Liberman lost some ground in last week’s polls, while Yishai’s newly formed party is coming close to passing the Knesset threashold, currently at 4 seats (3.25 percent of the votes). Netanyahu’s Likud party held its…Read More... | 17 Comments
Israel and Washington together blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for the implementation of a negotiated two-state solution within a year. Abbas's diplomatic efforts have hit a brick wall. The Israeli government came out with the upper hand yesterday at the United Nations Security Council: a joint effort by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry managed to gather enough votes to block a Palestinian resolution calling for a negotiated two-state solution and an end to the occupation within a year (full text here). Jordan submitted the proposed resolution on behalf of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.…Read More... | 25 Comments
The coalition is falling apart, and the Knesset is likely to agree on early elections soon. Current polls suggest we are heading toward a fourth Netanyahu government, which will be even more right wing than the current one. Netanyahu’s third government has reached its end. New elections, which seemed likely when the Gaza war ended, are practically inevitable at this point. UPDATE: The Knesset's parties agreed to hold the elections on March 17, 2015. The two central pillars of the government – Netanyahu’s Likud party and Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (comprising 18 and 19 seats, respectively, out of…Read More... | 60 Comments
Three major laws were passed in the Knesset this week: One against the Palestinians parties, the second against the ultra-Orthodox, and the third against the prospect of peace. Netanyahu's coalition mobilized this week to pass its centerpiece legislation: the draft reform, the governance law and the referendum law. It's not a coincidence that those three laws are directly targeting those who are not represented in the government – the first takes aim at the ultra-Orthodox community, the second at the Arab citizens of Israel, and the third is meant to torpedo a future agreement with the Palestinians. The laws were…Read More... | 11 Comments
The diplomatic correspondent for IBA (Israeli public radio), Chico Menashe, stood next to Secretary of State John Kerry during the public part of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting at the White House on Monday. Check out his tweet: Obama in WH: "Kerry had productive meetings with BB". Kerry, standing in the back, told Biden : "Productive!?״ pic.twitter.com/w9bWCvUYH7 — chico menashe (@chicomenashe) March 3, 2014 Click here for +972 Magazine's full coverage of the diplomatic processRead More... | 4 Comments
Tom Friedman writes from Tel Aviv: The “Kerry Plan,” likely to be unveiled soon, is expected to call for an end to the conflict and all claims, following a phased Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (based on the 1967 lines), with unprecedented security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Palestinians for them with Israeli territory. It will call for the Palestinians to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and for Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It will…Read More... | 12 Comments
The Israeli prime minister tells reporters he wouldn't 'uproot' a single Israeli. Netanyahu's office later explains that the object of the new demand is to score points against the Palestinian Authority by 'exposing its real face.' A couple of statements from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are adding to the confusion over the kind of solution he envisions, if he supports one at all. Answering a question from a reporter in Davos regarding the possible evacuation of Jordan Valley settlements – Israel seeks to keep IDF forces along the Jordan River even after any withdrawal – Netanyahu said that he “wouldn’t…Read More... | 25 Comments
With his attacks on Kerry, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is positioning himself as the new leader of the Israeli right. I basically agree with those claiming that there is no daylight between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on the issues, only on style and timing. Netanyahu has surrounded himself with opponents of the two-state solution: his political circles are full of settlers, national-religious and other hawks -- and not only in the cabinet, but in his own bureau. As veteran political correspondent Shalom Yerushalmi noted in Maariv on Wednesday, for weeks these people have been running around saying…Read More... | 11 Comments
According to reports, the secretary of state has accepted Netanyahu’s demand that Israel be recognized as a 'Jewish state.' I added an important update to this post, see below. Haaretz's Barak Ravid reported Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is demanding that Arab leaders pressure the Palestinians to recognize Israel as "a Jewish State,” or at least not protest if he can get Abbas to agree to such terms. This is yet another confirmation that the Obama administration has accepted the new demand posed by Netanyahu, and that it is intended to be a part of its proposal for a…Read More... | 32 Comments
By refusing to drastically amend its settlement guidelines, EU reopens debate on occupation within Israeli elites
The EU's new settlement guidelines, which were published last summer, put limits on loans to Israeli businesses operating beyond the Green Line and forbid EU financing of projects in settlements. Right-wing ministers are demanding that Israel reject the new terms, while centrists would like to avoid international isolation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held two long cabinet meetings with senior ministers on Sunday regarding the difficulty in reaching an agreement with the EU over its new 'settlement guidelines' for joint projects with Israel, Israeli media reported. Netanyahu instructed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to try and reach a deal that would end the impasse…Read More... | 16 Comments
A settler in the Jordan Valley was killed in his yard Thursday night. This is the third such incident in the West Bank in less than a month. A retired Israeli colonel was killed in his home last night (Thursday) in the Brosh Habika settlement in the Jordan Valley. The incident brings the number of Israeli casualties in the West Bank to three in less than a month. According to his wife, Seraiah Ofer was attacked with iron rods and axes in his front yard. She escaped through a hole in the back fence, while her husband was beaten to…Read More... | 34 Comments
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The Iran Deal
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