Don’t Bet Against Israel’s Anti-Netanyahu Coalition Yet

Avigdor Lieberman Benny Gantz Yair Lapid Naftali Bennett
Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel attend a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 13 (Flash90/Yonatan Sindel)

Israel’s new left-right coalition has suffered its first defeat in the Knesset.

Amichai Chikli, a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina (Rightward) party, sided with the largely conservative opposition to block an extension of the family reunification law.

Two members of the governing United Arab List, known by its Hebrew acronym Ra’am, abstained, arguing a proposed compromise, which would have granted residency to some 1,600 Palestinian families, did not go far enough.

Without their support, the vote ended in a 59-59 tie, which means the law expires. Read more “Don’t Bet Against Israel’s Anti-Netanyahu Coalition Yet”

Netanyahu on Verge of Losing Power

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a security check point in the West Bank, February 6, 2020 (GPO/Haim Zach)

Benjamin Netanyahu is finally on the way out after clinging to power through four elections in two years.

The Likud party leader has been Israel’s prime minister since 2009 following a three-year term in the 1990s.

He is facing trial on three charges of bribery and fraud, has disparaged journalists, vilified prosectors and judges, and politicized Israel’s vital relationship with the United States. Republicans adore Netanyahu, but Democrats have become less unanimous in their support of his country.

It’s why I’ve urged his rivals to do a deal with Arab parties, who have been largely excluded from power in the Jewish state. To deny Netanyahu a sixth term requires breaking that taboo. Read more “Netanyahu on Verge of Losing Power”

Netanyahu’s Rivals Must Do Deal with Arab Parties

Yair Lapid Benny Gantz
Israeli party leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz attend a meeting in Jerusalem, November 18, 2019 (Flash90/Hadas Parush)

Israel’s center-left has a chance to eject Benjamin Netanyahu after twelve years of right-wing government — if they are willing to make a deal with Arab parties.

Deals with non-Zionist parties are almost taboo in Israel, which is 75 percent Jewish. This permanently excludes the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab from power.

Little wonder Arab turnout is consistently low and fell below 50 percent on Tuesday, according to estimates. Read more “Netanyahu’s Rivals Must Do Deal with Arab Parties”

Netanyahu Rival Would Be Kingmaker in New Knesset

Israeli parliament Jerusalem
View of the Knesset in Israel, Jerusalem, April 8, 2009 (Israel Tourism)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud is projected to place first in Israel’s parliamentary election with 31 to 33 seats, down from 37.

Yamina, a new right-wing party led by former economy minister Naftali Bennett, would hold the balance of power in the new Knesset with seven or eight seats, according to exit polls.

61 seats are needed for a majority. Read more “Netanyahu Rival Would Be Kingmaker in New Knesset”

Netanyahu Cruises to Reelection on Back of Vaccination Success

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, January 20, 2012 (DoD/D. Myles Cullen)

Parliamentary elections are held in Israel on Tuesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud is projected to place first with around thirty seats, down from 37. Twelve other parties are expected to cross the 3.25 percent electoral threshold, including two new parties on the right.

I asked our man in Tel Aviv, Ariel Reichard, for comment. Read more “Netanyahu Cruises to Reelection on Back of Vaccination Success”

First Things First: Vote the Authoritarians Out

Viktor Orbán Benjamin Netanyahu
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán speaks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in Brasília, Brazil, January 2, 2019 (Facebook/Viktor Orbán)

Left-wing Americans weren’t happy when the Democratic Party nominated the center-left Joe Biden for the presidency, but, unlike in 2016, few sat out the election.

Nor there were major spoiler candidates on the right. Voting for Hillary Clinton was apparently too much to ask of five million Donald Trump skeptics in 2016, who voted for libertarian Gary Johnson or conservative Evan McMullin. They could have tipped the election in Clinton’s favor.

In 2020, Democrats wisely nominated the least divisive old white guy they could find and anti-Trumpers voted like the republic depended on it. Biden won fifteen million more votes than Clinton and flipped five states, handing him a comfortable Electoral College victory.

Hungarians and Israelis hoping to get rid of their “Trumps” must take note. Read more “First Things First: Vote the Authoritarians Out”

Trump Deserves Praise for Ending the Palestinian Veto

Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani Benjamin Netanyahu Donald Trump
Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, join Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American president Donald Trump at the White House in Washington DC, September 15 (White House/Tia Dufour)

I haven’t been Donald Trump’s greatest fan, but for once he deserves praise: for facilitating the normalization of ties between Israel and two of its Arab neighbors.

In a treaty signed at the White House on Tuesday, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates entered into diplomatic relations with the Jewish state for the first time.

Only Egypt and Jordan had so far. Other Arab states do not accept Israeli passports and do not exchange embassies with Tel Aviv.

We don’t know how involved Trump was in the negotiations, and the agreements fall short of what he calls a “peace deal”. The countries weren’t at war.

But it’s a significant step and a welcome departure from previous presidents, who allowed the Palestinians a veto over Arab-Israeli relations. Read more “Trump Deserves Praise for Ending the Palestinian Veto”

Coronavirus and Corruption: Protests Against Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, February 18, 2016 (Bundesregierung/Marvin Ibo Güngör)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw the largest protests against him in nearly a decade on Saturday, when some 10,000 rallied outside his residence in Jerusalem and outside his private home in the coastal town of Caesarea.

The protesters are upset about Netanyahu’s handling of the outbreak of coronavirus in Israel and his remaining in power despite standing trial for corruption.

Similar demonstrations took place in Tel Aviv last month. Read more “Coronavirus and Corruption: Protests Against Netanyahu”

Why Netanyahu Won’t Annex the West Bank

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a security check point in the West Bank, February 6 (GPO/Haim Zach)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared intention to annex the West Bank has sparked intense debate in Israel. Although many Israelis seem to favor annexation, the consensus among security experts, including military professionals, is that such a move would have severe negative repercussions for the Jewish state’s security, its standing in the world and the prospects of peace with the Palestinians.

They fear Netanyahu will pander to right-wing voters, emboldened by the American president, Donald Trump, whose own peace plan would allow Israel to annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, in exchange for ceding territories on the Egyptian border to a Palestinian state. (A part of the plan Netanyahu has, unsurprisingly, said nothing about.) Read more “Why Netanyahu Won’t Annex the West Bank”

Trump’s Middle East Plan Is Not About Peace

Benjamin Netanyahu Donald Trump
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American president Donald Trump step down from the podium in the East Room of the White House in Washington DC, January 28 (GPO/Kobi Gideon)

Donald Trump has finally unveiled his “deal of the century” for peace and prosperity in the Middle East — and set the region ablaze with criticism.

The president’s plan recognizes Israeli control over most, if not all, of the settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), excludes most of Jerusalem from a future Palestinian state and accepts Israel’s position that “refugees” (the descendants of Palestinians who were displaced in the 1948 war) will be resettled outside Israel.

In return for accepting these conditions and renouncing terrorism and incitement, the Palestinians would receive a municipality-sized, demilitarized and completely dependent “state.” Read more “Trump’s Middle East Plan Is Not About Peace”