Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday elicited strong opinions from U.S. elected officials with rave reviews from Republicans and condemnation from several Democrats. But back home Israelis were nonplussed over the talk—if they watched at all.
Category Archives: Israeli Government
On the eve of his departure to Washington DC to address Congress about the possible nuclear deal being brokered between the U.S. and Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made one last stop to occupied East Jerusalem.
Plumes of teargas wafted up the terraced hillside of the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday when over 1,000 demonstrators marked ten years of weekly protests against Israel’s separation wall and occupation, outside of Ramallah. Israelis drove in from Tel Aviv, and international activists and Palestinians from nearby towns flocked to march from the center of Bil’in, to the hamlet’s agricultural grounds. As with every Friday, clashes ensued once protesters reached the outskirts of town where olive orchards and patch vegetable farms buffer Israel’s concrete barrier and one of the most populated settlements, Modi’in Illit.
Katie Miranda imagines the scene at Netanyahu’s speech to Congress tomorrow.
Addressing the Security Council in New York on Monday Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor gave a bizarre satirical presentation of “Oscar” awards for “peace and security.” The victors were Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority.
Mainstream Israeli political parties are united in rejecting the international consensus for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they are divided over “the Kerry Plan” which would see Israel annex its major illegal settlement blocs on critical chunks of Palestinian territory, redraw its border roughly along the route of the illegal Wall and nullify the refugees’ right of return. Whereas Netanyahu is content to maintain the status quo of occupation and settlement expansion, the pro-Kerry camp seeks its legal consecration through a US-brokered deal. If Netanyahu forms Israel’s next government, Palestine’s foreseeable future will resemble its unbearable present. But if Netanyahu loses, the decisive obstacle to securing formal Palestinian capitulation to US-Israeli terms may be removed with him.
Sushi and wine were in abundance in the West Bank settlement of Psagot near Ramallah Monday night as former Arkansas Governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee was honored at the start of a ten-day trip to Israel. Huckabee is in the region promoting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s forthcoming address to congress.
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu released an ISIS inspired campaign video late Saturday evening where his Likud party suggested a vote for his opponents will lead to Israel’s takeover by the Islamic terror group.
After a half-year suspension and a row to remove from office Arab member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi, right-wing parties succeeded in disqualifying her from participating in Israeli elections next month. Yesterday the Central Election Committee in the Knesset voted Zoabi and hardline candidate Baruch Marzel could not run. The two were accused of incitement against Israel. Both cases will now be reviewed by Israel’s high court.
Since last August when professor of international law William Schabas was appointed as the head of a United Nations war crimes inquiry into violations committed in Gaza over the summer, Israel has repeatedly sought to remove him. Last week, Israel won. Schabas recused himself amid allegations of bias in a favor of the Palestinian government, but the resignation is not enough for Israel. It wants the entire investigation scrapped.
In his latest campaign ad Netanyahu plays the “Bibi-sitter” and says that his opponents cannot be trusted to watch after Israel’s children. He goes after Labor leader Issac Herzog by saying, “By the time we get home we won’t have a house left!” meaning that a centrist government would agree to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and turn over the occupied territories to the Palestinians. In the mindset of the commercial, this is as disastrous and foolish as giving away one’s own house.
Khalid Ja’ar once worked for Birthright, showing American Jews the “Bedouin experience” in the Negev. But after his son was killed by Israeli police and the town of Rahat has become a focus of Palestinian resistance, and Ja’ar’s world has changed.
A prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has opened an inquiry into possible war crimes carried out by Israel in advance of the Palestinian government’s official ascension to the court. Meanwhile, the Palestinians plan to re-file a UN Security Council resolution to end Israel’s occupation.
Millions took to the streets of Paris in a historic “unity” march in the wake of a shocking string of events including the Charlie Hebdo attack and a hostage standoff at a kosher supermarket which killed a total of 17 people. The march not only attracted Parisians wanting to mourn the traumatic events of the previous week, but also world leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Reports have surfaced that the French government wanted to keep them both away, but Netanyahu ignored French wishes when he learned his Israeli political rival would be attending. Netanyahu used the trip to make the case that French Jews should immigrate to Israel.
Within days of Palestinians announcing they would join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his country would stop transferring customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority. The punitive move was expected to lead to a crisis for the Palestinian leadership as government services would collapse across the West Bank. But the Palestinian Authority had an unexpected back up plan. The Arab League has agreed to provide emergency funds to cover the VAT-taxes frozen by Israel. This Arab League safety net will help the Palestinians avoid the expected temporary bankruptcy and allow them to move forward with pressing for war crimes at the ICC. In fact, financial support from the Arab League was a key component, along with joining the ICC, of long-term strategy to pressure Israel into negotiations.
A controversial military investigation is illuminating the deadliest incident of Operation Protective Edge, as well as one of the Israeli army’s most shadowy directives: an order intended to thwart the abduction of IDF soldiers, even at the risk of killing them. Code named Hannibal, the protocol was carried out in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on August 1, 2014, a date now known as Black Friday; the resulting artillery barrage and torrent of airstrikes killed 190 Palestinians in two days, according to Gaza human rights groups, after the suspected capture by Hamas fighters of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. Recordings of the IDF assault, publicized last week, suggest a chaotic and undisciplined outburst of violence: “I repeat, stop the shooting!” the brigade commander yells over the field radio. “You’re shooting like retards. You’ll kill one another. Enough!”
The Palestinian leadership’s resolution to end Israel’s occupation through negotiations failed to pass the United Nations Security Council Tuesday evening. While Palestinian leaders had hoped to garner the nine votes needed to be approved by the 15-member council, only eight countries supported the measure. The United States and Australia voted against it while five others abstained. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said, “We voted against it because we know what everyone here knows, as well—peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must be made at he negotiating table. Today’s staged confrontation in the UN Security Council will not bring the parties closer to achieving two-state solution.”
Late Monday evening Jordan submitted an updated version of a draft resolution seeking to end Israel’s occupation to the United Nations Security Council. The latest document maintains a 2017 deadline for an end to the Israeli occupation but contains a handful revisions, with substantive changes on the status of Jerusalem and Israel’s separation wall.
For many liberal Zionists, the next Israeli election is about saving Israel from the right wing government that has made it more difficult to defend Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state. Dr. Reem Khamis-Dakwar wonders: are these calls by liberal Zionists to “rekindle the spirit of 1993” solely calls for a presentable “liberal” Israeli government, no matter what its policies really are?
The United States is creating momentum for the French to forestall, or all together abandon, presenting a resolution to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on behalf of the Palestinians. France has been informed of an American alternative offer to the Palestinian pursuit of a draft resolution to negotiate an end Israel’s occupation of territories gained in June 1967, a French diplomatic source tells Mondoweiss.
PLO official Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh says the current Palestinian push at the UN Security Council comes “a serious junction in the history of Palestine.” Allison Deger reports that the proposed UN resolution marks a change in Palestinian strategy for the PLO. According to Dr. Shtayyeh the resolution is “not simply as part of a routine diplomatic issue. We are going to the Security Council because this is part of a strategic shift in the way that we are dealing with the struggle with the Israelis.” Although details of the resolution are not yet public, it appears this shift includes taking a harder line on Israeli settlement construction and looking toward Europe for leadership over the peace process instead of the United States.
The Palestinian Authority has announced it will seek a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution calling for an end of the Israeli occupation within a specific time period. The draft legislation gives Israel two years to remove its forces from lands occupied in June 1967 and reaffirms per-existing agreements for a framework of negotiations, said Ashraf Khatib a spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiations Affairs Department via telephone to Mondoweiss. While the resolution makes no explicit mention of land swamps, it does support previous accords where the PLO granted Israel the possibility of territorial exchanges where up to 60% of settlers could remain in the West Bank.
The fate of Israel’s embattled Arab parties is in the balance as Israel’s next parliamentary elections approach. The election season officially started this week when Knesset formally dissolved itself setting an unconfirmed date at the polls of March 17, 2015. Yet as campaigns take off the question of Israel’s smaller parties and the survival of Arab political groups in particular run in the background. Next year’s early elections will be the first after Israel raised the voter threshold to require 3.25-percent of the popular vote in order for a party to secure a seat in Knesset. None of the Arab parties have reached this threshold on their own and will either have to merge, or forgo being a part of the government.
Shop windows in Ramallah were shuttered yesterday within hours of Minister Ziad Abu Ein’s death from a heart attack following an assault by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Turmusaya. Thousands poured through the streets during a state funeral held today with a ceremony at the Muqataa, the seat of the Palestinian Authority and a procession to a nearby cemetery.
Israel’s renewed policy of punitive home demolitions was challenged in its highest court yesterday. The case comes as the Israeli government has ordered the homes of six Palestinians suspected in a series of Jerusalem attacks to be demolished. In the past judges have heard arguments to overturn demolitions on a case by case basis, but this was the first in Israel’s history to address the legality of the practice as such. And the hearing came with immediate consequences. The homes of five Palestinian families are slated for demolition, and one demolition has already been carried out.