Category Archives:
Israeli Government

Joint List to lead mass march on Jerusalem, as Netanyahu forms a gov’t

Allison Deger on
Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List, at campaign headquarters in Nazareth, Israel. (Photo: Allison Deger)

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the final hours of forming a ruling coalition to lead the country, the Joint List is organizing a mass march. Unrecognized villagers will camp and walk their way to Israel’s seat of government, all while their party’s leadership is tightening ties with presumed opposition heads in the Zionist Camp.

Why did Herzog run scared? He fears the Israeli people

Philip Weiss on
Yitzhak Herzog

Yitzhak Herzog ran scared in the Israeli election. He did not bring up the Palestinian issue, and Netanyahu did, defining the debate in a rightwing manner. Herzog’s failure of leadership reflects his fear of fascist elements in his own society.

Meet the Knesset members from the Joint List

Allison Deger on
The Joint Arab List's member of Israel's next Knesset. (Photo: Joint Arab List)

Something has changed inside Israel for its Palestinian citizens. The hard data is revealing: voter turnout by Palestinian citizens of Israel jumped by 10% from the last election and in the Joint Arab List’s party leader’s home district it was nearly an unheard of 80%. The joint list is full of fresh faces with seven first time Knesset member, two women, five communists, two national democrats, two Islamist, one Christian and one Israeli-Jew. Meet the next Knesset members from the Joint Arab List.

Netanyahu’s victory ‐ what is the cost?

Robert Fantina on
Netanyahu and Obama at the United Nations, 2011. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Robert Fantina looks at the international political implications of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory in Israel’s election and writes it may have come at a surprisingly high cost.

Netanyahu’s victory marks the end of the two-state solution

Jeff Halper on
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv March 18, 2015. (Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

Jeff Halper writes: No one can be happy when racism and oppression win the day. In a wider perspective, however, Netanyahu’s victory in the Israeli election may represent a positive game-changer. The realization that successive Israeli governments have created one state in all of the Land of Israel has finally become as irrefutable as it is irreversible. This is the game-changer of this election. Since Israel itself eliminated the two-state solution deliberately, consciously and systematically over the course of a half-century, and since it created with its own hands the single de facto state we have today, the way forward is clear. We must accept the ultimate “fact on the ground,” the single state imposed by Israel over the entire country, but not in its apartheid/prison form. Israel has left us with only one way out: to transform that state into a democratic state of equal rights for all of its citizens.

The historic night for the Arab List

Allison Deger on
Joint Arab List head Ayman Odeh speaks with press during an election results event in Nazareth, Israel, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

A historic moment was about to take place at campaign headquarters. An assistant for Ayman Odeh, head of Joint Arab List, a coalition of four parties running on one ticket for the first time, pulled me aside in the Nazareth convention hall and said with a smile, “we got 14 seats.” It was 8pm, there were still two hours to go before precincts would shut. Yet the Nazareth rally was abuzz over early the results. Israeli media had estimated their group would win enough seats in the next Knesset to become the third largest party in the country. It would become an unprecedented feat for the 20-percent Arab-Palestinian minority population. In this election another candidate, Avigdor Liberman, campaigned that they are a fifth column, to be expelled to the West Bank. Those signs, were plastered all over the entrances of Arab villages throughout the north of Israel throughout the past three months.

‘We aim to shape the democratic and moral alternative in this country’ — an interview with Ayman Odeh

Allison Deger on
Ayman Odeh (R) at a campaign event in Yirka, a Druze village in the Galilee in northern Israel, Friday March 13, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Months ago questions were raised if, at all, there would be any Arab representatives in the next Knesset. Then the groups unified under a single banner headed by Ayman Odeh, 41, a first time Knesset candidate from Haifa who started his career in public office at the age of 23 on Haifa’s city council. Now the long road is coming to and end and the Joint Arab List is the third largest party in the country with the potential, for the first time, to influence the outcome of elections.

Even if Netanyahu loses, he can still win

Allison Deger on
Isaac Herzog

Days away from elections in Israel on March 17th, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party may not be able to recover from the dive it took in the polls this week. They are down—more than they have been since campaigning began in December. He is expected to get 21 seats while the Zionist Camp headed by Labour’s Issac Herzog and Hatuna’s Tzipi Livni, would get 24. However, Israeli elections are determined by voting blocs and not individual parties. And so even if Bibi loses, he can still win. And if that happens, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Palestinian leaders vote to end security coordination with Israel, a cornerstone of Oslo and the occupation

Allison Deger on
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas holds a

Palestinian leaders decided Thursday night they will “end all forms of security coordination with Israel,” a much-criticized practice of shared policing across the West Bank and a staple of Israeli-Palestinian relations over the last two decades. Still the announcement included one loophole where Israel could salvage the security arrangement, signaling the Palestinian leaders could be seeking to leverage Israel’s security concerns as a tactic for the release Palestinian VAT-taxes frozen during the winter after the Palestinians acceded to the Rome Statute, joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) where they can charge Israel with war crimes.

Israeli voters not impressed by Netanyahu’s speech to Congress

Allison Deger on
An Israeli worker hangs posters of Israeli Prime Minister and leader of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu under the slogan 'It's us or them', in Jerusalem, Israel, 08 February 2015.
(Photo: EPA/ABIR SULTAN)

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.

Bil’in marks ten years of resisting the occupation

Allison Deger on
Tear gas canisters collected at the end of Bil'in's tenth anniversary protest, February 27, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

No matter who wins the Israeli elections, Palestinians lose

Jamie Stern-Weiner on
Campaign posters for the "Zionist Camp" and Likud party. They say (top) "It's us or him" and (bottom) "It's us or them."

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.

Mike Huckabee’s ‘welcome to Israel’ bash was in a settlement

Allison Deger on
Screenshot from Yishai Fleisher's Facebook page.

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.

Netanyahu says Labor will bring ISIS to Jerusalem

Allison Deger on
Video screenshot, from Haaretz

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.

Hanin Zoabi disqualified from Israeli elections over a mistranslation gone too far

Allison Deger on
Hanin Zoabi.

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.

Israel: Schabas resignation cannot ‘whitewash’ bias in UN war crimes inquiry

Allison Deger on
Professor William Schabas. (Photo: Journal de Montreal)

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.

Netanyahu ‘babysitter’ ad warns that Labor will give away Israel’s house and carpet

Allison Deger on
Screenshot of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "Bibi-sitter" ad.

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.

How Rahat became a symbol of Israeli inequality

Allison Deger on
Bedouins clash with Israeli police in the southern Israeli city of Rahat on January 19, 2015 (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP)

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.

Despite punitive Israeli tax freeze, Palestinians to pursue war crimes charges with Arab League financial help

Allison Deger on
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas attends the 25th Arab League summit, held for the first time in Kuwait City, on March 25, 2014. (Photo: Yasser al-Zayyat/AFP/Daily News Egypt)

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.

‘You’re Shooting Like Retards': Rafah recordings reveal IDF’s Hannibal directive in action

Eamon Murphy on
Moshe Ya'alon, left, meets with Col. Ofer Winter in December 2013. (Photo: Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Ministry of Defense)

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!”