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Netanyahu’s Gaza attack targeted political foes Gantz and Joint List, says Israeli negotiator

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s motivation in killing a Palestinian commander in Gaza was partly political, a former Israeli negotiator said today: Netanyahu aims to show that his chief rival to be prime minister, Benny Gantz, cannot be counted on to provide security to the country. In the wake of the attack, a “convoy” of Netanyahu’s political allies in the Likud party have issued statements that Gantz is not trustworthy because he will depend on the Joint List of Palestinian parties in order to become prime minister, the negotiator said.

Moty Cristal, a former peace negotiator and lt. colonel in the Israeli army, spoke on i24 News today and said that the timing of the attack was not “purely taking advantage of the window of opportunity” to kill Baha Abu al-Ata, the leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza. In fact, Cristal said, Avigdor Lieberman has said that when he was Defense Minister (2016-2018), Netanyahu rejected his recommendation that Israel kill Abu al-Ata. Islamic Jihad reportedly attacked Israel in September — when Netanyahu was forced off a stage in Ashkelon out of concern that he was within range.

Moty Cristal, on i24 News in 2015. Screenshot.

Cristal said there was likely a “strong combination” of political motives in Netanyahu’s decision to attack, in the form of Gantz’s “ticking clock.” Gantz has eight days to form a new government in a charge from the Israeli president. One of his only ways to do so is to form a tenuous “minority” governing coalition with the 44 members of his party and other center-left Jewish parties and the outside support of the 13 members of the Israeli parliament from the Joint List of largely-Arab parties.

Israeli rightwingers have repeatedly smeared the Joint List in recent months as a fifth column on which the center-left is dependent. Netanyahu also went in for fearful race-baiting against Arabs in the recent campaign. saying they want to “annihilate” Jewish Israelis. Gantz and center-right kingmaker Lieberman have promised that they would never include the Joint List in a coalition government.

The accusations against Gantz and the Joint List have been repeated by Netanyahu Likud Party loyalists in the last day, Cristal said. These politicians are part of Netanyahu’s personal firewall: a potential governing coalition that will guarantee him immunity from prosecution on corruption charges that are expected to be filed against him in coming weeks.

The assassination in Gaza led to scores of rockets from Islamic Jihad and then Israeli attacks killing seven inside Gaza; and the hostilities have thrown Israel into considerable fear. Schools and businesses in Israel were shut down today; and i24 News anchors reflected worry over what will happen tomorrow.

The crisis has also highlighted tensions with Iran that may serve Netanyahu politically. Iran is in the headlines as the supporter of Palestinian resistance forces including Islamic Jihad. Yossi Alpher at Peace Now says that Netanyahu may see political advantage in leveraging tensions with Iran to show that he is Israel’s necessary leader, or to get Donald Trump to support him more visibly. Michael Oren’s article in the Atlantic warning of a war with Iran must be seen as a communique from Oren’s former boss, Netanyahu, Alpher says– possibly “to generate a Trump campaign to influence Israeli public opinion in Netanyahu’s favor, either during the final month of coalition maneuvering or during a third round of elections early in 2020.”

There is also a chance, Alpher says, that hostilities with Iranian proxies would “hasten formation of an emergency national-unity government,” uniting Gantz and Netanyahu, in which Gantz would have to drop his insistence that he would not serve with a prime minister under investigation.

H/t James North.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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11 Responses

  1. Mayhem on November 12, 2019, 3:58 pm

    A significant argument for dismissing the Joint List faction centres around the fact that one of its member parties, Balad, militantly refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

    Balad’s mission is to transform the State of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity, recasting the country from a solely Jewish state to a binational state. A former Balad leader, Azmi Bishara, fled the country to avoid facing charges of supporting terrorism against Israelis and terrorism.

    Another former Balad Knesset member, Basel Ghattas, served a two-year prison sentence for smuggling mobile phones to convicted Palestinian terrorists while using his Knesset privileges to visit them in jail. Current Balad Knesset members angrily dismissed Ayman Odeh’s declaration of support for Gantz.

    Reading A brief history of Balad, the renegade Joint List faction that passed on Gantz no Israeli of sane mind could seriously entertain the idea of allowing such anti-Zionist elements into its inner sanctum.

    Ultimately the Joint List members cannot be trusted with sensitive security information which they would have a propensity to use against the state of Israel when it suited them.

    • eljay on November 13, 2019, 7:33 am

      || Mayhem: A significant argument for dismissing the Joint List faction centres around the fact that one of its member parties, Balad, militantly refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

      Balad’s mission is to transform the State of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity, recasting the country from a solely Jewish state to a binational state. … ||

      Say what?! These horrible people refuse to recognize the Zionist “right” of Jewish / “Jewish State” supremacism and, instead, believe that Israel should be a democracy for all its citizens?!?! Dear gawd no!!!!   8-o

      The aversion you Zionists have to equality (and to justice and accountability) would be funny if it weren’t so hateful and immoral.

      • Misterioso on November 13, 2019, 9:51 am


        “Ex-general likens Israel to Nazi Germany”
        “Israel could end up like Nazi Germany”,

        Middle East Monitor, Oct. 4/19

        “Former Israeli army General, yesterday, Yair Golan compared Israel’s right-wing politicians to the Nazis.”

        “In an interview with Radio Darom, the newly elected member of the Knesset, representing the Democratic Union alliance, said: ‘I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that extremist figures with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.’

        “This is not the first time Golan has likened Israeli policies to those of the Nazis, in May 2016 during a speech to mark Holocaust Day, he claimed ’the horrific processes which developed in Europe’ and led to the Nazi genocide were present in Israel today.”

    • Misterioso on November 13, 2019, 9:44 am


      More proof that “Israel” is ruled by Zionist thieves, thugs, mass murderers and illegal occupiers of foreign origin whose main objective is to oppress and dispossess the indigenous Palestinian Arabs.

    • Misterioso on November 13, 2019, 10:06 am


      Lest there be any doubt that Zionism is racism:

      “Only a Jew Can Be an Israeli” Haaretz, Nov. 10/19, by Gideon Levy.

      “There’s no such thing as non-Jewish Israelis; Israel will do everything so there never will be. There are nonevangelical Americans, non-Catholic French people, non-Protestant Germans and even non-Muslim Arabs. There are some 1.8 million Canadians of Chinese origin and at least 80,000 Swedes of Serbian origin. They are all considered members of the nation of the state in which they live. Judaism hasn’t yet decided whether it is a religion or a nationality, but Israel has decided that a person who is not a Jew cannot be an Israeli. It will deport such people or at least exclude them from Israeliness. Israel doesn’t belong to those people.

      “How many times have you said ‘Israeli’ when you really meant ‘Jewish’? How many times have you said ‘Arabs’ and meant ‘non-Israelis’? That’s the attitude of the state to its Arab citizens and that’s also the explanation for the abuse of the children of foreign workers: children who were born, raised and educated here, who have no language other than Hebrew and no society other than Israeli society are not Israelis. They dream of serving in the army and becoming obedient, dedicated soldiers, but even this sacred entry threshold is not enough.
      Israel wants to deport them. It doesn’t want to be the state of the Israelis, not even the state of the Jews. It wants to be the state only of Jews. Who is an Israeli? A Jew, and only a Jew.

      “By acting in this manner, the state brings racism to new heights of distillation. The term judenrein takes on new meaning, not significantly less chilling than its original meaning, changing from a place that is free of Jews to a place that is free of non-Jews. Ethnic purity. When this ultra-nationalism is directed against Israel’s Arab citizens, there are numerous ways in which it can be justified: their dubious loyalty to the state, in light of their nation being the enemy of their state; the struggle over the land; the constant suspicion that they are a fifth column; the ‘demographic danger,’ real or imagined; the religious fundamentalism and their way of life, which supposedly pose a threat to secular, liberal Israel.

      “These excuses cannot be used against the Israeli-born children of foreign workers. Here there’s no cult of security, no danger, even imagined, except for the danger of ethnic purity. It’s pure racism. Myron, who is in the sixth grade at the Gavrieli-Carmel elementary school in central Tel Aviv, is an Israeli child, all-Israeli, only Israeli, and he can’t be considered as such, because he’s not Jewish.

      “Israel should get down on its knees to thank the parents of these children, who care for its elderly with endless devotion, sometimes even more than their own children do. This phenomenon, extreme in its magnitude, in which elderly Israelis have their own servant at bargain-basement prices, has its negative aspects, and still, Israel owes a huge moral debt to these workers.

      “Now Israel must also thank their children, because the hunt for them in the schools is the most important civics lesson Israeli children have ever had: You can see from the window of your classroom what kind of a society you’re growing up in. More than a thousand lessons in history, and the associations they carry, are taking place before your very eyes: agents of the immigration police who abduct children from their bedrooms and their classrooms because of their origins; terrified messages sent by the children to their friends: I’ve been arrested, Mom has been arrested, and talk of hiding children in attics.

      “The fate of thousands of children who are shot, beaten and humiliated in the occupied territories never touched the hearts of Israel’s children or their parents. Brainwashed and ignorant, they have been trained to think that this happens because these people are ‘terrorists.’ But when the abductions and the deportations come to the schools in Tel Aviv, the children and their parents can no longer avert their eyes and remain indifferent.

      “Evil and racism have been promoted: They stand stark naked, without excuses, before Israel’s children. Interior Minister Arye Dery and the director general of the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, Shlomo Mor-Yosef, have become the greatest educators of this generation. Their pedagogic poem will be inscribed deep in the hearts of Israel’s schoolchildren. A friend being nabbed at the school gate and deported is a formative, unforgettable experience. And now, for tomorrow’s homework: Write 100 times: Only a Jew can be an Israeli, only a Jew can be an Israeli, until you understand it.”

      • Mooser on November 13, 2019, 12:09 pm

        “Only a Jew Can Be an Israeli”

        And at last modern genetic testing will eliminate phonies and ‘ringers’. The eugenic possibilities are very exciting.

      • RoHa on November 13, 2019, 10:49 pm

        It’s now possible to detect the presence or absence of the Levi-Strauss gene?

    • bcg on November 13, 2019, 11:27 am

      @Mayhem: “Balad’s mission is to transform the State of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity…”

      Holy cow! You mean they want Israel to be a democracy for all its citizens, with equal rights for all? Whoa, I didn’t realize the secret dastardly plan they were promoting! This changes everything!!!

  2. JaapBo on November 12, 2019, 4:27 pm

    If this is true, then the Joint List’s choosing sides against Netanyahu and for Gantz has costs lives in Gaza.
    I think the JL shouldn’t choose sides. Let the oppressors sort it out themselves, or not ….

    • Citizen on November 14, 2019, 9:08 am

      Naw, just standard Zionist processing–Israel has a pattern of attacking Gaza by a succession of Jewish politicians–that’s what Gaza is there for, to attack it since it has no army, air force, or navy–this to show the given Jewish Israeli in charge at any time is the strongest defender of Israel’s security.

  3. Ossinev on November 13, 2019, 8:30 am

    “Balad’s mission is to transform the State of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity, recasting the country from a solely Jewish state to a binational state”

    Sounds way too democratic for the only Democracy in the Middle East ( or is it the only Middle East Democracy or the only Western Democracy in the Middle East ? ) to swallow.

    Giving those pesky natives things like right to vote has just made them more uppity don`t you know y`all.

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