How Gantz Could Build A Government, Without A Majority

Israel’s second round of elections have been a complex but ultimately straightforward math problem: the ruling Likud party plus their allies equals less than a majority. The opposition Blue and White party plus their allies equals less than a majority. Neither side is willing to make the compromises needed to …

Arab Village Electrician Uncovers Ancient Artifacts, Helps Israel Preserve Them

Arabs can face opposition from their own people for helping Israel, but one Arab villager recently chose to do the right thing in spite of critique and in the process helped Israel preserve history. The resident of the village of Araba in northern Israel, Ahmed Nassar Yassin, is an electrician …

Hamas Shatters Quiet with Rocket Attack, Israel Responds

When one terror group went quiet last week, another one joined the fray as Hamas took up the rocket fire from Islamic Jihad on Friday. The IDF Twitter feed reported that two rockets were fired at the Israeli city of Beersheba at 2 AM on Friday morning, but thankfully both …

US Revises View on Israeli Settlements: Not Inherently Illegal

The Trump Administration announced a change in the American perspective on the legality of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria on Monday, reversing the position of the Obama Administration that had called the civilian communities illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se …

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US Revises View on Israeli Settlements: Not Inherently Illegal

November 19, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu in Gush Etzion settlement. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / Israeli GPO

The Trump Administration announced a change in the American perspective on the legality of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria on Monday, reversing the position of the Obama Administration that had called the civilian communities illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

“…We believe that what we’ve done today is we have recognized the reality on the ground… and we have provided… the very space for Israel and the Palestinians to come together to find a political solution to this very, very vexing problem.”

Pompeo, whose comments were published by the State Department, made it clear the US was not commenting on the legality of specific settlements, noting Israel’s court system has repeatedly addressed that issue. For the US, the control of territory in the Biblical heartland—claimed by the Palestinians in what they call the West Bank—is a matter for peace negotiations between the sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the move. “This policy reflects an historical truth—that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea.”

… Continue Reading

Israeli President Urges Top Political Factions to Form Unity Government

November 17, 2019 News

If unity fails, could Gantz still succeed? President Rivlin (center) with Netanyahu and Gantz. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach, Israeli GPO.

With just days remaining for Israel’s Blue and White political party to form a government and a third consecutive round of elections looming on the horizon, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin pleaded for both Blue and White and Likud to form a majority unity government. Rivlin, in comments on Sunday published in an Israeli press release, asked Israel’s mayors to contact their political leaders and tell them, “’Enough! We do not need another round of elections. Do the right thing and come back [to negotiations].’”

Rivlin, whose role appoints a lawmaker to attempt to form a government, went on to say that “I call on both Likud and [Blue and White] to… understand that the people do not want more elections. They have had enough of elections.”

In Israel’s parliamentary system, if no party secures a majority of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset (parliament), a coalition of parties must join together to form a government. In the latest round of elections, the second of 2019, not only did Likud and Blue and White fail to form a majority government, their allies also failed to win enough seats for the leading parties to form a natural coalition—leaving the government in limbo. … Continue Reading

Hamas Shatters Quiet with Rocket Attack, Israel Responds

November 17, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Gaza rockets resumed. Spent Palestinian rocket. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

When one terror group went quiet last week, another one joined the fray as Hamas took up the rocket fire from Islamic Jihad on Friday. The IDF Twitter feed reported that two rockets were fired at the Israeli city of Beersheba at 2 AM on Friday morning, but thankfully both were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel blamed Hamas for the attack and quickly responded.

“I instructed the IDF to immediately attack Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office. “Again, whoever hurts us, we will hurt them. We are prepared for any scenario and the security forces know exactly which plans they must implement to defend the State of Israel in any arena. We will do everything to ensure the security of Israel.”

The Hamas rocket attack came one day after Islamic Jihad violated their ceasefire with Israel, leading to an Israeli counterattack, Haaretz reported. That capped a furious round of fighting in which Israel assassinated Islamic Jihad senior commander Abu al-Ata and the Palestinian terror group retaliated by launching around 450 rockets at Israel. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Says Deterrence Strengthened: Terrorists Know We Will Put Attackers ‘in the Crosshairs’

November 13, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu holds security discussion. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO).

Just days after assassinating senior Islamic Jihad commander Abu al-Ata, and despite hundreds of rockets being fired by Islamic Jihad at Israel since then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel’s action “changes the equation” vis-à-vis terrorists. “The arch-terrorists know that we can put them in the crosshairs and we will put in the crosshairs anyone who tries to attack us,” Netanyahu was quoted by his office as saying on Wednesday. “Moreover, we are not bent on escalation but we will carry out all the necessary actions that we have agreed on in order to continue defending the State of Israel and its citizens.”

Netanyahu, speaking after a meeting with the security cabinet, said the strike that killed Ata was done with “surgical precision.”

“This denies them the feeling that they can act against us, against our civilians, while hiding behind their civilians. This changes the equation because they can all be in the crosshairs,” said Netanyahu. “This is a very major change and it greatly strengthens Israel’s deterrence and its capabilities against the terrorists.”

The confidence comes as Islamic Jihad has retaliated against the killing of the terrorist Ata by launching more than 360 rockets at Israel communities from Tuesday morning until Wednesday evening, with more coming, according to the IDF Twitter feed. And it’s Israeli civilians being targeted again and again. … Continue Reading

Israel Supports Italian Holocaust Survivor Who Received Hundreds of Death Threats

November 11, 2019 News

President Rivlin (at Europe Day Reception). Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Mark Neiman, Israeli GPO – gpoeng.gov.il)

Italian Life Senator Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor, recently succeeded in convincing the Italian parliament to better tackle anti-Semitism, including setting up a parliamentary commission on the issue. In response, Segre has received hundreds of anti-Semitic death threats and now requires ongoing police protection. On Sunday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent Segre a letter expressing solidarity in the face of such hate.

“No words can adequately express my horror and disgust that you should be exposed to such criminal behavior,” wrote Rivlin, whose letter was published by an Israeli press release that highlighted Serge’s situation. “…Your case, unfortunately, is yet another terrible example of the reality for Jews in Europe today, but I believe that the most appropriate response is to carry on doing what you believe in.”

Rivlin went on to invite Segre to Jerusalem, saying it would be a “great honor” for Israel. He said he was “appalled” to hear that the threats require police protection for Segre and praised her for her work. “Your personal mission, your strength and your bravery are a role model for us in Israel and for Jewish communities around the world.” … Continue Reading

US Issues Warning as Iran Promotes Potential End of Arms Embargo

November 11, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Iranian President Rouhani hails coming end to Iran arms embargo. Illustrative. FEMA/Marty Bahamonde.

While the international community has been concerned about Iran’s “breakout” time in which they could rush to build nuclear weapons, a different clock is ticking down to less than a year: the lifting of the United Nations arms embargo on Iran next October. The restriction against Iran selling or buying weapons is currently scheduled to be relaxed in 11 months as part of the Iran nuclear deal—also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday in a speech pointed to that benefit as a key reason for staying in the JCPOA.

“If we stay in the JCPOA according to [UN] Resolution 2231, Iran’s arms embargo will be lifted next year and we can easily buy or export our required weapons, which is one of the major effects of the nuclear deal,” Rouhani said, according to the Iranian Presidency’s website. He later called it a “major political, security and defense goal.”

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Twitter also highlighted this countdown on Monday, but pointed out that the UN Security Council can still stop the embargo from being removed. … Continue Reading

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