Tag Archives: Israel

Israel destroys family apartments of accused Palestinian killer

Israel destroys family apartments of accused Palestinian killerIsraeli forces destroyed two apartments in the occupied West Bank on Friday that housed the family of a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli woman in February, the army said. Some clashes broke out between Palestinian residents and Israeli forces during the operation, AFP journalists reported.



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The Latest: Gantz's party concedes defeat in Israel election

The Latest: Gantz's party concedes defeat in Israel electionJERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the outcome of Israeli elections (all times local):



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Projected results of Israel election

Projected results of Israel electionWith nearly all votes in Israel’s general election counted, here is the preliminary distribution of seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, according to Israeli media calculations. Incumbent premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud was on path for victory despite being tied with Blue and White since he would be able to form a coalition government with right-wing and ultra-Orthodox partners.



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Israel Elections a Cliffhanger for Netanyahu, New Hope for His Opposition

Israel Elections a Cliffhanger for Netanyahu, New Hope for His OppositionGALI TIBBONJERUSALEM–It will be a long night in Israel, where initial exit polls Tuesday evening indicated a close electoral victory for opposition head Benny Gantz, a former army chief of staff. But the prognosis for his chances to form a winning coalition block against right-wing parties led by the Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has held office for 10 years, and dominated Israeli politics for a generation.Both candidates declared immediate victory, though Gantz’s declaration, issued jointly with his deputy, former finance minister Yair Lapid, had a more exuberant tone.“We won! The Israeli public has had their say!” the pair exulted in a statement. “Thank you to the thousands of activists and over a million voters. These elections have a clear winner and a clear loser. Netanyahu promised 40 seats and lost. The President [Reuven Rivlin] can see the picture and should call on the winner to form the next government. There is no other option!”A few minutes later, in a Hebrew-language tweet, Netanyahu declared victory on behalf of his political wing, not himself or his party: “The right-wing bloc led by the Likud won a clear victory. I thank the citizens of Israel for their trust. I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners tonight.”Netanyahu’s position was weakened by news that he faces indictments for corruption, and, to all appearances, by a brutal campaign in which he attacked Gantz, without basis, for allying with Arabs, for supposedly celebrating the “martyrdom” of Islamist militants killed in fighting with Israel and allegedly concealing an a sex-tape putatively hacked by Iran.  While Netanyahu ran a mudslinging blitzkrieg against his Israeli opponents he basked in the extraordinary support of both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump. Putin helped to return a long-lost Israeli casualty of the 1982 Lebanon War in a public ceremony with Netanyahu in Moscow just days before the vote.  And Trump over the last year has gone far to meet Netanyahu’s most hardline diplomatic demands: moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, closing the consulate there which handled Palestinian affairs, then announcing in recent days his support for Israel’s claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights, while declaring the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is a terrorist organization.In truth, virtually all of Trump’s Middle East policy has been oriented toward, if not directed by, Netanyahu’s vision of the region, which often is coordinated with that of  Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (the suspected murderer of journalist Jamal Khashoggi). In Israel on Tuesday night, the exit polls brought surprise figures showing a virtual dead heat between the two main political blocks in the raucous political arena. But figures are expected to shift as definitive results stream in overnight.Historically low turnout of under 70 percent appeared to be the one clear result of the bruising, incitement-filled campaign which was low on content or policy debates. The mixed results–and potential loss for Netanyahu–was relayed in televised exit polls and at a massive rally planned for Tel Aviv, where Likud activists faced the unimaginable: the possible scenario of President Rivlin having to choose between two more or less equal voting blocks of 60 and 60.In addition, a disengaged and disaffected Arab public, the brunt of constant attacks by Prime Minister Netanyahu, appeared reluctant to take part in the electoral process. Haaretz senior pollster Camil Fuchs, of Tel Aviv University, said that if the figures being reported from the Arab sector hold steady,  historically low participation rates such could “completely change the Knesset map.”Whichever man is chosen, the interim results indicate the Israeli populace may be thirsty for a change, and the country seems headed for a period of political instability. Even if Netanyahu is called upon to form the next government, he is likely to face stiff opposition from within his own political camp when indicted late this summer. NetanyahuIf Gantz is chosen, the quiet general with no political experience may go down in history as a dragon-slayer.While widely criticized for remaining a political cypher, the soft-spoken Gantz ran on two clear positions. He insisted that Netanyahu himself, with accusations of corruption trailing him, was the greatest danger facing Israel. This was the argument he used to explain the seemingly contradictory inclusion of right-wingers such as former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and left-leaning candidates such as Lapid. Gantz said it was a response to an “emergency”: Netanyahu. Gantz also launched his campaign with the promise he’d change the controversial Nation-State Law, a measure Netanyahu claimed as his principal legislative achievement demoting Arabic from its status as an official language of the state and granting a special, elevated status to Jewish communities. The law’s passage provoked the largest public protests Israel has seen in decades and prompted Rivlin to sign the measure in Arabic, an unprecedented act of protest by a sitting Israeli president.Netanyahu, an experienced master of Israel’s parliamentary maneuvering, cannot be dismissed and may yet form Israel’s next government, but he will be a chastened giant, unlikely to escape the clutches of indictment and confronted by a robust, invigorated opposition in the Knesset.Whatever results Israelis wake up to in the morning, King Bibi is no more. At a Tel Aviv rally, Gantz, the old commander, thanked Netanyahu for his service and declared the dawning of a new day in Israel. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here



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Netanyahu challenger halts Israel poll day drive to help biker

Netanyahu challenger halts Israel poll day drive to help bikerIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main challenger, Benny Gantz, stopped his car on polling day on Tuesday to help an injured motorcyclist on a highway, local media reported. A video shows a jacketless Gantz, who was the chief of Israel’s military before joining politics, bending over the helmeted rider next to a crashed motorcycle, getting updates from people at the site before squatting down to exchange a few words. “Where does it hurt, if it hurts?” Gantz asked.



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The Great Survivor: How Benjamin Netanyahu clung on to power in Israel again

The Great Survivor: How Benjamin Netanyahu clung on to power in Israel againIt was an election challenge that would unnerve even the most hardened political operative: Benjamin Netanyahu was asking Israelis to give him a fifth term as prime minister. But both he and his wife were facing criminal corruption charges. A majority of Israeli voters were telling pollsters they were tired of Mr Netanyahu after 10 years in office. And his opponent was a decorated former general, exactly the kind of man Israelis have historically chosen as their leader.    Yet a week before the election, the character playing Mr Netanyahu on Israel’s leading satire show, A Wonderful Country, delivered a monologue that would prove prescient. “I gave them a head start," the Netanyahu character mused. "Three indictments, 500 rockets from Gaza into Israel, shortages tens of thousands of hospital beds… And at the end, we will still win 30 seats.”    Mr Netanyahu, known in Israel as "Bibi", did even better in Tuesday's election. Early results showing winning 35 seats, the largest result for his party since 2003. His centrist challenger, Benny Gantz, also won 35 seats but Mr Netanyahu had the much clearer path to forming a coalition government.  He is arguably now the most successful election-winner in Israeli history. In July this year he will overtake David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, as the longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history.  Whether Mr Netanyahu can stay in office long-term in the face of the criminal indictments against him is another question. But for now it is worth asking: how did he win again?  Real achievements Even those Israelis who don’t like Mr Netanyahu’s brand of divisive Right-wing politics grudgingly acknowledge his achievements in the fields of security, diplomacy, and the economy.  His ten years in office have been some of the most peaceful in Israeli history. The suicide bombings that plagued the country in the early-2000s are a thing of the past. He kept Israel from being dragged into bloody Syrian war even though he has repeatedly ordered strikes against Iranian targets inside Syria.  And while Mr Netanyahu has failed to come up with any long-term solution to the situation in Gaza, the periodic fighting against Hamas has not resulted in large-scale casualties among Israeli soldiers or civilians.      On the diplomatic front, Mr Netanyahu has been proven correct in his thesis that he can refuse to move towards a Two-State solution with the Palestinians without paying any serious international cost.  Israeli jets have repeatedly struck in Syria Credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo Instead of becoming more diplomatically isolated, Israel has increasingly open relations with the Gulf Arab countries, based on their shared opposition to Iran. Mr Netanyahu has brought security cooperation with Egypt, Israel’s former mortal enemy, to new heights. And he has boosted Israel’s diplomatic standing in Asia, Africa and Latin America while receiving unprecedented support from the Trump White House.   Israel’s economy has almost doubled in size since Mr Netanyahu came to power in 2009 and it has emerged as one of the world’s most innovative hi-tech nations. Its growth rate has consistently outstripped that of the UK and other developed countries.   L'état, c'est moi The main thrust of Mr Netanyahu’s election campaign was that he is an indispensable leader, without whom none of these achievements would be possible.  He argued that Israel’s successes abroad were down to his personal relationships with world leaders. One billboard showed him grinning alongside Donald Trump, with the caption: “Netanyahu: in a different league”. Implicit in his argument was that Israel would be committing an act of self-sabotage by not re-electing him, depriving itself of the man who personally holds the keys to unlocking success.   He underscored Israelis’ sense that the whole state depends on him by making himself foreign minister for the first three years of his premiership, and recently appointing himself defence minister.   The campaign seems to have worked. Many voters seem to have decided it was simply too risky not to re-elect Bibi. A little help from his friends Most leaders would spend the last weeks before an election vigorously campaigning at home. But Mr Netanyahu instead took his campaign abroad. He first went to Washington, where Mr Trump handed him a pre-election gift by recognising Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.  Donald Trump and Mr Netanyahu after the US recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights Credit: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File Last week he went to Moscow, where Vladimir Putin helped him pull off another diplomatic coup: the return of the body of a missing Israeli soldier killed 37 years ago in Lebanon.    In between the two trips, Mr Netanyahu hosted Jair Bolsonaro, the far-Right president of Brazil, who had flown 6,500 miles to meet him in Jerusalem.    The world leaders all knowingly played along with Mr Netanyahu’s election campaign, helping him to project himself as a global statesman – one too busy with international affairs to worry about domestic politics.   Israel has moved to the Right Israel has moved staunchly to the Right in recent decades, giving an inbuilt advantage to any Right-wing leader trying to see off a challenge from the Left or Centre.  Nearly two-thirds of Israelis – 63 per cent – identify as Right-wing. Compare that to just 15 per cent who identify as on the Left and 18 per cent who consider themselves in the Centre.  There are many reasons for this Rightward shift but fundamentally Israelis have soured on the idea that peace with the Palestinians can be reached through negotiations based on a Two-State solution. Mr Netanyahu successfully stoked the fears and angers of Right-wing voters. He forged an electoral pact with a Jewish extremist group and presented himself as a champion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and a staunch opponent of a Palestinian state. People can argue whether Mr Netanyahu’s success is a cause or a symptom of this move to the Right. But it’s clear that in Israel’s current political environment, the wind was at his back.  Limp opposition Mr Netanyahu’s chief opponent, Benny Gantz, seemed like an ideal candidate.  He was a former general with vast military experience, the same pedigree as the last two prime ministers from the Centre-Left, Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin.   But Mr Gantz also had serious deficits. He had no experience in government or politics and his only position outside the military was at a technology start up which failed miserably. Benny Gantz could not match Mr Netanyahu's political skills Credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images The ex-general often looked awkward on the campaign trail and could not match the prime minister’s political dexterity. His campaign had few policy specifics and its main message seemed to be its opposition to Mr Netanyahu, rather than real proposals of its own.   Some voters, even those sick of Mr Netanyahu, decided that Mr Gantz was simply too inexperienced and untested to go straight into the prime minister’s office.  A winning formula Mr Netanyahu repeated the same trick which helped him win the last election in 2015. In the final days before voters went to the polls, Mr Netanyahu began giving dozens of media interviews, where he appeared worried and anxious.  He warned that he was in serious danger of losing power and being replaced by a government of the Left. The only way to stop that, he said, was if Right-wing voters of all stripes rallied around his Likud party.  The tactic – known in Israel as “hitting the panic button” – worked in both 2015 and again in 2019.  Voters who had been planning to support one of the smaller Right-wing parties were frightened into supporting Mr Netanyahu’s Likud at the last minute. In doing so, they helped hand the prime minister victory once again.



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Imran Khan accuses India and Israel of moral bankruptcy over election annexation pledges

Imran Khan accuses India and Israel of moral bankruptcy over election annexation pledgesImran Khan has accused India's leaders of moral bankruptcy for trying to win votes by annexing Kashmir, after Narendra Modi pledged to remove its special autonomous status if re-elected. In outspoken remarks just days before voting begins in India's upcoming election, Mr Khan said Mr Modi was flouting a United Nations resolution and his own constitution with his manifesto pledge. Pakistan's prime minister also attacked Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, after he promised to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he is re-elected on Tuesday. “Don't their people feel a sense of outrage and wonder at how far they will go simply to win an election?” Mr Khan asked. Mr Modi earlier this week told a crowd at Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters he would scrap the autonomous status Jammu and Kashmir has had since 1954. He would also remove laws that prevent outsiders from buying property in the state. When ldrs in Israel & India show a moral bankruptcy in their readiness to annex occupied West Bank & IOK in defiance of int law, UNSC resolutions & their own Constitution for votes, don't their ppl feel a sense of outrage & wonder how far they will go simply to win an election?— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 9, 2019 Scrapping the protections would help integration with the rest of the country, the BJP has argued. However political leaders in Muslim-majority Kashmir, where Indian forces are fighting a fierce armed insurgency, have predicted the repeal would stoke further unrest. Kashmir and tensions with Pakistan have become a key election battleground in the election after a suicide bombing killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in the region in February. Both countries claim the disputed territory Kashmir, and it has been at the the heart of military tensions between the neighbours for decades. Mr Modi's manifesto pledge on Kashmir risks a backlash in the region Credit: Reuters Mr Modi's decision to launch a retaliatory air strike inside Pakistan after the bombing was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group led him to pose as a strong national security candidate. The clash is thought to have helped Mr Modi's electoral chances by distracting from his failed economic promises. But Mr Khan has accused the BJP of “whipping up war hysteria” to win the election. Pakistan's government has accused India of plotting further military action to win votes, claiming it has “reliable intelligence” that India will attack again this month. Voting in India's general election begins on Thursday but, with around 900 million people eligible to vote, the polls will be held around the country over coming weeks, and the votes will be counted on May 23.



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Minority Arabs in Israel object to cameras at polling centers

Minority Arabs in Israel object to cameras at polling centersUMM AL-FAHM, Israel (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party sent monitors equipped with body cameras to a number of polling stations with Arab constituents on election day in Israel on Tuesday, and Arab politicians condemned the move as voter intimidation. Asked about the use of cameras in polling stations, Israeli police said there had been “a number of suspected irregularities” in the north, where many Israeli Arabs – who comprise 21 percent of the population – live. Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party who opinion polls showed was neck-and-neck with a centrist rival, defended the filming, saying that cameras should be posted openly at voting stations everywhere to ensure “a valid vote”.



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US 2020 hopefuls chide Netanyahu ahead of Israel vote

US 2020 hopefuls chide Netanyahu ahead of Israel voteMultiple US presidential candidates have criticized Israel’s prime minister ahead of the Jewish State’s Tuesday general election, with Beto O’Rourke branding Benjamin Netanyahu “racist” and Bernie Sanders calling him too extreme. US politicians traditionally hail Washington’s close partnership with Israel, and assuring those ties will continue has become a campaign trail standard. Speaking Sunday at an event in Iowa City, the Texas Democrat accused Netanyahu of siding with a “far-right racist” party in a bid to gain a fifth term in power.



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Israel readies to vote with Netanyahu's future at risk

Israel readies to vote with Netanyahu's future at riskIsraelis vote Tuesday in a high-stakes election on whether to extend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s long tenure in power despite corruption allegations against him and a strong challenge by an ex-military chief. Bolstered by his reputation as guarantor of Israel’s security and economic growth, Netanyahu has spent more than 13 years as premier and opinion polls show that he could well win again. In a last-minute appeal to right-wing voters, Netanyahu said Saturday he was planning on annexing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins.



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