6/17/2016 Is this the beginning of the end for Netanyahu? - History

6/17/2016 Is this the beginning of the end for Netanyahu? - History


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The political landscape of Israel shifted yesterday. Yaalon confided,

“If there is something that deprives me of sleep, it is the fissures in Israeli society – the erosion of basic values – the attempt to hurt the Israel Defense Forces in a way that endangers its might. Our leadership has become reactive and tempestuous rather than leading an exemplary society here”.

Ya’alon went on to say that Israel needs a leadership that does not divide between Arabs and Jews, Left-wing and Right-wing, just to gain a few more days in office. Ya’alon asserted that the country deserves a government that strengthens the court system, instead of attacking it – even when it disagrees with the court’s decision; and that the country deserves a government that fights for the freedom of the press, rather than trying to control it. The former Defense Minister’s words were received enthusiastically by the usually reserved audience at the Herzliya Conference on Israeli security (held annually at the Inter-Disciplinary College in Herzliya).

If Ya’alon’s speech was not potent enough, in the evening Ehud Barak (another former Defense Minister/former Prime Minister/Former Army Chief of Staff) delivered an even more blistering attack on the Netanyahu government. Among other assertions Barak stated:

“The Prime Minister’s ‘Hitlerization’ of the various regional threats, dangerous as they may be, is Holocaust degradation at its worst.”

Barak also lamented that

“in world capitals,– no leader believes even one word from Netanyahu and his government. The government’s hidden agenda will enlist the entire world against us, undermine Israeli society, tear it from within and sever us from the next generation of American Jews.”

Barak proclaimed that if the current government does not change direction, then we must bring the government down.

Barak and Ya’alon are not personally close, and yet their speeches were remarkably identical – with the same basic criticism of a government whose policies are leading Israel off the cliff, combined with a shared profoundly personal criticism of Netanyahu – i.e. that Netanyahu’s only real policy was to stay in power.

Netanyahu responded to Yaalon’s allegations with televised remarks, in which the Prime Minister stated:

“You cannot express full faith in the leadership when you are inside and say the complete opposite when you are outside, therefore, no importance should be attributed to such political barbs.”

This verbal barrage yesterday came following a string of bad news for Netanyahu, which included: a scathing State Controller’s report; his wife lost two court cases, in which former employees sought damages ‘for pain and suffering’ inflicted on them while working at the official residence of the Prime Minister; and reports of money received by the Prime Minister from accused French embezzler Arnaud Mimran. In addition, Netanyahu’s hand-picked Attorney General announced this week that Netanyahu (who also currently serves as the Communication Minister) cannot be involved in any decisions related to Israel’s main phone company, cable company and Satellite provider because of a conflict of interest created by his close friendship with the controlling owner of Israel's leading telecommunication provider. Finally, there was the forced disclosure that the Prime Minister’s last four-day trip to New York cost Israeli tax payers $1.6 million dollars, and included $1,600 charge for a personal hairdresser.

In the past few years Netanyahu opponents, regardless of however talented, seemed no match for him – either in security area or possessing comparable levels of experience. With Ya’alon’s entry into the fray those deficits have officially changed. The current government can boast having two Brigadier Generals, one as Housing Minister, and one as Cultural Minister (thought there are none in the inner cabinet.) On the other hand, almost every former living Army Chief of Staff and Defense Minister has now publicly voiced their opposition to the policies of the current government.

Will Israel’s hopelessly split opposition be able to set aside their own petty egos to finally present a credible opposition to Netanyahu? That is the question most of Tel Aviv residents are asking themselves this morning.


After 15 years leading Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu's time may be up

Tel Aviv &mdash Israel's longest-serving prime minister could be thrown out of office on Sunday. After years of inconclusive election results, an alliance of right-wing, left-wing, centrist and Arab lawmakers claim to have just enough votes in Israel's parliament to form a new government and unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agagta reports, the stage is set for the most volatile political upheaval Israel has seen in over a decade. Netanyahu has labeled the new coalition poised to unseat him "the greatest election fraud in the history of democracy."

The coalition hoping to topple Netanyahu is led by the premier's former ally, Naftali Bennett, who has forged an uneasy alliance across the political spectrum &mdash including, for the first time, with an Arab Islamist party.

The crisis comes just weeks after Israel's military waged an intense fight against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, and as Netanyahu continues to battle corruption charges that he's dismissed as a political conspiracy.

Netanyahu's foes have already accused him of stoking unrest.

Bennett, the man poised to be Israel's next prime minister, has told Netanyahu to "let it go," and not leave scorched earth behind him as he departs the post he's held for the last 12 years &mdash his second term.

Trending News

Nadav Argaman, the head of Israel's national security service Shin Bet, took the unusual step of issuing a public statement warning of a serious rise in hate speech &mdash especially on social media platforms &mdash amid the politically charged atmosphere in Israel, which he said could lead to physical violence.

But the prime minister appeared determined to fight to the bitter end. For days he's been trying to rally his supporters against the coalition to sway the razor-thin majority held by the bloc.

Naftali Bennett, Israeli parliament member from the Yamina party, gives a statement at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, June 6, 2021. Menahem Kahana/Pool/REUTERS

Even if the fragile coalition does manage to hold it together long enough for Bennett to be sworn in as the new prime minister, Netanyahu will remain a powerful foe.

As leader of the country's largest party, Likud, Netanyahu would continue to challenge the new government.

The most savvy politician in Israel's history will no doubt be plotting a comeback, even before being forced out of power.


Report: PM Netanyahu to Leave Office Next Week

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at ceremony to mark 2021 Jerusalem Day at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem.

The end of an era is upon the State of Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – the longest serving prime minister in the history of the state – will leave office and the “Shinui” or “Change” bloc will be sworn into office as Israel’s new government, according to a Likud source who spoke Thursday night with The Jerusalem Post.

That means Yamina’s chairperson Naftali Bennett will be sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister, an event that has not taken place for the past 12 years.

The decision to facilitate the transfer of government was made Thursday night.

Also Thursday, Yair Netanyahu, son of the incumbent prime minister, said in a tweet that Facebook temporarily blocked his account for a 24-hour period.

The suspension was implemented after the younger Netanyahu wrote a post advocating a demonstration next to the house of Yamina MK Nir Orbach, who has been wavering on his commitment to the new “change” coalition.

Regardless, the transfer of power from the prime minister to his successor is likely to take place next Wednesday, said the Likud source.

“We don’t want to deal with a challenge to the Supreme Court, receive bad press and look like sore losers,” the source said. “We fight the Supreme Court over more serious issues.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid will succeed Bennett and serve as prime minister in two years’ time under a coalition deal agreed to by both men.

Likud Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin is to be replaced by Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy.

A formal request to begin the process of replacing Levin was submitted to Knesset Secretary Yardena Muller-Horowitz by the 61 Knesset members who are to comprise the new coalition.

Yamina chairperson and incoming prime minister Naftali Bennett told Israel’s Channel 12 News on Thursday that he will soon take office and “end the chaos and get the country back on track.”

Asked about what he will do if Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas attempts to prevent Israel from going to war with Hamas or Hezbollah, Bennett said he will do what he must to maintain the nation’s security – even if it means going again to an election.

Bennett called Abbas a “courageous” leader and apologized for calling a “supporter of terror” in the past. The Ra’am party, and Abbas, are members of the Southern Islamic Movement, which was founded in 1971 along the general lines of the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned the Hamas terrorist organization.


Israel's Netanyahu will not attend successor Naftali Bennett's inauguration ceremony

Israel had a contentious but peaceful transfer of power on Sunday, as an unlikely government of eight parties from across the religious and ideological spectrum unseated Israel's longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. After the "change" coalition won a narrow 60-59 vote of confidence, far-right nationalist Naftali Bennett was sworn in as prime minister, promising to lead a government that "will forge forward on that which we agree — and there is much we agree on, transport, education, and so on — and what separates us we will leave to the side."

Netanyahu, a former mentor to Bennett and now opposition leader in the Knesset (parliament), will not attend Bennett's ceremonial inauguration on Monday, his office informed Bennett's team Sunday, though he will meet with the new prime minister for a transition meeting. Netanyahu pursued to the end a scorched-earth campaign to stay in power by fracturing the coalition and pushing Israel into a fifth election in two years. "I will lead you in the daily struggle against this evil and dangerous leftist government in order to topple it," he said before the vote. "God willing, it will happen a lot faster than what you think."

Netanyahu's followers heckled and jeered Bennett as he spoke before the confidence vote, leading to some of them being ejected. Yair Lapid, the centrist new foreign minister and driving force behind the change coalition, scrapped his planned speech and told the hecklers he was ashamed his 86-year-old mother had to witness their behavior. "I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel," he said. "Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it's time to replace you." Lapid will become prime minister in two years if the government holds that long.

According to the new government's power-sharing guidelines published Friday, power will be divided evenly between the right-wing (Yamina, New Hope, Yisrael Beiteinu), centrist (Yesh Atid, Blue and White), and left-wing parties (Labor, Mertez), and each bloc will have veto power. The new government, for the first time in Israeli history, also includes an Arab Islamist party, Raam.

"We are at the beginning of a new day," Bennett said after a brief Cabinet meeting Sunday night. But to make sure the government succeeds, "we must all maintain restraint and moderation in ideological terms."


Is This the Beginning of the End of Israeli Apartheid?

The current crisis of Palestine-Israel deepens and widens: casualties mount, smoke from destroyed buildings blacken the sky over Gaza, there's rioting on the streets of many Israeli and West Bank towns Israeli police disrupt worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque while protecting extremist Jewish settlers shouting genocidal slogans &mdash"death to the Arabs"&mdashin inflammatory marches through Palestinian neighbourhoods.

Western leaders pathetically call for calm on both sides as if both sides shared equal blame, while perversely affirming the one-sidedness of 'Israel&rsquos right to defend itself.'

Underlying this entire eruption of tensions between the oppressor and the oppressed were the flimsy legalised evictions of six Palestinian families long resident in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem. These evictions epitomised the long Palestinian ordeal of persecution and banishment in what remains their homeland.

While this mayhem continues, the lights have remained scandalously dim at the UN. Western leaders pathetically call for calm on both sides as if both sides shared equal blame, while perversely affirming the one-sidedness of "Israel&rsquos right to defend itself," which supposes that Israel had been attacked out of the blue.

Is this but one more cycle of violence exhibiting the unresolvable clash between a native people overwhelmed by a colonial intruder emboldened by a unique religiously grounded settler sense of entitlement?

Or are we witnessing the beginning of the end of the century-long struggle by the Palestinian people to defend their homeland against the unfolding Zionist project that stole their land, trampled on their dignity, and made Palestinians victimised strangers in what had been their national home for centuries?

Only the future can fully unravel this haunting uncertainty. In the meantime, we can expect more bloodshed, death, outrage, grief, injustice, and continuing geopolitical interference.

The spirit of resistance

Last week's events have made clear that the Palestinians are withstanding prolonged oppression with their spirit of resistance intact, and refuse to be pacified regardless of the severity of the imposed hardships.

We also are made to appreciate that the Israeli leadership and most of its public is no longer in the mood even to pretend receptivity to a peaceful alternative to the completion of their settler-colonial undertaking despite its dependence on a weaponised version of apartheid governance.

For Israelis and much of the West, the core narrative continues to be the violence of a "terrorist" organisation, Hamas, challenging the peaceful state of Israel with destructive intent, making the Israeli response seem reasonable. It is thus framed as not only a response to Hamas' rockets but also as a harsh punitive lesson for the people of Gaza, designed to deter future attacks.

The Israeli missiles and drones are deemed "defensive" while the rockets are acts of "terrorism", even though Israeli human targets are seldom hit, and despite the fact that it is Israeli weaponry that causes 95 percent of the widespread death and destruction among the over two million civilian Palestinians in Gaza. They have been victims of an unlawful and crippling blockade that since 2007 has brought severe suffering to the impoverished, crowded and traumatised enclave, with unemployment levels above 50 percent.

In the current confrontation, Israel&rsquos control of the international discourse has succeeded in de-contextualising the timeline of violence, thus leading those with little knowledge of what induced the flurry of Hamas rockets to believe falsely that the destruction in Gaza was a retaliatory Israeli reaction to hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas and Gaza armed groups.

A Palestinian girl, who fled her home due to Israeli air and artillery strikes, plays at a school hosting refugees in Gaza city, on 14 May, 2021 (AFP)

With abuses of language that might even surprise Orwell, Israel&rsquos state terrorism is airbrushed by the world along with the rebuff of Hamas&rsquo peace diplomacy over the past 15 years that has repeatedly sought a permanent ceasefire and peaceful coexistence.

Symbolic victories

For Palestinians and those in solidarity with their struggle, Israel knowingly allowed the subjugated population of occupied East Jerusalem to experience a series of anguishing humiliations to occur during the holy period of Muslim religious observances in Ramadan, rubbing salt in the wounds recently opened by the Sheikh Jarrar evictions. This had the inevitable effect of refreshing Palestinian memories of their defining experiences of ethnic cleansing days before the annual observance of the Nakba on 15 May.

The record of struggles against colonialism since 1945 support reaching the conclusion that the side that wins a legitimacy war will eventually control the political outcome.

This amounted to a metaphoric reenactment of that massive crime of expulsion accompanying the establishment of Israel in 1948, which culminated in the bulldozing of several hundred Palestinian villages that signalled a firm Israeli intention to make the banishment permanent.

Unlike South Africa, which never claimed to be a democracy, Israel legitimated itself by presenting itself as a constitutional democracy. This resolve to be a democracy came with a high price tag of deception and self-deception, necessitating to this day a continuing struggle to make apartheid work to secure Jewish supremacy while hiding Palestinian subjugation.

For decades, Israel was successful in hiding these apartheid features from the world because the legacy of the Holocaust lent uncritical credence to the Zionist narrative of providing sanctuary for the survivors of the worst genocide known to humanity.

Additionally, the Jewish presence "was making the desert bloom", while at the same time virtually erasing Palestine grievances, further discounted by hasbara visions of Palestinian backwardness as contrasting with Israeli modernising prowess, and later on by juxtaposing a political caricature of the two peoples, portraying Jewish adherence to Western values as opposed to the Palestinian embrace of terrorism.

Recent developments in the symbolic domains of politics that control the outcome of "Legitimacy Wars" have scored several victories for the Palestinian struggle. The International Criminal Court has authorised the investigation of Israeli criminality in Occupied Palestine since 2015 despite vigorous opposition from the leadership of the Israeli government, fully supported by the United States. The investigation in The Hague, although proceeding with diligent respect for the legalities involved, was not openly engaged by Israel, but rather immediately denounced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "pure antisemitism."

Beyond this, allegations of Israeli apartheid were unequivocally confirmed in an academic report commissioned by the UN, concluding that Israeli policies and practices were designed to ensure Palestinian subjugation and Jewish domination. This too was similarly denounced by Israeli leaders.

A citizen of Gaza: &ldquoToday I did the strangest thing I gave 2 of my kids to my brother and took 2 of his. This way if (the Israelis) kill an entire one of our families something will still remain of all of us.&rdquo#GazaUnderAttackغزة https://t.co/X11oCIUv4J

&mdash Ahdaf Soueif (@asoueif) May 18, 2021

In the past few months both B&rsquoTselem, Israel&rsquos leading human rights NGO, and Human Rights Watch, have issued carefully documented studies that reach the same startling conclusion that Israel indeed administers an apartheid regime within the whole of historic Palestine, that is, the Occupied Palestinian Territories plus Israel itself.

While these two developments do not alleviate Palestinian suffering or the behavioural effects of enduring denial of basic rights, they are significant symbolic victories that stiffen the morale of Palestinian resistance and strengthen the bonds of global solidarity. The record of struggles against colonialism since 1945 support reaching the conclusion that the side that wins a legitimacy war will eventually control the political outcome, despite being weaker militarily and diplomatically.

'Then you win'

The endgame of South African apartheid reinforces this reassessment of the changing balance of forces in the Palestinian struggle. Despite having what appeared to be effective and stable control of the African majority population through the implementation of brutal apartheid structures, the racist regime collapsed from within under the combined weight of internal resistance and international pressure.

Outside pressures included a widely endorsed BDS campaign enjoying UN backing and military setbacks in Angola against Cuban and liberation forces. Israel is not South Africa in a number of key aspects, but the combination of resistance and solidarity was dramatically ramped upwards in the past week.

Israel has already long lost the main legal and moral arguments, almost acknowledging this interpretation by their defiant way of changing the subject with reckless accusations of antisemitism, and is in the process of losing the political argument.

Israel&rsquos own sense of vulnerability to a South African scenario has been exposed by this growing tendency to brand supporters of BDS and harsh critics as "antisemites" which seems in the context of present development best described as "a geopolitical panic attack".

I find it appropriate to recall Gandhi&rsquos famous observation along these lines: "First, they ignore you, then they insult you, then they fight you, then you win."


6/17/2016 Is this the beginning of the end for Netanyahu? - History

Israel had a contentious but peaceful transfer of power on Sunday, as an unlikely government of eight parties from across the religious and ideological spectrum unseated Israel's longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. After the "change" coalition won a narrow 60-59 vote of confidence, far-right nationalist Naftali Bennett was sworn in as prime minister, promising to lead a government that "will forge forward on that which we agree — and there is much we agree on, transport, education, and so on — and what separates us we will leave to the side."

Netanyahu, a former mentor to Bennett and now opposition leader in the Knesset (parliament), will not attend Bennett's ceremonial inauguration on Monday, his office informed Bennett's team Sunday, though he will meet with the new prime minister for a transition meeting. Netanyahu pursued to the end a scorched-earth campaign to stay in power by fracturing the coalition and pushing Israel into a fifth election in two years. "I will lead you in the daily struggle against this evil and dangerous leftist government in order to topple it," he said before the vote. "God willing, it will happen a lot faster than what you think."

Netanyahu's followers heckled and jeered Bennett as he spoke before the confidence vote, leading to some of them being ejected. Yair Lapid, the centrist new foreign minister and driving force behind the change coalition, scrapped his planned speech and told the hecklers he was ashamed his 86-year-old mother had to witness their behavior. "I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel," he said. "Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it's time to replace you." Lapid will become prime minister in two years if the government holds that long.

According to the new government's power-sharing guidelines published Friday, power will be divided evenly between the right-wing (Yamina, New Hope, Yisrael Beiteinu), centrist (Yesh Atid, Blue and White), and left-wing parties (Labor, Mertez), and each bloc will have veto power. The new government, for the first time in Israeli history, also includes an Arab Islamist party, Raam.

"We are at the beginning of a new day," Bennett said after a brief Cabinet meeting Sunday night. But to make sure the government succeeds, "we must all maintain restraint and moderation in ideological terms."


After 12 Years, Netanyahu Set to Be Replaced as PM on Sunday

Barring any dramatic last-minute changes, Binyamin Netanyahu&rsquos historic 12-year run as Prime Minister of Israel will end Sunday afternoon.

Parties in the incoming coalition will meet in the Yamina Party&rsquos room in the Knesset at 2:00 p.m., after which they will hold separate meetings at 3:15 p.m.

The Knesset plenum will meet at 4:00 p.m., to be followed by a toast to be held in the Chagall State Hall with the Speaker-elect of the Knesset.

At 9:00 p.m., there will be a celebratory meeting of the incoming government on the occasion of the formation of the 36th Government of Israel, held in the Jerusalem Hall in the Knesset.

Statements will be delivered at the beginning of the meeting by the Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett (Yamina) and the Alternate Prime Minister-designate Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid). Netanyahu will also deliver his first speech as chairman of the opposition.

Netanyahu entered office as prime minister on March 31, 2009, and has served continuously since then. He also served as prime minister from 1996-1999, making him the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israeli history.

Netanyahu is the only Israeli Prime Minister to sign peace agreements with more than one Arab state, having signed the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan in 2020.

The new government is considered to be historic, as it includes an Arab party, the United Arab List, for the first time.

None of Netanyahu&rsquos moves, however, nor the role he played in securing COVID-19 vaccines for Israel&rsquos world-beating inoculation campaign, were enough to grant Netanyahu&rsquos Likud Party enough votes to secure him a sixth term in office.

Bennett in particular has drawn anger from within the right-wing camp for breaking a campaign pledge by joining forces with Lapid. He has tried to justify the move by saying another election, which would likely be called were no government formed, would have been a disaster for Israel .

Their Cabinet faces considerable diplomatic, security and financial challenges: Iran, a fragile ceasefire with Palestinian militants in Gaza, a war crimes probe by the International Criminal Court, and economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

On top of that, their patchwork coalition of parties commands only a razor-thin majority in the Knesset and will still have to contend with Netanyahu &ndash who is sure to be a combative head of the opposition. And no one is ruling out a Netanyahu comeback.


Is Israel’s prime minister about to lose his job?

The new coalition will only take power if it can survive a confidence vote in the Israeli parliament. The coalition has a razor-thin majority of 61 seats in the 120-member parliament, so there is no margin for error.

Netanyahu is likely to try to convince the coalition’s more right-wing members to change sides and vote with him.

“In the coming week and a half he will engage in guerrilla warfare, in which shots will be fired in every possible direction,” wrote Matti Tuchfeld, a commentator with the conservative Israel Today newspaper.

His most likely target is Nir Orbach, a member of Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party, who previously expressed doubts about joining a coalition with parties from the left.

But after Bennett met with him on Thursday, Orbach wrote on Twitter that he would “do everything” to make the coalition work.

The coalition's votes will first have to hold together to name a new parliament speaker, who would then preside over a vote required to confirm the new government. If the group can't manage that, the current speaker, who is a Netanyahu ally, could use his position to delay the vote and give him more time to sabotage the coalition.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

As the coalition was coming together, Netanyahu and his supporters ramped up a pressure campaign against former hawkish allies, including Bennett and his No. 2 in the Yamina party, Ayelet Shaked.

Netanyahu has displayed an unrivaled ability to cling to power through conflict, corruption charges and countless elections. Long a polarizing figure, he has found himself increasingly isolated since he was indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in late 2019. His trial began earlier this year.

But he has alienated many supporters and former allies like Bennett who have run against him in recent elections.

His political skills have nonetheless earned him the nickname “The Magician,” and he has been counted out of Israeli politics before only to bounce back.

But time is running out for him to produce another trick from his sleeve, and his rivals are preparing to take center stage.


Violent Jerusalem Clashes Just the Start of Bloody Days to Come

JERUSALEM—Violence erupted in the Holy Land on Monday after Hamas militants fired roughly 150 rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip, and Israel responded with major airstrikes against Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza. Nearly two dozen Palestinians have reportedly been killed in connection to the attacks.

The escalation came after weeks of threats amidst ongoing clashes in the contested holy city between Israeli security forces and Palestinian worshippers.

Major clashes in the morning near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, saw over 300 Palestinians injured as they battled with rocks and fireworks against Israeli police deploying stun grenades and other riot control measures. Several officers were reported lightly injured.

Clashes in and around Jerusalem’s Old City had grown worse in recent days as Palestinians neared the end of the Ramadan holiday, and Jewish ultra-nationalists planned a march through Arab neighborhoods on Monday to mark Jerusalem Day—the anniversary of Israel’s unification of what it views as its “eternal and undivided capital” in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Palestinians, for their part, claim the eastern half of the city as their own capital.

But after Monday morning’s clashes, the Israeli government seemed to back down, banning Jewish devotees from ascending to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound—also the site of the Second Jewish Temple—and altering the planned parade to a less provocative route. A looming Supreme Court decision that may see several Palestinian families in the nearby neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah evicted from their homes in favor of Jewish settlers was also postponed, primarily due to the assumption that it would add more fuel to the fire.

For most of the afternoon, the Old City was filled with masses of bored-looking Israeli riot police and Palestinian youth. A young Palestinian boy, likely no more than ten years old, sped down the main cobblestoned lane of the Muslim Quarter, chased half-heartedly by a triplet of Israeli officers laden with gear. And yet, at some point, Hamas issued an ultimatum, demanding all Israeli forces withdraw from Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah.

Two minutes after the deadline passed, the quiet Jerusalem afternoon was punctuated by rocket sirens. Lawmakers had to take shelter in the Israeli parliament building, and Jewish ultra-nationalists singing at the Western Wall grew silent. The only noise, after the sirens ebbed, were local Palestinians cheering from their rooftops, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great).

Additional rocket volleys, and an anti-tank missile, were subsequently fired from Gaza at Israel, wounding one Israeli civilian. Israel quickly responded with its own strikes, which reportedly killed one senior Hamas commander. According to Gazan health authorities, 20 Palestinians have been reported killed in connection to the attacks, including nine children.

The Israeli military warned that this could be the beginning of several days of fighting.

“This was a blatant assault by Hamas against Israel that won’t go unpunished,” Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told The Daily Beast. “But I believe Hamas will get the message and learn its lesson.”

From the Palestinian perspective, Israel for weeks has violated the sanctity of Jerusalem in general and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular. At the start of Ramadan last month, Israeli police restricted some access to the area for Muslim worshippers, with the ensuing weeks witnessing further scuffles between Palestinian youth and Jewish ultra-nationalists on the streets of Jerusalem. Clashes then grew worse at the mosque.

Making matters worse is the uncertain state of internal Palestinian politics, which saw upcoming legislative elections canceled abruptly in late April by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the pretext of Israel not allowing a vote in East Jerusalem. “Jerusalem is a red line for us,” Abbas averred, no matter that his Fatah faction was likely heading for a dismal showing.

Not to be outdone, Hamas, an internationally recognized terror group, also subsequently upped the stakes, blaming Israel for scuttling the vote and competing with Fatah for who best could “defend” Jerusalem.

“This is our final warning: If the aggression against our people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood does not stop immediately, we will not stand idly by, and the occupation will pay a heavy price,” Hamas’ shadowy military commander, Mohammed Deif, said last week in a rare public statement.

Israeli internal politics are not much more stable. Coming out of the March 23 election, the country’s fourth in two years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a new government after an inconclusive March election, the country’s fourth in two years. As of last week, a heterogeneous grouping of opposition parties ranging across the political spectrum—from the left, center, and right—are in coalition talks over a new government. There is a real prospect that Netanyahu’s 12-year reign may soon come to an end.

“Without doubt, Netanyahu is fanning the flames in order to blow up the coalition talks,” Arab Israeli lawmaker Ayman Odeh told The Daily Beast earlier today in Sheikh Jarrah.

That may have been true initially, at the start of the recent tensions, but to Netanyahu’s credit, he appeared to step back from the brink earlier Monday and followed the advice of his security commanders to de-escalate—a move urged by much of the international community, including the Biden administration, who all expressed “concern” over the increasing unrest in Jerusalem.

But Netanyahu may have gotten his wish anyway: Opposition leaders seeking to topple him came out in support of military action against Gaza, and coalition talks are likely to be suspended until calm is restored.

Too little, too late, by all sides in this most recent—but by no means last—cycle of violence to scar the Holy Land.


Bye Bye Bibi Blues: Netanyahu was Israel’s Trump

Oakland, Ca. (Special to Informed Comment) – Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Donald Trump have both steered their countries, parties and political ships to the far-far right in pursuit of greater power fueled by hate, intolerance and corruption. But now some of Bibi’s allies are jumping ship to form a new government. Republicans meanwhile, refuse to abandon Trump, and chose to remake their party in his fascist image. Facing charges of breach of trust, bribery and corruption, Bibi managed to delay his trial by the convenience of the Covid pandemic, and arguing that attempts to oust him are a politically motivated witch hunt. As Trump makes the same argument, he and Bibi have become a two-headed monster that feeds off fear, ignorance and a devotion to manufactured grievances.

The Likud Party has dominated under Bibi’s leadership for 12 years, and shifted even farther to the right when empowered by Trump, his sycophant Ambassador David Friedman, and the dark prince Jared Kushner. By granting Bibi and Likud their entire wish-list, including the disingenuous Abraham Accords, these men paved the way to the explosion of the recent 11-Day conflict. In Bibi and Trump’s fantasy world, the Palestinian cause didn’t matter, so they marginalized it out of the discussion, along with the two-state solution. With Bibi waning, right-wing parties are finding strange bedfellows on the left, with which to form a government, and retain a vestige of power. They know Bibi’s ship is sinking fast and are bailing for their own political lives, ideological purity be damned.

Bibi’s political dominance has paralyzed Israel through four inconclusive elections in the past two years. The likely successor, Naftali Bennett is an ideological podmate of Bibi, who gained power pressing all the buttons on right-wing wedge issues including opposition to the two-state solution and expansion of illegal settlements. (They have a gift for inspiring mixed metaphors.) Under the power-sharing agreement, he will serve as PM for two years, followed by MK Yair Lapid for the remaining two, IF the government holds that long. This unusual power-sharing agreement includes Raam, an independent Arab party in the governing coalition for the first time in history. But its fragility may be offset by the recognition that Bibi’s agenda has been destructive for Israel and the worldwide Jewish community. (Anti-Zionism has morphed into Anti-Semitism for many ill-informed people.) Should the coalition collapse, Lapid would be the more likely political survivor poised to form a new government.

Not all devout Jews are also devout Zionists, though AIPAC has brainwashed much of the American Jewish community into believing that Zionism MUST be a central tenant of modern Judaism. That one is a religion and the other is an ideology, born at the end of the 19 th Century through centuries of deep-seated anti-Semitism, and forged by the Holocaust is lost on many Jews. And as more American and European Jews recognize the brutal hypocrisy Zionism has become they are questioning, objecting and withholding financial support. This has led Likud to more readily embrace Evangelical Christians, whose “love” for Israel is a perverse dynamic, considering it is motivated by an apocalyptic vision of a world without Jews. But their perverse “love” for Israel is welcomed by right-wing leaders, despite the underlying “hate” for Judaism, as a matter of political survival. What could be more counterintuitive than a Jewish state favoring Evangelical Christians over Jews?

Bennett now recognizes that Bibi has become an existential threat to Israeli society and the independent judiciary. His remaining in power could light a fuse for World War III, so Bennett is jumping ship to avoid enabling the collapse of Israel and a truly apocalyptic conflagration. While some Christians look forward to the Apocalypse as a spiritual goal, most are more interested in prolonging their lives on this earth and avoiding hellfire and brimstone for themselves and their children. Jews holding to Messianic visions also have a sense of mortal preservation, and Bibi’s agenda threatens them too.

Though the proposed government reflects the diversity of Israeli society, it may be unworkable because of the conflicting agendas of its members. Naftali is unlikely to change his devotion to expanding the settlements, or get on-board with police reform and other issues favored by the left. Raam’s participation is motivated by the hope for more resources and greater rights for its citizens, and hoping to repeal discriminatory housing and land-use laws.

The fly in the ointment is Knesset Speaker and Bibi loyalist Yariv Levin, who has the power to delay a confidence vote on the new coalition until June 14. This gives Bibi and Likud time to persuade some coalition members to abandon the proposed government, and Bibi one last chance to benefit from the resulting chaos. He would remain as a “caretaker” PM should that unfold. With Trump’s help, Bibi killed the peace process and ignited the May war with Hamas. Re-igniting conflict would benefit him politically. As with Trump, Bibi has demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice Israeli lives for his selfish political ambition. He has also attacked the judges in his trial and the functional obligations of the Israeli judicial system, as did Trump in losing numerous court challenges to the 2020 Election. The prospect of a total collapse of Israel’s judicial system and economy is what brought Bennett to finally oppose him.

Time and again, Bibi has undermined American political and economic interests, along with Palestinian rights and a viable two-state solution. Some of this has taken the form of brazen violations of American and International Law. Bibi’s interference with the Iran nuclear deal is an example of his selfish destruction, as was his effort to show up President Obama on a state visit in 2019. He also sabotaged the Oslo accords, George Mitchell’s diplomatic efforts at the beginning of President Obama’s first term, John Kerry’s efforts in 2014, and openly campaigned for Trump. No other president or prime minister has dared interfere with American electoral politics, except of course Vladimir Putin. And that is the most revealing reflection of Benjamin Netanyahu, his willingness to play Putin at the expense of democracy in Israel and America.


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