News Roundup for February 1, 2019

February 1, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Gantz Owes His Sudden Ascent to 20th-century Cult of Generals and 21st-century ‘Reality-politik’, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev observes, “If Gantz achieves the currently unbelievable and defeats Netanyahu in the April 9 election, he would be the first to make the conversion from top officer to top office with no political experience whatsoever…..Gantz chose the right time and the right way to burst into the public limelight and cast himself, contrary to expectations, as Netanyahu’s main nemesis. The question now is whether he is capable of maintaining and accelerating his new momentum throughout the 67 days that remain before Israelis head to the polls, despite the right’s increasingly hysterical onslaught, which is bound to get worse as his situation improves in the polls.”

Gantz, peace and the West Bank landscape, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar writes, “New parties, like Israel Resilience, can hold out the promise of ‘change.’ Such change, however, will require a fundamental reassessment of the geopolitical reality created by successive Israeli governments in the occupied territories by erecting walls, building roads for Israelis only and expropriating Palestinians’ land. To prevent Israel from plunging into the abyss of occupation and moral decline on the verge of which it now teeters, the wheel must be turned. Gantz, in his speech, failed to indicate whether he has the strength or will to do so.”


Labor Party Says Gantz Rejected Their Request to Join His Slate, Haaretz

The Labor Party reached out to Benny Gantz hoping for an alliance with the former chief of staff’s new party, Hosen L’Yisrael, but he refused. “He wasn’t interested,” Labor’s Shelly Yacimovich told Army Radio on Thursday. Labor leader Avi Gabbay and Gantz had talked, Yacimovich said, adding, “That’s no secret. We wanted this alliance. But we can’t force ourselves on a party that doesn’t want us.”

AG rejects Netanyahu bid to delay indictment announcement — report, Times of Israel

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has reportedly decided to decline a request from Benjamin Netanyahu to delay until after election day an announcement regarding the possible indictment of the prime minister on corruption charges.

Moshe Kahlon Attacks Benny Gantz in Speech Launching Kulanu Campaign, Haaretz

Moshe Kahlon launched the campaign of his party, Kulanu, on Wednesday in a speech that focused on his achievements and sacrifices, lashing out against the “privileged” and “the inexperienced stars” of Israel’s election.

Israeli-Palestinian security ties likely to continue despite US aid freeze, Times of Israel

Israeli and Palestinian officials on Thursday signaled that security coordination between them will continue, despite a midnight deadline that cuts off all US assistance to the Palestinians. Security cooperation in the West Bank is one of the few remaining areas of contact between Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority after years of otherwise rocky ties, with both sides joined in a common struggle against Hamas.

5 Israeli soldiers indicted in beating of 2 handcuffed Palestinians, JTA

An Israeli military court has indicted five soldiers in the beating of two detained Palestinians while they were handcuffed and blindfolded. The soldiers punched the Palestinians and hit them with heavy objects, according to the indictment, and reportedly recorded the incident on a cellphone. The detainees, said to be a father and son, were seriously injured.

Erekat meets UN envoy to protest Israeli ejection of Hebron observer group, Times of Israel

A top Palestinian official met Thursday with the UN’s Middle East ambassador to discuss Israel’s decision to eject an observer group in Hebron, in the first such public meeting since the Palestinian Authority declared the envoy persona non grata last year.

Opinion and Analysis

Here’s Why U.S. Aid To Palestinians Needs To Continue, NPR

Dana Stroul and Dan Shapiro write, “The Israeli national security establishment remains painfully aware that it will face the burden – financial, security, and otherwise – of addressing a full-scale collapse in the West Bank or Gaza if the U.S. steps away or loses all influence and credibility with the Palestinians. And if they lose cooperation with the Palestinian security forces, Israeli security forces will find themselves in the far worse position of needing to directly intervene to confront security threats in Palestinian-populated areas, rather than working through the U.S.-funded multilateral construct.”

Yair Lapid, the Underdog Who Believes He’s the Man to Unseat Netanyahu, Haaretz

Ravit Hecht writes, “Everyone who knows Lapid – from those who despise him to his greatest admirers – is convinced that he will never agree to be anyone’s No. 2. From the day he entered politics, Lapid has been certain that he deserves to be prime minister. He built up a superbly organized party, one engineered entirely around the cult of the leader, and he will do whatever he can to avoid hooking up with someone else who will demand the top spot, however attractive. That approach may prove to be his trap.”

How Did Israeli Elections Get So Racist?, Forward
Elizabeth Tsurkov writes, “A disturbing new trend has emerged in the political ads of the Israeli elections. Campaign ads seem to be competing over which candidate has killed the most Palestinians….The election campaign materials, particularly the ones glorifying killing and destruction, tell us that this election, like others in the recent past, will be waged within the right-wing bloc over the votes of right-wingers, and the are predicated on the belief that Israeli right-wing and even centrist voters do not feel empathy toward Palestinians. And in an effort to stave off accusations of being ‘leftists,’ the Israeli Center is increasingly adopting violent rhetoric.”