News Roundup for January 17, 2020

January 17, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Poll: Gantz beats Netanyahu again, but still lacks majority to form gov’t, The Jerusalem Post
A poll conducted by Channel 12 predicted on Thursday that the Blue and White Party would win 34 seats (one more than in the September election), beating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, which dropped down to 31, one less than in the last election. But based on the poll results, neither party would still not be able to form a government.

Report: 44% spike in Palestinian home demolitions in Jerusalem, Al Jazeera
Israeli authorities demolished homes in Palestinian areas of occupied East Jerusalem at a significantly higher rate in 2019 than the previous year, according to an Israeli advocacy group. In a new report, Ir Amim said 104 housing units were demolished in 2019 compared with 72 units in 2018. The 44 percent spike also ends what had been a decline in demolitions between 2016 and 2018.

Netanyahu’s Trumpian Election Strategy: Division, Diversion, Derision and Defamation, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Now that the dust is settled, ploys and plots exhausted, parties merged, amalgamated or going their separate ways and the final lists of candidates have been submitted – Israel’s election campaign is finally under way. Benjamin Netanyahu has 46 days to wield his black magic, retain his office and crown his last-ditch efforts to successfully escape the long arm of the law.”


US troops were injured in Iran missile attack despite Pentagon initially saying there were no casualties, CNN
“While no U.S. service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” the US-led military coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria said in a statement Thursday.

IDF strikes Hamas in Gaza in response to explosive balloons from Strip, Times of Israel
Israeli aircraft attacked targets in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday for the second day in a row, as tensions rose on the volatile border.

Palestinian citizens in Israel expect to get 15 seats in Knesset, Al-Monitor
Days before the window is set to close for submitting election lists, due Jan. 17, polls show it is possible the Joint List — a unified slate of predominantly Arab parties — could garner as many as 15 members in the March 2 elections, a whopping 50% improvement over the results of the April 2019 elections when the Joint List was split and only able to reach 10 seats.

1 of 3 polls shows Otzma Yehudit clearing threshold; right-left still deadlocked, Times of Israel
Polls published by three Israeli networks Thursday showed right-wing parties backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their center-left rivals more or less even, with neither bloc projected to win a majority in upcoming elections. One of the polls, however, showed the extremist Otzma Yehudit clearing the Knesset threshold and winning four seats.

Final hurdle preventing Netanyahu immunity removal likely next week, The Jerusalem Post
Netanyahu announced on Thursday that he was formally joining the Likud’s petition to the High Court against Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon’s ruling allowing the House Committee to be formed.

Mike Pence to attend Holocaust forum in Israel, JTA
The White House announced Wednesday that Pence and his wife, Karen, would attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem on Jan. 23.

Rouhani says Iran wants dialogue, working daily to ‘prevent war’, AFP / Times of Israel
Ahead of parliamentary elections on February 21 — predicted to be a challenge for Rouhani’s camp — and amid high tensions between Tehran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program, the president said on Thursday dialogue with the world was still “possible.”

Top Iran leader: Trump is a ‘clown’ who will betray Iranians, AP
Iran’s supreme leader lashed out at Western countries as he led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years, dismissing “American clowns” who he said pretend to support the Iranian nation but want to stick their “poisoned dagger” into its back.

Opinion and Analysis

Ayman Odeh, the Israeli Left’s Natural Leader, Haaretz
Iris Leal writes, “Odeh knows well that realizing his vision, including the full integration of Arab citizens in Israeli society, must be done at the pace of the Joint List’s Arab voters. If just two years ago it seemed it was in Meretz’s hands to become a Jewish-Arab party, now it’s totally clear that Odeh is the one making the big bang on the left.”

How Israel’s top court outlawed moral opposition to the occupation, +972 Mag
Hagai El-Ad writes, “In the topsy-turvy world of Israel’s High Court, international law is nothing more than a disguise to delegitimize the state and its settlements.”

Israel’s Settler Right Should Be Called Religious anti-Zionists, Haaretz
Uri Misgav writes, “The essence of Zionism was to ensure a national home for Jews in recognized, secure borders, as part of a democratic state with a Jewish majority, in which all citizens enjoy full equality. The occupation and settlements project has been torpedoing this purpose for 52 years and the spreading annexation ideas will thwart it forever.”