News Roundup for March 4, 2019

March 4, 2020

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J Street in the News

Meet the adviser shaping foreign policy for Sanders, The Hill
“‘[Duss] is known as a leader in progressive thinking when it came to Middle East policy. And it makes a lot of sense for a senator like Sen. Sanders, at that point, to turn to someone like Matt,’ said Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder and president of J Street, a left-leaning pro-Israel advocacy group in Washington.”

Top News and Analysis

With 99% of votes counted, right-wing bloc at 58 seats, 3 shy of majority, Times of Israel
As votes cast in so-called double envelopes in the Knesset elections were being tallied, the Central Election Committee updated the count Wednesday morning, giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the centrist rival Blue and White led by Benny Gantz an extra seat apiece, leaving the premier’s bloc of right-wing supporters at 58 seats.

Israel’s re-do election returns it to political limbo, again, AP
Israel looked set to slide back into political deadlock on Wednesday as the final votes were being tallied from the country’s third election in less than a year, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party holding on to a solid lead but failing to win the outright parliamentary majority needed to form a government.

UN agency sees sharp increase in Iran’s uranium stockpile, potentially reducing time needed to build nuclear bomb, Washington Post
Iran is dramatically ramping up production of enriched uranium in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal, the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed Tuesday in a report that also criticized Tehran for blocking access to suspected nuclear sites.


Appearing to dismiss unity, Gantz says he will do all possible to replace PM, Times of Israel
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz on Tuesday appeared to rule out joining a unity government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, narrowing the premier’s options to form a coalition as his Likud party and its right-wing religious partners appeared to come short of a majority in the elections. “I won’t sit in a government under a person with three indictments,” Gantz told reporters after a Blue and White faction meeting in Ramat Gan.

Rivlin, Netanyahu set to clash over mandate to form government, The Jerusalem Post
Likud sources said Netanyahu wanted to form a government as soon as possible and that he aimed to complete the process before his corruption trial begins on March 17. But President Reuven Rivlin will be taking his time in enabling a government to be formed, the exact opposite of what he did after the April and September elections.

Lackluster showing sparks calls for ‘soul searching’ in left-wing alliance, Times of Israel
Two prominent progressive lawmakers called for “soul searching” among the Israeli left on Tuesday following election results that appeared to give an alliance of the country’s major left-wing parties its worst showing in history.

Gantz’s Party Members Preparing for Defections, Don’t Rule Out Splitting Up, Haaretz
After a dirty election campaign that seems to have ended in disappointment for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief rival, Benny Gantz, the former army chief is facing a new challenge: A possible attempt by the premier’s Likud party to get Kahol Lavan MKs to defect.

Netanyahu meets with allies as results signal right won’t muster majority, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday met with leaders of parties in his bloc of right-wing religious supporters, as discussions began on the makeup of the next government.

Gantz Bloc Mulls Law Barring Indicted Netanyahu From Forming Gov’t, Haaretz
Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party and the Labor-Meretz-Gesher are considering legislation to prevent Benjamin Netanyahu from serving as prime minister in the next term – taking advantage of what is shaping up to be a majority of lawmakers who oppose him.

Joint List candidate poised to become the first hijab-wearing MK, Times of Israel
Iman Khatib-Yassin appeared to be poised on Tuesday to secure a spot in the Knesset and become the first hijab-wearing Knesset lawmaker in Israel’s history, as preliminary election results showed her Joint List party surging to 15 seats.

Opinion and Analysis

Ace of Base: Why Netanyahu Seems Unsinkable, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger writes, “Mr. Netanyahu’s relationship with his fervent political base — Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent — may be even stronger than Donald Trump’s support from white working-class Americans.”

‘An Earthquake’: How Israel’s Arabs Achieved Their Historic Election Win, Haaretz
Judy Maltz writes, “Arab Israelis definitely ‘came out in droves’ this election – and got an extra boost from Jewish voters. The result is a record number of Arab lawmakers, including five women.”

Israel’s Election: 7 Takeaways, New York Times
Patrick Kingsley writes, “With 92 percent of votes counted in the Israeli general election on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the lead, but it was still far from certain whether he would win enough seats to form a majority government and end a year of political stasis.”

How instability in the Middle East could affect Trump’s reelection bid, Washington Post
David Ignatius writes, “As President Trump heads toward the November presidential election, some potential time bombs are ticking away abroad — not just in Afghanistan and North Korea but also in Jordan, where there’s a little-noticed danger that Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory could produce new instability.”

Meet the potential defectors Netanyahu wants on the Right, The Jerusalem Post
Gil Hoffman asks, “Who might Likud try to recruit? What would potential defectors seek, and what would Likud be willing to give them?”

The Left Learned the Hard Way That the Whole Is Smaller Than Its Parts, Haaretz
Jonathan Lis writes, “After the April election Labor-Gesher and Meretz thought the time had come to establish a left-wing slate. Now it’s uncertain whether the failed merger can be undone.”

For Palestinians, Netanyahu, Gantz are ‘two sides of same coin’, +972 Mag
Ali Younes writes, “Some 30 years since the Madrid conference, and after the mandates of seven Israeli prime ministers from different parties, Palestinians have seen their long-sought state shrink year after year.”