Anshel Pfeffer profiles Benny Gantz, “the first politician in a decade to seriously threaten Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘Mr. Security’ image.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for a fight against rising Muslim and left-wing anti-Semitism in Europe, hours after the government published a report that said the far-right posed the greatest threat to Jews on the continent. Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on International Holocaust Memorial Day, Netanyahu said that right-wing anti-Semitism in Europe was well established, but that a recent rise in anti-Zionism was driving anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment across the continent…‘In contrast to previous years, when Islamist anti-Semitism was the main and most dangerous threat to Jewish communities, in 2018 there has been a turnaround and now anti-Semitic incidents emanating from the far-right are the main and most dangerous threat to Jewish communities, especially in the United States and Europe,’ the report said.”
Ben Caspit writes, “The Shin Bet’s statement only reveals the tip of the iceberg of Jewish extremism in the West Bank. The goal of these extremists is to set the region on fire, dragging the Jewish and Arab populations to Armageddon. These so-called hilltop youth consist of several hundred young Jews who are driven by ‘messianic activism’ and who consider the state and its institutions to be an enemy that must be overthrown. In short, they want to topple Israel’s democratic government and replace it with a ‘kingdom of Halacha,’ that is, an entity ruled by Jewish law. To achieve their goal, the young extremists are striving to create as many violent hotspots as possible to incite a War of Armageddon, which, they believe, will culminate in the Redemption.”
Israeli settlers shot and killed a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, Palestinian officials and the Israeli military said. The incident followed a confrontation between settlers and Palestinians near the city of Ramallah in which a settler was lightly injured, the military said. “Initial details suggest that shortly thereafter, a conflict erupted between Israeli civilians and Palestinians in the area, in which live rounds were fired by the civilians. One Palestinian died and several others are injured,” the military said in a statement, adding that an investigation has begun.
A significant majority of Israeli Arabs are interested in some form of participation in the next government, according to a survey published on Sunday. The survey found that nearly two-thirds of the respondents (64 percent) were in favor of Arab parties joining the governing coalition. Support was even higher (68 percent) when the option in question was a center-left government.
A court on Sunday extended the remand of a Jewish settler who was arrested on suspicion of attacking and lightly wounding two Palestinians with an ax in the northern West Bank. The arrest comes amid rising tension in the West Bank following the suspected killing of a Palestinian by settlers on Saturday.
The leaders of the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties are considering running under two separate joint slates in the upcoming election. MK Ahmad Tibi’s Ta’al party would join forces with the United Arab List, and the Hadash and Balad parties would run together on a separate list. The proposal arose amid fears that Tibi’s withdrawal of Ta’al from the Joint List would reduce the total number of Knesset seats the Arab parties could win in the April 9 election.
Qatar distributed $100 grants to some 94,000 needy families in Gaza. The money went to poor families instead of to Gaza civil servants after the Hamas leaders of the Gaza Strip said it would not accept the third installment of $15 million in aid from Qatar. Some reports said that about 50,000 families would receive up to $400 in assistance over four payments. The transfer of the money had been held up by Israel for nearly three weeks, over continued unrest on the border between Israel and Gaza.
The Palestinians intend to form a new Palestinian Authority government made up of Palestinian factions excluding Hamas in the near future, a senior Fatah official said on Sunday. The Palestinians formed the current PA government in 2014 with the support of both Fatah and Hamas. Since its establishment, however, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has carried out at least two cabinet reshuffles without Hamas’s consent.
Amir Tibon reports, “Current and former Arab officials, as well as experts on the region, describe Trump’s policies in the Middle East as incoherent, confusing and even alarming….Hady Amr, a former State Department official who worked on Middle East policy in the Obama administration, said Arab countries viewed Trump’s Middle East policy as a continuation of his internal politics. ‘It took these countries time to reach this conclusion, but they realize today that policies in the Middle East, whether it’s the approach towards Iran, the withdrawal from Syria or the peace plan, are heavily influenced by domestic political considerations, and not by actual national security goals,’ he said.”
Yossi Verter writes, “About eight minutes – that’s what the head of the Hosen L’Yisrael party is hoping to steal from the main evening news broadcasts. This length of time is, it’s been said, Gantz’s one and only opportunity to make a first impression. He will have to give the performance of his life. He will have to be sharp, assertive, convincing, captivating. Not vague, not bleh, not clichéd. He will have to give answers to the major questions on the public agenda: the investigations of the prime minister, the effect of an indictment, the volatile situation in the north and the south. The less he talks about his military past, the better. Everyone knows he was chief of staff.”