News Roundup for January 3, 2019

January 3, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Gabbay’s Callous Decapitation of Livni Could Pave the Way for a New Israeli Left, Haaretz

Chemi Shalev writes, “Labor’s eternal quest for new starts to light up its Knesset list does not have to make do with the desirable yet limited pool of former army generals. There are enough charismatic Israelis, renowned in realms other than national security, that could invigorate Labor voters with a sense of renewal and momentum. The single-bloc theory suffers from a fatal flaw: Just as it is meant to draw right wingers who loathe Netanyahu to the center, it could concurrently repel centrists alarmed by an alliance with the left in the opposite direction. A two-headed approach – a centrist bloc focused on security and a leftist bloc that emphasis social issues – might be able to maximize the potential electorate more efficiently than a unified Knesset list that would necessarily combine polar opposites.”

Iran ‘Can Do What They Want’ in Syria, Trump Says, Haaretz

“US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that as far as he’s concerned, Iran ‘can do what they want’ in Syria. Trump made the comment during a conversation with reporters at the end of a cabinet meeting in the White House. ‘Iran is pulling people out of Syria, but they can frankly do whatever they want there,’ the US president said. Trump also refused to directly answer a question about the timeline of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, saying only that it will happen ‘over a period of time.’”


Israel Again Evacuates Illegal West Bank Outpost of Amona; Dozens Wounded, Haaretz

Security forces evacuated settlers Thursday morning who had erected illegal structures at the West Bank outpost of Amona. Settlers barricaded themselves to the structures and threw stones at security forces. Seven suspects have been arrested while three settlers and 23 police officers were injured in the clashes, the Border Police says.The injured security forces have been taken to nearby hospital.

Pompeo says cooperation with Israel over Syria and Iran to continue, Reuters

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the United States would continue to cooperate with Israel over Syria and in countering Iran in the Middle East, even as President Donald Trump plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

Israeli Election: Journalist Caroline Glick Joins Bennett and Shaked’s New Party, Haaretz

Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor, has joined Hayamin Hehadash, the new party launched by hawkish ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked after they split from Habayit Hayehudi.

Former defense chief Ya’alon launches new political party, Telem, Times of Israel

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon officially registered his new political party on Wednesday, revealing that it will be called Telem and promising it will be “a political force that will put the country back on the right track.” Telem takes its name from a past party helmed by another former chief of staff, Moshe Dayan. The original Telem was an acronym for “Tnua LeHithadshut Mamlachtit,” meaning the Movement for National Renewal. Though recent polls have indicated Ya’alon would fail to clear the minimum vote threshold needed to enter the Knesset, reports have said he is in talks with former chief of staff Benny Gantz to form an electoral alliance, with the latter doing well in the polls.

Israel’s Nation-State Law also discriminates against Mizrahi Jews, +972

Over 50 prominent Israeli Jews of Mizrahi origin filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday demanding it strike down the Jewish Nation-State Law, saying it discriminates against both Palestinian citizens and Jewish Mizrahi citizens of Israel. According to the petition, the law, which demotes Arabic from an official language to one with “special status,” is “anti-Jewish” for excluding the history and culture of Jews from Arab and Muslim countries, “while strengthening the impression that Jewish-Arab culture is inferior…and anchoring the identity of the State of Israel as anti-Arab.”

Revealed: U.S. Refused Israeli Request to Question Kerry, Shapiro in Netanyahu Corruption Case, Haaretz

The Trump administration has barred Israeli law enforcement agencies from questioning former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Dan Shapiro, the former American ambassador to Israel, over allegations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu illegally received lavish gifts from a wealthy Israeli Hollywood entertainment magnate, Arnon Milchan.

Opinion and Analysis

Israeli attorney general wrestles with indictment timing, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit reports, “The timing is critical, only a few weeks before elections now scheduled for April 9. It’s no wonder Mandelblit is searching high and low for salvation….Among his concerns are: Is it appropriate to publicize an important decision like this, before general elections? Would it be viewed as crass political interference, or is perhaps the opposite true? Not to announce something that everyone already knows could be a form of interference too. One way or the other, the situation has turned the April 9 election into one of the most important votes in Israeli history because of its explosive implications….Under the circumstances, Netanyahu is waging a desperate battle to postpone the decree. The first step was to hold elections as early as possible, and now Netanyahu is trying to make sure that the attorney general’s decision will be publicized afterward and not before.”