News Roundup for January 30, 2019

January 30, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Gantz’s Message: Vote for Me – I’m Meaner Than Netanyahu, but Clean, Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Those were Gantz’s main messages of the evening. I’m not corrupt Iike that Israeli patriot Netanyahu. My family doesn’t have his family’s sense of entitlement and I can be a much meaner son of a bitch than him. Mean but clean. I’ve killed more Arabs and they won’t fool me. I’d like to make peace but I’ll probably have to make war and the most important thing is that all the Jews remain united….It was a nicely packaged pile of right-of-center cliches put together by a team of campaign professionals who know exactly which Israeli constituencies they are aiming for – the hawkish fringes of what was once Labor, the middle-class voters of Yesh Atid and the soft-right margin of wavering Likudniks.”


Benny Gantz Breaks Silence: Netanyahu Is No King, Can’t Keep Seat if Indicted, Haaretz

Former Israel Defense Forces chief Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s biggest challenger, formally announced his candidacy for the premiership Tuesday and said his government would “strive toward peace and not miss an opportunity to achieve peace in the region.” “A prime minister cannot preside over Israel when an indictment has been filed against him,” Gantz said, referring to the pending decision by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on whether to indict Netanyahu in the corruption cases against him.

Blaming US veto, Palestinian envoy says UN membership bid on hold, Times of Israel

The Palestinian ambassador at the United Nations said Monday that the day will come when “obstacles” in the Security Council to full UN membership for Palestine will be removed, “but that day is not today.” The main hurdle is the United States, a veto-wielding Security Council member which insists that the only way Palestine can gain full membership in the United Nations is after negotiating a peace deal with Israel.

Polls Suggest Netanyahu May Be Unable to Form New Government if Indicted, Haaretz

Benny Gantz’s suggestion Tuesday that he may not join a coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu if the latter is indicted means that the prime minister may be unable to form a government after the April 9 election if he is in fact charged with corruption. Gesher, the new party of MK Orli Levi-Abekasis, may hold the key. Polls currently show Levi-Abekasis’ party getting around four Knesset seats. Based on Haaretz’s average of the polls, parties worth an additional 57 seats in the 120-member Knesset have definitely announced that they won’t sit in a Netanyahu-led government if he is indicted: Gantz’s Hosen L’Yisrael (15), Yesh Atid (11), Labor (9), Ta’al (6), Joint List (6), Meretz (6) and Kulanu (4).

Palestinian Authority prime minister resigns, JTA

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas. The rest of the government also resigned on Tuesday, according to reports. Abbas will have to decide whether to accept any or all of the resignations. The resignations come two days after the Fatah Central Committee recommended that Abbas remove Hamdallah and form a new government packed with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Joining forces with Gantz, Ya’alon rules out support for two-state solution, Times of Israel

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon ruled out supporting a two-solution to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, moments after his new political partner Benny Gantz said Tuesday he would push for peace if elected prime minister. Asked by The Times of Israel Tuesday evening if he would support a peace deal based on the premise of two states for two peoples, Ya’alon replied “of course not.”

Visiting outpost evacuees, Netanyahu vows ‘no more uprooting of communities’, Times of Israel

Asking for their support in the upcoming elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of settler leaders Monday that it is thanks to them and the movement they represent that he is able to withstand the criminal investigations against him. He also promised the gathering, which included evacuees from an outpost demolished by court order, that so long as it depended on him, there would be no further evacuations of settlements, and no more building freezes.

Amnesty Slams TripAdvisor, Expedia: Profiting From Israeli War Crimes in West Bank Settlements, Haaretz

“The campaign, titled Destination: Occupation, targets the largest international online travel and booking companies: Airbnb,, Expedia and TripAdvisor. Last November, Airbnb announced that it planned to remove around 200 listings in Israeli settlements from its website. As of this week, though, it had yet to implement its new policy. As part of the new campaign, Amnesty International is releasing a report on Wednesday with figures on the number of Israeli settlement listings on the websites of each of the four companies. It also includes case studies of how Israeli tourism initiatives in the occupied territories are impacting nearby Palestinian villages, including those located near Shiloh.”

Opinion and Analysis

BDS Is A Trap For Democrats, Forward

Lara Friedman writes, “[Republicans] are manufacturing a false binary, a “with-Israel-or-against-Israel” debate, designed to divide Democrats, to quash debate, to delegitimize and marginalize powerful emerging progressive voices, and to fracture and weaken the progressive grassroots. Progressive leaders and elected officials can break this false binary, but only by acting with courage and conviction, re-claiming the moral high ground by affirmatively and unapologetically defining “pro-Israel” in terms that uphold liberal values, protect free speech and defend the legitimacy of differences of opinion among progressives when it comes to Israel-Palestine.”

Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Medium

Daniel Kurtzer writes, “[I]f we really want to be helpful, we need to demand judicious, strong, determined leadership in Washington in support of a fair and just settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. If we want to be helpful, we need to avoid the partisan rehashing of grievances and build understanding between the two peoples. If we want to be helpful, we need to match the support we provide Israel for its security with significant support to the Palestinians to live better lives, get better jobs, feel more secure and build the institutions of statehood. As Palestinians and Israelis grapple with the burden of historical narratives and the context of a challenging daily life, the rest of us — Jewish, Christian or Muslim, white or black — need to stake out the middle ground of reasonable compromise, wherein a safe and secure Israel and a safe and secure Palestine can achieve an agreement and start down the path of reconciliation.”

New Group Wants To Keep Democrats Pro-Israel, But AIPAC Ties Could Harm It, Forward

“On Monday, a new group was incorporated in Washington, with a flashy website, a roster of diverse and distinguished board members and a write-up in The New York Times: the Democratic Majority for Israel. The new group says it’s independent and distinct from AIPAC, proudly progressive where AIPAC’s bipartisanship limits how far to the left it can go. But of its 15 board members, 11 have either worked or volunteered for it, donated to it or spoken at its events. The company that made DMFI’s announcement video has long worked with AIPAC,including designing its Policy Conference app.”

No, Netanyahu, Gantz Is Not Left-wing – He’s the Old Right, Haaretz

Noa Landau observes, “Gantz described a worldview of a liberal Likudnik of days gone by, someone who puts defense in the forefront, but who is also extending his hand in peace, who is not afraid to speak about values like equality and separation of religion and state to the extent possible….It’s not the diplomatic and security platform that distinguishes Gantz’s platform but a return to statesmanship, narrowing the division and the infighting between right and left and among segments of Israeli society.”