“Democrats in the Senate blocked on Tuesday a bill regarding Middle East policy proposed by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one that ignited heated debates in Washington about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement….Nearly all Senate Democrats, including many who have previously supported legislation against BDS and in favor of security assistance to Israel, voted against proceeding the debate on the bill….The official party line expressed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is that no bill should come up for a vote until U.S. President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans agree to end the ongoing government shutdown.”
“On Monday afternoon, the prime minister announced on Twitter that he would make a special address to the nation at the start of the evening news hour, leading to a flurry of speculation….In his seven-minute prime-time address, Netanyahu instead served up a nothingburger of gripes and demands he has already made repeatedly. He accused his enemies on the left and in the media of pursuing a witch hunt against him (not unlike President Trump) and restated his talking point that it would be undemocratic for Mandelblit to accept the recommendations of the police and charge him in these cases, which the attorney general is widely expected to do in February, before the April 9 elections….if Trump discovers tonight that he likes using this medium to fight his political battles, we might start seeing something very similar here in the U.S. (Both men already share a love of using Twitter to build narratives.)”
The head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Monday that a foreign country intends to intervene in Israel’s upcoming elections, according to a report on the Israel Television News Company. According to the report, Nadav Argaman said the foreign country would intervene in Israel’s election via hackers and cybertechnology.
Israeli security forces arrested the Palestinian man suspected of carrying out a West Bank shooting attack that killed two Israeli soldiers and seriously injured two others. Asem Barghouti was arrested early Tuesday morning in the Dec. 13 attack on a bus stop outside the Givat Asaf settlement, and also for allegedly participating with his brother in the attack four days earlier outside Ofra in the West Bank that seriously injured a pregnant woman and led to the death of her prematurely delivered baby.
Leading Israeli-Arab lawmaker Ahmed Tibi submitted a request on Tuesday to split from the Joint List, the alliance of Arab political parties that includes the party he chairs. Tibi’s decision comes after months in which he has urged open primaries for Joint List candidates, or a distribution of parties’ seats within the alliance based on public surveys, partly in the hopes of increasing Ta’al’s strength. The other three Joint List parties did not cooperate with his efforts.
Jordanian FM to Pompeo: Israel must eventually withdraw from Golan, Times of Israel
As Israel lobbies the US to recognize its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Jordan’s foreign minister on Tuesday presented his visiting American counterpart with an opposing view of the matter. “International law regarding the Golan Heights is clear,” Ayman Safadi told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Amman. “Israel must withdraw from the region as part of a deal that will allow the rights of all sides to be maintained,” he said.
Retired Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, a former commander of the Galilee division of the army, is forming a new party that will be running in the April 9 general election. His party, Magen Yisrael, which translates as Defender of Israel or Shield of Israel, is expected to be registered on Tuesday.
The Trump foreign policy legacy, Washington Post
Daniel Drezner writes, “The current president has compensated for his inability to get U.S. forces out of the Middle East with his ability to withdraw the United States from numerous international agreements ranging from the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the Iran nuclear deal to the Universal Postal Union. He has successfully eroded the norm that the United States will stay in international agreements. America could elect the most committed internationalist in 2020, and allies and partners will still be wary of a Trump-like figure returning to the presidency and wreaking havoc again.”
Judy Maltz reports that Michal Zernowitski, 37, is hoping to become the first ultra-Orthodox MK for the Labor Party in April, standing on a platform of equality, social justice and peace.
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “Three players are now determined to establish strongholds in Syria: Turkey, Russia and Iran. Their leaders held two joint summits in 2018 to ensure they didn’t step on each other’s toes. The optimistic view in Israel is that Turkey, which believes it is the main Sunni power, will ultimately clash with Shia Iran over supremacy in Syria and that Russia will rein both of them in. But Israeli pessimists fear the deep antipathy towards Israel shared by Erdogan and the Iranian leadership will help them overcome their rivalry.”