News Roundup for March 18, 2019

March 18, 2019

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s Top Court Bans Kahanist Leader From Election Run, Okays Arab Slates, Far-left Candidate, Haaretz

“Israel’s Supreme Court banned on Sunday Kahanist leader Michael Ben Ari from running in the April 9 general election and reversed the disqualification of Arab joint slate Balad-United Arab List and Ofer Cassif, a member of political alliance Hadash-Ta’al. Earlier this month, the Central Election Committee disqualified the Balad-United Arab List and Cassif, opposing the opinion of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. That same day, a petition against Ben Ari, the chairman of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, failed to pass the committee, which approved him to run in the election. The decision to allow Ofer Cassif to run was made by an eight to one majority. The decision to allow the running of Arab joint slate Balad-United Arab List was also made by an eight to one majority. The nine justices unanimously approved Hadash-Ta’al to run in the election.”

UN envoy says Hamas violently suppressed Gaza protests, Yahoo News

“A United Nations envoy condemned Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas on Sunday, accusing the group of violently suppressing peaceful protests. Since Thursday hundreds of Palestinians have taken to the streets in multiple locations throughout the Gaza Strip, protesting the rising cost of living in the Palestinian enclave. Dozens have been arrested, including journalists and human rights workers, with security forces using violence to break up the demonstrations, according to rights groups.”

Foreign Aid, Trump Style: Getting Netanyahu Re-Elected, American Prospect

Gershom Gorenberg writes, “If Trump thinks boosting Netanyahu will gain him some Jewish votes in America, that’s almost certainly another of his delusions. If he thinks it will help him evangelicals, he’s probably on more solid ground. But electoral considerations are just part of the story. Trump doesn’t care about Palestinians, or about an international order that bars taking territory by force. He likes the kind of elected leaders who are slipping toward authoritarianism, especially when they compliment him often. As for Netanyahu, his first goal has been to convince voters that the corruption cases are all fake news. Not all of his base will buy that, so his second goal is to persuade the rest that even if he’s a crook, he’s a crook who is convincing the world that settlements are no problem and that occupation isn’t occupation. Trump is helping.”


Israeli Soldier Killed in West Bank Shooting Attack, Two Others Seriously Wounded, Haaretz

An Israeli soldier, aged 19, was killed and another Israeli man was seriously wounded on Sunday in a shooting attack in the West Bank. Emergency services said that a third man was also seriously wounded in a nearby attack.

Father of 12 succumbs to injuries from Sunday terror attack, Times of Israel

Rabbi Achiad Ettinger died of his injuries Monday, a day after being shot by a Palestinian terrorist during an attack in the northern West Bank, a family spokesperson said. Ettinger, 47, was a father of 12 from the settlement of Eli. Doctors had been working to save his life since the attack near Ariel Sunday morning in which a soldier, Gal Keidan, was also killed.

Gantz demands AG probe whether Netanyahu leaked Iran phone hack claims, Times of Israel

The Blue and White party has asked the attorney general to investigate a report last week that claimed Iran had hacked into party leader Benny Gantz’s cellphone and collected purportedly compromising information on him. Gantz, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, has called the leak “political gossip,” noting that the Likud party was jumping on the news as fodder for campaign videos.

Pompeo to Visit Israel This Week, Giving Netanyahu Political Boost Ahead of Election, Haaretz

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel this week, some 21 days before the April 9 election. The move is widely seen as an attempt to boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political standing. Pompeo will visit Jerusalem as part of a regional tour that will start in Kuwait City on Tuesday and conclude in Beirut at the end of the week.

US Jewish communities support Muslim neighbors at prayer services and vigils, JTA

Jewish communities throughout the United States attended vigils and services at mosques in their communities to express support and concern in the wake of the murder by a white supremacist of at least 50 Muslim worshipers at two New Zealand mosques.

After phone hacking, Likud claims Iran pushing for Gantz, Lapid to win election, Times of Israel

In an election ad Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party claimed Iran was interfering in the upcoming Knesset election in order to ensure that the Blue and White party wins. The campaign video, designed to damage Blue and White head Benny Gantz’s standing by asserting that Israel’s enemies in Tehran support him, aired two days after Channel 12 news reported that the Islamic Republic had hacked Gantz’s personal cellphone and obtained access to its entire contents. It asserted that “the Iranian regime openly supports” Gantz and his Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid.

Opinion and Analysis

Ilhan Omar: We must apply our universal values to all nations. Only then will we achieve peace, Washington Post

Rep. Ilhan Omar writes, “U.S. support for Israel has a long history. The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic oppression leading up to it. Many of the founders of Israel were themselves refugees who survived indescribable horrors. We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians. And without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement. This, too, is a refugee crisis, and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity. A balanced, inclusive approach to the conflict recognizes the shared desire for security and freedom of both peoples. I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination. This has been official bipartisan U.S. policy across two decades and has been supported by each of the most recent Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as the consensus of the Israeli security establishment. “

Forget Iranian Hacking: Israel Facing the Perfect Storm After West Bank Attack, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “ The serious attack near Ariel in the West Bank, which claimed the life of an Israeli man and wounded two others, demonstrates that the Palestinian front is as heated up as ever: It will continue to affect the election campaign in the three remaining weeks till the ballots open. The escalation is already here; only its final dimensions and political impact have yet to be determined….Though it seems Hamas is hesitant about a clash with Israel in Gaza for fear of a harsh Israeli strike (and it will not have billions of dollars ready for reconstruction, as it did after the 2014 war), it has no qualms regarding the West Bank. A deterioration in the West Bank, which would further harm coordination between Israeli and the Palestinian Authority intelligence services, would be a welcome development for Hamas.”

‘The entire world knows the settlers have declared war on us’, +972

Rami Younis and Oren Ziv report, “This past year was, by all accounts, a difficult one for Palestinians living near settlements in the West Bank. According to data provided by the Palestinian Authority’s Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee, 2018 saw 614 settler attacks against Palestinians, ranging from property damage to stone throwing and lethal assault. This constitutes an increase of 217 percent compared to the previous year; 2017 saw 284 incidents of assault, while the PA recorded 255 such incidents in 2016. As of early March, the committee documented 125 assaults — an average of more than two incidents per day. The attacks, once referred to as “price tag attacks,” are committed by extremist Jewish youth from settlements and outposts across the West Bank. Their goal is to exact a price from Palestinians for actions Israeli authorities take against the settlers, usually building enforcement in illegally built settlements. The attacks are sporadic and difficult to combat in real time.”

The Gaza Paradox: Palestinians Are Fed Up With Hamas, Israel Is Worried, Haaretz

Zvi Bar’el writes, “The paradox is that under other circumstances, Israel would be pleased with the public protest in Gaza and see it as proof of the success of the closure policy, which it believes could lead to Hamas’ downfall. But the turmoil Hamas is experiencing worries Israel too. It needs a partner to take responsibility for running the Strip, stop a disintegration that could lead to a large-scale armed conflict on the eve of the election, and serve as an address for mediation. Suddenly it turns out that the confrontations at the fence are a marginal threat, if at all, compared to the risk of instability of the Hamas government.”