News Roundup for May 30, 2019

May 30, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

In Defeat for Netanyahu, Israel Moves to Hold New Election, New York Times
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a stunning defeat on Thursday after he failed to meet a midnight deadline to form a new government, casting a cloud over his future as prime minister and thrusting Israel into the chaos of a new election. Just seven weeks ago, when Mr. Netanyahu basked in a postelection “night of tremendous victory,” he seemed invincible, confident that he would serve a fourth consecutive term and a fifth overall.

PM offers ministries, law changes, even presidency, in frantic bid for majority, Times of Israel
Gabbay’s Labor was offered various ministries — including the Finance Ministry that Likud has also promised to Moshe Kahlon; he was promised that Netanyahu would abandon his efforts to pass anti-democratic legislation aimed at protecting the prime minister from prosecution; MK Shelly Yachimovich was to be given the Justice Ministry; senior Labor MK Amir Peretz was even reportedly promised the presidency when Reuven Rivlin’s term is over.

After the Netanyahu Fail, What Is Trump’s Israel-Palestine Solution? Let Others Pick Up the Pieces, Daily Beast
Neri Zilber writes, “The next Netanyahu government—and he’s still the favorite to win again—may view the inevitable Palestinian rejection of the Trump peace plan as a green light to begin annexing settlements in the West Bank. Arab and European states may grow tired of acting as the cash machine for a two-state solution that both Washington and Jerusalem no longer believe in. Already, UNRWA is warning that it’s once again short on funds for this year, with one million people in Gaza alone facing a food shortage by next month.”


Kushner arrives in Israel to political chaos and a new roadblock for his peace plan, Washington Post
Political chaos met presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner as he visited Israel for meetings Thursday to bolster support for his peace plan, as the prospect of a second round of Israeli elections muddied the plan’s long-delayed rollout.

Netanyahu: Liberman Is Now Part of the Left, The Jerusalem Post
“Israel made a clear decision,” Netanyahu said. “The Likud will lead the government as a Right-wing government. The different parties that tried to enter the Knesset said, ‘We will support Netanyahu.’ Avigdor Liberman, to my disappointment, had no intention from the beginning to do what he said he would.”

Liberman: Israel going to polls because Netanyahu surrendered to ultra-Orthodox, Times of Israel
“Unfortunately, Israel is going to repeat elections because of the refusal of the Likud and the ultra-Orthodox parties to accept our proposal and to vote on the draft law in second and third readings in the original version,” Liberman said.

Leading Arab Party Leader Makes Knesset Laugh Mocking Netanyahu’s Coalition Overtures, Haaretz
“Seven minutes ago Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to me and he said he is willing to withdraw from the occupied territories and also to cancel the nation-state law, and that he supports not only civil equality but also national equality, and that he’s willing to recognize the Nakba and fix the historical wrong – in return for the immunity law,” Ayman Odeh announced to audible laughter, referencing the prime minister’s efforts to pass legislation that would prevent him from being indicted for corruption.

Meretz renews call for merger with Labor as new elections called, Times of Israel
“In the morning I will appeal to the Labor party to enter talks for running together in the elections,” Meretz party leader Tamar Zandberg said. “The present need is a large and significant left-wing bloc along with the center.”

Sara Netanyahu signs plea deal in restaurant meals fraud case, JTA
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his signed a plea deal in a fraud case in which she was accused of ordering $96,000 worth of meals from high-end restaurants rather than using the cook at the prime minister’s residence to prepare her food.

Palestine: No Letup in Arbitrary Arrests, Torture, Human Rights Watch
“The Palestinian Authority and Hamas remain bitterly divided, but unified in a common approach to crushing dissent,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Leaders who have been in power for more than a decade without elections should at the very least listen to criticism, not punish it.”

Opinion and Analysis

Kushner’s Awful Timing: Netanyahu’s Political Crisis Could Kill Trump’s Peace Plan, Haaretz
Amir Tibon writes, “Jared Kushner couldn’t have chosen a worse time to come to Israel. His trip to the Middle East, which was planned long before Israel’s current political crisis erupted, was supposed to focus on one goal: Bolstering the economic peace conference that is scheduled to take place in Bahrain on June 25-26. Now, after the Knesset voted to dissolve itself, the Gulf workshop is no longer on top of anyone’s agenda.”

Politico’s ‘cheap’ shot at Bernie Sanders, JTA
Andrew Silow-Carroll writes, “I read a tweet that made me think twice: ‘Can @politico explain to us how photoshopping money trees next to the only Jewish candidate for president and talking about how ‘cheap’ and rich he is *isn’t* antisemitic? Or are they just letting this happen because he’s a progressive politician they don’t like?’ That tweet was from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and it reminded me that what I think is or isn’t anti-Semitic is less important than how others regard – and weaponize – anti-Semitism.”

Cult of Netanyahu Compels Zombie-like Knesset to Terminate Itself, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The only reason for the demented decision to hold new elections is the prime minister’s frantic frenzy to avoid prosecution – but the lunacy might be contagious.”

Infuriating but not finishing Netanyahu, Liberman drags Israel back to the polls, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “For two years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been charging that his enemies are pursuing a ‘vendetta’ to push him out office. As criminal investigations against him gathered pace, he blamed the opposition, the media, the police, the state prosecution hierarchy and the attorney general. On Wednesday, he was proven right.”

Netanyahu Just Suffered One of the Biggest Losses of His Political Career, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “On Wednesday night, Netanyahu was forced to dissolve the Knesset and call a new election, effectively admitting (though he didn’t say so) that he failed to win the April 9 election. He is still prime minister for the next four months. But this was his worst night in thirteen years.”