News Roundup for September 19, 2019

September 19, 2019

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J Street in the News

The Guardian view on Israel’s elections: it could be worse, The Guardian
“When the prime minister vowed to annex the Jordan valley and northern Dead Sea – a move which the liberal pro-Israel lobby group J Street in the US warned ‘would destroy Israeli democracy and constitute a flagrant violation of international law’ – Blue and White’s response was that he had stolen its idea. The fear is that Mr Netanyahu’s continued tenure, coupled with the Trump administration, could lead to his election threats becoming reality this time. Even if Mr Gantz would be more pragmatic, he falls far short of being the change that Israel needs.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Election Results: Gantz Widens Lead Over Netanyahu With 98 Percent of Vote Counted, Haaretz
With 98 percent of the vote counted in Israel’s election, Kahol Lavan grew by one seat to 33, widening its edge over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. The results give the center-left a slight advantage of 57 seats, compared to 55 seats for the right-wing bloc. The Joint List, made up of four Arab-majority parties, is the third largest party with 13 seats, the same number they received in their maiden joint run in 2015.

Trump after Netanyahu election setback: Our relations are with Israel, AXIOS
President Trump appeared to distance himself from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today after the latter’s failure to win a parliamentary majority in Tuesday’s elections. Trump told reporters in California that he hasn’t spoken yet to Netanyahu about the election results and stressed that his administration’s relations “are with Israel.” Those cool remarks are a blow to Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival.

Who Won The Israeli Election? American Jews, The Forward
Abe Silberstein writes, “It’s too early to predict exactly how this stalemate will end. But for the liberal majority of American Jews anxiously watching the election results, uncertainty was one of the better possible outcomes.”


Netanyahu locks in right, Haredi parties, then urges unity coalition with Gantz, Times of Israel
The leaders of all the parties in the right-wing religious bloc on Thursday signed a document pledging to recommend Benjamin Netanyahu as the next prime minister and vowing to enter a coalition only as a single unit, as the premier called on Blue and White chief Benny Gantz to join a “unity government” that includes those parties.

Netanyahu Tells Gantz ‘We Must Form Unity Government, Meet Me Today’, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on rival Benny Gantz to meet him “at any hour today” in order to hold discussions. “We must form a broad unity government,” he told the Kahol Lavan leader, whose party widened the edge over Likud according to the latest election results.

Netanyahu Is in Trouble, and Other Takeaways From the Israeli Election, New York Times
Israeli voters went to the polls on Tuesday for the second time in five months. The results aren’t certain, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to gain the support he had hoped for.

End of the Netanyahu era? Worn-out Israel wakes up to political turmoil, Deutsche Welle
After an unprecedented repeat election, partial results show that Israel’s two main political rivals have failed to secure a majority once again. This has left voters more exhausted and skeptical than ever.

PA says Palestinians ready for dialogue with any future Israeli leader, Times of Israel
“Whoever will be able to form a government, we are ready to sit with him or her in order to restart the negotiations,” Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki tells reporters after the elections end in an apparent deadlock between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz.

‘Netanyahu’s incitement boomeranged,’ Joint List campaign manager cheers, Times of Israel
The Joint List campaign on Wednesday said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fiery rhetoric against Arab voters backfired wildly, driving up turnout considerably after the Arab-majority alliance used the premier’s anti-Arab statements to whip up political support.

Pompeo says Saudi attack an “act of war” as Trump sounds more cautious note, CNN
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack on Saudi oil facilities “an act of war” Wednesday, as President Donald Trump announced that he’s ordered new sanctions on Iran, the latest escalation in tensions between the two countries as US officials work to pin the blame on Iran.

Netanyahu cancels trip to U.N. as he appears to fall short in Israel elections, NBC News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday canceled a visit to the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week amid political uncertainty in Israel, where he appeared to fall short of a government majority in national elections.

Iran’s Rouhani comes out swinging against the US, CNN
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has again denied responsibility for weekend attacks in Saudi Arabia and slammed US accusations against Tehran as “maximum slander.” — “Instead of creating a positive atmosphere, the American diplomats are trying to exert maximum slander on Iran with baseless and meaningless accusations,” said Rouhani, according to state broadcaster IRIB.

Opinion and Analysis

The end of the Netanyahu era doesn’t mean the end of the occupation, +972 Mag
Haggai Matar writes, “If Netanyahu is replaced, things might actually get worse for Palestinians.”

Netanyahu Will Pull Out All the Stops – Including Military Action – to Hold on to Power, Haaretz
Chuck Freilich writes, “Israelis voted to save their democracy. But the country may soon face a severe constitutional crisis if Netanyahu, facing political failure and criminal prosecution, adopts Nixon-style desperate measures.”

Netanyahu dominated the U.S.-Israel relationship. What happens if he’s gone?, Washington Post
Daniel Shapiro writes, “The U.S.-Israel relationship is deep, broad and multifaceted. It comprises security, economic, technological and societal components. It is more than just the personal ties between our leaders. And yet, in the past decade, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became a larger than life figure, whose personality and presence dominated our two nations’ relations.”

An Unlikely Winner in Israel’s Election, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “For the first time, the country’s Arab minority could wield some leverage in the political process.”

Israel Election Results: Ayman Odeh With Shin Bet Bodyguards?, Haaretz
Gideon Levy writes, “Shortly after the exit poll results were released on Tuesday night, talk began of Ayman Odeh heading the opposition in the next Knesset. Then the whispers started: Odeh with Shin Bet security service bodyguards? Odeh in an official state car, an armored one even? Odeh in official meetings with foreign heads of state?”

The End of the Netanyahu Era, New York Times
Shmuel Rosner writes, “The Israeli prime minister may be fighting to stay in power. But the dynamics that kept him there for a decade have shifted under his feet.”