News Roundup for September 24, 2019

September 24, 2019

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Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu, Gantz Made ‘Significant Steps’ in First Meeting to Negotiate New Government, Rivlin Says, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz made “significant steps” in negotiations over the formation of a new government on Monday evening at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, President Reuven Rivlin said.

In Israel, Gantz and Netanyahu Start Talks on Possible Unity Government, New York Times
Mr. Rivlin’s role is largely ceremonial, but after last week’s inconclusive vote it is up to him to decide who will get the first crack at forming a government and becoming prime minister. For now he appears to have deferred that decision in the hope that the two men, whose parties won the most votes in the election, can work out a deal on their own. ‘This is one of the rare instances where the president has a chance to be more than a rubber stamp,’ said Gideon Rahat, a political scientist at the Israel Democracy Institute and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Trump upbeat on Johnson’s idea of new Iran deal, Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump responded positively to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s idea of creating a new nuclear deal with Iran, saying that he respected Johnson and was not surprised he had floated the idea. “He does want a new deal because the other deal was ready to expire – very short number of years left,” Trump said, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran struck with major powers and that the U.S. president abandoned last year.


Netanyahu, Gantz Teams Begin Negotiations for Unity Government, Haaretz
Negotiation teams representing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and rival Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan met Tuesday at Kfar Maccabiah to begin negotiations for forming a national unity government.

Iran’s FM: Israel is hitting Iraq’s ‘official military’ in strikes, Times of Israel
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has explicitly blamed Israel for a series of airstrikes in Iraq, insisting that the targets were part of the official Iraqi military.

Israeli top court hears HRW activist’s deportation appeal, AP
Israel’s Supreme Court is hearing the appeal of the local director of Human Rights Watch to reverse his deportation order.

Two rockets explode near US embassy in Baghdad amid US-Iran tensions, Times of Israel
The latest attack within the walled-off Green Zone, which hosts foreign embassies and Iraqi government buildings, comes amid heightened tensions between Baghdad’s two main allies, Tehran and Washington.

UNC denies claims of bias in Middle East studies program, AP
UNC, which houses the consortium, was responding to an Aug. 29 letter from the department. Threatening to cut federal grant money, the department said the program focused too much on cultural offerings and not on language or national security and that it also placed too much emphasis on “the positive aspects of Islam” and not other religions.

Israel Election Results: Fewer Women and LGBT People — but Lots of Ex-generals — in New Knesset, Haaretz
For feminists, female representation in the Knesset is now even more disappointing than it was last spring. The 20th Knesset, elected in 2015, had a record 35 women at its peak; 29 were elected and the number grew over the next four years. Only 29 were elected in April, though, followed by 28 this month.

Israeli kindergarten ordered closed after segregating children by race, JTA
An Israeli kindergarten was ordered closed after segregating students by race. The children of Ethiopian descent in the southern town of Kiryat Gat met in an auxiliary room with a separate entrance, The Times of Israel reported.

IDF arrests 19 Palestinian suspects in overnight West Bank raids, Times of Israel
Israeli troops operated extensively throughout the West Bank in the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, arresting 19 people and clashing with Palestinian residents.

Opinion and Analysis

Benny Gantz’s Tactical Waiting Game Is Too Clever by Half, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The Kahol Lavan leader’s preference for Netanyahu getting first crack at forming a government could backfire – and lose the whole ballgame.”

Benjamin Netanyahu Is No Longer Israel’s Indispensable Leader, The Atlantic
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “The Israeli leader has long marketed himself as an essential diplomatic asset. That pitch is wearing thin.”

Israel Election Results: Gantz Capitulates Without Battle, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “This move looks like a capitulation without a fight, an admission that the right wing’s long-standing tactic of delegitimizing parties representing Arab society succeeded.”

Palestinian women walk the tightrope of toxic ‘shame’ and occupation, +972 Mag
Nooran Alhamdan writes, “Across Palestine and all over social media, women are calling for justice for Israa, demanding that law enforcement take protecting women more seriously. Many are drawing a clear connection between Israa’s murder and the patriarchal violence they themselves experience, proclaiming that they refuse to be held hostage in the crosshairs of ‘honor’ and the Israeli occupation.”

Israel’s Arab MKs Don’t Expect Gantz to Become a Palestinian-lover. Just Not a Netanyahu-clone, Haaretz
Muhammad Shehada writes, “Few observers really understood or queried the tough concessions the Joint List had to make to back Gantz – in terms of its own constituent parties’ ideologies, its constituents – and its representatives’ own Palestinian identity.”