In a Twist, Netanyahu Wins a Chance to Keep His Job, New York Times
After the polls closed in the Israeli election last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to have suffered a humiliating blow His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, a former military chief and leader of the centrist Blue and White party, emerged slightly ahead of the conservative Likud leader and seemed on course to be given the first chance to form Israel’s next government. But by Wednesday, in a surprise twist, Mr. Netanyahu — long called “the magician” for his political survival skills — was back on center stage. President Reuven Rivlin chose him to try to cobble together a coalition, opening the door to a continued shift to the right for Israel and offering a potential political lifeline to Mr. Netanyahu, who faces a looming indictment for corruption.
Netanyahu given chance to form Israel’s new government, AP
After a divisive campaign, Netanyahu called for a “broad unity government” with his chief rival former military chief Benny Gantz. But he faces an uphill struggle, with his future clouded by a likely corruption indictment and his opponents opposed to sitting with him.
Netanyahu Got the Mandate, but One That Won’t Lead Anywhere, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Rivlin likes ceremonies, but not pointless ones. And the mood at this event was sour, not festive. No happy marriage will emerge from this attempt at a union, only a clash that will probably lead to a third election.”
Netanyahu said to have agreed Rivlin-proposed power share deal, Gantz refused, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a compromise power sharing deal with Benny Gantz that was proposed by President Reuven Rivlin, but the Blue and White leader refused it, the Haaretz daily reported late Wednesday.
Netanyahu Calls for Live Broadcast of His Pre-indictment Hearing, Haaretz
“After a torrent of slanted, partial leaks, it’s time for the public to hear everything,” Netanyahu said in a video he circulated. “Not only do I have nothing to hide,” the prime minister continued, “I want everything to be heard. That is my request – a live broadcast of the hearing. This way, we will guarantee truth and justice.”
Israeli leaders warn of possible third election amid political deadlock, CNN
The political deadlock in Israel showed no signs of abating Thursday, as the country’s leaders warned of the possibility of a third election, with neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Benny Gantz appearing to have a clear path to forming a coalition.
Gantz insists he can’t join government with PM who is facing indictment, Times of Israel
“Blue and White led by me will not agree to sit in a government with a leader facing a severe indictment,” Gantz said.
Israeli diplomats go on strike, JTA
The strike means that there are no consular services both in Israel and abroad. It also means that all border crossings between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza are closed, Ynet reported.
Iran president warns of a region ‘on the edge of collapse’, AP
Iran’s president used the world’s stage on Wednesday to warn that security in the Persian Gulf could unravel with a “single blunder” and its fragile peace be guaranteed only by the region’s countries, not through U.S. intervention or Washington’s “merciless economic terrorism.”
Blue and White MK denies pressing Joint List to limit Gantz endorsement, Times of Israel
Blue and White MK Ofer Selah on Thursday denied he had requested the Joint List limit its endorsement of Benny Gantz for prime minister as part of strategy aimed at ensuring the centrist leader got the second shot at building a coalition, after Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel arrests Palestine’s Jerusalem Minister Fadi al-Hadami, Al Jazeera
Israeli police said they have arrested Jerusalem Affairs Minister Fadi al-Hadami of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – a move Palestinians said was “routine” and part of a “harassment campaign”.
This Is What Frosty Peace Looks Like: Israel, Jordan Choose to Ignore Treaty’s 25th Anniversary, Haaretz
Among the issues dividing the two countries are Jordan’s decision not to renew Israel’s 25-year lease on the enclaves of Naharayim and Tzofar, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent vow to annex the Jordan Valley if reelected.
Netanyahu’s exit could make it harder to fight occupation from the outside, +972 Mag
Aron Keller writes, “Without a cartoon villain to rail against, the energy required to end the occupation is in danger of dissipating.”
Back to square one: New elections loom after Rivlin’s unity bid falls short, Times of Israel
Raoul Wootliff writes, “Even as he handed the mandate to form a government to Netanyahu, the president appealed to both the prime minister and Gantz, telling them that the public wants them to find a solution to the impasse. If they end up forcing new elections, he warned, they will directly damage the people who elected them.”
US and world powers continue to talk past each other on Iran at UN, Al-Monitor
Julian Pecquet writes, “Top diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China issued a joint statement after meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. They reaffirmed ‘the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by all sides.’ A dozen blocks away, at the same time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a far different message to a far different crowd. Keynoting the annual conference of the hawkish United Against Nuclear Iran, Pompeo said the United States would ‘intensify’ efforts to ‘educate countries and companies of the risk of doing business with [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] entities’ and ‘punish’ offenders.”
Mission impossible? Why Netanyahu, asked to form a coalition, isn’t smiling, Times of Israel
Times staff write, “President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday night invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try to build a majority government following the September 17 elections. And Netanyahu accepted the mission. But neither man seemed to believe that Netanyahu would succeed. And the prime minister’s rival, Benny Gantz, was apparently untroubled that he had not been given the task.”
Israel’s Labor Party, a Shadow of Its Former Self, Haaretz
Moshe Ben-Atar writes, “The Labor Party nearly disappeared in Tuesday’s election. The departure of politicians such as Stav Shaffir, Shelly Yacimovich and Eitan Cabel, Isaac Herzog, Erel Margalit and Manuel Trajtenberg before them, led to its effective dissolution. The party that established the state and the Labor movement that built the nation nearly left the national stage. It failed to regain its place in the new Israeli history and did not remake itself. As a result, its glorious victories of the past became its errors of the future.”
Shana Tova from J Street!, J Street
Cantor Evan Kent, Rabbi Andrea London, Rabbi John Rosove and Rabbi David Teutsch write, “So much is at stake in this New Year. Both in the United States and in Israel, so many of the core Jewish and democratic values we hold dear are being challenged. We have seen a rise in acts of violence committed in the name of hate and discrimination. We have seen leaders use inflammatory rhetoric to stoke fear, create divisions, and exacerbate conflict. We have seen core principles of tolerance, equality, diversity, and justice under threat. As Jews we object to the use of lashon hara and rehilut, evil speech, as efforts to demean and divide.”