Abbas Says He Will Announce First Palestinian Elections Since 2006, Haaretz
“From the outset, we have believed in democracy as a foundation for the building of our State and society,” Abbas said in his speech, noting that while local elections are conducted regularly, the last PA general election was held in 2006. “This democratic process was paralyzed by the coup by Hamas in 2007, which is an unbearable situation,” he said, referring to the full takeover of Gaza by Hamas after it won the 2006 Palestinian general elections in the Strip, and Fatah-Hamas fighting reached a bloody peak. Abbas has maintained control of the West Bank since 2005, even though his term lapsed in January 2009.
Abbas slams US for ‘depriving peace process of credibility’, AP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took to the world stage on Thursday to slam the United States for “depriving the peace process of any credibility” and undermining prospects for a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Abbas also criticized the U.S. for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, for saying that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories are legitimate and for cutting development aid to the Palestinians. U.S. policy, he said, is “pushing large segments of the Palestinian people to lose hope in the possibility of long-awaited peace,” and renewed his call for an international peace conference.
As Netanyahu Begins His Third Campaign, Rivlin Readies the Ejector Seat, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Netanyahu is racing against the legal and political clock while trying to hold fast to power, but Gantz won’t be able to get rid of him.”
Israeli Arab Faction Explains Why It Didn’t Back Netanyahu’s Rival, New York Times
An Israeli Arab party that broke with its allies and refused to back Benny Gantz, the former army chief, as Israel’s next leader said Thursday that his policies were “virtually indistinguishable” from those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is widely reviled by the country’s Arab minority. The party, Balad, was responding to what its leader described as a torrent of criticism that, by withholding an endorsement of Mr. Gantz, Balad had improved Mr. Netanyahu’s prospects for keeping his post as prime minister.
Iran’s Rouhani says open to discuss small changes to 2015 deal if sanctions lifted, Reuters
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday he was open to discuss small changes, additions or amendments to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers if the United States lifted sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.
Ultra-Orthodox rabbi refuses to marry Liberman’s son over political fight, Times of Israel
An ultra-Orthodox rabbi has refused to officiate the wedding of Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman’s son due to Liberman’s bad blood with the ultra-Orthodox community.
Union boss urges Labor-Gesher to hold coalition talks with Likud, Times of Israel
Histadrut labor federation chairman Arnon Bar-David on Thursday called on MK Amir Peretz, who leads the center-left Labor-Gesher alliance, to open coalition negotiations with the ruling Likud party.
Rallying Likud, Netanyahu challenges rival Gantz to join right-led government, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rallied his supporters against the Blue and White party, while urging his election challenger Benny Gantz to “show leadership” and join a Likud-led alliance of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties.
At UN, foreign minister urges more pressure on Iran, taunts regime in Persian, Times of Israel
Foreign Minister Israel Katz lashed out against Iran during an address at the United Nations Thursday, calling the Islamic Republic the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism and urging the world to join America’s sanctions against the regime.
Israel’s Attorney General Rejects Netanyahu’s Request to Broadcast Pre-indictment Hearing, Haaretz
Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit rejected on Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to broadcast live his pre-indictment hearing, scheduled for next week.
At UN, Abbas threatens to nix agreements with Israel if West Bank land annexed, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Thursday he would cancel all diplomatic agreements with Israel if the next Israeli government carries out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign promise to apply Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.
No, Israeli Democracy Is Not ‘Fine’, The Forward
Peter Beinart writes, “Israeli democracy is not doing fine. It’s not doing fine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where millions of Palestinians who live under Israeli control cannot vote in Israeli elections. (Yes, Israel controls Gaza). And it’s not even doing fine inside Israel proper. The problem isn’t merely Netanyahu. In many ways, he’s a symptom. The deeper malady is that Palestinians — even Palestinians who live inside the green line and can thus vote in Israeli elections — aren’t considered equal citizens. If they were, Netanyahu would likely be gone by now.”
Key Dates: A Guide to Important Moments in Israeli Politics Over the Next 3 Months, Haaretz
From a possible third election to Netanyahu’s hearing over the three criminal cases he is embroiled in, these are the events that will shape the public debate.
Netanyahu’s Amazing Reversal: Election Loser to Presumptive Premier, New York Times
Isabel Kershner writes, “Mr. Gantz believed that if Mr. Netanyahu went first he would fail, Mr. Odeh explained in a Facebook Live video. By going second, he said, Mr. Gantz hoped that other parties would have to compromise and enter a Gantz-led coalition because they would be under pressure from the public to avoid a third election.”
The biggest loser in this election: Liberal Zionism, +972 Mag
Mairav Zonszein writes, “Israelis consistently vote against the idea of a Jewish and democratic Israel alongside a Palestinian state. It is now impossible to see how that could ever be realized. ”
How Far Will Lieberman Go?, Haaretz
Shlomo Sand writes, “Has Avigdor Lieberman – who served under many right-wing governments, who in the past proposed the idea of blowing up the Aswan Dam, who advocated the transfer of Arabs as a way to resolve the conflict, who likened peace activists to kapos in the Nazi concentration camps, who sought to pass a law compelling every citizen to sign a declaration of loyalty to the Jewish state or forfeit his citizenship, who for many years has not lived inside Israel proper but in a settlement with a mixed religious and secular population, who sat in several governments with all types of ultra-Orthodox ministers – has he, at the wave of a magic wand, suddenly had such a complete change of conscience?”
This New Year, Jews Will Remember And Pray In Synagogues They Hope Are Safer, The Forward
Ari Feldman writes, “Many congregants will welcome the heightened presence of police and private security guards, not to mention other, less visible mechanisms that synagogues are putting in place ahead of the High Holidays, which are the best-attended services of the year. Others — particularly Jews of color — are concerned that extra security will mean increased, and potentially hostile, scrutiny towards minority groups on their way to pray.”
Gantz Capitulates, Netanyahu Ousted or Third Election Upon Us: What Happens Next?, Haaretz
Chaim Levinson writes, “After the president tasked Netanyahu with forming a government, another election seems inescapable, but it’s hard to imagine the prime minister giving up chance to form government that easily.”