Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman
PM toasts reelection at cabinet meeting, Bennett and Shaked are no-shows
Two prominent ministers were noticeably absent Sunday in the first cabinet meeting since last week’s general election.
The meeting was conducted at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in a celebratory atmosphere after most of the members of the current government won re-election last Tuesday.
But Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, whose New Right list narrowly failed to clear the 3.25 percent threshold of votes needed to enter the next Knesset, did not attend the meeting.
“I want to praise the members of this government for four years of accomplishments, a great many accomplishments,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his opening remarks.
“This is obvious from the public’s decision to renew our mandate, as a result of the tremendous things we have done in all areas represented at this table.
“We will continue to do so in the next government as well, and with God’s help we will succeed,” the prime minister said, before the ministers toasted their election success with glasses of wine.
Bennett and Shaked split from the Jewish Home party ahead of the election, then ran in the New Right list. Winning nearly 140,000 votes, they failed to make it past the 3.25% threshold by just 1,461 votes.
Earlier in the day Likud MK and former coalition chairman David Bitan called for Shaked to be appointed a minister in the next government, despite her not winning a Knesset seat.
Netanyahu also reiterated his promise to have the Israeli government back a second “Beresheet” moon mission after the first one crashed on the moon’s surface on April 11.
“Over the weekend, Israel made history. We became one of seven countries that have successfully orbited the moon and one of four that landed on it, though our landing wasn’t optimal,” he told the ministers.
“This is an astounding achievement for the combined efforts of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries that the state of Israel supported. We’re going to launch Beresheet 2….with the State of Israel’s support.”
SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn on Saturday announced he was launching project Beresheet 2, effective immediately, saying: “We started something and we need to finish it. We’ll put our flag on the moon.”
Netanyahu added that the first mission “proved first of all our capabilities, our aspirations, and the fact that we’re not swayed by failure. The difference between winners and losers is that we don’t give up. We will try again and again until we succeed.” (The Times of Israel) Staff
9 major generals, 29 women, 49 rookies: Meet the 21st Knesset
With the complete results from Tuesday’s election announced on Thursday night after two days of tense vote counting, we now finally know how many seats each party will have in the 21st Knesset, and the identities of the 120 people who will fill them.
While a record 39 parties ran in the election, with 14 mounting credible challenges to cross the electoral threshold, the final results gave seats to just 11. That’s one more than the 20th Knesset but well short of the 15 elected in 1999 to the most thinly-spread parliament in Israel’s history.
According to the final tally, however, a record-breaking 49 new MKs will be sworn in on April 30, overtaking the 48 fresh faces elected in 2013, making it the most rookie Knesset since Israel’s first ever elections which saw, somewhat obviously, 120 new lawmakers elected.
Of the rookies, nearly half hail from the recently formed Blue and White party helmed by Benny Gantz, only 11 of whose 35 incoming MKs served in the previous Knesset. The situation is almost exactly reversed for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, which sees 12 new MKs out of its haul of 36.
Amid the high turnover, 13 new female MKs were elected, contributing to a matched-record high of 2015’s 29 women elected, a number all the more remarkable for the fact that some parties, such as Shas and United Torah Judaism, are ideologically opposed to women serving as lawmakers and therefore have none on their lists. The number however, falls short of the 36 women who serve in the outgoing Knesset, with seven female lawmakers having entered parliament as replacements in the four-year life of the 20th Knesset.
After the last election saw a large increase in Arab Israeli MKs — 17 entered the Knesset in 2015, up from 12 in 2013 — the number will drop significantly this time to just 11, with turnout in the Arab-Israeli community at its lowest in years. With the 13-seat strong Joint (Arab) List splitting into two dueling parties before this election, the subsequently formed Ra’am-Balad and Hadash-Ta’al gained just four and six seats respectively. Arab-Israeli MK Issawi Frij from Meretz brings the total to 11.
Ultra-Orthodox parties, on the other hand, saw a boost in support, scoring 15 seats in total — eight for Shas and seven for United Torah Judaism — as opposed to the 13 seats they won in 2015.
Some of the new MKs come from local government, others were journalists or activists. But the most widespread shared profession, or rank, at least, among the newcomers is that of major-general. Of the 49 newbies, six had reached the IDF’s second highest rank (including Orna Barbivai, the first and only woman to have attained the position) and another, Yoav Seglovitch, attained the same level in the police, bringing the total number of major general’s serving in the next Knesset to nine. To boot, three of them (Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi) were IDF chiefs of staff. (The Times of Israel) Staff
Satellite images show possible Iranian missile factory in Syria destroyed
Satellite images released by the Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International (ISI) on Sunday showed the complete destruction of a possible Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory in Syria’s Masyaf District, allegedly struck by Israel on Saturday.
“The main industrial structures were completely destroyed, including the main hangar and the adjacent three production hangers and buildings. The rest of the structures were affected and damaged by the blast,” ISI said, adding that they “assess that all the elements and/or equip-ment which were inside are completely destroyed as well.”
According to ISI, “if the bombed site was indeed a missile factory, it could allow for the produc-tion and assembly of different SSM [surface-to-surface missile] elements or for improving the accuracy of missiles.”
The factory, ISI said, is located in the vicinity of other facilities likely linked to Iran’s SSM project in Syria, which have previously been struck in alleged Israeli strikes carried out over the past two years.
The factory was built in the western compound of the base between 2014 and 2016, and was surrounded by a wall to separate it from the rest of the military base. The entrance to the fac-tory passes through the base.
Satellite images show possible Iranian missile factory in Syria destroyed
Before and after photos of a possible Iranian missile factory in Syria.
“It is possible that the location of the factory inside what looks like a regular military base was chosen in order to camouflage its real purpose,” ISI said.
While ISI wrote, “It is unclear which entity controls and owns the base” – the Syrian army, Iran or militias – if the factory allegedly attacked by Israel was “indeed controlled by Iran, it is prob-able that the eastern part of the base is controlled by them.”
The possible SSM missile factory included a main hangar measuring 60 meters by 25 meters, and several big industrial hangars and buildings which probably served for production and as-sembly of missiles.
“However, there is probably no manufacture or assembly of missile engines and warheads in this factory, since protected structures weren’t detected. Also, no missiles or launchers were identified within the compound,” ISI said.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that anyone who puts Israeli citizens at risk “is in a much greater danger.”
“When Israel’s security is at stake, we are operating at full force, and whoever puts us at risk is in a much greater danger. We will continue to act on all fronts, including on the northern front, because we are not prepared to allow someone to establish power and endanger the State of Israel,” he said.
“Power is the guarantee of our existence, and it is the essential and fundamental condition for achieving peace with our neighbors.”
On Saturday, Syria’s SANA news agency reported that Israel had carried out air strikes against military positions near the city of Masyaf in Hama Province. The agency quoted a military source as stating that IDF jets carried out the strike from Lebanese airspace at around 2:30 a.m. and that Syrian air defenses “immediately intercepted the hostile missiles and downed some of them before reaching their targets.”
While SANA said the interception of the Israeli missiles resulted in the destruction of several buildings and the wounding of three “fighters,” according to a report by the London-based Syr-ian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Iranian “elements” and pro-Iranian terrorists were killed and another 17 were injured.
According to SOHR, the strike targeted a Syrian military college in the town and two buildings used by Iranian forces in nearby villages – a development center for medium-range missiles in Zawi and a training camp in Sheikh Ghadban.
In January, Russia deployed its S-300 air defense system to Masyaf. Russia delivered the launcher, radar and command and control vehicle of the advanced air-to-surface missile sys-tem to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in early October as a response to the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli air strike on Iranian targets the previous month.
The S-300 was not used during this alleged Israeli strike. (Jerusalem Post) Anna Ahronheim
Netanyahu: International Criminal Court has no business prosecuting US, Israeli soldiers
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague on Friday to reject a petition to investigate U.S. soldiers who served in Afghanistan. He made his remarks at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday in Jerusalem.
“To come and put on trial U.S. or Israeli soldiers, or the State of Israel or the U.S., is absurd. It is the opposite of the original goal of the international court,” he said.
“They harass the U.S. and Israel, democracies, which by the way are not members of the international court,” the prime minister said, referring to the fact that neither the U.S. nor Israel is a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.
“This corrects an injustice and will have far-reaching implications for the functioning of the international system regarding the State of Israel. I commend the U.S., President Trump and the Trump administration for their strong stand alongside the citizens of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.
“As on previous occasions, it has been proven that Israel has no better friend than the U.S. and we very much appreciate the support in this field as well,” he said.
On Friday, President Trump celebrated the decision of the ICC panel.
The White House said in a statement, “Since the creation of the ICC, the United States has consistently declined to join the court because of its broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers; the threat it poses to American national sovereignty; and other deficiencies that render it illegitimate.”
“Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response.” the statement read, specifically mentioning Israel as another country that should be immune from prosecution. (WIN) David Isaac
Rabbi who crowned Netanyahu: Likud needs Shaked
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who failed to get reelected to the Knesset in the New Right Party, must be brought into the Likud to prepare for the era after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the rabbi who helped Netanyahu first become prime minister in 1996 told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Australian diamond-mining tycoon and Chabad Rabbi Joseph Gutnick financed the successful “Netanyahu is good for the Jews” campaign with banners at junctions across the country that was credited with helping Netanyahu come from behind to defeat heavily favored incumbent Shimon Peres in the May 1996 election and win the premiership for the first time.
In an interview with the Post last July, Gutnick endorsed Shaked to become Netanyahu’s replacement whenever he would leave office. He said at the time that he told Shaked he would be willing to back her financially, but the time had come for her to switch allegiance from Bayit Yehudi to Likud. He also said that then-Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett should stand aside.
Instead, Shaked followed Bennett and joined him in forming the New Right, which narrowly failed to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold, pending the party’s appeal to the Central Elections Committee.
Reacting to Shaked not making it into the Knesset, Gutnick said: “Well, we don’t know anything for sure yet. However, I remember saying that if it’s meant to be that Ayelet should be in the Likud, then [God] will bring her there. I didn’t realize so quickly. The Likud will surely recognize her amazing qualities and bring her into the fold for the times post-Bibi. They will really need her then.”
Gutnick backs Shaked because of her right-wing views, her leadership, her ability to unite Israelis as a secular Jew who respects religion, and because he believes the time has come for Israel to have its second female prime minister after Golda Meir.
“I am very happy to endorse her to be Bibi’s heir,” Gutnick said last July. “Only when Bibi leaves should she then lead the Likud. I fully endorse her as the next prime minister only after Bibi leaves.”
The Ma’ariv newspaper ran a poll then that found if Shaked headed Likud, she would win 33 seats, the same as Netanyahu would win. Coalition chairman David Bitan has said that if Shaked ran in Likud, she would win the top spot on the Likud’s slate of Knesset candidates after Netanyahu.
Gutnick said at the time that Bennett should not “be selfish” and “should encourage Shaked for the sake of shleimut ha’aretz (maintaining all of the Land of Israel) and the Jewish world, because he has no chance to be prime minister.” (Jerusalem Post) Gil Hoffman
One-third of Americans don’t believe 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust
Almost one-third of American adults believe that significantly less that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, according to a recent survey conducted ahead of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).
The survey, conducted by Schoen Consulting on behalf of The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, found that 70% of US adults say fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to. 58% believe something like the Holocaust could happen again.
According to the survey, 11% of all US adults and 22% of millennials haven’t heard of, or are not sure they have heard of the Holocaust.
In addition, 31% of US adults and 41% of millennials believe that 2 million Jews or less were killed during the Holocaust.
45% of adults and 49% of millennials could not name a concentration camp or ghetto. Similarly, 41% of adults did not know what Auschwitz was, while a full 66% of millennials were unable to identify Auschwitz.
On the other hand, the survey pointed to a desire for Holocaust education and improvement in the quality of Holocaust curriculum.
Most US adults, 93%, believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school, and 80% said it is important to keep teaching about the Holocaust so it doesn’t happen again.
A majority of Americans, 52%, agree that lessons about the Holocaust are mostly historically accurate but could be better, the survey found. (Arutz Sheva) Tal Polon
Australia opens trade and defence office in Jerusalem
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) welcomes the opening of a new Australian Trade and Defence Office in Jerusalem. Plans to establish the office were announced last December and the office is now open and operating under Austrade’s auspices on King George Street in downtown Jerusalem.
The office has a focus on building Australia’s trade, investment, defence industry, education and innovation partnerships with Israeli industry, including maximising opportunities for Australia’s high-tech and defence exports industries, according to the government. lt will also facilitate commercial meetings and visitor programs and take appropriate opportunities to build awareness of Australian capabilities in Israel.
AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler said, “AIJAC is very pleased to acknowledge that the government has fulfilled their promise to open this office so quickly. Building on the Australian Government’s welcome and principled recognition of the reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and has been since 1949, this office should both give that recognition concrete form and help further develop the already extensive and mutually beneficial trade ties between Israeli and Australia.”
AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein AM noted, “This office shows the government’s genuine commitment to their declared policy on Jerusalem and Israel and it will also provide significant concrete dividends to the Australian economy in the defence, high-tech and cybersecurity sectors, among others. We, therefore, hope and expect that this office will remain open regardless of the outcome of the May 18 federal election.”
Dr Rubenstein added “We also look forward to the Australian government eventually relocating our Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, helping to end the discriminatory situation whereby, for the last 70 years, Israel has been the only country in the world not permitted to nominate its own capital on its own sovereign territory. In addition to its other valuable functions, the new Australian Trade and Defence Office in Jerusalem is a step toward ending that discriminatory situation. For that, we are very grateful to the Australian Government,” he added. (JWire) Newsdesk
Of annexation and Trump’s peace plan, what’s next on the post-Israeli election agenda?
The questions now focus on whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will follow through on his campaign pledge to annex parts of Judea and Samaria, as well as what his election win means for U.S. President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated “deal of the century” to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
by Israel Kasnett JNS
Things move fast in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just declared victory for the fifth time, and now, as he gets busy building the next coalition for the 21st Knesset, much attention has shifted to the day after—based on what Netanyahu said the day before—in which he made the groundbreaking claim that he would move to begin annexing some of the disputed territories. The questions now focus on whether Netanyahu will follow through on his campaign pledge and what his election win means for U.S. President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated “deal of the century” for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told JNS that a lot depends on domestic politics and what pressure the right-wing parties will place on Netanyahu.
He noted that Netanyahu said he may carry out such an annexation at a later stage and certainly did not mean immediately. “It all depends on what kind of freedom of action he has domestically, as well as in the international arena, and he will have to decide what areas are important in terms of security and in terms of Israeli consensus,” said Inbar.
Ronni Shaked, senior correspondent and commentator on Palestinian Affairs for the Hebrew daily newspaper Yediot Achronot and a researcher at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute, seemed more concerned about the potential decision. He told JNS that “this will cause a lot of problems. The Palestinians will be very angry. For the Palestinian people living in the West Bank, not one will recognize it—no one in the world will recognize it.”
Shaked also said he did not think that the United States would recognize an Israeli move to annex any part of the West Bank.
He said any effort by Netanyahu to annex parts of the territories would “risk the nation of Israel from a democratic Jewish point of view.” He also warned of Israel losing its identity as a democracy—that it would be “marching towards becoming an apartheid state.”
However, Inbar noted that “annexation of the West Bank or parts of the West Bank has been on the agenda of every Israeli government, including Labor-led governments because [they] want the settlement blocs as part of Israel.”
So far, he observed, Netanyahu has been “very careful.”
In terms of the Trump-administration peace plan, Inbar said Israel just doesn’t know much yet.
“It will probably deviate from the Clinton parameters that everyone until now assumed would be the basis for a final settlement. It will move the goalposts,” he said. “This is basically good for Israel. Any Israeli government will, of course, say yes, and any reservations it has will be registered. The Palestinians have already said no, and they will continue with their rejectionism.”
Inbar added that “perhaps in another few months, the Americans will eventually realize that they cannot generate enough Arab pressure or even American pressure on the Palestinians” to convince them to accept a peace deal.
Inbar pointed to two main dynamics at play with regard to the above questions. The first is what will the American reaction be in response to Israel’s annexation of any part of the territories? The second is who will replace Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and what effect could this might have on future peacemaking prospects? These two dynamics will strongly shape future Israeli decisions on both annexation and peace.
“Time will tell. We will see,” he concluded
‘It sends an important message’
Eugene Kontorovich, a scholar at Forum Kohelet and a professor at George Mason Antonin Scalia Law School, told JNS that “Netanyahu’s promise to apply Israel civil law to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria leaves out a lot of details—when, where and so forth. But it sends an important message.”
He emphasized it was important to point out that “Netanyahu did not say ‘annexation’ because one cannot annex what already belongs to you. He speaks properly of more robustly applying Israeli sovereignty, which already exists.”
Agreeing with Inbar that the Palestinians appear to uphold a policy of rejectionism, Kontorovich also noted that the Palestinians “are the only national independence movement to ever turn down an internationally backed offer of statehood in any part of the territory they claimed.”
“Netanyahu’s statements are a sign that Israel will not continue to hold the status of these communities in limbo for decades while the Palestinians say no,” he said.
Why Netanyahu Keeps Winning
by Aaron Kliegman The Washington Free Beacon
Tuesday, when Israel held its parliamentary elections, was finally Benjamin Netanyahu’s time to lose. After serving as Israel’s prime minister for 10 consecutive years, he would need to find another job. Just six weeks earlier, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Netanyahu on charges of corruption. But even without the allegations, Israelis, who elected Netanyahu three straight times over the past decade (and another time in 1996), were supposed to be fatigued, ready for a new premier. In this political environment, Blue and White, the new alliance opposing Netanyahu’s Likud Party, seemed all the more appealing—stable, centrist, and led by three former Israeli military chiefs. Democratic presidential candidates in the United States said they hoped Netanyahu would lose, campaigning against him. Even friendly, pro-Israel voices in the American media rooted for Netanyahu’s challengers. This time, the mountain seemed too steep even for Netanyahu to climb.
And yet, as Israeli officials count the final ballots, Netanyahu is poised to secure an unprecedented fifth term in office. Assuming he forms a governing coalition of at least 61 of the legislature’s 120 seats in the coming weeks, as is expected, he will become Israel’s longest serving prime minister.
Western analysts and commentators are lamenting Netanyahu’s victory. “Bottom line from Israel’s April 9 elections—a deeply divided country torn between a real desire for change and the realities of dysfunctional politics; a cruel region and a prime minister eager to play to and upon a nation’s fears rather than its hopes,” tweeted Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
“Some of us don’t understand why [the Israeli people] would keep reelecting Netanyahu. I certainly don’t,” said MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. “Because you think that they would want a lasting peace, and he is certainly not ever going to do that.” Scarborough then asked what Israelis see in Netanyahu that the rest of the world does not.
Many Democrats in Congress are also lamenting the Israeli premier’s win.
“I don’t think it’s a very good sign,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told the Washington Examiner. “America’s foreign policy has historically been for a two-state solution. I support that. I don’t believe that Netanyahu does. And, he’s made it clear that he doesn’t.”
To re-ask Scarborough’s question, why do Israelis support Netanyahu? In short, Israelis believe he has made their lives better and improved their country’s situation—radical criteria for voters, indeed!
In Israel, the most important issue is always security. For Israelis, their vote could mean the difference between life and death in a way that most people in the West cannot understand. The world’s only Jewish state is located in a region where most governments do not recognize its right to exist and have no qualms about killing Jews, or about watching others kill them. Directly to the east, Israelis see the Palestinian Authority, which rewards terrorists who try to murder them. To the south, they see Hamas, a terrorist group that seeks Israel’s destruction. To the north, they see Hezbollah, which has about 130,000 rockets pointed at them, and Syria, where the savage, anti-Israel beast who runs the country has spent the last eight years slaughtering his own people. And looming above, like a storm cloud, is Iran, whose anti-Semitic regime is always working to drive Israel into the sea.
In this environment, leaders who make bad decisions, even if they are well intentioned, can bring death and suffering. Look at the Second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israel from 2000 to 2005. Israelis were murdered in terrorist explosions while riding the bus to work or enjoying moments of peace in coffee shops. They saw their government unable to make the violence stop, especially in the early stages when Ehud Barak served as prime minister.
Also look at the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. What did Israelis get in return? Hamas, and rockets fired on their communities.
Netanyahu, however, has brought relative, long-lasting security to Israel. The terrorist attacks have largely stopped, and the only wars have been with Hamas, fought primarily in Gaza. Many Israelis see Netanyahu as a competent statesman when it comes to national security, someone who has shown sound strategic vision. Just look at Sderot, a city in southern Israel by the border with Gaza. If any Israelis would have reason to vote for a change, it would be the city’s residents, who often receive the brunt of Hamas’s rocket attacks. Yet Sderot overwhelmingly supported Likud over Blue and White. The status quo may be less great for them than for the rest of Israel, but they trust Netanyahu to protect their security more than even former military chiefs.
Netanyahu has often questioned conventional wisdom and, ultimately, been proven right. He warned that withdrawing from Gaza would backfire, and his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are now mainstream—not because Israel has become more right-wing, but because Israelis see the Palestinian leadership repeatedly spit on, if not try to cut off or blow up, their government’s outstretched hand. The Israeli premier has also been persistent in calling the world’s attention to Iran’s destructive behavior, recognizing the threat long ago. He has stood up to American presidents when necessary (Barack Obama) and embraced others who have helped Israel (Donald Trump). Whether they like Netanyahu or not, most Israelis recognize his successful record on security matters.
Netanyahu has also been remarkably successful at bolstering Israel’s diplomatic status. Too often observers in the West think of Israel as an increasingly isolated country, but the exact opposite is true. It seems every week Netanyahu is renewing diplomatic ties with a country in Africa or strengthening such ties in Asia or Latin America. And, of course, Israel’s relationships with the Arab Gulf countries have grown stronger.
Meanwhile, Israel’s economy has boomed during Netanyahu’s tenure. The Jewish state has become a cyber super-power, using its high-tech industry to gain an astonishing level of investment for such a small country.
In the election this week, Blue and White did not offer any real alternative to Netanyahu. They simply made their campaign a referendum on the incumbent, banking on Israelis growing tired of his baggage. The problem is that Blue and White’s leaders did not offer Israelis any sort of vision for their country’s future. And many of their views concerning foreign policy, national security, and even Jerusalem are actually the same as Netanyahu’s. So why would Israelis risk upending a good situation for an uncertain alternative, especially when the price for bad decisions is so high?
As Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, said of Netanyahu: “Our economy is excellent, our foreign relations were never better, and we’re secure … we know him, the world knows him—even our enemies know him.” Netanyahu is a source of stability, a known quantity. Other countries often look to the next big thing in an election, and Israelis may like to do that, but they know the cost of such a gamble could be catastrophic.
By David M. Halbfinger (New York Times)
Israelis prize stability, as well as the military and economic security that Benjamin Netanyahu has delivered. Though in many ways they have never been safer, they remain afraid – especially of Iran and its influence over their neighbors, against which Netanyahu has relentlessly crusaded.
They credit Netanyahu, whose strategic vision values power and fortitude above all, with piloting Israel to unprecedented diplomatic heights. And they are loath to let anyone less experienced take the controls.
Israelis have grown accustomed to Netanyahu’s assessments of the country’s condition: 10 years of uninterrupted economic growth, its best-ever credit rating, and diplomatic openings and new trading partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“Let’s be honest with ourselves,” said Michael B. Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington. “Our economy is excellent, our foreign relations were never better, and we’re secure.”
Netanyahu proved once again that his talents, stamina and willingness to do what it takes to win are all unmatched in Israeli politics. This summer he will surpass David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding leader, as its longest-serving prime minister.
A Dose of Reality on the Peace Process – Alan Mendoza (City A.M.-UK)
There is no longer a peace process worthy of the name that an Israeli leader can endorse with any credibility.
The story of the negotiations of the past quarter-century has been one of constant and increasing Israeli concessions in an attempt to get the Palestinians over the line of peace, and Palestinian rejectionism in response.
The last time a major deal was presented – in 2008 when Ehud Olmert offered up the keys to Jerusalem – the Palestinians did not even deign to provide a formal reply.
It is not hard to understand why. The pattern of negotiations has shown a ratchet effect, with each new round starting from where the previous failed negotiation ended. For a Palestinian, waiting it out to the next deal therefore becomes a very tempting proposition.
At the same time, the Palestinians have been unable to negotiate national unity themselves, so the idea that they could reach agreement with Israel – even if they wanted to – is remote.
The writer is executive director of the Henry Jackson Society.