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Latest News in Israel – 21st May

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Message from PM Benjamin Netanyahu to re-elected PM Scott Morrison

 

U.S. to UN: You yourself rejected withdrawal to ’67 lines

The Trump administration challenged the UN’s claim that Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, in an opinion piece two of its top officials published on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman argued that the historic Security Council Resolution 242 – which the international community often cites as the basis of its claim that Israel is required to relinquish all territory it acquired during the June 1967 Six Day War – bolsters the international legitimacy of the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which

Their argument, however, could also be applicable to the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan in 1967.

Speculation is high that the Trump peace plan, which is expected to be released in early June, would allow for Israel to retain control of all the settlements located in Area C of the West Bank.

Arguments about Resolution 242 – passed in November 1967 – have often centered around a single sentence, which calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Those who believe the West Bank is occupied argue that the resolution speaks of a full withdrawal, whereas others say that the use of the word “territories” rather than the phrase “the territories” implies that Israel has to withdraw from only some, but not all, of the territories.

Pompeo and Friedman focused their argument on the issues of security, saying that Resolution 242 allows for Israel to retain territory acquired in the 1967 war for security reasons.

“It provides that Israel would withdraw from some – but not necessarily all – territory captured in 1967 in keeping with that objective,” Pompeo and Friedman wrote in the opinion piece.

Israel’s former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold said a security rationale for retaining territory “is even stronger in the West Bank” than it is on the Golan.

The previous claimant to sovereignty in the West Bank was Jordan, which acquired the territory during the 1948 War of Independence, Gold explained.

The claim was recognized only by Pakistan and Great Britain, he said.

In contrast, many countries recognized Syria’s previous standing on the Golan, even though Syria was an aggressor in the 1967 war, Gold said.

He pointed to the letter former US president George Bush wrote to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 about the terms of a peace deal with the Palestinians. In that letter Bush stated that, for security reasons, Israel is not required to fully withdraw to the pre-1967 lines.

Bush also used as his rationale Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, passed after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

“As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties, in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338,” Bush wrote.

“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcomes of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion,” Bush wrote.

In The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Pompeo and Friedman wrote that “President Trump’s Golan proclamation [in March] is entirely consistent with Resolution 242.”

Syria was the only warring party in the Six Day War to ignore the resolution in 1967, they explained. Syria later signed Resolution 338, which made 242 applicable to all, they added.

Resolution 242 calls for every country to live “within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” Israel has given back 88% of the territory it captured in 1967. But with regards to Israel and the Golan Heights, Pompeo and Friedman believe that “Syria is a different story.”

“In word and deed, Damascus has for 52 years rejected the negotiating framework of Resolution 242,” the two officials wrote. “It has maintained a state of war with Israel since Israel became independent in 1948,” never allowing Israel to live in secure borders without threat.

“By affirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the president has afforded Israel the only secure and recognized boundary that can exist under the circumstances – the objective of Resolution 242.”

Friedman and Pompeo added that if Israel does not maintain control of the Golan Heights, Bashar Assad or Iran will take control, giving the world a choice: “a dictator of a nonfunctioning state or a peaceful and democratic ally.”     (Jerusalem Post) Tovah Lazaroff, Yvette J. Deane

Netanyahu warns partners: Time running out to form right-wing government

With a deadline looming to form a new government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging his potential future partners to get off the “treetops” in order to prevent losing an opportunity to form a right-wing government and potentially even forcing yet another Knesset election.

On the heels of the April 9th parliamentary ballot, Netanyahu has until May 28 to build a new majority in the 120-seat Knesset, though he might begrudgingly suffice temporarily with 60 members to get the government running and lure in others later.

Still operating with the ministers of his previous government, the prime minister said at the weekly Cabinet meeting: “I regret that the parties are still in the treetops. I hope that a way will be found soon to bring them down to the ground of reality so that together we can form a strong and stable government for the State of Israel that will continue to lead the country to new heights.”

Netanyahu’s Likud party finished tied with the Blue and White faction in the election with 35 seats each. President Reuven Rivlin, in his ceremonial capacity, gave the incumbent prime minister the nod over Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form the next government because parties representing a majority of the Knesset told the president that they prefer the Likud.

 

Common wisdom and the historic track record indicate that parties are likely to fall in line before time runs out next week. If, however, that scenario does not play out, Rivlin would give MK Gantz a crack, and if he fails, Israelis could find themselves going back to the polls.

Netanyahu finds himself in a position to form a new government despite criminal indictments which are pending against him in three cases.

Channel 12 news reported comments made by the prime minister that he intended to advance legislation that would grant him legal immunity as long as he remains premier.

“After I complete my term, I will address my legal affairs. Israel’s citizens knew what my situation was and elected me,” he reportedly said.

“If I were thinking of my personal good, I would conduct my trial as prime minister, not as a private citizen, but I realize that it would not be for the good of the state,” Netanyahu added, according to Channel 12.

The process of forming a governing majority includes reaching an agreement on policy guidelines with each of the coalition partners.

Likud sources say that in order to prevent additional confrontations with potential partners who object to the immunity legislation, the prime minister’s ambition to pass the bill might not be included specifically in the policy guidelines. Criticism of such a law has also come from some members of Netanyahu’s own party.

Other demands reportedly being made in the coalition negotiations include the call by the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) to remove military authority from the day-to-day life of Israelis in Judea and Samaria. The objective of such a move would be to transfer authority to Israeli civilian bodies instead and thereby carry out a de facto imposition of Israeli law on the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.

Also in the government formation talks, religious-secular tensions still exist between Haredi Orthodox factions and the Yisrael Beytenu party which objects to what it views as religious coercion.

The prime minister is faced, as well, with the task of placating Knesset members from the Likud and the coalition partners by appointing them to prestigious ministerial and parliamentary positions.  (WIN) David Jablinowitz

Terrorists in Gaza tried to down IDF helicopter in last flare-up

Terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have claimed that during the last round of fighting in Gaza, an attempt was made to fire a missile at an IDF helicopter. An Israeli Air Force jet thwarted the attempt and hit the terrorist squad that organized the rocket fire, the Al Quds newspaper reported on Monday.

According to sources who spoke to the newspaper, the terrorists tried to use an air-to-air missile to shoot down an Apache helicopter near Nahal Oz, east of Gaza City. An IAF plane preempted the attack and surprised them by firing a missile at the terrorists, as they organized to shoot down the helicopter from the Shuja’iyya neighborhood.

The sources also told Al Quds that the operation would have been carried out had it not been for the arrival of the Israeli jet to the area, a short time before the launch.

According to the sources quoted in Al Quds, the decision to carry out the operation was made after Israel bombed several civilian residential buildings.

Meanwhile, tensions in the south continue. On Friday, 10,000 people demonstrated at the Gaza Strip border to mark Nakba Day, during which tires were set on fire and stones were thrown at security forces.

During Friday’s riots at the border, IDF forces arrested a suspect who crossed the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.

Also last week, Maariv reported that an attempt to smuggle weapon equipment and communications equipment into the Gaza Strip was foiled.  (Jerusalem Post) Staff

Top Israeli officials welcome Germany’s branding of BDS as ‘anti-Semitic’

Top Israeli officials welcomed the German parliament’s condemnation on Friday of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as “anti-Semitic.”

The non-binding motion — submitted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, their Social Democrat coalition partners, as well as the Greens and Free Democrats — read, “The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are anti-Semitic.”

“The campaign’s calls to boycott Israeli artists, as well as stickers on Israeli goods that are meant to deter people from buying them, also recall the most terrible phase in German history,” it continued. “The BDS movement’s ‘Don’t Buy’ stickers on Israeli products inevitably arouse associations with the Nazi slogan, ‘Don’t Buy from Jews!’ and similar graffiti on facades and shop windows.”

Securing Israel’s survival has been a priority for Germany since the defeat of the Nazi dictatorship that committed the Holocaust in which some six million Jews were murdered.

“I congratulate the German Bundestag on the important decision branding the boycott movement (BDS) as an anti-Semitic movement and announcing that it is forbidden to fund it,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday. “I hope that this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation.”

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan — who has been in charge of the Jewish state’s anti-BDS efforts in recent years — called Friday a “historic day in the fight against the anti-Semitic BDS campaign.”

“The true face of BDS is being exposed!” he exclaimed.

Israel’s UN envoy, Danny Danon, stated, “This is a crushing victory for the truth and a great achievement in the struggle against Israel’s detractors.”

Danon went on to urge world leaders to “join Germany, and work towards shaping a future without hatred against Jews and against Israel.”

Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff tweeted, “We welcome this initiative by its sponsors. It has broader European significance given that BDS makes no attempt to build coexistence and peace between Israel and all of its neighbors.”

The BDS movement slammed the motion.

“The German establishment is entrenching its complicity in Israel‘s crimes of military occupation, ethnic cleansing, siege and apartheid, while desperately trying to shield it from accountability to international law,” it said on Twitter.

Lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party abstained during the vote. They had submitted their own motion calling for a total ban of the BDS in Germany. That motion was defeated.

A majority of the far-left Die Linke party had voted against the motion. The party also submitted its own proposal, which called to oppose the BDS and commit the German government to work toward a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on UN Security Council resolutions. The motion was also defeated.   (WIN)

Final ruling on Malka Leifer’s fitness for extradition set for September

Five years after Malka Leifer was picked up by police in Bnei Brak due to Australia’s request to have the alleged pedophile extradited to face 74 charges in Canberra, an Israeli court will hand down a final decision regarding the woman’s mental fitness for expatriation.

The Jerusalem District Court informed the defense and prosecution on Sunday that its ruling will be handed down on September 23.

In the meantime, the prosecution — which has argued that Leifer has feigned mental incompetence to avoid extradition — will be given 30 days to submit its final argument. Subsequently, the defense will be given a month to do the same, and is expected to argue that the former Australia school principal, who is accused of molesting over a dozen students, suffers debilitating panic attacks surrounding stressful situations that should absolve her from jail time and extradition.

Israeli courts will then recess from late July until early September, returning to operate two weeks ahead of the scheduled hearing — the 53rd since Leifer’s August 2014 arrest.

In 2000, Leifer was recruited from Israel to work at the Adass Israel ultra-Orthodox girls school in Melbourne. When allegations of sexual abuse against her began to surface eight years later, members of the school board purchased the mother of eight a red-eye plane ticket back to Israel, allowing her to escape trial.

After authorities in Melbourne filed charges against her, Australia officially submitted an extradition request in 2012. Two years later, Leifer was arrested in Israel, but released to house arrest shortly thereafter.

Judges deemed her mentally unfit to stand trial and eventually removed all restrictions against her, concluding that she was too ill to even leave her bed.

She was rearrested in February 2018, following a police undercover operation that cast doubts on her claims regarding her mental state, and has remained in custody since. The operation was launched after the Jewish Community Watch NGO hired private investigators who placed hidden cameras in the Emmanuel settlement, a Haredi community in the northern West Bank where Leifer had been living, which showed the alleged sex abuser roaming around the town without any apparent difficulty.

Despite the seemingly damning footage, the trial has dragged on for an additional year, as the court has continued to debate her mental fitness. The Jerusalem district psychiatrist responsible for evaluating Leifer, Dr. Jacob Charnes, has changed his mind three separate times regarding whether Leifer is fit for extradition.

In April 2015, he signed off on a legal opinion affirming that she was fit to be sent back to Australia. In December of that year, he signed off on another legal opinion that reached a contrary conclusion. After Leifer was rearrested in 2018, state psychiatrists put together an updated legal opinion once again finding her fit for extradition. Charnes refused to sign off on the document for several months, but eventually did so. However, when he was cross-examined by the defense on the evaluation late last year, he told the court that he recommended an additional evaluation of Leifer be carried out — a proposal that both sides have rejected.

This past February, police opened an investigation against Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on suspicions that he pressured officials in his office — among them Charnes — to change the conclusions of their psychiatric evaluations to deem Leifer unfit for extradition. A legal official told The Times of Israel that police suspect Charnes changed his medical conclusion after being contacted by officials in Litzman’s office. Charnes has been interrogated under caution in the case against the deputy health minister. (the Times of Israel) Staff

Israel, Hamas deny report of 6-month cease-fire deal

Israel and Hamas both denied a report early Tuesday that the sides had agreed to a six-month ceasefire.

Israel’s Channel 12 news reported on Monday night that Hamas had agreed, among other things, to curb violence along the Gaza border and adhere to a 300-meter (984-foot) buffer zone.

In exchange, according to the report, Israel agreed to permit an expanded fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, and open border crossings for humanitarian and medical supplies.

A ceasefire was reached earlier this month after Hamas launched almost 700 rockets from Gaza towards Israel.

The Prime Minister’s Office, as stated, denied the report.

“There are no new understandings with Hamas,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said, highlighting that efforts to bring back Israeli the prisoners and the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers, killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, continued unabated.

Hamas also denied the claims.

“What was agreed by Egyptian, Qatari and international mediation between the resistance [Palestinian armed groups] and the occupation is a temporary ceasefire as long as the occupation implements all understandings,” a statement by Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Bahroum said on Monday night.

The popular resistance committees, an umbrella organization for Palestinian terrorist groups, also issued a statement on Tuesday morning.

“There is no de-escalation with the occupation and the Israeli report about it is misleading,” the statement said. (Israel Hayom) Daniel Siryoyi, JNS and Staff

Palestinians reject plan for economic workshop to launch US peace proposal

Palestinian leaders have rejected a plan for an economic workshop announced as the first part of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan.

The Palestinians said they were not consulted on the plan to hold the conference next month in Bahrain.

Finance ministers and global and regional business leaders will meet June 25-26 in Manama to encourage capital investment in the West Bank, Gaza and countries in the region, CNN first reported Sunday.

Jared Kushner, the President Donald Trump’s son-in law and senior White House adviser, and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt have worked on the peace proposal since the beginning of the Trump presidency. The plan contains both political and economic components and reportedly will be announced later this year.

The Palestinian Authority’s social affairs minister, Ahmed Majdalani, told Reuters that the Palestinians will not participate.

“Any Palestinian who would take part would be nothing but a collaborator for the Americans and Israel,” he said.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement released Monday that the Palestinian leadership was “not consulted by any party” on the Bahrain conference.

“The Trump Administration’s vision is being implemented on the ground with their decisions and positions on Jerusalem, settlements and refugees, among others.

“All efforts to make the oppressor and the oppressed coexist are doomed to fail. Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected. This is not about improving living conditions under occupation but about reaching Palestine’s full potential by ending the Israeli occupation.”

A leading Palestinian businessman, Bashar al Masri, announced in a Facebook post that he will not participate in the conference, saying “we will not deal with any event outside the Palestinian national consensus.” (JTA) Marcy Oster

Abbas admits: PA is behind all terrorism

Killing Jews, simply because they are Jews, still appears to be an entirely acceptable agenda in Europe.

by Judith Bergman      JNS

https://www.jns.org/opinion/abbas-admits-pa-is-behind-all-terrorism/

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas recently admitted that the P.A. is behind all Arab terrorism in Israel. It made the headlines nowhere, except in Israeli and Jewish press.

“We have been paying salaries to the families of the Martyrs, to the prisoners, and to the wounded since 1965,” said Abbas. “This is because they were killed, imprisoned or wounded because of a national interest and for the sake of a national interest, and not for personal reasons. It is our obligation to take care of their relatives.”

His spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, completed the admission, saying, “Israel needs to understand this. It is impossible to send a soldier to war and then not take care of his family. We are talking about someone who acts on our behalf and receives orders from us.”

Every Israeli child, teenager, man and woman killed in a terrorist attack had his life taken away simply because Abbas and his henchmen thought they should die for being Jews in the land of Israel. This admission seems to bother nobody. The European Union, certainly, does not love Abbas any less for it: He remains its favorite terrorist. Killing Jews, simply because they are Jews, still appears to be an entirely acceptable agenda in Europe.

The European Union, in fact, has vowed to continue playing a key role in funding the P.A.’s terrorist prisoners. Abbas, who is seeking to create a humanitarian crisis, recently announced that he would cut the salaries of the P.A.’s public employees in half in “protest” against Israel’s decision to withhold and freeze funds used by the P.A. to pay Arab terrorists, and their families, monthly stipends as a reward for committing terrorism.

Luckily for Abbas, he remains the European Union’s top priority. E.U. foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said as much herself at the most recent Arab League summit, in Tunis on March 31: “The first point, the first top issue on our respective agenda: Israel and Palestine. We need to continue to work together very closely, because we share … the same sense of urgency … to get back to meaningful negotiations towards the two-state solution. … And you know that you can count on the European Union on the Palestinian issue. We share exactly the same views, and it is vital in this moment that we work together on this.”

As a result, the European Union has vowed to pay the salaries of the P.A.’s public employees after the P.A. asked the European Union for money, claiming, as predicted, that Israel was to blame for the brewing humanitarian crisis. Consequently, the European Union has pledged 15 million euros to the P.A. to cover public employee salaries, so that the P.A. will continue to have enough money to pay salaries to terrorists. Problem solved. If only the European Union was as efficient when it came to solving the world’s real humanitarian problems, but it seems that Europe’s humanitarian instincts are strongest when the recipients are Arab terrorist out to murder Jews.

“We do not support the system of Palestinian payments to ‘prisoners and martyrs,’ ” said E.U. Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn on April 30, but evidently that is just not true. They literally enable it.

How the European Union and the rest of the world chooses to react—or as it were, not to react—is one thing, but it is an even more crucial matter what the official Israeli response to this admission will and should be.

It is unlikely that there will be much of an Israeli reaction. Since Abbas is the terrorist in charge of the P.A., Israel is not going to “jeopardize” the security cooperation it has with the P.A. over an admission that comes as no surprise whatsoever to the Israeli government, which is obviously completely aware of the crucial role that the P.A. plays in not just dispatching terrorists, but training them from infancy to hate Jewish Israelis and to see them as legitimate targets. In addition to the monetary rewards, Arab children in the P.A. are taught from kindergarten onward that the murder of Jews is an honorable act, and they see this teaching reinforced all the time, as squares and schools are named after terrorists, who are promoted as the most important role models to follow.

One might consider, however, how Israel could react to this admission, which exposes the P.A. as what it is and has been all these years, namely an illegitimate terrorist enterprise. The terrorism coming from the P.A. continues to be waged on a regular basis. No peace, however defined, can be made with such an entity and the recent admission presents the clearest incentive that the Israeli government could ever wish for to finally treat the P.A. as what it is—an open enemy that should be defeated for the purpose of creating lasting peace.

Defeat does not necessarily mean military defeat only. Starving a regime of its oxygen—as Israel symbolically does by withholding a tiny percentage of the P.A.’s total revenues in order for it not to be paid as terrorist stipends—can also bring a regime to its knees. That would bring the much-needed imposed victory that would make it possible to even begin talking about a framework of peace.

What is certain is that the status quo, in which the P.A. raises an entire population on a diet of hatred and terrorism is a certain recipe for future war. At some point, whether now or later, Israel will have to deal with this fact.

It’s a difficult time for pollsters.

by Dr Ron Weiser   ZFA

Whether it be in the USA, Israel or Australia it seems that the common denominator is that they are not an accurate indicator of too much at all.

Moreover, exit polling which was usually regarded as being more exact, also proved to not be so in neither the Israeli nor Australian elections.

Mazal tov to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who pulled off the completely unexpected and will lead either a minority or majority government!

Noteworthy when it comes to Australian foreign policy vis a vis Israel, is that it means that we can expect continuity of Australia’s increased pro-Israel voting pattern at the United Nations and we will not see as Labor threatened, a reversal of Australia’s recognition of Jerusalem, albeit West Jerusalem, as Israel’s capital. It also means the Labor’s policy of unilateral recognition of Palestine, recommended to but non-binding on its parliamentary body, will not come into being in the near future.

One of the ongoing quirks of Jews and Australian politics is that Melbourne Jewry largely live in a safe Labor seat whilst Sydney Jews are concentrated in a safe Liberal seat. Yes this Sydney Liberal blue ribbon continuity was punctured recently by the election of an independent in the by-election of 2018, but with Labor still relegated to a distant third.

As Gen 17 showed, the Jewish community in both cities regard themselves overwhelmingly as ‘Zionist’ and what almost defies explanation is that young Jews between the ages of 18 to 29 defined themselves as ‘Zionist’ in greater percentages than all older age groups.

This goes against trends in most if not all diaspora communities, not the least important of which is the USA.

Gen 17 however, did not define the term ‘Zionist’. The real question is how the next generation sees the whole moral rationale and implementation of the Zionist experiment.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel and in the absence of a constitution, the Israeli Declaration of Independence (DOI) of the 14th of May 1948 has become the single document that underpins Zionism.

In essence the practical part of the declaration comes in 3 parts.

It “declares the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz Yisrael to be known as the State of Israel.” This very clearly and unambiguously says that the State of Israel is to be a Jewish State.

Then it goes on to say that “the State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles”. Also an unambiguous statement.

And then and only then the DOI says how the Jewish State will operate.

“it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

These three elements of the DOI when combined together largely present no dilemma for traditional Zionists.

The concept of a Jewish State with equal rights for all her citizens is moral, logical and without internal contradiction.

There is much discussion about what exactly a ‘Jewish State’ means, but not whether Israel is the Jewish State – certainly not amongst the vast majority of Israelis and self-identifying Zionists living in the diaspora.

Of late however a small element amongst Australian Jewry and in essence, larger percentages of American Jewry, are describing these passages from the DOI as contradictory.

When nationalism is derided and universalistic views are superimposed on the State of Israel, Jewish self-determination seems to these people to be something less than ideal, especially if it is misunderstood by them to come at the expense of others.

This conceptual tension was increased by the passage of the Jewish Nation State Bill by the Netanyahu government in 2018.

Within Israel the debate about this Bill was essentially about the following – whether it was not redundant, why it failed to include a statement about equal rights for all and particularly why it omitted recognition of those fiercely committed to the Jewish State, such as the Druze community?

The equal rights debate centred on whether already having been included in the 1948 DOI and within an earlier Bill passed in 1992, it was or was not necessary to include it again.

To remind ourselves this 1992 bill was called ‘Basic Law – Human Dignity and Liberty’.

In clause 1A it states “The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State”.

Whilst there was valid debate about whether the equality statement needed to be included in 2018 or not, what was again not a point of contention in Israel, was that if a Nation State Bill was to be presented, it say clearly that Israel is and can only be the Nation State of one people – the Jewish people.

In essence that means that only the Jewish people will express their national – not individual – but national aspirations, within the State of Israel.

 

It is so non-controversial in Israel that people across the spectrum including of course self-described secular leftists, not only believe this concept to be moral and legitimate, but clearly state and understand it to be a basic underpinning of Zionism.

In 2018 Tzippi Livni, no right winger, said “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. At the same time, equality is a Jewish and democratic value and being a Jewish state with equal rights to all the citizens means that the Israeli Arabs have equal rights as citizens, although their national aspirations will not be fulfilled in Israel”

Where the drift occurs, when it does, between Israeli leftists and diaspora leftists it is precisely over this national concept.

Although elections took place in Israel on the 9th of April and despite them being essentially about one issue – whether the people wanted Netanyahu to continue to be Prime Minister?  – and notwithstanding that fully 65 versus 45 members of the Knesset recommended Netanyahu for PM emphasising his stunning victory and dominance (something that even Scott Morrison would have been happy to achieve locally), Netanyahu is yet to be able to form a coalition government.

Even with the extension granted by President Ruby Rivlin, Netanyahu has less than two weeks left to do so.

As discussed last month, the tough man in the negotiations is the ever determined Avigdor Lieberman. Without his party’s support Netanyahu has only 60 from the 120 Knesset members. And even if he successfully forms government, he will be at the mercy of future threats from any one of his coalition partners, to walk out at any time.

Whether Netanyahu does or does not attempt to have any laws passed to give him immunity from prosecution is speculation. As Likud member Gidon Sa’ar points out, the Knesset can already vote by a majority to give any member of its body immunity.

What is not in doubt is that just as Australia’s system of democracy has its own peculiarities, Israel’s has too.

With only a one house Knesset, there is a different and more complicated relationship with the High Court which acts as a judicial body, but also in some ways as a house of review for parliamentary legislation.

No, Israel’s democracy is not in danger nor are the moral underpinnings of the State – one just needs context and the right lens.

Our task whilst discussing these issues, is to have those outside of Israel understand as Israelis do, just what makes Israel unique and why the moral clarity of the DOI continues to shine through.

The real challenge for us in the diaspora is how to keep self-defining ‘Zionists’ on board with the entirety of the DOI as envisaged by the founding fathers – as we watch the unfolding events in Israel?

It May Be Up to Israel to Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program – Yaakov Katz (Washington Post)

Iran unquestionably presents a grave threat to Israel because of the combination of dangerous rhetoric – such as Ayatollah Khamenei’s call for Israel to be “eradicated” – with the possibility that it will possibly one day have nuclear weapons and the means to act on what it openly says it wants to do.

When the Iranian government signaled last week that it will halt compliance with some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, it ratcheted up its threat to Israel’s existence. It appears increasingly probable that Iran will speed up its race to build a nuclear weapon, forcing Israel to return to the same strategy and tactics it used to eliminate Syrian nuclear power in 2007.

Israel’s defense establishment has long believed that to avoid the necessity of striking Iran’s reactors, and for diplomacy to have a chance to work, a genuine military deterrent must first be on the table to make the Iranian regime reconsider its nuclear ambitions.

Dan Meridor, Israel’s former minister of intelligence, told me that for Israel to consider pre-emptive action against another country’s nuclear program, two criteria must be met: the country must be one of Israel’s enemies and must have demonstrated the potential to one day consider using a nuclear weapon against Israel. Syria and Iraq both fit those criteria. So does Iran.

Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility in Natanz was built deep underground. Despite this, Israeli military planners have been confident for some time that its air force can cause enough damage to Iran’s nuclear facilities to stall its nuclear program by a few years.

The writer is editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post.