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Westlake Legal Group > Israel (Page 17)

Live Briefing: Israel Elections Live Updates: Exit Polls Show Dead Heat, Both Sides Claim Victory

Westlake Legal Group live-briefing-israel-elections-live-updates-exit-polls-show-dead-heat-both-sides-claim-victory Live Briefing: Israel Elections Live Updates: Exit Polls Show Dead Heat, Both Sides Claim Victory Rivlin, Reuven Politics and Government Netanyahu, Benjamin Likud Party (Israel) Israel Gantz, Benny elections Blue and White (Israeli Political Party)

• Exit polls show a dead heat in the race between Benjamin Netanyahu, the polarizing, right-wing prime minister, and his main rival, Benny Gantz, a newcomer to electoral politics who is seen as a centrist. Both men claimed victory.

[Who is Benny Gantz?]

• Early analysis showed Arab voters headed for a historically low turnout.

• If he wins a fourth consecutive term, Mr. Netanyahu, 69, could make history in a number of ways: In July, he would become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister; he has vowed to annex parts of the West Bank, reversing half a century of policy and setting back prospects for a Palestinian state; and he could also become the first sitting prime minister to be indicted.

• While Mr. Netanyahu has appealed primarily to the right, Mr. Gantz, 59, a retired lieutenant general and former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, has reached out for allies across the political spectrum. He has sought to make Mr. Netanyahu’s expected indictment on corruption charges the main issue.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153283863_c6bb7174-488e-49b6-aba9-b1f55a9e8a08-articleLarge Live Briefing: Israel Elections Live Updates: Exit Polls Show Dead Heat, Both Sides Claim Victory Rivlin, Reuven Politics and Government Netanyahu, Benjamin Likud Party (Israel) Israel Gantz, Benny elections Blue and White (Israeli Political Party)

Supporters of the Blue and White political alliance watching a television poll on a screen at the alliance headquarters in Tel Aviv.CreditMenahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz emerged in a dead heat in Tuesday’s parliamentary election, according to preliminary exit polls.

The muddled projected outcome left Israel teetering at a critical juncture between an ever sharper turn to the right or a more moderate reset of the political order.

The exit polls of the three main television channels projected differing outcomes, with two putting Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White party ahead and a third showing him in a draw with Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party. But it was not clear which man would be in a position to form a governing coalition with a parliamentary majority, raising the specter of political limbo.

The results may become clearer as vote counting progresses in the coming hours. But it was also possible that the result could still be tipped by the final count, including the votes of soldiers, prisoners and hospital patients, later this week.

Still, Mr. Gantz’s strong performance against the long-dominant Mr. Netanyahu was a remarkable achievement for a political newcomer, and he was already claiming victory despite the lack of clarity and the obstacles that remained ahead.

“We won! The Israeli public has had their say!” his party said just after 10 p.m. “These elections have a clear winner and a clear loser. Netanyahu promised 40 seats and lost. The president can see the picture and should call on the winner to form the next government. There is no other option!”

Mr. Netanyahu, for his part, claimed a “definite victory” for the right-wing bloc in Parliament. “I thank the citizens of Israel for their trust,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will start by assembling a right-wing government with our natural partners tonight.”

Turnout in Arab areas of Israel appeared to be headed for a historic low.CreditAtef Safadi/EPA, via Shutterstock

Political analysts said the turnout in Arab areas of Israel, where citizens have become disillusioned with Israeli politics and with their own politicians, appeared to be headed for a historic low.

With turnout lagging and the fate of the election potentially swinging on one or two seats in a coalition, every party was pleading with its voters to race to the polls before it was too late.

But among Arab voters, where a boycott movement appeared to be having a strong effect, the haranguing was especially intense.

“The right is planning to crush the Arab parties, it wants to erase us off the political arena,” Mtanes Shehadeh, a spokesman for the struggling Ram-Balad party, wrote in a WhatsApp message to supporters. “This is Netanyahu’s dream.”

In Tamra, muezzins called to the faithful from a mosque: “Go out to vote and support the Arab parties. They are in danger.”

Tamar Zandberg, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, which was in danger of falling short of the threshold to enter Parliament and enjoyed sizable Arab support, raced to Kfar Kassem, another large Arab town.

“We are continuing with all our strength, going from house to house and calling people out to vote,” said Aymen Odeh, leader of Hadash-Ta’al, one of two predominantly Arab parties vying for seats in Parliament. “Our nightmare is the prime minister’s fantasy,” he added. “A Knesset without Arab representation is suddenly looking like a realistic option. I know gevalt is in Yiddish, but the concern for our children’s future is universal.”

A boycott campaign wasn’t the only reason for poor turnout among Arab voters. Early Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party acknowledged sending more than 1,000 activists with cameras into polling places in Arab towns.

At least some of the Likud observers concealed the cameras, as online videos showed. Likud said the move was aimed at capturing evidence of any irregularities. But the Arab party Hadash-Ta’al filed a complaint, calling it voter intimidation, according to Israeli news reports.

Just before 9 p.m., the left-wing party Meretz, which is counting on Arab support to clear the threshold to be seated in Parliament, appealed to elections officials to keep the polls open in Arab villages an extra hour to allow in any voters who had initially been scared off by the cameras.

Voters cast ballots for parties, not candidates. Thirty-nine parties are participating. The percentage of the vote determines a party’s number of seats in the Knesset, or Parliament. Any party needs at least 3.25 percent of the vote for a seat.

Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party and Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White alliance are expected to gain more seats than any other group. But each will fall far short of achieving a 61-seat majority on its own, meaning that a new government will almost certainly be formed by a multiparty coalition.

[See our guide to the Israeli elections.]

Members of Israel’s military were allowed to vote up to 72 hours in advance. The rest of the country’s 6.3 million eligible voters can cast ballots at more than 10,700 polling stations across the country, including hospitals and prisons, between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (midnight to 3 p.m. Eastern).

Except for diplomats posted abroad, Israeli citizens cannot cast absentee ballots. Those who wish to vote must travel to Israel.

Benny Gantz, the Blue and White leader, after casting his vote in Rosh Ha’Ayin, Israel.CreditDan Balilty for The New York Times

Likud wins the most seats. Mr. Netanyahu’s party might be able to reach a majority with the help of smaller right-wing parties.

Blue and White wins the most seats. Mr. Gantz and his partners might be able to reach a majority with a combination of smaller parties on the left and right.

Unity government of Likud plus Blue and White. While Mr. Gantz has vowed never to serve in a government led by Mr. Netanyahu, there has been speculation that their parties might negotiate to form a unity government if neither can attain the sufficient number of seats. Such a possibility would increase if some smaller parties needed by Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz fail to make the 3.25 percent threshold.

Any party that wins at least 3.25 percent of the vote gets at least three seats in Parliament, but if parties don’t pass that threshold — and many smaller parties do not — their votes are discarded.

In Jerusalem, the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the foreground, is separated from the Palestinian area of al-Ram by a barrier.CreditAhmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Netanyahu has shown a penchant for appealing to anti-Arab racism in the finales of Israeli elections, aimed at whipping up the extreme right to fend off challengers and protect his parliamentary majority.

During the 2015 election, Mr. Netanyahu beseeched right-wing voters to cast ballots after a coalition of Israeli Arab parties announced that early voter participation by its supporters had tripled. He posted a video on his Facebook page expressing alarm that Israeli Arabs were “being bused to the polling stations in droves” by left-wing groups.

In what critics are calling a similar appeal to the right in this election, Mr. Netanyahu unexpectedly promised to begin extending Israeli sovereignty over the occupied West Bank if re-elected. The move would almost certainly doom a two-state solution.

[In seeking re-election, Mr. Netanyahu put the West Bank on the ballot.]

Late Monday, he even trotted out his American pollster to attest to his contention that the small number of Likud voters who fail to cast their ballots on Tuesday could cost him the election.

Israelis have a term for Mr. Netanyahu’s late surprises: the “gevalt campaign,” a reference to the Yiddish term for incredulity.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is caught up in a corruption scandal that has clouded his campaign ahead of today’s election, but his base still supports him. We went there to understand why they are sticking with him.

The last elections in Gaza were in 2006.CreditShawn Baldwin for The New York Times

Mohammad al-Saptie, 28, has never voted. He envied Israel’s democratic system, he said in Gaza City, as people a few miles away cast their ballots for the fifth time since the last election in Gaza, in 2006.

Mr. al-Saptie, a deliveryman, daydreamed aloud about what a free election might mean for Gaza and how he might choose a party or a candidate to support.

He thought about his 20-month-old daughter, Warda, and about the three wars he has lived through — not counting the 2007 civil war in which the militant group Hamas seized control in Gaza.

“I would vote for a government that can negotiate, make peace and reach a solution with Israel,” Mr. al-Saptie said, “because we do not want blood, murder, death and destruction.”

Like many Palestinians here, Mr. al-Saptie said he was frustrated by Hamas, whose takeover precipitated the Israeli blockade of Gaza that continues to this day. He said he wished Gaza’s armed factions could be brought under the control of leaders with stronger public support.

His aspirations, he said, are simple: “Security, safety and jobs. We do not want more than this.”

In the West Bank, Palestinian officials were following the election closely but there was no shortage of cynicism.

“The two camps are competing with each other over how much they will take out of our lands and how brutal they should be with us,” said Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official, in a telephone interview.

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News Analysis: In Trump, Netanyahu Sees an Ally Who Helps Him Push the Envelope

Westlake Legal Group 08dc-prexy-facebookJumbo News Analysis: In Trump, Netanyahu Sees an Ally Who Helps Him Push the Envelope West Bank United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Israeli Settlements Israel elections Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank would flout four decades of American policy, under both Republican and Democratic presidents. But nothing emboldened Mr. Netanyahu to take such a risk more than the support of his ally President Trump.

From recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights to moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, Mr. Trump has given Mr. Netanyahu the political cover and legal legitimacy to embrace a position that critics say would all but extinguish the dream of a viable Palestinian state.

Mr. Trump’s moves are not merely temporary gestures, which a future president or Israeli leader could reverse. They are policy changes that experts say have permanently altered the contested landscape of the Middle East, making his own stated goal of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians more unattainable than ever.

“They talk about a peace plan, but we never see it,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel who tried to negotiate a deal between Israel and the Palestinians during the Obama administration. “What we see are new facts on the ground that will make a two-state solution impossible.”

The White House declined to comment on Monday on Mr. Netanyahu’s latest remarks. Partly, this reflected qualms about speaking out on a delicate diplomatic issue on the eve of an Israeli election. But it also revealed the extent to which Mr. Trump has become Mr. Netanyahu’s biggest enabler.

For Mr. Trump, who has talked about brokering a “deal of the century” between Israel and the Palestinians, Mr. Netanyahu’s aggressive move could pose a long-term problem. There is no obvious alternative to a two-state solution, however bleak its prospects. If Mr. Netanyahu is re-elected and follows through on his promise to annex territory, it would force the United States to retire a diplomatic strategy that dates to President Richard M. Nixon.

Mr. Trump continues to promote the idea of a peace accord, placing his hope in a blueprint drafted by three of his senior aides: Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser; Jason D. Greenblatt, his special envoy for Middle East peace; and David M. Friedman, the American ambassador to Israel. The Trump administration, officials said, still intends to present the plan sometime after the Israeli election.

“A big thing for me, and some of you won’t like this maybe, but I would love to see peace in the Middle East,” Mr. Trump said Saturday at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. “If those three can’t do it, you’ll never have it done.”

The setting captured the tension between Mr. Trump’s diplomatic ambitions and his domestic political imperatives. Acknowledging that the audience might not welcome a peacemaking effort that required compromises by Israel, he spent most of his time taking credit for decisions like the Jerusalem embassy and Golan Heights, which are popular with right-wing Jews and evangelical voters.

In Israel, meanwhile, Mr. Netanyahu suggested that he had the tacit backing of Mr. Trump to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The prime minister told Israeli news media over the weekend that the White House was aware of his plans and said that he hoped to “do it, if possible, with American support,” though he added that he would not change his position, regardless of how the United States reacted.

There was little in Washington’s silence to indicate that Mr. Netanyahu would face pushback. At every step of the prime minister’s hard-fought campaign to stay in power, Mr. Trump has tried to help him. The president’s announcement on the Golan Heights last month came at a critical moment, when Mr. Netanyahu faced a rising opponent and damaging new disclosures in the corruption cases against him.

Even Mr. Trump’s announcement on Monday that the State Department would designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist organization paid dividends for Mr. Netanyahu. On his Hebrew-language Twitter feed, Mr. Netanyahu thanked Mr. Trump for “keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism.”

Mr. Trump has wrapped Mr. Netanyahu in a warm embrace from the beginning of his presidency, even as he has voiced mild support for a two-state solution. “That’s what I think works best,” he said last fall during a meeting with the prime minister at the United Nations General Assembly.

While Mr. Trump’s moves have been unstintingly pro-Israel, some could also be interpreted as a way to pressure the Palestinians to come back to the bargaining table. The administration cut off aid to Palestinian groups, closed its diplomatic office in Washington and ended funding for a United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees.

None of that persuaded the Palestinians to reopen a dialogue with the United States that was cut off after Mr. Trump announced the embassy move in late 2017. The threat of annexation, experts said, might be the last form of leverage the United States has over the Palestinians. Unless they agree to a peace deal, the United States could give Mr. Netanyahu a green light to claim territory.

“The one issue that clearly opened a Pandora’s box was the Golan Heights announcement,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former Palestinian negotiator. “Once they broke that particular taboo, they opened the door for all the annexationists in Israel to say, ‘Now go for the West Bank.’”

Whatever his election-eve theatrics, some analysts argue that Mr. Netanyahu would be loath to take such a radical step. They say he is motivated less by a desire to upend decades of diplomacy than by his own political survival. Dangling the prospect of annexation is a way to nail down the support of smaller right-wing parties, which he will need to form a government.

“He’s smart enough to realize that if he goes through with this, he is creating with his own hands a Bosnia on the Mediterranean,” said David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

But Mr. Makovsky acknowledged that if the Trump administration presented its plan and was rebuffed by the Palestinians — a scenario he and other veterans of peace negotiations view as likely — Mr. Netanyahu could use that as a pretext for selective annexation of large settlements.

Mr. Trump’s aides have kept a tight lid on the details and timing of their plan. Some analysts speculated that they might introduce it after the election, but before the victor forms a government, so as to influence the makeup of the new coalition. That scenario now seems less likely, given Mr. Netanyahu’s weakened position, because he will probably have to reach out to right-wing parties to form a government — and none of those are interested in a Palestinian state.

Some former diplomats argue that the intense focus on the peace plan misses the point: The Trump administration has utterly transformed the paradigm for American engagement in the Middle East.

“What we’re watching in terms of American policy is a shell game,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to Israel and Egypt. “They want you to watch the peace plan — it’s 40 pages long; it’s 60 pages long. What they don’t want you to watch is how they are trying extraordinarily hard, under cover of the plan, to change things on the ground.”

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Beto O’Rourke’s Israel Comments are Astoundingly Bad and Only Help Antisemitic Radicals

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-1-11-620x317 Beto O’Rourke’s Israel Comments are Astoundingly Bad and Only Help Antisemitic Radicals Terrorism Politics Palestine Jewish People Israel Hamas Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats Beto O'Rourke beto Benjamin Netanyahu Allow Media Exception 2020

Former Texas Congressman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke has proven he’s willing to jump in radical camps when it comes to various issues, but the latest one falls in line with a problem of antisemitism that the Democratic party has been having lately.

To be clear, I’m not accusing O’Rourke of being an antisemite himself, but he seems to be playing right into their hands.

According to O’Rourke Israel is too in league with Republicans and following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu down a bad path because, as O’Rourke claimed, Netanyahu is racist.

“The US-Israel relationship… if it is to be successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States, and it must be able to transcend a Prime Minister who is racist as he warns about Arabs coming to the polls. Who wants to defy any prospect for peace, as he threatens to annex the West Bank and who has sided with a far-right racist party in order to maintain his hold on power.”

O’Rourke also reiterated his support for a two-state solution with Israel, a popular position on the left.

Netanyahu has promised that if re-elected, he will establish Israel’s sovereignty over war-won lands such as the west bank.

“I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements,” he said according to Fox News. “From my perspective, any point of settlement is Israeli, and we have responsibility, as the Israeli government. I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians.”

Firstly, Netanyahu is demonstrably not a racist. This was even backed up by former Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman, who told Varney & Co. that after knowing and working with Netanyahu for some time has first hand knowledge about the man’s lack of racial bigotry.

“This is an ally in the midst of an election,” he said Stuart Varney on Monday. “What I would say, and I know Prime Minister Netanyahu a long time, I agree with him a lot of the time, I sometimes disagree — he’s not a racist.”

O’Rourke threw the accusation out there either out of ignorance, a need to be sensationalistic, or both. It’s an accusation that easily ruffles the feathers of those on the left, and an easy way to paint someone as an entity that needs to be resisted. It’s lazy politics, but it’s a quick way to get people to side with you.

Secondly, O’Rourke has demonstrated a woeful ignorance about matters in the Middle East. A two-state solution isn’t going to happen so long as Palestinian groups make the collapse of Israel a top priority.

The efforts for peace aren’t for lack of trying by Israel, but groups like Hamas who have written in their charter that Israel must fall and Jews must die are not going to respect any solution, much less a two-state one.

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”


“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.

Both of these phrases exist in the Hamas charter and point to the fact that there can be no seeing eye to eye here. Especially if you add…:

“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

It should be made clear that Hamas is no run of the mill terrorist group. It’s an elected government with the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people as one of its goals.

Israel is surrounded by enemies, many of them with the same mind as Hamas and they are numerous. Being cautious about who they allow having a say in their country is wise, as any kind of infiltration by foreign entities could lead to disaster on a scale we’ve rarely seen.

O’Rourke is either willfully blind to this or unknowingly ignorant. Painting Netanyahu as racist because he’s protected his people from those who have flat out vowed to kill his own people is the height of asininity.

O’Rourke should apologize.

The post Beto O’Rourke’s Israel Comments are Astoundingly Bad and Only Help Antisemitic Radicals appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-1-11-300x153 Beto O’Rourke’s Israel Comments are Astoundingly Bad and Only Help Antisemitic Radicals Terrorism Politics Palestine Jewish People Israel Hamas Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats Beto O'Rourke beto Benjamin Netanyahu Allow Media Exception 2020   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Rashida Tlaib: Supporters of the new pro-Israel Senate bill “forgot what country they represent”

Westlake Legal Group rt-1 Rashida Tlaib: Supporters of the new pro-Israel Senate bill “forgot what country they represent” tlaib The Blog Sanctions palestinian Marco Rubio Israel boycott bds

Marco Rubio’s pushing a bill with bipartisan support — or at least, it used to have bipartisan support (more on that in a minute) — that would, among other things, allow state and local governments to boycott private entities who are boycotting Israel. You have every constitutional right to join the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement, a.k.a. BDS, against the Jewish state; Rubio’s bill would clarify that U.S. state governments can take that into account when deciding whom they’ll enter into contracts with.

I’ll defer to my legal betters on whether that’ll hold up in court. No one has a right to a government contract, but the discrimination involved in ruling someone ineligible to compete for a contract based on their viewpoint is clear. Two courts have already held that similar state laws violate the First Amendment. If I had to bet, I’d bet Rubio’s bill would go down in flames too if it ended up passing Congress.

Either way, the obvious play for opponents of the bill is to emphasize that they dislike it for its attempt to punish free expression, not because it seeks to protect Israel specifically. That’s the Bernie Sanders approach:

The Rashida Tlaib approach is … more complicated:

“They forgot what country they represent” is an interesting comment for all sorts of reasons, starting with the fact that Tlaib ended up being draped with the Palestinian flag rather than the Stars and Stripes by her mother on the night she won her House primary. (She’s of Palestinian ancestry.) Philip Klein is familiar with it:

The idea of Jews as having divided loyalty, and of using their influence to convince others to act against the interests and principles of their own country, is an age-old anti-Semitic trope.

Tlaib supports anti-Israel boycotts. She also defended former CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill after he was fired for calling for the elimination of Israel and endorsing violence against Jews.

The Democratic Party has a festering anti-Semitism problem within its own ranks, and so far it seems content to look the other way and excuse the deployment of stereotypical attacks on Jews as long as they are thinly masked as mere criticism of Israel.

There’s a ready-made reply to her critics she could use if she likes: “When I said supporters of the Rubio bill forgot what country they represent, I merely meant that the bill is un-American.” But she hasn’t said that as I write this despite the fact that she’s taken flak from the right for the past 16 hours for her tweet. Maybe she feels it’d be untrue to her brand to back down when conservatives are attacking her, or maybe … she really did intend the “forgot” line to imply dual loyalty. Notes Alex Griswold, “Oddly, many of those who hear dog whistles for a living aren’t exactly perking up at Tlaib accusing her critics of dual loyalty.” It’s loud enough that I’d say it’s more of a duck call than a dog whistle. Sweaty centrist Democrats implore you to please just ignore the quacking.

Rubio’s bill was on track to pass the Senate, the rare Trump-era measure that could attract enough support from both parties to beat a filibuster. But then momentum slowed down and now not just far-left Bernie Sanders but more moderate Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin oppose it. How come? It could be that Democrats simply dislike the free-speech implications of the bill or the optics of the Senate carrying on as usual with other legislative business when there’s a shutdown to resolve. But that’s not what Rubio’s hearing:

Are congressional Dems finally catching up to their base in turning against Israel? Or is Rubio distorting a dispute that actually centered on whether the bill violates the First Amendment? The fight over the party platform’s views on Israel in 2020 will be fascinating if Democrats end up with a far-left nominee and if radicals like Tlaib continue to raise their national profiles. It’s high time they had that fight too. It’s been brewing for years, replete with skirmishes at the convention, but always ends up being papered over by party leaders in the name of keeping their coalition together. Let ’em show their cards. If there’s a significant faction that believes Israel usurped rightful Palestinian dominion over the territory and that nothing short of a one-state solution — which Tlaib supports, quack quack — will undo the injustice, make that clear. Let pro-Israel Democrats vote accordingly.

Fear of their coalition unraveling is why Van Hollen and Cardin switched to no on Rubio’s bill, I assume. If it passes the Senate, Pelosi will be under heavy pressure to put it on the floor of the House. How would that vote go? How much camera time would it generate for radicals like Tlaib? Today is her third business day on the job and she’s already sucker-punched her leadership not one but twice with “unhelpful” soundbites suggesting that Democratic intentions towards major initiatives like impeachment or Rubio’s bill are less noble than the party wants people to believe. The dirty little secret about all of the media attention to Pelosi’s freshmen radicals like Tlaib and AOC is that they’re far more of a hindrance to her than they’ll be to the right for years to come. Enjoy solving this problem, Nancy.

The post Rashida Tlaib: Supporters of the new pro-Israel Senate bill “forgot what country they represent” appeared first on Hot Air.

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Bolton: We’re not withdrawing from Syria until Turkey guarantees YPG safety

Westlake Legal Group bolton-netanyahu Bolton: We’re not withdrawing from Syria until Turkey guarantees YPG safety YPG withdrawal The Blog Syria Kurds john bolton Israel donald trump Benjamin Netanyahu

The withdrawal from Syria looks less imminent and more aspirational with every frequent-flier mile John Bolton picks up. Donald Trump’s national-security advisor met with Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel yesterday to discuss plans for the region, including a withdrawal from “northeast Syria,” as Bolton specified in a joint presser. Furthermore, the US wouldn’t withdraw any troops until Turkey provided security for US allies in the region — which is the equivalent of never:

White House national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday outlined conditions for a U.S. troop departure from Syria that appeared to contradict President Trump’s insistence less than a month ago that the withdrawal would be immediate and without conditions.

Speaking during a visit to Israel, Bolton said that certain “objectives” must be achieved before a pullout could take place. “The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement.” …

“It’s also very important that as we discuss with members of the coalition, [and] other countries that have an interest, like Israel and Turkey, that we expect that those who have fought with us in Syria . . . particularly the Kurds,” not be put in “jeopardy” by the withdrawal, said Bolton, who plans to travel Tuesday to Ankara.

Bolton has changed the terms of this decision dramatically since Trump announced it three weeks ago. At the time, Trump declared that we had beaten ISIS and there was no need for us to stick around, later softening the first part to say that Turkey and Syria could mop up the rest of ISIS. Over the past week, Bolton has acknowledged that ISIS is not yet vanquished and still has the capacity for “reviving” itself; US allies in the region still require our protection; and that the withdrawal is limited to “northeastern Syria.” The latter is undoubtedly a gesture to Netanyahu, who would have to ensure that a pullout of American forces and allies in southern Syria didn’t give Iran a foothold from which to launch attacks on Israel.

Trump himself seems to be backpedaling a bit too, at least on the timeline:

Trump also commented Sunday on the timing of the withdrawal. “I never said we’d be doing it that quickly,” the president said from the White House. “We won’t be finally pulled out, until ISIS is gone.”

The remark came in contrast to the president’s statement from Dec. 19., when he said the withdrawal would happen quickly and that the U.S. had defeated ISIS. “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now,” Trump said at the time. “We won.”

Everyone’s slowing their roll now, and with Bolton heading to Ankara, that roll will come to a complete stop. Recep Tayyip Ergodan considers the YPG to be a part of the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group that both Turkey and the US consider to be a terrorist organization. The US position on the YPG became considerably more nuanced once it became clear that they were the only group that could lead urban assaults on ISIS, and our alliance brought howls of protest from Ankara all along.

If the US plans on making a withdrawal conditional on Turkish guarantees of safety for the YPG in Syria, one of two things will happen. Either we will never withdraw from “northeastern Syria,” or we will stand by and watch our anti-ISIS allies get massacred as Turkey reneges on any security pledge they make. Want to guess which way our Kurdish allies are betting?

Update: Jeff Dunetz has a good analysis about Bolton’s trip and policies in a different context.

The post Bolton: We’re not withdrawing from Syria until Turkey guarantees YPG safety appeared first on Hot Air.

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Pro-Israel bill torpedoed by the usual list of suspects

Westlake Legal Group pelosi-schumer-wyden Pro-Israel bill torpedoed by the usual list of suspects The Blog Sanctions Israel divestment boycott bds

There’s been a bit of turbulence in America’s relationship with Israel since the President announced his intentions to pull U.S. forces out of Syria in the near future. (Whether that’s actually going to happen remains an open question this week.) Seemingly in response to jittery allies in Israel, GOP leaders in the Senate put together a “mega package” of legislation designed to address those concerns and help out our Israeli allies. The bills would address attempts to boycott Israel and shore up security for both Israel and Jordan.

No sooner had the legislative package been announced than Democrats “pounced” to say they would block consideration of the measures. That’s going to set the stage for the new members to put their cards on the table in terms of support for Israel. (Free Beacon)

With Congress open, top GOP Senate leaders had scheduled a vote Tuesday to move forward on what congressional insiders describe as a “mega” pro-Israel bill, including measures addressing Israel and Jordan’s security and addressing boycotts of Israel, amid uncertainty generated by the Trump administration’s new policy to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.

Top Democrats signaled Sunday they would not allow consideration of the legislation. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) all came out against a vote on the pro-Israel legislation.

The opposition comes amid a new class of Democrats in Congress fiercely opposed to Israel and the Jewish people.

This may prove to be a good test of precisely how much influence the new crop of “Democratic superstar freshmen” actually have. That will be particularly true if the legislation shows up for a vote in the House. You may recall that Ilhan Omar, who replaced Keith Ellison, lied about her support for the BDS movement on the campaign trail and then immediately showed her true colors after winning her election. She’s far from the only one. This new crop of socialists has been very down on Israel and Jews in general. I’m sure the last thing the Democratic leadership wants is to have them all pinned down with a vote on this topic right out of the gate.

This should also serve as a test of Chuck Schumer’s leadership. Keep in mind that Schumer came out and bluntly described the BDS movement as antisemitism when he addressed the AIPAC Conference last year. Does he really want to kick off 2019 with his own caucus shooting down a legislative package specifically designed to support the Jewish people and one of our closest allies? Far from it, I’m sure.

You can be sure that Israel will be watching the results of this fiasco closely. And if the Democrats manage to sink the proposal, or even if it passes and some of their new “superstars” are put on record as voting against it, that’s an albatross the Democrats will have hanging around their necks for some time to come.

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Anti-Semitic doctor: I’m sorry, but Israel made me do it

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Lara Kollab might not have a future in medicine, but based on this apology, she might have one in politics. The former resident at The Cleveland Clinic issued an apology yesterday for years of anti-Semitic tweets, including at least one threat to misprescribe medications to the “yahood.” After Kollab’s story went viral last week, the clinic fired her, leaving her ability to practice medicine in serious doubt.

Yesterday, Kollab tried to clear the air with an apology … while blaming Israel for the problem. Here is her statement in full:

Several social media comments posted on my twitter account years ago have surfaced recently, causing pain, anguish, and a public outcry. I wish sincerely and unequivocally to apologize for the offensive and hurtful language contained in those posts. This statement is not intended to excuse the content of the posts, but rather to demonstrate that those words do not represent who I am and the principles I stand for today.

I visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories every summer throughout my adolescent years. I became incensed at the suffering of the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation. The injustice and brutality of the occupation continues to concern me, and I believe every champion of human rights owes it to humanity to work towards a just and peaceful resolution of this crisis.

As a girl in my teens and early twenties, I had difficulty constructively expressing my intense feelings about what I witnessed in my ancestral land. Like many young people lacking life experience, I expressed myself by making insensitive remarks and statements of passion devoid of thought, not realizing the harm and offense these words would cause.

These posts were made years before I was accepted into medical school, when I was a naïve, and impressionable girl barely out of high school. I matured into a young adult during the years I attended college and medical school, and adopted strong values of inclusion, tolerance, and humanity. I take my profession and the Hippocratic Oath seriously and would never intentionally cause harm to any patient seeking medical care. As a physician, I will always strive to give the best medical treatment to all people, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, or culture.

I have learned from this experience and am sorry for the pain I have caused. I pray that the Jewish community will understand and forgive me. I hope to make amends so that we can move forward and work together towards a better future for us all.

If these were tweets from Kollab’s middle-school years, that explanation might do — but they weren’t, and it doesn’t. Kollab was a first-year resident, which means she had completed her graduate and post-graduate college work. Kollab is 27 years old now (according to the Daily Mail’s reporting), and the tweets began in 2011 when she was 20. The 2012 tweet about misprescribing the “yahood” came when she was 21 years old. According to the site that first exposed Kollab, those anti-Semitic tweets continued into 2017 — not “years before I was accepted into medical school,” but just a year before she graduated from medical school. [Update: Let’s not forget that at that time she was attending a Jewish osteopathic college, too.]

Furthermore, while it’s certainly possible to criticize Israel’s policies in the West Bank, Kollab wasn’t writing political critiques on occupation policy on Twitter. She wasn’t going to practice medicine in Israel, and she wasn’t bragging about her future ability to misprescribe the Israelis running the West Bank. Her crude reference to the “yahood” was meant for all Jews, as were her tweets about praying that “Allah will kill the Jews.” Now she implores “the Jewish community” to “understand and forgive me,” while still trying to shift the blame for her hatred to Jews in Israel.

That’s not much of an apology in real life. It’s the kind of non-apology apology that one usually hears from politicians — trying to eat her cake while still having it too. She wants forgiveness and understanding but no responsibility and especially no consequences for her hate-venting. John Hinderaker hits the mark on this effort:

Is it just me, or do her venomous tweets sound a great deal more sincere than the apology that was released through her lawyers?

Kollab seems sincere in her embarrassment that she got exposed as the author of those tweets, and sincere in her desire to practice medicine without those hanging over her head. That’s about the extent of the sincerity that comes through that non-apology apology. Or perhaps a better term for it is a lying-SOB-Johnson apology from Forrest Gump:

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NBC: Trump admin retreating on Syria withdrawal?

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Somewhere, Lindsey Graham draws a sigh of relief. John Bolton has set out on a trip to explain Donald Trump’s plans on Syria to our allies, who were caught flat-footed by his announcement of withdrawing completely from the ISIS battleground. A source within the administration tells NBC News that Bolton will outline a plan with a much longer timetable for withdrawal — and perhaps an indefinite timetable for part of Syria:

Some U.S. troops could remain in southern Syria for an undetermined amount of time even as American forces withdraw in coming months from the northern part of the country, a senior administration official said Friday.

President Donald Trump announced last month that he was withdrawing all U.S. troops from Syria immediately but has since softened the timing to say the drawdown will happen more slowly.

The U.S. has no timeline for Trump’s order of a complete troop withdrawal but believes the remaining pockets of ISIS in Syria can be eliminated in a matter of weeks, said the senior administration official, who was traveling with national security adviser John Bolton on a trip aimed at clarifying the new policy for America’s allies.

That’s a bit different than last night’s reporting on Bolton’s trip. The Washington Post focused more on the effort to get out of Turkey’s way and the coordination necessary to give Ankara the lead on anti-ISIS fighting. The purpose of meeting with other Arab leaders was to undo the impression that we’re bailing on the Middle East, according to Karen DeYoung:

Turkey wants the United States to disarm Syrian Kurdish forces it has trained and supplied for the fight against the Islamic State, and to provide air and logistical support for Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition forces who plan to pick up the anti-militant battle after a U.S. withdrawal.

The list of Turkey’s “concerns and expectations” will be conveyed next week to White House national security adviser John Bolton when he visits Ankara to explain the still-unspecified U.S. plan for a withdrawal from Syria, according to Turkish officials.

Bolton’s trip comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also heading to the region to try to persuade Arab partners and allies that “the United States is not leaving the Middle East. Despite reports to the contrary and false narratives surrounding the Syria decision, we are not going anywhere,” a senior administration official said Friday in a briefing for reporters.

What “false narratives” were “surrounding the Syria decision”? Trump made his policy crystal clear. Not only did he declare a complete withdrawal from Syria — a decision that led to James Mattis’ resignation — Trump repeatedly defended a complete withdrawal on Twitter. Trump even made a point of taking a victory lap on complete withdrawal when meeting with troops in Iraq less than two weeks ago. Pompeo might want to rewrite history in order to give Trump some room for rethinking this move, but there was precious little room for a “false narrative” of complete and immediate withdrawal.

These remarks and Bolton’s trip suggest that Trump may well be rethinking the decision. He might be able to afford to let Turkey take on ISIS, albeit on a much longer timetable than Trump first posed, but leaving southern Syria in the hands of Iran is asking for a regional war. Israel has already conducted airstrikes in Syria to signal that it won’t let Bashar al-Assad off the hook for giving the mullahs in Tehran a back door to attack them. If the US leaves a vacuum in southern Syria, Iran will try to fill it — and Israel will unleash waves of attacks to prevent that from happening. That could very well cause an extremely large boom in the region, one which will eventually entangle the US and Russia and maybe even China.

That’s one good reason to stick around for a while and have an active hand in shaping the post-ISIS outcome in Syria. Besides, the US will have to have some presence in and about Syria if Bolton’s serious about this threat:

“There is absolutely no change in the U.S. position against the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and absolutely no change in our position that any use of chemical weapons would be met by a very strong response, as we’ve done twice before,” Bolton told reporters on his plane shortly before landing in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“So the regime, the Assad regime, should be under no illusions on that question,” said Bolton, who is on a four-day trip to Israel and Turkey. …

If chemical weapons were to be used, “a lot of options would be on the table … if they don’t heed the lessons of those two strikes the next one will be more telling,” Bolton said.

Thus far the Trump administration has shown it’s not bluffing on reprisals for violations of chemical-weapons bans, but Assad might be forgiven for any confusion on that point. Bolton’s warning sounds a lot different than Trump’s tweet two weeks ago while defending a total withdrawal:

It seems that Bolton thinks we’ll keep that role as “policeman of the Middle East” after all. And perhaps we won’t be exiting Syria as fast or as completely as Trump first declared, either.

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Brazil to move embassy to Jerusalem

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I’m old enough to remember when the idea of countries moving their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem was a huge controversy that swallowed up the news cycle. Whatever happened to that story? Well, it’s back in the news this week but we’re no longer talking about the United States. The new president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, announced yesterday that his country would be following suit and moving their embassy as well. This represents a huge shift from the nation’s previous leftist governments which went out their way to criticize Israel and embrace the Palestinians. (Free Beacon)

Brazil is set to become the third nation—after the U.S. and Guatemala—to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s newly inaugurated president, announced during a television interview Thursday that his country would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The decision comes shortly after a high-profile state visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Times of Israel.

“Israel is a sovereign state and we must respect it,” Bolsonaro told Brazi’s SBT. “Only Israelis have the right to decide what the capital of Israel will be.”

Asserting that the decision was “taken” and it was “only a matter of time [before] it would be implemented,” Bolsonaro stated that only “extremist Arab countries” would object to the move.

Bolsonaro is carrying through with many of the promises he made during the campaign and delivering a series of warning shots to various countries. In his remarks, he took a direct swipe at Iran, calling that nation an “extremist Arab country.” He’d previously asserted that “Palestine is not a nation” and there has already been speculation that he will reverse his predecessor’s decision to recognize Palestine and allow them to have an unofficial embassy in Brasília.

More than anything else, Bolsonaro seems to be sending signals that Brazil will be aligned with the United States and the west in general. He even referenced America – and President Trump – in his speech, saying that much of the Arab world was now falling in line with the west and shutting out Iran and her remaining allies. Since Trump was the one who decided to move the U.S. embassy, it’s not a surprise that Brazil’s new leader would mimic that decision. (The only other country to consider such a move recently was Australia but they haven’t set a date to physically relocate their embassy.)

Bolsonaro has already been labeled the “Trump of the Tropics” in the media and it’s a tag he seems proud to wear. If he’s trying to gain the American president’s notice and admiration it seems to be working. Trump praised him right after his inauguration and seemed to indicate that he would be a welcome guest in Washington.

Brazil is definitely undergoing a noticeable shift to the right this year and that’s good news for Israel. So what does Bolsonaro get out of all this? Probably a shot at a better trade deal with the United States. He’s also staking out a position critical of the tyrant regime in Venezuela. Whether or not this “new Brazil” will last beyond Bolsonaro’s tenure as president remains to be seen, but if the voters are happy with his performance over the next couple of years it could become a sustainable trend.

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