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Westlake Legal Group > Palestinians

Arab Parties Back Benny Gantz as Israeli Leader, to End Netanyahu’s Grip

Westlake Legal Group 22israel-facebookJumbo Arab Parties Back Benny Gantz as Israeli Leader, to End Netanyahu’s Grip Politics and Government Palestinians Odeh, Ayman (1975- ) Netanyahu, Benjamin Likud Party (Israel) Joint List (Israel) Israel Gantz, Benny Blue and White (Israeli Political Party) Appointments and Executive Changes

JERUSALEM — After 27 years of sitting out decisions on who should lead Israel, Arab lawmakers on Sunday recommended that Benny Gantz, the centrist former army chief, be given the first chance to form a government over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a watershed assertion of political power.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List, wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed published on Sunday that the alliance’s 13 incoming lawmakers — the third-largest faction in the newly elected Parliament — had decided to recommend Mr. Gantz because it would “create the majority needed to prevent another term for Mr. Netanyahu.”

“It should be the end of his political career,” Mr. Odeh wrote.

The Arab lawmakers’ recommendation, which Mr. Odeh and other members of the Joint List delivered to President Reuven Rivlin in a face-to-face meeting Sunday evening, reflected Arab citizens’ impatience to integrate more fully into Israeli society and to have their concerns be given greater weight by Israeli lawmakers.

“There is no doubt a historic aspect to what we are doing now,” Mr. Odeh said in the meeting with the president, which was broadcast live.

It was also a striking act of comeuppance for Mr. Netanyahu, who for years had rallied his right-wing supporters by inflaming anti-Arab sentiments. Before the Sept. 17 election, he accused Arab politicians of trying to steal the election and at one point accused them of wanting to “destroy us all.”

Israeli Arabs “have chosen to reject Benjamin Netanyahu, his politics of fear and hate, and the inequality and division he advanced for the past decade,” Mr. Odeh wrote in the Op-Ed for The Times.

Still, Mr. Odeh wrote that the Joint List would not enter a government led by Mr. Gantz because he had not agreed to embrace its entire “equality agenda” — fighting violent crime in Arab cities, changing housing and planning laws to treat Arab and Jewish neighborhoods the same, improving Arabs’ access to hospitals, increasing pensions, preventing violence against women, incorporating Arab villages that lack water and electricity, resuming peace talks with the Palestinians and repealing the law passed last year that declared Israel the nation-state only of the Jewish people.

The last time Arab lawmakers recommended a prime minister was in 1992, when two Arab parties with a total of five seats in Parliament recommended Yitzhak Rabin, though they did not join his government.

“We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens can no longer be rejected or ignored,” Mr. Odeh wrote.

In the 1992 election, Mr. Rabin initially held a narrow majority in the 120-seat Knesset even without the Arab parties’ support, though he came to rely on it a year later after Shas, an ultra-Orthodox party, quit the government when Mr. Rabin signed the Oslo peace accords.

Mr. Odeh wrote that the decision to support Mr. Gantz was meant as “a clear message that the only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Palestinian citizens.”

Mr. Gantz narrowly edged the prime minister in the national election last Tuesday. Afterward, both candidates called for unity, but differed on how to achieve it.

The former army chief appears to lack a 61-seat majority even with the Joint List’s support. He emerged from the election with 57 seats, including those of allies on the left and the Joint List, compared with 55 seats for Mr. Netanyahu and his right-wing allies.

Avigdor Liberman, leader of the secular, right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won eight seats, is in the position to be a kingmaker, but said on Sunday that he would not recommend any candidate. He said that Mr. Odeh and the Joint List were not merely political opponents, but “the enemies” and belonged in the “Parliament in Ramallah,” not in the Knesset.

Mr. Rivlin began hearing the recommendations of each major party Sunday evening and was to finish on Monday, before entrusting the task of forming a government to whichever candidate he believes has the best chance of being successful.

In remarks at the start of that process, Mr. Rivlin said the Israeli public wanted a unity government including both Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White party and Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Israeli Election Hinges on a Mosaic of Competing Groups

Israeli politics can be tribal, with loyalties to ethnic groups, religious factions and ideologies as strong a factor in voting as views on particular issues. Here’s a guide in words and pictures.

By

Photographs by

Sept. 17, 2019


JERUSALEM — Tuesday’s do-over election in Israel may not, by itself, decide who will be the next prime minister. That could take weeks of arduous coalition negotiations.

But the vote will almost certainly provide fresh evidence that the United States has nothing on this country when it comes to identity politics.

The April election was the first I’d covered as a foreign correspondent in Israel, and it shocked me that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly expressed desperation in the campaign’s final days and hours. At 11:25 p.m. on the night before votes were cast, he even had his American pollster join him on camera to declare, gravely, “Right now, we’re losing the race.”

In the United States, political candidates are programmed never to let the voters see them sweat, no matter how abysmal the poll numbers. In Israel, Mr. Netanyahu has perfected the art of setting his hair on fire and dialing 911 to get his voters to put out the flames.

There’s a reason this works so well for him. Israeli politics in many ways is tribal, and when a member of your tribe sounds the alarm, your instinct is to run to their aid.

Unlike the biblical tribes of Israel, these groups do not spring so much from bloodlines, but from loyalties to ethnic groups, religious brethren or ideology, and they erupt into plain view during election seasons.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160539459_ac35fea8-8400-44b0-a984-0a5352c20b29-articleLarge Israeli Election Hinges on a Mosaic of Competing Groups Zionism Voting and Voters Race and Ethnicity Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Legislatures and Parliaments Jews and Judaism Israel elections

An Israeli settler schoolgirl in the West Bank town of Hebron.

A rooftop bar in Tel Aviv, a bastion of secular liberalism.

President Reuven Rivlin took a stab at defining Israel’s tribes in a landmark speech in 2015, noting that secular Zionist Jews, once a majority, had dwindled to a large minority, as three other groups had grown: the ultra-Orthodox, the national-religious and Arab citizens.

“Israeli politics to a great extent is built as an intertribal zero-sum game,” he warned, urging all four groups to figure out a way to work in partnership. (They haven’t.)

A new book by Camil Fuchs and Shmuel Rosner, “#IsraeliJudaism,” categorizes the Jewish population along two axes: how strictly they follow religious tradition, or how Jewish they are; and how much they embrace Israel’s nationalist symbols and rites, or how Israeli they are. A majority, they find, strongly identifies with both, but many ultra-Orthodox reject nationalism and many secular Israelis reject Jewish religious practice.

What has made Mr. Netanyahu so formidable a force over the years is his melding of nationalists and the religious into a single, right-wing political bloc.

But Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the influential Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, identifies no fewer than 17 tribes in present-day Israel, breaking down the ultra-Orthodox according to their attitudes toward Zionism and modernity, so-called traditional Jews according to how much they adhere to Jewish ritual, and Arabs according to religion and whether they take pride in being citizens of Israel, among other cohorts.

“That’s why coalition government is so important,” Rabbi Hartman said. “Because when you have all of this, each group sees itself as a persecuted minority.”

Israel’s Do-Over Election: Déjà Vu or a Chance for Change?

Sept. 16, 2019

Just as President Trump relies on support from white, working-class Americans, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party draws much of its political strength from working-class Israelis, many of them Jews living in the so-called development towns on Israel’s periphery, where immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa were resettled beginning in the 1950s. These Mizrahi, or eastern, and Sephardic Jews, who account for around half the Jewish population of Israel, have long harbored resentments toward the European-descended, Ashkenazi liberal elite, who discriminated against them while governing Israel from its founding until the 1970s, when Likud first came to power.

Likud is not the only party that caters to Mizrahim: Shas, the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party, also attracts some of the many Mizrahi Jews who are “traditional” in their religious practice — a broad range of people who may not attend synagogue regularly but are perfectly at home there when they do, Rabbi Hartman said. And Labor’s Moroccan-born leader merged the party with one led by the daughter of a Moroccan-born former Likud leader, but its politics remain anathema to most Mizrahi voters.

Mizrahi, or eastern, Jews at the Tomb of Baba Sali in Netivot, Israel.
A Mizrahi child receives the ritual first haircut at the tomb of Baba Sali.
A weekend market in the largely Mizrahi city of Sderot.

To tourists who enjoy Tel Aviv’s beaches and nightclubs and never venture farther afield, Israel can seem a bastion of ultraliberalism that is difficult to reconcile with the country’s right-wing national politics.

And to Tel Aviv’s largely secular population, the election is a battle to stop Mr. Netanyahu from undermining Israeli democracy for the sake of retaining power and from allowing the ultrareligious, through their influence on government agencies, to try to brainwash their children into becoming observant Jews. Secular Israelis have been sounding the alarm to preserve an open-minded, live-and-let-live Israel before it is too late.

A major problem for secular Israelis, who are no longer the political force they once were, is that their votes are being split among too many parties. For the first time, what remains of the storied Labor Party may not clear the threshold to be seated in Parliament. The fledgling left-wing Democratic Union is in similar shape. Both have been threatened by Blue and White, the centrist party that is vying to topple Mr. Netanyahu but is vacuuming up the votes of many on the left.

To tourists who never venture past  Tel Aviv’s beaches and nightclubs, it can be difficult to reconcile the city’s liberalism with the country’s right-wing national politics. 
Israelis wait to meet political candidates at a bar in Tel Aviv.
People enjoy a sunset on the beach in Tel Aviv.

The most outwardly recognizable tribe because of their traditional black-and-white attire, the ultra-Orthodox, also known as Haredi Jews, vote en masse, generally heeding the instructions of their rabbis — which means that Sephardic ultra-Orthodox back Shas and the Ashkenazi support United Torah Judaism.

Their ability to turn out the vote is the envy of other tribes: Bnei Brak, a Haredi city, reported a stunning 77 percent turnout in the April election. And it is the source of their political power, which among other things has given them exemptions from military service, financial subsidies and rabbinical control of marriage, divorce and religious conversions.

In a small country, having a party that represents the ultra-Orthodox means being able to seek help from someone in power who shares a similar worldview, said Binyamin Rose, a U.T.J. voter who is editor at large of Mishpacha Magazine. “If I need something, who am I going to go to?” he said. “If I go to Likud, they’ll take one look at me and say, ‘Why should we help you?’”

A growing number of ultra-Orthodox are stepping out of their insular, yeshiva-centered communities, serving in the army or taking jobs at technology companies, and engaging with broader society. But the current battle between secular politicians and the religious is driving many back to the fold.

“We’re closing ranks,” Mr. Rose said. “They say, ‘This is who represents me.’

Ultra-Orthodox Jews at a rally for the United Torah Judaism party. 
Ultra-Orthodox Jews rally in Jerusalem for United Torah Judaism, the main party for Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews.
The ulta-Orthodox, or Haredim, tend to vote as blocs, generally heeding the instructions of their rabbis.

Perhaps the most interesting tribal warfare of this campaign has been for the votes of religious Zionists, about 12 percent of the Jewish population. These Sabbath-observant Israelis encompass a broad range of views, but most tilt to the right, and include the ideological foot soldiers of the settlement enterprise.

By promising last week to annex a large portion of the West Bank, Mr. Netanyahu was making a play for these voters, whose natural home is the Yamina, or rightward, party. Yamina argues that it needs a large contingent in Parliament to force Mr. Netanyahu to keep his promises.

But Yamina is also having to protect its own right flank from an even more extreme faction, Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power — an overtly anti-Arab party whose leaders call themselves disciples of Meir Kahane, the Brooklyn-born militant who was assassinated in 1990 and whose Kach party was outlawed in Israel and declared a terrorist group by the United States.

The leader of Otzma Yehudit, Itamar Ben Gvir, is demanding a cabinet post if the party makes it into Parliament and delivers its support to Mr. Netanyahu.

The Jewish settlement of Efrat, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. National-religious Jews tend to support West Bank settlements.
Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron at an election rally for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A farm in the Jewish settlement of Itamar, near the West Bank city of Nablus. 

The wild card in this election, Arab citizens of Israel make up about one-sixth of the eligible voting population, and they vote in large numbers in municipal elections. But only 49 percent voted in April, a record low, and turnout is not expected to rise dramatically on Tuesday.

Arabs give plenty of reasons for not participating in the Israeli political system: in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, in reaction to Zionist parties’ refusal to consider including Arab parties in a governing coalition, or out of impatience with Arab lawmakers’ focus on the Palestinians’ problems rather than their own voters’ needs. But Arab and center-left Jewish politicians are at least making an effort to woo them, by promising to address crime, housing shortages and other tangible problems in their communities.

Arab citizens of Israel at a wedding in Baqa al Gharbiye.
A mosque in Jisr al Zarqa, an Israeli Arab town on the Mediterranean coast.
Arab Israelis make up about one sixth of eligible voters. 

For a while, it seemed as if the premiership might be decided in places like Bat Yam, a seaside town heavily populated by immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Mr. Netanyahu has tried to make inroads with supporters of Avigdor Liberman, the Moldova-born leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, after Mr. Liberman refused to join Mr. Netanayhu’s coalition after the April election. Mr. Liberman’s refusal to compromise with the prime minister’s ultra-Orthodox allies prevented Mr. Netanyahu from forming a government and precipitated the new elections.

Mr. Liberman’s Russian-speaking supporters, who have backed him for more than 20 years, do not appear to be deserting him. But they are aging, and their children are fully Israeli and vote for a variety of parties, prompting Mr. Liberman to reinvent himself as a champion of secular Israelis, whatever their native tongues.

One hot-button issue, among many: the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens, including many former Soviet immigrants and their offspring, who are considered Jewish by the state but not by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate, meaning they cannot get married in Israel.

Israel Ditman, 94, a World War II veteran from Russia who emigrated to Israel in 1995, at his home in Rehovot.
Israelis of Russian origin at a cultural gathering in Tel Aviv. 
A Russian bookshop in Tel Aviv. 

Not every tribe in Israel can muster enough votes to gain representation in Parliament through its own party. The roughly 130,000 Ethiopian-Jewish Israelis have yet to wield much muscle in politics, despite the election of a handful to the Knesset since the waves of immigration in the 1980s and in 1991.

But after a string of fatal police shootings, they are working hard to assert themselves politically, with frequent protests against police brutality aimed at forcing a national reckoning with what black Israelis say is a history of racism.

Ethiopian Israelis protested police violence and discrimination in Netanya.
Ethiopian women at a sewing class in  Sderot. 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Israeli Vote Hinges on a Mosaic of Competing Groups

Israeli politics can be tribal, with loyalties to ethnic groups, religious factions and ideologies as strong a factor in voting as views on particular issues. Here’s a guide in words and pictures.

By

Photographs by

Sept. 17, 2019


JERUSALEM — Tuesday’s do-over election in Israel may not, by itself, decide who will be the next prime minister. That could take weeks of arduous coalition negotiations.

But the vote will almost certainly provide fresh evidence that the United States has nothing on this country when it comes to identity politics.

The April election was the first I’d covered as a foreign correspondent in Israel, and it shocked me that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly expressed desperation in the campaign’s final days and hours. At 11:25 p.m. on the night before votes were cast, he even had his American pollster join him on camera to declare, gravely, “Right now, we’re losing the race.”

In the United States, political candidates are programmed never to let the voters see them sweat, no matter how abysmal the poll numbers. In Israel, Mr. Netanyahu has perfected the art of setting his hair on fire and dialing 911 to get his voters to put out the flames.

There’s a reason this works so well for him. Israeli politics in many ways is tribal, and when a member of your tribe sounds the alarm, your instinct is to run to their aid.

Unlike the biblical tribes of Israel, these groups do not spring so much from bloodlines, but from loyalties to ethnic groups, religious brethren or ideology, and they erupt into plain view during election seasons.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160539459_ac35fea8-8400-44b0-a984-0a5352c20b29-articleLarge Israeli Vote Hinges on a Mosaic of Competing Groups Zionism Voting and Voters Race and Ethnicity Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Legislatures and Parliaments Jews and Judaism Israel elections

An Israeli settler schoolgirl in the West Bank town of Hebron.

A rooftop bar in Tel Aviv, a bastion of secular liberalism.

President Reuven Rivlin took a stab at defining Israel’s tribes in a landmark speech in 2015, noting that secular Zionist Jews, once a majority, had dwindled to a large minority, as three other groups had grown: the ultra-Orthodox, the national-religious and Arab citizens.

“Israeli politics to a great extent is built as an intertribal zero-sum game,” he warned, urging all four groups to figure out a way to work in partnership. (They haven’t.)

A new book by Camil Fuchs and Shmuel Rosner, “#IsraeliJudaism,” categorizes the Jewish population along two axes: how strictly they follow religious tradition, or how Jewish they are; and how much they embrace Israel’s nationalist symbols and rites, or how Israeli they are. A majority, they find, strongly identifies with both, but many ultra-Orthodox reject nationalism and many secular Israelis reject Jewish religious practice.

What has made Mr. Netanyahu so formidable a force over the years is his melding of nationalists and the religious into a single, right-wing political bloc.

But Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the influential Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, identifies no fewer than 17 tribes in present-day Israel, breaking down the ultra-Orthodox according to their attitudes toward Zionism and modernity, so-called traditional Jews according to how much they adhere to Jewish ritual, and Arabs according to religion and whether they take pride in being citizens of Israel, among other cohorts.

“That’s why coalition government is so important,” Rabbi Hartman said. “Because when you have all of this, each group sees itself as a persecuted minority.”

Israel’s Do-Over Election: Déjà Vu or a Chance for Change?

Sept. 16, 2019

Just as President Trump relies on support from white, working-class Americans, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party draws much of its political strength from working-class Israelis, many of them Jews living in the so-called development towns on Israel’s periphery, where immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa were resettled beginning in the 1950s. These Mizrahi, or eastern, and Sephardic Jews, who account for around half the Jewish population of Israel, have long harbored resentments toward the European-descended, Ashkenazi liberal elite, who discriminated against them while governing Israel from its founding until the 1970s, when Likud first came to power.

Likud is not the only party that caters to Mizrahim: Shas, the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party, also attracts some of the many Mizrahi Jews who are “traditional” in their religious practice — a broad range of people who may not attend synagogue regularly but are perfectly at home there when they do, Rabbi Hartman said. And Labor’s Moroccan-born leader merged the party with one led by the daughter of a Moroccan-born former Likud leader, but its politics remain anathema to most Mizrahi voters.

Mizrahi, or eastern, Jews at the Tomb of Baba Sali in Netivot, Israel.
A Mizrahi child receives the ritual first haircut at the tomb of Baba Sali.
A weekend market in the largely Mizrahi city of Sderot.

To tourists who enjoy Tel Aviv’s beaches and nightclubs and never venture farther afield, Israel can seem a bastion of ultraliberalism that is difficult to reconcile with the country’s right-wing national politics.

And to Tel Aviv’s largely secular population, the election is a battle to stop Mr. Netanyahu from undermining Israeli democracy for the sake of retaining power and from allowing the ultrareligious, through their influence on government agencies, to try to brainwash their children into becoming observant Jews. Secular Israelis have been sounding the alarm to preserve an open-minded, live-and-let-live Israel before it is too late.

A major problem for secular Israelis, who are no longer the political force they once were, is that their votes are being split among too many parties. For the first time, what remains of the storied Labor Party may not clear the threshold to be seated in Parliament. The fledgling left-wing Democratic Union is in similar shape. Both have been threatened by Blue and White, the centrist party that is vying to topple Mr. Netanyahu but is vacuuming up the votes of many on the left.

To tourists who never venture past  Tel Aviv’s beaches and nightclubs, it can be difficult to reconcile the city’s liberalism with the country’s right-wing national politics. 
Israelis wait to meet political candidates at a bar in Tel Aviv.
People enjoy a sunset on the beach in Tel Aviv.

The most outwardly recognizable tribe because of their traditional black-and-white attire, the ultra-Orthodox, also known as Haredi Jews, vote en masse, generally heeding the instructions of their rabbis — which means that Sephardic ultra-Orthodox back Shas and the Ashkenazi support United Torah Judaism.

Their ability to turn out the vote is the envy of other tribes: Bnei Brak, a Haredi city, reported a stunning 77 percent turnout in the April election. And it is the source of their political power, which among other things has given them exemptions from military service, financial subsidies and rabbinical control of marriage, divorce and religious conversions.

In a small country, having a party that represents the ultra-Orthodox means being able to seek help from someone in power who shares a similar worldview, said Binyamin Rose, a U.T.J. voter who is editor at large of Mishpacha Magazine. “If I need something, who am I going to go to?” he said. “If I go to Likud, they’ll take one look at me and say, ‘Why should we help you?’”

A growing number of ultra-Orthodox are stepping out of their insular, yeshiva-centered communities, serving in the army or taking jobs at technology companies, and engaging with broader society. But the current battle between secular politicians and the religious is driving many back to the fold.

“We’re closing ranks,” Mr. Rose said. “They say, ‘This is who represents me.’

Ultra-Orthodox Jews at a rally for the United Torah Judaism party. 
Ultra-Orthodox Jews rally in Jerusalem for United Torah Judaism, the main party for Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews.
The ulta-Orthodox, or Haredim, tend to vote as blocs, generally heeding the instructions of their rabbis.

Perhaps the most interesting tribal warfare of this campaign has been for the votes of religious Zionists, about 12 percent of the Jewish population. These Sabbath-observant Israelis encompass a broad range of views, but most tilt to the right, and include the ideological foot soldiers of the settlement enterprise.

By promising last week to annex a large portion of the West Bank, Mr. Netanyahu was making a play for these voters, whose natural home is the Yamina, or rightward, party. Yamina argues that it needs a large contingent in Parliament to force Mr. Netanyahu to keep his promises.

But Yamina is also having to protect its own right flank from an even more extreme faction, Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power — an overtly anti-Arab party whose leaders call themselves disciples of Meir Kahane, the Brooklyn-born militant who was assassinated in 1990 and whose Kach party was outlawed in Israel and declared a terrorist group by the United States.

The leader of Otzma Yehudit, Itamar Ben Gvir, is demanding a cabinet post if the party makes it into Parliament and delivers its support to Mr. Netanyahu.

The Jewish settlement of Efrat, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. National-religious Jews tend to support West Bank settlements.
Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron at an election rally for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A farm in the Jewish settlement of Itamar, near the West Bank city of Nablus. 

The wild card in this election, Arab citizens of Israel make up about one-sixth of the eligible voting population, and they vote in large numbers in municipal elections. But only 49 percent voted in April, a record low, and turnout is not expected to rise dramatically on Tuesday.

Arabs give plenty of reasons for not participating in the Israeli political system: in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, in reaction to Zionist parties’ refusal to consider including Arab parties in a governing coalition, or out of impatience with Arab lawmakers’ focus on the Palestinians’ problems rather than their own voters’ needs. But Arab and center-left Jewish politicians are at least making an effort to woo them, by promising to address crime, housing shortages and other tangible problems in their communities.

Arab citizens of Israel at a wedding in Baqa al Gharbiye.
A mosque in Jisr al Zarqa, an Israeli Arab town on the Mediterranean coast.
Arab Israelis make up about one sixth of eligible voters. 

For a while, it seemed as if the premiership might be decided in places like Bat Yam, a seaside town heavily populated by immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Mr. Netanyahu has tried to make inroads with supporters of Avigdor Liberman, the Moldova-born leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, after Mr. Liberman refused to join Mr. Netanayhu’s coalition after the April election. Mr. Liberman’s refusal to compromise with the prime minister’s ultra-Orthodox allies prevented Mr. Netanyahu from forming a government and precipitated the new elections.

Mr. Liberman’s Russian-speaking supporters, who have backed him for more than 20 years, do not appear to be deserting him. But they are aging, and their children are fully Israeli and vote for a variety of parties, prompting Mr. Liberman to reinvent himself as a champion of secular Israelis, whatever their native tongues.

One hot-button issue, among many: the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens, including many former Soviet immigrants and their offspring, who are considered Jewish by the state but not by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate, meaning they cannot get married in Israel.

Israel Ditman, 94, a World War II veteran from Russia who emigrated to Israel in 1995, at his home in Rehovot.
Israelis of Russian origin at a cultural gathering in Tel Aviv. 
A Russian bookshop in Tel Aviv. 

Not every tribe in Israel can muster enough votes to gain representation in Parliament through its own party. The roughly 130,000 Ethiopian-Jewish Israelis have yet to wield much muscle in politics, despite the election of a handful to the Knesset since the waves of immigration in the 1980s and in 1991.

But after a string of fatal police shootings, they are working hard to assert themselves politically, with frequent protests against police brutality aimed at forcing a national reckoning with what black Israelis say is a history of racism.

Ethiopian Israelis protested police violence and discrimination in Netanya.
Ethiopian women at a sewing class in  Sderot. 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move swiftly to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if voters returned him to power in the election next week, seizing what he called a historic opportunity from a sympathetic White House to give Israel “secure, permanent borders.”

His plan to annex territory along the Jordan River would reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals on the left and right largely greeted the announcement, made in the heat of a campaign in which he is battling for survival, as a transparent political ploy.

Mr. Netanyahu said he planned to annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and that he would move immediately after forming a new government to annex the Jordan Valley, a strategic and fertile strip of territory along the border with Jordan that runs from Beit Shean in northern Israel to the shores of the Dead Sea.

He said he wanted to capitalize on what he called the “unique, one-off opportunity” afforded him by the Trump administration, which has expressed openness to Israeli annexation of at least parts of the West Bank.

“We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six Day War, and I doubt we’ll have another opportunity in the next 50 years,” Mr. Netanyahu said at a news conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. “Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders.”

Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers it occupied territory and Israeli settlements or annexations there to be illegal.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is in a dead heat or slightly behind in the polls against Benny Gantz, a centrist former army chief of staff, has tried mightily to shift the focus of the election from the corruption cases against him to his strong suit: national security.

Westlake Legal Group map-720 Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Mediterranean Sea

Proposed

annexation

Jordan River

GAZA

STRIP

Westlake Legal Group map-460 Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Mediterranean Sea

Proposed

annexation

Jordan

River

GAZA

STRIP

Westlake Legal Group map-335 Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Mediterranean

Sea

Jordan

River

Proposed

annexation

GAZA

STRIP

Source: Government of Israel

By The New York Times

But Tuesday’s announcement was a daring bid to bring the Palestinian conflict back to center stage in the election campaign. The issue has largely receded from Israeli electoral politics because few voters believe a peace process has any chance.

This was not the first time Mr. Netanyahu has promised annexation days before an election. Before the previous election, in April, in which he was also fighting to shore up right-wing support, he announced his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, but he gave no specifics and no timetable.

This time, Mr. Netanyahu boasted that thanks to “my personal relationship with President Trump, I will be able to annex all the settlements in the heart of our homeland.”

The White House said in a statement that there was “no change in United States policy at this time,” and confirmed that the administration’s long-promised Middle East peace plan would be released after the election.

Saeb Erekat, the longtime chief Palestinian negotiator, warned Tuesday night that if Mr. Netanyahu manages to put through his plan, he will have “succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

He added that unilateral annexation of occupied territory was a war crime. “The Israeli, the international community must stop such madness,” he said. “We need to end the conflict and not to keep it for another 100 years.”

In a possible sign of Palestinian displeasure, rockets fired from Gaza later Tuesday night set off alarms in southern Israel, including in Ashdod, where Mr. Netanyahu was hustled offstage by bodyguards to take cover in the middle of a campaign speech.

Reaction to Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement was muted in the Arab world, where the Palestinian cause no longer stirs the passions it once did.

[Why the Arab world isn’t outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank vow.]

Palestinians see the Jordan Valley as their future breadbasket. Israel’s critics say it has been steadily uprooting Arab farmers and herders from the area.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160556991_963f6286-799f-4c92-89ef-add42b0970c8-articleLarge Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he wants to swiftly annex the Jordan Valley, which accounts for nearly a third of the occupied West Bank.CreditOded Balilty/Associated Press

Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel under Republican and Democratic administrations, said there was a consensus within Israel’s national-security establishment that Israel should retain control of the valley for some period after a peace treaty is signed, to ensure that the Palestinians continue to cooperate with Israel to maintain security.

But unilateral annexation was another thing, he said.

“If Netanyahu now says forever,” Mr. Kurtzer said, “this clearly will not be acceptable to any present or future Palestinian leader.”

As for the American support, Daniel B. Shapiro, the former ambassador to Israel under President Obama, warned that any celebration of a Trump recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank could be short-lived. “A Democratic successor to Trump would certainly withdraw U.S. recognition,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s gambit also met deep skepticism among Israeli analysts, who said he has frequently made election-eve promises that went unfulfilled, and noted that earlier right-wing attempts at annexing parts of the West Bank were blocked by none other than him.

But his career could end if he does not siphon enough votes from parties to his right in the campaign’s final days, and his announcement was clearly aimed at tempting Israelis who support annexing the West Bank into giving him the benefit of the doubt.

His main opponents from the center — Mr. Gantz and the other former army chiefs who are running in his Blue and White party — have said publicly that Israel must not yield the Jordan Valley for security reasons, leaving them little room to challenge his plan.

In a speech late Tuesday, Mr. Gantz looked past the specific proposal to assail Mr. Netanyahu for damaging the long-term relationship with the United States by exploiting it for short-term political needs.

“Netanyahu is using and hurting the ties between Israel and the U.S.” he said. “He is harming our ties with the Jewish community in the U.S. He is linking our politics with the Americans, and this is wrong. Our ties are strategic, these connections are deep and vital and are based on shared interests and not on election-time deals.”

Several American Jewish groups supporting a two-state solution immediately condemned Mr. Netanyahu’s plan.

Mr. Netanyahu visiting an Israeli army post overlooking the Jordan Valley in June with John R. Bolton, then President Trump’s national security adviser.CreditAbir Sultan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“These are unilateral moves endangering Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and further limiting the possibility of a two-state solution,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement. “Such serious pronouncements don’t belong in the final week of a heated campaign.”

[Why is the Jordan Valley strategically important? A closer look.]

In Israel, nearly half of Jewish Israelis have said they would favor annexation if it were supported by the Trump administration, one recent poll found. Fewer than three in 10 said they were opposed.

Settler groups welcomed Mr. Netanyahu’s call for a mandate to annex territory, but they too were dubious. “The true test will be in actions, not announcements,” Regavim, a pro-settlement group that fights Palestinian construction on the West Bank, said in a statement.

Yamina, the right-wing party led by Mr. Netanyahu’s former justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, challenged Mr. Netanyahu to bring his annexation plan before the current government within hours, “otherwise everyone in Israel will know this is nothing but a cheap political spin.”

The election on Tuesday is taking place because Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition after the April ballot when a onetime ally, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, refused to join him.

Mr. Lieberman mocked Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement afterward in a two-word tweet alluding to how it had been advertised: “Dramatic statement,” he said, adding two emojis showing tears of laughter.

Advocates of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, who have been warning that annexation would ultimately be disastrous for Israel, said Tuesday that a move like the one Mr. Netanyahu was proposing could be enough to drive the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, either to abandon its security cooperation with Israel on the West Bank or to fold up its tents altogether.

Either action could lead to violence that could force Israel to send troops back into territory where Palestinians have largely policed themselves under the quarter-century-old Oslo peace accords, said Nimrod Novik, a veteran Israeli negotiator.

“Unlike many of his coalition colleagues, Netanyahu cannot get a pass for not understanding the potentially devastating consequences,” Mr. Novik said. “Consequently, risking chaos on the West Bank and likely spillover to Gaza is worse than reckless. It is stupid.”

“If it is just electioneering, it signals panic,” he added. “If there is a risk that he will make good on it, that is probably the most important reason to hope that he is not re-elected.”

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Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move swiftly to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if voters returned him to power in the election next week, seizing what he called a historic opportunity from a sympathetic White House to give Israel “secure, permanent borders.”

His plan to annex territory along the Jordan River would reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals on the left and right largely greeted the announcement, made in the heat of a campaign in which he is battling for survival, as a transparent political ploy.

Mr. Netanyahu said he planned to annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and that he would move immediately after forming a new government to annex the Jordan Valley, a strategic and fertile strip of territory along the border with Jordan that runs from Beit Shean in northern Israel to the shores of the Dead Sea.

He said he wanted to capitalize on what he called the “unique, one-off opportunity” afforded him by the Trump administration, which has expressed openness to Israeli annexation of at least parts of the West Bank.

“We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six Day War, and I doubt we’ll have another opportunity in the next 50 years,” Mr. Netanyahu said at a news conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. “Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders.”

Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers it occupied territory and Israeli settlements or annexations there to be illegal.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is in a dead heat or slightly behind in the polls against Benny Gantz, a centrist former army chief of staff, has tried mightily to shift the focus of the election from the corruption cases against him to his strong suit: national security.

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But Tuesday’s announcement was a daring bid to bring the Palestinian conflict back to center stage in the election campaign. The issue has largely receded from Israeli electoral politics because few voters believe a peace process has any chance.

This was not the first time Mr. Netanyahu has promised annexation days before an election. Before the previous election, in April, in which he was also fighting to shore up right-wing support, he announced his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, but he gave no specifics and no timetable.

This time, Mr. Netanyahu boasted that thanks to “my personal relationship with President Trump, I will be able to annex all the settlements in the heart of our homeland.”

The White House said in a statement that there was “no change in United States policy at this time,” and confirmed that the administration’s long-promised Middle East peace plan would be released after the election.

Saeb Erekat, the longtime chief Palestinian negotiator, warned Tuesday night that if Mr. Netanyahu manages to put through his plan, he will have “succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

He added that unilateral annexation of occupied territory was a war crime. “The Israeli, the international community must stop such madness,” he said. “We need to end the conflict and not to keep it for another 100 years.”

In a possible sign of Palestinian displeasure, rockets fired from Gaza later Tuesday night set off alarms in southern Israel, including in Ashdod, where Mr. Netanyahu was hustled offstage by bodyguards to take cover in the middle of a campaign speech.

Reaction to Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement was muted in the Arab world, where the Palestinian cause no longer stirs the passions it once did.

[Why the Arab world isn’t outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank vow.]

Palestinians see the Jordan Valley as their future breadbasket. Israel’s critics say it has been steadily uprooting Arab farmers and herders from the area.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160556991_963f6286-799f-4c92-89ef-add42b0970c8-articleLarge Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he wants to swiftly annex the Jordan Valley, which accounts for nearly a third of the occupied West Bank.CreditOded Balilty/Associated Press

Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel under Republican and Democratic administrations, said there was a consensus within Israel’s national-security establishment that Israel should retain control of the valley for some period after a peace treaty is signed, to ensure that the Palestinians continue to cooperate with Israel to maintain security.

But unilateral annexation was another thing, he said.

“If Netanyahu now says forever,” Mr. Kurtzer said, “this clearly will not be acceptable to any present or future Palestinian leader.”

As for the American support, Daniel B. Shapiro, the former ambassador to Israel under President Obama, warned that any celebration of a Trump recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank could be short-lived. “A Democratic successor to Trump would certainly withdraw U.S. recognition,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s gambit also met deep skepticism among Israeli analysts, who said he has frequently made election-eve promises that went unfulfilled, and noted that earlier right-wing attempts at annexing parts of the West Bank were blocked by none other than him.

But his career could end if he does not siphon enough votes from parties to his right in the campaign’s final days, and his announcement was clearly aimed at tempting Israelis who support annexing the West Bank into giving him the benefit of the doubt.

His main opponents from the center — Mr. Gantz and the other former army chiefs who are running in his Blue and White party — have said publicly that Israel must not yield the Jordan Valley for security reasons, leaving them little room to challenge his plan.

In a speech late Tuesday, Mr. Gantz looked past the specific proposal to assail Mr. Netanyahu for damaging the long-term relationship with the United States by exploiting it for short-term political needs.

“Netanyahu is using and hurting the ties between Israel and the U.S.” he said. “He is harming our ties with the Jewish community in the U.S. He is linking our politics with the Americans, and this is wrong. Our ties are strategic, these connections are deep and vital and are based on shared interests and not on election-time deals.”

Several American Jewish groups supporting a two-state solution immediately condemned Mr. Netanyahu’s plan.

Mr. Netanyahu visiting an Israeli army post overlooking the Jordan Valley in June with John R. Bolton, then President Trump’s national security adviser.CreditAbir Sultan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“These are unilateral moves endangering Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and further limiting the possibility of a two-state solution,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement. “Such serious pronouncements don’t belong in the final week of a heated campaign.”

[Why is the Jordan Valley strategically important? A closer look.]

In Israel, nearly half of Jewish Israelis have said they would favor annexation if it were supported by the Trump administration, one recent poll found. Fewer than three in 10 said they were opposed.

Settler groups welcomed Mr. Netanyahu’s call for a mandate to annex territory, but they too were dubious. “The true test will be in actions, not announcements,” Regavim, a pro-settlement group that fights Palestinian construction on the West Bank, said in a statement.

Yamina, the right-wing party led by Mr. Netanyahu’s former justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, challenged Mr. Netanyahu to bring his annexation plan before the current government within hours, “otherwise everyone in Israel will know this is nothing but a cheap political spin.”

The election on Tuesday is taking place because Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition after the April ballot when a onetime ally, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, refused to join him.

Mr. Lieberman mocked Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement afterward in a two-word tweet alluding to how it had been advertised: “Dramatic statement,” he said, adding two emojis showing tears of laughter.

Advocates of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, who have been warning that annexation would ultimately be disastrous for Israel, said Tuesday that a move like the one Mr. Netanyahu was proposing could be enough to drive the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, either to abandon its security cooperation with Israel on the West Bank or to fold up its tents altogether.

Either action could lead to violence that could force Israel to send troops back into territory where Palestinians have largely policed themselves under the quarter-century-old Oslo peace accords, said Nimrod Novik, a veteran Israeli negotiator.

“Unlike many of his coalition colleagues, Netanyahu cannot get a pass for not understanding the potentially devastating consequences,” Mr. Novik said. “Consequently, risking chaos on the West Bank and likely spillover to Gaza is worse than reckless. It is stupid.”

“If it is just electioneering, it signals panic,” he added. “If there is a risk that he will make good on it, that is probably the most important reason to hope that he is not re-elected.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Netanyahu: I’ll annex the Jordan Valley if you re-elect me

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“Dramatic announcement,” or restatement of longstanding Israeli policy? Either way, Benjamin Netanyahu’s timing seems calculated for turning out right-leaning voters in the upcoming Israeli elections. The PM pledged to impose “sovereignty” over the entire Jordan Valley in his next term, assuming he gets one:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel in a dramatic announcement on Tuesday that he has a commitment from the United States that, “if you elect me,” he will be able to instigate Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.

Netanyahu had announced earlier in the day that he will make a “dramatic announcement” at 5 PM. It was later postponed until sometime after 6 PM. In the meantime, the White House announced that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will brief the press – alongside National Security Adviser John Bolton – at 1:30 PM (EST).

Netanyahu had earlier pledged to annex the West Bank settlements in an effort to expand his appeal among conservative Israelis. This goes farther in both claimed land and strategic positioning, essentially making everything except the Palestinian cities within the West Bank part of Israel. Netanyahu stressed the need for a defensive “belt” and pledged never to return to the 1948 border lines:

“We are on the eve of the elections. President Trump said he will present his Deal of the Century few days after the election and it is just around the corner. This presents us with a great challenge and a great opportunity to apply Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria and other areas,” Netanyahu said. …

“There is one place that Israeli sovereignty can be applied immediately after the elections if Israeli citizens let me in. Today I announce my intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea,” he declared.

“This will be our defensive belt to the east. It ensures that we will never be a country a few miles wide,” Netanyahu said.

In making the announcement, Netanyahu claimed that the US would help coordinate the application of sovereignty, although he added an odd caveat:

“I request a mandate to apply Jewish sovereignty to all communities and I intend to do so in coordination with the United States,” he said, adding that the U.S. would present its long-awaited Israel-Palestinian peace plan a few days after the election.

“If I choose, I will contain Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea. This will be the first step if I choose,” he said.

“If I choose” seems like a strange addition to a promise, and it suggests that this may be a bit more than an electoral tactic. It might be part of a PR strategy for the US as the Trump administration seeks to get Palestinian buy-in on its version of a peace plan. Netanyahu might be playing ‘bad cop’ with this “dramatic announcement” of annexing the Jordan Valley as a means to get the Palestinians looking toward Washington to head off such a change.

Thus far, the Palestinians are reacting exactly how one would expect, demanding international sanctions on Israel for their “crimes.” The Palestinian Authority had hoped to head off such a move by incentivizing the colonization of the Jordan Valley, the Palestinian PM announced three weeks ago. That prompted the Israelis on the Jordan Valley Regional Council to demand action from the Netanyahu government to stave off a major demographic shift ahead of any peace plan that might get adopted for the West Bank:

Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Lahiani and the right-wing NGO Regavim have long held that they were fighting to maintain Israel’s hold on Area C, including the Jordan Valley.

The Palestinians are now embarking on a campaign with regard to the Jordan Valley, because they fear that US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, known as the “Deal of the Century,” will include placing the Jordan Valley within Israel’s sovereign borders.

“The Palestinians are very scared of the Deal of the Century,” Lahiani told The Jerusalem Post. …

The PA holds that the Jordan Valley and all of Area C, which is now under Israeli military and civilian control, must be part of their future state.

That’s the acute context for Netanyahu’s announcement, but the “if I choose” qualifier might mean something else, too. It’s not uncommon for Israeli politicians to make statements of purpose regarding the West Bank during elections, only to deal more in reality afterward. That was seen in Netanyahu’s earlier promise to integrate the Israeli settlements into the state of Israel rather than leaving them operating under military control, but Netanyahu made a similar promise in April in the previous elections. It didn’t help then:

For most of his time as Israel’s leader, Netanyahu has refrained from making outright statements about annexation of the West Bank, despite pressure from those who live in the settlements, a comparatively small but politically powerful sector of society.

Similar comments during the previous round of elections in April were seen by many as another empty campaign promise. The April election ended in a stalemate three months ago when Netanyahu, whose ruling Likud party won the largest share of the votes, failed to pull together a stable coalition.

That might be the same this time around, especially since Netanyahu could have taken this step earlier even without an operating Knesset majority:

Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, said “it was far from clear if such a promise will materialize.”

“If the prime minister wanted to, he could take this action right now with a mere cabinet decision. It does not require Knesset legislation,” Kontorovich said. “So it is unclear what the value of a mere speech is.”

All eyes will now turn to the Trump administration’s “deal of the century,” as well as the elections next week. Whether Netanyahu is serious about this may well depend on how many seats he needs to form a majority coalition — and whether John Bolton’s exit impacts the proposal coming from the White House. Bolton was an advocate for Israel retaining the Jordan Valley, and it remains to be seen whether others within the administration see that as essential as Bolton did.

The post Netanyahu: I’ll annex the Jordan Valley if you re-elect me appeared first on Hot Air.

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Why the Arab World Isn’t Outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank Vow

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BEIRUT — At one time, if the prime minister of Israel had vowed to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, the unilateral promise would have set off outrage across the Arab world.

Not today.

The reasons for the muted response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election promise on Tuesday were many: It was seen as a late-game appeal by Mr. Netanyahu to right-wing voters. Israel already has de facto control of the territory in question. And the Palestinian cause no longer stirs passions across the region as it once did.

“Yes they care,” the Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab said of Arabs in other countries. “But will they move their troops? No. Are they going to withdraw their money from American banks? No.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s vow comes after strategic shifts in the Middle East have pushed the Palestinian cause down the priority list of many Arab leaders and their peoples. It also follows President Trump’s endorsement of a number of unilateral steps by Israel toward other disputed territories.

Across the region, Arab states like Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iraq are still reeling from the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings and the fight against the Islamic State, leaving them more focused on internal issues. And Persian Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia, which once staunchly backed the Palestinians, now worry more about Iran’s regional influence, a concern they share with Israel.

Those changes have left the Palestinians with fewer Arab allies willing to stand up for their cause.

“For the most part, the Palestinian issue has fallen off the agenda,” said Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of a book about American involvement in the conflict.

Arab leaders may also avoid denouncing Mr. Netanyahu and his plans because they are unwilling or unable to confront him.

“It raises expectations,” Mr. Elgindy said. “If they say, ‘We oppose this. This is terrible,’ then there is an expectation from their people that they will do something about it.”

That does not mean that the Arab public does not care, he said. Support for the idea of a Palestinian state remains a rare issue that still generates broad consensus across the Arab world, even if people are not out protesting about it.

The issue is particularly sensitive for Jordan, a close United States ally that has a peace treaty with Israel but sits across the Jordan River from the very territory Mr. Netanyahu seeks to annex.

On Tuesday, Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, criticized Mr. Netanyahu’s vow on Twitter as “a serious escalation that undermines all peace efforts.”

“It’ll lead to more violence & conflict,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump’s unambiguous support for Israel over the Palestinians also played a role.

While previous presidents sought to maintain an air of American impartiality and often met with Palestinian officials as part of the effort to support a two-state solution, Mr. Trump has cast his lot with the Israelis. He has not met with Palestinian leaders and he has ordered the closure of the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Mr. Trump has also changed American policy by endorsing unilateral Israeli actions toward disputed territories.

He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the United States Embassy there, a departure from the previous United States position that the status of the holy city should be determined through negotiations.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Mr. Trump also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war.

Since Arab reaction to those moves was muted, Mr. Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley promise was unlikely to stir waves in the region, said Lina Khatib, the head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House.

“The Arab world will approach his promise as a campaign statement in the run-up to the forthcoming Israeli elections in which Netanyahu needs a decisive win that would allow him to form a government,” she said.

The Jordan Valley is the strip of territory on the western side of the Jordan River in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967.

The area is now home to about 11,000 Israelis who live in Jewish settlements and about 65,000 Palestinians who live in the biblical city of Jericho and in farming and herding communities, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group.

Ninety percent of the territory is already under Israeli administrative and military control, and Palestinians are barred from entering or using about 85 percent of it, the group says.

Israel has long argued that control of the Jordan Valley is necessary for its security. Mr. Netanyahu on Tuesday called it “Israel’s eastern border.”

The Palestinians, human rights groups and many other nations argue that Israel cannot legally annex the territory, which the Palestinians need for their hoped-for state.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement that “all signed agreements with Israel and the obligations resulting from them would end” if Israel annexed the land.

Others noted that an actual Israel annexation of the Jordan Valley would leave most Palestinian areas in the West Bank surrounded, perhaps driving the final nail into the coffin of the two-state solution.

Mr. Kuttab, the Palestinian journalist, said that he still supported the idea of a Palestinian state but that his children had given up hope, feeling that Israel has already seized too much land to make it possible.

“They say that with so many settlements in the West Bank, there is no way to create a state,” he said. “So the better long-term solution is fighting for equality.”

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Among Arabs, a Muted Response to Netanyahu’s West Bank Vow

Westlake Legal Group 10arab-reax-facebookJumbo Among Arabs, a Muted Response to Netanyahu’s West Bank Vow Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Israel

BEIRUT — At one time, if the prime minister of Israel had vowed to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, the unilateral promise would have set off outrage across the Arab world.

Not today.

The reasons for the muted response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election promise on Tuesday were many: It was seen as a late-game appeal by Mr. Netanyahu to right-wing voters. Israel already has de facto control of the territory in question. And the Palestinian cause no longer stirs passions across the region as it once did.

“Yes they care,” the Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab said of Arabs in other countries. “But will they move their troops? No. Are they going to withdraw their money from American banks? No.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s vow comes after strategic shifts in the Middle East have pushed the Palestinian cause down the priority list of many Arab leaders and their people. It also follows President Trump’s endorsement of a number of unilateral steps by Israel toward other disputed territories.

Across the region, Arab states like Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iraq are still reeling from the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings and the fight against the Islamic State, leaving them more focused on internal issues. And Persian Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia, which once staunchly backed the Palestinians, now worry more about Iran’s regional influence, a concern they share with Israel.

Those changes have left the Palestinians with fewer Arab allies willing to stand up for their cause.

“For the most part, the Palestinian issue has fallen off the agenda,” said Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of a book about American involvement in the conflict.

Arab leaders may also avoid denouncing Mr. Netanyahu and his plans because they are unwilling or unable to confront him.

“It raises expectations,” Mr. Elgindy said. “If they say, ‘We oppose this. This is terrible,’ then there is an expectation from their people that they will do something about it.”

That does not mean that the Arab public does not care, he said. Support for the idea of a Palestinian state is a rare issue that still generates broad consensus across the Arab world, even if people’s ability to campaign for it is limited.

The issue is particularly sensitive for Jordan, a close United States ally that has a peace treaty with Israel but sits across the Jordan River from the very territory Mr. Netanyahu seeks to annex.

On Tuesday, Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, criticized Mr. Netanyahu’s vow on Twitter as “a serious escalation that undermines all peace efforts.”

“It’ll lead to more violence & conflict,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump’s unambiguous support for Israel over the Palestinians also played a role.

While previous presidents sought to maintain an air of American impartiality and often met with Palestinian officials as part of the effort to support a two-state solution, Mr. Trump has cast his lot with the Israelis. He has not met with Palestinian leaders and ordered the closing of the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Mr. Trump has also changed American policy by endorsing unilateral Israeli actions toward disputed territories.

He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the United States Embassy there, a departure from the previous United States position that the status of the city should be determined through negotiations. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state.

Mr. Trump also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war.

Since Arab reaction to those moves was muted, Mr. Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley promise was unlikely to stir waves in the region, said Lina Khatib, the head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House.

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Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex Much of West Bank

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move to annex much of the occupied West Bank if voters return him to power in the election next week, a change that could dramatically reshape the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The move would give the nation “secure, permanent borders” for the first time in its history, he said. But it would also reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu said he wanted to seize what he called the “unique, one-off opportunity” afforded him by the Trump administration, which has expressed openness to Israeli annexation of at least parts of the West Bank.

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“We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six Day War, and I doubt we’ll have another opportunity in the next 50 years,” Mr. Netanyahu said at a news conference in Ramat Gan. “Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders.”

Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers it occupied territory and Israeli settlements there to be illegal.

Battling for political survival, and in a dead heat or slightly behind in the polls against Benny Gantz, a centrist former army chief of staff, Mr. Netanyahu has tried mightily to shift the focus of the contest from the corruption cases against him to his strong suit: national security.

He has highlighted Israel’s increasingly overt military campaign against Iranian expansion and even unveiled a new site where he said Iran had pursued nuclear weapons.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160556991_963f6286-799f-4c92-89ef-add42b0970c8-articleLarge Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex Much of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he wants to swiftly to annex the Jordan Valley, which accounts for nearly a third of the occupied West Bank.CreditOded Balilty/Associated Press

But Tuesday’s announcement was a daring bid to bring the Palestinian conflict back to center stage in the election campaign. The issue has largely receded from Israeli electoral politics because few voters believe a peace process has any chance.

Mr. Netanyahu said he hoped to annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but would move immediately after forming a new government to proceed in the Jordan Valley, a strategic and fertile strip of territory running along the border with Jordan from Beit Shean in northern Israel to the shores of the Dead Sea.

Days before the previous election, in April, Mr. Netanyahu announced his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, but he gave no specifics and no timetable.

In so doing — no matter what comes of his promises — Mr. Netanyahu dealt severe blows to rivals to his left and right. Right-wing voters who have supported annexing the West Bank now will be sorely tempted to give Mr. Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt.

Mr. Netanyahu visiting an Israeli army post overlooking the Jordan Valley in June with John R. Bolton, then President Trump’s national security adviser.CreditAbir Sultan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

And Mr. Gantz and his fellow former army chiefs in the Blue and White party, who have said publicly that Israel must not yield the Jordan Valley for security reasons, will have a difficult time opposing Mr. Netanyahu, said David Makovsky, an expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Predictably, his opponents dismissed Mr. Netanyahu’s appeal for an election mandate, delivered as it was at a Likud Party news conference, not from the prime minister’s office.

And Yamina, the right-wing party led by Mr. Netanyahu’s former justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, challenged Mr. Netanyahu to bring the decision to annex the Jordan Valley before the current government within hours, “otherwise everyone in Israel will know this is nothing but a cheap political spin.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Jason Greenblatt, a Designer of Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan, Is Leaving the Administration

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s special envoy for Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, will leave the administration, according to a senior Trump official, raising new questions about a long-delayed plan to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Mr. Greenblatt has worked closely since early 2017 with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to design what Mr. Trump has called the “ultimate deal.” But their secretive plan has been delayed for several months, and it is unclear when it will be released — and whether Mr. Greenblatt will be around for the rollout.

Trump administration officials have said that the plan would not be released before Israel’s Sept. 17 election, which would determine the fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close Trump ally who has overseen expansionist policies in the occupied West Bank. The vote, if close, could be followed by months of political jockeying to build a governing coalition, which could further delay the plan’s release.

On Thursday, the Trump official would say about the plan only that “the vision is now complete and will be released when appropriate.”

Mr. Trump had warm words for Mr. Greenblatt on Twitter. “Jason has been a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer,” Mr. Trump tweeted, praising his “dedication to Israel.”

By the time the administration’s peace plan is revealed, Mr. Greenblatt, formerly a longtime top lawyer to the Trump Organization, may have returned to private life. He accepted a huge pay cut in early 2017 when he took his White House job at an annual salary of about $180,000. His wife and six children have remained at their home in Teaneck, N.J. It is unclear whether Mr. Greenblatt will return to the Trump Organization after he leaves the government.

Westlake Legal Group all-the-major-firings-and-resignations-in-trump-administration-promo-1530825933054-articleLarge Jason Greenblatt, a Designer of Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan, Is Leaving the Administration United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Middle East Kushner, Jared Greenblatt, Jason D

The Turnover at the Top of the Trump Administration

Since President Trump’s inauguration, White House staffers and cabinet officials have left in firings and resignations, one after the other.

Mr. Greenblatt will remain on the job “in the coming period,” the Trump official said. The absence of a commitment to stay through the plan’s release is sure to stir doubts about its viability, which many regional experts and officials already doubt will break a decades-long stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.

Some Trump administration critics expect it will be a largely political document meant to bolster Mr. Netanyahu, assuming he survives this month’s election, and to affirm Mr. Trump’s domestic standing with conservative Jews and evangelical Christians who support Israeli territorial expansion.

But Trump officials argue that their peace effort is a serious one that incorporates lessons from the mistakes of several past administrations, although they have so far provided few details beyond a call for major new economic development in Palestinian areas.

After Mr. Greenblatt’s departure, Avi Berkowitz, an adviser to Mr. Kushner, will become “more involved in the process,” the Trump official said. So will Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran.

Mr. Hook has already worked closely on the Israel-Palestinian file, a reflection of the Trump team’s theory that Israel and its Sunni Arab enemies can unite against a shared adversary: Tehran’s Shiite-led government.

Mr. Hook joined Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt for a midsummer Middle East tour meant to build support for their proposal from Arab leaders, whose backing they hope to win for a peace initiative that is expected to demand far more concessions from the Palestinians than from the Israelis. The Trump administration has been closely aligned with Mr. Netanyahu’s government on security and territorial issues, while taking an openly adversarial stance toward Palestinian leaders.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have worked in the White House for over two and a half years under the leadership of President Trump,” Mr. Greenblatt said in a statement. “I am incredibly grateful to have been part of a team that drafted a vision for peace. This vision has the potential to vastly improve the lives of millions of Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region.”

Mr. Kushner added in a statement that Mr. Greenblatt “has done a tremendous job leading the efforts to develop an economic and political vision for a long sought after peace in the Middle East,” saying he would remain a “close friend and partner.”

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