_A Pandemic Can’t Stop Israel’s Political Crisis
Algemeiner, Aug. 3, 2020Only a coronavirus-sized global pandemic could break Israel’s political paralysis — but not for long.Just a few months after the formation of the government, political feuding and paralysis is back, yielding to nobody and nothing, including the coronavirus crisis, potentially bringing us to the cusp of national elections — once again — within a year.One of the clearest signs of this new phase is the escalating political battle between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. The number of issues on which they clash only continues to grow.
Netanyahu is insisting upon an annual budget due to rapidly changing conditions. Gantz, meanwhile, seeks a bi-annual state budget, saying it will provide greater stability.
The budget argument is also governed by the political interests of either side. Netanyahu wants short-term political arrangements that would allow him to dismantle the government if he feels the need to do so. Gantz, on the other hand, wants to safeguard his position as future prime minister, in line with the coalition deal. The absence of a budget would serve Netanyahu’s goals and undercut those of Gantz because it would amount to a pretext for dissolving the coalition.
For many of Gantz’s initial supporters, recent months have been a resounding disappointment. One would expect that a politician for whom an entire role was invented — that of alternate prime minister — would work day and night to prove himself, and generate new, creative ideas, in order to justify his position.
He has failed to do so. His decision-making is extremely slow. Off the record, some of his associates have been increasingly critical of his drawn-out demeanor. Instead of being at the forefront of responses to Israel’s multiple crises, he often appears to be absent.
While many of his voters remain disgruntled by his violation of his pledge not to form a government with Netanyahu, Gantz could have redeemed himself in the eyes of those voters if his commendable step toward national unity in the face of an emergency had been followed with a demonstration of leadership.
Unfortunately for Gantz, that is not what has happened. His spokespeople often release anemic media messages expressing how difficult the situation is; but leadership, not commentary, is what is needed from him.
As a result, in a political reality divided firmly between pro- and anti-Netanyahu camps, with no middle ground, Gantz’s Blue and White Party has plummeted in the polls to a mere nine mandates, making it difficult to imagine how he can assume the position of prime minister next year.
Gantz has been careful not to aggravate Netanyahu or to break new political ground. The result is that he is now politically paralyzed … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Israel’s Unity Government Frays, Raising Specter of a New Vote
Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber
WSJ, July 31, 2020
Formed in May to address Israel’s most pressing challenges, the nation’s unity government is fraying as divisions deepen between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz.
The two leaders have sparred over the country’s response to a second wave of coronavirus infections. Their political parties have fought over judicial reform, while Mr. Netanyahu and his associates have attacked senior justice officials overseeing his trial for corruption charges. They disagree over Mr. Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. And they have staked out opposing positions on a new national budget, which the government must pass before the end of August or Israel could face new elections.
“I wake up every morning, and for a moment tell myself, ‘What’ve you done?’” Mr. Gantz said in a recent interview with Israel’s Channel 12, referring to his decision to back away from a campaign promise not to join Mr. Netanyahu in a unity government. “I joke with [my wife] and tell her, ‘I don’t want to go to school today.’ She reminds me, ‘Benny you’re now part of the administration.’”
The tensions within the new administration have complicated governance and pushed Israel’s fragmented polity closer to a fourth election in about 18 months.
The political crisis has also weakened Mr. Netanyahu. Anti-Netanyahu demonstrators that began before the pandemic have grown to draw a wider swath of the country, including recent graduates worried about their futures.
People protested Mr. Netanyahu outside his residence in Jerusalem last week.
“The crisis has stopped the trajectory of their lives, after working, paying expensive rent, paying for food and studies,” said Dolev Kafri, 27, who recently moved back in with his parents after finishing a degree. “The crisis has allowed them to see that something in the system isn’t working.”
Recent polls show Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party still dominant, making him best positioned to form a government after another election.
Mr. Gantz has his own problems after dismantling his opposition bloc to join Mr. Netanyahu. His former partner, Yair Lapid, who split from him rather than join Mr. Netanyahu, is surging past Mr. Gantz in polls. A Channel 13 poll shows Mr. Lapid’s party with 19 seats to Blue and White’s nine seats in a new vote.
Mr. Lapid said recently that he would invite Mr. Gantz to serve under him if there were another ballot. “This government doesn’t have a lot of air in it,” he said
Messrs. Netanyahu and Gantz formed their government in May after three inconclusive elections. Both cited the coronavirus, which was then under relative control, as a reason to put aside their differences. Since then, Israel’s response has floundered.
Virus cases surged in late June after Israel moved too quickly to fully reopen schools and the economy. At around 1,800 cases a day, Israel currently has one of the world’s highest numbers of new infections per capita, according to data compiled by researchers at Oxford University … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Analysis: Israeli Protests Co-Opted by Anarchists Aimed at Destabilizing a Nation
The Jewish Voice, July 19, 2020
In a televised national address on Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out parts of an economic-stimulus package intended to ease the financial burden of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Yet in addition to outlining parts of a plan for jumpstarting the economy, Netanyahu addressed a growing phenomenon of left-wing civil unrest.
“The conspiracy industry exists in Israel; it is simply unbelievable. I heard about a public representative who is calling for a civil rebellion,” he stated.
The “public representative” is head of the opposition Yair Lapid. Not only is he agitating public demonstrations, but he has repeatedly warned that aggrieved citizens could turn violent.
In an interview with Reuters week, Lapid stated that: “We are talking to people who are becoming more and more desperate and angry, who feel, and rightly so, that the country has deserted them at their hardest hour.”
“We are trying to be responsible … to calm things down, telling people, ‘You know violence is not the answer,’ ” he said.
“But it’s getting harder by the day … I sympathize with the anger and I also worry about the possibility of violence as a result of this anger. What I am trying to do is not to encourage it but to raise a red flag as to what might happen.”
A few days earlier, Lapid told Maariv, “It is going towards violence. People are in despair because they don’t have what to eat.”
Just days after Lapid’s remarks, more than 10,000 Israelis joined a protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night against the government’s handling of the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Almost on cue, the protest turned violent with various acts of vandalism, including the setting ablaze of garbage dumpsters. A brick was thrown through the window of a local bank branch. Three officers were lightly injured, and 12 protesters were arrested.
While Saturday night’s protest was the largest to date over the past several months, it was not limited only to financially aggrieved small business owners and recently unemployed Israelis.
‘Black flag’ protests
Rather, it was the most recent installment of an ongoing series of “black flag” protests led by Israel’s political opposition, aimed specifically at destabilizing a nation already weathering health and financial crises. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Sovereignty and Its Enforcement
Dr. Yechiel Shabiy
BESA, July 27, 2020
In recent weeks, a struggle has taken place between supporters and opponents of the extension of Israeli sovereignty over portions of the West Bank. Some believe the measure will spark an Arab uprising, an international pressure campaign against Israel, and boycotts. Others claim that applying sovereignty to about 30% of the West Bank is not only essential but does not go far enough.
If we look at the current state of affairs in the West Bank, we find that Israeli “sovereignty” is devoid of meaning. The situation on the ground is utter chaos. The prevailing anarchy and accompanying complete loss of deterrence are apparent in many aspects:
Under the cover of firecrackers, fired to celebrate various festivities (most recently passing matriculation exams), the Palestinians habitually shoot with light weapons at neighboring Israeli localities while the Israeli authorities turn a blind eye to this dangerous criminal practice. This willful ignorance must stop on both the municipal and the national levels.
Pirate incinerators operate intensively despite the determined efforts of the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Civil Administration. Incinerators are shut down and then reopen at the same location.The security fence is regularly breached in multiple locations. Along the roadsides, “central stations” spring up for Palestinian taxis and transporters that ferry infiltrators and illegal work seekers into Israel and back to the West Bank. This is often done right in front of IDF soldiers who stand aside and watch. There is little, after all, that they can do. How can a handful of soldiers handle hundreds of infiltrators at every point?
West Bank checkpoints have become white elephants that mainly serve drivers who can’t get through the fence breaches. Gravest of all, they serve those transporting the thousands who stay in Israel illegally and infiltrate through the breaches.
Illegal roads are being readied, often just a stone’s throw from Jewish communities and the main transportation arteries serving Israelis and Palestinians. No one knows what is being transported on those roads.
In every open space, including state land and lands of Jewish regional councils, the Palestinians plant thousands of dunams of olive trees that preclude Jewish construction, hinder IDF soldiers from providing security to Jewish residents of the area, and enable terrorists to potentially attack Israeli targets very easily. Former Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad strove to take control of the open parts of Area C, which are officially under full Israeli control. Current PM Muhammad Shtayyeh is much more militant and supports terrorists and their families fearlessly and blatantly.
At all hours of the day, the calls of the muezzins issue from powerful speakers. This is not always for purposes of prayer. To a great extent, and particularly these days, this is being done to incite against and vilify Israel.
Throughout the West Bank there are countless archaeological relics of the area’s ancient Jewish history. Systematic acts of Palestinian vandalism and robbery (such as destroying mikvehs and stealing stones from olive presses) are steadily erasing these testaments to the millenarian Jewish presence in the region. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
Netanyahu Must Stay Focused on Corona: Ari Harow, Pulse of Israel
A Bipartisan Protest Movement is Rocking Israel And Growing by the Week. Here’s Why: Sam Sokol, JTA, July 30, 2020 — Noam Ofer might have been an unlikely candidate to join Israel’s burgeoning protest movement.
Don’t Buy the ‘Annexation’ Hype: Eugene Kontorovich, WSJ, June 23, 2020 — Israel is expected to announce as early as next week that it is normalizing the legal status of Jewish settlements in the West Bank by fully applying Israeli civilian law.
Coalition Chairman Expresses Support for Supreme Court Override Clause: Tzvi Joffre, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2, 2020 — Coalition chairman Miki Zohar tweeted on Saturday night that he will recommend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu support Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked’s Supreme Court Override Clause, raising concerns of yet another crisis in the coalition.
Haredi Parties to Oppose Override Clause: Arutz Sheva, Aug. 3, 2020 — The haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism parties issued a joint statement Sunday that they would not vote in favor of Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked’s bill to implement the Override Clause.