Monday, 22 April, 2019

Israel elections 2019 at a glance: Gantz vs Netanyahu

US Omar attacked by Trump's son for 9/11 comments Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected
Leonard Rios | 07 April, 2019, 16:53

President Donald Trump gave a speech on Saturday to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Nevada, during which he referred to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "your prime minister" to the group.

In such a scenario, Netanyahu apparently believes that it would be possible to obtain the support of a disappointed Trump administration for the partial annexation or application of Israeli law over areas which the American deal would initially recognize as remaining under Israeli rule.

President Trump and his administration's pro-Netanyahu policies have enabled and emboldened the Israeli leader and his rightward lurch, and that definitely includes the West Bank vow.

Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Las Vegas, Trump said he made the snap decision during a discussion with his top Middle East peace advisers, including the USA ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

As security always takes centre stage in Israeli politics, Benny Gantz former chief of staff of the Israeli army is Netanyahu's biggest challenger.

Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

"Trump's presidency has only solidified the fact that the Democratic Party has been - and will remain - the political home of the American Jewish electorate", JDCA Executive Director Halie Soifer said in a statement.

Asked by Channel 12 about annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, he said that "we're on the way" and that "the next term (in office) will be fateful". "Israel will continue to brazenly violate worldwide law for as long as the global community will continue to reward Israel with impunity, particularly with the Trump administration's support and endorsement of Israel's violation of the national and human rights of the people of Palestine".

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Pompeo pushes back against Turkey, stands by U.S. account of disputed meeting
The United States this week halted delivery of equipment related to the stealthy F-35 fighter aircraft to Turkey. Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay responded on Twitter to Pence's ultimatum: "The United States must choose".

But, he added: "We have to control our destiny, and that is going to be impossible if we place there an independent, Arab entity - an Arab state, for all intents and purposes".

After decades of settlement building, more than 400,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank, protected by an Israeli military presence that divides some Palestinian communities and cuts off towns and villages with checkpoints.

"Israel will continue to brazenly violate worldwide law for as long as the global community will continue to reward Israel with impunity, particularly with the Trump administration's support", he said on Twitter. "Let's go, so we can win everything". But if it became clear it's not in the cards right now, then he can just say, 'Sorry, I can't swing it.

Victory seemed sure for Netanyahu when he decided in December to call for early elections even though they were not due until November 2019.

The Palestinians say the USA government's pro-Israel bias meant it could no longer lead peace negotiations between them and Israel, while U.S. officials argue their plan will be fair.

It would mark a dramatic shift for Netanyahu, ahead of Tuesday's balloting. President Donald Trump is leading the charge.

He said "people aren't fighting for Israel in Congress".

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