Netanyahu downplays imminent bribery charge: 'A house of cards about to collapse' History will judge Israel's attorney general for his decision on Netanyahu

Middle East: What will become of Trump’s ‘Palestine plan’ if Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted?

Jared Kushner looking on during the Middle East summit in Warsaw, February 14, 2019.
Jared Kushner looking on during the Middle East summit in Warsaw, February 14, 2019.Kacper Pempel/ REUTERS

Israel will be holding general elections on April 9. The country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is backed into a corner due to corruption accusations, wants to win the elections by establishing an alliance with the most radical groups of Israel’s rightists. The alliance that Netanyahu, who is up against strong competitors, formed with the racist “Jewish Force” and “Jewish Home,” divided the Israeli lobby in the US – Abdullah Muradoğlu, YENISAFAK


As is known, U.S President Donald Trump had a peace plan, which he describes as the “deal of the century,” prepared to be a final solution to the “Palestine issue.” However, the details of this plan are yet to be announced to the public. The plan implemented by Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser Jared Kushner, has, for months, turned into the case of the blind man describing the elephant. Trump had postponed the announcement of the plan till after the April 9 elections in Israel. Trump did not want the so-called peace plan to turn into a referendum at the elections. This is how Trump’s excuse to postpone the announcement has been explained.

The outline of Trump’s plan is drawn not by a team that is unbiased toward the parties involved, but by a small, strict group known to be pro-Israel. The Palestinian sides withdrew from the meetings due to Trump’s pro-Israel policies. Diplomatic ties between Palestine and the U.S. are broken. The Trump administration took pro-Israel decisions the previous U.S. governments could not dare to do. The U.S.’s Israel embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; the financial contribution the U.S. made to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees was cancelled; and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Washington office was closed. The U.S. also withdrew from the UN’s UNESCO and Human Rights Council as it took decisions that disturbed Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Donald Trump (C) and Mahmoud Abbas (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)
Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Donald Trump (C) and Mahmoud Abbas (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

In addition to the sanctions on the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the law package including a $38-billion military aid to Israel was also approved in the U.S. Senate. If the package passes the approval stages in Congress, it will be enacted. By withdrawing from the “Iran Nuclear Deal,” Trump fulfilled another demand of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bringing out a law that identifies Israel as a “Jewish state,” Netanyahu reduced an Arab population of close to 2 million to second class citizens. Trump remained silent in the face of this fait accompli.

In exchange for the favors his did for Netanyahu, Trump is waiting for Israel to approve the peace plan he states is the “deal of the century.” However, Netanyahu has not given any positive signal with respect to the project. On the contrary, he made statements indicating that he will not approve of a Palestinian state whose capital is East Jerusalem, and that he will make no compromise on the settlement in the West Bank. Certain Zionist writers are warning that the plan is harmful in terms of Israel.

One of Netanyahu’s signs that he will interrupt Trump’s peace plan was his election alliance with three minor parties that are known for being Jewish racists. Netanyahu’s cooperation with these parties that are affiliated with the “Meir Kahane” movement, which is on the U.S.’s terrorist organizations list, is bad news for Trump’s peace plan. These parties, which do not intend to give even a pebble to Palestinians from Palestine’s territory, entering the Israeli parliament, or taking place in the Israeli government, is one of the most serious obstacles standing before Trump’s plan.

The main organizations of the Israeli lobby in the U.S. also made statements criticizing Netanyahu’s alliance move. According to some commentators, this alliance is equivalent to the U.S. president striking a deal with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). In the case that Netanyahu wins the elections, there is no likelihood that a coalition government with these parties will take a positive approach to Trump’s peace plan. This alliance move has shown what Netanyahu, who got Trump to do everything he wanted until now, cannot make Trump do too.

If Netanyahu loses in the April 9 elections, will the new government take a positive approach to Trump’s Palestine plan? Whether is a government with Netanyahu, or another government, can Trump apply serious pressure for Israel to accept the U.S.’s plan? Or will the “deal of the century” end in a fiasco? It is too soon to see what Trump has up his sleeve, but we can say that a great uproar will break out in Israel after April 9.

Netanyahu downplays imminent bribery charge: 'A house of cards about to collapse' History will judge Israel's attorney general for his decision on Netanyahu

Trump Ahead of Netanyahu Indictment Decision: ‘He’s Done a Great Job as PM’

Trump at a news conference after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Hanoi, February 28, 2019.\ JORGE SILVA/ REUTERS
Trump at a news conference after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Hanoi, February 28, 2019.\ JORGE SILVA/ REUTERS

Speaking at a summit with North Korea’s Kim, U.S. President Trump says ‘we have a great shot at peace’ between Israel and the Palestinians – HAARETZ

President Doland Trump said on Thursday, ahead of a decision by Israel’s attorney general on whether to indict Benjamin Netanyahu of corruption, that the latter “has done a great job as prime minister.”

Speaking at a press conference in Vietnam following a second summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, Trump was asked about the upcoming indictment decision. “He’s tough, smart, strong,” the president said on Netanyahu.

Israel’s Political Map Has Shifted Rightward – and That’s Bad News for Netanyahu

The U.S. president then spoke of his plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a plan said to be unveiled following Israel’s April 9 general election.

“All my life I heard that the toughest of all deals – and everyone loves deals – would be peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Trump said. “They say it’s the impossible deal, I’d love to be able to produce it.”

Speaking about the plan, Trump mentioned the military aid Israel is receiving from the United States and the U.S. aid cut to the Palestinians. “We were paying the Palestinians a lot of money and we ended that a couple of years ago because they weren’t saying the right things. And they’ve been much better. We have a great shot at peace.”

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to announce Thursday his decision on whether to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, subject to a hearing, in the three criminal investigations pending against him.

In Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is suspected of providing regulatory concessions to Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq telecommunications, in exchange for favorable coverage from Bezeq’s news website, Walla, Mendelblit is expected to announce an indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

In Case 1000, in which the prime minister is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy business figures in violation of the law, the PM is expected to be charged with fraud and breach of trust.

Charges are also expected to be filed in Case 2000, which centers on negotiations between the prime minister and Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, allegedly involving limiting the circulation of the rival Yisrael Hayom daily in exchange for favorable coverage for the prime minister. It is not yet clear what charges Mendelblit will file against the prime minister for that case. Mendelblit is also expected to announce plans to charge Mozes in that case.

Israeli border guards detain a Palestinian boy during a demonstration outside the Lions Gate, a main entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque compound on 17 July 2017 (AFP)

ISRAELI PRIME Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to eject international observers in Hebron

TIPH was created after an Israeli settler killed 29 Palestinians at a holy site in the city in 1994 (AFP)
TIPH was created after an Israeli settler killed 29 Palestinians at a holy site in the city in 1994 (AFP)

Israel’s Netanyahu to eject foreign observers in flashpoint Hebron

AIWAI! NO!|Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he would eject a foreign force set up to help safeguard Palestinians in a flashpoint city in the occupied West Bank, accusing the observers of anti-Israel activity. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to eject an international observer post aimed at safeguarding Palestinians in Hebron, a city in the occupied West Bank, accusing the mission of anti-Israel activity.

People evacuate a Palestinian who was shot dead during clashes with Israeli troops, in the occupied West Bank, 9 March (Reuters)
People evacuate a Palestinian who was shot dead during clashes with Israeli troops, in the occupied West Bank, 9 March (Reuters)

“We will not allow the continuation of an international force that acts against us,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday about the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH).

Netanyahu did not elaborate on the alleged misconduct of TIPH, which draws staff from Norway, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, nor did he say when he plans to expel them.

The agreement to deploy TIPH observers in Hebron was reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1994 after an Israeli settler killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque, a site that is holy to both Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Cave of the Patriarchs.

The group didn’t start its work in the city until 1998, however, after the Israeli army refused to leave Hebron following the establishment of an illegal Israeli settlement at the heart of the city.

TIPH’s latest mandate – it is deployed in renewable, six-month terms – is due to end on 31 January, Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday.

The group has not yet commented on Netanyahu’s decision.

Israeli human rights violations in Hebron

Human rights groups have long decried Israel’s policies in Hebron, a city in the southern West Bank that has both PA-held areas and parts controlled by the Israeli military.

Since Israeli settlers established a settlement in the city centre following the worshipper’s massacre 35 years ago, Israel has subjected Palestinians in Hebron to severe movement restrictions, built a series of militarised checkpoints and effectively crippled what was once a thriving commercial hub.

Israel “has imposed physical and legal segregation between the hundreds of settlers and the thousands of Palestinians residents” in Hebron, Israeli human rights group Btselem says.

“This, coupled with violence by settlers and security forces, has made life intolerable for Palestinians, leading to a mass exodus and the economic ruin of the downtown area.”

Since it was deployed, TIPH has “observe(d) and report(ed) on breaches of the agreements (and) violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law”, the group says on its website.


‘Silent ethnic cleansing’: Israel to build dozens of new settlement units in Hebron

Palestinians denounced Netanyahu’s decision to expel the international observers on Monday.

“The Israeli government’s decision means it has abandoned the implementation of agreements signed under international auspices, and given up its obligations under these agreements,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters news agency.

Last month, Haaretz reported that a TIPH investigation of “40,000 incident reports” showed that Israel had breached international law by restricting Palestinian movements in the city.

Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

However, Netanyahu has played up his pro-settler credentials as he seeks re-election in a 9 April vote.

Also on Monday, the Israeli prime minister visited Gush Etzion, a string of settlements and settlement outposts in the southern West Bank, and pledged to continue his government’s support for Israeli settlers living there.

“They want to uproot us from here. They will not,” Netanyahu said, as reported by the government press office.

“There’s a line of thought that says that the way to achieve peace with the Arabs is to be extirpated from our land. That is the certain path to achieving the opposite of this dream.”