Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’

Mahmoud Abbas blames Hamas for Gaza attack on PM’s convoy

March 20, 2018

Al Jazeera

President Abbas says Hamas orchestrated attack on prime minister’s convoy, prompting Hamas to call for elections.

Mahmoud Abbas said that if the "assassination attempt" had succeeded, the attack would have opened the door for a bloody civil war [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]
Mahmoud Abbas said that if the “assassination attempt” had succeeded, the attack would have opened the door for a bloody civil war [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has accused Hamas of orchestrating the explosion that targeted the convoy of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as he entered the Gaza Strip last week.

“We do not want them to investigate, we do not want information from them, we do not want anything from them because we know exactly that they, the Hamas movement, were the ones who committed this incident,” Abbas said at a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah late on Monday.

Hamdallah’s convoy, which included the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence chief Majed Faraj, was attacked just after the delegation crossed through the Israeli-controlled Erez checkpoint, known to Palestinians as Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.


Hamas, Fatah sign reconciliation agreement in Cairo

Faraj and Hamdallah remained unharmed, while seven security guards were wounded in the blast.

Shortly after the attack, Hamas said it was launching an investigation to uncover who was behind the blast and deflected the PA’s comments blaming the Gaza-based group for the incident.

Speaking during Monday’s meeting, Abbas said that if the “assassination attempt” had succeeded, the development would have opened the door for a bloody civil war.

Call for elections

In response to Abbas’ accusations, Hamas called for elections.

“We are shocked by the tense stance that Abbas has taken. This position burns bridges and strengthens division and strikes the unity of our people,” Hamas said in a press release.


Hamas and Fatah: How are the two groups different?

“In light of all this, Hamas calls for general elections, including presidential, parliamentary and national council elections, so that the Palestinian people can choose their leadership.”

The attack and subsequent statements by both sides mark a serious deterioration in relations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the semi-autonomous body that governs the occupied West Bank.

Fatah, the ruling party within the PA, and Hamas, the party that governs the occupied Gaza Strip, signed a reconciliation agreement in October 2017, ending a decade of division that saw two parallel governments operating in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.

But the deal was never fully implemented due to differences within the two political factions, which are the largest in Palestinian politics.

Analysts said the attack on Hamdallah’s convoy was intended to put a strain on reconciliation efforts.



Terror Groups Have Switched to Twitter Because Facebook Cooperates With Israel

March 20, 2018


Employee at French Consulate in Jerusalem Admits to Smuggling Weapons From Gaza to West Bank

March 19, 2018


Case was reported on extensively in French press but a gag order was imposed on coverage of it in Israel – even though relevant agencies had already worked on press releases

A 24-year-old employee at the French Consulate in Jerusalem admitted that he smuggled dozens of weapons from the Gaza Strip into the West Bank through diplomatic vehicles, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Sunday. Israeli security sources have confirmed the existence of the case.

The employee was a driver and carried an official passport. He was detained for questioning by Israeli security authorities on February 19. A security guard at the embassy was also arrested. The two will stand trial on Monday, most likely in a Be’er Sheva court, for smuggling weapons from Gaza to the West Bank.

 French Consulate in Jerusalem

The case was reported on extensively on Sunday in the French press but a gag order was imposed on coverage of it in Israel, even though the relevant agencies in Israel, including the Shin Bet security service and the Foreign Ministry, had already worked on a press release on matter.

This is not the first time that a security-related case has been banned from publication while it was reported on extensively abroad.

One high-profile example was the case of a man identified as Prisoner X on an Australian website, which was only reported later in Israel following the lifting of the gag order.

The French Embassy issued a statement saying: “The authorities in France are taking the incident in which one if the workers at the consulate general of France in Jerusalem is a suspect with very great seriousness. The authorities in France are cooperating with Israeli authorities.”

Israeli diplomatic officials called the matter “a very difficult event, which we take very seriously.” They added that relations with France are excellent and this will not have an adverse effect, thanking French authorities for their cooperation.

The affair takes place days before French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is slated to arrive in Israel, amid the backdrop of a potential visit from French President Emmanuel Macron later this fall. This affair may overshadow the visit.

Israeli planes raid Hamas in Gaza after explosion

March 18, 2018

Israeli F-15 I fighter jets. (Jack Guez/AFP)
JERUSALEM: Israeli military aircraft carried out a raid against a Hamas target in the Gaza Strip overnight after an explosive device detonated near the border with Israel, the military said Sunday.
“The Hamas terror organization is held accountable for all occurrences in and from the Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces said.
Hamas is the main Palestinian Islamist movement controlling the Gaza Strip.
“The IDF will continue to operate for the safety of Israeli civilians, by all means at its disposal,” the Israeli military said, without giving further details.
According to Palestinian sources, the raid did not cause any casualties.
An explosive device went off late Saturday in the northern Gaza Strip near Israel’s border fence, the army said in an earlier statement, with no casualties reported.
Israel had already retaliated, with tanks targeting a Hamas observation post.
According to Palestinian sources, the retaliatory fire slightly injured one person.
Two explosive devices were detonated Thursday along the border, which had already provoked Israeli attacks on Hamas positions.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Israel held Hamas responsible as the de facto power in the Palestinian enclave.
Israel, Hamas and its allies are observing a cease-fire since the 2014 war, the third in the enclave in six years.
The truce is regularly shaken, particularly by fire from the enclave into Israel, which systematically retaliates by targeting Hamas positions, even if the attacks are carried out by other groups.
On February 17, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an improvised explosive device on the border, sparking intense military retaliation.
Israel warplanes attacked 18 “terror targets belonging to Hamas” in Gaza in response to the blast, which severely wounded two of the soldiers, and a subsequent Palestinian rocket attack on southern Israel.

Israel Jets Strike Hamas Target in Retaliation for Gaza Border Explosions

March 18, 2018


Reports in Gaza say the Israel Air Force struck targets in the Strip’s center and south

FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises over the Gaza Strip following an airstrike in November, 2017.
FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises over the Gaza Strip following an airstrike in November, 2017.Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Israel Defense Forces said it struck a target belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip early Sunday morning in retaliation for an explosion on Israel’s border with the Strip the day before.

Reports in Gaza said the Israel Air Force struck targets in the enclave’s center and south.

In a statement, the IDF’s spokesman said the military “will continue to act with all means at its disposal in order to ensure the security of the citizens of Israel.” The statement added that the IDF holds Hamas responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip.

The explosive device that detonated Saturday caused no casualties or damage, according to the IDF. Shortly after the blast, the military said it retaliated with tank fire, destroying a Hamas outpost.

Media outlets based in Gaza said Israeli forces fired three shells at a Hamas post east of Gaza City. One man was lightly wounded and taken to Al-Shifa Hospital, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza stated.

The blast was the fourth incident in the last four weeks in which explosive devices targeting Israeli forces were detonated near the border fence between Gaza and Israel.

On Thursday, two roadside bombs were detonated against Israeli soldiers patrolling near the Gaza border. When the soldiers arrived at the border in patrol vehicles, two explosive devices went off. They had been placed 100 meters into Gaza. The army said it suspects that a rocket-propelled grenade was also fired at the soldiers.

Following Thursday’s incident, the IDF responded with tank fire and carried out an airstrike targeting five Hamas observation posts.

The most serious incident took place in February, when a device exploded near Israeli troops at the fence bordering the southern Gaza Strip. Two Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded, one sustained moderate wounds and another was lightly wounded. In response to the incident, the army attacked the Gaza Strip.

Last week, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt during a visit to the Strip. The Palestinian Authority initially blamed Hamas for the explosion, which it said targeted Hamdallah’s convoy.

Later Tuesday, however, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke with Hamdallah, and the two blamed “Israel and its collaborators” for the attempt. The Palestinian leaders agreed that General Tawfiq Abu Naim, head of Gaza’s Interior Ministry, will lead the investigation into the incident.

Something is rotten in the terrorist kingdom of Hamas

March 16, 2018

Bomb attacks against PA prime minister and IDF troops in areas under full control of terror group point to someone on the inside trying to undermine the organization’s strategy

Avi Issacharoff

Members of the Hamas security forces inspect the crater left at the site of an explosion that targeted the convoy of the Palestinian Prime Minister during his visit to the Gaza strip, near the Erez crossing, on March 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Members of the Hamas security forces inspect the crater left at the site of an explosion that targeted the convoy of the Palestinian Prime Minister during his visit to the Gaza strip, near the Erez crossing, on March 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Once again an explosive device was detonated in the Gaza Strip. And once again it appears that Hamas was not responsible for the attempted terror attack. However, the spate of recent incidents in Gaza raises suspicions that something is particularly rotten in the kingdom of Hamas. At best, there are officials within the terror group who are not following the orders of the leadership; at worst, they may be receiving a quiet nod to work secretly against Israel.

Thursday was not the first time that a roadside bomb within the coastal enclave has targeted Israeli troops or that the IDF has discovered explosives put in place to do just that. This, in areas that are supposed to be under the full control of Hamas forces.

On Tuesday, the chaos had escalated in an unusually serious incident, when someone, at present unknown, attempted to murder Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA General Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj as they visited Gaza.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (2nd-R), escorted by his bodyguards, is greeted by police forces of the Hamas terror group (L) upon his arrival in Gaza City on March 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

According to Hamas Deputy Interior Minister Tawfik Abu Naim, there were two 15-kilogram (33-pound) bombs placed 37 meters (120 feet) apart from each other. One bomb exploded but the second failed to detonate due to a technical problem. The devices were placed on the main north-south route through the Gaza Strip (Salah a-Din Street) only a few hundred meters away from the Erez border crossing to Israel — and under the nose of Hamas security forces.

“There is no chance that someone in Hamas didn’t know that these bombs were placed there,” a senior Palestinian Authority official told The Times of Israel later. “From a security point of view, someone there closed their eyes or gave it their blessing. It is impossible that everything was done there without anyone in Hamas knowing about it.”

It must be said that this Palestinian official is not known for his love of Hamas, but his suspicions are reasonable. It is equally difficult to imagine that no Hamas officials knew of the bombs intended to target the IDF on Thursday close to the border, which Hamas watches carefully.

Hamas’s former interior minister Fathi Hamad (YouTube screenshot)

Fathi Hamad is a senior Hamas official who opposes reconciliation with Fatah, the party that leads the Palestinian Authority, and urges a resumption of war against Israel. His name is being raised as a possible mastermind behind the Hamdallah assassination attempt, or perhaps as a senior figure who gave his blessing to Salafist terrorists from outside Hamas who may not even have known of his involvement.

In the past, Hamas has worked behind the scenes to root out those, including Fatah members, behind attacks — even when Hamad himself, working from within the organization, had a hand in planning them. Hamad is now a suspect in these latest incidents. But there are more than a handful of other groups or officials who could be responsible for an assassination attempt like this, or for the bomb attacks against the IDF.

Meanwhile, Hamas seems to be working vigorously to catch those responsible for the attempted killing of Hamdallah and Faraj. We may soon see the “guilty parties” publicly confessing their crimes in front of the Palestinian media. They may even say that the Israeli Mossad pushed them to the deed.

Such confessions can rarely be taken at face value.

Hamas representative Saleh al-Arouri, after signing a reconciliation deal with senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad, during a short ceremony at the Egyptian intelligence complex in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017. (AP/Nariman El-Mofty)

Though seen by some as signals of a new militancy on Hamas’s part, these attacks are actually a sign of confusion, of an organization working at cross-purposes. The group’s leadership in Gaza is trying to establish better ties with the Egyptians while the leadership abroad, led by deputy head Salah al-Arouri, attempts to get closer to Iran.

Hamas wants reconciliation with Fatah and is ready to compromise on the civilian front, but is not prepared to give up its military branches or its weapons. It is trying hard to avoid an escalation with Israel, while someone in Gaza is working hard to bring on a war with Israel, perhaps under the nose of Hamas and maybe even with (part of) the organization’s blessing.

Inciting the West Bank

If there is one thing that is clear and obvious, it is Hamas’s incessant attempt to inflame the West Bank. The organization has devoted a tremendous amount of energy towards this goal.

For example, Hamas terrorist Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, who became a hero among Palestinians when he murdered Raziel Shevach in a deadly West Bank shooting near the Havat Gilad outpost and escaped Israeli security forces several times before being killed in a shootout in the village of Yamoun, received financial assistance from Hamas in Gaza, from a group known as “The West Bank Headquarters.”

Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, 22, head of the terror cell who shot dead Rabbi Raziel Shevach in the West Bank on January 9 (Twitter)

This group is made up of some of the 150 terrorists freed by Israel in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal who were expelled to Gaza, and work alongside Hamas’s military wing in the Strip trying to orchestrate terror cells in the West Bank. Most of their attempts fail, but sometimes, as in the case of Jarrar, they bear murderous fruit.

In addition to the “West Bank Headquarters,” Hamas also operates the “Office of the West Bank” which is run from abroad, also mainly by those freed in the Shalit deal. One of the group’s bases is in Istanbul. It seems that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to host Hamas terrorists, including people who visit and operate from there continually: Arouri, Zaher Jabarin, Musa Dodin and others. This group of West Bank Palestinians, now based overseas, is also in contact with Iran and hopes Tehran will foot the bill for their livelihoods and activities. This despite the inevitable cost they may have to pay in loss of support in Sunni states like Egypt or Saudi Arabia if they are perceived as getting too close to Shiite Iran.

Here, too, Hamas is seen at cross-purposes. Yet that does not mean there aren’t unifying threads that should worry Israel. One obvious common denominator: both at home and abroad, Hamas’s activities are often driven to a significant extent by terrorists freed in the 2011 Shalit deal.


Israel shells Hamas posts in Gaza in response to explosive devices placed in the Gaza strip

March 15, 2018



Israeli tanks shelled Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip on Thursday after Palestinians set off bombs along the border fence, the military said, with no casualties reported.

A security source from Hamas, the Islamist movement which runs the Gaza Strip, said that one round hit an observation post near the border, causing damage but no casualties.

He said that earlier, shortly after sunrise, there were four explosions along the border, which slightly damaged the Israeli frontier barrier.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts.

An Israeli military statement said: “A number of explosive devices were detonated on the security fence along the northern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.

“Tanks targeted posts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in response,” it added.

On February 17, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an improvised explosive device on the border, sparking intense military retaliation.

Israel warplanes attacked 18 “terror targets belonging to Hamas” in Gaza in response to the blast, which severely wounded two of the soldiers, and a subsequent Palestinian rocket attack on southern Israel.

The following day, troops shot dead two Palestinian teenagers near the border, Gaza medical sources said.

The Israeli army said at the time that soldiers fired “warning shots” at a number of Palestinians approaching the border fence “in a suspicious manner” but could not confirm Palestinian casualties.

Israel Finds Additional Explosive Devices at Gaza Border

March 15, 2018

This is the third incident in recent weeks in which the Israeli army encountered explosives at border

Tank at the border of the Gaza Strip, 2018.
Tank at the border of the Gaza Strip, 2018. Eliyahu Hershkowitz

Several explosives devices detonated near the Gaza border Thursday morning, making it the third incident in recent weeks in which the Israeli army encountered explosives at border.

Military forces responded with tank fire on Hamas positions.

According to the IDF, the explosive devices were intended to harm soldiers patrolling the area. No casualties were reported. 

According to several networks in Gaza, Israel struck back at six Hamas positions and fired 14 shells; there are reports of casualties and some wounded.

However, the Health Ministry in Gaza has yet to receive any reports of injuries from the Israeli attack.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt in Gaza during a visit to the Strip on Tuesday. The Palestinian Authority initially blamed Hamas for the explosion, which it said targeted Hamdallah’s convoy.

Later Tuesday, however, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke with Hamdallah and the two agreed that Israel and its collaborators are responsible. The Palestinian leaders also agreed that General Tawfiq Abu Naim, head of Gaza’s Interior Ministry, will lead the investigation into the incident.

In February, a device exploded near troops at the fence bordering the southern Gaza Strip. Two soldiers were seriously wounded; one soldier was moderately wounded and another lightly wounded.

According to the IDF, four soldiers went over to examine a Palestinian flag that had been hung on the fence during clashes that took place the day before. There was a hidden bomb beside the flag that exploded.

In response to the bomb incident, the army attacked the Gaza Strip and said that “this is a serious incident that could undermine stability in the region.”

Palestinian PM safe in Gaza after explosion near convoy

March 13, 2018


GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt in Gaza on Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority said after an explosion near his convoy.

 Image result for Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, photos

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah 

Minutes after the blast, Hamdallah, appearing unhurt, delivered a speech at the inauguration of a waste treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, live TV footage showed. He said in the address that three cars were damaged.

The Authority said it held the enclave’s dominant Hamas group responsible for the attack, stopping short of directly accusing the group of carrying out the assault, but suggesting it had failed to provide adequate security.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrives in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 3, 2017. A convoy carrying Hamdalah was hit by an explosion on March 13, 2018, but the prime minister was reportedly unharmed.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrives in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 3, 2017. A convoy carrying Hamdalah was hit by an explosion on March 13, 2018, but the prime minister was reportedly unharmed.  Mohammed Salem—Reuters

Gaza’s Hamas-run interior ministry said the explosion hit as the prime minister’s convoy passed near the northern town of Beit Hanoun. No one was injured and security services had begun an investigation, ministry spokesman Eyad Al-Bozom said.

The prime minister is based in the occupied West Bank and traveled overland, via Israel, to the Gaza Strip. Police said the explosion came shortly after Hamdallah’s convoy passed by, and one witness said it appeared two cars at the end of motorcade sustained damage.

“The Palestinian Presidency holds Hamas responsible for the cowardly targeting of the Prime Minister’s convoy in Gaza,” the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Hamas and Abbas’s Palestinian Authority are still divided over how to implement an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

“The attack against the government of consensus is an attack against the unity of the Palestinian people,” said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The explosion occurred near the spot where a U.S. diplomatic convoy was blown up by a remote-controlled bomb in 2003 shortly after it entered the Gaza Strip. Three American security specialists were killed and a U.S. diplomat was injured in that blast.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Andrew Heavens

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu both have big, big problems

March 6, 2018


Updated 8:43 PM ET, Mon March 5, 2018

Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu sit with Donald and Melania Trump in the White House, March 5, 2018.

Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu sit with Donald and Melania Trump in the White House, March 5, 2018.MANDEL NGAN/AFP

(CNN) — President Donald Trump has had no bigger international backer than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump’s policies, particularly where it comes to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing that city as Israel’s capital — and also where it comes to drawing a hard line on Iran’s nuclear program — are in alignment with Netanyahu’s.

But there was a pall over their meeting Monday, since both men are beset by staffing issues, criminal issues, familial scandal and a skeptical press.
To help us break down the similarities — and differences — between Trump’s problems and Netanyahu’s problems, we have CNN’s Jerusalem correspondent Oren Liebermann, who has written extensively about the Israeli Prime Minister.
Here’s a transcript of our exchange, edited slightly for flow.
ZW: Oren, you published a story today with the headline “Third Netanyahu confidant turns states’ witness in graft probes.” That doesn’t sound good for him. In Trump’s case there is a special counsel working with former confidants of the US President. What’s similar about Netanyahu’s legal problems and what’s different?
OL: The biggest difference is in the substance of the investigations. They are fundamentally different types of proceedings. Mueller’s special investigation began with Russian election meddling and has proceeded along those lines; the police investigations against Netanyahu and his inner circle began as graft probes.
The end result may also be different, though that’s unclear at this time. If convicted, Netanyahu will face a likely prison sentence, since these are criminal investigations. What happens if Mueller finds collusion between the Trump administration and Russia? What about obstruction of justice? Or perjury? We don’t know the answer to those questions yet.
But from those initial differences, there are many similarities.
Both leaders’ legal problems now involve members of their family and their inner circle. Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, is now a possible suspect in one of the corruption investigations facing the Israeli leader, just as Jared Kushner has become involved in the Russia investigation. Members of each leader’s inner circle have also become a part of the investigations — Trump’s confidants have been questioned by Mueller; Netanyahu’s confidants have been named as suspects in the probes and have even turned state’s witness.

Netanyahu: How he rose to the top

Netanyahu: How he rose to the top 01:33
Both leaders have responded to the probes in much the same way — blaming the opposition, blasting the media, slamming leaks and repeatedly proclaiming innocence. Even their language has matched up — both have decried the investigations as media-fueled “witch hunts.”
There is also one other difference worth pointing out. Trump is in office until after the 2020 election. The political reality for Netanyahu is quite different. If his coalition partners turn on him, he could be out very quickly.
ZW: A problem for Trump has been that his son-in-law apparently features in the Russia probe. And before the election, his son met with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Netanyahu’s family has also been drawn into scandal. Are the circumstances similar and are they involved in the Israeli government?
OL: Netanyahu’s family isn’t involved in politics the way Trump’s family is involved. Though Netanyahu’s wife is often by his side, she doesn’t openly figure into the day-to-day operations of the Israeli government the way Trump’s family does for the American government. Trump’s daughter and his son-in-law have prominent, public roles in either the administration or the daily life of the President; Netanyahu’s wife and children do not. Sure, Netanyahu’s family makes headlines, but not nearly as often as Trump’s family.
That being said, just as Trump’s family has become a focus of the Mueller investigation, Netanyahu’s family has become embroiled in the graft probes.
Sara Netanyahu is a possible suspect in one investigation, while her name features prominently in another.
ZW: Netanyahu has long weighed in on US politics, particularly where it comes to Iran. He was a supporter of Mitt Romney in 2012 and, perhaps even more so, of Trump’s in 2016. How important is his relationship with Trump to Netanyahu in Israel?
OL: Incredibly important, and that’s probably still an understatement.

Israeli PM and wife questioned in Case 4000

Israeli PM and wife questioned in Case 4000 01:53
Trump gave Netanyahu a series of diplomatic and political victories, from recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to protecting Israel at the United Nations. Those were enormous scores for the Israeli leader, and he has tried to return the favor by repeatedly praising Trump and hailing the strongest ever ties between Israel and the US.
More importantly, Trump is popular with Netanyahu’s voter base and vice versa. Even if Trump was considered wild and unpredictable at first, he is firmly in the pro-Israel camp now, so it’s in Netanyahu’s interest to play up the strong ties between the two leaders.
It’s also worth remembering that this is the first time Netanyahu has had a Republican president. Up until now, it was either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama — Netanyahu entirely missed George W. Bush’s time in office.
ZW: How likely is it that Netanyahu survives this?
OL: In Israeli politics, it’s never wise to bet against Netanyahu. He knows how to play the game of Israeli politics better than anyone … and it is a brutal game. He’s won four elections, and recent polling shows he would almost certainly win a fifth if elections were held today. He has the support of all of his coalition partners, which means he’s in the driver’s seat.
And yet each successive development in the corruption investigations of the Israeli leader is another blow to Netanyahu. Even if he has refused to back down, it becomes a little more difficult for his coalition partners to support him, and it becomes a political calculation of when to pull support. The closer the attorney general gets to possibly filing charges against Netanyahu, the harder it becomes to support him.
So why haven’t they already pulled their support?
Because Israel’s government is an entirely right-wing government, which means all the parties are pulling from generally the same voter base (with the exception of the ultra-Orthodox parties, who have their own voters). If one of Netanyahu’s coalition partners pulls support for the Prime Minister, they may face a backlash from right-wing voters, upset that they toppled a right-wing government. That’s why everyone is still supporting Netanyahu right now — not because it’s in Netanyahu’s interest, but because it’s in their own.
ZW: If, hypothetically, Netanyahu was forced out and his party lost power, what could it mean both for a Mideast peace process and also for the US and Iran?
OL: Every Israeli party — left and right — would continue lobbying against Iran. Maybe not as vocally, maybe not as openly, but they’re all on the same page when it comes to viewing Iran as a threat, so that doesn’t change.
Trump threatens to cut off aid to Palestinians
Trump threatens to cut off aid to Palestinians 03:02
On the Mideast peace process, it depends on who would step in. Because of the way Israeli politics works, it’s entirely possible that, even if Netanyahu was forced out, his own party would simply find a different leader. In this case, the peace process is probably dead on arrival, since many in Netanyahu’s own party are far more critical of a two-state solution than he is.
If a centrist or left-wing party were able to win an election, then the peace process could still — theoretically, at least — proceed.
But the peace process doesn’t only rely on the Israeli government. Washington would still have to find some way to coax the Palestinians back to the table, as there aren’t many (if any) Israeli politicians they believe will readily make concessions in a peace process. And Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, hasn’t shown a willingness to make his own concessions for peace.