Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-16-2019

Elections Update
With the elections set to take place on Tuesday, the right wing religious Noam party has pulled out of the race. The move is seen as an attempt to prevent bleeding votes away from the rightist Yamina party. National religious rabbis, who support Yamina, put a lot of pressure on Noam to withdraw.

MK Yair Lapid, one of the leaders of the Blue and White party, on Sunday vowed not to be part of a government that included PM Netanyahu, but did not rule out including Netanyahu’s Likud party in a “central” unity government. He also ruled out forming a government with the Joint Arab list.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz announced that he would appoint former IDF chief of staff Rabi Ashkenazi as defense minister and former IDF chief and defense minister Moshe Ya’alon as education minister.

The most recent polls have Likud and Blue and White winning around the same number of seats. Avigdor Leiberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party is projected to win 10 seats, which would make his participation in any government seem mandatory. But he already brought down the last right wing government with his refusal to go along with a draft law that would allow exemptions for the Haredi community. So how will this time around be different?

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Early today PM Netanyahu told Army Radio that he plans to annex “all the settlements” in the West Bank, including the Jewish enclave in the city of Hebron. He said, “I intend to extend sovereignty on all the settlements and the (settlement) blocs,” including “sites that have security importance or are important to Israel’s heritage.”

The cabinet yesterday approved the new town of Mevo’ot Yericho, which is located in the Jordan Valley. The vote took place after the attorney general removed his opposition to holding a vote on the issue.

PM Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to apply Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley. He said, “We will apply sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea as soon as the next government is established in the next Knesset. I have appointed a work team headed by the director of the Prime Minister’s Office, which will formulate an outline for applying sovereignty.”

He added, “Applying Israeli sovereignty to all our communities in Judea and Samaria, including the blocs and the territory outside the blocs, and other areas that are essential for our security and our heritage – these things will come up in the “Deal of the Century” plan, which will come very soon after the elections.”

It’s no coincidence that this is happening the day before the elections.

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Gaza Operation
According to a report in Haaretz today, PM Netanyahu had planned to conduct a wide scale military operation in Gaza last week, but was stopped by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who said that such an operation requires the approval of the cabinet.

The PM’s opponents on both the Left and the Right have criticized the PM for his “weakness” in dealing with the attacks from Gaza.

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