Israel: Likud hopeful Sa’ar says two-state solution with Palestinians is an ‘illusion’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Likud hopeful Sa’ar says two-state solution with Palestinians is an ‘illusion’

Attacking PM from the right, challenger blames Netanyahu’s ‘endless concessions’ for helping perpetuate the idea that a Palestinian state is the only way to achieve a peace deal

Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar speaks at a conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, December 15, 2019. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar speaks at a conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, December 15, 2019. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Gideon Sa’ar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sole challenger in the upcoming Likud party leadership race, said Sunday that a two-state solution with the Palestinians is an “illusion,” and attacked the premier for giving the notion credibility over the last decade.

“Throughout the world they say that a two-state solution remains the path to an agreement,” Sa’ar said, speaking at a conference.”I have to say to you, this is not a position that helps anyone. Two-states in an illusion.”

Sa’ar said this had been shown through decades of negotiations based around two-states that had failed to bring peace. He also blamed the Palestinians for “never being able to agree to a compromise, despite very generous offers.”

Sa’ar castigated Netanyahu for perpetuating the idea that two-states was the only solution, accusing him of making “endless concessions” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the last decade, including settlement building freezes in the West Bank.

He also referred to Netanyahu’s famous speech at Bar-Ilan University in 2009, in which the prime minister expressed support for the creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has since said conditions for statehood no longer exist in the current reality in the Middle East.

Sa’ar said that the solution needs to be an autonomous Palestinian entity linked together in a federation with Jordan. “Between the Jordan River and the (Mediterranean) Sea there cannot be another state,” he said.

Sa’ar appeared to be trying to outflank Netanyahu from the right ahead of the Likud party leadership vote, set for December 26. However, Netanyahu has in recent years also moved away from tacit support for a two-state solution and has, over the last few months, been promising to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank if reelected.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a map of the Jordan Valley, vowing to extend Israeli sovereignty there if reelected, during a speech in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Likud MK Sharren Haskel on Sunday said she would back Sa’ar, becoming the fourth lawmaker to publicly endorse him. Most Likud MKs have announced support for Netanyahu, with a few notable lawmakers keeping mum. Despite the defections, Netanyahu is expected to defeat Sa’ar handily.

The vote marks the first real challenge to Netanyahu’s leadership of the party in 14 years. He and Sa’ar are the only contenders who have announced they will run in the primary.

Sa’ar argues that Netanyahu is divisive and has proved he cannot put together a coalition, after failing to muster a governing majority following two national elections in April and September. Israel will go to polls again on March 2.

Sa’ar has expressed his opposition to a two-state solution in the past. Earlier this year he was one of a group of right-wing lawmakers who sent a letter to US lawmakers warning that calls for a two-state solution are “far more dangerous to Israel” than efforts to boycott the Jewish state, and urging them to refrain from such appeals in the future.

“We believe (the proposed resolution) contains a grave error because it expresses, among other things, support for a so-called ‘Two-State Solution,’ meaning the establishment of a ‘Palestinian state’ in the heart of tiny Israel… We would like to make our position clear that the establishment of a Palestinian state would be far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” they wrote.

A crane is used at the construction site in the West Bank settlement of Amichai on September 7, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

The letter was sent to the offices of the four congressmen who co-sponsored a resolution that condemned BDS but also called for a two-state solution — Brad Schneider, Lee Zeldin, Jerry Nadler and Ann Wagner. It was written and sent at the initiative of Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, the Land of Israel caucus in the Knesset and the National Conference of Likud, an informal group of hawks within the ruling party.

Creating a Palestinian state in the region would “severely damage” both Israel’s and America’s national security, the Israeli legislators wrote.

In recent years the Trump administration has moved away from its support for a two-state solution.

Last month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Pompeo repudiated a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”

US moves that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood have included President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the moving of the US embassy to that city and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington. These moves have been widely, though not universally, welcomed in Israel.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and his point man for the Middle East peace process, has said that the administration’s as-yet-unreleased peace plan would avoid speaking about the two-state solution.

“I realize that means different things to different people,” he said earlier this year. “If you say ‘two states’ to the Israelis it means one thing, and if you say ‘two states’ to the Palestinians it means another thing. So we said, ‘let’s just not say it.’ Let’s just work on the details of what this means.”

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Finland elects youngest-ever prime minister

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Finland elects youngest-ever prime minister

Sanna Marin narrowly won Sunday’s vote to replace outgoing leader Antti Rinne, who resigned on Tuesday after losing the confidence of the coalition partner Centre Party over his handling of a postal strike.

WORLD Updated: Dec 09, 2019 08:13 IST

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Helsinki
Sanna Marin narrowly won Sunday’s vote to replace outgoing leader Antti Rinne
Sanna Marin narrowly won Sunday’s vote to replace outgoing leader Antti Rinne(via REUTERS)

Finland’s Social Democrats elected a 34-year-old former transport minister to the post of prime minister on Sunday, making her the youngest head of government in the country’s history.

Sanna Marin narrowly won Sunday’s vote to replace outgoing leader Antti Rinne, who resigned on Tuesday after losing the confidence of the coalition partner Centre Party over his handling of a postal strike.

“We have a lot of work to do to rebuild trust,” Marin told reporters on Sunday night, while deflecting questions about her age.

“I have never thought about my age or gender, I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate.”

At 34, Marin also becomes one of the world’s youngest state leaders, ahead of Ukraine’s prime minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, who is currently 35.

Former PM Antti Rinne had headed Finland’s centre-left five-party coalition since June, and Marin’s appointment is unlikely to lead to significant policy changes by the Social Democrat-led administration.

“We have a shared government program which we have committed to,” Marin said.

The SDP won April’s legislative elections on promises to end years of economic belt-tightening introduced by the Centre Party to lift Finland out of a recession.

Rinne stepped down after several weeks of political crisis over a plan to cut wages for 700 postal workers.

Finland’s postal service withdrew the reform plans in November after widespread strikes, but questions emerged over whether or not Rinne had previously endorsed the cutbacks, leading to the Centre Party declaring it had lost its trust in the prime minister last Monday.

Parliament is expected to formally swear in the new prime minister on Tuesday.

Trump abruptly cancels NATO news conference after summit turns sour

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Trump abruptly cancels NATO news conference after summit turns sour

KEY POINTS
  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a news conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.
  • The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
  • Hours before it was set to start, video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic apparently mocking Trump.
GP: Donald Trump NATO Summit 191204 BRITAIN-NATO-SUMMIT
US President Donald Trump (L) and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) pose for the family photo at the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London on December 4, 2019.
Peter Nicholls | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a press conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.

“When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

“We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!” Trump said.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Great progress has been made by NATO over the last three years. Countries other than the U.S. have agreed to pay 130 Billion Dollars more per year, and by 2024, that number will be 400 Billion Dollars. NATO will be richer and stronger than ever before….

14.5K people are talking about this

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….Just finished meetings with Turkey and Germany. Heading to a meeting now with those countries that have met their 2% GOALS, followed by meetings with Denmark and Italy….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington. We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!

14.2K people are talking about this

The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Hours before the news conference was set to start, video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic mocking Trump.

Watch Trudeau, Macron and Johnson appear to gossip about Trump on hot mic

Trump offered a blunt retort when asked Wednesday about Trudeau’s comments.

“He’s two-faced,” Trump said, before adding, “I find him to be a very nice guy but the truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it.” Trump has long griped about NATO members paying less than their “fair share” toward the alliance, and brought up the issue repeatedly over the two-day anniversary meeting this week.

In an audio clip later published by reporters covering the NATO event, Trump appeared to compliment himself for his harsh words toward Trudeau. “That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced,” Trump is heard saying.

Trudeau, speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, said that Trump “was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”

“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau said at another point in the video, raising his eyebrows and motioning with his hand for effect.

None of the politicians in the hot mic video, which emerged on social media Tuesday evening, mentioned Trump by name. But Trudeau reportedly said Wednesday that it was Trump’s surprise announcement of the location for next year’s Group of Seven summit that made “his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”

Trump revealed Tuesday that the 2020 G-7 summit will be held at Camp David in Maryland, weeks after he retreated from a plan to host it at his own Miami golf resort.

Later Wednesday, while sitting alongside Conte, Trump explained that “There’s no reason to have press conferences because you had about eight of them,” apparently referring to his lengthy prior remarks to reporters.

The hot mic gossip was the latest point of tension at the meeting, but it was far from the only dispute between leaders on display.

Macron defended his recent claim that NATO was suffering from “brain death” from critics including Trump, who had called that comment “very nasty.”

The French leader also called out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his threat to oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of Baltic countries if it does not recognize groups Turkey deems as terrorists. The White House announced Wednesday morning that Trump had met with Erdogan during the NATO event.

Trump calls Canada’s Prime Minister ‘Two Faced’ at NATO meeting

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

London (CNN)After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.
“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.
Trudeau indicated that he wasn’t concerned about his comments impacting the US-Canadian relationship, but Trump reacted angrily earlier Wednesday calling Trudeau “two-faced,” before adding, “honestly with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy.”
Trump also canceled his own press conference scheduled for the end of his trip to the NATO summit. The President was caught on a hot mic of his own after the cancellation, saying, “Oh, and then you know what they’ll say. ‘He didn’t do a press conference. He didn’t do a press conference.’ That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.”
The 25-second clip was first reported by CBC, begins with Johnson asking Macron why he was late.
“Is that why you were late?” Johnson asked.
Macron nodded, as Trudeau replied, “He was late because he takes a … 40-minute press conference at the top.”
At no time in the video do the leaders mention Trump by name.
None of them seemed to be aware that the conversation was being recorded, although they were talking openly and loudly enough to be heard by others.
“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau also appears to say at one point. Trudeau said during his press conference that the comment was made in reference to Trump’s announcement during their bilateral meeting that the upcoming G7 summit will be hosted at Camp David.
“Every different leader has teams who now and then (had) jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video for itself, for example,” Trudeau said.
Johnson at a press conference said it was “nonsense” to suggest the video indicated he didn’t take Trump seriously.
“I don’t know where that’s come from,” he added.
Microphones could only pick up snippets of the conversation at the reception, which the press was given limited access to.
Trump also criticized Trudeau over the fact Canada does not currently meet NATO’s 2% defense spending target.
“The truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said, adding that “he should be paying 2%” and that Canada “has money.”
“I can imagine he’s not that happy, but that’s the way it is,” Trump said.
A spokeswoman for Macron at the Elysée Palace told CNN they had “no comment. This video does not say anything special.” A spokesperson for Rutte also told CNN they do not comment on closed-door sessions.

Clash with Macron

Trump spent Tuesday in meetings in London headlined by a clash with a key ally, France. He met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron and Trudeau, making extended remarks and taking questions from the press on each occasion.
Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Macron was remarkably tense as the French President refused to back down from remarks that Trump called “nasty” and “insulting.” Last month, Macron had described NATO as suffering from “brain death” caused by American indifference to the long-time alliance.
But the two leaders appeared to be on good terms as they walked onto the road leading to 10 Downing Street together for another reception following the gathering at the palace. It appeared that Trump had given Macron a lift in his motorcade vehicle commonly referred to as “the beast.”

UK Labour Party omits Jews from campaign video promoting minority rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UK Labour Party omits Jews from campaign video promoting minority rights

Amid anti-Semitism scandal, clip posted by Corbyn mentions over 20 marginalized groups and says party ‘will value you,’ but neglects Jews

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures during a general election campaign visit at Whitby Leisure Centre in Whitby, northern England, on December 1, 2019. (Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures during a general election campaign visit at Whitby Leisure Centre in Whitby, northern England, on December 1, 2019. (Paul ELLIS / AFP)

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn failed to mention Jews in an election campaign video that champions diversity and the rights of over 20 groups.

The 68-second video released Saturday features images of British people, towns and cities, along with a September speech by Dawn Butler, who holds the party’s Women and Equalities portfolio.

Butler lists various population groups, including people who are LGBT+, straight, Roma, black, white, Asian, disabled, “struggling to pay rent” or “wear a hijab, turban, a cross.” She assures that “a Labour government will value you, just be your true authentic self.”

While Jews make up 0.37 percent of the United Kingdom’s population, leaders of major Jewish groups suggested the omission was not connected to the minority’s limited electoral strength.

Jeremy Corbyn

@jeremycorbyn

This is our strength.

Embedded video

7,328 people are talking about this

Rather, they say, it is linked to the anti-Semitism problem in Labour’s ranks following the 2015 election of Corbyn as its leader. Corbyn, a far-left politician, has supported boycotting Israel and called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends, and he has been widely and repeatedly accused of failing to adequately tackle rampant anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks.

Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, addresses the crowd in Parliament Square at the #EnoughIsEnough demonstration organized by UK Jewish leaders to protest anti-Semitism in the Labour party, March 2018. (Marc Morris/Jewish News)

Jewish Leadership Council Chairman Jonathan Goldstein told the Jewish Chronicle that the omission of Jews from the video was “extraordinary and chilling” and “shows they don’t regard the Jewish community or anti-Semitism as equal to other communities or racism of other types.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that in the video, “The Jewish community is ‘erased’ as a minority group worthy of their support.”

Deborah E. Lipstadt@deborahlipstadt

Labour’s campaign video: Mention of every possible religious, ethnic, gendered, sexual orientation etc. minority. Except one. Jews. Sure it was just an oversight https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn/status/1200675327636385792 

Jeremy Corbyn

@jeremycorbyn

This is our strength.

Embedded video

579 people are talking about this

A Labour Party spokesperson told UK media: “This video launched our Race and Faith Manifesto, which includes policies to guarantee the security and well-being of the Jewish community, defend and celebrate Jewish way of life, and combat anti-Semitism in Britain and across Europe. A Labour government will maintain real-terms funding for the Community Security Trust, make attacks on places of worship an aggravated offense, and force the tech giants to tackle anti-Semitism on social media.

“We will also protect the religious rights and freedoms of Jewish people and ensure public services meet the needs of Jewish people, from coroner services conducting quick burials to proper provision of religious and culturally sensitive social care and youth services. We will also ensure wider teaching about anti-Semitism in schools so that the next generation are better equipped to recognize and challenge these prejudices.”

Corbyn last week sparked outrage by repeatedly declining to apologize for his handling of anti-Semitism in the party in an interview with the BBC.

The BBC’s Andrew Neil pressed Corbyn six times to apologize to the Jewish community, in the wake of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s unprecedented statement that Britain’s Jews were “gripped by anxiety” over the future of the community in the country, amid the prospect of a Labour win in the December 12 election.

After being slammed for the interview, on Wednesday Corbyn tried to tamp down the flames by saying that the party had already apologized for anti-Semitism in its ranks.

Polls suggest that just six percent of UK Jews plan to vote Labour. Nearly half say they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Corbyn — a man 87% of those polled believe is an anti-Semite — gets to Downing Street.

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.

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Israel: Attorney general blasts ‘threats, lies, slander’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Attorney general blasts ‘threats, lies, slander’ against judiciary over PM cases

As Likud supporters gather at Tel Aviv rally, Avichai Mandelblit issues rebuke of Netanyahu, who has accused law enforcement of staging an ‘attempted coup’

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit holds a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem, announcing his decision that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different corruption cases, dubbed by police Case 1000,  Case 2000 and Case 4000. November 21, 2019. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit holds a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem, announcing his decision that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different corruption cases, dubbed by police Case 1000, Case 2000 and Case 4000. November 21, 2019. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday condemned “threats,” “lies” and “baseless slander” directed against law enforcement, in a thinly veiled rebuke of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters’ efforts to discredit the justice system after criminal charges against the premier were announced last week.

“The dignified approach we take is not always embraced by others,” Mandelblit said, hours before a Likud rally was to be held in Tel Aviv under the banner “Stopping the coup.”

“I am hearing expressions that don’t have a place in public discourse that are directed at the law enforcement system, and certain senior officials inside it. I am hearing threats. I am hearing lies. I am hearing baseless slander. That is simply shocking,” the attorney general said at a conference of state attorneys in Eilat.

After Mandelblit announced indictments against Netanyahu in three corruption cases last Thursday, the prime minister held a press conference in which he accused prosecutors of seeking to oust him from power with false charges in an “attempted coup.”

Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrate outside his residence following the announcement by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that he will charge the premier in three graft cases, November 21, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Netanyahu claimed the investigation had been tainted by various improprieties and accused law enforcement authorities of “selective enforcement” against him. He demanded to “investigate the investigators.”

“I deeply respect the justice system in Israel. But you have to be blind not to see that something bad is happening to police investigators and the prosecution. We’re seeing an attempted coup by the police with false accusations” against him, Netanyahu charged.

His political allies soon took up the refrain, with Communications Minister David Amsalem singling out State Attorney Shai Nitzan and Liat Ben-Ari, the lead prosecutor in the cases.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds to the decision to indict him in corruption cases, November 21, 2019 (Channel 11 Kan screenshot)

Nitzan, Ben-Ari and Mandelblit have all been receiving additional police protection over the past year due to threats from supporters of the prime minister.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Mandelblit said the tightened security arrangements for the prosecutors was “unacceptable.”

“Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of us all. He heads the government, which we serve. The state prosecution is not, God forbid, in a confrontation with the prime minister or any minister,” he said.

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan speaks at a Justice Ministry conference in Tel Aviv, on November 4, 2019. (Flash90)

Mandelblit announced on Monday that Netanyahu could continue to hold office as a caretaker prime minister despite criminal charges against him, but left open the question of whether he could legally be tasked with forming a new government in the future.

Netanyahu has vowed to stay in office while he fights the criminal charges, which include bribery, fraud and breach of trust in one case, and additional fraud and breach of trust charges in another two cases.

Mandelblit’s announcement Thursday did not include the official filing of an indictment, as the Knesset must first decide on whether to grant Netanyahu procedural immunity, a process that — due to the current political gridlock and the lack of a functioning government — could drag on for months.

The prime minister has called his devotees to his side at several recent Likud party rallies.

On Tuesday evening, a mass rally in the center of Tel Aviv by Netanyahu backers is expected to include fierce criticism of the justice system and calls to investigate the prime minister’s prosecutors.

“There are places where there is a military coup and the military removes elected officials, and there is also a legal coup that takes place above the table in front of our eyes,” Simcha Rothman, a leader of the Movement for Governance and Democracy, one of the groups sponsoring the event, told Channel 12.

Organizers say they are expecting at least 10,000 people to participate — most of whom are being bused to the nation’s liberal heartland from around the country.

The rally will begin at 8 p.m. outside the Tel Aviv Museum.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Netanyahu had not made clear whether he would address the rally. Channel 13 news said he had not yet decided.

Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, November 23, 2019. Sign bottom right, reads ‘Investigate the investigators.’ (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Some in Likud have also expressed misgivings about the rally, with at least two ministers from the party announcing Tuesday that they would not attend. Both Culture Minister Miri Regev and Science Minister Ofir Akunis said they had prior engagements.

A Likud source speaking on condition of anonymity told The Times of Israel that the party was considering asking lawmakers not to attend in order to avoid the possibility of too many no-shows after many expressed disquiet at attending a rally that claimed a “coup” was underway.

Netanyahu’s chief political rival, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, slammed Netanyahu for the rally.

“The right to protest and freedom of expression are the centerpiece of democracy. In a healthy democracy a person has the right to freely express their opinion,” Gantz tweeted on Tuesday, adding, “In a healthy democracy a prime minister doesn’t organize a protest against the law enforcement system that he oversees.”

Blue and White No 2. Yair Lapid issued a scathing statement accusing Netanyahu of fomenting civil war on Monday.

“Avichai Mandelblit was assigned personal security. The state prosecutor, Shai Nitzan, was assigned personal security. Taxation and economic crimes prosecutor Liat Ben Ari was assigned personal security. They are facing death threats,” he said in a statement. “There’s no question about the cause. It’s clear Netanyahu is inciting against them. They need security because otherwise his people will hurt them. That’s what we’ve come to. He’s called on his people to go out to the streets for a violent revolt against the country.”

Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz (R) and No. 2 Yair Lapid at a faction meeting in the Knesset on November 18, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Likud’s Justice Minister Amir Ohana has attacked the state prosecution, for which he is responsible, saying in recent days that it acts unprofessionally and without oversight. “There are prosecutors breaking the law and nobody checks them,” he said. “I call on the state comptroller to look into this and examine these accusations,” he said.

Most Likud leaders have remained conspicuously silent since the Thursday announcement of the indictments, neither backing Netanyahu nor criticizing him.

The only senior Likud figure who spoke out against Netanyahu’s attacks on the justice system was his rival Gideon Sa’ar, who has launched a leadership challenge against Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s rhetoric, he has said, “harms the Likud’s statesmanlike approach” and “aims not for reform but to destroy the institutions of law enforcement.”

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UK chief rabbi: What will be the fate of Jews if Labour ‘poison’ comes to power?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UK chief rabbi: What will be the fate of Jews if Labour ‘poison’ comes to power?

Dismissing claim by Corbyn’s party to be working to root out anti-Semitism in its ranks as ‘mendacious fiction,’ Ephraim Mirvis asks: ‘What should we expect of them in government?’

Illustrative: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gives a speech as he attends a Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, January 27, 2015. (AP/Chris Jackson)

Illustrative: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gives a speech as he attends a Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, January 27, 2015. (AP/Chris Jackson)

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis took an unprecedented stand against the Labour party ahead of next month’s election, urging voters to see the “new poison” that has taken root in the party, and expressing fear for the fate of Jews in the country should Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister.

In a column published Monday on The Times website, Mirvis said he was compelled to intervene in politics because Britain’s Jews were “gripped by anxiety” over the future of the community and of Judaism in the country amid the prospect of a Labour win on December 12.

Without explicitly calling on people not to vote for Labour, or even mentioning Corbyn by name, Mirvis warned that “a new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party.”

“The question I am now most frequently asked is: What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?” he wrote.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, addresses party members during the Labour Party Conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton, England, September 24, 2019. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

“This anxiety is justified. Raising concerns about anti-Jewish racism in the context of a general election ranks among the most painful moments I have experienced since taking office,” the chief rabbi wrote, explaining his bombshell intervention by saying that “challenging racism is not a matter of politics, it goes well beyond that.”

Polls suggest that just six percent of UK Jews plan to vote Labour. Nearly half say they will “seriously consider” emigrating if Corbyn — a man 87% of those polled believe is an anti-Semite — gets to Downing Street.

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.

The Labour leadership has strenuously defended itself, with Corbyn himself arguing in recent weeks: “Antisemitism and racism is an evil within our society. I’ve done everything to confront it throughout my life, and will always do so.”

Much of the fear of Corbyn is spurred by revelations about his past record that have emerged since he became Labour leader. These include him describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”; defending an anti-Semitic mural in East London; and a seeming willingness to associate with alleged anti-Semites, terrorists and Holocaust-deniers.

Mirvis described the last four years of having Labour repeatedly minimize and deny the rampant anti-Semitism in the party and the attacks, and even death threats, Jewish party members faced for speaking out about it, with many hounded out of the party.

Illustrative: People hold up placards and Union flags as they gather for a demonstration organized by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism outside the head office of the British opposition Labour Party in central London on April 8, 2018. (AFP/Tolga Akmen)

He noted Labour’s “quibbling and prevarication” over whether to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance‘s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, finally only doing so after adding an amendment that emphasized the right to “free speech” on Israel.

And he highlighted the party being formally investigated by the UK’s anti-racism watchdog.

“And all of this while in opposition. What should we expect of them in government?” Mirvis asked. “Therefore, with the heaviest of hearts, I call upon the citizens of our great country to study what has been unfolding before our very eyes.”

Mirvis dismissed Labour’s claims that it was doing everything possible to root out anti-Semitism as a “mendacious fiction.”

“According to the Jewish Labour Movement, there are at least 130 outstanding cases before the party, some dating back years, and thousands more have been reported but remain unresolved.

“The party leadership have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes. It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party,” he wrote.

Mirvis said given Labour’s record, it “can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism.”

“How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office?” he asked.

“Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not,” he said. referring to Corbyn’s calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. Corbyn later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.

Jeremy Corbyn (second from left) holding a wreath during a visit to the Martyrs of Palestine, in Tunisia, in October 2014. (Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia)

“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote,” Mirvis said. “I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?”

Therefore, he added, “When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”

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PM Narendra Modi leaves for home after concluding visit to Saudi Arabia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

PM Narendra Modi leaves for home after concluding visit to Saudi Arabia

PM Narendra Modi, held wide-ranging talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during which a Strategic Partnership Council was established to coordinate on important issues.

INDIA Updated: Oct 30, 2019 06:26 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Riyadh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.(PTI photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, during which he held extensive talks with the top Saudi leadership and addressed a key financial forum here.

Modi, who arrived here Monday night, held wide-ranging talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during which a Strategic Partnership Council was established to coordinate on important issues.

A memorandum of under standing was also signed to roll out RuPay card in the Kingdom – making Saudi Arabia the third country in the Persian Gulf after the UAE and Bahrain to introduce India’s digital payment system.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “Leaving with a marked upswing in bilateral relations. PM Narendra Modi departs from Riyadh after steering the India-Saudi relationship on a upward trajectory pointing towards greater collaboration in future.” Prime Minister Modi also delivered a keynote address at the high-profile Future Investment Initiative (FII), dubbed as ‘Davos in the desert’, where he pressed for the United Nations reforms while expressing regret over some “powerful” countries using the global body as a “tool” rather than an “institution” to resolve conflicts.

At the fort, he said that India will invest a USD 100 billion in oil and gas infrastructure to meet energy needs of an economy that is being targeted to nearly double in five years. He also sought investment from the oil-rich Saudi Arabia and other nations to boost supplies.

India’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been on an upswing over the last few years based on burgeoning energy ties. India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.

This was Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to the country. During his first visit, King Salman conferred Saudi’s highest civilian award on him. The Crown Prince visited India in February 2019, giving a further fillip to the bilateral ties.

Saudi Arabia last month said that it was looking at investing USD 100 billion in India in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining.

First Published: Oct 30, 2019 06:13 IST

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday tapped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Arab Parties Back Benny Gantz as Israeli Leader, to End Netanyahu’s Grip

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Arab Parties Back Benny Gantz as Israeli Leader, to End Netanyahu’s Grip

ImageAyman Odeh, center, with other candidates from the Arab Joint List, an alliance of predominantly Arab parties.
CreditCreditAhmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

JERUSALEM — After 27 years of sitting out decisions on who should lead Israel, Arab lawmakers on Sunday recommended that Benny Gantz, the centrist former army chief, be given the first chance to form a government over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a watershed assertion of political power.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List, wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed published on Sunday that the alliance’s 13 incoming lawmakers — the third-largest faction in the newly elected Parliament — had decided to recommend Mr. Gantz because it would “create the majority needed to prevent another term for Mr. Netanyahu.”

“It should be the end of his political career,” Mr. Odeh wrote.

The Arab lawmakers’ recommendation, which Mr. Odeh and other members of the Joint List delivered to President Reuven Rivlin in a face-to-face meeting Sunday evening, reflected Arab citizens’ impatience to integrate more fully into Israeli society and to have their concerns be given greater weight by Israeli lawmakers.

“There is no doubt a historic aspect to what we are doing now,” Mr. Odeh said in the meeting with the president, which was broadcast live.

It was also a striking act of comeuppance for Mr. Netanyahu, who for years had rallied his right-wing supporters by inflaming anti-Arab sentiments. Before the Sept. 17 election, he accused Arab politicians of trying to steal the election and at one point accused them of wanting to “destroy us all.”

Israeli Arabs “have chosen to reject Benjamin Netanyahu, his politics of fear and hate, and the inequality and division he advanced for the past decade,” Mr. Odeh wrote in the Op-Ed for The Times.

Still, Mr. Odeh wrote that the Joint List would not enter a government led by Mr. Gantz because he had not agreed to embrace its entire “equality agenda” — fighting violent crime in Arab cities, changing housing and planning laws to treat Arab and Jewish neighborhoods the same, improving Arabs’ access to hospitals, increasing pensions, preventing violence against women, incorporating Arab villages that lack water and electricity, resuming peace talks with the Palestinians and repealing the law passed last year that declared Israel the nation-state only of the Jewish people.

The last time Arab lawmakers recommended a prime minister was in 1992, when two Arab parties with a total of five seats in Parliament recommended Yitzhak Rabin, though they did not join his government.

“We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens can no longer be rejected or ignored,” Mr. Odeh wrote.

In the 1992 election, Mr. Rabin initially held a narrow majority in the 120-seat Knesset even without the Arab parties’ support, though he came to rely on it a year later after Shas, an ultra-Orthodox party, quit the government when Mr. Rabin signed the Oslo peace accords.

Mr. Odeh wrote that the decision to support Mr. Gantz was meant as “a clear message that the only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Palestinian citizens.”

Mr. Gantz narrowly edged the prime minister in the national election last Tuesday. Afterward, both candidates called for unity, but differed on how to achieve it.

The former army chief appears to lack a 61-seat majority even with the Joint List’s support. He emerged from the election with 57 seats, including those of allies on the left and the Joint List, compared with 55 seats for Mr. Netanyahu and his right-wing allies.

Avigdor Liberman, leader of the secular, right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won eight seats, is in the position to be a kingmaker, but said on Sunday that he would not recommend any candidate. He said that Mr. Odeh and the Joint List were not merely political opponents, but “the enemies” and belonged in the “Parliament in Ramallah,” not in the Knesset.

Mr. Rivlin began hearing the recommendations of each major party Sunday evening and was to finish on Monday, before entrusting the task of forming a government to whichever candidate he believes has the best chance of being successful.

In remarks at the start of that process, Mr. Rivlin said the Israeli public wanted a unity government including both Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White party and Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting.

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