(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
In a rare move, Abbas’s government called on the attorney general to overturn the latest decision by Ramallah Magistrate’s Court.
Government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem said in a statement that the PA government urged administrators of social media pages and news sites to “follow professional and moral standards in publishing news and media items.”
He stressed the government’s respect for international conventions that guarantee the protection of freedoms and its strong respect for the independence of the judiciary and non-intervention in its affairs.
The decision was made at the request of the Palestinian prosecution.
In its petition to the court, The prosecution argued that the sites disseminate harmful content about the PA and its officials and are likely to be used to incite lawlessness.
The court’s decision was leaked after prosecutors sent it to Internet companies in the Palestinian territories.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate held a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday, a day after the news of the blockage was leaked.
Syndicate Head Naser Abu Baker called it a “black day” for the press in Palestine.
“The judiciary must protect freedom in Palestine,” he stated. “It should not restrict it.”
He said that the syndicate appealed against the decision and announced that it is against any previous agreements with the Public Prosecution.
“What is required now is for the court to cancel this decision and amend the law on cyber crimes with respect to freedom of information.”
Abu Baker described the decision to block websites as a blow to the government and its efforts to establish media freedoms.
In this context, Palestinian officials and factions rejected the “gagging” policy.
Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, expressed dissatisfaction with the decision.
“Blocking access to websites or imposing other measures that prevent access to information or restrict freedom of expression are in complete contradiction with the Palestinian Basic Law,” she stressed in a statement.
David A. Andelman, executive director of The RedLines Project, is a contributor to CNN, where his columns won the Deadline Club Award for Best Opinion Writing. Author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today,” he was formerly a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
(CNN)With a single stroke, President Donald Trump has effectively brought a newly resurgent and potent triad—Syria, Russia and Iran—to the very doorstep of their declared enemy, Israel, and given aid and comfort to Israel’s longtime and persistent foe, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.
An organization called the “Temple Groups”, called for a gathering on Saturday in Al-Aqsa courtyards, to raise their demand to equally allocate prayer times for Jews and Muslims under the slogan of “equality and non-discrimination against Jews.”
A wave of settlers stormed the yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday, under strict security measures by the Israeli occupation forces. The raid came in response to calls by Jewish organizations to intensify “visits” to the place in celebration of the Jewish Throne Day.
According to the Islamic Waqf, the total number of Jewish settlers who entered Al-Aqsa on Wednesday reached 906, including 295 in the morning and 611 in the afternoon. Israeli occupation authorities also arrested the preacher of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dr. Ismail Nawahda, and conducted a lengthy investigation with him, and then released him in the evening.
The number of settlers entering the mosque is expected to increase in the coming days. Israeli ministers and officials participated in some of these incursions, creating further tension with the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will “return his mandate” to President Reuven Rivlin after being unable to form a government, according to a tweet by the Jerusalem Post’s chief political correspondent.
Gil Hoffman said in a post that he’ll make the move “barring a change of heart” by Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party on letting Netanyahu start as prime minister and bring allies with him into the coalition.
Netanyahu was tapped last week to form Israel’s next government with no clear indication he’d be able to pull that off and end weeks of political stalemate.
The decision late Wednesday by President Reuven Rivlin to hand Netanyahu first crack at building a coalition in parliament granted the Israeli leader a political lifeline a week before he faces a crucial hearing on the corruption allegations that have clouded the last three years of his tenure.
Blue and White, which won the most seats in elections earlier this month, rejected demands from Netanyahu to form a unity government under his leadership with his right-wing and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies, according to the AP.
Gantz has not ruled out an alliance with Likud in but said he would not do so with Netanyahu facing indictment.
TEL AVIV — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday tapped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud party to form a new government after receiving the final results of last week’s deadlocked election.
“The people of Israel don’t want new elections,” Rivlin said at the presidential residence in Jerusalem after handing the mandate to Netanyahu and passing over his primary challenger, former three-star general Benny Gantz from the centrist Blue and White party. “Parties will need to compromise.”
Netanyahu, whose deal-making skills and alliances with right-wing and religious parties have helped make him Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, now has six weeks to try to cobble together a government. If he fails to do so, the opportunity could pass to the next candidate who the president thinks has the greatest chance of forming a government.
SEPT. 19, 201901:00
Israeli presidents are responsible for picking prime minister candidates after elections. The process is usually a formality but has recently become much more complicated since neither Netanyahu nor Gantz was able to build a stable parliamentary majority on their own.
The announcement followed negotiations over a proposed unity government, with Gantz and Netanyahu unable to come to an agreement. Gantz — who is a former army chief of staff — has publicly resisted the idea of allying with the Likud, citing looming corruption charges against Netanyahu.
Netanyahu could be indicted on three separate charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Rivlin also floated the option of Netanyahu forming a government with Gantz as second-in-command, with the agreement that if Netanyahu is indicted he will step down until he is cleared of any wrongdoing.
Later, Gantz repeated his pledge not to serve under Netanyahu while he faced possible charges.
“Blue and White, led by me, does not agree to sit in a government whose leader is facing a severe indictment,” he said. “This issue, among a number of other critical factors, is more important to us than any delegation of ministerial posts or a rotation.”
Speaking after Rivlin, Netanyahu said: “I know that the only way to form a government is a unity one. We need unity to unify everyone and reconcile the people.”
For Netanyahu, there is more than simply his political career at stake. If he manages to form a government, it may be possible for him to pass legislation that would grant him immunity. Israel’s attorney general is expected to decide whether to formally charge the prime minister by the end of the year, after a pretrial hearing Oct. 2.
Netanyahu, who failed to secure a clear election victory for the second time in five months, is running out of time to pass the legislation.
“Very shortly, these proceedings will begin making it virtually impossible for him to form a coalition government that would enable legislation to proceed that would stop those legal proceedings,” David Halperin, executive director of the center-left Israel Policy Forum, said.
The final results saw the Likud party add an extra seat in Parliament, raising its total to 32 out of the 120 seats, one behind Blue and White’s 33. But since the Likud’s gain comes at the expense of an allied ultra-Orthodox party, it didn’t change the total of 55 lawmakers who support a Netanyahu government, compared to the 54 who back Gantz.
Former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, who was tapped as the potential kingmaker after his nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party won eight seats, refused to endorse either candidate, meaning both Netanyahu’s and Gantz’s blocs were short of a 61 majority — the minimum needed to form a governing coalition in the 120-seat Israeli Parliament, or Knesset.
When Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government in May he dissolved Parliament, triggering last week’s snap election, but as it stands it appears unlikely that he will have the numbers to usher in a third election.
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.
Israel’s president is set to begin two days of consultations with political parties after a deadlocked election last week plunged the country into uncertainty over who will lead the next government.
Near-final results from Tuesday’s poll showed the opposition chief, Benny Gantz, marginally ahead of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with his Blue and White party taking 33 seats out of parliament’s 120. The ruling Likud party has 31.
Critically, neither side appeared able to forge a majority government, even with support from allies in smaller parties.
On Sunday afternoon President Reuven Rivlin will meet both leaders in an attempt to break the stalemate or face the possibility of a potential third round of elections in less than a year. Rivlin holds a largely ceremonial post but is also responsible for choosing the candidate he believes has the best chance of forming a government. Usually, the decision is clear, and often goes to the leader of the largest party, but the muddied result has created an impasse.
Despite being Israel’s longest-serving leader and having a reputation for political sorcery, Netanyahu is fighting a tough battle. On Thursday he acknowledged his plan had failed. “During the elections, I called for the establishment of a rightwing government,” Netanyahu said in a video message. “But unfortunately the election results show that this is not possible.”
After leading the country for 10 consecutive years, Israeli media has questioned whether his era was over. His biographer, Anshel Pfeffer, wrote that, while he may still cling on, “the Netanyahu magic has been broken”.
Fearing defeat, the prime minister has called for his opponent to join him in a unity government, hinting that he might be willing to accept a power-sharing arrangement with Gantz. There is a precedent in Israel for political rivals to serve together after Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres rotated the role of prime minister in the mid-1980s. However, Gantz, a former military chief, swiftly rejected Netanyahu’s offer and said he should lead because his alliance won the most seats. “We will not be dictated to,” he warned.
Israel has held two elections in five months after Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition following a similar result in April. Rather than give the opposition a chance to do so, he instead pushed to dissolve the Knesset, triggering repeat elections and giving himself another opportunity.
The gamble has left him in an apparently worse position and the stakes are much higher. In two weeks’ time he will face pre-trial hearings for three corruption cases against him. A majority in the Knesset could give Netanyahu – who denies any wrongdoing – immunity from prosecution.
At the centre of the impasse, and the man with the key to ending it, is Israel’s apparent kingmaker – the far-right ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman. The staunch secularist took eight seats, but his refusal to join a government with Jewish religious groups has added further blocks.
Politicians from an alliance of the country’s minority Arab population could also play a role, after they became the third-largest bloc in the Knesset. Ayman Odeh, the head of the group, has said that he may back Gantz, but even that would not give the opposition figure a majority.
If Sunday’s talks prove fruitless, Rivlin’s office said he might invite Netanyahu and Gantz back for more consultations. The president is obliged by law to choose a candidate by 2 October, who will then have up to six weeks to form a government. If that person fails, the president can task another, but the process could break down and force the holding of a third election.
Rivlin has said he will do everything in his power to avoid such a costly scenario that would paralyse Israeli politics right into 2020. Yet some say it looks increasingly likely.
“These are early days indeed to try to make sense of what government may emerge from the migraine-inducing complexity of Israel’s elections,” wrote David Horovitz, founding editor of the Times of Israel. “But the outcome everybody professes to want to avoid is already starting to loom in the distance.
“If Netanyahu sees it as his last hope, and Gantz thinks he’ll emerge from it stronger, we may yet have to go through this all again.”
“Western Christianity’s guilt-ridden anti-Judaism and Western anti-Semitism resulted in two catastrophes,” explains Protestant theologian, Ulrich Duchrow. One catastrophe is the murder of six million Jews. So, what was the other catastrophe? The theologian is very specific: “The silence of the West concerning Israel’s efforts, made possible through the United Nations (UN), to divide up Palestine”. […]
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