This Live Blog will be regularly updated with Israeli political news through the upcoming elections and the formation of a new government in Israel. Also See The Monthly News Blogs.
Kushner now to head a delegation to the Middle East the last week of August, to hold talks with Israel and the Palestinians as well as senior officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt. “The president has asked that these discussions focus on the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks”. See also Middle East Peace Initiative Planned for September 2017
Jared Kushner will be accompanied by Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell.
Kushner to arrive in Israel next week for further talks on the Trump Peace Initiative. It is beginning to look like the pressure for peace talks from Trump and the corruption investigation could bring an election call after the Knesset reconvenes from its summer recess. The election would be complicated by the corruption investigation which could discourage folks from voting Likud. Israel is also expected to attack Gaza in the coming months escalating into a regional Mideast war. Today, according to a KAN TV poll, 67% of the public don’t believe Netanyahu’s claims of innocence and 69% believe he should resign
7 Aug: Former Netanyahu chief of staff was in charge of the PM’s alleged graft schemes and police now have considerable evidence, will interview Bibi and wife again. Several weeks ago Harow realized he was in trouble and turned state’s evidence, he then opened up on everything before being given an agreement to avoid prosecution – based on the high quality of his evidence – last week.
The end approaches for Netanyahu as police prepare to ask for an indictment citing damning evidence already received. Key coalition partner Yesh Atid is calling for Netanyahu to step down. Bibi refuses to step down but once charges are filed there is little chance that he can save his coalition government.
The Opposition has said Netanyahu must resign if indicted, which analysts expect him to be (See Commentary/Analysis below). But this time, Likud officials agreed he needed to step down. Yedioth reported that one Likud official said, “There will be no scenario in which Netanyahu is leading the country and the Likud with an indictment hanging over his head.” Haaretz noted that despite a call urging Likud members to defend Netanyahu on television, only two did so.
Netanyahu’s top aide turning state’s witness leaves little doubt: The PM will be indicted (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Netanyahu’s prosecutors wouldn’t sign a deal with someone in as bad a legal shape as Ari Harow unless they knew he could deliver damning evidence. An indictment is all but in the bag.
Netanyahu investigations have reached the point of no return (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) The state’s witness deal signed with the prime minister’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, is a game changer. Harow was not just Netanyahu’s closest aide in the critical years; he was also part of the family. The prime minister’s trust in him was so high that it’s clear he knows everything, especially when it comes to financial issues and the big money. Netanyahu, however, isn’t going anywhere yet.
At issue now is now just an election call but the fall of Bibi as Likud leader and by clinging to his seat, Netanyahu may be trying to secure a plea bargain saving him from real prison time. (Ido Baum, Haaretz+) Likud which is split between the far right and middle ground moderates may lose its moderates if Netanyahu departs under a dark cloud and a far right leader takes over.
5 Aug: Israeli media gag order issued after police inform court that Netanyahu is being investigated for fraud, bribery and breach of trust cases. The order is to expire September 17th which could indicate that charges may be laid in September.
27 July: The Knesset is entering summer recess at the end of this month and Netanyahu under pressure from his own party Likud has announced his backing of a bill to annex Gush Etzion, Efrat, Betar Illit, Givat Ze’ev and Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, creating a greater Jewish Jerusalem and turning Palestinian Jerusalem communities with about 100,000 residents into a small island completely surrounded by a Jewish Greater Jerusalem.
This is the issue being protested by the Palestinians and the Islamic world. One could now expect mass protests to continue probably bringing on a critical coalition crisis when the Knesset reconvenes if not sooner. This dove tails nicely with the demise of the Islamic State expected to take another three months or so.
26 July: In a blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud’s ideological bureau voted to formally oppose the creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has reluctantly endorsed a “two state solution” under pressure from the Americans.
The bureau, which is the party’s ideological institution, voted late Tuesday night to reinforce a May 2002 decision by the Likud central committee against the two-state solution.
The next step is to convene the Likud’s governing central committee in September to pass proposals calling for unlimited construction in Judea and Samaria and annexing their Jewish communities. More than 800 central committee members have signed a petition demanding a vote on the proposals.
The moves place Netanyahu at odds with his own party.
24 July: Israeli coalition member Yesh Atid had planned to bring down the Netanyahu government today but at the last minute leader Yair Lapid decided to cancel his party’s motion of no-confidence due to the security situation.
18 July: Avi Gabbay champion of the Israeli masses and probably Israel’s next leader, in brief.
Key Israeli governing coalition partner joins opposition demanding Netanyahu call elections. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid reaches out to new Labor leader Gabbay, plan to break coalition and bring elections being developed.
Palestinian’s agree to peace talks with only the requirement that Israel agree to the talks on two states.
Likud to attempt to launch demonstrations supporting Bibi as calls for coalition party’s to leave the government over alleged corruption grow.
16 July: Netanyahu accuses media of falsely vilifying him in bid to unseat him – Beleaguered Prime Minister lashes out at media: ‘We are in the midst of an unprecedented media campaign aimed at tarnishing me with empty accusations,’ prime minister says. ‘I will not turn the other cheek, I want to return a few slaps of my own.’ (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
14 July: Three Israeli’s shot on Temple Mount: Police reinforcements poured into Jerusalem’s Old City Friday after three Palestinian gunmen shot three Israeli police killing two and wounding another, at the main entrance to Temple Mount. The assailants were shot dead in a firefight on the Temple Mount near the Dome of the Rock where tens of thousands of Muslims were gathered for Friday prayers was cleared, the Old City gates were closed and the walled city placed under curfew.
As the Israeli security situation brings anger so does the investigation into Netanyahu. Pressure is building for an election call and renewed conflict in the region.
Fatah has called on all Muslims to challenge the Israeli closure of prayers and go to the Mount.
The Netanyahu corruption and related investigations involving some of the closest people to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dominated today’s papers as the commentators looked at the ‘sea of investigations in which Netanyahu’s handiwork is drowning in” (Ben Caspit, Maariv). Netanyahu has asked Likud members to defend him amid the recent scandals, repeating his often-used declaration that “There’s an attempt to lynch me and a campaign against me.”
Netanyahu is now expected to testify in Case 3000 – the submarines acquisition graft affair. And more details of the Case 4000 – what Yedioth’s Nahum Barnea described as “What happened in the Communications Ministry during the years it served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private estate” – are also coming to the fore, including the fact that ‘Netanyahu’s man’ in the Communications Ministry, the director he appointed, Shumel Filber, secretly and systematically transferred confidential Ministry documents to Bezeq, whose main shareholder is Netanyahu’s close friend Shaul Elovitch.
11 July: Israeli papers play up new Labor leader big time as man to save Israel from Netanyahu.
Labor party’s popularity soars in first polls after Avi Gabbay wins Labor party leadership.
The polls show Labor overtaking Yesh Atid, with the advantage that Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party has enjoyed over the Labor Party under the leadership of Yitzhak Herzog disappearing.
The centrist Kulanu party, headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, has also lost ground to Labor since Gabbay’s victory.
The results of tonight’s poll by Channel 2:
Likud: 25 seats
Zionist Union: 20 seats
Yesh Atid: 18 seats
Jewish Home: 13 seats
The Joint Arab List: 13 seats
Kulanu: 8 seats
United Torah Judaism: 7 seats
Yisrael Beiteinu: 6 seats
Shas: 5 seats
Meretz: 5 seats
The results of tonight’s poll by Channel 10:
Likud: 29 seats
Zionist Union: 24 seats
Yesh Atid: 16 seats
Jewish Home: 14 seats
The Joint Arab List: 8 seats
Kulanu: 6 seats
United Torah Judaism: 6 seats
Yisrael Beiteinu: 7 seats
Shas: 5 seats
Meretz: 5 seats
10 July: Avi Gabbay wins Israeli Labor party leadership. Labor will now woo Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party to bring down the governing coalition and form the next government after an election.
6 July: New Israeli Labor party leader will eat into Likud’s non extremist base of Mizrahi Jews.
Israeli labor leadership candidate Avi Gabbay is piling up endorsements from Labor party luminaries.
4 July: The Israeli Labor primary vote Tuesday placed Amir Peretz and newcomer Avi Gabay in first (32%) and second (27 %) places. They will face each other in the run-off next Tuesday. Incumbent leader Yizthak Herzog dropped to third place and out of the running with 16.7 percent of the vote, The turnout of registered Labor members was 59 percent. The campaign was fought over which candidate was better able to topple the Likud-led government of Binyamin Netanyahu and win the next election.
Netanyahu has until now kept his coalition in line by continually threatening to bring Labor’s Herzog into the coalition. That threat is no longer viable now that Herzog has lost the Labor leadership and both remaining contenders are committed to bringing Bibi down.
The police investigation of Netanyahu for corruption has more than enough evidence to lay charges but is biding its time. I wander if the delays are political so that formal charges can be laid during the election campaign?
02 July: The Labor Party has its leadership convention on July 4 after which Netanyahu is expected to try and bring Labor into the government to replace Bennett thereby avoiding the need for a new election.
23 Jun: The approval of the construction of 7,000 housing units yesterday – to placate the Settler Movement – was preparation for a building freeze from here on. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the United States at this week’s talks that he would freeze the publication of tenders for new building projects in West Bank settlements through the end of 2017. The coalition is in what may be one of its last crisis as angry Settler politicians threatened to pressure Netanyahu to rescind the decision, which would prevent workers from breaking ground on new housing projects.
Israeli far right claims they forced Netanyahu to approve construction of 7,000 units.
20 Jun: Netanyahu laying groundwork for election call.
Despite Netanyahu’s attempts to pacify his far right supporters they are accusing him of holding up settler construction and bringing yet another coalition crisis to Israel.
28 May, 2017: Israeli’s hold massive peace demonstration in Tel Aviv. Rally seeks to unite peace oriented opposition to Israeli far right extremists for next election. The rally is in preparation for the July 4 Labor Party Convention and putting together a revamped Zionist Union to take on Bibi and Likud. Part of the plan is to seek an alliance with Yesh Atid to guarantee electoral victory.
President Trump is waiting for further advances against the Islamic State before presenting his Mideast Peace initiative in the coming weeks. Once the peace initiative is ready Netanyahu is expected to dissolve the government and call elections, seeking a stronger mandate and delaying peace talks for four months while attacking Gaza and Hezbollah – with US / Arab help against Iran – to reset regional realities ahead of the talks.
The peace oriented parties are working to replace Netanyahu and carry out a genuine dialogue for peace. Bibi wants to present himself as Mr. Security and the great victor, but the ravages and costs of war may bring his downfall.
2017, May 21
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, 68, was officially declared the winner of Friday’s presidential election with a landslide victory of 57 percent against his rival, Ebrahim Raisi, cleric and protégée of the hardliners. Turnout was more than 70 percent. However the nation is still primarily controlled by the Revolutionary Guards over which Rouhani has no control.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that the centerpiece of the present Trump trip was to curb any threats to the region posed by Iran. He said that the military and private sector deals agreed during the trip send a “strong message to our common enemies.”
In a joint address with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Al-Jubayr, Tillerson hailed a “historic moment” in US-Saudi relations. Announced hours earlier were a $109 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and $350 billion in direct U.S. investment over 10 years. He said the new defense deal — which includes upgrades to Saudi communications, missile defense, maritime, border and cyber security — lowers the demands on the US military. “We have to defeat ISIS on the battlefield, but we really have to defeat ISIS in cyberspace,”
In addition to the ISIS fight, the deal is opening the way for an attack to obliterate the Revolutionary Guards in Iran during the long planned regional Mideast war.
The deal against Iran was sealed by the billions of Saudi purchases from the US to save Trump politically in America, and calls for Israel to place a cap on Israeli construction in the occupied territories in exchange for an alliance against Iran. Trump will visit Israel on Monday and Tuesday and make it clear to Netanyahu that Israel must accept the deal for the greater good and will not be allowed to sabotage the greater plan.
Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) on Saturday evening gave Netanyahu four red lines to save the coalition.
- According to Hebrew-language newspaper Israel Hayom, the first condition is that there will be no building freeze in Judea and Samaria.
- The second condition is that Israel not agree to any one-sided concessions, and the third is that none of the imprisoned terrorists are released.
- Bennett’s fourth condition is that Jerusalem remain undivided and off the negotiating table in any peace talks.
The Israeli far right coalition conditions clash strongly with the Trump / Arab deal and bring Israel into another coalition crisis.
17 May: Trump to twist arms and push plan for Israeli construction cap in occupied territories on May 22-23 visit. Then after Trump leaves, the Israeli and Palestinian cabinets will debate approving holding talks before Trump can call a summit to launch any peace talks. Will the Israeli coalition collapse due to far right resistance? or will the government collapse over a partial freeze on illegal construction?
7 May: After weeks of talks in Washington with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators a deal has been reached – under US pressure – to start Mideast peace talks after the looming regional war. Trump discussed details in his meeting with president Abbas on 3 May and made plans to visit the region. The Israeli’s tried their best to prevent the trip by claiming the time was not right but did not dare to ask that the visit be postponed.
Trump plans to meet leaders from across the Islamic world in Saudi Arabia to get their endorsement on May 19, before visiting Jerusalem and Bethlehem on May 22 – 23 to talk with Netanyahu and Abbas on starting Mideast peace talks. The Jesuit trained Trump will then visit the Vatican before the NATO Summit in Brussels on May 25th and capping it off with a G7 meet in Sicily on May 26.
If the Israeli’s cannot dissuade Trump from announcing peace talks, Netanyahu will have little choice but to agree. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday declared his support for US President Donald Trump’s efforts to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, ahead of a visit to the region by the American leader.
The Israeli Far Right parties this time led by Kulanu are currently pushing for a massive Jerusalem building project to celebrate the anniversary of the Six Day War.
As part of the celebrations the Housing and Construction Ministry has proposed the construction of some 25,000 new housing units in Jerusalem, including more than 15,000 in neighborhoods liberated in the 1967 Six Day War.
According to the proposed plan, 10,000 new units would be built in the capital’s western neighborhoods, along with 15,000 in neighborhoods built after 1967, including Pisgat Zeev and Gilo.
The project would end hopes for Trump’s plans to start Mideast peace talks and Trump is adamant on the May 22 Summit date to get the talks agreed before the construction project is announced in early June. The far right parties in the Israeli coalition are highly unlikely to accept any construction freeze or cap, putting the governing coalition in crisis once again.
The deal on the table will include a freeze or cap on illegal Jewish construction. The big question is whether such a situation will bring down the Israeli government with the far right extremist parties walking away and forcing elections?
2017, 28 Apr:
After a meeting with Palestinian President Abbas on 3 May, and subject to approval by the Palestinian and Israeli cabinets, US President Donald Trump is now tentatively scheduled to take part in a Jerusalem summit with Israeli PM Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas on May 22nd.
Subject to approval by the cabinets of Israel and Palestine the summit is intended to announce a new round of Mideast peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel plans huge celebrations this year on the anniversary of the Jun 67, Six Day War, which could inflame the region.
As part of the celebrations the Housing and Construction Ministry has proposed the construction of some 25,000 new housing units in Jerusalem, including more than 15,000 in in neighborhoods liberated in the 1967 Six Day War.
According to the proposed plan, 10,000 new units would be built in the capital’s western neighborhoods, along with 15,000 in neighborhoods built after 1967, including Pisgat Zeev and Gilo.
It is hard to imagine that the cabinet would agree to a construction freeze after approving a four billion shekel ($1.1 billion) building plan being pushed by Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu).
Once the Israeli government does fall either in May or at some other time, Israel is expected to invade Gaza, ultimately leading to war with Hezbollah and the American coalition demolishing the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.
These victories along with regime change in Syria and the election of a new peace oriented Israeli government; will then set the conditions for a genuine peace dialogue in the region
30 MARCH: Breakthrough in Broadcasting crisis.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon reached a compromise over the future of Israel’s new public broadcasting cooperation, ending a coalition crisis that has threatened to bring down the government and force new elections.
According to the deal, the corporation which was set to begin transmission on April 30 will be delayed a few weeks, but it will lose its news division.
A separate broadcast entity will be established to deal with all state-funded current affairs / news offerings. “The public affairs / news department of public broadcasting which is funded by public funds, will be a separate entity composed mainly of broadcasting authority employees.
This means that the coalition will continue tottering along until either it falls before the coming regional war, or falls after the regional war over peace talks.
Once the Islamic State has been substantially degraded and is at the point of collapse, Israel plans to invade Gaza and demolish Hezbollah with American help against Iran.
It may still take several months to demolish the Islamic State before the Israeli regional war can be launched. After that war unfolds the Trump peace initiative will kick in and a genuine dialogue for peace will begin.
Then when a peace deal is declared as achieved as per 1 Thess 5:3; the tribulation will immediately begin with the fall of Jerusalem (Mat 24:15).
This far right Israeli government cannot hold genuine peace talks, therefor there are three possible political outcomes for the present Israeli government:
- A change in the coalition makeup with far right parties leaving and centrist parties joining the government,
- An election call before the war with the vote after the war, or,
- An election after the war when the Israeli government is forced to deal with the Trump peace initiative.
29 MARCH: Netanyahu and Kalon met for the fourth time so far this week but there was no progress in resolving their deadlock.
Because of the approaching April 30 startup of the disputed New Broadcasting Authority and the Passover Unleavened Bread Feast, a deadline of April 5 has been set for a resolution of the Israeli coalition crises, after which, if there is no agreement, the Knesset will be recalled and Likud will table a Bill to cancel the New Broadcasting Authority.
The object of this maneuver is to place Kulanu in the position of supporting the coalition against its own policy or voting against the Bill and violating coalition discipline which will bring down the government. If Kulanu does not support the bill they will then be blamed for causing the government to fall bringing new elections.
27 MARCH: After the failure of two meetings Sunday between Kahlon and Netanyahu, the pm has instructed the government’s legal advisors to prepare to recall the Knesset for a special session during its Spring Break, to pass legislation that would end the new broadcasting Corporation [IPBC] before it starts airing on April 30.
Such a move would force Kulanu out of the coalition and probably bring down the government. United Torah Judaism Party says that while ultra-Orthodox parties are against going to elections over the IPBC crisis between Netanyahu and Kahlon, they would not pose obstacles if the prime minister makes good on his threat.
26 March: 13:58 local time: Meeting between Netanyahu and Kahlon ends with no agreement on the Public Broadcasting crisis.
24 March: A communique issued after four days of intense talks between Israel and the US on settlement construction said that no agreement had been reached. Nevertheless it was announced that “The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns [American demands] into consideration”. In diplomatic double talk this means that a tacit secret agreement has been reached but a formal public agreement has been avoided for reasons of Israeli politics. Netanyahu is to brief the Israeli cabinet on the matter Sunday.
Netanyahu corruption investigation revealing that he asked paper to aid him against Bennett in last election. This comes as the government is tottering over the Public Broadcasting Corporation which Bibi wants full control over before the fight with Bennett over Settlements and the upcoming elections. The Broadcasting fight is all about media control during the coming elections.
23 March: UPDATE 06:00 PDT: Netanyahu claims to be too sick to negotiate present crisis with Kulanu. NOTE: The sick routine has been a habit for Bibi before previous election calls, before which Netanyahu also got “sick’ to buy time to consider before calling elections.
As PM Netanyahu and Kulanu begin talks to resolve the present Israeli coalition crisis Bennett promises to bring down government if illegal construction is frozen in any part of the West Bank.
A deal is being struck between Bibi and the USA to allow construction inside settlement blocks and freeze illegal construction in other areas of the West Bank. The present negotiations in Washington are based on the original Trump proposal; numbers are being tweaked but the final deal will be similar, to get the peace talks rolling; and Bennett will leave the government when the freeze deal is made.
Regardless of the Kulanu crisis result Israel will still have to deal with the construction freeze crisis as covered in the first story of this Blog.
Coalition representatives working on compromise in the Netanyahu Kohlan dispute over the new public broadcaster. Behind all the public fuss the real issue is that Netanyahu wants control over the media in Israel. In response to the reports Netanyahu rejects any deal and will call elections if Kulanu does not completely give in.
See the first report below for the reasons that Bibi must call elections before being forced into a freeze on illegal West Bank construction by the USA.
Coalition parties maneuvering, Yesh Atid rejects entry of Zionist Union to save coalition and prevent elections. Likud and Kulanu officials talk.
Wednesday’s no confidence motion by Meretz delayed for Netanyahu return from China and last minute talks.
19 March 2017
UPDATE: The prime minister told his ministers on Saturday that if Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon refuses to shut down the new broadcasting corporation and reform the old one by the middle of the week, he will send Israel to the polls.
The US Coalition begins bombing Raqqa Syria ahead of an imminent attack on the Islamic State capital. US forces build up for Raqqa operation expected in first week of April. This offensive ties in with the coming Israeli election call and the looming Israeli war with Gaza / Hezbollah.
President Trump is making moves to begin a new round of Middle East peace talks and is demanding a freeze of all illegal settlement construction on occupied land until the talks can determine the status of the borders. An agreement is expected with president Abbas during his meeting with president Trump next month and a construction freeze will be demanded of Israel by the US soon after that.
A construction freeze will present a huge political opportunity for Naftali Bennett and his Jewish Home party to leave the coalition and force new elections, with Bennett playing the champion of the Settler Movement, taking far right voters away from Netanyahu and Likud. This would mean that Likud would lose the elections big time.
To preempt this move by Bennett, Netanyahu is preparing to dissolve the coalition and call elections BEFORE the construction freeze is forced on him and it becomes the key election issue. If Netanyahu dissolves the coalition claiming that he is doing so because of the need for a stronger more stable coalition; Bibi will have taken the political wind out of Bennett’s sails and could save the far right vote for Likud.