Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retweeted a statement that said “overthrowing” him would cause the “collapse of the global right-wing,” the Jerusalem Post reports.
Final polls ahead of Tuesday’s election in Israel showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “on the cusp of clinching a ruling majority as the race draws to a close, though he is still not guaranteed one,” the Times of Israel reports.
“The upcoming elections — the fourth in two years — were called after the power-sharing government of Likud and Blue and White failed to agree on a budget by a December 23 deadline.”
“Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was confronted by Yitzhak Rabin’s daughter last week after a speech on the Arab-Israeli peace process in which he seemed to overlook the role of the late Israeli prime minister,” Axios reports.
“Rabin is quite a major figure to leave out. He’s remembered for making peace with Jordan, sealing the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, and establishing relations with Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.”
A surprised Mnuchin told her: “This was my speech and I don’t owe you any explanations.”
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was set to hold onto power after his chief rival, Benny Gantz, reversed himself Thursday and signaled that he would be open to serving in a Netanyahu-led government,” the New York Times reports.
“Gantz, a former Israeli army chief who had vowed to bring Mr. Netanyahu’s long rule to an end and fought him to a draw in three elections, said he was changing course to help bring the country together to fight the coronavirus pandemic.”
Said Gantz: “These are unusual times and they call for unusual decisions. This is not the time for infighting and mudslinging. This is not the time for controversy and divisions. This is the time for responsible, committed, patriotic leadership. Let’s join hands and get Israel out of this crisis.”
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillersonsaid that President Trump was “played” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on several occasions, Haaretz reports.
Tillerson said that Netanyahu is “an extraordinarily skilled” politician and diplomat, but “a bit Machiavellian.”
He recounted how Netanyahu would use “misinformation” to persuade the U.S. when he deemed it necessary.
Explained Tillerson: “They did that with the president on a couple of occasions, to persuade him that ‘We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys.’ We later exposed it to the president so he understood, ‘You’ve been played.’ It bothers me that an ally that’s that close and important to us would do that to us.”
“A week before an election in which he is battling for survival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Tuesday asked voters to return him to power with a mandate to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, a move that could dramatically reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the New York Times reports.
“The move would give the nation ‘secure, permanent borders’ for the first time in its history, he said, but it would also reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.”
Tom Friedman: “I am going to say this as simply and clearly as I can: If you’re an American Jew and you’re planning on voting for Donald Trump because you think he is pro-Israel, you’re a damn fool.”
“Trump’s way of — and motivation for — expressing his affection for Israel is guided by his political desire to improve his re-election chances by depicting the entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.”
“As a result, Trump — with the knowing help of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — is doing something no American president and Israeli prime minister have done before: They’re making support for Israel a wedge issue in American politics.”
Israeli journalist Barak Ravid: “I want to tell you a secret: A month ago when Netanyahu decided to allow Omar and Tlaib into the country they already supported BDS and he knew it back then. There is only one reason for Netanyahu’s backtracking today — the pressure from Donald Trump.”
New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s decision to recommend that another country block entry to two United States citizens, let alone members of Congress, was one of the most pronounced violations of democratic norms that he has engaged in since taking office in January 2017.”
President Trump said Israel should not allow two U.S. congresswomen with whom he has feuded to enter the country for an upcoming trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, The Hill reports.
Tweeted Trump: “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”
“After the spectacular collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to build a coalition threw Israel into an unprecedented do-over election, Israeli public attention on Thursday was glued to two politicians,” the New York Times reports.
“One was Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister for the last 10 years, but the other was not Benny Gantz, his main challenger in the election last month. Instead, the first day of the new election campaign was dominated by Mr. Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of a small ultranationalist party and former coalition partner who has become anathema to Mr. Netanyahu.”
“That divide, between the ultrareligious right and the secular right, has for the moment eclipsed the old left-right divide in Israel. It proved to be Mr. Netanyahu’s undoing on Wednesday, his deadline to form a governing coalition, and could be critical in the next election, scheduled for Sept. 17.”
Haaretz: “The Knesset voted Wednesday night to dissolve itself after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition, sending Israel to a new election mere seven weeks after the last one.”
“At the heart of the impasse was the issue of drafting ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students: Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman, without whom Netanyahu can’t form a coalition, refused to back down on the bill’s terms, while ultra-Orthodox parties claimed they have already yielded enough ground.”
President Trump claimed the Golan Heights is “important strategically” for Israel because “heights… you’re up high,” Vox reports.
He explained: “So that’s been under consideration for 52 years, for 52 years they told me they’d been studying it. This is very important strategically for victory, heights, because you’re up high, very important. Fifty-two years ago this started and I did it quickly. Done. It’s all done.”
Israeli Prime Mininster Benjamin Netanyahu said he will name a town in the Golan Heights after President Trump, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Haaretz: “An Israeli public relations company headed by a settler leader boasted Wednesday that it was behind the Likud initiative to place 1,200 hidden cameras in Arab polling stations on Election Day. The firm added that it was to thank for the historically low turnout among Arab voters.”
From the company’s statement: “Thanks to us placing observers in every polling station we managed to lower the voter turnout to under 50 percent, the lowest in recent years!”
“Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s conservative prime minister for the past decade, and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, a centrist former military chief, were locked in a tight race in Tuesday’s parliamentary election, according to partial returns and surveys of voters leaving the polls,” the New York Times reports.
“With about 65 percent of the ballots counted, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party appeared to have edged ahead of Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White, and a count of the broader blocs supporting each party gave Likud a clear advantage in being able to form a governing coalition.”
First Read: “Today’s election represents more than Benjamin Netanyahu trying to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister – and certainly more than President Trump trying to get his preferred choice (Netanyahu) to win.”
“At stake is arguably the future of the West Bank – after Netanyahu promised to extend sovereignty to parts of it if he’s re-elected.”
The Washington Post notes that final polls gave “an edge to the party led by Netanyahu’s main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz.”
“While the polls suggest that Gantz’s party will win the most seats in parliament, Netanyahu still seems to be in a stronger position to assemble a governing coalition, which is what ultimately matters.”
“President Trump’s tweet recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department, and Israeli officials,” McClatchy reports.
“No formal U.S. process or executive committees were initiated to review the policy before Trump’s decision, and the diplomats responsible for implementing the policy were left in the dark.”
“Even the Israelis, who have advocated for this move for years, were stunned at the timing of Trump’s message.”
President Trump will officially recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Middle East Monitor reports.
Said Trump: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”
Playbook: “This could be a massive boost to Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be in the United States next week to meet with President Trump. Elections in Israel are April 9.