Netanyahu expects blank check from Obama; green light for Israeli far-right?

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said March 26 he does not expect to come under pressure from the US over the over the policies of his right-wing government. “I think you are talking about something that I doubt existed for any length of time in the past and which I am convinced does not exist today,” the Netanyahu told reporters in reply to a question about possible US pressure.

Netanyahu, who clashed with the Clinton administration while prime minister from 1996 to 1999, has backed away from endorsing the US-supported goal of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel’s Labor Party joined the incoming government led by Netanyahu this week. The more moderate Labor brings its 13 seats in the Knesset to a coalition with the right-wing Likud. (Reuters, March 26; FSRN, March 24)

In the Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm March 24, a march by far-right Jewish activists outraged the largely Arab population, sparking violent clashes. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at residents who turned out in reaction to what they say was an incitement. The town called a general strike so that they could turn out to protest the march led by ultra-nationalist Baruch Marzel. Three residents were arrested and 15 police were injured. The Israeli police had denied Marzel’s protest permit request—but that decision was overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court. (FSRN, March 24)

On March 25, police arrested 13 people in the Umm al-Fahm area on suspicion of taking part in the riots. Police vowed to arrest all who took part in the violent protest. Following the clash at Umm al-Fahm, Israeli far-right organizations plan on forming “monitoring committees” to track “illegal activities” in Arab towns. Right-wing leader Itamar Ben Gvir pledged the future “will see more processions in other Arab towns.” (YNet, March 25)

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