Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to annex areas of the occupied West Bank ahead of the coming week’s Israeli Knesset elections. In an April 5 interview on Israeli Channel 12 TV, he was asked about plans to annex Israeli settlement blocs in the occupied territory, and responded: “Will we go to the next phase? The answer is yes. We will go to the next phase to extend Israeli sovereignty… I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements. From my perspective, any point of settlement is Israeli, and we have responsibility, as the Israeli government. I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians.” (Times of Israel, NPR)
In a part of the interview seemingly reported in English only by the independent Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, Netanyahu also appeared to broach annexation of all Area C, the zone of mixed Israeli and Palestinian control, which covers 62% of the West Bank’s territory. Asked about the future status of Area C, he reportedly replied: “I promise that you will be surprised. I cannot talk about the plan, but Trump is a big friend and I doubt there will ever be any bigger friend than him.”
Israeli authorities continue to issue demolition orders to Palestinian homes and structrues in Area C. The most recent such order was delivered this week to Palestinian-owned home and adjacent structures in the South Hebron Hills, or Masafer Yatta area. Around 3,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal Jewish-only settlements in the Yatta region. (Ma’an News Agency)
Netanyahu to stay on as prime minister?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been given a chance to form a government for the sixth time after failing to do so following the April election following five terms in office. President Reuven Rivlin formally gave Netanyahu four weeks to form the government after a meeting at the President’s Residence with Blue & White leader Benny Gantz failed to bring about a breakthrough. (Jerusalem Post) Gantz is former IDF chief of staff, and hardly dinstinuishable from Netanyahu on the Palestinian question.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab-supported Joint List, had nonetheless said he would support Gantz to form a coalition and become prime minister. In any case, Joint List is now the third largest bloc in the Knesset, and Odeh is poised to become the leader of the opposition no mater who becomes PM—the first Arab to hold this position in Israel’s history. (Times of Israel)
Bibi says he won among ‘Zionists’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on claiming victory in the new election, saying on March 4 that he won among the “Zionist” voters because “Arabs are not part of the equation.” (Haaretz) Netanyahu and Benny Gantz are now in talks over an “emergency government.” But Netanyahu has ruled out any deal with the Joint List of Arab parties, saying “Terror supporters cannot be part of the government, not in normal times or in an emergency,” (JP)
Gantz agrees to ’emergency unity government’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main rival has reportedly agreed to join a unity government, ending a year of political deadlock. Benny Gantz’s surprise election as speaker of parliament on March 26 paved the way for the deal. He will stay in the role until he is named foreign minister, Israeli media report, and will then take over the premiership from Netanyahu in September 2021. Gantz had previously refused to serve under Netanyahu because he is facing trial. (BBC News)
Gantz agrees to ’emergency unity government’ —again
Netanyahu has agreed to step down as prime minister next year, as he and election rival Benny Gantz have reached a deal for a unity government. The agreement is set to break the deadlock Israel has faced over three elections in the past 12 months. (NPR)
Netanyahu, opposition exchange ‘coup’ charges
As Netanyahu went before a Jerusalem District Court to face trial in his corruption scandal on May 24, he delivered a statement to media in which he painted the indictment against him as an attempted “political coup” orchestrated by figures in the justice system, law enforcement, the media and the political left. (ToI) Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded the next day: “There was a coup attempt yesterday and it was led by Netanyahu.” (i24)
Anti-Netanyahu protests resume in Jerusalem
Protests renewed in Jerusalem Oct. 17 after a two-week hiatus due to coronavirus restrictions, with 10,000 Israelis calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation, while thousands more protested across the country. Violent attacks on protesters were reported around the country. Protesters in Haifa, Jerusalem and Ramat Gan were sprayed with pepper spray. Police have arrested seven suspects in the attacks. (Haaretz)