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Israeli Voters Hand Netanyahu Another Term

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10 Apr 2019
Israeli Voters Hand Netanyahu Another Term
With 98% of votes from Tuesday’s elections counted, most Israeli media outlets were reporting that incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will retain his seat for an unprecedented 5th term as his Likud party won 35 seats in the 21st Knesset and parties winning sufficient seats to form a majority government pledged to support his continued premiership. The Blue and White party led by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz also won 35 seats, but has insufficient support from smaller parties to form a majority. “The right-wing bloc led by Likud clearly won,” Netanyahu said during his victory speech at Likud headquarters around 2:00 AM. “I thank Israeli citizens for their trust. I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners already tonight.”

The other big news of election day was the success of Orthodox parties including Shas and United Torah Judaism, who each won 8 seats and promptly announced their preference for Netanyahu’s continued leadership. The United Right Party (URP) and Yisrael Beytenu each won 5 seats while Kulanu won 4, barely crossing the 3.25% electoral threshold. A smaller but still notable surprise came with the failure of Zehut, led by Moshe Feiglin, to cross the threshold, along with other smaller Right-Wing parties including Gesher and The New Right, although NR leader Naftali Bennet declared Wednesday morning that he still believed there were enough uncounted votes that he might receive to push the party over the threshold.

On the Center-Left, Labor and Hadash-Ta’al both won six seats while Meretz and the United Arab List-Balad both won four.

US Officially Designates IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization
Israeli officials were among the first to thank US President Donald Trump Monday following the State Department’s designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, although Iranian officials denounced the designation as a “vicious” as well as “idiotic” mistake by the US. “The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign,” Trump said in a statement. The designation “makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.”

Here is a video about the IRGC posted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Airbnb Reverses Decision to De-List Jewish Properties
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat on Tuesday when the Internet-based hospitality network Airbnb announced that it is cancelling a decision announced earlier this year to de-list available properties in Jewish communities in the West Bank. The announcement follows a settlement in a discrimination suit brought against Airbnb in the US State of Delaware, where it is incorporated, by the Shurat Hadin legal NGO.

Shurat Hadin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner issued a statement saying, “The rescinding of Airbnb’s discriminatory policy is... A powerful defeat for the anti-Israel boycott movement. BDS is an antisemitic campaign which purports to care about human rights but whose real goal is to completely replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian one. Other international companies need to learn the lessons from Airbnb’s mistake and understand that boycotting Israel and discriminating against Jews are unlawful acts, which will ultimately result in dire legal consequences, public condemnations and embarrassment.”

Diplomatic Tensions Increase Between Turkey and NATO
Diplomatic tensions between Turkey and its NATO allies increased this week following the publication of a New York Times Op-Ed by the leadership of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees declaring that “By the end of the year, Turkey will have either F-35 advanced fighter aircraft on its soil or a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system. It will not have both.” Despite the stark warning, Turkish officials were standing their ground, declaring that the purchase by the Turkish military of the S-400 air defense system from Russia is a “done deal” that they will not back down from.

"No one can demand that we give it up," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a joint news conference in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. "This is our sovereign right, this is our decision." Putin added during his own statement that "There are other promising projects on the agenda related to the supply of modern Russian military products to Turkey. We may reach agreements on the joint development and production of high-tech weapons."

Today’s Video Gives Some In-Depth Analysis of US Policy in the Middle East


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