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A view of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 155 miles south of Tehran, in a satellite image taken last week. (Maxar Technologies via Reuters)

Congratulations — presumably — are due to Israeli intelligence for a devastating fire at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility over the weekend. Details are scarce, with the New York Times reporting that the site was hit by an apparent explosion and The Post citing an Israeli media report that it was a cyberattack.

So it goes in Israel’s shadow war against Iran’s nuclear program. Recent attacks attributed to Israel included the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist last fall and a mysterious series of explosions that struck various sites in Iran, including a major missile facility, last summer. The most successful attack of all was the Stuxnet virus — part of a joint U.S.-Israeli…  Seguir leyendo »

A man walks past an election campaign billboard of the Blue and White party, the opposition party led by Benny Gantz, shown at right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, of the Likud party, in Tel Aviv on March 11. (Oded Balilty/AP)

Two pivotal events are scheduled to take place in Jerusalem next Monday. At the Jerusalem District Court, prosecutors will at last begin presenting evidence in the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, across town, President Reuven Rivlin will start meeting representatives of Israel’s political parties to hear who they want to lead Israel’s next coalition and government — Netanyahu or one of his challengers — in the wake of last week’s general election.

That the two events are happening at the same time is an accident, but one laden with meaning. It sharpens the question of whether the era of Netanyahu is finally over.…  Seguir leyendo »

A defaced electoral poster for Israeli prime minister and candidate, Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Arab city of Kfar Qassem in central Israel, on 22 March 2021. Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images.

A fourth election in two years has yet again failed to produce a conclusive result. Some of the results form part of a consistent pattern, but there are also some unexpected twists that the pollsters had not foreseen which will prove crucial for the formation and composition of a coalition government.

Of the 13 parties that will serve in the Knesset, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party won 30 of the 120 seats up for grabs, followed by the centrist party Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, which won 17 seats. There is also an array of smaller parties representing a range of interests, ideologies and sectors in Israeli society, from Jewish ultra-Orthodox to Islamist, from peace and human rights parties to the ultra-right xenophobic and homophobic Kahanist party.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters at his Likud party's headquarters in Jerusalem on Wednesday. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

Israel’s fourth election in two years looks to have ended like the others: The country is about evenly divided between those who support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those who don’t. If he does survive, it will likely be because of an unlikely demographic: Israeli Arabs.

Netanyahu faces a clear math problem. With about 90 percent of the vote counted, his Likud party is on track to win 30 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Three religious parties allied with him — Shas, United Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism — look to be winning another 22 seats. That gives him 52 seats, nine short of the majority he needs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel ha vivido su cuarta cita electoral en dos años y, con el 90% del voto escrutado, todo está abierto. O Benjamín ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu vuelve a liderar el Gobierno como primer ministro, o se forma una coalición alternativa que incluya antiguos miembros del Likud (el partido de Netanyahu) y los partidos árabes, o habrá quintas elecciones.

Todo se ha centrado en la continuidad, o no, de Netanyahu como primer ministro. Sus enemigos políticos han llegado enfrentados a estas elecciones. Bibi, en cambio, ha estado arropado por ese exitoso plan de vacunación que ha asombrado al mundo y por el establecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas con distintos países árabes bajo los acuerdos Abraham, patrocinados por la administración Trump.…  Seguir leyendo »

Labourers walk past a Blue and White party election campaign banner depicting its leader, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the March 23 ballot, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 14, 2021. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

This publication is part of a joint initiative between the International Crisis Group and the United States/Middle East Project (USMEP) to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What is this election about?

This election seems to be about one thing only: should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be in or out? More substantively, it is about whether the hybrid opposition to Netanyahu (spanning right to left) can muster enough votes to break a two-year stalemate and end his hegemony in Israeli politics. Since 2019, Netanyahu, the longest-serving premier in the country’s history, has been unable to form a stable working majority. Then again, neither have his opponents – hence, Israel has held four elections in the intervening time (and nobody is ruling out a fifth).…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli demonstrators carry the Israeli flag while protesting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on March 20. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

Israel will hold its fourth election in two years on March 23. Although electoral upheaval is common in Israeli politics, with elections occurring every 2.5 years on average, the recent instability represents a significant deterioration in the functioning of Israeli democracy.

In many ways the outcome of the election is already clear. The next Israeli government will be right wing in its economic and defense policies — regardless of whether it is led by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, calling this election a referendum on Netanyahu both promotes populist personalized rhetoric and hides the real policies at stake.

There’s much at stake

Israel’s right-wing bloc wants to legalize outposts in the West Bank.…  Seguir leyendo »

Billboards depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel alongside President Donald Trump were common before President Biden took office. Credit Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On March 23, Israel will go to the polls for its fourth national election in two years. The worst part is that this depressing Election Day may just be a prelude to yet another: Opinion polling suggests that Israel’s political blocs will struggle to elect and form a stable parliamentary majority. Our politics, it seems, are stuck on a repetitive doom loop.

At least one thing is different: This time, the American president is a nonentity.

Consider two election cycles of the last decade. In 2015, just days before Israelis voted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington and spoke before Congress about the threat of Iran.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Palestinian boy in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Credit Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Israel’s plans to inoculate its population against Covid-19 are proceeding briskly. The country has vaccinated a larger share of its population than any other country, and its drive is being praised as an example of an effective vaccination program. But there is a darker side to this success story: Some five million Palestinians under its control are being sidelined.

While Israel has a plan to inoculate all of its citizens in the next few months, it is leaving Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to fend for themselves.

Gaza and the West Bank are suffering from a serious coronavirus outbreak.…  Seguir leyendo »

Every recent US administration has performed a perverse ritual as it has come into office. All have agreed to undermine US law by signing secret letters stipulating they will not acknowledge something everyone knows: that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Part of the reason for this is to stop people focusing on Israel’s capacity to turn dozens of cities to dust. This failure to face up to the threat posed by Israel’s horrific arsenal gives its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a sense of power and impunity, allowing Israel to dictate terms to others.

But one other effect of the US administration’s ostrich approach is that it avoids invoking the US’s own laws, which call for an end to taxpayer largesse for nuclear weapons proliferators.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester holds a picture of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a demonstration against the nuclear scientist’s killing in Tehran on Saturday. Credit Wana/Reuters

When Israel engineered the assassinations of a half-dozen Iranian nuclear scientists from 2010 to 2012, supporters of these killings argued that they would help slow a nuclear program at a time when multilateral diplomacy was showing little progress.

The killing on Friday of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, comes in a very different context.

Iran is again producing a large amount of uranium, but it is not close to the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Its actions are largely driven by the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was intended to put a lid on Iran’s ability to amass enough highly enriched uranium for a single weapon until January 2031.…  Seguir leyendo »

El primer ministro israelí Benjamín Netanyahu declaró que Israel está lista para avanzar con un proceso de «paz a cambio de paz» en vez de «tierras a cambio de paz» (la intención original del proceso de paz en Oriente Medio). Incluso cuando el gobierno del presidente estadounidense Donald Trump le ofreció a Israel anexar más de un tercio de la ocupada Cisjordania en su plan de paz, garantizando el control perpetuo de los israelíes sobre los palestinos y sus tierras, la coalición del gobierno no logró aceptar la oferta ni llegar a un consenso sobre el plan.

Da igual, a principios de este mes se llevó a cabo un debate en el Knesset (parlamento) israelí para aprobar el acuerdo que normaliza las relaciones diplomáticas con los Emiratos Árabes Unidos al mismo tiempo que Israel aprobaba casi unidades de 5000 asentamientos ilegales en menos de 48 horas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las imágenes fueron conmovedoras. A comienzos de octubre, el ministro de Relaciones Exteriores alemán, Heiko Maas, visitó el Monumento al Holocausto en Berlín con sus pares israelí y emiratí. ¿Qué mejor manera de celebrar la reciente normalización de las relaciones entre Israel y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos? En efecto, el establecimiento de vínculos diplomáticos según los Acuerdos de Abraham de este verano poco tuvo que ver con honrar el pasado. En todo caso, el acuerdo es un intento por escapar directamente de la historia.

Durante gran parte de mi vida, el conflicto palestino-israelí fue la cuestión definitoria en Oriente Medio. Desde la perspectiva occidental, garantizar el derecho de Israel a existir fue una manera de saldar una deuda histórica con el pueblo judío: Israel, como patria de la judería global, fue una garantía contra un futuro antisemitismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sept. 15, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel formally signed the “Abraham Accords,” establishing normal diplomatic relations. Supporters like President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the agreement as an unprecedented step toward peace.

Not everyone agrees. A number of prominent public figures and civil society groups argue the move is aimed at pressuring Palestinians to accept a state without sovereignty, while granting authoritarian Arab Persian Gulf nations international legitimacy and greater access to new technologies for repression.

What do ordinary Arabs think? The 2019-2020 polling data of the Arab Opinion Index suggests that many Arabs are at odds with their governments on the question of Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

En el inicio del nuevo año judío a fines del mes pasado, Israel sufría su segundo confinamiento a nivel nacional después de que las tasas per cápita de contagio y muertes por la COVID-19 alcanzaran uno de los niveles más altos del mundo. ¿Cómo pudo fracasar de manera tan espectacular a la hora de contener la pandemia un país con fronteras prácticamente cerradas, sofisticadas tecnologías y capacidades institucionales, un sistema de salud eficiente y de alta calidad, y una cultura de solidaridad en épocas de guerra?

Aunque muchos años de economía neoliberal ciertamente incidieron sobre el sistema de bienestar del país, la respuesta no está allí.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view of Jerusalem: the Israel/UAE agreement ‘threatens the status of Jerusalem’s holy sites’. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Tomorrow, the Israeli parliament will be voting on the agreement to normalise relations with the United Arab Emirates. A large majority will approve a hugely favourable step towards the Israeli government’s goals: perpetuating its systematic violations of international law and of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights. Those parliamentarians who believe in justice and equality are going to vote against this agreement. I’m afraid, though, that we are a tiny minority.

This week, we were given copies of the agreement, which I read in the three languages (Arabic, Hebrew and English) and figured out a few things. First of all, those who wrote it in different languages tailored it to their audiences.…  Seguir leyendo »

The agreements between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain on the one hand and Israel on the other, brokered by the Trump administration and signed at the White House on Sept. 15, attempted to normalize the abnormal in spite of their misleading declarations about realizing peace.

In fact, they succeeded in normalizing occupation, oppression, annexation, and grave violations of international law, including international humanitarian law.

We must call things by their real name. The UAE and Bahrain agreed to open regular diplomatic ties with Israel, but these were not "peace treaties." They ended no wars, as the three countries have been engaging in secret security, intelligence, and economic deals for years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israelis protest parliament's plans to ban them from demonstrating during the nationwide covid-19 lockdown in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. (Oded Balilty/AP)

The new Jewish year has gotten off to a savagely grim start in Israel. On the eve of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government imposed the country’s second lockdown since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Last week, the government again tightened restrictions. Citizens may travel no farther than a kilometer from their homes. Much of the economy will shut. The government even ordered synagogues closed, though it allowed indoor prayers under special rules on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, which fell on Monday.

Superficially, this makes sense. Israel is indeed facing total breakdown in dealing with the pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lebanese demonstrators burn a portrait of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince outside the Emirati Embassy in Beirut on Wednesday during a protest to denounce the Israeli normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)

On Sept. 11, the Kingdom of Bahrain became the fourth Arab nation to formally normalize relations with Israel. The plan resembles the mid-August announcement by the United Arab Emirates and Israel: the complete normalization of diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between the respective parties, without any Israeli movement toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Supporters of the Emirati and Bahraini moves say these are landmark steps toward peace in the broader Middle East. My research suggests these moves instead reflect the new regional order that has emerged since the 2011 Arab Spring. Nearly a decade later, a shared interest in containing the power of external adversaries, particularly Iran, is the likely driver of these new rapprochements.…  Seguir leyendo »

Des ballons installés sur la place Habima de Tel-Aviv, le 15 septembre, pour symboliser les promesses faites et non tenues du Premier ministre israélien. Photo Jack Guez.AFP

Ecoutons le prophète Osée : «Ils sèment le vent et récoltent la tempête (VIII, 7).» Pendant près de douze années, Benyamin Nétanyahou a semé du vent. Un vent mauvais, un vent de folie. Aujourd’hui, en ces temps de pandémie, voici les effets de son action : un pays déchiré et désorienté, manquant de confiance en sa conduite et en lui-même, proie facile dans la tempête du corona.

Devinette : si les Israéliens répondaient sincèrement à la question de savoir quels sont leurs vœux pour ce nouvel an juif, hormis, bien sûr, la santé, je parie qu’une bonne partie d’entre eux, y compris des partisans de Nétanyahou, répondraient simplement : une vie stable, paisible, sûre, une vie débarrassée de la corruption, avec le sentiment solide et évident que l’ordre et la loi nous gouvernent.…  Seguir leyendo »