The Israeli foreign minister meets the minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi on 29 June 2021. Photo: Government Press Office of Israel/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

15 September 2021 marks the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords, the agreements that normalized ties between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. At the time, the accords were portrayed as a barter ending Israeli annexation of the West Bank in exchange for normalization of ties with the UAE.

The Trump administration viewed them as a model for outsourcing regional security that would allow the US to prioritize its interests beyond the Middle East, a tectonic regional shift brokered by the United States. However, only Morocco and Sudan have so far followed suit and signed normalization agreements with Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

President George H.W. Bush was convinced Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir had lied to him about settlements during their first meeting. President Bill Clinton was so exasperated with Benjamin Netanyahu that he shouted to aides: "Who's the f**king superpower here?" when their first meeting concluded. And President Barack Obama felt the same way after being treated to the famous Netanyahu lectures on politics of the Middle East.

There is no danger of a sequel when Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sits down with President Joe Biden on Thursday at the White House. Indeed, Bennett is almost certain to have one of the smoothest White House meetings with a US President in recent years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel Wants to Have Its Ice Cream and Cybersecurity, Too

It is never quiet in Israel, but July brought new scrutiny. First, news broke that governments around the world have used spyware purchased from an Israeli cybersurveillance company, NSO Group, to target journalists, human rights activists and politicians. The revelations could implicate the Israeli Ministry of Defense in granting NSO permission to export hacking software that was then used by countries with authoritarian governments to suppress dissent. The scandal topped international news for days, but Israeli officials were instead preoccupied with ice cream. On July 19, Ben & Jerry’s announced it will no longer be available in the occupied Palestinian territories as of 2023.…  Seguir leyendo »

Se suele decir que la democracia israelí es una democracia vibrante y no cabe la menor duda de que lo es. Al menos, en lo que se refiere a lo que se dijo en el hemiciclo (en contenido y forma) durante la votación para la configuración del nuevo gabinete de Gobierno.

Desde una perspectiva menos apasionada, no parecen diferir mucho esos calificativos altisonantes de los de otras sesiones parlamentarias de nuestro entorno, incluida la nuestra (y sólo hay que echar un vistazo al diario de sesiones del Congreso de los Diputados para comprobarlo). Corren tiempos encendidos de crispación social y política.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli soldiers eat at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia on Wednesday. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

After extraordinary revelations that the Israeli company NSO Group’s mercenary cyber-surveillance tool, Pegasus, was allegedly used to target political dissidents, human rights activists, journalists and politicians around the world, Israel should be asking itself a few questions. Does its groundbreaking hi-tech industry have a dark side? Do the actors involved in exporting lucrative surveillance products – including the defence ministry, which must approve such sales, or perhaps the top levels of the previous government – bear responsibility?

While top Israeli officials are taking the revelations seriously, Israelis appear neither shamed nor shaken. The day after the NSO story broke, there was an announcement from another company that would eclipse talk of the rogue use of surveillance spyware.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester waves a Palestinian flag near a police checkpoint at the entrance to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem on Friday. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel’s annual Jerusalem Day march, postponed after last month’s fighting between Israel and Hamas, resulted in further clashes between right-wing marchers and Palestinian residents in Jerusalem in June.

In May, violent groups of Israeli right-wing extremists carried out attacks against Palestinians across Israel and the West Bank. Extremists tagged Palestinian neighborhoods with racist slogans, sometimes marking them for future attacks. They patrolled the streets of Israel’s “mixed cities” bearing arms, and some reportedly stabbed, beat and stoned Palestinian civilians and protesters.

Who is behind these attacks? Since April 22, when a group of Jewish Israeli extremists marched into the Old City of Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs,” researchers have tallied more than 75 violent incidents of a similar nature.…  Seguir leyendo »

The days after Israel’s longest-serving prime minister was finally forced out of office have been anticlimactic.

Naftali Bennett has been sworn in as prime minister, ending the 12-year rule of his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, but this is still very much Mr. Netanyahu’s Israel. Even physically, Mr. Netanyahu is still living in the prime minister’s official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem. The day after his premiership ended, he was still receiving guests from abroad, including the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and the televangelist John Hagee.

Mr. Netanyahu’s political camp of far-right and ultrareligious parties may be in the opposition now, but they’re still his coalition, rallying around his promise to topple “this evil and dangerous leftist government,” and to do so much sooner than anyone expects.…  Seguir leyendo »

This may be Israel’s best chance at reconciliation

Israel’s Knessett voted to depose longtime prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, ending (for now) the Bibi era. With the inclusion of a member from the Arab Ra’am party in the nation’s new governing coalition, the Jewish state now has an opportunity to usher in an era of reconciliation.

Arab-Jewish relations in Israel have always been tense. Israel kept Arab areas under martial law from its founding in 1948 until 1966. Most Israeli Arabs are not required to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces and relatively few volunteer, although their participation rose during the pandemic. They compose roughly 21 percent of the population, but nearly all Israeli Arabs still live in nearly monolithically Arab-populated towns.…  Seguir leyendo »

As a result of four elections in two years, Israel has become a fractious and polarized country, with no natural governing majority. Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock

Israel’s new government, which was officially formed yesterday, is getting a lot of attention, mostly for one reason: It marks the end of the more than a dozen years of Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiership. But this new government is potentially just as significant for another reason: It is the beginning of an era in which Israel no longer truly has a prime minister.

Nominally, Israel’s new prime minister is Naftali Bennett. But since his small right-wing party, Yamina, controls only six of the Knesset’s 120 seats, it needed partners to form a government. The coalition now includes seven additional parties from across the ideological spectrum, and they agree on very little.…  Seguir leyendo »

El legado tóxico de Netanyahu

Pronto Binyamin Netanyahu dejará de ser primer ministro de Israel. Tras doce años en el poder ¿qué clase de país deja?

Netanyahu no fue siempre el halcón irremediable que sus adversarios (sobre todo fuera de Israel) pensaron que era. Dio muchas muestras de un agudo pragmatismo, reflejo de una inteligencia penetrante, mucho conocimiento de la historia, un dominio impresionante de temas económicos y una comprensión profunda de las tendencias regionales y globales.

Pero como su objetivo supremo era conservar el poder, tendió a concentrarse más en complacer a su base de seguidores que en promover el interés nacional. Eso implicó con (creciente) frecuencia generar enfrentamientos, apelando a los instintos tribales de la gente.…  Seguir leyendo »

Right-wing supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wave the national flag during a demonstration against the coalition to form a government, in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva, on Thursday. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Last week, minutes before his 28-day mandate expired, Yair Lapid, head of Israel’s Yesh Atid party, announced that he had obtained the necessary agreements with parties that would allow him to form a coalition government.

Assuming no last-minute “defections” among Knesset members, the incoming government will have eight female ministers, a record number, and a record number of coalition partners — eight parties in all. Israel’s 36th government is also expected to be the first in more than 40 years to include an Arab party, the Islamist Ra’am party. Here’s the history behind this shift.

Arab voters have been marginalized from Israeli politics

Between 1949 and 1977, the Mapai party, and its successor, Israel’s Labor party, dominated Israeli politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

The First Job for Israel’s New Government: Clean Up Bibi’s Mess

After four election cycles, two years and one man in power since 2009, Israel appears to be on the brink of change. On Wednesday evening, eight wildly ideologically different political parties announced that they would establish a coalition, aligning behind Yair Lapid of the centrist party Yesh Atid (“There Is a Future”) and Naftali Bennett — a former leader of a council of West Bank settlers — of the nationalist party Yamina (“Rightward”) to remove longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But the new government is not yet a reality. The coalition still faces procedural and political hurdles. Ideological differences nearly killed the coalition in the negotiation stage.…  Seguir leyendo »

Naftali Bennett, leader of the Yamina party, speaking in the Knesset, Jerusalem, May 2021. Photograph: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90 local pool/AFP/Getty Images

As Israel inches closer to ending two years of political stalemate and 12 consecutive years of Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership, pressure on rightwing parties preparing to join a “change” coalition from pro-Netanyahu rightwingers, has reached a crescendo. Like other rightwingers in the “change” bloc, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, leaders of the hardline Yamina party, have been called traitors and collaborators and received death threats throughout the last month for their planned defection from Netanyahu’s camp.

As so often in Israeli politics, there is an American parallel: Bennett and Shaked’s predicament recalls the unforgettable moment the US senator Lindsey Graham, days after the 6 January Capitol riots, was harangued by Trump-cult followers, unhinged by Graham’s denunciation of their leader.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sunday night, Naftali Bennett, the right-wing politician who may become Israel's new prime minister in a week, finally broke cover and lambasted his old boss and mentor Benjamin Netanyahu for trying to lead the state of Israel to his own "personal Masada" -- a reference to the Jewish zealots who committed mass suicide rather than become Roman slaves in the first century A.D.

Bennett announced that he would be forming a national-unity government with Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid opposition party. The parties opposed to Netanyahu not only have a majority in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, but they are now actually working together.…  Seguir leyendo »

Manifestación en favor de los palestinos, el pasado 15 de mayo en Nantes, Francia.LOIC VENANCE / AFP

La provocación comenzó en Jerusalén, aunque se tratara solo de los síntomas de causas más profundas. Intentos de desalojar por la fuerza a familias de Sheikh Jarrah, ataques contra fieles palestinos en el recinto de la mezquita de Al Aqsa, e incluso contra palestinos cristianos impidiéndoles celebrar la Pascua en el Santo Sepulcro, sumado todo ello a una manifestación cargada de odio, en coordinación con la policía y apoyada por varios políticos israelíes, de centenares de sionistas religiosos cantando “muerte a los árabes”, crearon el contexto del que hoy somos testigos, incluso en lo que concierne a Gaza.

Pero, una vez más, no se equivoquen.…  Seguir leyendo »

No deseo a nadie ser o convertirse en judío; es demasiado complicado. Para empezar, ¿cómo se define quién es judío y quién no? Algunos rabinos consideran que, para ser judío, hay que nacer de una madre judía. Pero en la tradición hebrea, los textos se contradicen y los rabinos no son papas; su autoridad solo se aplica a sus discípulos. Personalmente, soy judío sin rabino y no conozco a ninguno. Esta definición étnica, adoptada por la Inquisición y los nazis, no resiste un examen; los judíos no son iguales y basta con visitar Israel para comprobar su diversidad. El judío biológico se parece más a la región del mundo de donde procede: eslavo, africano, indio, árabe, etcétera.…  Seguir leyendo »

Photo d’illustration : des Palestiniens inspectent leur maison détruite par des raids israéliens à Rafah, dans la bande de Gaza, le 16 mai. Saïd Khatib/AFP

Bien que je sois laïque, il y a deux célébrations religieuses auxquelles je ne manque jamais de participer chaque année dans la Vieille Ville arabe de Jérusalem-Est : le samedi saint (« sabt el-nour ») à la veille des Pâques orthodoxes, au Saint-Sépulcre, et la nuit du destin (« laylat el-qadar »), au Haram ech-Charif. Mais cette année, la nature festive et pacifique de ces événements a été transformée en champ de bataille par les provocations des colons juifs zélotes et l’agression de l’armée israélienne contre les participants palestiniens.

Alors qu’on lui demandait pourquoi il avait empêché les musulmans de se rendre à la mosquée al-Aqsa lors de la nuit la plus animée du ramadan, Mir Barakat, l’ancien maire de Jérusalem, a répondu : « Dès lors que nous avions interdit l’accès du mont du Temple aux colons juifs, nous avons dû en faire de même pour les musulmans ! …  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando le preguntaron si insistiría en un cese del fuego después de la escalada de violencia entre Israel y Hamás, el presidente estadounidense Joe Biden dijo que hablaría con el primer ministro israelí Benjamín Netanyahu «en una hora, podré responderles después de eso». Lejos de tratarse de un desliz de Biden, su obvia deferencia hacia Netanyahu plantea alarmantes —aunque poco novedosas— preguntas sobre la naturaleza de la relación entre EE. UU. e Israel.

Israel es lo que los académicos que estudian relaciones internacionales llaman «la cola que mueve al perro». Dada la asimetría de poder entre ambos, se esperaría que Estados Unidos, la superpotencia que proporciona a Israel USD 3,800 millones al año en asistencia militar, sea quien fija las reglas de la relación; sin embargo, en el caso de Israel, ocurre lo opuesto.…  Seguir leyendo »

It has been the same way for decades. Every time violence between the Israelis and Palestinians erupts, governments around the world urge de-escalation, a cease-fire agreement is reached, and experts warn that the situation cannot continue like this. But it has, and it will. Ultimately, this is not a problem that can be resolved through power, whether political or military. It can only be resolved through moral persuasion.

The recurring pattern of violence obscures a seismic shift that has taken place over the past few decades. Israel is now the superpower of the Middle East. A strategic studies institute at Bar-Ilan University recently laid out the disparities.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man wearing a kippah attends a rally themed "solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism" in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Thursday. (Filip Singer/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

I grew up in a Zionist household, spent 12 years in a Zionist youth movement, lived for four years in Israel, and have friends and family who served in the Israeli Defense Forces. When that is your world, it’s hard to see apartheid as it’s happening in front of you.

I grew up in France, in a Jewish community where unconditional love and support for Israel were the norm. The term Zionism, the movement for the establishment and support of a Jewish state in present-day Palestine, wasn’t even used because that’s all we knew. Jews had been nearly wiped out by pogroms and repeated holocausts, and a Jewish state was the only way to keep us safe.…  Seguir leyendo »