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News, March 2015
With Promises of No Palestinian State, No Peace With Iran, Israeli Anti-Peace Voters Vote for Netanyahu to Continue Ruling Israel and the World
March 18, 2015
His move to humiliate the US President and members of Congress by forcing them to listen to his address, despite the White House objections, intoxicated the Israeli settlers who live on the property of the Palestinian people.
It convinced them that he is the strongest Emperor of the Zionist Empire, the one who rules over the Middle East, US, EU, and most of the world.
He is the embodyment of the Zionist power.
That's why his winning should not have been a surprise.
He suits them as they suit him.
More death and more destruction in the Middle East and around the world!
More Israeli-Zionist tight control of the US and the world!
War mongers and benficiaries of the war industries are rejoicing everywhere.
Netanyahu claims surprise victory in Israeli election
France 24, 2015-03-18
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party swept past its main rival, the centre-left Zionist Union, after nearly all votes were counted in Israel's election on Wednesday.
Netanyahu claimed victory after exit polls showed he had erased his centre-left rivals’ lead with a hard rightward shift in which he abandoned a commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state.
Israeli media described the showing as a "huge win" for Netanyahu, with the formation of a government still dependent on coalition negotiations among the country's diverse political parties.
Likud is set to win 30 seats compared with 24 for Isaac Herzog's Zionist Union in the 120-member parliament, a gap wider than the one projected in exit polls and likely to ease Netanyahu's way towards building a governing coalition.
On the basis of the exit polls alone, which indicated the hard-fought race had ended in a dead heat, Netanyahu swiftly claimed victory late on Tuesday.
“Against all odds: a great victory for Likud,” a beaming Netanyahu told cheering supporters in a speech at party election headquarters in Tel Aviv. He said he had spoken to leaders of other right-wing parties and urged them to form a “strong and stable” government with him without delay.
'WHITE HOUSE TRYING TO PLAY THINGS DOWN'
"Reality is not waiting for us," Netanyahu said. "The citizens of Israel expect us to quickly put together a leadership that will work for them regarding security, economy and society as we committed to do – and we will do so."
By morning, with results in from 99 percent of polling stations, Likud had powered past the Zionist Union and Netanyahu seemed set to get the nod from Israel's president to try to put together a coalition.
Herzog told reporters on Wednesday he had spoken with Netanyahu on the telephone to congratulate him on his victory. He said his Zionist Union party would continue to be an alternative to Netanyahu’s right-wing camp.
"This is not an easy morning for us and for those who believe in our way,” Herzog and running mate, Tzipi Livni, said in a joint statement minutes earlier. “We will lead the fight, together with our partners in Knesset, for the values we believe in. We will fight on behalf of the citizens of Israel for social justice, diplomatic horizon, equality and democracy in hope that we can maintain a just, safe Jewish and democratic state.”
Netanyahu has focused on the threat from Iran’s nuclear programme and Islamist militants in the region. But many Israelis had said they were tiring of the message, and the centre-left campaigned on social and economic issues, surging in polls as election day neared.
Opinion polls in the run-up to the ballot had shown Zionist Union with a three- to four-seat advantage over Likud, suggesting the public had warmed to Herzog, who won over voters with flashes of wit after enduring being lampooned for his short stature and reedy voice.
A new centrist party led by former communications minister Moshe Kahlon could be the kingmaker in coalition talks. After the balloting ended, he said he did not rule out a partnership with either Likud or Zionist Union.
Exit polls gave right-wing and religious parties – Netanyahu’s traditional partners – about 54 seats, and left-leaning factions, 43 – both figures still short of a governing majority in the 120 seat parliament.
Turnout was around 72 percent, higher than the last election in 2013.
No party has ever won an outright majority in Israel’s 67-year history, and it may be weeks before the country has a new government. Netanyahu will remain prime minister until a new administration is sworn in.
Naftali Bennett, leader of the ultranationalist Jewish Home party, said he had spoken with Netanyahu within minutes of the exit polls and agreed to open “accelerated” coalition talks with him.
“The nationalist camp won,” Bennett, who advocates annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, told supporters.
After the final results are in, and following consultations with political parties, it will be up to President Reuven Rivlin to name the candidate he deems best placed to try to form a coalition. The nominee will have up to 42 days to do so.
Rivlin has called for national unity, signalling he favours a government that would pair both Likud and Zionist Union.
Ramping up his bid for right-wing votes, Netanyahu on election day accused left-wing groups of trying to remove him from power by bussing Arab Israeli voters to polling stations, a statement that drew a sharp rebuke from Washington.
“We’re always concerned, broadly speaking, about any statements that may be aimed at marginalising certain communities,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Some political rivals accused Netanyahu of racism over the remarks.
The Obama administration has been angry at Netanyahu since he addressed the US Congress two weeks ago at the invitation of Republican lawmakers, officially to oppose ongoing US nuclear negotiations with Iran, although many saw the controversial intervention as a campaign stunt.
In the last days of campaigning as he sought to persuade supporters of smaller right-wing parties to “come home” to Likud, Netanyahu promised more building of Jewish settlements and said the Palestinians would not get their own state if he were re-elected.
Those sweeping promises, if carried out, would further isolate Israel from the United States and the European Union, which believe a peace deal must accommodate Palestinian demands for a state in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
When Netanyahu called the election in December, two years early, he looked set for an easy victory. But in the final weeks there had been a sense that change was in the air. Many voters spoke of Netanyahu fatigue.
Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel that collapsed in April, told Reuters: “It seems to me that Mr. Netanyahu will form the next government in Israel and we all heard what he said yesterday ... Mr. Netanyahu has done nothing in his political life but to destroy the two-state solution.”
Speaking to AFP, Erekat said the Palestinians would "go to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and speed up, pursue and intensify" diplomatic efforts.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)
To see the day's developments scroll through our blog below. Mobile users should click here to see the blog.
Netanyahu promises no Palestinian state if re-elected
France 24, 2015-03-17
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a last ditch attempt Monday to secure more votes in Tuesday’s general election by vowing to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state if he is re-elected.
Speaking at the Har Homa settlement, a contentious settlement neighbourhood of annexed east Jerusalem, the 65-year-old premier also promised to build thousands of new settler homes.
"My friends and I in Likud will preserve the unity of Jerusalem," he said, noting he would prevent any future division of the city.
"We will continue to build in Jerusalem, we will add thousands of housing units, and in the face of all the (international) pressure, we will persist and continue to develop our eternal capital," he said.
With polling stations due to open at 0500 GMT on Tuesday, Israel's political elite fanned out to pin down wavering voters ahead of an election which experts agree is likely to be a referendum on the Netanyahu years.
Right-wing Netanyahu has based his campaign solidly on security issues, giving short shrift to the economic issues which have played a central role in campaigning by the centre-left Zionist Union and several other parties.
Final opinion polls published late last week put the Zionist Union, headed by opposition leader Isaac Herzog and former peace negotiator Tzipi Livni, ahead with 25-26 seats with Netanyahu's Likud taking 20-22 in the 120-seat Knesset.
No single party has ever won an outright majority in the legislature, making coalitions the norm.
Sunday saw Netanyahu make overtures to the centre-right Kulanu party, which is largely expected to play the role of kingmaker, offering the finance portfolio to its leader Moshe Kahlon who dismissed this as "spin".
Faced with the projected results, Netanyahu, who is seeking his fourth term as Israel’s prime minister, has ramped up his appeals to win back disaffected supporters who have shifted their allegiance to smaller right-wing parties.
By using the Har Homa settlement as a strategic backdrop for his final day of campaigning, Netanyahu tried to convince voters of his determination to make Jerusalem Israel’s indivisible capital in its peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Throughout his campaign, Netanyahu has repeatedly accused Herzog and Livni of being ready to abandon that promise.
Har Homa is a controversial settlement on a hilltop in a part of the occupied West Bank that Israel annexed, along with nearby East Jerusalem, after the 1967 Middle East war.
Palestinians, who call the site Jabal Abu Ghneim, have long viewed Har Homa’s construction – which was promoted by Netanyahu during his first term as prime minister in 1997 - as an attempt to tighten Israeli control around the holy city which they claim as the capital of their future state.
"I thought we had to protect the southern gateway to Jerusalem by building here," Netanyahu said in his campaign speech.
"There was huge objection, because this neighbourhood is in a location which prevents the Palestinian (territorial) contiguity," he said.
Although the polls give the Zionist Union a solid lead over Likud, experts have warned about their reliability, pointing to the 2013 election when they completely failed to predict the level of support for centrist newcomer Yesh Atid.
"In all previous elections we had considerable differences between the predictions of the public opinion polls and (the results)," said Professor Avraham Diskin, a political scientist from Jerusalem's Hebrew University.
"Yesh Atid didn't get more than 10 or 11 seats in the public opinion polls and finally got twice as many -- 19 seats."
With some 70 percent of the electorate usually remaining loyal either to left- or right-wing parties, "it’s enough for three to five percent to move from one bloc to another to ... get a dramatic change in the future government of Israel," Diskin said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Hard right shift delivers upset election win for Netanyahu
JERUSALEM Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:50am EDT
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a come-from-behind victory in Israel's election after tacking hard to the right in the final days of campaigning, including abandoning a commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state.
In a pre-election blitz, Netanyahu made a series of promises designed to shore up his Likud base and draw voters from other right-wing and nationalist parties. He pledged to go on building settlements on occupied land and said there would be no Palestinian state if he was re-elected.
With 99.5 percent of votes counted on Wednesday, Likud had won 29-30 seats in the 120-member Knesset, comfortably defeating the center-left Zionist Union opposition on 24 seats, Israel's Central Election Committee and Israeli media said. A united list of Arab parties came in third.
It amounted to a dramatic and unexpected victory - the last opinion polls published four days before the vote had shown the Zionist Union with a four-seat advantage.
Although Netanyahu must still put together a coalition to remain in power, his victory all but guarantees that he will be given the first opportunity to form a government, putting him course to become the longest-serving leader in Israeli history.
But the promises he made to woo ultranationalist voters in the final days of the campaign, by effectively jettisoning the "two state" aim of more than two decades of Middle East peacemaking, could have far-ranging consequences, including deepening rifts with the United States and Europe.
In a statement, Likud said Netanyahu intended to form a new government within weeks, with negotiations already underway with the far-right pro-settler Jewish Home party led by Naftali Bennett, the centrist Kulanu party and ultra-Orthodox groups.
The critical party to get on side will be Kulanu, led by former Likud member and communications minister Moshe Kahlon, who won 10 seats, making him a kingmaker given his ability to side with either Netanyahu or the center-left opposition.
"Reality is not waiting for us," Netanyahu said. "The citizens of Israel expect us to quickly put together a leadership that will work for them regarding security, economy and society as we committed to do - and we will do so."
Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Zionist Union, conceded defeat, saying he had called Netanyahu to congratulate him.
The Tel Aviv stock market was largely unmoved by Netanyahu's victory, with the benchmark Tel Aviv 100 index up marginally at mid-day.
"The market's indifference to the results apparently stems from its belief that the coalition that will be formed will be more stable than its predecessor," said Idan Azoulay, chief investment officer at the Epsilon brokerage.
HARD ROAD AHEAD
While Likud is the largest party, the process of forming a coalition is hardly assured. It needs 61 seats in the Knesset and crossing that threshold will be challenging given the amount of division across Israel's political landscape.
Netanyahu's victory will prolong the country's troubled relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama.
The White House was already angry with him for addressing the U.S. Congress at the invitation of Republican lawmakers in a bid to scupper U.S. nuclear talks with Iran, before Netanyahu's hard tack to the right in the campaign's final days.
Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel that collapsed in April, said in a statement that Netanyahu's win showed "the success of a campaign based on settlements, racism, apartheid and the denial of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people".
During much of the campaign, Netanyahu had focused on security issues and the threat from Iran's nuclear program, a message that appeared to gain little traction with voters.
The Zionist Union's focus on socio-economic issues, including the lack of housing and the high cost of living in Israel, appeared to be generating much more momentum.
But Netanyahu's move to the right, playing up fears of the spread of Islamist groups, promising no concessions to the Palestinians and raising alarm about growing support for Arab-Israeli parties, looks to have spurred his base into action.
From the Palestinian point-of-view, the results are a deep concern, raising the prospect of more settlement expansion on land they want for their own state in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as in Gaza.
If Netanyahu follows through on his pledges it would put him on a collision course with the Obama administration and the European Union, which has been weighing steps including trade measures to sanction Israel for its settlements policy.
Parliaments in historically pro-Israel countries including France and Britain have held non-binding votes favoring recognizing Palestinian independence. Western countries have generally held back from this step, arguing that a Palestinian state must emerge from negotiations, but with Netanyahu having apparently abandoned the "two state" principle of such talks, the argument is harder to make.
His victory also raises questions about what happens on Iran, with Obama determined to pursue negotiations towards a deal on Tehran's nuclear program and Netanyahu determined to scupper it, including by mobilizing domestic U.S. opinion.
The Palestinians may quickly create problems for Netanyahu as they will formally become members of the International Criminal Court on April 1 and have said they will pursue war crimes charges against Israel over its 48-year occupation of the West Bank and last year's war in Gaza.
Pre-empting those steps, Israel has suspended the transfer of tax revenue it collects on the Palestinians' behalf, holding back around $120 million a month. That has crippled the Palestinian budget and led to deep pay cuts for public sector workers.
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