Knesset launches Abraham Accords caucus, with Gantz claiming credit for deals

Lapid, Gantz say new government seeks peace with Palestinians and other Arab states; Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend and meet with Netanyahu, won’t be meeting Bennett

(Right to left) Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud MK Ofir Akunis at an event launching a Knesset caucus dedicated to the Abraham Accords, in Jerusalem, October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset on Monday launched a new caucus dedicated to the Abraham Accords, the US-brokered normalization deals with Arab countries reached one year ago.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were in attendance alongside former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, representing the since-ousted US and Israeli leaderships that signed the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

But Defense Minister Benny Gantz — who also held that position during the previous Netanyahu-led government — touted the role of his own Blue and White party in reaching the accords, which were announced alongside the scrapping of plans to annex large swaths of the West Bank.

 

“The fact that we prevented a unilateral annexation enabled the Abraham Accords to solidify and move ahead,” Gantz said, in an apparent swipe at Netanyahu, the current opposition leader.

“I am happy these peace agreements were signed and I am sure they will be broadened and drive change in the Middle East, because this is peace between peoples,” he said, adding that Jerusalem “is acting to expand the agreements and even add more agreements.”

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Netanyahu: Bennett pretends to be prime minister

Opposition leader slams government claims ‘every minister acts on his own without regard for Bennett.’

Benjamin Netanyahu

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening addressed the ’40 signatures’ discussion in the Knesset plenum, and sharply attacked the Bennett government.

“Bennett has no mandate, the citizens of Israel say that. After only three months as prime minister, being treated like an etrog by the media in a way that I don’t remember ever seeing before, Bennett barely passes the electoral threshold,” Netanyahu said in his opening remarks.

According to Netanyahu, “there has been no such thing in the history of the country that an incumbent prime minister swings like a leaf fluttering in the wind on the edge of the electoral threshold. Nor was there such a thing as taking power with six seats that were also gotten through fraud. The public simply does not buy this bluff, from someone who coaxed his way to the prime minister’s office, after he himself has declared that it is undemocratic to be prime minister even with ten seats. In this situation the public expresses unequivocal distrust in Bennett.”

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Bennett defends state budget in Knesset; Netanyahu: He’s not a ‘real’ PM

Opposition MKs removed from plenum for heckling premier, who says previous government was ‘addicted’ to lockdowns; opposition chief says ministers ‘don’t care what Bennett thinks’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset plenum on October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tussled with opposition members and defended his government’s state budget on Monday during a stormy Knesset plenum session called by 40 opposition members.

Several opposition lawmakers were removed from the chamber during the session for heckling and angry outbursts, and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that Bennett was “not a real prime minister.”

A state budget hasn’t been approved since 2018 amid a protracted political crisis that resulted in four consecutive election cycles.

 

Netanyahu is widely believed to have intentionally prevented it from passing during the previous, short-lived government, utilizing a loophole in a power-sharing deal with Benny Gantz that otherwise would have resulted in the latter becoming prime minister.

The current government has until November 13 to finalize the budget and have it approved in its second and third readings, or the coalition will automatically dissolve, triggering new elections.

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Bennett announces major drive to quadruple population of Golan Heights

PM says increasing Israeli presence on plateau captured from Syria is a ‘strategic goal,’ notes Biden administration hasn’t reversed US recognition of area as Israeli territory

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attends the Golan Heights Conference on Economics and Regional Development on October 11, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced Monday that the government intends to dramatically increase the number of people living on the Golan Heights and stressed that the Biden administration continues to recognize the northern plateau as Israeli territory.

Speaking at the Makor Rishon Golan Conference in Haspin, a moshav commonly known as Hispin, Bennett said that in six weeks the government will present a plan to greatly boost the population, including the construction of two new communities.

The ultimate goal, he said, was to hit 100,000 residents, almost four times the current population of around 27,000.

 

“The Golan Heights is Israeli, period,” Bennett said to applause.

Describing the Golan as a “strategic goal,” he said “our aim is to double, and then double again the number of residents on the Golan Heights.”

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Merkel in Jerusalem: We are in ‘decisive weeks’ for Iran nuclear talks

Bennett pledges to keep Tehran from bomb, says he is pragmatic on Palestinians; German leader says Israel’s security will always be of ‘central importance,’ urges 2-state solution

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks as she attends a cabinet meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (Menahem Kahana/Pool Photo via AP)

During a joint press conference Sunday alongside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that negotiations over the return to the nuclear deal have entered “very decisive weeks.”

She stressed that every day that goes by without an agreement, Iran continues to enrich uranium.

Merkel, who is making a farewell visit to Israel after 16 years as chancellor marked by warm relations with the Jewish state, called for greater involvement by world powers in pushing Iran back to the negotiating table in Vienna.

 

“I see a responsibility for Russia and China here,” she said, adding that Israel’s security will be a top priority for “every German government.”

Negotiators from the US and the European parties to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal are still waiting for Iran’s hardline president Ebrahim Raisi to return to talks in Vienna, suspended since June.

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Between the Tug of War and the Tightrope in the Russian-Iranian-Israeli Relations

Russia’s diplomacy is walking a tightrope between Iranian pressures aiming to force it to backtrack from the major shift happening in its Israel policy – most recently going as far as committing to Israeli security – and Israeli pressures querying Russia’s intensions with Iran, which in turn could determine Israel’s handling of Russia. Yet the issue has less to do with publicized statements meant for political consumption, and more to do with the Kremlin’s ultimate strategic choices. Syria is the bottom line but there are secondary lines that include the strained Russian relationship with NATO and the implications for the efforts to revive the nuclear deal with Iran. US President Joe Biden is at the heart of these implications and could find himself forced to reconsider many of his policies, amid Iranian-Israeli escalation and Russian repositioning.

Moscow and Tehran have said they are drawing a roadmap to conclude a ‘strategic cooperation’ agreement. In reality, the existing relationship already goes beyond cooperation and is closer to being a strategic alliance, especially in Syria where Russia, the power really in charge, still direly needs Iran and Hezbollah.

Syria remains a strategic priority for the Kremlin and President Putin wants to ‘close’ the Syrian dossier next year and declare the war there over. His vision requires ‘liberating’ what remains of Syrian territory, not from Iran – as some believe – but from the United States and Turkey. The deal he wants with the Biden administration seeks to extract US recognition of Assad’s legitimacy. Assad is the key to maintaining Russian forces in Syrian bases, which the Kremlin will never relinquish. And if the price for this is to accept the reality of strong relations between the Assad regime and the Iranian regime, the Kremlin is willing to pay it.

Yet the Israeli dilemma in this equation is not secondary. Moscow has managed to strike a covert deal with Israel in Syria, where Israel refrains from conducting operations that weaken the Assad regime, in return for Russian (and American) consent to Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. There was until recently a ‘balance of silence’ in this regard: Russian silence vis-à-vis Israeli actions in Syria. Syrian silence vis-à-vis repeated Israeli military operations on its territory. Iranian silence vis-à-vis the Russian-Israeli deal. Israeli silence regarding Iranian and Hezbollah influence in Syria. And Iran and Hezbollah’s silence over Russia’s consent to the Israeli annexation of the Golan, which includes denying them the ability to activate ‘resistance’ against Israel from the Syrian front.

The balance of silence continued until Russia’s foreign minister, in a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart, declared that Russia is now fully committed to guaranteeing Israel’s security. This was a real game changer. The Iranian leadership was not impressed, as it made it appear to be part of regional and international secret deals that undermine its claim to be the spearhead of resistance against Israel, a claim it deploys to mobilize loyalist armies across the Arab countries led by Hezbollah. After all, silent accords are one thing, and overtly declaring Russia’s commitment to Israel’s security is another.

Thus Russia’s diplomacy was caught in a bind. During the visit of the new Iranian FM Hossein Amir Abdollahian to Moscow and his meeting with Mr. Lavrov, Abdollahian warned that the region could not tolerate any more escalation and provocation. He said Tehran would not accept any geopolitical shifts in the region, and will not accept a strengthened terrorist and ‘Zionist’ presence across it, citing the Southern Caucasus where tensions are increasing between Iran and Turkish-Israeli backed Azerbaijani government. According to informed sources, Iran is willing to use military force in Azerbaijan, if necessary, given the importance of strategic land corridors there.

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As Jewish prayer roils Muslims, police minister warns of Temple Mount ‘flare-up’

After judge rules for man who prayed in whisper at Jerusalem holy site, Omer Barlev says existing religious arrangements must be maintained ‘in view of the security implications’

Palestinians protest against an Israeli court’s approval of ‘quiet’ Jewish prayer, at the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, October 8, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev on Friday warned that any change to longstanding religious arrangements on the Temple Mount could be met with violence, after a Jerusalem court this week ruled in favor of a Jewish man who prayed quietly on the holy site, fracturing a de facto ban on Jewish prayer there.

Barlev noted that police have appealed the ruling, arguing that “a change in the existing status quo will endanger public peace and could cause a flare-up.” Currently, only Muslims may pray on the site.

The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, is the holiest site for Jews and site of the third holiest shrine in Islam. It is the emotional epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions there helped ignite the 11-day Gaza war in May.

 

Under understandings reached after Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray there. Israel maintains overall security at the site, but the Muslim Waqf administers religious activities there. Police have for decades enforced the Jewish prayer ban as a public security measure.

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Jewish Settlers Brutally Attack Palestinian Farmers during Olive Harvest

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank. (Photo: File)

Dozens of Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian farmers on Thursday during the olive harvest in the town of Burin, south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, told WAFA that some 60 Jewish settlers attacked the olive harvesters in an area south of Burin.

One of the farmers confirmed that the settlers, who came from the illegal Yitzhar settlement, attacked his family and other farmers while they were harvesting their olive crops.

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Videos: Israelis rise up against vaccine passports after being told more shots needed to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’

Natural NewsProtests have finally erupted in Israel as it has slowly dawned on people there that the goalposts for vaccine passports keep being shifted by the government.

(Article by Steve Watson republished from Summit.news)

It is now expected to be announced that at least FOUR vaccinations will be needed to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ and able to engage in society.

Over the weekend marches took place in the streets of Tel Aviv against the so called ‘Green Pass’:

Predictably, the media labeled the protesters ‘right wing extremists’ and anti-vaxxers:

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Lapid in Moscow: Israel reserves right to act against Iran to prevent nukes

“Iran’s march towards a nuclear weapon is not only an Israeli problem; it’s a problem for the entire world,” said Israel’s foreign minister.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, Sept. 9, 2021. Source: Yair Lapid/Twitter.

 Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said during a state visit to Moscow on Thursday that the Jewish state reserves the right to act to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

After meeting with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Lapid said during a joint press conference that “a nuclear Iran will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”

As such, he called for a strong, clear message to be sent to the Islamic Republic.

He said “Iran’s march towards a nuclear weapon is not only an Israeli problem; it’s a problem for the entire world.”

The two foreign ministers also discussed Israel’s attacks on Iranian activity in Syria.

Lavrov said Russia is opposed to Syrian territory being exploited for attacks against Israel or any other country. He added that Russian and Israeli military officers conduct continuous security dialogue on a daily basis regarding Syria, adding that such coordination has proven its efficiency.

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