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Netanyahu indicted; Knesset enters into unchartered waters: Israel Update

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November 22, 2019

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted in three separate cases and will be charged with criminal wrongdoing. The announcement, which was delivered by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday, marked the first time in Israel’s history that a sitting prime minister has faced criminal charges. Netanyahu is accused of fraud and breach of trust in two of the three cases, and bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in the third. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing, calling the indictment an "attempted coup" against him, with some suggesting that it could take months before the cases are brought before a court. According to Israeli law, a prime minister must step down if ultimately convicted, but can stay in office throughout legal proceedings, including appeals. 

 

For the first time in Israel’s history, the mandate to form a governing coalition is in the hands of the Knesset. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin handed Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein a formal notice confirming that Blue and White party leader, Benny Gantz, had failed to fulfill his mandate to form a government. In the next 21 days, 61 lawmakers must come together to nominate a fellow Knesset member, who will then be given 14 days to swear in a new government. If that effort also fails, the country will go to the polls once again. The looming prospect of a third election has stirred fears over the budget impasse that could ensue—an impasse that would likely impose negative forces on Israel's economy.

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US State Department is rescinding a Carter-era legal opinion that viewed any settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as inconsistent with international law. The Israeli settlements are built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day war. The United Nations Security Council, along with most world countries, also consider the settlements a violation of international law. A Palestinian leader said Pompeo's announcement undermined the Trump administration's credibility in arranging peace talks, while a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Trump administration for backing the Jewish people's historic ties to the West Bank. In response to the announcement, a number of national Jewish organizations released their own statements about the decision, articulating diverse viewpoints, including AJC, the Orthodox Union, and the Union for Reform Judaism.

 

Israel warned Iran to stop any further attacks against the Jewish State. Earlier this week, when four rockets were fired into Galilee, Israeli Air Force fighter jets carried out a wave of retaliatory air strikes on dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds Force (IRGC) and the Syrian army in Syria. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have recently warned of the increased threat posed by the Islamic Republic, which they claim has grown bolder in reacting to Israeli attacks against Iranian and Iranian-backed militias and infrastructure. In response to the latest IAF action, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said the strikes were a “wrong move” and in “stark contrast” to international law.  

 

Some 240 Congress members have signed on to a bipartisan letter to the U.N. secretary-general calling for an international effort to defend Israel and limit the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah. The letter references U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, passed after the 2006 Lebanon War, which called for the Lebanese government to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country and disarm terror groups, and also increased the size and mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL.

 

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be taking a break from the Update next week. We will return on December 6. 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC

 

 

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IDF Launches Surprise War Simulation in Northern Israel

 

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Buses to Roll on Shabbat in Tel Aviv

 

Survey: About 1 in 4 Europeans Hold Antisemitic Beliefs

 

 

 

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The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is the non-partisan, public affairs arm of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

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Jackie Congedo, Director 

Jewish Community Relations Council 

513-985-1501 | jcongedo@jfedcin.org

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