by Gil Tanenbaum
Former Health Minister MK Yuli Edelstein announced his intention to run for the Likud leadership against incumbent party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We have held elections four times, four times the Likud has been the largest faction in the Knesset, and four times we have failed to form a national government headed by the Likud,” Edelstein told Channel 12. “We will remain in the opposition for many years. Netanyahu should be replaced. With Netanyahu, we failed four times in forming a government, how can we suddenly succeed the fifth time?"
The Likud won the most seats in the Knesset in each of the four elections between April 2019 and April 2021 and it could have formed a new coalition after any of these elections if it were not for the personal animosity held towards Netanyahu by so many.
Three parties in the current Knesset, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu and Gidon Sa’ar’s New Hope would all have joined a Likud led government, but only without Netanyahu serving as the prime minister.
Edelstein said that he hopes to push for new elections for the Likud leadership within the next few months. Israeli parties generally require new elections for their leadership after an election loss.
Yuli Edelstein, 63, was born in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union. He came to Israel at the age of 29. Edelstein has been a member of the Knesset for 22 of the last 25 years, originally serving with the Israel B’Aliyah Russian immigrant party. That party merged with the Likud after the election of 2003 and he has been in the Likud ever since.
Edelstein served as Minister of Immigrant Absorption (1996 – 1999), Minister of Information & Diaspora Affairs, (2009 – 2013) and Minister of Health (2020–2021). He served as speaker of the Knesset from 2013 – 2020.
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
The reason the current odd coalition government was formed and still exists is because nobody wants to join the inept and self-absorbed leadership of Netanyahu any more. Hopefully, as soon as he is gone a new Zionist government will be formed.
The United States made clear about its opposition to Israel's building of Jewish communities on land that Palestinian Arabs want for a future state. The Biden administration’s position on this issue is a policy shift from the previous administration of Donald Trump. The administration's view is to refrain from actions such as construction of new Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria that could be seen as "provocative" and undermine efforts to achieve the “two-state solution”. (Why are almost 2 million 'Palestinians' able to live in Israel, but no Jew can live in the heart of the Jewish ancestral land - Judea and Samaria? The proposition of so-called “two-state solution” that will never happen, is an invention of international anti-Semites with aim to discredit the existence and facilitate the destruction of the Jewish state.)
Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev appears set to maintain government policy on the Temple Mount. Bar Lev said after meeting security officials that it was important that the “customary situation” on the Temple Mount in place since 1967 in which Jewish prayer is prevented should be maintained. Several activist organizations which advocate for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount expressed concern that Jewish prayer on the site may now be stopped in reaction. (It is long overdue to regain self-respect and change the old ‘customs’.)
Exploring 'Plan B' for Iran
US, Israeli and EU officials took a tough line toward Iran and are exploring a “Plan B” for dealing with it. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said discussions between their two countries have begun on “other options” should Iran not return in good faith to negotiations to salvage the languishing landmark 2015 nuclear deal. (Is the US plan ‘B’ surrender, like in Afghanistan? It does not work for Israel!)
Without explanation, the US Treasury Department lifted sanctions on two firms that produced ballistic missiles for the Iranian regime. Both companies were sanctioned in September 2020 for “providing support to an entity in Iran’s ballistic missile program.” The Treasury Department said at the time that “Mammut Industries and Mammut Diesel are key producers and suppliers of military-grade, dual-use goods for Iran’s missile programs.”
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out a strike in the Palmyra area in Syria on Wednesday, killing one soldier and wounding three others. The airstrikes hit the centers of several Iranian-backed militias, including a training center and a communication tower, a few kilometers to the east of T4 airbase. In general, Iran’s military build-up in Syria remains a red line for Israel. Israeli leaders have repeatedly declared that they will not tolerate an Iranian threat on its northern border with Syria and will take all necessary measures to ensure that such a menace does not emerge.
No way would Israel agree to have the United States reopen its consulate dedicated to Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem, said Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Saar. His comment comes ahead of a meeting between the two countries’ top diplomats in Washington. “I spoke with (Prime Minister Naftali Bennett) a couple of times on the issue. We are on the same page and we don’t see differently,” Saar added. “Someone said it’s an electoral commitment. But for us, it’s a generation’s commitment. We will not compromise on this.” (Fake friends of Israel in the White House are not news. Ending appeasement of enemies and exercising sovereignty by an Israeli government would be!)
Quote of the Week:
"Some Israeli Arabs to this day have not made peace with the way the War of Independence concluded, and continue to undermine the State of Israel. The Arabs are citizens of Israel, for now at least. I yearn for the day when there will emerge from them a leadership that will be a full partner in Israel and will not deny its ethos as a Jewish state - then they will be legitimate partners." - MK Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism party) - Sometimes there is a need for political 'marriage of convenience' to progress and achieve desired result.
by Eli Lake
It appears that President Joe Biden’s administration is finally taking “no” for an answer from Iran. Since the summer, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has signalled that his patience is not infinite when it comes to his offer to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal. This week, Blinken went a bit further, saying, “We will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran.”
This formulation is a classic Washington euphemism for the prospect of military action. Former President Barack Obama would use a version - “all options are on the table” - during his administration’s negotiations with Iran. It’s meant to placate allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who worry the US is unwilling to back up its economic war on Tehran with cruise missiles and cyberattacks if Iran gets close to becoming a nuclear threshold power.
Allies and adversaries pay more attention to America’s deeds than its words. The most glaring deed in this respect is Biden’s withdrawal and surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan. In that one feckless act, the world saw a superpower humbled by a gang of fundamentalists, because its last two presidents wouldn’t leave a few thousand troops in a country to defend an elected government that its blood and treasure made possible.
If the US wouldn’t use its military to stave off such a humiliation, would it risk a new war to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons?
The second reason Blinken’s talk of “every option” won’t work is because the administration still believes the 2015 nuclear deal thwarted Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
While that deal did place strict limits on the quantity and quality of uranium Iran could enrich, most of these limits were set to expire between 2025 and 2030. More important, a library of nuclear plans stolen in 2018 by Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, disclosed the extent to which Iran had concealed military elements of its program during the negotiations with the Obama administration and five other nations.
As a result, the 2015 nuclear deal accounts for only the nuclear sites Iran had declared, and not the ones it hid for years from the international community.
So, at best, the 2015 deal is a partial and temporary constraint on Iran’s nuclear program.
The good news for the US is that there is another way to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In fact, it’s been in effect for several years now. Israel’s Mossad has waged a remarkably successful intelligence war of sabotage and assassinations against Iran’s nuclear program with real success.
Some of this success is due to the Central Intelligence Agency’s close coordination with the Mossad under the Trump administration. If Biden is serious about a plan B if Iran diplomacy fails, he should instruct his spies to enhance that partnership.