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Israeli press review: Ex-generals appeal to right-wing parties for upcoming elections

From Israel's forthcoming elections to Ireland advancing boycott bill, here are stories making rounds in Israeli press
Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (AFP/file photo)

Ex-generals seek alliance of centrist and right wing parties for elections

Former Defense Minister and Telem party leader Moshe Ya’alon has expressed interest in forming an alliance with right-wing and centrist political parties in the upcoming elections for Israeli parliament, according to the right-wing news site Srugim.

Speaking to a forum of journalists from the national-religious camp, Ya’alon said that he is “calling for political alliances with the right side of the political map as well”. The Jewish Home party and the New Right party were specifically mentioned as potential suitors, the Srugim report said.

Israeli Resilience party leader Benny Gantz – like Ya’alon, a former Israeli army chief of staff – has also been exploring other political alliances in talks with Avi Nissenkorn, the chair of the Histadrut, Israel’s largest trade union. According to a recent poll, Gantz’s party stands to become the second-largest in the Knesset – accruing 15 seats. However, the poll says that Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party is projected to have 31 seats.

The two generals-turned-politicians, Gantz and Ya’alon, have also also discussed the possibility of uniting and running for parliament on a single slate.

Protests outside minister’s home over police slaying

About 20 protesters demonstrated outside the home of Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan over the police shooting of a citizen last weekend, the left-leaning Local Call reported.

The crowd reportedly chanted, “Skin color is not probable cause”, alleging that Israeli police are more likely to use lethal force against people of color.

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The small demonstration comes after police shot 24-year-old Yehuda Biadga in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam last Friday. Biadga’s family had called police to the scene and warned them that their son suffered from post-traumatic stress related to his army service and that he was carrying a knife.

“The minister did not condemn the killing, the officer who shot is still at his job. The mainstream media just takes the police’s press releases and publishes them,” said activist Efrat Yerday, herself an Israeli of Ethiopian descent.

“We want the police to defend us and to stop seeing us as criminals from birth. When I walk in the street and I see a police officer, my body contorts,” she told Local Call.

Earlier in the week, a Local Call investigation revealed that there have been fourteen incidents of police officers shooting and killing citizens in the past five years, and that in every one of those instances, the shooters were not indicted.

Their report also mentioned that all of the shooting victims were either non-Jews, people of color, or both: nine of the victims were Palestinian citizens of Israel, four were Israeli Jews of Arab descent, and one – the most recent victim – was a black Israeli Jew.

Activists called on Erdan to resign his post and hung posters at the edge of his property, reading, “Blackness is not a crime” and “Here lives the whitewasher”.

Likud lawmakers seek primary votes with abrasive videos

A new trend is emerging among ruling Likud party lawmakers hoping to draw support in its primaries next month: publishing videos of themselves purportedly telling off Palestinian leaders to their faces, according to facebook videos published by Likud party members.

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chair Avi Dichter released a video featuring himself berating Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his own office. In the clip, Dichter is seen donning a kaffiyeh and applying a fake mustache for a meeting with Abbas, who is heard explaining that the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are paid salaries proportionate to their time served.

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Dichter then removes his “disguise” and loudly informs “Abbas” that this practice will end, thanks to a law he passed in the last Israeli parliament. The short film ends with Dichter also taking credit for first sponsoring the Nation-State law passed in July 2018.

Dr Anat Barko, who also sits on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also posted a video portraying her as kidnapped by a kaffiyeh-wearing Palestinian. Under “interrogation”, Barko says she is proud for serving in the Israeli army for 25 years, and mocks the Arabic language for lacking the consonant “P”. She goes on to boast of passing a law in March 2018 that sanctions Israel withholding the bodies of Palestinians until their families agree to small-scale funerals with no political content.

“It’s over! Terrorists are buried at night, like a donkey,” Berko yells.

In the final frames of the video, Berko’s “interrogator” announces that she is ready to return to the Israeli parliament, removing the kaffiyeh covering his face to reveal he is in fact Berko’s husband, Reuven.

Envoy dressed down after Ireland votes to boycott settlements

The Israeli government summoned the Irish ambassador for a dressing down on Friday, hours after the Irish parliament began the process of approving a bill banning the procurement of goods and services produced in Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories, news site Mako reports.

Although the measure must pass through three more phases in order for the bill to become binding, Ireland's lower house of parliament, the Dail, passed it by a vote of 78 to 45.

If passed into law, the bill would prohibit Irish citizens from importing items made in Israeli settlements located in the West Bank, the Golan Heights or East Jerusalem. Attempting to do so would be punishable by as many as five years in prison.

"Israel is outraged over the legislation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It was clarified to the ambassador that the hypocritical and anti-Semitic legislation will have serious ramifications for Israel-Ireland relations and [Ireland’s] status in the region, should it be advanced.”

* Israeli press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.