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Israeli press review: Gantz and co refuse to back two-state solution

Netanyahu's main challengers see no need for a Palestinian state, while a minister confirms DNA tests for immigrants 'impersonating Jews'
Benny Gantz, head of Resilience party and Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, hold a news conference to announce the formation of their joint party (Reuters)
Benny Gantz, left, head of Resilience party and Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, hold a news conference to announce the formation of their joint party (Reuters)

Top Netanyahu challengers refuse to back two-state solution

Blue and White, the newly formed political faction that polls currently suggest will win the most seats in elections next month, will not include support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel in its party platform, national broadcast Kan reports.

“A Palestinian state does not appear in our platform. Out of 40 of our people who will be in the Knesset, are there among them those that support the two-state solution? That may be, but it is not the position of the party,” said Moshe “Hili” Trooper, an Israel Resilience candidate on the Blue and White slate.

The party will also oppose any Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, and oppose joint sovereignty over Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority, according to a Channel 13 report.

The latest voter polls predict that Blue and White will receive around 35 seats when national elections are held on 9 April.

Though that figure would give them a five-seat lead over the ruling Likud party, it would not necessarily ensure that they are able to assemble a government, as some smaller parties have already committed to supporting the incumbent candidate, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Minister admits - then denies - DNA tests for immigrants ‘impersonating Jews’

Israel’s interior minister revealed that his ministry has been conducting genetic tests on aspiring immigrants, which would purportedly reveal if the applicant has the requisite amount of Jewish ancestry, Channel 13 reports.

“It bothers them, they say, that the interior ministry examines the DNA of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and it makes it difficult for emigrants there to immigrate to the state. Mea culpa. It’s true,” the interior minister Aryeh Deri said on Tuesday at a gathering of activists of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, which he leads.

“There is a law of return in the State of Israel, which if I was to legislate it, I would legislate it completely differently. It allows a great many non-Jews to immigrate to the country. Sadly, we don’t have an exact number, but hundreds of thousands of immigrants.”

Deri added that his party will not be satisfied to control just the interior ministry in the next government, saying he intended Shas to hold the immigrant absorption ministry too.

After rival party leaders slammed his remarks and demanded that he apologise and vow to end any such procedure, Deri backpedalled and denied that genetic tests were ministry policy.

“I never said there would be DNA tests for [former Soviet Union country] immigrants; there are no such tests and there will not be,” Deri tweeted late on Tuesday night.

“We will continue to guard the Jewish character [of Israel] and will prevent people from impersonating Jews and entering Israel with forged documents.”

Vandals slam minister’s support for alleged abusers

Visitors to the health ministry’s offices in Jerusalem were greeted by a bizarre sight on Monday: dozens of naked baby dolls, along with signs splattered with blood-red paint and lambasting Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman, Channel 13 reports.

“Litzman, defend the children and not the attackers!” read one of the signs accompanying the protest.

In February, Litzman was questioned by police over allegations that he attempted to aid a former school principal seeking to avoid extradition to Australia, where she faces charges of abusing students in her care.

Accusations of impropriety have continued to dog Litzman. Just this week, new allegations emerged that he helped the wife of the leader of the Gerer ultra-Orthodox sect – which Litzman himself is a member of – jump a long queue and quickly receive specialised medical treatment that regular citizens must wait many weeks for.

Last week, campaign posters promoting the Kulanu party headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon were vandalised by feminist activists, angered that funds he had vowed to transfer to women’s groups had never materialised.

According to the Jerusalem Post the activists, calling themselves “the Gender Counter-Terrorism Unit,” crossed out Kahlon’s image and sprayed over his face the number 26 – the number of Israeli women killed by their partners in 2018.

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