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Israeli press review: Netanyahu says Israel will keep all land between the river and the sea

Prime minister boasts about his opposition to a Palestinian state, while victims of Iraqi pogroms lose compensation case
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands on the west bank of the Jordan River (AFP)

Netanyahu: We’ll rule all land west of the Jordan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told lawmakers from his Likud party that Israel will continue to rule over all the land west of the Jordan River, meaning all of present-day Israel, as well as all of the occupied Palestinian territories, Mako news site reports.

“We will rule over all the territory west of the Jordan, we will be everywhere,” Netanyahu said. “We won’t uproot even one person. No one will be uprooted.”

The Israeli premier made the comments Monday in a closed-door meeting of Likud legislators at a Jerusalem heritage centre named after Menachem Begin, the first Likud leader to rule the country.

Netanyahu recalled that former US Vice President Joe Biden confronted him over his unwillingness to permit Palestinians any territorial sovereignty, even in the future. “Joe Biden told me back then: ‘You’re against a Palestinian state!’ I told him, ‘You said it.’”

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The prime minister also stated that if he forms the next government, it will be similar in composition to the current one, with one significant difference: the education minister will be from Netanyahu’s own Likud party, not from a coalition partner.

In recent weeks, Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties has expressed interest in receiving the education portfolio.

Iraq pogrom victims ineligible for full compensation

Israel’s Supreme Court has decreed that Iraqi Jews who fled their country in the wake of anti-Semitic pogroms in 1941 are not eligible to receive the same financial compensation as Jews whose wartime suffering occurred on the European continent, Israeli daily Haaretz reports.

After an eight-year legal battle, the highest court in the country ruled that the Baghdad pogroms, known as the Farhud, were inspired by anti-Jewish animus that predated Nazi influence on Iraq.

As such, survivors of the pogrom will not receive an annual sum of $7,300 for their past suffering, as those of Nazi Germany, but rather of $1,000, a figure chosen by Israel’s finance ministry in 2015.

“Anti-Semitism in its various forms existed before the Nazi regime rose to power, and didn’t disappear after Nazi Germany was defeated,” the court ruled. “There are many facets to anti-Semitism.”

Though the court denied appellants the cash award they sought, the judges suggested that the state increase their compensation in any case, noting that the letter of the law is out of sync with the will of the people, who they say broadly support a larger reparations package for the Farhud victims.

Israeli Jews of Moroccan descent are also demanding that the compensation they receive for their persecution at the hands of the Vichy regime also be brought in line with the funds paid out to those who suffered directly under the Nazis.

Levi-Abekasis seeks healthy ministry, promises looser grass laws

Orli Levi-Abekasis, who is chair of the centre-right Gesher party, unveiled her faction’s platform on Sunday, revealing her aspirations to head the health ministry in Israel’s next government.

“Get used to this: Orli Levi-Abekasis, Israel’s health minister,” the lawmaker wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.

“The Israeli health system is collapsing, thousands of people are dying every year, dying needlessly,” she wrote. “We cannot continue like this!”

Levi-Abekasis vowed to find a billion dollars to cover the ministry’s deficit, and to invest in the country’s health system an additional $3.6bn to $4.2bn over the next five years – “until we reach the OECD average”.

The centre-right legislator, who left the Yisrael Beiteinu party to form her own Knesset faction in 2017, also committed to eliminating the hurdles that block Israeli citizens from purchasing marijuana legally.

“How can it be that people are denied medicine because its name is cannabis?” she asked. “Apathy, close-mindedness and disdain.”

In recent days, another boutique political party that has long championed the decriminalisation of marijuana – Zehut (Identity) – polled above the electoral threshold, currently set at 3.25 percent.

If the party maintains or improves on that level of support, it will earn itself a place in the next parliament.

TV anchor to be grilled for calling abusive troops ‘animals’

A television reporter who elicited widespread rage in Israel for criticising soldiers accused of badly beating a Palestinian man in front of his son will soon face a professional tribunal over her remarks, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The Btsalmo organisation, a Jewish advocacy group, is calling for Channel 13 news anchor Oshrat Kotler to be levelled with punitive sanctions for calling the Israeli soldiers featured in a news segment about the beating “human animals”.

“When you send your children to the army, they are kids,” Kotler said. “You send them to the territories, and they come back as human animals. This is the result of the occupation.”

Three of the soldiers were recently sentenced to six months in jail, and a fourth was sentenced to three months in jail, as part of a plea deal with military prosecutors.

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

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