Trump sees tight race between 'two good people' for Israel PM

07 April, 2019, 16:52 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Rabbi Steven Wernick CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) answer questions during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC.

As security always takes centre stage in Israeli politics, Benny Gantz former chief of staff of the Israeli army is Netanyahu's biggest challenger. "I am going to extend (Israeli) sovereignty and I don't distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements".

Settlements built on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war are under global law and their ongoing construction is seen as a major barrier to peace.

"Netanyahu's supreme and indeed only imperative will be to cobble together an indictment coalition: one that will make it possible for him to continue to serve even after the hearing and after he's indicted", political analyst Yossi Verter wrote in the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz on Friday.

Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said Netanyahu's statement was "not surprising". "Israel will continue to brazenly violate worldwide law for as long as the global community will continue to reward Israel with impunity, particularly with the Trump administration's support and endorsement of Israel's violation of the national and human rights of the people of Palestine".

"'How do you like the idea of me recognizing exactly what we're discussing?'" said Trump, recounting the conversation.

Shalom Lipner, a former aide to Netanyahu and several other prime ministers and a current analyst at the Atlantic Council, said Netanyahu might well believe the Trump administration could allow him to proceed with annexation.

More than 600,000 Israelis live on war-won land, two-thirds of them in the West Bank.

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When Trump asked the crowd who they thought would win, they replied with cheers of "Bibi", Netanyahu's nickname.

"I said there shouldn't be the removal of even one settlement" from the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu told Israel's Channel 13 television.

Trump criticized the Democrats' recent move to block a measure condemning the boycott-Israel movement from the Yemen War Powers Resolution. But if it became clear it's not in the cards right now, then he can just say, 'Sorry, I can't swing it.

Attendees wear "Trump" yarmulkes before U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at an annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Las Vegas.

Trump also took credit for eliminating hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians and for pulling the US out of several U.N. organizations, the U.N. Human Rights Council and UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias in their agendas.

When he addressed the RJC in 2015 he said he didn't expect to earn their support because he wouldn't take their money.

If re-elected on April 9, Netanyahu could become Israel's longest serving prime minister and the first sitting prime minister to be indicted on corruption charges.

He said "people aren't fighting for Israel in Congress".

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