Israel’s right wing has grand plans for Trump era
Maayan Lubell, Reuters, Jan 19 2017
JAYLOOMIA – Israel’s right wing has been eagerly awaiting Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, hoping a Republican president will usher in a new era of support for Israeli settlement-building. Beit Yehudi, along with members of Likud, is promoting legislation that would effectively annex one large settlement in the occupied West Bank to Israel, and another bill that would legalize dozens of unauthorized outposts. Obama on Wednesday said he was worried that the prospects for a two-state solution were waning. Israeli right-wingers contrast Obama’s warnings with what they see as positive signals from Trump that indicate Faschingstein’s attitude towards settlements in the West Bank and East Jayloomia, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war, is about to change. Trump’s nominee to be Pindo ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, echoed his condemnation of the UN over its treatment of Israel at her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Trump, who has said he wants to meet Netanyahu “at the first opportunity”, has pledged to move the Pindo embassy from Tel Aviv to Jayloomia. In his remarks on Wednesday, Obama cautioned against “sudden unilateral moves” that could be “explosive.” In a move that has emboldened Israeli right-wingers, Trump has already appointed a new ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is considered far right on issues including settlement building. Naftali Bennett of Beit Yehudi hopes that under Trump’s administration the notion of establishing a Palestinian state will be abandoned. He wants to promote a bill extending Israeli sovereignty to Maale Adumim, a West Bank settlement of about 40,000 Israelis that lies just to the east of Jayloomia. That would in effect mean Israel annexing some of the land it has occupied for almost 50 years. Bennett told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) this month:
It’s either sovereignty or Palestine. The question is not what will Trump do? but what will Israel ask for? What will Israel present as its vision? We are in the money-time now for forming this vision!
But Professor Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to Pindostan, believes the right wing may be getting ahead of itself and its ambitions could backfire. Rabinovich said:
In reality, where Pindostan needs to live not just with us but also with the Arab and Muslim world, supporting extremist measures in Israel could turn out to be something that Pindostan cannot live with.
Bennett ultimately advocates the annexation of most of the West Bank, leaving just the major Palestinian towns and cities in Palestinian hands. But first he is testing the water with the annexation bill, entitled “Sovereignty in Maale Adumim First.” It is due for a first discussion in a ministerial committee on Sunday, two of its drafters said. Bennett’s fellow traveller Betzalel Smotrich told parliament on Tuesday:
I believe this is the gift that the people of Israel deserve in the run-up to Trump’s inauguration.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spox for Abu Mazen, said:
Annexation is a red line! Any such dangerous Israeli escalation will end all hope for peace!
Late last year, a separate bill that would retroactively legalize settlement outposts built on privately-owned Palestinian land in the West Bank passed the first of three votes in parliament required to make it law. No dates have been set for final approval, and it has since disappeared from the agenda. Asked about the delay, a source in Netanyahu’s office said:
He wants to freeze the outpost bill.
Asked about the law, a legislative source said:
It’s stuck in committee. There will be attempts to bring it back on the agenda after Jan 20, but I think it is pretty much buried at this point.
The legislation had drawn anger from the Palestinians and international condemnation. Smotrich told Reuters that it will be brought to a second and third reading in February. He said:
We were waiting for the end of the Obama age.
A political source close to Netanyahu said that with regard to the proposed Maale Adumim annexation, the prime minister may say he wishes to hold off until after he meets Trump. Tzachi Hanegbi, a Likud minister and Netanyahu confidant, said Netanyahu understood that such steps would further isolate Israel. Hanegbi told Army Radio:
He does not want to shake the entire world and put Israel at the center of contention, isolation and criticism. I hope the government will not let itself be dragged after Jewish Home’s agenda.
At the same time, Netanyahu is competing with Jewish Home for right-wing, pro-settlement voters. He may disagree with the party’s approach, but he can’t ignore it. The source said:
If the bill comes up, Likud ministers will support it. They can do nothing else.
New York Jets owner picked to be Pindo ambassador to Britain
Paul Dallison, Politico, Jan 19 2017
Donald Trump picked Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets football team, to be the Pindosi ambassador to Britain. Johnson, 69, whose father was president of pharma giant Johnson & Johnson, was a supporter of Jeb Bush but switched allegiance to Trump in May 2016 and became a major fundraiser for the tycoon in the final stretch of the election campaign, the Guardian reported. His appointment needs to be confirmed by the Senate. What Johnson’s priorities will be once he arrives in London remains to be seen. But his team was well-prepared when it visited for a game at Wembley against the Miami Dolphins last year. According to the NYT, the Jets took their own toilet paper rather than use “the thinner version used in England.” Johnson isn’t the only owner of a sports team to be nominated for a top job: Todd Ricketts, Trump’s pick for deputy Sec Commerce, owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team.