With the Implosion of Israel’s Labor Party, Expect April’s Elections to Be about Personalities

A recent poll of Israeli voters’ preferences for the April 9 elections shows the once-dominant Labor party getting only six Knesset seats (out of 120). But the newly formed Israel Resilience party, led by the former IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz, could emerge as a serious contender against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud, especially if it can draw in other centrist parties. Noting that such polls, while of questionable predictive value, can often shape voters’ perceptions and intentions, David Horovitz tries to make sense of Israel’s potential apparent political realignment:

The dismal poll showings of Labor and [the far-left] Meretz underline the collapse of the left as this election campaign gets going in earnest. Labor, [under its new leader Avi Gabbay], does not claim that peace is there to be made if only Israel would stretch out a warmer hand than Netanyahu’s. So if Labor doesn’t believe it can make peace, plenty of former Labor voters are apparently concluding, who needs it? . . .

While Israeli political infighting is vicious, ideological differences have narrowed. Everybody would love peace; very few people believe it is attainable. This is not 1999, when then-incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu told Israelis there was no chance of a historic accord with the Palestinians, and [the Labor leader] Ehud Barak ousted him because he convinced enough voters—wrongly, as it turned out—that there was [such a chance].

Ultimately, this election is unlikely to be a battle over left and right—no matter how hard Likud tries to make it so by depicting Gantz as a weak man of the left. It will rather be a choice of personalities—between a vastly experienced prime minister, widely respected for having protected Israel from without, and a neophyte ex-army chief arguing that this same prime minister is tearing Israel apart from within. Or between an incumbent who warns of a bleak future without him in a treacherous region, and a contender promising that, for all the very real threats, things can be a great deal better.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Labor Party, Peace Process


European Aid to the Middle East Is Shaped by a Political Agenda

Feb. 18 2019

The EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Unit dispenses millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to dozens of countries every year. Although it claims to operate on principles of strict neutrality, independent of any political motivation and giving priority to the neediest cases, a look at its activities in the Middle East suggests an entirely different approach, as Hillel Frisch writes:

[T]he Middle East is the overwhelming beneficiary of EU humanitarian aid—nearly 1 billion of just over 1.4 billion euros. . . . The bulk of the funds goes toward meeting the costs of assistance to Syrian refugees, followed by smaller sums to Iraq, Yemen, “Palestine,” and North Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, receives less than one-third of that amount. The problem with such allocations is that the overwhelming majority of people living in dire poverty reside in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Bangladesh. . . . The Palestinians, who are richer on average than those living in the poorest states of the world, . . . receive over six euros per capita, while the populations of the poorest states receive less than one-eighth of that amount. . . .

Even less defensible is the EU’s claim to political neutrality. Its favoritism toward the Palestinians on this score is visible as soon as one enters terms into the general search function on the European Commission’s website. Enter “Palestine” and you get 20,737 results. Enter “Ethiopia” and you get almost the same figure, despite massive differences in population size (Ethiopia’s 100 million versus fewer than 5 million Palestinians), geographic expanse (Ethiopia is 50 times the size of “Palestine”), and degree of sheer suffering. The Syrian crisis, which is said to have led to the loss of a half-million lives, merits not many more site results than “Palestine.”

One of the foci of the website’s reports [on the Palestinians] is the plight of 35,000 Bedouin whom the EU assists, often in clear violation of the law, in Area C—the part of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control. The hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Sinai, however, the plight of whom is readily acknowledged even by Egyptian officials, gets no mention, even though Egypt is a recipient of EU aid. . . .

Clearly, the EU’s approach to aid allocation has nothing to do with impartiality, true social-welfare needs, or humanitarian considerations. [Instead], it favors allocations to Syrian refugees above Yemeni refugees because of the higher probability that Syrian refugees will find their way to Europe. . . . The recipients of European largesse who are next in line [to Syrians], in relative terms, are the Palestinians. [This particular policy] can be attributed primarily to the EU’s hostility toward Israel, its rightful historical claims, and its security needs.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians