TIME Israel

This New Political Partnership Could Shake Up Israel’s Election

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Israeli army's training base complex near the southern city of Beersheba
Baz Ratner—Reuters Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Israeli army's training base complex near the southern city of Beershebaon Dec. 10, 2014.

The centrist Hatnuah party's alliance with the Labor Party could be a serious rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party in next year's elections

Israel’s former justice minister is expected to join her centrist party with the country’s center-left opposition, in a move that could significantly raise the stakes in the upcoming March election.

Tzipi Livni, who heads the centrist Hatnuah party, was expected to announce a unity deal with the Labor Party in a press conference Wednesday, Reuters reports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Livni from his cabinet last week amid growing rifts in his coalition and called for early general elections in a bid to renew his mandate in office. Polls have found his center-right Likud party likely to come away with the most votes in the general election set for March 17.

But an alliance between Livni’s Hatnuah party and the larger Labor Party, headed by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, could reshape the electoral outlook. Recent polls suggest that the centrist alliance could take more parliamentary seats than Likud.

Still, Netanyahu could remain prime minister by forming a coalition with right-leaning parties in parliament. His party was expected to decide Wednesday whether to approve Netanyahu’s proposal to move primary elections to Dec. 31 from Jan.6, a move that has drawn criticism from some party members who say it puts other candidates for party leadership — such as former minister Gideon Sa’ar—at a disadvantage.

[Reuters]

TIME Ireland

The Irish Parliament Looks Set to Recognize a Palestinian State

184215466
John Harper—Getty Images Irish Parliament in Dublin

Ireland would be joining the U.K., France, Spain and other countries in extending symbolic recognition

The Irish government accepted a motion Tuesday calling for the symbolic recognition of Palestinian statehood “on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, as established in U.N. resolutions.”

On Wednesday, members of the lower house of the Oireachtas, or Irish Parliament, will continue debating the nonbinding bill, which is being put forward by the opposition, Reuters reports. A government spokesman said it would not oppose the motion.

“Recognizing the independent state of Palestine would be a symbolically important expression of Ireland’s support for the people of Palestine’s right to self determination,” said member of Parliament Dominic Hannigan, according to the Irish Examiner.

The Irish upper house passed a similar resolution in October.

Spain, the U.K. and France, have also passed symbolic votes of recognition, however some European countries have gone a step further and officially recognize a Palestinian state, with Sweden recently becoming the largest European nation to do so.

TIME Republican

Republican Party Leaders Offered Free Trip to Israel Next Year

Reince Priebus
Steven Senne—AP Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus addresses an audience at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Boston.

Several potential Republican Presidential candidates have already taken advantage of the trips

Members of the Republican National Committee will be treated early next year to a weeklong all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, according to an email from chairman Reince Priebus obtained by TIME.

The 168 members of the committee, three from each state, district, and territory, have been invited to visit the country from Jan. 31–Feb.8, 2015, paid for by conservative political operative David Lane’s American Renewal Project and the American Family Association. The meeting follows January’s winter meeting of the party committee in Coronado, Calif., where Priebus is set to be resoundingly re-elected to his post.

According to Priebus’ email, the trip is not an RNC event, but is reserved exclusively and is being coordinated by the RNC for members and their guests.

An RNC spokesperson said the trip was not officially a committee trip, but is a “spiritual, historic journey through Israel” organized by the groups in concert with RNC faith director Chad Connelly. According to the official, who declined to be named, about 60 members RSVPd to attend, or 36% of the full committee.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a likely Republican presidential candidate, joined Lane on a trip to Israel in 2013. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is considering a second presidential campaign in 2016, joined Lane with other Christian pastors on a tour of Poland and England this year, retracing the steps of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, another possible 2016 Republican candidate, has also visited Israel with Lane.

The American Renewal Project, a conservative non-profit focused on getting Christians more involved in American politics, has recently been working to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for public office in 2016,

Here is a look at the full invitation, which was sent out on Nov. 21.

Dear RNC Members,

As previously announced, the RNC Members have been invited in their personal capacity, to participate on a trip to Israel in early 2015. This incredible opportunity is made possible through the generosity of David Lane’s American Renewal Project and the American Family Association. The trip to Israel will take place January 31 – February 8, 2015.

For RNC Members, the trip includes economy class roundtrip airfare from JFK International Airport to Israel, all meals, accommodations (based on double occupancy per room), tours, and admissions to museums and historic sites. RNC members are permitted to bring their spouse or a guest; however the spouse/guest will have to pay their way entirely including all airfare, hotels and meals. The approximate cost for the guest will be worked out once the agenda is finalized. RNC Members (and guests) will be responsible for their flight from their home airport to New York. The group will travel together from New York to Israel. Upgrades for the flight and single hotel room assignments are available for additional costs.

If you are interested in participating in the trip to Israel, please RSVP to Katie Hrkman in Member Services at ————- by Friday, November 28th.

Once we receive notice from all interested Members, we will notify those who have been selected so that travel arrangements and other details can be arranged.

Please note that although this is a trip for RNC Members and guests, this trip is not an RNC event.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Member Services at ————–.

Reince

TIME Syria

Syria Claims Israel Made Two Air Strikes Near Damascus

SYRIA-SKYLINE-DAMASCUS
Louai Beshara—AFP/Getty Images The minarets of mosques and the steeples of churches are seen towering above rooftops in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on June 26, 2013

Munitions warehouse could have been the target according to U.K.-based observer group

Syria accused Israel of carrying out two air strikes near its capital Damascus on Sunday.

The Syrian army made a statement on state television claiming that Israeli aircraft dropped bombs close to Damascus airport as well as on the nearby suburb of al-Dimas, the Associated Press reports.

The Israeli military has not admitted to the strikes and said on Sunday it would not rely on “foreign reports.”

At least 10 explosions were heard in the area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London. The organization also said an airport warehouse apparently targeted by bombs contained weapons, but it is not clear whether the weapons belong to the Syrian army or to militant group Hizballah.

Israel has launched several air strikes in Syria since the civil war began there in 2011, specifically targeted at weapons it believes are being supplied to Hizballah.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: December 3

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Woman Sues Bill Cosby Alleging Child Sexual Abuse

A southern California woman sued Bill Cosby on Tuesday, becoming the latest of more than a dozen women to allege sexual assault, claiming the comedian molested her around 1974 when she was 15 in a bedroom at the Playboy Mansion

Who Should Be Person of the Year?

Cast your vote for the person you think most influenced the news this year — for better or worse. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. E.T. on Dec. 6

Israeli Leader Looks to Reboot

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move to sack two ministers and call for elections cemented his interest in establishing a right-wing government

Transgender Teen Awarded $75,000

A court in Maine awarded the family of a transgender teenager $75,000 in a lawsuit against a school district that forced the student to use a staff restroom rather than one for pupils. The district was told to let students use restrooms “consistent with their gender identity”

National Guard Pulls Back From Ferguson

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a National Guard drawdown in Ferguson as protests continue to subside in the St. Louis suburb, roughly a week after boosting security following the announcement that a grand jury would not indict police officer Darren Wilson

China Tumbles in Annual Corruption Index

China fell 20 spots in this year’s corruption rankings, despite President Xi Jinping’s massive campaign to weed out graft that has disciplined more than 60,000 government officials. Denmark held onto first place as the country seen as least corrupt

Walking Dead Spinoff Casts First 2 Actors

The Walking Dead companion series has cast its first two victims, er, actors: British actor Frank Dillane and Alycia Debnam Care. The young actors will play the kids of one of the show’s main characters, a female guidance counselor who is not yet cast

Obama Renews Calls for $6 Billion Ebola Fund

U.S. President Barack Obama renewed his call for Congress to approve more than $6 billion in funding to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. “If we want other countries to keep stepping up, we will have to continue to lead the way,” said Obama

Decision in Chokehold Case Imminent

A decision is expected soon on whether or not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo over the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner. Garner died in July after being put into what appeared to be a banned chokehold by Pantaleo

Rolling Stones Sax Player Bobby Keys Dies at 70

Bobby Keys, the saxophone player who performed with the Rolling Stones on many of their biggest hits, along with other acts like The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Lennon, died on Dec. 2 at his home in Franklin, Tenn.

Texas to Kill Schizophrenic Man

Scott Panetti, who is scheduled to die on Wednesday, becoming the state’s 11th execution this year, has a long history of severe mental illness. In 1992, Panetti shaved his head, dressed himself in camo and fatally shot his in-laws in front of his wife and daughter

Bipartisan Push to Improve Military’s Handling of Sex Assault

The former chief prosecutor of the Air Force has thrown his weight behind Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s second push to change how the military handles sexual-assault allegations. The bill needed only five more votes last time

Get TIME’s The Brief e-mail every morning in your inbox

TIME Middle East

How Israel’s Coalition Government Collapsed

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at his office in Jerusalem
Gali Tibbon—Reuters Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at his office in Jerusalem on December 2, 2014.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses cabinet members of a "putsch"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired two of his most prominent ministers on Tuesday evening and called for new elections, underscoring his interest in establishing a right-wing government more loyal to his agenda.

The three-term premier announced at a press conference Tuesday that he was ousting Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, accusing them of openly rebelling against him and preventing him from governing the country. Livni joined Netanyahu’s government on the condition that he allow her to renew peace talks with the Palestinians, and Lapid had promised to take on socioeconomic reforms and Israel’s housing crisis.

“You can call it a putsch, and like this you can’t govern and can’t run a country,” Netanyahu said in a prime-time press conference. “I will not agree to a situation in which ministers attack the government from within.” Speaking as if he was simultaneously launching a new campaign, he urged voters to give him a “bigger ruling party” – the right-wing Likud – adding, “if you want a government of the center-right and right, then I ask to give you your vote to us.”

Over the past week, Israeli media had begun to predict that the bad blood inside Netanyahu’s coalition government had reached toxic new levels, and that it has pushed the hawkish leader to opt for new elections. The most recent bone of contention was a plan on the part of Lapid and his Yesh Atid party to cancel a tax on apartment purchases for first-time home buyers as a way to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis that Lapid had pledged to solve.

But Netanyahu decided to block that with little explanation, as well as a health-care reform plan, which in turn led Lapid to threaten to bolt the coalition. In his speech, Netanyahu condemned Livni for daring to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when she had been told not to, highlighting their differences over the failure of the peace talks in April.

The most severe division, however, was over the question of Israel’s status – or not—as a Jewish nation. Together, Lapid and Livni were among the foremost opponents to the passage by Netanyahu’s cabinet of an initial draft of a controversial bill declaring Israel a nation state. Netanyahu says he is dedicated to passing some version of this legislation so as to cement Israel’s status as a Jewish state by law, which he argues is necessary for the country’s survival. Critics say this would create an undemocratic two-tier system which makes Israeli Arabs and other non-Jewish minorities inferior citizens.

“You could say that it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Gadi Wolfsfeld, a political scientist at the IDC Herzliya, a university near Tel Aviv, tells TIME. “I take him at his word. He can’t really govern, he can’t really get legislation passed. He is not a leader right now, in that he can’t run the country as he would like to. Netanyahu didn’t want this government in the first place, and he prefers what he calls, his ‘natural allies.’”

Those allies are the ultra-Orthodox parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas. These are parties which have been willing to join coalitions in left and right-leaning governments, because their main goals are to protect their religious way of life and to secure funding for schools and other ultra-Orthodox institutions. But with secular-religious tensions on the rise, Lapid promised to push back against the control of the ultra-Orthodox over issues like marriage rights, and to pass a new draft law requiring men from religious communities to serve in the army, overturning an exemption in existence since the founding of the state.

Netanyahu appears to be banking on Likud continuing to garner the most votes – polls have found that would be the case if elections were held today – and that he can then team up with these ultra-Orthodox parties, as well as the nationalist parties led by right-wingers Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi, or the Jewish House) and Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu, or Israel is Our Home).

Israel’s political shake-up takes places against a backdrop of complete stagnation in the Israeli-Palestinian political process and a wave of violence that has been labeled by some as the stirrings of a new intifada, or Palestinian uprising. But the months ahead of yet-to-be-determined Israeli elections – several Israeli media outlets suggested the date would be in March – mean that Netanyahu now has a period in which he can tell various foreign leaders that peace will have to wait.

“One of the great things about elections is that it gets the world off his back,” Wolfsfeld quips. “No one will be able to say, what about the peace process, because he can say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m busy having elections now.’” If violence and unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank continues, it will likely push more voters into Netanyahu’s camp, because he has positioned himself as the Israeli leader who is tough on terrorism. “The more there’s violence,” says Wolfsfeld, “the more his party’s strength will go up.”

TIME France

France Considers Backing Palestinian Statehood

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius during a debate on the recognition of the Palestinian at the French Parliament in Paris on Nov. 28, 2014.
Michel Euler—AP French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius during a debate on the recognition of the Palestinian at the French Parliament in Paris on Nov. 28, 2014.

France would join Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain

France may recognize Palestinian statehood if international attempts to broker a negotiated agreement between Israelis and Palestinians fall through.

If France’s parliament passes the non-binding motion on Tuesday, the nation would join Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain in pushing for a two-state solution to the long-lasting Israeli-Palestinian conflict by recognizing a Palestinian state, Reuters reported Friday.

“If this final effort to reach a negotiated solution fails, then France will have to do what it takes by recognizing without delay the Palestinian state,” said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius before parliament. “We are ready.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the move as a “grave mistake.”

[Reuters]

TIME In Progress

Inside Gaza with Photographer Peter van Agtmael

What photographer Peter van Agtmael encountered in Gaza changed the way he worked.

Peter van Agtmael spent the last Gaza war taking pictures on the Israeli side. But when the fighting ended he made the surreal journey across the Erez Crossing from Israel into the Strip, home to some 1.8 million Palestinians. What he encountered changed the way he worked.

“When you’re confronted with that degree of destruction, you can’t shy away from it,” van Agtmael says. “I can’t go looking for my quirky little images in flattened neighborhoods.”

Van Agtmael’s particular gift, on rich display in his book Disco Night Sept 11, assembled from work in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the home front, was in finding the telling image outside the main frame of daily photojournalism. And if that image was often off-balance or a bit odd, it was also immediately recognizable as where life is actually lived, even during wartime.

But a woman camping in the ruins of her home – one of 600 buildings crushed by Israeli bombs in a single neighborhood – did not lend itself to eliding understatement. That will have to come in time. Van Agtmael sees his next book in the region, and aims to spend a substantial amount of time there in the next few years. It has what he looks for in a subject. “I guess the kind of thing I keep coming back with is something kind of complex and contradictory,” he says. “Everything you learn from one picture kind of gets denied by the next picture, and you circle back around with the third.

“The end result is a cohesive mass but a perplexing one as well. In the end, photography isn’t very good at telling narratives, it’s a series of fragments. But to make a polemic, that’s not my interest.”

Van Agtmael, a Washington DC native who studied history at Yale, knows the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has not lacked documentation. But “something clicked into place” during a 2013 assignment for the New York Times Magazine on the West Bank. He spent weeks with Palestinian activists in the village of Nabi Saleh, but also popped across the highway to visit Israelis in Halamish, the Jewish settlement the Palestinians gathered to each Friday. “I’m fascinated by the way those two worlds are incredibly intertwined, and how it easy it is to flip-flop between them, especially if you’re a journalist,” van Agtmael says. “That kind of dissonance attracts me as a photographer.”


Peter van Agtmael is a conflict photographer and member of Magnum.

Karl Vick is a TIME journalist based in New York. He spent four years as TIME’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief.


TIME Israel

Jewish Nation-State Bill Passed by Israeli Cabinet

Benjamin Netanyahu
Jim Hollander—AP Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during in his Cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem on Nov. 23, 2014

The proposed legislation, sometimes referred to as the "nationality law," has set off a debate about Israel's future

The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a bill to call Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people, a measure that critics say could further strain the state’s frayed relationship with its Palestinian population.

The draft legislation, titled “Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has promised that it will guarantee equality for all Israeli citizens, the New York Times reports.

Yet Palestinian lawmakers deem the bill a threat to the rights of the state’s Arab minority and its democratic principles.

The proposed law’s final wording has not yet been settled. At least one version of the draft law would demote the Arabic language to “special status” in Israel, making Hebrew the state’s sole official language.

The bill passed the Cabinet by 14 votes to six and is now headed to Parliament.

TIME Israel

Israel Demolishes East Jerusalem Home of Palestinian Behind Car Attack

Abdelrahman Al-Shaludi killed two in the October attack

Israeli security forces have destroyed the home of a Palestinian man who carried out a car attack in October that left two people dead and several injured, the military said Tuesday.

The demolition came soon after Israeli Primer Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to win a “battle for Jerusalem” after an attack on a synagogue left five dead. Tension over a disputed holy site and repercussions from the 50-day conflict in the Gaza Strip over the summer have contributed to growing unrest in Jerusalem in recent weeks.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed in a statement that the IDF and police forces had demolished the home Abdelrahman Al-Shaludi, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, who authorities say killed a baby girl and a young woman when he rammed his car into a light rail station on Oct. 22. Al-Shaludi was shot by officers at the scene and died of his wounds soon after.

MORE: Chaos and mourning in Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Speaking on Tuesday evening, Netanyahu vowed to “settle the score with every terrorist” and said he had also “ordered the destruction of the homes of the Palestinians who carried out [Tuesday’s] massacre and to speed up the demolitions of those who carried out previous attacks,” BBC reports.

Israel halted its controversial policy of demolishing the homes of militants in 2005 after a review committee found it did not act as an effective deterrent, but Netanyahu revived the practice this year.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com