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Netanyahu’s overwhelming victory and Gantz’s parliamentary putsch



Netanyahu’s overwhelming victory and Gantz’s parliamentary putsch

Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents claim that the results of the three elections the country has held over the past 12 months have been essentially unchanged, with the embattled prime minister and his right-wing bloc repeatedly proving unable to muster a parliamentary majority. But the actual numbers from Monday’s election paint a completely different picture. Looking at them, one wonders just how many votes Netanyahu needs to win by for the entire electorate to declare his victory.

Netanyahu and his bloc received more votes than ever before, at the expense of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s anti-Netanyahu but ostensibly Zionist center-left bloc. Excluding the Arab parties, which are self-declared anti-Zionists, the pro-Netanyahu bloc defeated the pro-Gantz bloc by 11 seats. That’s compared to a gap of just three seats in the Sept. 17 elections—a dramatic increase in a 120-seat parliament.

A look at these numbers shows that the Likud received 227,479 more votes than in September, while Blue and White increased by only 57,901 votes. In September, Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc defeated Gantz’s bloc by 106,601 votes.  This week, Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc defeated Gantz’s bloc by 467,829 votes.  That much more closely resembles a landslide than an electoral deadlock.

The rise of the Arab parties

Another clear trend to emerge over the past 12 months is the steady gains made by Israel’s Arab Parties, which increased their representation from 10 seats in April, to 13 seats in September, to 15 seats now.  This increase is due to Arab voters that have never before participated in Israeli elections. These voters did not participate previously because they refused to acknowledge the Knesset’s validity, just as their Arab-party representatives have never joined a governing coalition since the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

By increasing to 15 seats, the Arab parties have diminished the available pool of pro-Israel MKs to only 105. Of those 105, Netanyahu’s bloc has 58, which is a clear majority encompassing 55 percent of the pro-Israel seats.

Had the Arab parties received five fewer seats, as they did in April 2019, those seats would have been proportionally distributed among the Jewish parties, and the larger right-wing bloc would likely have received three, enabling it to form a clear majority.

Also read:  Israelis have spoken and prefer Netanyahu, though hurdles remain on way to government

The Arab MKs have no intention of sitting in a government with either Netanyahu or Gantz, because they are opposed to the very foundation of Israel as a Jewish state.

An unholy alliance

While Gantz knows the Arab parties are unwilling to join him to form a blocking coalition, he also knows that if they suddenly would change their tune, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party would refuse to sit along side the Joint List, leaving Gantz still way short of a majority. So Blue and White is now advancing a different idea: the passing of a law prohibiting a sitting prime minister from serving while under indictment.

Israel’s current law explicitly permits a sitting prime minister to serve while under indictment and even through a conviction, until all appeals processes have been fully exhausted, a process which could take several years. While the Gantz-supporting Zionist opposition parties and the Joint Arab List refuse to sit together, they are all willing to pass legislation specifically aimed at removing Netanyahu from office.

Without the votes of self-proclaimed anti-Zionists, Gantz could never hope to pass such a bill.

As for the Arab parties, the reason they are willing to pass legislation drafted specifically to remove Netanyahu from office—when they could otherwise care less which pro-Israel leader was prime minister—is because they recognize what the plurality of Jewish voters recognize: Netanyahu is a much stronger leader than Gantz, one whose record of strengthening the State of Israel, economically and militarily, is indisputable and unparalleled.

The Arab parties know that Gantz as prime minister (or even a new candidate from another party) would likely be measurably weaker than Netanyahu, who after 11 years at the helm is showing no signs of slowing down.

What can be done?

As Blue and White pursues a parliamentary putsch to oust Netanyahu after dramatically failing to defeat him at the polls, the prime minister should counter with a parliamentary maneuver that exposes Gantz’s allies of convenience.

While the Arab parties believe that they can essentially hold the Knesset hostage by preventing the formation of either a left- or a right-wing majority government, Netanyahu should introduce legislation demanding that each and every MK make a pledge of loyalty to the state, based on the full acceptance of the principles canonized in Israel’s Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, which states that:

  1. The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established.
  2. The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious, and historical right to self-determination.
  3. The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

Any MK unwilling to make this loyalty pledge should not have a parliamentary mandate to vote for or against the formation of an Israeli government coalition, or to pass or reject laws for the citizens of Israel.

By introducing such legislation, Netanyahu would put the Arab MKs on notice that Israel will not agree to have fifth column roaming the halls of its parliament, and that their primary concern should be representing the interests of their constituents, not diminishing of power of the State of Israel.

Meanwhile, this endless cycle of elections demands that members of the opposition admit their clear electoral defeat and do the responsible thing: join a Netanyahu-led government. And if none of the 47 ostensibly Zionist anti-Netanyahu-bloc MKs want to act in accordance with the explicit will of Israel’s electorate, then Netanyahu should consider forming a minority government.

Otherwise, Blue and White, the Joint List, as well as Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s attorney general and other forces opposed to Netanyahu’s continued leadership will continue to wreak total havoc on our fragile political system—that only works when 100 percent of our parliamentarians actually believe in the vision of a Jewish state.




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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin



Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel



A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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Customs Intercepts 414 Sacks Of Donkey Skin, Contraband worth N71.2m



The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Kebbi Command, says it has intercepted a truck loaded with 414 sacks of donkey meat and skins along the Bunza-Kamba axis of the state.

Dr Ben Oramalugo, the Customs Area Controller, made this known while briefing newsmen on the command’s activities, in Birnin Kebbi on Friday.

He said that the seizure of the donkey skin and meat was among the 17 smuggled items intercepted by the command between April 15 and May 15.

“Notably, on Sunday, May 14, following an intelligence report on prohibited items about to be smuggled out of the country through Bunza down to Maje axis, we detailed our officers to increase surveillance along the said routes.

“And through stop-and-search, the officers were able to intercept a truck loaded with 414 sacks of donkey skin and meat along Bunza-Kamba Axis.”

He added that among other items seized were two Toyota Camry 2013 and two Honda Jazz 2005.

Others are, 55 bales of secondhand clothes, 4,925 liters of PMS, 13 bags of foreign parboiled rice, five kegs of vegetable oil, a Volvo truck and one Toyota Corolla used for smuggling items, among others.

“The Duty Paid Value of the seized items is N71.2 million.

“All these successes have been achieved through constant vigilance and intelligence gathering by the officers and men of the command,” he said.

Oramalugo also revealed that the command was able to generate N127.3 million in the month of April.

“This is as a result of the efforts we put in place through routine stakeholders’ engagements and applying advice received from community leaders and indigenous retired and serving security personnel, among others.”

Oramalugo commended patriotic citizens, eminent personalities, host communities, and other stakeholders for providing useful information and advice.

“We appreciate our sister agencies for their prompt intervention when we seek reinforcement,” the controller said.

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