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Chinese home appliance giant Midea opens 1st store in Israel

Midea Group, a Chinese home appliance giant, opened its first store in Israel, Midea’s official Israeli importer Hemilton Group said, Trend reports citing Xinhua.

The new flagship store covers an area of 350 square meters in a shopping mall in the central city of Rehovot and offers refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, range hoods and more.

Midea’s products are already sold in Israel in sales areas within five Ace Hardware stores and by dozens of authorized resellers.

Founded in 1968 and headquartered in the southern Chinese city of Foshan, Midea Group operates in more than 200 countries and employs more than 150,000 people.

The new concept store in Israel also offers China’s tech giant Xiaomi’s products, which are also officially imported to Israel by Hemilton.


This includes mobile devices, vacuum cleaners, robot vacuums and scooters.

Xiaomi already operates four flagship stores in Israel, along with dozens of authorized resellers selling its products in the country.

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This post originally posted here Trend – News from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey.

Israel offers ‘booster’ jab as Covid infections spiral

Israel will begin offering third doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine this week to adults with serious pre-existing medical conditions, becoming the first country in the world to officially offer a so-called “booster” of the company’s jab.

The move, confirmed by the health ministry on Monday, comes as US and European health authorities debate the need for booster jabs. Late last month, the UK gave provisional backing for a booster campaign from September. Pfizer last week said it would ask regulators to approve them. Other countries reliant on Chinese vaccines have offered booster jabs.

Israel has been widely hailed for rolling out one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives after it secured regular supplies of the vaccine from Pfizer in return for providing data.

But infection rates are rising sharply in Israel due to the highly transmissible Delta variant. Case numbers have spiked to more than 400 per day, after weeks of single-digit daily infections. However, only 47 out of 4,000 active cases nationally are considered to involve seriously illness, with health experts insisting that the two-dose Pfizer vaccine continues to provide strong protection against hospitalisation and death.

In a statement late last week, Pfizer and BioNTech said that a third dose “has the potential to preserve the highest levels of protective efficacy against all currently known variants including Delta”. The companies were still working on an updated version of their vaccine “that targets the full spike protein of the Delta variant”.

According to Israeli health minister Nitzan Horowitz, a booster would be made available to adults who are suffering from severe immunodeficiency, have undergone a recent organ transplant, or are generally considered at risk.

The health ministry recommends that the third jab should be given between four and eight weeks after the second Pfizer dose, with the approval of a family physician. For some specific at-risk groups, the ministry also recommended that they take an antibody test after both the second and third doses, though it is not a precondition.

“It’s not uncommon in medicine to use drugs ‘off label,’ that is not exactly according to the same protocols as used in clinical studies,” said Dr Eyal Leshem, an infectious disease expert at Sheba Medical Center. “It’s safe, effective and based on clinical judgment.”

Under Israel’s vaccination drive, which began in December, more than 5m of the country’s 9m citizens have been fully inoculated with two doses spread three weeks apart. Health authorities recently launched a push to vaccinate teenagers as well, with about 200,000 over the age of 12 receiving their first jabs over the past two weeks.

After fully reopening its economy in the spring and jettisoning all Covid restrictions last month, Israel recently began reinstating new limitations, including mandating masks for indoor gatherings and public transport. Additional steps, such as stricter quarantine for travellers and greater testing of children, are expected to be introduced. Israel may even bring back the “green pass”, which allowed greater freedom for vaccinated people.

“[Booster shots for at-risk populations are] likely more important than just vaccinating a few 20 year olds,” Leshem added. “It’s plausible you can save more lives with this step.” 

This story has been amended to make clear that some countries are offering booster jabs of Chinese vaccines.

What the Delta variant’s trajectory in Israel and the UK could mean for the US

But trends from Israel and the United Kingdom — where the variant became dominant a few weeks sooner than in the US — present hope for a less deadly and severe surge than others that have come before. And experts say that vaccination progress will be the most critical factor in preventing the worst outcomes.
In Israel, average daily cases are twice what they were in mid-April when the first cases of Delta were identified in the country. At that time, there were an average of five deaths each day in Israel. But despite the rise of the Delta variant — which now accounts for more than 90% of new cases in the country — average daily deaths have stayed consistently below that. In fact, Israel has had an average of less than two Covid-19 deaths per day since the last week of May, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In the United Kingdom, both cases and deaths are higher than they were when the Delta variant became the dominant strain in the country in mid-May, but cases have climbed exponentially faster than deaths. Average daily deaths in the UK are about twice what they were when the Delta variant became dominant, and cases are about 12 times what they were.
But trends in death due to Covid-19 lag a few weeks behind trends in cases, so the latest data on deaths should be closer in line with data on cases from a few weeks earlier. And even three weeks ago, average daily cases in the UK had multiplied more than the most recent daily deaths.
While both Israel and the UK foreshadow some optimism for Delta’s trajectory in the United States, experts say that Israel’s outcomes have been more overwhelmingly positive because of their substantial vaccination rate.
“In my mind, vaccines are the single most important factor” in the fight against the Delta variant, Becky Dutch, a virologist and chair of the University of Kentucky’s department of molecular and cellular biochemistry, told CNN.
When the first cases of the Delta variant were identified in Israel, about 56% of the population was already fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. But in the UK, only 2% of the population was fully vaccinated when the Delta variant was first identified there, only reaching 50% vaccination within the past week.
“There is reason to be moderately hopeful — with the caveat that the reason deaths and hospitalizations have not gone up as much is that there’s pretty high immunity from vaccination and natural infection in individuals most at risk,” Justin Lessler, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, told CNN.
In a statement released Monday, the Israeli government said that its analysis has shown the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to provide 64% protection against infections caused by the Delta variant but 93% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations, compared to research from May that reported it to be 97% effective.
“If we picked a flu vaccine that is effective as the current mRNA vaccines appear to be against Delta, we would be celebrating. They’re only slightly less good against Delta than the originally circulating strain,” Lessler said.
“The concern is places in the US that have not seen a lot of Covid and vaccination rates among the high-risk population is low.”
Overall, vaccination rates in the US fall somewhere between Israel and the UK. About 16% of the population was fully vaccinated when the first cases of Delta were identified in the US and about 48% are fully vaccinated now that the variant has become dominant.
And vaccination rates vary widely across the country. Less than a third of people in Alabama are fully vaccinated, compared to about two-thirds of people in Vermont, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The US is a patchwork now,” Dutch said. “It depends on where you live. If you live in a place with high vaccination rates and you’re vaccinated yourself, I’m not overly concerned about you. But if you’re sitting in an area of the country with 35% of the population vaccinated and you’re not vaccinated, I’m much more concerned.”
And while there is some evidence that the virus may evade natural immunity from previous infections and slightly lower the efficacy of the vaccines, experts say these findings are something to pay attention to, they’re not something to panic about.
Instead, Lessler says the rise and spread of the Delta and Alpha variants are a “warning that the virus is going to continue to evolve and continue to — in that evolution — find ways around existing immunity,” but that the hope is that vaccines will “virtually eliminate severe disease” for quite some time.

Israel: Netanyahu vacates prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem

Netanyahu vacates prime minister

Israel’s former premier Benjamin Netanyahu has left his official residence a month after losing office.

Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formally departed his official Jerusalem residence nearly a month after he was unseated by his successor Naftali Bennett.

“A little after midnight the Netanyahu family left the residence on Balfour [Street],” a spokesman for the family told journalists in a statement on Sunday.

Moving trucks were spotted outside the residence and black Audi cars were filmed being towed from the property over the weekend.

The hawkish Netanyahu served as Israel’s premier for 12 straight years following an earlier three-year term.

He remained in office even as he went to trial on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. He denies the charges and says they are a left-wing plot against him.

He led Israel through four deeply divisive elections in less than two years before right-wing nationalist Bennett was sworn in on June 13 to head an ideologically disparate coalition, unseating him.

However, Netanyahu did not vacate the prime ministerial residence.

Instead, he continued to host dignitaries including Nikki Haley, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations under President Donald Trump.

In late June, Netanyahu and Bennett’s offices announced July 10 as the final date for the former premier to move out.

Netanyahu left after midnight on Sunday, slightly after the deadline he agreed to.

“Crime Minister”, an organisation that has mounted weekly protests against Netanyahu outside the residence for more than a year, mocked him on Sunday.

“The defendant and his family fled as the last of the thieves in the night,” the group wrote on Facebook.

The residence had become a symbol of the Netanyahus’ scandals, and was the scene of weekly protests against Netanyahu for much of the past year. Demonstrators called on the then-prime minister to resign while on trial for corruption.

Bennett is to take over the prime minister’s residence on Sunday.

Jordan, Israel agree to water deal; more West Bank trade

Israel and Jordan reached a deal on Thursday for the Jewish state to sell an unprecedented amount of water to the kingdom, while significantly boosting Jordanian exports to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

The agreements, concluded during a meeting between their foreign ministers, signaled improved relations with Israel’s new government following years of strained ties under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Water resource cooperation has been a core issue between Israel and Jordan since a 1994 peace deal, but relations between the neighbours have frayed in recent years.

At a meeting held just inside the Jordanian border, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his counterpart Ayman Safadi approved Israel’s sale of 50 million cubic metres of water to its neighbour.

An Israeli official said that would effectively double the supply for the year – measured between May 2021 and May 2022 – as about 50 million cubic metres was already being sold or given to Jordan. A Jordanian official said Israel gives the kingdom 30 million cubic metres annually under their 1994 peace treaty.

Statements from both governments confirmed the sale and said the final details of the transaction would be concluded in the coming days.

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director for EcoPeace Middle East, a leading organisation on regional water cooperation that operates in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan – described the water sale as “the largest quantity ever sold between the two countries”.

“[It] is a true ‘watershed’ event,” said Bromberg.

“It represents an understanding of mutual interests and how countries in the region need to cooperate if we are to survive the tremendous challenges to water and national security that the climate crisis presents.”

Jordan is one of the world’s most water-deficient countries and experts say the country, home to 10 million people, has been grappling with one of the most severe droughts in its history.

Israel, which also faces water pressures, is a world leader in desalination.

Palestinian trade

On Palestinian trade, both sides confirmed that Jordan’s ceiling of potential exports to the West Bank, a territory occupied by Israel since 1967, would increase from about $ 160m to $ 700m per year.

Jordan’s top envoy said in a statement that he and Lapid also discussed a path towards “a just and comprehensive peace” between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The Kingdom of Jordan is an important neighbour and partner,” Lapid said. “We will broaden economic cooperation for the good of the two countries.”

Jordan said technical teams will iron out the details in the coming days, and talks on implementing the export ceiling will be held among Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials.

Amman visit

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported on Thursday that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited Jordan secretly last week and met with King Abdullah II at his palace in Amman.

This was reportedly the first meeting between the king and an Israeli prime minister in more than five years.

Palestinian sources said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with King Abdullah after his meeting with Bennett, reported Haaretz.

Bilateral relations grew strained under Netanyahu, who was barred from using Jordanian air space earlier this year, thwarting what was supposed to be his first-ever trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Netanyahu was replaced last month by Bennett, whose coalition has indicated that warming ties with Jordan is a foreign policy priority.

Israel and Jordan made peace in 1994 and maintain close security ties, but relations have been strained in recent years over Palestinian tensions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements in war-won lands, and the lack of any progress in the long-moribund peace process.

Both Jordan and the Palestinians were adamantly opposed to the Trump administration’s Middle East plan, which would have allowed Israel to annex up to one-third of the occupied West Bank. Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war, territories the Palestinians want as part of their future state.

The announcements came days before Jordan’s King Abdullah II is to visit the White House. The Biden administration has called on all sides to take steps that could help lay the groundwork for a resumption of possible peace talks.

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US to open Olympic baseball against Israel on July 30

The U.S. has not yet announced its roster, Israel’s team is expected to include former major leaguers Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia.

TOKYO, Japan — Host Japan will open the Olympic baseball tournament against the Dominican Republic at Fukushima on July 28, and Mike Scioscia’s U.S. team will start two days later against Israel at Yokohama.

The U.S., in Group B, also plays defending champion South Korea on July 31. The U.S. has not yet announced its roster, Israel’s team is expected to include former major leaguers Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia.

Japan, whose roster features former New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, is in Group A with Mexico.

Only the first day is at Fukushima, about 180 miles north of Tokyo, and the rest of the baseball tournament is at Yokohama, about 20 miles south of Tokyo.

The U.S.-Israel game is the nightcap of a doubleheader that opens with Mexico-Dominican Republic, and the U.S.-South Korea game is the finale of a doubleheader that starts with Japan-Mexico.

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The group stage determines seeding for the double-elimination knockout stage, which starts Aug. 1. The gold medal and bronze medal games are Aug. 7.

Only players not on 40-man major league rosters are eligible.

Baseball was dropped from the Olympics after 2008, was restored for this year and is being dropped again for the 2024 Paris Games. It is expected to be added for 2028 in Los Angeles.

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Physician Fired After Slurs, Including 'Cannibalism,' Against Israel

Fidaa Wishah, MD, a pediatric radiologist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona, has been fired after the hospital reviewed evidence that included her anti-Israel comments on social media, according to the hospital’s statement.

On May 26, Wishah posted, “We will uncover your thirst to kill our Palestinian children. … We sense your fear. The fear of your collapse. A state based on atrocity, inhumanity, racism and cannibalism never last long! Hey #israel…your end is coming sooner than you think.”

Phoenix Children’s Hospital did not respond to Medscape Medical News‘ request for comment, but said in a statement to the Jewish News Syndicate : “After a thorough review of the facts related to this matter, this individual is no longer providing care at Phoenix Children’s. All children in the care of Phoenix Children’s receive hope, healing and the best possible health care, regardless of race, color, disability, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or national origin.”

Wishah’s profile has been removed from the hospital website. Her LinkedIn profile indicates she had been a pediatric radiology fellow at Stanford University in California, specializing in advanced magnetic resonance imaging and fetal imaging and had been a senior staff pediatric radiologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan.

It wasn’t the first time antisemitic comments have led to the firing of a physician. Medscape Medical News wrote last year about Lara Kollab, DO, a first-year resident fired for her antisemitic tweets. She was subsequently barred from medicine.

In the same post from May 26, Wishah also wrote: “We will not be #censored anymore ! Bomb our media buildings and we have the phones[.] Bribe the mainstream media and we have our small #socialmedia platforms[.] From our windows.. from our streets .. next the rubble we will expose you to the world[.] We will expose the #massacre and #genocide you #zionists are proud of[.]”

Today, CAIR-AZ, a group whose mission is to “enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims,” according to its website, announced that it, along with three private law firms, will represent Wishah in what they referred to as “her wrongful termination case against Phoenix Children’s Hospital.”

The announcement, which mentions that Wishah was born and raised in Gaza, said, “Dr. Wishah has been a medical doctor since 2010 and has spent the vast majority of her career as a pediatric physician. Despite caring for thousands of children, many of whom are Jewish, she has never been accused of discriminating against any of her patients or colleagues.”

The statement added, “PCH’s decision to terminate Dr. Wishah is shameful and an attack on freedom of speech.”

Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Science News, and Nurse.com, and was an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick.

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

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This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Naftali Bennett becomes Israel PM, ending Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year rule

JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliament on Sunday narrowly approved a new coalition government, ending the historic 12-year rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and sending the polarizing leader into the opposition.

Naftali Bennett, a former ally of Netanyahu turned rival, became prime minister after the 60-59 vote. Promising to try to heal a divided nation, Bennett will preside over a diverse and fragile coalition comprised of eight parties with deep ideological differences.

But the 71-year-old Netanyahu made clear he has no intention of exiting the political stage. “If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country,” he said.

The vote, capping a stormy parliamentary session, ended a two-year cycle of political paralysis in which the country held four deadlocked elections. Those votes focused largely on Netanyahu’s divisive rule and his fitness to remain in office while on trial for corruption charges.

To his supporters, Netanyahu is a global statesman uniquely capable of leading the country through its many security challenges.

But to his critics, he has become a polarizing and autocratic leader who used divide-and-rule tactics to aggravate the many rifts in Israeli society. Those include tensions between Jews and Arabs, and within the Jewish majority between his religious and nationalist base and his more secular and dovish opponents.

Outside the Knesset, hundreds of protesters watching the vote on a large screen erupted into applause when the new government was approved. Thousands of people, many waving Israeli flags, gathered in central Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to celebrate.

President Joe Biden quickly congratulated the new government.

“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations,” he said in a statement after a G-7 meeting in England wrapped up. He said his administration is fully committed to working with the new government “to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.”

Bennett tweeted: “Thank you Mr. President! I look forward to working with you to strengthen the ties between our two nations.”

Much of the opposition to Netanyahu was personal. Three of the eight parties in the new government, including Bennett’s Yamina, are headed by former Netanyahu allies who share his hard-line ideology but had deep personal disputes with him.

Bennett, 49, is a former chief of staff to Netanyahu whose small party is popular with religious Jews and West Bank settlers. As he addressed the raucous debate, he was repeatedly heckled and shouted down by Netanyahu’s supporters. Some were removed from the chamber.

Bennett, an observant Jew, noted that the ancient Jewish people twice lost their homeland in biblical times due to bitter infighting.

“This time, at the decisive moment, we have taken responsibility,” he said. “To continue on in this way — more elections, more hatred, more vitriolic posts on Facebook — is just not an option. Therefore we stopped the train, a moment before it barreled into the abyss.”

The new Cabinet met briefly, and Bennett recited a prayer for new beginnings and said it was time to mend rifts. “Citizens of Israel are all looking to us now, and the burden of proof is upon us,” he said.

Bennett, a millionaire former high-tech entrepreneur, faces a tough test maintaining an unwieldy coalition of parties from the political right, left and center.

The coalition, including a small Islamist faction that is making history as the first Arab party to sit in a coalition, agree on little beyond their opposition to Netanyahu. They are likely to pursue a modest agenda that seeks to reduce tensions with the Palestinians and maintain good relations with the U.S. without launching any major initiatives.

“We will forge forward on that which we agree — and there is much we agree on, transport, education and so on, and what separates us we will leave to the side,” Bennett said. He also promised a “new page” in relations with Israel’s Arab sector.

Israel’s Arab citizens make up about 20% of the population, but have suffered from discrimination, poverty and lack of opportunities. Netanyahu has often tried portray Arab politicians as terrorist sympathizers, though he also courted the same Arab party in a failed effort to remain in power after March 23 elections.

Bennett, who like Netanyahu opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state, made little mention of the Palestinians beyond threatening a tough response to violence. He also vowed, like Netanyahu, to oppose U.S.-led efforts to restore the international nuclear accord with Iran.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” he said. “Israel is not party to the agreement and will maintain full freedom to act.”

But he also thanked Biden for his support of Israel. He promised to take a different approach than Netanyahu, who has alienated much of the Democratic Party through his antagonistic relationship with then-President Barack Obama and close ties with former President Donald Trump.

“My government will make an effort to deepen and nurture relations with our friends in both parties — bipartisan,” Bennett said. “If there are disputes, we will manage them with fundamental trust and mutual respect.”

While Bennett’s speech was conciliatory, Netanyahu’s was confrontational. He began by boasting of his achievements, including diplomatic treaties with four Arab states and a successful coronavirus vaccination drive, before belittling the man who is replacing him.

He accused Bennett of abandoning Israel’s right-wing electorate and joining weak “leftists” to become prime minister. He said Bennett did not have the backbone to stand up to Iran or pressure from the U.S. to make concessions to the Palestinians.

“I will lead you in the daily struggle against this evil and dangerous leftist government in order to topple it,” he said. “God willing, it will happen a lot faster than what you think.”

In the opposition, Netanyahu remains head of the largest party in parliament. The new coalition is a patchwork of small and midsize parties that could collapse if any of its members decide to bolt. Bennett’s party, for instance, holds just six seats in the 120-seat parliament.

Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said the new government will likely be more stable than it appears.

Each party in the coalition will want to prove that it can deliver. For that, they need “time and achievements,” he said. Still, Netanyahu “will continue to cast a shadow,” Plesner said.

The driving force behind the coalition is Yair Lapid, a political centrist who will become prime minister in two years in a rotation agreement with Bennett, if the government lasts that long.

Lapid called off a planned speech, saying he was ashamed that his 86-year-old mother had to witness the raucous behavior of his opponents.

“I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel. Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it’s time to replace you,” he said.

Netanyahu’s place in Israeli history is secure, having served as prime minister for a total of 15 years – more than any other, including the country’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion.

But his reputation as a political magician has faded — particularly since he was indicted in 2019 for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.

He refused calls to step down, instead lashing out at the media, judiciary and law enforcement, going so far as to accuse his political opponents of orchestrating an attempted coup. Last year, protesters began holding weekly rallies across the country calling on him to resign.

Netanyahu remains popular among the hard-line nationalists who dominate Israeli politics, but he could soon face a leadership challenge from within his own party. A less polarizing Likud leader would stand a good chance of assembling the right-wing coalition that Netanyahu had hoped to form.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Author: AP

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Israel parliament ousts Netanyahu after 12 year tenure – leader loses crunch vote by one

Israel: Netanyahu’s opponents agree coalition government

In a raucous session in which Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing and ultra-Orthodox supporters shouted “shame” and “liar” at Mr Bennett, parliament voted confidence in his new administration by a razor thin 60-59 majority. Following his defeat, Mr Netanayahu pledged he would soon return to power. US President Joe Biden said the United States remained committed to Israel’s security and would work with its new government.

Mr Bennett – former defence minister and a high-tech millionaire – was due to be sworn in shortly after the vote.

He pledged to be prime minister for “all Israelis” and said: “Thank you, Benjamin Netanyahu, for your lengthy and achievement-filled service on behalf of the State of Israel.”

His alliance includes for the first time in Israel’s history a party that represents its 21 percent Arab minority.

With little in common except for a desire to end the Mr Netanyahu era and political impasse that led to four inconclusive elections in two years, the coalition of left-wing, centrist, right-wing and Arab parties is likely to be fragile.

Benjamin Netanyahu loses 12-year hold over Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu loses 12-year hold over Israel (Image: Getty)

Nationalist Naftali Bennett

Nationalist Naftali Bennett (Image: Getty)

Israel’s longest-serving leader, Mr Netanyahu was prime minister since 2009, after a first term from 1996 to 1999.

But he was weakened by his repeated failure to clinch victory in the polls since 2019 and by an ongoing corruption trial, in which he has denied any wrongdoing.

Under a coalition deal, Mr Bennett will be replaced as prime minister by centrist Yair Lapid, 57, in 2023.

The new government, formed after an inconclusive March 23 election, plans largely to avoid sweeping moves on hot-button international issues such as policy toward the Palestinians and to focus on domestic reforms.

READ MORE: Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘Ousting me will endanger Israel’

Centrist Yair Lapid

Centrist Yair Lapid (Image: Getty)

Palestinians were unmoved by the change of administration, predicting that Bennett would pursue the same right-wing agenda as Mr Netanyahu.

The former Israeli prime minister was previously dubbed the “Trump before Trump”.

Mr Netanyahu’s unofficial biographer Anshel Pfeffer told Sky News: “He was Trump before Trump.

“He is a constant campaigner, he’s basically running for re-election the whole time. He doesn’t take a break between elections.

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Israel boundaries

Israel boundaries (Image: Express)

“So many of the populist politicians we talk about today – Orban in Hungary, Boris Johnson; Netanyahu was doing a lot of what they are doing now long before they were on the scene.

“Probably the only politician who was doing this in the television era before Netanyahu is Silvio Berlusconi in Italy.”

He continued: “Netanyahu is the most divisive prime minister in history, he has exploited every divide in Israeli society between Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, left and right.

“All these all these divides have been exploited and the communities have been played off against each other to keep him in power.

Benjamin Netanyahu ousted

Benjamin Netanyahu ousted (Image: Getty)

“That’s something that Israeli society will be paying the price for years to come.”

Ehud Olmert, Mr Netanyahu’s predecessor, said the two were “never friends” and said he never liked him.

He said: “I never liked him. I never felt close to him.

“I never felt that he is a genuine human being [but] I thought it was a highly talented performer, the greatest that I’ve met in modern politics.

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden (Image: Getty)

“He’s a genius.

“I mean, there will be no one that can compete with him in on television. Laurence Olivier?”

He continued: “He’s a great performer, but when you look at the substance of things, the divisions within the Israeli society today are greater than ever before.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Democrats, Growing More Skeptical of Israel, Pressure Biden

WASHINGTON — President Biden’s carefully worded statement on Monday supporting a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians came amid growing pressure within his own party for the United States to take a more skeptical stance toward one of its closest allies.

Mr. Biden’s urging of a halt to the fighting — tucked at the end of a summary of a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — followed a drumbeat of calls from Democratic lawmakers across the ideological spectrum for his administration to speak out firmly against the escalation of violence. It reflected a different tone than the one members of Congress have sounded during past clashes in the region, when most Democrats have repeated their strong backing for Israel’s right to defend itself and called for peace, without openly criticizing its actions.

The push is strongest from the energized progressive wing of the party, whose representatives in the House, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, have drawn attention in recent days for accusing Israel of gross human rights violations against Palestinians and of operating an “apartheid state.” But their intensity has obscured a quieter, concerted shift among more mainstream Democrats that could ultimately be more consequential.

Though they have no intention of ending the United States’ close alliance with Israel, a growing number of Democrats in Washington say they are no longer willing to give the country a pass for its harsh treatment of the Palestinians and the spasms of violence that have defined the conflict for years.

Underscoring how skepticism around the campaign in Gaza had spread to even some of the Israel’s strongest defenders in Congress, Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told Democrats on the panel on Monday that he would ask the Biden administration to delay a $ 735 million tranche of precision-guided weapons to Israel that had been approved before tensions in the Middle East boiled over.

Mr. Meeks, a fixture at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, convened an emergency meeting of Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats on Monday night to discuss delaying the arms package, according to a person familiar with the meeting who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal discussions. It came after a number of Democrats raised concerns about sending American-made weapons to Israel at a time when it has bombed civilians, as well as a building that housed press outlets included The Associated Press, an American news agency.

A day earlier, 28 Democratic senators — more than half of the party’s caucus — put out a letter publicly calling for a cease-fire. The effort was led by Senator Jon Ossoff, Democrat of Georgia and, at 34, the face of a younger generation of American Jews in Congress. As Republicans pumped out statements squarely blaming Hamas militants, the Democrats’ appeal put the onus on both sides to lay down their weapons — and on Mr. Biden to weigh in to demand it.

Another sign of the evolution came over the weekend from Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Menendez is known as one of Israel’s most unshakable allies in the Democratic Party, which he bucked to oppose President Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran based on Israeli opposition.

Yet on Saturday, as the death toll mounted in Gaza and southern Israel, Mr. Menendez issued a stern statement saying he was “deeply troubled” by Israeli strikes that had killed Palestinian civilians and the tower housing news media outlets. He demanded that both sides “uphold the rules and laws of war” and find a peaceful end to fighting that has killed more than 200 Palestinians and 10 Israelis.

“In response to thousands of rocket attacks fired by Hamas aimed at civilians, Israel has every right to self-defense from terrorists committed to wipe her off the face of the map,” Mr. Menendez said. “But no matter how dangerous and real that threat may be, I have always believed the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship flourishes when it is based on the shared values of democracy, freedom, pluralism, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

The Democrats who had been most vocal in their criticism of the Israeli government said they meant to send a message to the president as he mulled how to manage the escalating tensions: that the old playbook Mr. Biden used as a senator and as vice president would no longer find the same support in his party.

“That hasn’t worked,” Representative Mark Pocan, a progressive Democrat from Wisconsin, told a top adviser to Mr. Biden late last week, he said in an interview on Monday. “We’re going to be advocating for peace in a way that maybe they haven’t traditionally heard.”

Republicans and AIPAC have been swift to warn against any perceived weakening of the United States commitment to Israel. When Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, who represents the most Jewish district in the country, led a group of 12 Jewish House Democrats in a letter on Friday that stood by Israel but also said Palestinians “should know that the American people value their lives as we do Israeli lives,” AIPAC quietly worked behind the scenes to discourage lawmakers from signing.

Republicans have also seen a political advantage in trying to use the most extreme statements from progressive Democrats to try to peel Jewish voters away from the party.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader and a vocal supporter of Israel, condemned Ms. Ocasio-Cortez on Monday for her description of Israel as an “apartheid state” and urged the president to “leave no doubt where America stands.”

“The United States needs to stand foursquare behind our ally,” Mr. McConnell said, “and President Biden must remain strong against the growing voices within his own party that create false equivalence between terrorist aggressors and a responsible state defending itself.”

Few Democrats in Congress have gone that far. But over the past few years, many in the party have modified their approach.

Much of the shift can be traced to debate over the Iran nuclear deal, when Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s right-wing leader, made a concerted effort to insert himself in American domestic politics to kill the pact being drafted by Mr. Obama. He portrayed support for the deal as a betrayal of Israel and worked to drive a wedge between Republicans and Democrats on the issue. Mr. Netanyahu’s close alliance with Mr. Obama’s successor, Donald J. Trump, only deepened that partisan divide.

But the difference in tone also reflects a broader shift among the Democratic Party over the past decade. As Democratic voters and liberals have become more self-consciously organized around concepts like equity and systemic discrimination, their push for more liberal policy positions on immigration, policing and gun violence at home has reshaped the way many view the conflict in the Middle East and the violence it has produced.

Reflexive support for Israel’s right to defend itself or calls for Israel and Palestinian authorities to return to the negotiating table are now viewed by many on the left as “the linguistic equivalent of ‘our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the latest mass shooting,’” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group that has worked for years to shift the debate as a counterweight to AIPAC.

“That’s no longer good enough,” he said in an interview. “What the United States is doing essentially amounts to international immunity to Israel.”

The dynamic was on display last week after Ms. Ocasio-Cortez pounced on Andrew Yang, the leading candidate in the New York City mayoral race, for issuing a statement last week “standing with the people of Israel.”

“Utterly shameful for Yang to try to show up to an Eid event after sending out a chest-thumping statement of support for a strike killing 9 children,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. (Mr. Yang later released a new statement saying that his first was “overly simplistic” and “failed to acknowledge the pain and suffering on both sides.”)

That has left some of Israel’s most vocal traditional allies in the party in an awkward position.

Mindful of the crosscurrents in his party and home state, where he faces re-election next year, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has been largely silent since the fighting broke out. Like Mr. Menendez, Mr. Schumer voted against the Iran nuclear deal, and he represents the largest Jewish population in the country, ranging from secular progressives to politically conservative Orthodox communities.

In response to a question asked by a reporter at the Capitol on Monday, Mr. Schumer said, “I want to see a cease-fire reached quickly, and mourn the loss of life.”

Author: Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News