Netanyahu fails to win enough seats for right-wing coalition. National unity government most likely outcome after Israeli elections, but many twists and turns ahead. Here’s the latest.

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Sep 192019
 

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. And we love elections so much we’ve had two in the last six months.

But Tuesday’s vote didn’t go well for Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, currently the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israeli history. After pulling out all the stops to secure 61 or more seats to build a right-wing coalition government, Bibi fell well short. 

In fact, his main rival — Benny Gantz, founder of the Blue & White party and former chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces — won more seats (33) than Bibi’s Likud party (31). 

Israeli politics are cutthroat and labyrinthian, so there’s no point in going through all the possible permutations of what happens from here.

Short version: the most likely outcome is now a “national unity government” in which either Gantz serves as Prime Minister for the first two years and Netanyahu for the second two years, or vice versa. 

That said, here’s what you need to know:

  • Netanyahu faces an all-important court hearing on October 2, and it is very possible that he will be formally indicted in three separate corruption cases. Though Bibi deserves the presumption of innocence, many Israelis believe government officials should not forge a deal with Bibi because he will need to spend so much of his time on his own legal defense in the years ahead.
  • Gantz and his Blue & White co-leaders say they want to a form a “broad… national unity goverment.” They’re happy to form one with Likud, they say, but only if someone else leads Likud. They don’t want to make a deal with Bibi because he’s facing indictments. 
  • Avigdor Liberman — the former Defense Minister, head of his own political party, and former chief of staff for Netanyahu who is a now a fierce rival of Netanyahu — won 9 seats. This is nearly double from his previous 5 seats, and Liberman is widely regarded as the “kingmaker” whose support is crucial to anyone trying to create a majority coalition. Liberman today indicated that he will recommend Gantz, not Netanyahu — to be next Prime Minister, though he, too, supports a national unity government. 
  • If all this weren’t complicated enough, neither Blue & White nor Liberman’s party are keen on having ultra-Orthodox religious parties in the coalition, believing those parties already exert too much control over Israeli social policy and the budget. Will Likud be willing to join a national unity government only with Blue & White and Liberman, jettisoning their long-time alliance with the religious parties? That remains to be seen, and is likely going to be a major point of contention in the negotiations.

I’ll post more analysis in the days ahead, but for breaking news please follow me on Twitter @JoelCRosenberg.

(Photo: PM Netanyahu on the left, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in the center, and Benny Gantz on the right, shaking hands at an event today remembering the late-President of Israel Shimon Peres.)

NOTE: These are my own personal views. I’m not writing in my capacity as Founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund, as that organization is non-political and non-partisan.

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As war clouds gather in the Gulf, Arab, Israeli & Christian media provide extensive coverage of Evangelical Delegation to Saudi Arabia, while U.S. media largely ignore. CBN News granted exclusive, historic access to the Kingdom. Here’s the latest. Please pray.

 Bible Prophecy, Christian World View, Israel  Comments Off on As war clouds gather in the Gulf, Arab, Israeli & Christian media provide extensive coverage of Evangelical Delegation to Saudi Arabia, while U.S. media largely ignore. CBN News granted exclusive, historic access to the Kingdom. Here’s the latest. Please pray.
Sep 172019
 

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After speaking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), President Trump says US forces in the Gulf are “locked and loaded,” strongly suggesting he may order retaliatory military strikes against Iran, possibly within the week.

All eyes are once again on the Middle East, yet the US media has largely ignored a group of American faith leaders who met with MBS and have direct knowledge of how he views Iran and the state of the US-Saudi alliance.

Here’s a roundup of the media coverage of our meetings in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia — including our two-hour meeting with the Crown Prince — which occurred just days before the horrific cruise missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities that have brought the region, once again, to the brink of war.

With the notable exception of the Associated Press, the trip received rather little original coverage in the U.S. However, the story was front-page news in the Arab world. Israeli and Christian media also covered it extensively.

Particularly historic was that the Christian Broadcasting Network was granted exclusive and extensive access not only to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time ever. Correspondent Chris Mitchell was able to cover a wide range of stories —including the missiles attacks — in addition to our Delegation’s activities. Last year, when we made our first trip into the Kingdom, CBN News was denied permission to join us.

In the days ahead, I’ll provide more inside reporting and analysis from the Kingdom — my own and from others on our team — but I thought this roundup might be the best place to start. (To read our initial press release, please click here.)

In the meantime, please pray faithfully for the President, his national security team, the Crown Prince and other regional leaders to know how best to respond to the latest acts of war by Iran. No one but the mullahs in Tehran  want a war, but it may come anyway.

(For regular updates and breaking news, please follow me on Twitter.)

CHRISTIAN MEDIA COVERAGE

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INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE

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ISRAELI COVERAGE

179EDDD1-BE0B-411F-863F-E260A8CBA05B.jpegARAB REGIONAL COVERAGE

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Is President Trump preparing to strike Iran? Senior Senator calls for retaliation after drones severely damage Saudi oil facility. Pompeo blames Iran. Trump calls MBS. Here’s the latest.

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Sep 152019
 

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(Amman, Jordan) — Having just been in Saudi Arabia discussing the gravity of the Iran threat with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and other senior Saudi officials and military commanders — and hearing MBS’ fierce determination to work closely with the US and his allies in the region to counter the Millais in Tehran — I arrived in Amman just as a new crisis erupted.

Vital American-Saudi ARAMCO oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were severely damaged on Saturday by upwards of ten sophisticated drone attacks, and the U.S. is pointing the finger of blame directly at Iran.

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US Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally and a harsh critic of MBS, says it may be time to bomb Iranian oil facilities to send an unmistakable message.

“It is now time for the U.S. to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment,” Graham tweeted.

“Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime’s back,” Graham added.

Earlier this summer, US Senator Tom Cotton, also a close Trump confidante, said Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf — and Iran shooting down a US intelligence drone operating in international airspace over the Gulf — warranted American military retaliation.

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Until now, President Trump has not felt military action was needed. Rather, Trump has employed aggressive sanctions against Iran, and the offer of direct talks of Tehran is willing to abandon its regional aggression and nuclear ambitions.

Two big questions:

1. Will these attacks by Iran on a key ally mark a turning point for American Senators who have been furious with MBS? Will they remind Congress that while there are serious matters that need to resolved between Washington and Riyadh, they need to keep their eye on the ball of the seriousness of the Iran threat and why we need to work closely with the Saudis and our other regional allies to neutralize Iran?

2. Will President Trump decide it is time to strike Iran now that Tehran’s attacks in the region are becoming more brazen, rather than engage in direct talks?

I pray it doesn’t come to war, but as I wrote earlier this summer, it seems as if Iran is actively angling for a war.

Raging fires from the drone strikes required ARAMCO to shut down half of their refining operations this weekend, though they are expected to come back online soon. “The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about 5.7 million barrels a day, the kingdom’s national oil company said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

Houthi rebels in Yemen that have been in a long and bloody war with a Saudi-led coalition quickly claimed responsibility.

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while [Iran’s president and foreign minister] Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy,” said Pompeo.

“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

President Trump immediately called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to assure him of American solidarity. Most Arab states — including the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait — immediately condemned the attacks and vowed to stand with the Saudis.

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