The level of education of the Israeli workforce is high, but the proportion who have a job is lower than in Western Europe. The three-year military service and the roping months of conscripts are costing society many working days.
In 2018, unemployment was down at a historically low level: 3.8 percent. But average unemployment rates don’t say it all. Large differences exist between groups of different origins. Unemployment is highest among Arabs, and especially among Muslims. In addition, a frequently repeated observation is that Jews have jobs that require education, while Arabs are day laborers. High-tech industries employ one-tenth of the workforce, and almost all of the employees are Jewish.
Only about half of the ultra-Orthodox men work professionally. The majority of the rest study religion full-time with “pay” from the state. It is a relationship that causes political tensions and governments of different composition have been aiming to get more ultra-Orthodox into work.
Arabs, like ultra-Orthodox Jews, are completely outside the labor market to a greater extent than others. This is especially true of women. Arabs tend to leave the school system early, and the ultra-Orthodox’s focus on religious studies means they lack the knowledge the labor market demands. With unqualified jobs, which are easiest to get, wages are rarely sufficient to increase their wealth. In addition, both groups have large families. For the Arabs, the OECD Economic Cooperation Organization believes that efforts are needed to increase their knowledge of Hebrew.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Israel, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.
When Israel joined the OECD in 2010, the country promised measures to reduce the gaps between Jews and Arabs. A few years later, a study conducted by the central bank showed that the result had been the opposite: the differences had increased in terms of both unemployment and wage levels. Jewish men, on average, earned twice as much as Arab men. Only two percent of the industrial areas were in neighborhoods with the Arab population. This does not mean that nothing has been done to reduce the imbalance. Commuter buses for Arab women to industrial areas are a method that has been tried.
Much of the farm work is done by guest workers from Southeast Asia or the Balkans, as well as domestic work. In 2019, there were 29,000 Filipino citizens in Israel, including 25,000 with temporary visas, according to the country’s embassy.
The influx of migrant workers has pushed down wages. In the past, Palestinians often worked in agriculture, but terrorist acts have made Israelis less likely to employ Palestinians, and the authorities have changed the rules to make it more difficult for Palestinians from the occupied territories to obtain work permits. The number of work permits issued can vary quite a bit depending on the level of violence between Israel and militant movements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The security situation indirectly affects the conditions in Israel as well: For many jobs, military service is required and Israel’s Arabs are outside the military service system. For example, Arabs may find it difficult to get jobs as drivers in transport companies because they are not allowed to access airports for security reasons.
The Drusians do military service and the unemployment rate among them is slightly lower than among the Arabs.
Jewish employees are generally unionized, but the trade union movement Histadrut has lost some of the influence it had at the beginning of the modern state of Israel’s history.
FACTS – LABOR MARKET
3.9 percent (2019)
6.9 percent (2019)
Netanyahu wins primary election
Benjamin Netanyahu gets 72 percent of the vote in Likud’s primary election. He will thus, despite being suspected of crime, become the party’s prime ministerial candidate even in the new election in March. Challenger Gideon Sa’ar promises to support Netanyahu. By standing in the party leadership elections, Sa’ar has in any case signaled his desire to become the successor to Netanyahu.
Israeli anger against ICC request
Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), wants to start a formal, full investigation into whether war crimes have been committed in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. A preliminary investigation has been conducted since the war in Gaza in 2014, but Bensouda points out that the ICC must decide whether the court is also entitled to adjudicate on the matter. Israel, which has not joined the ICC cooperation, rejects the request. The Palestinian Authority joined the ICC in 2015. Should a case be brought up by the ICC, criminal suspicions against individuals can be tried, however states cannot be brought to justice at the ICC. In the 2014 war, 2,251 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 74 Israelis, mostly military, died. The ICC has also tentatively investigated events at the Gaza Strip border 2018.
High-speed train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
A high-speed train line connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is inaugurated, “eleven years too late and for twice the estimated cost” according to Israeli media. The distance of 57 kilometers takes 28 minutes, but there will be no traffic on nights and holidays (Sabbath).
Gas clear sign for Egypt
Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz gives gas license to Egypt from the Tamar and Leviathan fields. So far, Israel has bought gas from Egypt, but the Sinai lines have sometimes been sabotaged by jihadists. The Minister of Energy describes the new cooperation as the most important since the two countries made peace in the 1970s. Production on the Tamar gas field began production in 2013 and at Leviathan, a discovery that is almost twice as large, recovery begins at the upcoming New Year. In the long term, gas will also replace coal as fuel in Israeli power plants.
Netanyahu is challenged from the right
Equality politician Gideon Sa’ar, who has previously criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu’s inability to form government, openly declares he wants to become party leader. It will be ten days before Likud goes to the primary election on December 26. Outwardly, Netanyahu has support from party comrades, but Sa’ar is believed to have a greater chance of forming government in a situation where Netanyahu stands accused of corruption. The religious and nationalist parties are expected to support Sa’ar and he (unlike Netanyahu) is believed to be able to bring the middle party Blue and White into a government. As for the conflict with the Palestinians, Sa’ar says that a two-state solution is “an illusion.”
Third new election within one year
Yet another new election is announced since neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Benny Gantz, who leads Israel’s two largest parties, managed to gather support to form government. The new election, the third in a year, will be held on March 2, 2020. Netanyahu is expected to continue to lead an expedition minister until then, although there is opposition to him within his own party Likud. President Rivlin urges voters not to lose faith in the democratic process despite two parliamentary elections, in April and September, but the country has been given a new government. Netanyahu, despite being prosecuted, can continue as prime minister as long as he is not convicted of crime. He, on the other hand, leaves three other ministerial portfolios that he had at the same time as the head of government.
US resolution against annexation
The House of Representatives in the US Congress opposes Israeli annexation of the West Bank and gives its explicit support to the two-state solution that has been a prerequisite in recent decades’ peace plans for the Middle East. This occurs when any annexation of the West Bank for the first time is subject to a vote in the House. The resolution is a form of warning to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who wants to annex Palestinian land on the West Bank, and to President Trump, who has given Netanyahu his strong support.
RÅ publishes witness list
State Prosecutor Mandelblit submits criminal charges against Benjamin Netanyahu to the Speaker of the Kness. Thus, the prosecution has been officially filed and Netanyahu has a month to try to get Parliament to give him indictment. The documents show which witnesses the prosecutor’s side wants to call and which court will handle the charges.
Ganz attracts with shared Prime Minister post
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s chief rival Benny Ganz turns to Likud’s leading politicians and urges them to form a coalition government with his party Blue and White. Ganz suggests that he himself should lead the government for the first two years and that Netanyahu should then take over provided he is acquitted of the corruption crimes for which he has just been charged (see November 21, 2019).
RAW: Netanyahu is going to be prosecuted
State Prosecutor Avichai Mandelblit announces that he will bring charges against Benjamin Netanyahu in three cases of suspected corruption. Since the September election, Netanyahu has been leading an expedition minister, and this is the first time in Israeli history that a sitting prime minister is being prosecuted. Netanyahu is suspected of bribery, fraud and infidelity against the principal. According to Israeli law, a sitting prime minister must resign only if he is convicted of a crime, but the message from the prosecutor can be of great importance for Netanyahu’s ambitions to continue as head of government. Before the case can be formally initiated, Mandelblit must state his decision before the Speaker of the Kness and find out if Netanyahu intends to invoke judicial immunity. As long as no new government has been formed, the procedure in the kness can go on over time. Netanyahu responds to the news of prosecution by saying that he suffered a coup on the part of the justice system. He dismisses the charges as politically motivated and announces that he has no thoughts on resigning.
Gantz fails, deadlock can end with new elections
20th of November
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz announces to President Rivlin that he, like Benjamin Netanyahu before him, has failed to form a government based on the September 17 election results. This opens the way for a special election law to be used for the first time: a 21-day rule gives any member of the Knesset the right to try to get the parties support. If, by December 11, 61 members (a majority of the parliament) ask the president to appoint a named member of government, and who in writing agrees, the person will be given the assignment. This new government leader then has two more weeks (in practice for Christmas) to get together a ministry approved by the Kness. If this fails, new elections must be announced. (In that case, the next new election can be held in March 2020.
Settlements: The US changes politics
The US government announces yet another major step toward more pro-Israeli politics: Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory do not necessarily mean violations of international law, said Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo. The United States believes that the legality of settlements should be assessed by the Supreme Court of Israel. That stance puts the United States at odds with all the country’s allies in the Middle East and with UN resolutions since Israel entered the Palestinian territories in 1967. The Fourth Geneva Convention (one of the laws of war) explicitly prohibits the occupation power from moving its own territory into an occupied territory. From Palestine, Pompeo’s statement is dismissed as the United States replacing international law with “the law of the jungle”.
Shaky truce after battles
An armistice comes into force between Israel and Islamic jihad in the Gaza Strip, but is not fully respected. Since Israel’s deadly attack on a Jihad leader two days earlier, the most intense fighting in months has taken place across the border. Jihad has fired over 400 grenades against Israel, which fired waves of air strikes at targets in Gaza. Over the course of a few days, 34 Palestinians are reported to have lost their lives. According to Israel, 20 of them were militants. The battles leave injured on both sides.
The EU requires food labeling
According to EU rules on origin labeling, food products from the Palestinian territories must be labeled so that they are visible from where they come, the European Court finds. Israel is reacting strongly to the decision, which means that it must also be clear whether foodstuffs sold in EU countries are derived from Israeli settlements on occupied land. The ruling supports guidelines issued by the EU in 2015. It also applies to products from the Golan Heights, which Israel conquered from Syria in 1967. The European Court’s argument is that consumers must be given the opportunity to make “informed choices, including on ethical grounds”.
Israel strikes against Islamic Jihad
A leader of the militant organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad is killed along with his wife in an attack in Gaza City carried out by the Israeli army and security service Shin Bet. Israel holds the man, Baha Abu al-Ata, responsible for, among other things, rocket fire against Israel, and the attack is followed by a rocket rain from the Gaza Strip. Islamic jihad is described as the most dangerous militant group in Gaza, next to Hamas, and the two movements have a collaboration. At about the same time, Israel launches an airstrike against a home in Damascus, Syria, where a Jihad leader resides. That attack also requires two lives, according to Syria’s state news agency. From the Israeli army comes a message that it does not intend to resume the targeted murders of militant leaders in Gaza, perhaps to avert revenge attacks across the border.
Rent of Jordanian land is terminated
Israeli farmers are closed off from two areas of agricultural land in Jordan, when a 25-year lease expires. The two enclaves are close to the border and the lease was concluded simultaneously with the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. When King Abdullah does not want to extend the agreement, it testifies to frosty relations between the countries.
Bennett becomes Minister of Defense
Benjamin Netanyahu appoints Naftali Bennett as Minister of Defense in the government that governs the country, pending the establishment of a new government. He also states that his own party Likud and Bennett’s New Right will merge. Negotiators from the country’s two largest parties Blue and White and Likud, respectively, have been meeting ever since the election to the kness, but have failed to agree to form a unifying government (see September 17 and October 21). The new right has been included in the Yamina (Right) Alliance, which received seven seats in the last parliamentary election, but the alliance was dissolved in October. Three of these mandates belong to the New Right. Bennett has made himself known, among other things, for advocating for Israel to annex the three-fifths of the West Bank where most of the Israeli settlers live.
Peace Now: Illegal settlements are growing
Fresh information on how Israeli settlements are growing on occupied land is being published by the organization Fred Now. Since the beginning of the year, construction of over 8,300 homes has been approved by the Israeli authorities. Many of the building laws concern settlements that Israel would probably need to evacuate if a peace agreement with the Palestinians is reached. The number of building permits has increased by almost 50 percent since 2018, when a total of just over 5,600 housing developments were allowed. The average number of the last three years is almost twice that of the previous three-year period, according to Fred Now, which puts the increase as US criticism of Israel ceased since Donald Trump became president. Peace now calls for Israel to freeze the expansion of settlements and to resume negotiations with a two-state solution.
Spyware becomes a court case
The messaging service WhatsApp sues two Israeli software companies, NSO and its owner Q Cyber, before a California court and accuses them of producing a cell phone spy program. The Pegasus application can be used to turn on the camera’s camera and audio recording and access data in the phone. According to the lawsuit, users of WhatsApp should have been subjected to espionage with the program. It is reported that Pegasus has been used by governments in several countries to monitor regime critics.
Two-state solution choice issue in the United States
Several leading Democrats, who all want to be their party’s presidential candidate by 2020, promise that US Middle East policy will change if they win the election. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders say they want to see a peace agreement that leads to a Palestinian state instead of the favoring of Israel that marked Donald Trump’s time as president. Sanders, who himself has Jewish descent, accuses Benjamin Netanyahu of being a racist politician as Prime Minister of Israel.
Murderers are convicted as terrorists
A young Jewish man, who in 2015 took part in an arson attack that claimed the lives of three Palestinians on the West Bank, is sentenced in Israeli court for membership in a terrorist group. He has previously been convicted of crimes of violence on racist grounds. A small boy died in the fire in the village of Duma on the West Bank, and the child’s parents died after the fire from their injuries. The youngster’s accomplice, an adult male, is charged with murder in three cases, attempted murder, arson and hate crime. The association described by the court in Lod as a terrorist group, according to the court, aimed at Arab property, in addition to churches.
Netanyahu gives up government formation
Right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu gives up the attempts to form government. Two days later, President Rivlin gives the assignment to the political center Benny Gantz. Gantz has 28 days to negotiate support in Parliament to lead the next government.
Covenants with Gulf states are regarded as sub-goals
Israel is pursuing non-aggression pacts with Gulf states that have not diplomatically acknowledged the country, explains Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who sees what is on the way to peace agreements (see October 2018). Israel’s unresolved conflict with the Palestinians has led to no Arab countries other than Egypt and Jordan have made peace with Israel so far, but greater consensus between Israel and Arab states has arisen in another issue: growing contradictions with Iran.
Mutany suspected Netanyahu is being questioned
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being questioned about the actions that led to his suspicion of bribery, fraud and abuse of confidence. Several days have been set aside for the hearing, where Netanyahu is represented by a dozen lawyers. The state prosecutor is expected to decide by December at the latest whether to prosecute Netanyahu in any of the three corruption investigations. Attempts to form a new government are ongoing at the same time as the hearing, but are slow. A unity government in which Likud leader Netanyahu and Blue and white leader Gantz would be touring the prime minister’s office has been discussed, but Gantz has declared that he does not want to be part of a ministry led by a suspected head of government.
Netanyahu may form government
Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud went backwards in the recent election and did not become the largest party, he is given the job of President Rivlin to once again try to form government. Neither Netanyahu nor the challenger Gantz has managed to gather a majority of the members of the Kness behind him, but Netanyahu has some greater support from other parties. Should Netanyahu succeed, he can continue as head of government even if bribery of him against him leads to prosecution; it is only if he falls to the highest court that he must resign.
Arab parties support Gantz
The Arab Party Alliance The United List, which is about to become the third largest party group in the Kness, declares that three of the four parties of the alliance are ready to support Benny Gantz as a government leader even though they do not want to be part of a unifying government. It is the first time since 1992 that a Zionist party leader has been supported by Arab parties.
Requirements for unifying government after new elections
New elections are held for Parliament, less than six months after the last election. It is very even between the two big blocks, one led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the other by challenger Benny Gantz. The election gives Gantz Blue and White the most mandate, but neither Gantz nor Netanyahu appears to be able to gather the 61 mandates needed for a majority. A unity government, built on both major parties, appears necessary. President Rivlin wants to discuss the situation with the party leaders before announcing who will be given the assignment to form government. The election has given Avigdor Lieberman, secular nationalist, and his party a role as “kingmaker”, and he demands that it be a unity government without religious parties.
Netanyahu promises to annex the Jordan Valley on the West Bank
Prime Minister Netanyahu promises that Israel will annex the Jordan Valley on the West Bank if he is re-elected on September 17. Netanyahu also promises that Israeli settlements outside the Jordan Valley will be annexed. The election promise raises strong critical reactions from the Israeli opposition, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others.
Honduran Mission in Jerusalem
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández opens a trade and cooperation office in Jerusalem. The country’s embassy is still in Tel Aviv, but the president says he sees the new office, with diplomatic status, as an expression of Honduras recognizing Israel’s supremacy over Jerusalem and that the embassy will move. Since the US recognition in 2017, only Guatemala has made the same decision, except for Paraguay which later withdrew its recognition.
Fire switch across border with Lebanon
After a prolonged tension between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, fires erupt across the border between the two countries. Israel fires hundreds of grenades at Hezbollah after an Israeli military ambulance and a military post is attacked with armor-fired robots. According to Hezbollah, several people are killed in the ambulance, while Israel refuses to have anyone killed. Hezbollah explains that the attack is a revenge for Israel’s drone attack on Hezbollah south of Beirut. The development is causing concern in the outside world. The UN calls for calm and France says it will engage in dialogue with both parties. The United States expresses concern about Iran’s “destabilizing role”, and support for Israel’s right to self-defense.
Israeli attacks in Lebanon and Syria
Israeli drones attack, according to media reports, a Palestinian base in Lebanon. It happens shortly after Hezbollah threatens to shoot down all Israeli drones flying over Lebanon. Hezbollah states that two Israeli drones had previously crashed south of Beirut. Israeli fighter aircraft attacks a base in Syria. According to the Israeli government, the air strikes are taking place to ward off attacks planned against Israeli territory. The target of the flight attack is Iran-backed groups.
Newspaper: Israel behind Iraq attack
Israel has carried out at least one attack on weapons stockpiles in Iraq over the past month, reports the New York Times. In Syria, Israel often attacks targets linked to Iranian forces (which assists the Assad regime), but in Iraq such efforts are far more sensitive as the United States cooperates with the country’s government. Recently, there have been at least three explosions at the People’s Mobilization (al-Hashd al-Shaabi), forces consisting mainly of pro-Iranian militia, and the newspaper has sources pointing out Israel.
Free trade agreement with South Korea clear
21th of August
A free trade agreement with South Korea has been concluded after several years of negotiations. The deal is the first with a potentially large trading partner in Asia and is expected to increase Israel’s exports and lower prices of South Korean imports. Prior to the announcement, it has been reported that goods from settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not allowed duty free, which is the same restriction that EU countries observe in trade with Israel. (Israel requires to approve such agreements that there is a clause that the exemption does not change Israel’s view of the status of the areas.) If companies in settlements are in some way disadvantaged by the new agreement, the government will compensate them for it, says Minister of Commerce Eli Cohen.
Grenades and deaths across the border
Three rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, which responds with the gunshots of an tanks and an attack helicopter. North of Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip, three Palestinians are shot to death. Almost every day in the previous weeks, there have been combat actions across the border.
Mutual charges against Minister
The Prosecutor General (RÅ) announces that he is prosecuting Haim Katz, Minister responsible for welfare issues. Katz, who is a party mate of Prime Minister Netanyahu, is suspected of fraud and abuse of confidence. Katz should have been pushing for legislation to benefit a businessman who built his fortune on insider information. Three other ministers are being threatened by corruption charges: the Prime Minister, Interior Minister Arye Deri and Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman. In Netanyahu’s case, RÅ makes a decision after a hearing scheduled for early October.
Death in measles
An air hostess dies in measles. She is Israel’s third death in the disease since November (see April 24, 2019). According to media, the woman had received one but not both vaccine doses recommended.
Worried about the Gaza border and Jerusalem
Four Palestinians are shot to death at the Gaza border. The Israeli army states that they were unusually heavily armed, including, among other things, automatic weapons and grenade launchers, and that one of them had managed to cross the border and throw a grenade. At the same time, two Palestinians have been arrested on the West Bank, suspected of knife-killing of an Israeli between Bethlehem and Hebron a few days earlier. Tensions are rising, with crowds inside Jerusalem, that two weekends coincide: the Muslim sacrificial feast and a Jewish day of mourning over the destruction of the biblical temples. Since the wave of Palestinian mass protests on the Gaza border was triggered in March 2018, according to AFP news agency, at least 301 Palestinians have been shot dead, most in demonstrations, and seven Israelis have been killed.
Ready sign for construction plans on the West Bank
The Israeli security cabinet (ministers with a key role in security issues) approves building plans on the occupied West Bank: for the sake of unusualness, 700 homes for Palestinians – but also 6,000 for Israeli settlers. The decisions concern parts of the West Bank called Area C, ie parts where Israel has retained both security control and civilian administration. Most of the Israeli settlements are located in Area C, which makes up three-fifths of the West Bank.
Collection also on the right
Nationalist small parties on the right have also decided to work together for the new election, under the name United Right. Among the top names are New Right’s leader Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, who served as minister in governments led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Otzma Yehudit stands outside the alliance, which can strengthen the right wing so that it does not lose influence by having one of the small parties fall outside the kness.
Small parts drum cooperates
Several smaller-party collaborations have started to give Benjamin Netanyahu more difficult opposition in the September elections. The Left Party’s Meretz and Ehud Barak’s new party have formed an alliance, and have been joined by defectors from the Labor Party. Arab Hadash and Taal, who have collaborated before, are joined by Raam and put up under the name United list, just as they did in 2015. Balad is also expected to join. In the 2015 elections, the cooperation paid off: the Arab alliance then became the third largest grouping in the Kness.
Demolitions are followed by a stop for cooperation
Israel demolishes Palestinian-owned residential buildings on the southeastern outskirts of Jerusalem, which, according to Israel’s highest court, are built too close to the Israeli security barrier. Demolition leads to international protests. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas announces on July 25 that the Palestinians will no longer fulfill agreements concluded with Israel over the years; a committee is commissioned to study how the decision is to be implemented. Although the 1990s peace process between Israel and the Palestinians derailed, there are a number of agreements that – with recurring disruptions and questions – regulate everything from security to water resources between the parties.
Netanyahu’s most prime minister
Benjamin Netanyahu has been prime minister for a total of 4,876 days (over 13 years), a think tank has calculated. That makes him the Israeli head of government that has been sitting at the farthest post, even longer than his father David Ben-Gurion. The first time was from 1996 to 1999, this time Netanyahu has ruled since 2009.
The Labor Party is led by Peretz, again
A member vote makes veteran Amir Peretz the leader of the Labor Party for the second time. His first leadership period fell in 2005-2007. Representative Avi Gabbay announced after the party’s poor election results in April (only six seats) that he would not stand for re-election. Before the next new elections in September, Peretz intends to try to gather the center-left forces, among them a new party formed by Ehud Barak (the party later gets the name Israel’s Democratic Party). Blue and white leader Benny Gantz makes it clear that he and Peretz will also be talking to.
Intense attacks against Syria
Israel has carried out attacks on targets near Damascus and Homs during the night. The robots have claimed 15 lives according to SOHR, which also states that the targets are military positions used by Hezbollah in the Syrian civil war (see September 2018). An anti-aircraft robot, manufactured by Russia and fired by Syrian government forces, misses its Israeli target and strikes Cyprus, not far from Nicosia.
Ethiopian Jews in protests after death
A 19-year-old is shot to death in Haifa by a police officer who is not on duty but acts in connection with a street noise. The teenager has Ethiopian outrage and the incident triggers protests in several places against discrimination experienced by Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia. The day after the funeral, authorities say 111 police officers were injured and 136 protesters arrested.
Cancellation of the new election is being considered
Benjamin Netanyahu announces that he is considering withdrawing the decision to announce new elections. The proposal comes from the Speaker of the Kness Yuli Edelstein, who describes the new election on September 17, if implemented, as “the most unnecessary in Israeli history”. To make it possible to cancel the new election, a legislative change would be required. The question is then how to get to a government based on the election results of April 9. Netanyahu has managed to gather support from 60 members, but he needs at least 61. Both Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz Blue and White deny details of plans for a coalition government.
Job initiatives in the White House plan
The White House facilitates forgiveness of details in the forthcoming US peace plan. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who is in charge, envisages a substantial boost for the economy to make the plan attractive to Palestinians, and done with the help of neighboring countries. Representatives from several countries have gathered for a conference in Bahrain that Palestinians refuse to attend. The investments targeted are valued at just over $ 50 billion and a million jobs are being viewed. More than half of the money will be invested in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the rest in neighboring countries. An important element would be a transport corridor between the Palestinian territories. The political conditions have not been revealed – the proposals are expected until the autumn – but statements made by US representatives indicate that no Palestinian state is mentioned in the plan.
EU law supports origin marking requirements
EU Attorney General Gerard Hogan has concluded that goods from areas occupied by Israel must be clearly labeled so that consumers are not misled. It should also be stated whether the product is manufactured in an Israeli settlement. The Advocate General’s conclusion is expected to affect the way the Court of Justice judges such cases. Several EU countries apply origin marking rules. Since the French rules have been questioned by, among other things, a winemaker, France’s Supreme Court has requested an opinion from the European Court of Justice.
A fine for Mrs. Netanyahu
The Prime Minister’s wife Sara Netanyahu, who has been charged with fraud and disloyalty to the principal after ordering catering food at the state’s expense despite the fact that there was a chef employed in the residence, has concluded a settlement with prosecutors. She avoids the fraud case but admits guilty of a minor offense: to exploit another person’s mistake for their own gain (see June 21, 2018 and October 7, 2018). Of 350,000 shekels (this corresponds to approximately SEK 920,000 in 2019), which the crime suspects originally covered, she has to repay 45,000 and in addition 10,000 shekels in fines.
Recruitment problems result in fewer security guards in settlements
Settlers on the West Bank react with anger following a message from the Israeli army: the central command of the defense force will not increase security appropriations in some settlements. As a result, the number of civilian guards is decreasing. According to the army, recruitment problems lead to an increase in guard wages, and appropriations from the Department of Defense are not enough to maintain staffing with higher wages.
Consolation Prize for Palestinians in US Plan
According to sources in the White House, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan have agreed to participate when the economic part of the US new peace plan for the Israel-Palestine conflict is presented in Bahrain June 25-26. The details are not known, however, the idea that Palestinians should be financially compensated if they accept certain political proposals. The political part of the plan will be presented later, dates have not been announced. The Palestinian leadership has rejected the plan (see May 22).
Netanyahu supporters new Justice Minister
Amir Ohana, who belongs to Likud, becomes acting minister of justice in the government that will rule until the new election in September. Ohana is described as loyal to Netanyahu and supports the efforts of Netanyahu to avoid corruption charges. He replaces Ayelet Shaked, whose party did not receive enough support in the parliamentary elections in May to get into the knees. Ohana becomes Israel’s first minister living openly as a gay man. The new minister quickly draws attention from Ester Hayut, President of the Supreme Court. In connection with her installation, Ohana does not reject previous statements that one can choose to ignore the results in HD if life is at stake. “It’s the fast way to anarchy,” reads Hayut’s comment.
New elections instead of new government
Prime Minister Netanyahu fails to establish a functioning coalition and Parliament votes to announce new elections. The formation of the government fell because the intended Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman called for a change in the law, which would mean that ultra-Orthodox Jews also have to do military service. This is in opposition to the religious parties that are important allies to Netanyahu. The failure is a major setback for Netanyahu, who had hoped to form a government and begin work on passing a number of laws that would prevent him from being prosecuted for corruption this fall. The re-election is scheduled for September 17.
Palestinian no to economic conference
The Palestinian leadership on the West Bank refuses a US-led peace conference in Bahrain scheduled to take place in late June. Since Donald Trump became president, his son-in-law has worked on a peace plan, but Palestinians are deeply critical of Trump’s Middle Eastern policy – in particular, recognition of Israel’s supremacy over Jerusalem. According to the little known about the peace plan, it seems that the Palestinians should be compensated with investments. The conference in Manama is financially focused and several Palestinian businessmen say they have refused. It is unclear if the Palestinian political leadership would even be invited.
False accounts with political content
Facebook has shut down an Israeli company that, according to the IT giant, has created hundreds of fake accounts aimed primarily at African audiences. The content of the fake accounts has been political, among other things, the senders have presented information that is reported to be leaked news. Five of the six affected countries in Africa have had elections in recent years and one will hold elections this year.
Settlement is built as Trump Tray
A new Israeli settlement will be built at the occupied Golan Heights and named after US President Donald Trump. Now the site has been selected and the permit process for a construction start has begun, says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (see March 25).
Half of Golan’s vultures were poisoned
Eight of the Golan Heights’ approximately 20 remaining vultures, two jackals one fox found dead, by poisoning. A suspected man is arrested a few days later. Yet in 1998, there were about 130 vultures on the Golan Heights, according to Israeli conservationists who are particularly concerned about the birds being poisoned in connection with the breeding season. The decimation of the species is assumed to be due to sheep owners laying out poisoned eels – prey animals prepared with poison.
Deadly days at Gaza border
The violence flames between the Gaza Strip and Israel. A rain of rockets fired by militant groups in Gaza reaches the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon. Israel responds with aerial and artillery attacks to Gaza. When a ceasefire is reported after a few days, at least 27 lives have been required: four Israeli and 23 Palestinian. The events make it clear that, despite Israel’s blockade against Gaza, armed movements manage to smuggle in or manufacture rockets, and in large numbers. Israel, for its part, confirms that a Palestinian became the target of a so-called “targeted murder” (an extrajudicial execution): a Hamas leader who is singled out as responsible for handling the money subsidies the Islamist movement receives from Iran.
Readiness for measles is increased
Nearly 4,000 cases of measles have been reported in Israel in the past year. Now an initiative from the parents and medical team has received the government’s approval: preschools are entitled to refuse to accept children, if the parents cannot show that the child is vaccinated. According to Israeli television, about 45,000 children are unvaccinated. In New York, for example, there is an outbreak among ultra-Orthodox Jewish families, where the parents said no to vaccines for religious reasons. An infant who died in November became the first Israeli death victim in 15 years. Airlines have been ordered to ensure that crew members are vaccinated.
An Israeli lunar crasher crashes when an engine crashes shortly before landing. The project is privately funded and scientific results that are now missing – including measurements of the lunar magnetic field – would have been communicated to international space physics. The project is undergoing an intensive research phase: China recently completed a landing on the back of the moon, Japan has landed on an asteroid and India is planning a lunar landing.
Brokerage companies tear up the West Bank policy
Faced with the threat of being sued in court (see November 20, 2018), the Airbnb brokerage company has changed its guidelines. The company will now allow housing ads to be rented in controversial areas such as the West Bank (occupied by Israel) and the Georgian breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Russian-backed separatists). If the ads generate Airbnb revenue, then the money should be donated to charity.
Benefit Netanyahu after even choice
In the parliamentary elections, the right-wing Likud and the new challenger alliance Blue and White receive an equal number of seats in the kness, 35 each. But Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, with the support of religious parties and small right-wing parties, may aim to form a new coalition government. Netanyahu is likely to rely on 65 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. The ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and the United Torah Party get eight seats each, while the old state-bearing Labor Party, which is making its worst election to date, only gets six.
Netanyahu ready to annex on the West Bank
Prime Minister Netanyahu raises efforts ahead of the election with a promise to settlers and their sympathizers: if he is re-elected, “Israel’s sovereignty will be expanded” to Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank – meaning he wants to join them in Israel. Since Israel entered the land in 1967, over 400,000 Israelis have moved into the West Bank, 200,000 in East Jerusalem and 20,000 in the Golan Heights. According to international law, it is illegal for an occupying power to move its own population.
Dashed back with Russian middlemen
The remains of an Israeli soldier who has been missing since a battle in Lebanon in 1982 have been able to be brought home to Israel. According to Israeli television, Russia has had a role in the process, through its allies in the region. About 20 Israelis were killed and five were missing after the battle in the Bekaa Valley, which occurred during what is called Israel’s First Lebanon War. Two soldiers, living, were part of a prison exchange a few years later. Two are still missing.
Mediation results after weeks of violence
Gaza Strip fishermen state that they have been cleared by Israeli authorities to fish further out at sea, 15 nautical miles (28 km) to the latest 12 nautical miles (22 km). Egyptian mediators have been involved. It also reinforces the perception that a ceasefire is underway after several weeks of violent acts between militant groups in Gaza and Israel. Border crossings to Gaza, which have been closed by Israel for a week, have also been opened.
Trump accepts occupied Golan as Israeli
US President Trump recognizes the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 war, as an Israeli territory. Thus, as in his Jerusalem decision (see December 6, 2017), Trump is breaking a long-standing American line. Protests come from other countries, especially Syria. The criticism is not just about the Middle East, but about the US deviating from a basic principle of international law – on which Washington also usually builds its own foreign policy: that one state must not take land from another by force. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the United States invoked the principle that Trump now violates. Politicians in Trump’s immediate circle have for some time shown open support for Israeli Golan control, which has been perceived as a way to support Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the impending election.
Extremist leaders are stopped in the election
The Supreme Court bans the leader of the Jewish extremist party Otzma Yehudit from running for office in the April 9 election. Party leader Michael Ben Ari has made statements that the state prosecutor describes as racist. It is said to be the first time since the election law was changed in 2002 that the rule is that an individual candidate is stopped, but not the party. On the same day, HD gives two clear signs that touch on the two Arabic lists with the prospect of getting a mandate. The party alliance Ra’am Balad, previously halted by the electoral authority, may stand as well as the only Jewish candidate for Hadash-Ta’al.
Gantz’s new collection party leads
The new party alliance Blue and White (the colors of the Israeli flag), led by Benny Gantz (see February 21), announces an election manifesto. Significant diplomatic initiatives must either be decided by referendum or adopted by a “super majority” in Parliament. In addition, the alliance wants to limit the prime minister’s power to either eight years or three terms of office. As neither “two-state solution” nor “Palestinian state” is mentioned in the document, Blue and White appeal to voters on the right, the online newspaper Ynet writes. Opinion polls give Blue and White 35 seats, more than any other party.
RA wants to prosecute Netanyahu
State Prosecutor Avichai Mandelblit wants to face Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three open criminal investigations. Before any prosecution is brought, however, hearings must take place. In “Objective 4000”, Netanyahu is suspected of committing bribery, fraud and infidelity by designing regulatory systems favorable to telecommunications company Bezeq’s exchange for being portrayed benevolently on the Walla news site! owned by Bezeq. In the other two cases, there are suspicions of fraud and infidelity: “Goal 1000”, which includes expensive gifts to Netanyahu with family, and “Goal 2000”, where the Prime Minister should have sought benevolent news reporting from the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth by promising legalization that disadvantages its competitor Israel HaYom (see mainly February 13, 2018).
UN investigators criticize Israel
A UN commission that investigated how 189 Palestinians died between March 30 and December 31, 2018 has concluded that Israeli soldiers may have been guilty of war crimes by shooting 35 children, three health workers and two journalists, among others. The soldiers were targeted by organized Palestinian protests along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel (see May 14 and May 18, 2018). 183 Palestinians died from sharp shots and more than 6,100 were shot while over 3,000 were injured by shrapnel, rubber-coated bullets or tear gas, according to the expert commission, which has reviewed the events on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council. Israel dismisses the report as one-sided and incorrect and the UN Council as “absurd theater”.
The arrest at shrines
Israeli authorities briefly intervene Abd al-Azim Salhab, the leading representative of the foundation that manages the shrines of Islam in the center of Jerusalem. The week before, police arrested about 60 people, who were perceived as troublemakers for Friday prayers. Jordan, whose king is the chief protector of the shrines, is handing over a diplomatic protest note. Israel controls the possibility of Muslims to visit the holy places.
Three parties are shaking with a roller co-operation
Party leaders Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Moshe Yaalon agree to cooperate in the run-up to the election. Their parties Hosen L’Israel, Yesh Atid and Telem draw up a joint list. It is topped by Gantz, but the idea is that he and Lapid will take turns on the Prime Minister’s post if they win the election in April. With Gabi Ashkenazi as the fourth name, the list gathers heavy military credentials. For current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the resistance is a “potent threat”, writes the Israeli press (see January 29).
Anger at statements about the Holocaust
Poland’s foreign ministry calls on Israel’s ambassador, and Prime Minister Morawiecki intends to stay home from an imminent meeting with Israel and the Visegrad group countries (which brings together four EU countries). The reason is dissatisfaction with a statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu who according to the Polish approach makes Poles guilty of the Holocaust (see February 1, 2018).
Criticism against Netanyahu for war
In Warsaw, a number of countries gather for a conference on the Middle East – in practice, about Iran that has not been invited. Speakers include Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They hope the meeting will increase the pressure on Iran, but most European countries are cautious. A feud breaks out about Netanyahu’s word choice; According to a statement from his office, he has spoken of war on Iran as a common interest. In Russian Sochi, President Putin steals attention from the conference by arranging a summit on Syria’s future with Iran’s President Rohani and Turkish President Erdoğan.
Israeli no to observers in Hebron
Israel says no to extended mandate for the international observer force TIPH in Hebron on the West Bank. TIPH was established after a massacre in 1994, when a Jewish settler shot 29 Muslims in prayer inside a mosque. The place, called the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. In Hebron’s city center, a group of Jewish settlers live surrounded by Palestinians, and there are also several settlements around the city. The observers come from Sweden and Turkey, among other countries, and Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks their reporting is Israel-hostile. The Palestinians would prefer to see a permanent UN force throughout the West Bank.
Sharp tone in the electoral movement
After his first election, former Army Chief Benny Gantz is referred to as “the left” and his political program as “clichés” by Likud and other right-wing parties (see December 27, 2018). Gantz, who for his part accuses Likud of being so divided among the Israelis, will work with the Telem party and its leader Moshe Yaalon (see January 2, 2019). The election movement looks dirty: Likud highlights Gantz’s lack of political experience and accuses him in a video that as a commander he has left a Drusian border police in the lurch.
Heated location between Israel and Iran
An escalation is taking place in the military confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syrian territory. Israel attacks targets at Damascus Airport believed to be part of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s ally, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement. Before that, a rocket fired at Israel must have been stopped. A few days later, SOHR reports 21 deaths, most of them Iranians. Reflected observers point out that vigorous Israeli action against Iran does not meet only the clear military needs: When an electoral movement is underway in Israel, it also gives political leaders the opportunity to prove effective (see September 4 and December 24, 2018).
Regional gas forum is formed
Seven countries in the eastern Mediterranean agree to establish regional cooperation on gas extraction, with the Cairo office. Those behind the Eastern Mediterranean gas forum, which will be the organization’s name, are Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Natural gas has been found in several places in the eastern Mediterranean in recent years and some of the countries already have bilateral extraction agreements.
Foreign Minister spied for Iran
Gonen Segev, who was Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in Israel in the mid-1990s, will be sentenced to eleven years in prison after admitting he disclosed secret information to Iran, the Justice Department reports. The information leak should have been committed long after Segev’s ministerial term, but could have given longer punishment if he did not conclude a settlement with the prosecutor’s side. He has previously been convicted of smuggling ecstasy tablets and attempted credit card fraud.
The Brazilian Embassy will be relocated
Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro confirms in a TV interview that the country’s Israeli embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision has been made but the timing is not fixed, he says. Brazil follows the US and Guatemala in the tracks. Paraguay decided on an embassy move shortly after the US, but has changed.
Ex-minister forms new party
Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who has resigned from Likud, is registering the party Telem. The name Telem is chosen to bring to mind the legendary war hero Moshe Dayan who for a time ran a party with that name.