Five dozen House members demand answers on Israel’s possible illegal use of U.S. military aid

California Congressman Ro Khanna

On Monday, more than 60 House Democrats signed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting that he address Israel’s use of U.S.-made equipment in its demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The initiative was spearheaded by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif), and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and was supported by a veritable who’s who of progressive House Democrats.

“U.S.-supplied military equipment to Israel should only be used for legitimate self-defense against the very real security threats Israel faces,” Khanna said. “Such military equipment should not be used to turn Palestinian homes into rubble, displace families, and tear apart communities. I look forward to the State Department providing the information necessary to ensure that U.S.-supplied military equipment in the West Bank is not being used in this destructive practice.” Read more at Responsible Statecraft

How racism is fueling Israel’s political paralysis

“Hating Arabs Isn’t revenge–it’s values.” Hashtag reads Israel Demands Revenge!”

For a moment, it seemed there was a light at the end of Israel’s political tunnel. Although Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party won fewer Knesset seats in the March 3 election than Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, sheer hatred of Netanyahu drove his former ally, the right-wing Avigdor Liberman, toward Gantz’s camp and what seemed like a narrow majority of support for a new government.

The idea was that Blue and White, with 33 seats, would create a coalition with the Labor-Gesher-Meretz center-left bloc (seven seats) and Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party (seven seats) and get support “from the outside”— the Joint List, the mostly Palestinian bloc of parties which won a remarkable 15 seats. With Netanyahu’s coalition yielding only 58 seats, all Gantz would need is one more than that to form a government, under Israel’s parliamentary rules. It would be a highly unstable government, but it would at least avert yet another election on top of the three Israel has held in the last year. And it would augur Netanyahu’s long-awaited departure from the Prime Minister’s Office. Read more at Responsible Statecraft

We’re About To Find Out How Electable Bernie Sanders Is

We are about to find out a whole lot about Bernie Sanders’ chances at winning a general election and how he will meet the key challenges his naysayers believe will doom us to four more years of Donald Trump.

Many pundits are saying that Bernie has made two mistakes in recent days. One is refusing to go to AIPAC’s conference and, worse in their view, stating that AIPAC provides a platform for hate and bigotry. The second is the comments he made about education in Cuba.

The two “transgressions” are actually very different, but one thing both have in common is that they are very risky things to put out there right before a crucial debate in an already heated primary race, ahead of what is very likely to be one of the most explosively rancorous general elections in U.S. history. Yet this will also provide a great opportunity to find out just how potent the Sanders candidacy is. Read more at Medium

Netanyahu is giving more gifts to the right-wing in his fight to hold power

On March 2, Israelis will go to the polls for the third time in a year to try to elect a prime minister and a new Knesset. They are frustrated and exhausted from the ongoing electoral campaign, the repeated trips to the polls and the repeated unresolved outcomes. But unless the polls are drastically mistaken and have been since the last election in September, there’s every reason to believe that there will be another deadlock, resulting in a fourth election.

From Peace Now, Israel

The only realistic chance for the impasse to break this time is for incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find a way to cobble together a majority coalition. His opponent, former Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Benny Gantz, has no credible path to the prime minister’s office.

Netanyahu’s stake in the race goes beyond retaining the prime minister’s office, as he is under indictment for fraud and breach of public trust, and is facing prison unless he can use his position as prime minister to shield himself from accountability. His trial is due to start shortly after the election.

Netanyahu is working tirelessly for every electoral edge. His recent overtures to Morocco and Sudan were an attempt to bolster his image as the leader who can improve Israel’s ties to the rest of the world without granting the Palestinians their rights and freedom. Now he’s moving to solidify his support among the settler movement, which has recently voiced some frustration with him. He’s making some very significant decisions with long-term ramifications, and all for his re-election bid. Read more at Responsible Statecraft

How Netanyahu is Using Morocco and Sudan to Hold Power and Strengthen Ties with Trump

With the third Israeli election in a year looming in a month, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set off for Uganda last week, hoping to prove that he could strengthen Israel’s ties with African countries despite the increasingly violent impasse with the Palestinians. On February 3, he made a surprising announcement about establishing diplomatic ties with Sudan, a move which certainly won Netanyahu points at home while it sparked anger and protests in Sudan.

That same day, news broke that Netanyahu had been pressing the United States to recognize Morocco’s claim to sovereignty over the Western Sahara region. Although the two situations are far from identical, Morocco — whose occupation is not officially recognized by any other countries — is often the first parallel drawn by critics of Israel’s occupation. It’s easy to see why Israel would want U.S. recognition of Morocco’s claim.

Both of these were highly cynical moves by a prime minister who is increasingly desperate to hold on to his office. Now that he has been indicted in three corruption cases, the next election means more than Netanyahu’s job. It may be the only way for him to avoid the fate of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who went to prison for corruption after his scandals forced him from office. Netanyahu obviously doesn’t relish the prospect and has made it clear he will do anything he can to avoid it. And he really doesn’t care about the effects on other countries. Read more at Responsible Statecraft.