World U.S. Refers to Palestinians After Delayed Netanyahu Call, Israel Does Not
Israel's Netanyahu returns to court as graft trial ramps up
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in court on Monday to formally respond to corruption charges, as his trial enters an intensified phase six weeks before he faces re-election. The trial schedule may force Netanyahu to appear in court multiple times a week, as he campaigns ahead of Israel's fourth election in less than two years to be held on March 23. © Ahmad GHARABLI Netanyahu's motorcade drives through the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood on the way to court in occupied east Jerusalem on Monday - 'Election meddling'? -When Netanyahu last appeared in court nine months ago, he was fresh off a political victory, forming a coali
Presidentand Israeli Prime Minister shared their first post-Inauguration Day phone call nearly a month after the 46th president was sworn in, and, while both sides' readouts were relatively vague, they differed on one crucial topic: the Palestinians.
The White House said Biden "underscored the importance of working to advance peace throughout the region, including between Israelis and Palestinians," but Netanyahu's office made no such reference to long-running dispute in its own account of Wednesday's call.
Netanyahu in court to defend himself against corruption charges
© Copyright 2021, L'Obs Benyamin Netanyahu on Monday 8 February again dismissed the corruption charges against him during a brief appearance in court in Jerusalem, in six weeks of crucial elections for its political survival. With a black sanitary mask on the lower face, the Israeli prime minister remained in the courtroom of the Jerusalem court for about twenty minutes. He is on trial on charges of corruption, fraud and breach of trust in three cases.
Both the U.S. and Israeli statements did mention the history of close bilateral relations between the two allies, as well as their shared concerns toward Iran and the series of Arab-Israeli peace accords championed under Biden's predecessor, former President, and known collectively as the Abraham Accords.
Biden was said to have "affirmed his personal history of steadfast commitment to Israel's security and conveyed his intent to strengthen all aspects of the U.S.-Israel partnership, including our strong defense cooperation."
"Together, the leaders discussed the importance of continued close consultation on regional security issues, including Iran," the White House readout said. "The President emphasized U.S. support for the recent normalization of relations between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim world."
In Israel, Netanyahu less worried about the judges than about the vote
© Reuven Castro / UPI / MAXPPP Benjamin Netanyahu with his lawyers, Monday February 8, 2021, at the resumption of his trial for corruption in Tel Aviv. The trial for corruption of the Israeli Prime Minister took over. But it should hardly influence the legislative elections of March 23, 2021. However, this is the vote Netanyahu is banking on to get out of the woods.
The Israeli side echoed this section of the roughly one-hour call described as "very warm and friendly."
"US President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed the future advancement of the peace accords, the Iranian threat and regional challenges, and agreed to continue their dialogue," the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said.
While the delay in their conversation drew media attention—Netanyahu was the 13th leader to speak with Biden since he took office after the heads of Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (), Russia, Japan, South Korea, India and China—the discrepancy over a core issue signaled another potential difference in priorities.
The timing of Biden's call with Netanyahu as compared to other world leaders appeared to indicate that Israel was the top ally in what this U.S. administration considered the third-most vital foreign policy arena after Europe and East Asia. But whether the Israeli side's omission of the Palestinians specifically indicated this was not a top-level area of concern was unclear or agreement.
In silent signal, Biden in no rush to court Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is waiting for the phone to ring. Middle East observers say Biden likely is calculating he has little incentive to engage Netanyahu before Israel on March 23 heads into its fourth election in two years -- which may, or may not, end the career of Israel's longest-serving prime minister, a wily politician who is also facing a corruption trial. Biden's team is filled with veterans from Barack Obama's administration who bitterly recall the failure of high-profile peace bids by John Kerry and George Mitchell -- and Netanyahu's alliance with the rival Republican Party to stop Obama's denuclearization accord with Iran.
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.
Mention of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute was also notably absent from Biden's debut foreign policy speech earlier this month, though it has come up several times in remarks by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of Stateand State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
"The U.S. commitment to Israel's security is sacrosanct," Price said in alate last month. "We stand by the two-state solution because it is the best way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state, while upholding the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations to self-determination in a viable, sovereign state of their own."
Biden and Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister at nearly 15 years between two non-consecutive terms, have a history of disagreement on the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While serving as vice president under former President, Biden criticized Netanyahu's annexation and settlement policies on land viewed internationally as part of the Palestinian territories. Diverging opinions on this issue and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, led to cool relations between the administrations of Obama and Netanyahu when the former left office in 2016.
Corona vaccine: Israel is so well supplied that it is storing the Moderna active ingredient for the first time.
Israel is currently in the lead when it comes to vaccinating against the corona virus. Around 40 percent of the population received their first dose within 1.5 months. While other countries are struggling to get vaccines, Israel has so much of it, according to the news agency Bloomberg , that it is stashing its supply of Moderna for the first time.
A drastically different dynamic emerged when Trump came to office the following year and quickly aligned his administration closely with that of Netanyahu. Under Trump, the U.S. abandoned the nuclear agreement with Iran and granted generous concessions in the Arab-Israeli conflict such as recognizing the contested holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and endorsing Israel's occupation of Syria's Golan Heights.
Trump also severed diplomatic ties with Palestinian leadership and expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization's delegation in Washington. In his last year in office, Trump unveiled the "Peace to Prosperity" plan to address the ongoing Israel-Palestinian feud but the framework was immediately rejected upon arrival by both the left-wing Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority in charge of the West Bank and the Sunni Islamist Hamas-led government ruling the Gaza Strip.
Newsweek recently spoke with representatives of both rival Palestinian factions, who urged the Biden administrationlaid by his predecessor, as well as an Israeli official who said the country remained open to direct talks with Palestinian leadership, which was due to hold elections in May for the first time in 15 years.
Israel's Politicians Are Divided—But Not on Iran | Opinion
Although Israel is in the midst of an election campaign, Netanyahu's challengers are toeing his line on the nuclear deal.Whatever the reason, one item discussed on the call has become urgent: what to do about Iran's nuclear program, and whether or not the U.S. should rejoin the current agreement. The imperativeness of the conversation between the two leaders is underscored by Iran's announcement that as of February 23rd it would stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol that allowed for snap inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities.
Also tasked with mediation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue are the, Russia and the United Kingdom, which, along with the U.S., form the Quartet on the Middle East.
The foursome engaged Monday "to discuss the latest political developments and situation on the ground" for the first time since Biden came to office and "agreed to meet on a regular basis to continue their engagement," according to U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland.
Palestinian health minister recommends lockdown in the West Bank .
The occupied territory facing ‘most difficult period’ of pandemic due to surge in COVID cases, PA health minister says.Palestinian Authority’s Health Minister Mai al-Kaila suggested Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh implement a comprehensive closure as positive cases had increased by some 20-30 percent, while hospital beds in several places are nearing full capacity, according to a statement on the ministry website.