News Digest — 11/5/19

Netanyahu Vs. Gantz: Could There Be Direct Elections For Prime Minister?

The Likud will try to bring back direct elections for prime minister as a solution to the current political impasse, new Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar said Tuesday (5th).

The initiative has the support of other right-wing parties, and the Religious-Right bloc is already drafting a bill to make it possible.

Zohar also proposed to cancel the vacation day on the day of the vote.  Both are moves to try to mitigate the damage of a possible third election in one year, and not necessarily a permanent law for future elections.

Zohar said he thinks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seriously considering the move and “really wants it…it can be a fantastic solution.”

“It’ll save a lot of money.  Direct elections without a vacation day has a much lower cost, just tens of millions of shekels.  It’ll save billions,” Zohar said. The state would also not have to give loans to dozens of political parties.

Zohar said that if there are direct elections, then “whoever will be elected will be prime minister for four years and will have to build a coalition.  Everyone of the MKs in the house will know….that they have to get along” with the victor.

The proposal is meant to resolve the current political impasse, in which Likud and Blue and White are not managing to form a national unity coalition but neither has a majority without the other.

However, Zohar said that it could be passed as a permanent law, that if there is no government after a certain amount of time, there will be direct elections for the prime minister.

Israel had direct elections for prime minister in 1996, 1999, and 2001, and then went back to its previous system.



Hamas Warns It Has Enough Rockets To Target Tel Aviv For ‘Six Months In A Row’

Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, on Monday (4th) threatened to turn Israeli cities into “ghost towns” and warned the terror group has enough firepower to launch rockets into Tel Aviv “for six months in a row.”

The remarks come just days after the latest cross-border flare-up between Israel and Palestinian factions in the coastal enclave, which saw at least ten rockets fired at Israeli communities near the Gaza border.  In response, the military said, a series of Israeli strikes targeted sites belonging to Hamas.

Speaking at a rally in Gaza, Sinwar appeared to be unfazed by the threats made by Israeli officials following the rocket barrage Friday evening (1st).  “We have heard the threats Israeli leaders made toward us, but we will still make them curse the day they were born.”

“Various intelligence agencies are trying to undermine the stability in the Gaza Strip,” Sinwar said, adding that Hamas has “many secret tools to counter the attempts made by Israeli intelligence to infiltrate Gaza.”

The 57-year-old also warned Israel against launching a ground operation in Gaza, claiming there are “hundreds of thousands” of traps waiting for Israeli soldiers and “hundreds of miles” of attack tunnels hidden underground.

He added that Hamas militants are manufacturing anti-tank missiles themselves in order to counter Israeli armored forces in the area.

Earlier, Sinwar said negotiations regarding a possible long-term ceasefire arrangement, as well as prisoner-exchange talks, have stalled since Israel doesn’t have a government and is unable to make important decisions.


Fatah Strongman Mohammed Dahlan Indicates He Will Run In PA Elections – Khaled Abu Toameh

Deposed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan has hinted that he will run in the next Palestinian presidential election.

“If elections take place, I have the right to present my candidacy anywhere I wish,” he said in an interview with the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) television network.  “The question of whether I practice my right or not is another issue.  My hope – and I will fight for it – is that we have a system based on partnership, and I will push for this to happen.”

Dahlan, a former Palestinian Authority security commander in the Gaza Strip, was elected in 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council as a representative of his hometown of Khan Yunis.  Before that, he served as head of the PA’s Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip, a job he held until 2002.

In 2011, Dahlan was expelled from Fatah after a falling-out with PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas.  The PA has accused Dahlan of enriching himself through financial corruption and “conspiring” to undermine Abbas.

Despite the accusations, the PA allowed Dahlan to leave the West Bank, where he had been living since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.  Since 2011, he has been living in exile in the United Arab Emirates, where he heads a group called Democratic Reform Current.

In September, Abbas announced in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly his intention to hold overdue “general elections” in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem.  Since then, the Palestinian Central Elections Commission has been consulting with various Palestinian groups, including Hamas, about ways of ensuring that the elections take place.

It’s not clear at this stage whether the Palestinian factions have reached an agreement to hold the proposed elections, and Abbas has yet to issue “a decree,” setting a date for the vote.

A senior PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that it’s “highly unlikely” that Dahlan, an outspoken critic of Abbas, would be permitted to participate in the elections, when and if they take place.    



Israeli Company That Makes Water Out Of Thin Air Signs Deal With Uzbekistan

The government of Uzbekistan has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an Israeli-based company that literally produces clean drinking water out of thin air.

The deal, estimated to be worth several million dollars, will see thousands of WaterGen atmospheric water generators dispatched to cities and towns in the Central Asian country.

The MOU follows a successful WaterGen pilot at an orphanage in the city of Bukhara.

It was signed Tuesday (10/29) by Uzbekistan’s Minister of Innovation, Ibrohim Adurakhmonov and WaterGen’s Vice President of marketing and sales, Michael Rutman.

Each Gen-M water generator weighs 1,720 pounds and can produce up to 210 gallons of water per day.  With its own internal water treatment system, the only infrastructure needed is an electricity source.

Uzbekistan, which is semi-arid is one of just two double landlocked countries in the world, in that it is surrounded by other landlocked nations.

It relies on two principal rivers for its fresh water supply.  However, with a fast-growing population and moves by neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to divert both rivers for hydro-power, it is facing water shortages.

WaterGen’s Gen-M water generators, which have been sold all over the world, impacted Uzbekistan’s Innoweek 2019 Exhibition last week in the city of Tashkent.  Deputy Prime Minister, Aziz Abdukhakimov, said that Uzbekistan “desperately needs technology such as that provided by WaterGen in order to improve its water sector.” 



‘If Corbyn Is Elected PM, Jews Will Leave The UK En Masse’

British Jews will leave the UK en masse if Jeremy Corbyn is elected Prime Minister next month, a senior Conservative Party member warned over the weekend.

James Cleverly, chairman of the Conservative Party’s delegation in Parliament, told The Telegraph over the weekend that many British Jews would flee the country if Corbyn “got anywhere near the levers of power.”

“We’re not just talking about big businesses leaving,” said Cleverly.

The MP added that such a mass exodus of Jews from the UK could be devastating for the British economy.

“Some of those people are entrepreneurs and business people, the kind of people that fill the coffers of the chancellor, and employ tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.”

Cleverly cited conversations with a number of Jewish associates, whom he said had seriously looked into moving abroad if Corbyn comes to power.

“A number of them are Jewish friends of mine who have just said that if he got anywhere near the levers of power, they would be out of here,” said Cleverly.

“I never thought in my lifetime that I would hear that said.  And this isn’t just a throwaway comment, these are people who said they have actually looked at going to family in other parts of the world.  That is a really horrible thing to hear. And part of my job is to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

Corbyn, who took control of the Labour Party in 2015, has faced ongoing accusations of anti-Semitism, both over his history of hostility towards Israel and support for anti-Israel terrorist groups, as well as the rise in anti-Jewish rhetoric within the party.

A 2018 poll found that nearly 86% of British Jews believe the Labour leader is anti-Semitic, compared to just 8.3% who believe he is not.