Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett swore he would “not give one inch of land” to the Palestinians, when he announced the furthering of plans for 1,800 new homes in West Bank settlements. “We authorized many [housing] units in the settlements and we will continue to do so in the future,” Bennett said. He took the opportunity to question the will of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, against whom Bennett is vying for right-wing votes in the March 2 election. On the list of projects Bennett has advanced is a master plan for 620 homes in the Eli settlement—a move that retroactively legalizes many existing homes in the community. The plan makes no claims on private Palestinian property that is being adjudicated by Israel's High Court of Justice.
The 2020 US Democratic Presidential race briefly turned its attention toward Israel this week during the South Carolina debate, when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was asked what he would say to American Jews who think he is not supportive enough of Israel. The question came in the wake of Sanders’ announcement that he would not be attending this year’s AIPAC conference and his criticism the Israel lobby. In his answer, Sanders labeled Benjamin Netanyahu a “reactionary racist” and argued for a more even-handed US approach to the Middle East. When asked if he would consider moving the US embassy back to Tel-Aviv, Sanders replied he would not rule out such a move. The question then turned to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who argued that moving the embassy was not a decision for the US to make. Warren and Sanders have both announced that they will not attend AIPAC’s annual policy conference, and have since been joined by candidates Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar, who have likewise declared they would skip what was once a routine campaign stop for both parties because it overlaps with Super Tuesday. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is now the only Democratic candidate in the race who has committed to attending the AIPAC conference.
Join the community on Tuesday, March 24, at 7:00 PM, at the Mayerson JCC to hear from two diverse voices on the difficult topic of Arab-Jewish relations in Israel: an Israeli-Arab thought leader on this issue, and a Jewish government official from Israel’s conservative Likud party. For more information and to register, click here.