Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party has won 36 of the 120 seats in Israel’s parliament, according to final results of Tuesday’s election, putting him in pole position in negotiations to form a right-wing coalition. Netanyahu is heading toward a record fifth term in office confident of being able to put together a bloc of religious-rightist parties. It would be a slim majority against an opposition that is likely to be led by the centrist-left Blue and White party, which won 35 seats. No single party has ever won an outright majority in the Knesset.
Airbnb said Tuesday that it had reversed its decision to remove listings of properties located in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In November, the company created controversy when it said that it would eliminate about 200 listings in West Bank settlements that are “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.” Airbnb’s announcement came after it settled four lawsuits filed against it in the United States and Israel. The Israel Action Network, part of the Jewish Federations of North America, worked hard on this issue. Read their statement here.
Israel's Beresheet spacecraft appears to have crashed into the moon yesterday. If it had succeeded, the robotic lander would have been the first on the moon built by a private organization, Space IL, and it would have added Israel to just three nations to have accomplished that feat. The start of the automated landing sequence went as planned, but, high above the surface, the engine cut out. After successfully resetting the engine, Space IL "lost communication with the spacecraft." The appointed landing time came and passed, and the SpaceIL team realized the mission was over.
As the rollout for the United States’ long-expected vision for Israeli-Palestinian peace approaches, Palestinian voices rejecting the process and the authors of the plan have risen. Ghassan Khatib, a senior member of the Palestinian People’s Party, said that the best way to respond is to reject the plan “because the United States is unqualified to play the role of arbitrator.” Khatib believes that the Arab peace plan should be supported by a pan-Arab diplomatic effort. While Palestinians are adamant about rejecting the plan, Washington has lost its leverage to pressure them. The result is likely to be a continuation of the status quo.
Iranians rallied on Friday against the US’s decision this week to designate the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization. Thousands of worshippers came out of mosques after prayers and burned flags of both the US and Israel while also chanting anti-US and anti-Israel slogans, traditional at such rallies, of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” The US government's move is meant to increase pressure on Iran, isolate it further, and prompt authorities to divert some of the financial resources Tehran uses to fund militant activity in the Middle East and beyond. US President Donald Trump said his administration’s “unprecedented” designation “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.” Leading Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy groups praised the Trump administration for its decision.
We are off the next two Fridays in observance of Passover; we'll have a new Israel Update to you on May 3.
Wishing you and your family a meaningful Passover,
Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC
Shep Englander, CEO, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
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