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December 6, 2014

Elections In Israel

Israel’s largest bilingual Arab-Jewish school was set on set on fire November 29th. The arsonists sprayed the words “There is no coexistence with cancer” on the walls. Mixed schools in Israel are rare and this school in Jerusalem has been the target of several hate crimes in recent months. Students responded to the hate crimes over the summer by writing “Partnership; Love; Fraternity” on school walls.

Two days later as debate continued over what is referred to as Israel’s “Nation-State Law,” Netanyahu said, “Peace demands that the Palestinian leadership finally recognize the nation state of the Jewish people, and peace demands that they cease all incitement against Israel and the Jewish people.” This law if passed would define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people giving collective rights to Jewish citizens only. Palestinian citizens of Israel say they already experience discrimination in Israel and the Nation-State Law would further articulate existing exclusion.

Members of the Israeli Knesset voted Wednesday to dissolve the current Knesset. A day earlier Netanyahu fired Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid from his cabinet and accused them of organizing a “putsch.” Centrists, Livni and Lapid had both voiced opposition to Netanyahu on many issues, most recently the Nation-State Law. New elections are set for March 17th. Netanyahu said he wants early elections to win “a clear mandate to lead Israel.” US Secretary of State John Kerry said “[the US hopes] whatever government is formed is a government that can move towards resolving the differences between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Legislation passed by the US Congress on Wednesday will deepen US-Israeli cooperation. The bill will increase the value of emergency US weaponry kept in Israel, promote closer US Israeli links in areas such as homeland security and energy, and calls for the inclusion of Israel in the US Visa Waiver Program when Israel meets the requirements. The most elementary requirement is reciprocal treatment for Americans. Israeli security rules currently bar many Palestinian-Americans and US citizens of Arab origin or Muslim faith from Israel.

Israeli officials said White House officials recently held a classified meeting about taking active measures against Israeli settlements. Steps the US might take include refraining from vetoing condemnatory resolutions against the settlements and clearer instructions to American officials about the ban funding activity in or cooperating with settlements.

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