Arab news

How a failed vote on Jewish settlers shows the Israeli government is teetering

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition lost a critical vote in parliament this week to renew measures regulating settlers’ legal rights, another major dent in the government’s armor, though not yet the fatal blow.

The defeat illustrates the fragility of Israel’s ruling coalition and how parliamentary deadlock can bring matters of national importance to a complete standstill.
The right-wing prime minister leads a coalition of unlikely friends from across the political spectrum, including the first Arab party to serve in the Israeli government. The coalition lost a razor-sharp one-man majority when a member of Bennett’s own party withdrew in April.

This week’s vote to renew an Israeli law covering settlers in the West Bank has exposed all the fault lines in Bennett’s unlikely coalition of allies.

Because the law stipulates that Jewish settlers in the West Bank should be legally treated like Israelis, most left-wing and Arab members of Bennett’s coalition oppose it in principle – they are against the settlements.

But most still voted for the bill to keep the Bennett government in power.

Palestinians describe the struggle against a settlement in the West Bank as an existential war.  Jewish settlers say the same thing

And in a twist of politics, right-wing opposition parties, including Netanyahu’s Likud, have voted against it – despite being ideological supporters of the settlers – as part of an effort to harm the coalition at all costs.

The opposition’s political trickery could have far-reaching consequences beyond weakening Bennett.

Monday’s vote was to renew regulations governing how Jewish settlers in the West Bank should be treated under Israeli law. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, which recognizes the West Bank as an occupied territory. Israel denies this, saying the status of the West Bank is more complex than international law allows.

Despite controversy over the legal status of settlements, regulations have been regularly renewed for decades with little fanfare by governments of the left and right.

If a bill to renew the regulations isn’t passed by the end of June, Jewish settlers could find themselves in legal limbo. But some settlers support these political maneuvers as a way to overthrow the coalition government, even if it complicates their daily lives.

The bill can be brought back for a new vote every Monday and Wednesday until the end of the month. While short-term legal solutions may be found if the deadline has passed, another scenario is that the government is dissolved before the end of June, which automatically extends the regulations already in place until a new government is formed.

But when the government is in shambles, its fall is not inevitable. Netanyahu’s opposition bloc still doesn’t have the 61 votes needed to dissolve the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, but it’s very close and by some calculations should only attract one defector from Bennett’s coalition.

If Netanyahu manages to dissolve parliament, it will trigger new elections less than two years since the last vote.


UN nuclear watchdog warns of ‘deadly blow’ to nuclear deal as Iran removes cameras

According to IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, Iran is basically removing all the extra International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring equipment installed under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, meaning there are only three to four weeks before reviving the deal becomes impossible.

  • Background: Iran had warned of retaliation if the IAEA’s board passed a resolution by the US, France, Britain and Germany that criticized Tehran for failing to disclose traces of uranium found in undeclared areas. The resolution was adopted by a large majority on Wednesday. Iran overnight told the agency it plans to remove equipment, including 27 IAEA cameras installed under the 2015 agreement.
  • Why is it important: Iran’s decisions could further damage hopes of salvaging the nuclear deal. Indirect talks on this issue between Iran and the United States have already stalled.
Watch Grossi’s interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson here.

Algeria suspends Spain treaty, bans imports over Western Sahara

Algeria suspended a 20-year friendship treaty with Spain that binds the two sides to co-operation in controlling immigration flows while also banning imports from Spain, escalating a debate over Madrid’s stance in Western Sahara.

  • Background: Algeria was outraged when Spain said in March it supported a Moroccan plan to offer Western Sahara autonomy. Algeria supports the Polisario Front movement, which seeks full independence for what Morocco sees as its own and mostly controls.
  • Why is it important: Migrant flows have increased sharply in the Mediterranean this year as the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hit the global economy. On Wednesday, 113 undocumented migrants arrived in Spain using a route Spanish authorities say boats from Algeria tend to use. Algeria is also an important gas supplier to Spain, but Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had previously said he would not break the supply contract because of the dispute.

Saudi-sponsored golf event kicks off with controversy

The LIV Invitational Series, a Saudi Arabian-backed breakaway round of golf, kicked off Thursday at the Centurion Club in north London with 48 players. The PGA Tour has suspended all current and future players who decide to participate in the new tournament.

  • Background: The PGA Tour and Europe-based DP World Tour declined broadcast requests from members to compete in the Centurion, where the final finish guaranteed a $120,000 check.
  • Why is it important: The event is referred to as the richest in golf history. It’s offering $25 million in prize money per event, including $4 million for this week’s individual winner. Critics say the series, with $250 million deposited in a bank account by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), is a ‘sport wash’ by a nation trying to boost its reputation.

what is trending

Regional: #George_Kordahi

The man who caused the rupture in Saudi-Lebanese relations last year has become a new topic of discussion.

Social media users from Gulf Arab states have expressed anger over comments by former Lebanese information minister George Kordahi two weeks ago on an Iraqi television channel that oil-rich Gulf states are providing no aid to the Levantine state, which is suffering from a crippling economic crisis.

“Gulf countries have not given Lebanon a drop of water,” Kordahi said.

Some Twitter users shared the news showing how Saudi Arabian aid to Lebanon dwarfs the contributions of its regional rival, Iran. a user accused Kordahi Fulfilling “Iran’s agenda” in the Middle East.

The former minister, who became famous for hosting the Arabic version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” last October, has led to a deterioration in Gulf-Lebanon relations after openly criticizing the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states later withdrew their ambassadors from Beirut, and Kordahi later resigned.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states extradited their ambassadors to Beirut this year.


Number of Syrians holding German citizenship in 2021. According to data from Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, the figure was three times higher than the previous year, as many of those who fled between 2014 and 2016 met the eligibility criteria.

Photo of the day

Children pass a vehicle loaded with shrapnel in Taez, Yemen's third city, besieged by the rebels, on June 9th.  Millions of people in Yemen have been forced to flee their homes in the brutal conflict that pitted the Saudi-backed government against the Iran-backed Houthis.  Insurgents causing widespread food shortages and devastating the country's infrastructure.

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