Tag Archives: israel

Hezbollah Claims Responsibility for Attack Against Israeli Patrol Vehicle

According to local media reports, Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for an attack against an Israeli military vehicle patrolling the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for an attack against an Israeli military vehicle patrolling the Lebanese-Israeli border, local media reported Monday.

“The Martyr Kuntar group [Hezbollah militants] blew up an explosive device on a road in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area. [The blow] destroyed a Hammer vehicle and injured those, having sat inside,” Al-Manar channel reported, citing Hezbollah’s statement.

Earlier in the day, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces said that the Israeli artillery on Monday shelled border areas in southern Lebanon in response to an attack against the Israeli military vehicle patrolling the border.

The recent wave of firings on the Lebanese-Israeli border has started after Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group’s activist Samir Kuntar was killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike that targeted a residential building near the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Kuntar served nearly 30 years in an Israeli prison for murder of four Israeli citizens and was released in 2008 as part of a prisoner swap with Hezbollah.

 

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ISIS is working on Mossad/CIA plan to Create Greater Israel

Is Syria’s destruction a part of the Zionist plan to create a ‘Greater Israel’ ?The Plan — according to U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.): In an interview with Amy Goodman on March 2, 2007, U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.), explains that the Bush Administration planned to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, Iran

‘The Greater Israel Project’ Explained by Ken O’Keefe:

Ken explains the concept of ‘The Greater Israel Project’ and the balkanization of surrounding countries as a means of destabilizing them. Balkanization is a geopolitical term that was originally used to describe the process of the fragmentation or division of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are often hostile or non-cooperative with one another. The head of the snake, the system of power, is headed by the financial system. The bankers rule the Earth through the private control of the issuance of money, debt-based money which we’re all supposed to pay with things like austerity measures, which allows them to provide THEMSELVES an INFINITE supply of money which means that they can buy anything and anyone so we see that the world governments are nothing but puppets of bankers who control their money supply. The bankers at the top of this pyramid are psychopaths.

Norman Finkelstein Obliterates and Humiliates Hard Talk Host on Israel:

Norman showed the host what it really means to “Hard Talk”.
The Bias anchor/journalist who sides with Israel makes a mistake by challenging Norman on the Palestine and IsraHell conflict. Norman teaches her a lesson, she wont be forgetting anytime soon.
Norman Finkelstein has devoted his life and his Doctorate degree on the Middle East and the Palestine Israel conflict.

ISIS In Greater Israel’s Scheme:

This is the root cause of all the refugee crisis we are facing in the world right now.

Read How Naguib Sawiris helps in establishment of Greater Israel

Report: Egypt Preparing Large Assault Against ISIS in Libya Despite Opposition From Obama

President Abdel Fatah al Sisi,

President Abdel Fatah al Sisi,

Egypt is getting ready to launch a large air and ground attack against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in eastern Libya DebkaFile reports, quoting military and intelligence sources.

The Obama administration is reportedly opposed to the operation.

“Egypt is massing large-scale ground and air forces in the Western Desert along the Libyan border, in preparation for a military campaign to capture eastern Libya — Cyrenaica — from the Islamist State of Syria and Iraq — ISIS — occupation,” reports DebkaFile.

“The substantial naval and marine forces assembling at Egypt’s Mediterranean ports indicate the possible launching of the offensive by dropping Egyptian marines on the Libyan coast around Derna (pop: 100,000), which ISIS has made its provincial capital,” it added. “They may be accompanied by simultaneous landings of paratroops from the air.”

Some officials have warned that ISIS may use Libya to launch attacks against Europe.

The DebkaFile report notes that the Obama administration is against a direct invasion of Libya by Egypt, but would support Cairo taking action through local Libyan militias.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi was not convinced by CIA Director John Brennan who related Obama’s position on April 19.

“President El-Sisi was not surprised to hear from the CIA director that the Obama administration objects to a direct Egyptian invasion of Libya, but would not oppose Cairo acting through local Libyan militias,” said DebkaFile.

“Brennan leaned hard on the Egyptian president to follow Washington’s line, but El-Sisi refused,” it added later.

President El-Sisi did tell the CIA director that he does not plan to keep the Egyptian army in Libya. He is planning to pull his troops out after the jihadists are defeated. Ultimately, El-Sisi said he would hand power back to the elected Libyan government.

ISIS’ presence in eastern Libya and Sinai poses an unacceptable threat to El-Sisi’s country, noted the report.

“He has been warned in a number of intelligence reports that the Islamic State’s terrorists have already penetrated some Egyptian towns and even infiltrated certain army units,” it said.

ISIS is reportedly beefing up its presence in eastern Libya with reinforcements from Syria and Iraq to counter Egypt’s planned assault.

“From Syria, they are traveling by air or sea through the Mediterranean; from Iraq, through the Sinai Peninsula, whence oil and drug rings smuggle them across the Suez Canal and Egypt,” said DebkaFile.

Libya has been engulfed in unrest since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and executed in 2011 with the support of the Obama administration. Various tribes, militias, and political groups are competing for power in Libya.

The country has been split by two warring factions. One is led by the elected government operating out of Tobruk and the other by militias in Tripoli.

The Obama administration and other Western nations have been reluctant to intervene.

Egypt, without the support of the U.S., launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya after the jihadist group beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians.

Egypt’s Mubarak calls on Egyptians to stand behind Sisi

 former president Hosni Mubarak

former president Hosni Mubarak

Egyptian citizens should stand behind their leader Abdel Fatah al Sisi, President Hosni Mubarak said Sunday during a rare phone interview on private television channel Sada El-Balad.

“The sons of the armed forces, with President [Abdel Fatah] al-Sisi at the forefront today, know exactly the meaning of national sovereignty and the sacredness of national territory,” Mubarak said.

“We [Egyptians] should trust our army’s capabilities and stand behind it,” especially in this “difficult, complex stage,” Mubarak added.

Mubarak also stressed the importance of maintaining ties with “Egypt’s friends.”

During the interview, which coincided with the commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of the liberation of Sinai, the former president spoke about the withdrawal of Israel from the tiny peninsula in 1982.

Mubarak, was interviewed by TV host Ahmed Moussa.

In November 2014, Mubarak was cleared of charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising.

Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN Security Council as US, Australia vote against

The UN Security Council has failed to adopt the Arab coalition’s bid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to Israeli “occupation”. The veto power US and Australia voted against the move with 5 abstentions.The draft resolution gathered only 8 votes in favour, so it was automatically defeated. The US however still used its veto power and voted against the resolution. Another veto power state, the UK, along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda have abstained from the vote.

“This resolution sets the stage for more division, not for compromise,” said US Ambassador Samantha Power, calling the draft a “staged confrontation.”

“The United kingdom supports much of the content of the draft resolution. It is therefore with deep regret that we abstained from it,” said UK ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant. “We are disappointed that the normal and necessary negotiation did not take place on this occasion.”

However, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that Moscow “cannot share the objections of those who believe that the draft resolution was undermining the prospects of the negotiating process.”

“Unfortunately last year revealed how this process has gone into a blind alley, with its monopolization by the United States and their pullback from the Quartet [US, EU, UN and Russia]. We believe this to be a strategic mistake,” said Churkin.

“This draft reflects just demands of Arab states, including the Palestinian people, and is in accord with the relevant UN resolutions, the ‘land for peace’ principle, the Arab peace initiative and middle-Eastern peace roadmap. And is also in accord with China’s consistent position. We express deep regret over the failure of the draft resolution to be adopted,” said Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Israeli authorities said they are “satisfied” with the failure of the Palestinian statehood bid at UN Security Council.

An official bid for statehood was submitted to the Council Tuesday by a Jordan-led Arab coalition. The bid featured a revised draft resolution of a similar proposal submitted earlier this month. Delegates voted on the measure Tuesday afternoon.

Highly opposed by the US and Israel, the first version of the draft resolution was submitted “in blue” to the UN Security Council last Wednesday. The Council includes five permanent members who hold veto power and ten additional members who serve two-year terms.

The resolution gives 12 months for a “just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it regards as the creation of a “sovereign and viable” Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the occupied territory by 2017.

Its text had already seen several amendments that concern East Jerusalem as capital of the future state of Palestine, Israeli settlement building, and Palestinian refugees’ right of return, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Abu Yousef told Asharq Al-Awsatnewspaper.

According to the current draft, Jerusalem is regarded as the capital of both Israel and Palestine, but the role of East Jerusalem in a future Palestinian state is not specified. “International legitimacy is our ceiling on this issue, and we cannot drop below this ceiling,” Yousef told the paper.

“I think there is very little doubt that any resolution in the Security Council that actually created a Palestinian state or called for real statehood would be vetoed,” US activist and journalist Phyllis Bennis told RT. “I think there is a big question whether the drafts that are now circulating actually do that. The French amendments in particular significantly weaken the idea that this is something that would actually create the Palestinian state.”

Bennis explained that “there is no consequence named. The resolution is not taken under either Chapter 6 or Chapter 7, which are the coercive chapters of the UN charter.” These chapters imply the use of military force and putting pressure against the state, such as sanctions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday his administration would“no longer deal”with Israel in case of the resolution’s failure. “If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to [Israeli] occupation doesn’t pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions,”the Algerian APS news agency quoted Abbas as saying.

Last Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called a UN bid for Palestinian statehood an “act of aggression.”

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is adopting measures whose sole aim is to attack Israel, with no benefit for the Palestinians,” Lieberman said in a statement.

This summer, tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank escalated, leading to the 50-day conflict between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians. Operation Protective Edge claimed over 2,200 lives – most of them Gaza civilians.

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IDF strikes Gaza in retaliation to rocket fire

An Israeli air force F-15 fighter jet

The Israeli Defense Forces have launched an attack on Gaza allegedly striking a weapons cache near Khan Yunis in retaliation to a rocket fired from Gaza earlier in the day.

There were at least two strikes by the Israeli Air Force, Jerusalem Post reports. Residents reported hearing two explosions in an “area that contains training sites for Palestinian militants,” according to AP. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The attack allegedly comes in retaliation to a rocket fired from Gaza earlier in the day into an open territory near the Eshkol Regional Council.

“The IDF will not permit any attempt to undermine the security and jeopardize the well being of the civilians of Israel. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible and accountable for today’s attack against Israel,” said the IDF Spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, cited by Haaretz.

The strike on what the military called a “Hamas terror infrastructure site” is believed to be the first airstrike by the IDF since Israel’s 50-day war with Gaza this summer. Friday’s rocket was the third projectile that hit Israeli territory since Operation Protective Edge in which more than 2,100 Palestinianswere killed,most of them civilians.

“After Protective Edge, the state had a unique opportunity to bring about a long-term settlement,” the head of Eshkol Regional Council Haim Yellin told Haaretz. “But instead we find ourselves with a ticking clock until the next round of escalation, and the next war.”

Nobody has claimed responsibility so far for the rocket attack, but the former deputy defense minister Danny Danon rushed to announce that the incident once again proves that Hamas, ruling Gaza, is a terrorist organization. “If anyone doubted this then they received the answer now with the [rocket] fire,” Danon said.

Earlier this week, the EU General Court ordered that the Palestinian group Hamas be removed from the bloc’s terror blacklist – over four years after Hamas appealed its terror designation before the EU. Later on Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood in “principle” with only 88 MEPs voting against it while 498 supported the symbolic move.

New evidence Bush misled Americans into Iraq war – senator

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has released new information claiming the Bush administration misled the American people in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said on Thursday that a 2003 CIA cable warns the administration of former President George W. Bush against making reference to claims that Mohammad Atta – the leader of the 9/11 hijackers – had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in the Czech Republic before the attacks.

Levin, who is retiring, maintains that Bush officials used the unconfirmed meeting to link Iraq to 9/11 and Al-Qaeda in order to justify the US invasion in Iraq.

There was a concerted campaign on the part of the Bush administration to connect Iraq in the public mind with the horror of the Sept. 11 attacks. That campaign succeeded,” said Levin, who cited opinion polls from that time showing that many Americans believed former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks. “Of course, connections between Saddam and 9/11 or Al-Qaida were fiction.”

Levin has called for the full declassification of the Prague CIA cable and has repeatedly called on the directors of the CIA to make it public. Levin said the war in Iraq was the most significant event in his 36 years as a United States senator, and the cable is an important historical record showcasing why the US went to war in Iraq in 2003.

U.S. Senator Carl Levin

On Thursday, he read into the Congressional Record a letter he received from CIA Director John Brennan on March 13, 2014, declassifying for the first time a statement from the cable.

[T]here is not one USG [counterterrorism] or FBI expert that…has said they have evidence or ‘know’ that [Atta] was in indeed [in Prague]. In fact the analysis has been quite the opposite.”

In his speech, Levin referred to an appearance by Vice President Dick Cheney on ‘Meet the Press‘ on December 9, 2001, where Cheney said: “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he (Atta) did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”

Levin said that, far from “pretty well confirmed,” there was almost no evidence that such a meeting took place, or records to indicate that it had. He said, in fact, that Atta was almost certainly in the United States at the time of the purported meeting in Prague.

Mr. President, those statements were simple not true. We did know. We did know there was no evidence that such a meeting had taken place,” he said. “The Vice President (Dick Cheney) recklessly disregarded the truth, and he did so in a way calculated to maintain support for the administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq.”

Levin said he is bringing up the CIA cable from a decade ago because it is about giving the American people a full account of the march to war as new information becomes available. He said it is about trying to hold leaders who misled the public accountable, and about warning future leaders that they must not commit sons and daughters to battle on the basis of false statements.

Levin said that at the time, the Bush administration campaign was successful in convincing more than half of Americans that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the attacks. He added that in a poll taken six months after the invasion of Iraq, 70 percent of Americans believed it was likely that Hussein was personally involved in the September 11 attacks.

Levin also referred to a memoir published by the former head of the Czech Republic’s counterintelligence, Jiri Ruzek, who wrote: “It is becoming more and more clear that we had not met expectations and not provide the ‘right’ intelligence output…The Americans showed me that anything can be violated, including the rules they themselves taught us.”

Levin said that Director Brennan’s apparent refusal to declassify the cable or ask the Czech government if it objects to the release of the cable “takes on the character of continuing cover-up.”

 

Turkey to not accept Greece-Egypt Mediterranean deal

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu

Any delimitation on the Mediterranean between Egypt and Greece will not be acceptable if it affects Turkey’s national interest, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said.

Davutoglu made the remarks in an interview published Sunday in a Greek newspaper, To Vima, which he gave at the end of the third High-Level Cooperation Council meeting between Greece and Turkey in Athens on Dec. 6.

“If Greece signs the agreement with Egypt, we would not accept it if it affects our national interests. This agreement will not exist for us,” the premier said.

Ankara believes there can be no demarcation in the Eastern Mediterranean without it.

He also called the trilateral cooperation between Greece-Cyprus-Cairo and Greece-Cyprus-Israel for natural resources “opportunism” that came at a “bad time.”

The heads of state of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece had met on Nov. 8 in Cairo to discuss how to boost their energy cooperation, hoping they could sideline Turkey in the Mediterranean.

Also, Israel recently held talks with the EU to decide if they would invest in a pipeline from its Mediterranean gas fields through Cyprus.

The Turkish premier said the gas pipeline imagined between Israel and Cyprus through Greece to Europe was unsustainable economically and technically.

He denied the cooperation deals were a threat to Turkey. “We do not feel any threat. No one can threaten us,” he said.

“In the Eastern Mediterranean, all arrangements, especially the boundaries on maritime zones should be made after negotiations with all parties. If two parties or three parties declare an Exclusive Economic Zone without consulting the other parties, who are also interested and have a legitimate interest, then it moves against the international law,” he said.

He said the best solution for Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea was to first solve problems between themselves, and then they can talk to third parties.

About the unified treatment of the delimitation of maritime zones in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Davutoglu said “they are two different cases geographically. The Eastern Mediterranean does not have many islands, only one, and that even raises great debate.

“The Aegean is more complex, whilst in the Eastern Mediterranean if the Cyprus issue is solved then things can become simpler,” he said.

About oil-and-gas exploration off the Cyprus coast, the prime minister made it clear it could only be possible if talks between Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriot side resumed to solve the dispute.

Otherwise if the problem remains unresolved, either the Turkish Cypriots would have the last word in all aspects of such exploration or the Greek Cypriot administration would get used to the presence of Turkish vessel, Barbaros, off the Cyprus coast.

 

Who will replace Netanyahu as prime minister?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) arrives for a Likud party meeting at the parliament in Jerusalem, Dec. 3, 2014.

For one brief moment during Yair Lapid’s news conference Dec. 3, the newly fired finance minister shifted tone slightly as he read the carefully crafted text from his teleprompter. It happened when one of the journalists asked him whether, given all the harsh criticism he hurled at Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu during his speech, he was also prepared to make a commitment not to join a Netanyahu government after the elections.

“Look at me,” Lapid said directly to a reporter. “Benjamin Netanyahu will not be prime minister after these elections. He made a mistake, and the cost of that mistake is that he will no longer be prime minister.” As he uttered this momentous prediction, he suddenly sounded passionate and excited.

Lapid has a reputation as a courteous politician. Even in the tensest moments, he always made a point of showing respect for Netanyahu. It seems, however, that the orchestrated humiliation that the prime minister put him through this week — culminating in Lapid suddenly being fired from the government — whetted his appetite for vengeance.

The question is how far Lapid is willing to go with an “Anyone but Bibi” tactic. Would he be willing to sit in a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties, whom he disqualified as coalition partners after the last elections? At this news conference, Lapid avoided rejecting the ultra-Orthodox categorically, leaving the door open.

Among many of the parties competing for votes, including Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party, the agenda leading this election will not revolve around security issues or the economy. Instead, it will focus on removing Netanyahu from the premier’s residence on Balfour Street, much like the atmosphere that dominated the 1999 election. What will make this campaign difficult is the absence of any single candidate considered a natural alternative to Netanyahu in the prime minister’s office.

When asked at the news conference if he considered himself a candidate for prime minister, Lapid was quick to say “yes.” However, Lapid’s statement hardly corresponds with reality. The latest polls show that his party will lose almost half of its seats, and making matters even worse is that Lapid himself has earned very low marks in surveys gauging his suitability to serve as prime minister.

But Lapid isn’t the only candidate who is not considered an alternative as prime minister. Chairman of the Labor Party Isaac Herzog, Chairman of Yisrael Beitenu Avigdor Liberman, Chairman of HaBayit HaYehudi Naftali Bennett and former Minister Moshe Kahlon with his new party all trail far behind Netanyahu in polls examining who is most suited for the premiership. Even now that Netanyahu is worn down and losing strength, the distance between him and all the other candidates is vast and thus constitutes his main asset.

And yet, given the division trend of the political system, the predominant assessment is that after the next election, there will be only small and mid-sized parties in the Knesset, without a single large party. These elements, combined with the emerging anti-Netanyahu coalition, make the upcoming elections entirely unpredictable. Ostensibly, even the head of a mid-sized party could cobble together a coalition and be appointed prime minister if that person can put all the pieces together. For instance, even with just 10 seats, Liberman can bring together Lapid, Herzog from the Labor Party and the ultra-Orthodox, and become prime minister.

Another possible scenario is a rotation agreement over the premier’s seat between the heads of two mid-sized parties, who manage to put together enough seats to block Netanyahu from forming a coalition. Two potential party heads to do this are Herzog and Liberman, with the latter signaling of late that he is moving from the right to the political center. What is certain, however, is that both Liberman and Herzog believe that becoming prime minister lies within the realm of possibility for them — and they have good reason to believe that, too.

Netanyahu took an enormous gamble when he decided to advance the elections. He only did that after reaching the conclusion that time was not on his side. As opposed to the 2013 elections, his public stature has eroded considerably. His opponents are organizing, and they could well surprise him with an alternative government and remove him from office without elections. Netanyahu’s use of the element of surprise proved itself, at least in this very early stage, by catching the leaders of the center-left parties off guard.

Until recently, Tzipi Livni, the justice minister fired by Netanyahu, used the illusion of a diplomatic process to justify clinging to her seat at the Cabinet table. Very soon, she will be forced to decide which side she will join. Her party, Hatnua, has been getting no more than four seats in the polls, indicating that it has apparently reached the end of the road. This leaves her with two options. She can either join Herzog and the Labor Party or Lapid and Yesh Atid. Both men believe that she can bring them another two or three seats, and in negotiations with them she can demand — and apparently receive — the No. 2 spot on their Knesset list.

What is clear now is that the center-left bloc will not consolidate its forces before the elections. Yesh Atid, the Labor Party and Kahlon’s new party will each run separately and any possible merger will take place only later. Even if the desire to overthrow Netanyahu is the glue that holds them together, feelers and initial meetings held between the parties this week indicate that these parties will run as separate lists, and only join forces after the election. The problem with them running as independent lists is that the center-left parties will end up also investing efforts and resources on competing against each other for the same electorate, which could ultimately harm them in the larger battle against Likud and Netanyahu.

This is just the beginning of one of the strangest election campaigns that Israel has ever seen. Unlike the previous election, in which it was obvious that Netanyahu would continue to serve as prime minister, and unlike all the other, earlier elections — in which two outstanding candidates competed with each other over the post — this time around there is a real chance that after March 17, Netanyahu could find himself out of office. At this point, it remains unclear as to who will take his place. Such a situation has never been seen before.

Knesset to hold vote on dissolution, date for elections

Motion follows collapse of Netanyahu’s coalition; polls indicate likely win for Likud; Arab parties to unite

Israeli lawmakers will hold a vote Wednesday on the dissolution of Knesset and setting a date for the upcoming elections – less than two years after the previous polls – following a tumultuous week that saw the collapse of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.

Knesset party heads will meet with Speaker Yuli Edelstein to discuss the specifics of the general elections, which will likely occur in March 2015.

After the meeting, a motion to dissolve the current Knesset will undergo a preliminary reading, where it will likely be approved before being finalized on Monday.

Netanyahu on Tuesday announced early elections after having dismissed senior coalition partners and centrist leaders Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

“In the current situation and with the current government, it is impossible to lead,” Netanyahu said at a press conference.

“I will not tolerate an opposition in my government,” he said of the sackings, adding that he would call for the parliament to be dissolved “as soon as possible.”

“I won’t accept ministers attacking the policy and head of the government from within,” he said in a statement. “In a word — it’s called a putsch.”

“Frequent elections are not a good thing, but a government with no governance and ministers acting against it from within is much worse,” he said in televised remarks.

The Yesh Atid party, which is headed by Lapid, condemned Netanyahu’s decision, saying the PM “failed in his management of the country and in dealing with the needs of the Israeli public.”

“The firing of ministers is an act of cowardice and loss of control,” a party statement read. “We are sad to see that the prime minister has chosen to act without consideration for the national interests and to drag Israel into unnecessary elections – which will harm the economy and Israeli society – all for narrow political interests and a surrender to the ultra-orthodox parties, the powerful central committee of the Likud and outside lobby groups. ”

The remaining Yesh Atid ministers also tendered their resignations following the dismissal of Lapid.

In a phone conversation between the PM and Lapid, the latter said, “I expect you to act responsibly and to stop dragging the IDF and our soldiers into an election for your political needs.”

Polls indicate likely victory for Likud

Polls conducted by two major Israeli TV stations indicate that Netanyahu’s Likud party would make significant gains at the expense of Lapid and Livni’s parties if elections were held today, with 22 seats. The Jewish Home party would win 17 seats, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party 12 seats, Labor 13 seats, Yesh Atid nine, Arab parties 13, Meretz seven and Livni’s Hatnua four.

Following the announcement Arab party leaders met to discuss the possibility of joining forces.

United Arab List-Ta’al, Balad and Hadash are looking to work together especially since the threshold for participating in the Knesset was raised from 2 to 3.25 percent in March 2014.

“Now, more than any elections in the past, we must act with the utmost responsibility and create a united Arab list that will keep the unique political platforms for each party, while raising the level of Arab representation from 11 seats to 16,” Balad MK Hanin Zoabi was quoted by Israeli news site Ynet as saying. “There is no way to deal with the rising racism without uniting the Arab parties.”

Sources told Ynet that the parties agreed in theory to unite, but that issues remain over who will lead a unified party.

The US State Department issued a statement regarding the announcement of early elections in Israel, saying that it hoped the new Israeli government would be open to resuming peace negotiations.

Secretary of State John Kerry refrained from making any specific comments about the coalition collapse, but did say that: “We will continue to be supportive of our friend and our ally, the state of Israel.”

 i24news