Israel Saga: 2 Years, 4 Elections And Netanyahu Trial

Israel Saga: 2 Years, 4 Elections And Netanyahu Trial

With Israel going into its 4th election in 2 years, questions regarding the elections and the possibility of stable elections have popped up. Similarly, the corruption trial of PM Netanyahu has been associated with those continuous elections. Let’s look at why these elections are recurring, and how those trials possibly relate to them.

Crux of the Matter

Another Election
Israel will have elections on 23rd March. Notably, it would be their 4th election in 2 years.

Benjamin Netanyahu has been the Prime Minister since 2009. However, trouble has come 2019 onwards as no group has won enough seats to form a stable coalition Government.

Since then, Netanyahu has been either the caretaker PM or the leader of an unstable coalition. The most recent dissolution of the Parliament came in December 2020.

Netanyahu Trial
As per The New York Times, Netanyahu’s critics allege that his corruption trial is also a reason behind the multiple elections. These cases are:

  • Case 1000: Accused of accepting $300,000 gifts from businessmen in exchange for tax and other business favours.
  • Case 2000: Accused of planning to cut competitors of Yedioth Ahronoth news in exchange for favourable news coverage.
  • Case 4000: Accused of providing favours to Shaul Elovitch in exchange for favourable news coverage on his site Walla.

Critics allege that the elections are recurring as Netanyahu is attempting to stay in power as that would equip him better for the trial. This claim has been rejected by his Likud party supporters, who blame other coalition groups for not stabilizing coalitions.

Impact

  • No state budget passed.
  • Appointment at several posts in ministries and judiciary delayed.
  • Even pre-poll surveys show no clear majority – more elections expected to continue.

Curiopedia
  • In 1952, Albert Einstein was offered the Presidency of Israel. Although he declined stating his lack of experience to deal with people properly.
  • In 2017, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and stated that the American embassy would be moved there from Tel Aviv.
  • Benjamin Netanyahu is the longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel.

Morocco And Israel Normalize Ties – With A Catch

Morocco And Israel Normalize Ties - With A Catch

As Morocco and Israel established official ties with each other, let us look at the impact, reaction, and the catch involved in the deal.

Crux of the Matter

Morocco-Israel Relations Officialized
On 10 December 2020, Morocco and Israel established official relations with each other. In doing so, the former became the 4th Arab country to normalize ties with Israel this year. It is preceded by the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan.

US The Broker

  • The Morocco-Israel Agreement was brokered by the US.
  • All the agreements between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan have been brokered by US President Donald Trump.
  • The US is expanding on the “Abraham Accords”, where Israel and the UAE normalized relations in September 2020.
  • Saudi Arabia, the major power in the region, is expected to follow the suit soon.
  • Notably, Morocco was the 1st country to recognize “the newly independent United States” in 1777.

Impact

  • Increased safety in the Arab region, as Israel now has relations with several Arab countries.
  • Israel was recognized earlier only by Egypt and Jordan since 1979 and 1994 respectively.
  • Reduction expected in hostilities.

Reaction

  • Agreement welcomed by Egypt, Oman, etc.
  • Criticized by Palestine and its close-aid Iran.

Any Arab retreat from the Arab Peace Initiative (of 2002), which stipulates that normalisation comes only after Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, is unacceptable and increases Israel’s belligerence and its denial of the Palestinian people’s rights.

Bassam al-Salhi, Member of Executive Committee, Palestine Liberation Organization

The Catch
The Israel-Morocco Agreement has one catch: the Western Sahara. The US has now recognized Morocco’s claim over the disputed region of Western Sahara, which has been in dispute since Spain withdrew its rule in 1975.

Read about the ‘catch’ here: Why Sahara Matters in Morocco-Israel Normalization?

Curiopedia
  • An Arabic name for Morocco, al-Magrib al-Aqsa, means “the extreme west” and attests to Morocco’s place as the westernmost country in the Arab world.
  • The University of Al-Qarawiyyin (Al-Karaouine) in Morocco is the world’s first university. It was founded in 859 AC and it is still operating today. The founder was a Moroccan woman called Fatima Al Fihria who wanted to give locals equal access to science and religious studies.
  • Casablanca, or Dar el Beïda (White House), is Morocco’s largest city. One version of how the city got its name states it was named after Caid’s house, a large, white building that is visible from a distance. Another version states that Sidi Allal el-Kairouani named the city ad-Dār al-Bāyda (House of the White Princess), after his daughter, Lalla Beida. The city changed its name to the Spanish translation “Casa Blanca” in 1770.

Why Sahara Matters In Morocco-Israel Normalization?

Let us look at the role of Sahara in the Morocco-Israel normalization. The region is home to conflict between ethnic Sahrawis and expansionist Morocco.

After looking at the normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel, let us look at the mentioned ‘catch’, which is the Western Sahara region, which is home to the conflict between ethnic Sahrawis and Morocco.

Crux of the Matter

The Catch: Western Sahara
The Israel-Morocco Agreement has one catch: the Western Sahara. The US recognized Morocco’s claim over the disputed region of Western Sahara, with the region being in dispute since Spain withdrew its rule in 1975.

Why Western Sahara Geography Matters?

  • Western Sahara is a region in Africa with a total area of 266,000 sq km.
  • It has a population of ~600,000 people.
  • Population density: ~2.25 people/sq km.
  • Reportedly contains large quantities of oil off-shore.
  • The region is rich in Phosphorus (used in synthetic fertilizers). Morocco controls ~80% of Western Sahara. Consequently, Morocco has 72% of the phosphate reserves of the world. In comparison, China ranks 2nd by having 6% of the world’s phosphate reserves.

Conflicted History Of The Region

  • 1884: Western Sahara fell under Spanish control.
  • 1934: The region was made into the ‘Spanish Sahara’ province.
  • 1956: Morocco gained independence from France.
  • 1957: Morocco asserted its claim over the entire region of Western Sahara.

Sahrawi Resistance
Sahrawi (an ethnic group of Western Sahara) began resistance against Spanish rule around the same time.

  • 1973: Guerilla group ‘Polisario Front’ was formed, which continued arm struggle (against Spain and later Morocco) until UN brokered ceasefire in 1991.
  • 1975: Spain withdrew from Western Sahara.

Unlawful Partition
Spain divided Western Sahara as following:

  • 1/3rd of the region (Southern) to Mauritania.
  • 2/3rd of the region (Northern) to Morocco.

The Partition was done against the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, which advocated self-determination by Sahrawis. Polisario Front continued its armed resistance with aid from Algeria. In 1975, a “government-in-exile” called Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was established.

Unfulfilled Referendum

  • 1979: Morocco annexed the share of Mauritania as the latter withdrew from the region.
  • Morocco controls 80% of the region since.
  • Morocco promised an ‘independence referendum’ for the Sahrawi people as part of the 1991 ceasefire Agreement.
  • 2001: New King Muhammad VI announced that no referendum would occur.

‘Settlements’ Since

  • Thousands of Moroccans have shifted to Western Sahara in settlements after encouragement from the state.
  • Settlements considered similar to Israeli settlements in the land claimed by Palestine.
  • Polisario continues its demand for self-governance.

Current Status

  • Exiled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is recognized by ~70 countries.
  • It is also a part of the African Union.
  • However, it suffers from a lack of recognition from major nations and the UN.
  • ~100,000 Sahrawis live in refugee camps in Algeria.

Further Possibilities
US recognition of Moroccan control on Western Sahara has been rejected by the Polisario Front, Spain, the UN, etc. The move has a potential effect on the US-Africa diplomacy for incoming President-elect Biden as Algeria, a key partner of the US in counter-terrorism is against Moroccan rule.

Curiopedia
  • An Arabic name for Morocco, al-Magrib al-Aqsa, means “the extreme west” and attests to Morocco’s place as the westernmost country in the Arab world.
  • The University of Al-Qarawiyyin (Al-Karaouine) in Morocco is the world’s first university. It was founded in 859 AC and it is still operating today. The founder was a Moroccan woman called Fatima Al Fihria who wanted to give locals equal access to science and religious studies.
  • Casablanca, or Dar el Beïda (White House), is Morocco’s largest city. One version of how the city got its name states it was named after Caid’s house, a large, white building that is visible from a distance. Another version states that Sidi Allal el-Kairouani named the city ad-Dār al-Bāyda (House of the White Princess), after his daughter, Lalla Beida. The city changed its name to the Spanish translation “Casa Blanca” in 1770.

Beitar, Israel’s ‘Anti-Arab’ Football Club, Gets An Arab Owner

Beitar, Israel's 'Anti-Arab' Football Club, Gets An Arab Owner

As PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir walked off against racism, Israeli club Beitar got a new Arab owner. The catch? Beitar is the only major Israeli club to never have signed an Arab player. Let us look at the history of the club, whose fans describe it as “the most racist football team in Israel”.

Crux of the Matter

Arab Ownership For Beitar
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan of UAE has bought a 49% stake in Israeli football club ‘Beitar’. Sheikh Hamad is a member of the ruling family of UAE in Abu Dhabi. Beitar is the only major Israeli football club to never have signed an Arab player. Ironically, it now has an Arab owner.

Door Open For Arab Players
The move comes 4 months after Israel and UAE established official relations. Sheikh Hamad and co-owner Moshe Hogeg have opened the door for Arab players.

From today, religion will no longer be a factor in the choice of the club’s players… we are not afraid of the racists. We have a plan on how to deal with that.

Moshe Hogeg, Co-Owner Of Beitar

Beitar And Right Extremism
Beitar was founded in 1936. It is the only major Israeli club to never have signed an Arab player. Beitar is supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the club historically being associated with the extreme right-wing of Israel.

Beitar has a group of supporters by the name ‘La Familia’ (The Family). The group is openly hostile towards Arabs and initiated protests against the recent new Arab owner. They regularly call the club “the most racist football team in Israel”. Only 4-5 non-Israelis have played for the club till date.

‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘Forever Pure’ are regular chants and banners of Familia respectively. The club has a poor record for Muslim players with several racial abuse cases.

In 2004, Nigerian defender Ibrahim Ndala was signed. He left the club just after 5 games reportedly saying “I left Beitar because the fans abused me. They sang to me ‘son of a b**ch,’ ‘Arab, go home’”.

Infamous Chechnya Case

  • 2013: Beitar unexpectedly signed 2 Chechen Muslim players.
  • Familia abused the players at training grounds. They also booed and walked off when one of the Chechen players scored a goal.
  • 2 La Familia members even torched the club’s offices for signing the players.

It’s not racism, they just shouldn’t be here. Beitar Jerusalem has always been a clean club, but now it’s being destroyed.

Jacob (a fan) to The Independent

Hope Of Change

  • 2017: Beitar fired consultant Eli Cohen 10 days after hiring after claiming he “wouldn’t accept a Muslim player on the team”.
  • Improvements observed since Moshe Hogeg became club owner in 2018.
  • Non-Israeli signings like Ali Mohammed (2019) accepted in the club better than the past.

Since March, racist chants at the Beitar games have been met with boos by other fans wishing to silence the slurs.

Anti-Racism Organization ‘Kick It Out, Israel’ (2017)

Extremism expected to further decrease with the normalization of relations between UAE and Israel and new ownership.

Curiopedia
  • Kick It Out is a campaign started in 1993 and as an organisation in 1997. The organisation works within the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change.
  • Any team that wins the Champions League three years in a row or five times overall wins the right to retain a full-sized replica of the trophy (UEFA retains the original at all times). Six clubs have earned this honour so far: Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Milan, Liverpool, and Barcelona.
  • Queens Park Rangers Football Club is an English professional football club based in White City, London. On 20 December 2007, it was announced that the family of Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal had purchased a 20% shareholding in the club from Flavio Briatore. The purchase price of the 20% stake was just £200,000.

History Of Arab-Israel Relations

History Of Arab-Israel Relations

As the UAE and Israel established official relations for the first time in history, mixed reaction has come from several nations. The recent decision also adds a new chapter to the strained relationship between Israel and the Arab world. Let us have a look at the history of Arab nations with Israel.

Crux of the Matter

Arab-Israel History
Arab countries and Israel have been engaged in conflict since the British left, with the conflict mainly occurring regarding territory occupation and the Palestine case. Israel and Palestine have been engaged in conflict since the independence of Israel, with the Arab countries supporting Palestine in the dispute.

  • 1948-49: Israel declared its independence as the British mandate of Palestine was divided between the Jews and the Arab nations. However, a war erupted soon between Israel and five Arab countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt), where Israel won the control of major portion allocated to Palestine except Gaza and the West Bank.
  • 1956: Egypt nationalized the Suez canal and banned the entry of Israeli ships, with the canal being under the control of the British and the French till that point. Israel invaded Egypt and annexed Gaza and most of the eastern part near the Suez canal, with British and French troops later joining Israel. However, the war ended with all the troops withdrawing from all Egyptian territories.
  • 1967: The six-day war happened. By 1966-67, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan increased support to Palestine militant groups and increased their attacks on Israel. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon then also formed an alliance to attack Israel. This mobilization of the allied troops was observed by Israel, which launched a “pre-emptive” assault on Egypt and destroyed 90% of its Air Force on 5 June 1967. The war then started and Israel captured Gaza and most of the West Bank within 3 days. Israel then captured the Golan Heights from Syria after the latter kept attacking Israel even after the UN declared a cease-fire.
  • 1973: Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on 6 October on the holy day of Yom Kippur for Jews. Israel again won and a cease-fire was declared in January 1974.
  • 1979: The Camp David Accords were signed, after which Egypt and Israel established official diplomatic relations, with the latter returning all of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.
  • 1982: Israel invaded Lebanon after the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), operating from Lebanon, increased its attacks on Israel. The PLO fled the country, and Israel withdrew its troops by 1985.
  • 2006: Hezbollah, a radical Shiite group from Lebanon, killed and captured several Israeli soldiers to pressurize Israel to release Lebanese prisoners. Israel launched an operation to bring back the captured soldiers, which 34 days, and more than 1,000 Lebanese people were killed.

Recent Peace
In recent times, the relations between the Arab nations and Israel have improved significantly. The UAE allows Israeli athletes in the country and recently allowed the AFC Asian Cup 2019, held in Dubai, to be telecast in Israel for the first time in history. Israel was also invited to the Dubai Expo 2020 fair.

However, several experts have claimed that both the countries have united in recent times along with the US only to act against Iran, which is seen as a growing threat by all the three countries.

Curiopedia
  • The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt. It is often considered to define the border between Africa and Asia.
  • The AFC Asian Cup is the second oldest continental football championship in the world after Copa América. The winning team became the champion of Asia and until 2015 qualified for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
  • “Hatikvah” is a 19th-century Jewish poem and the national anthem of Israel. The theme of the romantic composition reflects the Jews’ 2,000-year-old hope of returning to the Land of Israel, restoring it, and reclaiming it as a free and sovereign nation.