U.S. To Lapid: Why Not Dump Netanyahu?
In recent weeks, representatives for the Obama administration have held meetings with a senior politician here in which the U.S. delegates brought up the possibility of replacing Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, according to an informed Jerusalem diplomatic source.
The meetings were held with Israel’s popular finance minister, Yair Lapid, founder and leader of the Yesh Atid Party, which became the second-largest party in the Knesset winning 19 seats in the last election.
The diplomatic source said the Obama administration identified Lapid as a moderate who could be helpful in pushing the Israeli government into accepting the framework to create a future Palestinian state.
According to the source, the talks included the possibility of Lapid bolting Netanyahu’s government if the prime minister rejects the U.S.-brokered regional talks.
Lapid, however, is unlikely to abandon his government post over talks the Palestinians themselves have been less than enthusiastic about.
Such a move could be politically dangerous for Lapid, with polls showing a significant segment of the Israeli public has grown weary of the bid to create a Palestinian state amid regional turmoil, including the Syrian civil war, recent changes of leadership in Egypt and fears over Iran’s nuclear program.
Further, Lapid is a relative newcomer to Israeli politics. He will want more time to use his finance minister post to launch initiatives that could bolster a future run for prime minister.
If Lapid and his 19 Knesset seats did abandon Netanyahu’s government, the move could put the prime minister’s coalition in crisis, especially if other parties were to follow suit. Netanyahu must maintain a plurality of the Knesset’s 120 Knesset seats in his governing coalition or he would have to face early elections.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennet, leader of the nationalist My Home party, has made a career out of openly challenging Netanyahu on numerous fronts. Bennet is part of the coalition with his party’s 12 seats. He has not been shy about his own future prime ministerial aspirations.
Obama Signs Order Authorizing Seizure of Private Property
Largely unreported sections of an executive order signed last week by President Obama grant the U.S. government the right to seize property of American citizens determined to be undermining, even indirectly, the democratic processes or threatening the peace in Ukraine.
The executive order does not define which actions constitute a threat to Ukrainian democracy or peace.
It cites the National Emergencies Act, which subjects to revocation the constitutional right to habeas corpus, the requirement to bring an arrested individual before a judge or court.
The text of the executive order extends to the actions of what it calls any “U.S Person.”
A “U.S. Person” is defined by the order as “any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.”
The order freezes property of “U.S. Persons” deemed by the treasury secretary in consultation with the secretary of state to have been “responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly” in the following:
- Actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;
- Actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or
- Misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine.
Official Designated To Fight Anti-Semitism Used to Fight Conservatives
Ira Forman, the Obama administration’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, has a long history of partisan Democratic politics, once even dedicating himself to fighting “the radical right.”