Briefing: 'King Bibi' pulls it together, again

The JPost Podcast's weekly briefing catches you up on the most important stories from the past week.

May 30, 2016 15:06
2 minute read.

Briefing - King Bibi pulls it together, again

Briefing - King Bibi pulls it together, again


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This week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put an end to a coalition crisis, finding an agreement to install Avigdor Liberman as his new defense chief.

Though the outlines of a deal with Liberman were already in place, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett threatened to boycott the deal and potentially flee the coalition unless Netanyahu offered him concessions on security-related matters.

Bennett had wanted Netanyahu to install a military secretary, who would regularly brief the security cabinet, on which Bennett sits. Until the change, Netanyahu and the defense minister could, in principle, control the information flow from the military and security services to the security cabinet, and circumvent them on important decisions.

Late Sunday night, Netanyahu acquiesced, and on Monday, Liberman was approved, alongside Sofa Landver as Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Minister and Tzachi Hanegbi as Minister-without-portfolio. Liberman’s predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, had quit the Knesset in protest of the deal, and over the weekend Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, of the Kulanu party, quit his ministry. Thus, the man Time Magazine once dubbed "King Bibi" seemed likely to keep his throne.

But not all of Netanyahu’s political woes were put to rest.

Police investigators recommended that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit indict the Prime Minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu for misusing funds.

The charges would be over alleged fraud and breach of trust related to using public funds for purchasing food, paying special chefs and related costs for hosting private events.

In a Jerusalem Post analysis, legal affairs reporter Yonah Jeremy Bob casts doubt on the likelihood that criminal charges will proceed.

In US politics, Israel has become an issue in the contentious Democratic primary between likely nominee Hillary Clinton and her Jewish rival Bernie Sanders. Sanders, wielding power from his strong showing in the primary, got say in several members of the platform committee. Among them were prominent Israel critics, including social activist Cornel West, Arab American Institute president James Zogby, and Minnesota Congressional Representative Keith Ellison.

Hillary Clinton, who chose six members to Sanders’s five, installed more traditionally progressive pro-Israel choices, including Wendy Sherman, who was one of the lead negotiators on Iran talks. The remaining four delegates were named by the DNC’s chairwoman, Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is among the most prominent Jewish leaders in the party.

And finally, Arab Israeli Ta’alin Abu Hanna won the first-ever “Miss Trans Israel Pageant” in Tel Aviv, ahead of Israel’s LGBT pride week.

Abu Hanna, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, will represent Israel at the Miss TransStar International pageant in Barcelona in September. The annual Tel Aviv pride parade takes place this Friday, and is expected to draw 180,000 people.

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