Report

Israeli Minister of Defense Resigns in Government Shake-Up

With news breaking this week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to replace him, Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon resigned today from both the cabinet and the Knesset, writing on Facebook that he is “taking time out from political life.” He described the reasons for his departure in the post, writing that he ...

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With news breaking this week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to replace him, Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon resigned today from both the cabinet and the Knesset, writing on Facebook that he is “taking time out from political life.” He described the reasons for his departure in the post, writing that he “found myself in strong disagreement on moral and professional issues with the prime minister” and other members of the government, and warning that “extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel and the Likud Party.” Members of the Likud party, to which both Netanyahu and Ya’alon both belong, said his resignation was a significant loss to the party.

Ya’alon’s resignation clears the way for Lieberman’s expected appointment to the defense minister post. That would bring the five members of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party into the governing coalition; it was six until one member of the Knesset, Orly Levy-Abekasis, announced yesterday that she was withdrawing from the party to remain in the opposition because the negotiations with Netanyahu had not emphasized social reforms. Ya’alon’s resignation from the Knesset also clears the way for the Likud party to fill his seat; the next person on Likud’s party list is Yehudah Glick, who survived an assassination attempt that targeted him for his advocacy for changes in the laws regarding where worship may occur on the Temple Mount.

Debris from Crashed Plane Found in Mediterranean

The Egyptian navy has found wreckage from EgyptAir Flight MS804. The debris were found approximately 180 miles off the coast from Alexandria and search crews are now looking for the black box flight recorders. The 66 people aboard the plane are presumed dead. There is still no confirmation that the plane was brought down by a terrorist attack and satellite imagery showed no sign of an explosion from the time of the plane’s abrupt descent, but the Egyptian minister of aviation told reporters today that terrorism is still the most likely cause of the crash.

Headlines

  • The Turkish parliament voted in favor of changing the constitution to strip the immunity of members of parliament to allow their prosecution; the change has been advocated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and could clear the way for political trials of pro-Kurdish politicians who oppose Erdogan’s agenda.

 

  • The U.S. government formally added the Libyan, Saudi, and Yemeni affiliates of the Islamic State to the State Department’s designated terrorist list, making the groups and their supporters subject to potential sanctions.

 

  • Islamic State attacks outside of Sirte, Libya, killed 32 soldiers loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord earlier this week; seven were killed in a car bomb attack in Buairat el-Hassun, west of Sirte, on Wednesday, and the other 25 deaths occurred while trying to defend the town of Abu Grein.

 

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced he would attend a ministerial-level meeting of international diplomats in France aimed at restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; the meeting had been scheduled for May 30 but will be postponed until after Memorial Day weekend to allow Kerry to attend.

 

  • Rached Ghannouchi, the head of Tunisia’s Ennahda party, announced that the organization will split its political and religious activities; “We are leaving political Islam and entering democratic Islam. We are Muslim democrats who no longer claim to represent political Islam,” he told French newspaper Le Monde.

Arguments and Analysis

Reckless politicking: Lieberman to be named Israel’s defense minister” (Natan Sachs, Markaz)

“In what can only be considered brilliant politicking—and reckless policy—Netanyahu jettisoned Ya’alon and Herzog in favor of his former associate and bitter personal rival, Lieberman. Herzog is left wounded and humiliated, played for a fool—the gravest sin in Israeli political culture. Netanyahu finds himself at the helm of an enlarged coalition (Lieberman brings with him five members of Knesset, after one member of his faction left the party today in protest of the move), safer from parliamentary shocks and from attacks from the right (the whole right wing is now inside the coalition. Lieberman will still likely criticize Netanyahu from within the government, but not quite as fiercely).”

 

Not Just Tech: Entrepreneurship in the Middle East” (Nathan Field, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy)

“The conventional wisdom in the Middle East policy and media communities is that the promotion of entrepreneurship in the region is both wise and strategic. After all, the creation of new jobs and additional economic stakeholders creates better prospects for healthy democracy in the Arab world over the long run. Rags-to-riches stories of young Tunisians and Egyptians undermine the Islamic State and other extremist groups whose appeal is based on the idea that young people cannot achieve purpose and meaning by adhering to social conventions. However, the widespread focus on tech startups as the sole manifestation of entrepreneurship in the region is producing lackluster results. Nearly every conference held in Washington since 2011 has been dominated by tech veterans or promoters of ‘innovation’ and ‘changing the world.’ While noble, this is not producing tangible gains in terms of new jobs and status for those in the Middle East who do not already have it. For greater impact from a U.S. policy perspective, the primary focus of entrepreneurship policies should be in promoting traditional small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), not necessarily high-tech ones. While these firms will not change the world or be ‘the next big thing,’ they are more likely to generate new opportunities for those in the region who need it the most.”

-J. Dana Stuster

JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

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