He had a plan but he had to change it

The Coalition of Israel with the Religious Zionist Party: The Case for a New Palestinian State in the West Bank and the Promise to Legalise Outposts

Netanyahu pledged to legalise wildcat settlement outposts in the coalition agreement he had with the Religious Zionism party. The West Bank will be annexed while considering the national and international interests of the state of Israel.

The coalition agreements included language endorsing discrimination against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer community on religious grounds, along with generous stipends for ultra-Orthodox men who prefer to study instead of work.

The package laid the groundwork for a rocky beginning for the most religious and right wing government in history, putting it at odds with large swathes of the Israeli public, as well as upsetting Israel’s close allies.

Tomer Naor is the chief legal officer of the movement for quality government in Israel and he said that he was worried that the democratic structure of the state of Israel was changed by the agreements. “One day we’ll all wake up and Netanyahu is not going to be prime minister, but some of these changes will be irreversible.”

The guidelines were led by a commitment to “advance and develop settlement in all parts of the land of Israel,” including “Judea and Samaria,” the biblical names for the West Bank.

Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. The United States warned the incoming government against taking steps that could hurt hopes for an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinian leadership stated in their response that the conflict can only be solved through the construction of a Palestinian state in east Jerusalem.

Without a negotiated two-state solution, “there will be no peace, security or stability in the region,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Netanyahu, who served 12 years as prime minister, is returning to power after he was ousted from office last year. The new government consists of ultra-Orthodox parties and a religious faction affiliated with the West Bank settlers movement.

The deal grants favors to Itamar Ben-Gamar, a far-right politician, who will be the new national security minister.

It includes a commitment to expand and vastly increase government funding for the Israeli settlements in the divided West Bank city of Hebron, where a tiny ultranationalist Jewish community lives in heavily fortified neighborhoods amid tens of thousands of Palestinians. There is a settlement nearby where Ben-Gvir lives.

The agreement also includes a clause pledging to change the country’s anti-discrimination laws to allow businesses to refuse service to people “because of a religious belief.”

The legislation was denounced by members of Ben-Gvir’s party because they said it could be used to deny services to the gay and lesbian community. The clause in the coalition agreement remained despite Netanyahu saying that he wouldn’t let the law pass.

Among its other changes is placing Bezalel Smotrich, a settler leader who heads Religious Zionism party, in a newly created ministerial post overseeing West Bank settlement policy.

In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Smotrich said there would be no “changing the political or legal status” of the West Bank, indicating that annexation would not immediately take place.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2022/12/29/1145952664/benjamin-netanyahus-new-israeli-government-will-make-west-bank-expansion-a-prior

What will Israel do if the Jerusalem religious site becomes red-lined? A Jerusalem think tank critical of Netanyahu’s prosecution for corruption and other misdemeanors

Critics think the law will undermine government checks and balances. They also say Netanyahu has a conflict of interest in pushing for the legal overhaul because he is currently on trial for corruption charges.

“Since (the new government’s) intention is to weaken the Supreme Court, we’re not going to have the court as an institution that would help guard the principles of freedom and equality,” Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank, told reporters.

Two of Netanyahu’s key ministers — incoming interior minister Aryeh Deri and Ben-Gvir — have criminal records. Deri, who served time in prison in 2002 for bribery, pleaded guilty to tax fraud earlier this year, and Netanyahu and his coalition passed a law this week to allow him to serve as a minister despite his conviction. Ben-Gvir was convicted in 2009 of inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization.

Israel’s figurehead president, Isaac Herzog, on Wednesday expressed “deep concern” about the incoming government and its positions on LGBTQ rights, racism and the country’s Arab minority in a rare meeting with Ben-Gvir, one of the coalition’s most radical members. Herzog urged Ben-Gvir to “calm the stormy winds.”

The rules governing holy sites, including Jerusalem’s flashpoint shrine known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and toMuslims as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, would be the same according to the government platform.

Ben-Gvir and other Religious Zionism politicians had called for the “status quo” to be changed to allow Jewish prayer at the site, a move that risked inflaming tensions with the Palestinians. The status of the site is the emotional epicenter of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In an interview with CNN published Wednesday, King Abdullah II of Jordan warned that his country would respond if Israel crossed red lines and tried to change the status of the sacred Jerusalem site, over which Jordan has custodianship.

What’s the big deal? It hasn’t exactly played out as Blinken first planned. This past week in Jerusalem has been particularly violent, after Israeli forces carried out their deadliest raid in the West Bank in years, killing nine Palestinians, including gunmen and a 61-year-old woman. More people were injured.

“In the context of this attack and escalating violence, it’s important that the government and people of Israel know America’s commitment to their security remains ironclad. U.S. support has spanned nearly 75 years. America’s commitment has never wavered.

East Palestine native Jessica Conard spoke at a CNN town hall about how she doesn’t feel safe because she doesn’t know what the future holds. Her comment encapsulated a remarkable and pervasive feeling of mistrust among residents toward assurances by state and federal officials that their air and water are safe.

The epicenter of the environment crisis which arrived on their doorsteps on February 3 is making these Ohioans become political extras for the GOP White House candidates.

Whenever disaster strikes in divided America, toxic politics isn’t far behind, and derailments – like hurricanes, industrial accidents and transportation meltdowns – come with a political scorecard that adversaries leverage to try to damage those in power.

Republicans are using the derailment to claim that while President Joe Biden is lavishing billions on Ukrainians he visited in a daring trip to wartime Kyiv this week, he is neglecting needy Americans back home.

“You are not forgotten,” Trump said after traveling to East Palestine on Wednesday – although lacking the power of his former office, he has more capacity to boost his slow-moving 2024 campaign than to fix the disaster.

The Ohio disaster is also allowing the public a glimpse into the rarely seen Washington duel between regulators and freight firms, which has huge implications for keeping Americans safe as vast trains – some as long as 150 cars, some carrying poisonous chemicals – rumble through towns and cities. Even though he’s posing as a new hero, Trump slashed environmental and safety regulations in office. Huge transportation firms pay lobbyists millions of dollars to loosen safety rules in order to maximize profits, even while rewarding shareholders and avoiding safety.

How Did the Buttigieg Derailment Induced a Chemical Burn-off in Norfolk, South Carolina? Residents in Washington don’t care about the consequences

Republicans are aware of vulnerability. Marco Rubio said Buttigieg needed to be fired because he was an incompetent who was focused on his political future.

Still, perhaps the consequences of the derailment could unlock unusual coalitions in Washington. Conservative Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and progressive Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota are both demanding reforms, for instance. But in Washington, expectations of bipartisan action after a catastrophe often wane as time passes.

The political hypocrisy on show, the sometimes slow moving machinery of a government disaster response, and the complex layers of federal, state and local responsibility make residents question whether they are being heard.

Their concerns are only exacerbated by the fact that hazardous smoke that rose over their homes followed a controlled burn of several wagons containing chemicals, which was ordered by officials to forestall an even worse disaster – a massive explosion.

A train derailed and resulted in a chemical burn-off that has angered many residents of the town.

A response that some thought was sluggish has increased in intensity. The Biden administration is now forcing Norfolk Southern to pay for the clean-up operation and to compensate the government for its expenses.

Many townsfolk distrust the officials who tell them they are not in danger, because they compare the evidence of their own senses to what they are being told.

The War Between Europe and America during the Presidency of the 2001 European Referendum on Climate Change, and a 2016 Post-Disaster Address by Trump

The visit by Trump brought some comfort to people in a region that voted for him, but he was still not a democrat.

“I hope when your representatives and all of the politicians get here, they get back from touring Ukraine, that he has some money left over,” Trump said in East Palestine.

“This is really America right here, because the community has shown the tough and resilient heart of America,” Trump said. We’re standing in America.”

In response, Biden tweeted about the disaster while in Europe, blaming his predecessor’s administration for making it harder to implement rail safety measures and telling residents, “We’ve got your back.”

Trump used a presidential post-disaster visit to buy burgers at a local McDonald’s, and pledges of bottled water from his hotels, in order to polish his own political profile. He bragged about how he had deployed the Federal Emergency Management Agency during his presidency. He didn’t mention the mismanagement that was criticized after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

The Obama rule required trains carrying hazardous materials to be retrofitted with electronically controlled braking systems.

When Trump Met Haley: How He Met Pete Buttigieg and toured Europe, where he learned about the American Civil Liberation Law

Potential and current Republican presidential candidates rushed to catch up with Trump. The former governor of South Carolina asked if Biden should be with people in Ohio. Haley’s attack seemed inconsistent with her vow to be tougher than Biden on Russian President Vladimir Putin. After all, the president traveled to Europe around the anniversary of the Russian invasion to warn Putin would never win the war. Mike Pence said he was glad that Biden went to the Ukranian but he should have visited East Palestine first.

Buttigieg is one of the most famous Transport secretaries of all time, because of his political profile. He was thrust into the spotlight during travel meltdowns in the aviation industry, and the chaos triggered by Southwest’s scheduling nightmare last year.

The people of East Palestine can’t be forgotten nor can they be simply seen as a cost of doing things, which is why Buttigieg wrote in the letter.

“I was focused on just making sure that our folks on the ground were all set but could have spoken sooner about how strongly I felt about this incident and that’s a lesson learned for me,” Buttigieg said on CBS News’ “Red & Blue.”

In his comments, Buttigieg mentioned that he had been respecting the role that the Independent National Safety Board plays in staying out of the way, but promised to be focused on action when he visited East Palestine.

Biden said Friday that he had no immediate plans to visit, but pointed out that administration officials were on the ground within “two hours” of the derailment. A White House note stated that the Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency were coordinating with local agencies and first responders, and that the president was in contact with both Ohio and Pennsylvania’s governors.

The other is political. Republicans were not happy with Biden for going to Ukraine when Russia’s war on the country was just about to a year old.

A small town with a population of less than 5,000 was visited by former President Donald Trump and a group of other conservatives. Trump handed out campaign hats, “Trump”-branded water, and Trump-branded insults of the Biden administration. Then, under political pressure, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made his way there, too, met with local leaders and offered his own rejoinders for the former president.

People in town are concerned about the health of the air and water they drink, even though politicians are in short-term politics.

When EPA Administrator Michael Regan isn’t in Pennsylvania and Norfolk Southern, he asks what the government tells them about the East Palestine disaster

East Palestine is a county that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the presidential election, and conservatives view the community as an example of people the political parties value.

There have been pitched battles in recent years, at a time when the country is in the midst of a political realignment that largely centers on education and geography, over what “real America” is and who “real Americans” are.

Three weeks after the disaster happened, a former Midwestern Mayor named Buttigieg made a trip to East Palestine.

When the leader of the group hasn’t been in Ohio, that’s a big signal that the administration just doesn’t care, according to Rep. Bill Johnson.

“I have spoken with every single major figure in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, so the idea that we’re not engaged is simply not there,” Biden said, noting that he was “keeping close tabs on it.”

EPA administrator Michael Regan, who traveled to East Palestine earlier this month, was sharply critical of Norfolk Southern, the rail company whose train derailed, for not showing up.

“They have to show up, and they have to make amends with this community,” Regan told NPR’s All Things Considered this week. “They caused this mess. They have to clean it up. They need to prove to us and the community that they are genuine in what they have said. Not attending public meetings is not a good way to start.

Asked about a lack of trust in the federal government from the community in the wake of the disaster, Regan invoked the importance of being transparent with residents, providing resources and also being there.

While in town Buttigieg spoke out against rail safety rules but then swatted questions from reporters and tried to stay focused on the substance.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/25/1159382554/in-east-palestine-who-shows-up-isnt-necessarily-a-sign-of-whos-helping

How President Biden Fails to Prevent the Twin Twin Train Scattering: A Comment on Homendy’s Work with the Transportation Safety Board

There is no evidence that would have prevented this train wreck. DOT has been slow to respond and could have reinstituted the rules when Biden became president, but didn’t, according to safety advocates.

Even if that particular rule wouldn’t have prevented this, other safety measures could have, said Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Conservatives who have come to the town for Biden not being in person yet haven’t offered much in the way of real solutions to prevent these disasters in the future, since the industry has fought against any regulations that they might support.

Homendy said, “Enough with the politics.” “I don’t understand why this has gotten so political. This is a community that is suffering. This is not about politics. This is about addressing their needs, their concerns. That’s what this should be about.”

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