I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend – and took a moment to be thankful for the freedoms sacrifice have wrought.
Over here, there has been a ton of news occurring.
We'll pick up where President Obama said earlier, and now the U.S. State Department has joined him, in making it clear that both the status of Jerusalem, as agreed with previous Israeli Governments, will be determined by negotiation and that settlement activity of any nature must stop. Then we have the statements made by Israeli Prime Minister that Jerusalem will remain under Israeli control forever, and that Israel will not freeze construction in settlements.
But this wasn't the only diplomatic oddity for Israel internationally… just as the controversial Avigdor Liberman was departing for Russia, the Russian Foreign Minister met with the Hamas leader Khaled Mashal. That didn't go over too well with Israel's Foreign Ministry, but they kept things quite so as not to preempt the meetings in Moscow.
Back home in Israel the government is also headed for a clash as the Labor Party has threatened to pull itself from the coalition government if the so called Loyalty Bill connected with the Nakba is passed.
A ministerial committee in charge of legislation has recommended that the bill (sponsored by Mr. Liberman's party) be passed. This means that an individual could be sent to prison for participating in what is called the Nakba (or Catastrophe), which is the Palestinian observance of mourning that counters the celebrations of the creation of the State of Israel. The idea is to memorialize the displacement of the estimated 750,000 displaced Palestinians as Israel was created.
History aside, the issue is that of one's right under democracy to peacefully assemble, protest, or commemorate.
But this bill is not the only thing threatening Mr. Netanyahu's government – two other parties in his Coalition (Lieberman's Yisrael Beytenu and Shas) are threatening to leave if he heeds Obama's call and halts Settlement activity in the West Bank.
It may be in fact Mr. Lieberman, who made this Netanyahu coalition possible, is pressuring it all to come undone. If one of these parties leaves the ruling coalition it could spell the beginning of the end of Mr. Netanyahu's government and we'll be right back to where we were about a year ago – the doorstep of new elections.
Middle East Corespondent