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TOP STORIES TODAY

Israel to hold fourth election in two years as political crisis grinds on (The Guardian) 

Oliver Holmes writes: "Israel has tumbled into a fourth round of elections within the space of two years after efforts to keep a fractious coalition government intact failed."

"Beset by infighting and distrust, the government was unable to pass a budget by a midnight deadline on Tuesday (10pm GMT), triggering a snap election next March and lurching the country back into a protracted political crisis."

"A general election, likely to take place on 23 March, could lead to a significant shift in the makeup of Israel’s political parties – one that may hurt Netanyahu’s chances. A key figure from his Likud party, Gideon Saar, broke from the faction earlier this month. The former Netanyahu protege turned rival made an attempt last year to oust Israel’s longest-serving leader in a primary."

"Israel’s centrist and left-leaning parties have largely been sidelined, meaning whoever leads Israel’s next government is expected to continue to take a hard line on the continuing occupation over Palestinians."
The IHRA censors Palestinians by design, not by accident (Vashti)

Ben White writes: "What constitutes ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ criticism of Israel is determined by individuals who believe BDS and discussion of Israeli apartheid to be beyond the pale."

"Last month, Palestinian and Arab scholars expressed profound concern at how a working definition of antisemitism (WDA) adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is being 'applied, interpreted and deployed in several countries of Europe and North America'."

"...the Institute for National Security Studies, a prominent Israeli think tank, has recommended that the Israeli government 'work strategically, hand-in-hand with Brussels and member states to counter delegitimisation efforts targeting Israel, by encouraging additional European states to endorse and enforce the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism'."
Shin Bet Agent Shoots at Israeli Driver in West Bank, After Mistaking Him for a Terrorist (Haaretz) 

Yaniv Kubovich and Hagar Shezaf write: "A Shin Bet security service agent mistakenly shot at an Israeli driver in the West Bank Tuesday, believing he was attempting a car-ramming attack. The driver was unhurt. The army said it was investigating the incident."

"The incident began when the driver, the resident of a nearby settlement, hit a Palestinian car at a checkpoint and continued to drive, at high speed."

"A Shin Bet agent fired two bullets at the vehicle, hitting the windshield. He stopped firing when the driver stopped, got out of his car and shouted at the security forces that he is Jewish."
Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Dell join legal fight against Israeli spyware firm NSO (Times of Israel) 

"Tech giants Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Dell on Monday joined Facebook in a legal fight against an Israeli spyware firm, filing a brief in an American court accusing the NSO Group of having 'powerful, and dangerous' technology."

"On Sunday, cybersecurity watchdog Citizen Lab reported dozens of journalists at Al-Jazeera, a Qatari state-owned media company, were targeted by advanced spyware, in an attack likely linked to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."

"Citizen Lab said it traced malware that infected the phones of 36 journalists, producers, anchors, and executives at Al-Jazeera back to the NSO Group."

"Most unnerving to the investigators was that iMessages were infecting targeted cellphones without the users taking any action."

GO DEEPER

A Covid Christmas in Palestine (The Nation)

Joseph Gedeon writes: "Palestinians have been living under lockdown and curfew for decades. The coronavirus has only added to their troubles."

"In some ways, Palestinians in the occupied territories have been conditioned for the curfews and travel restrictions that have attended the pandemic, considering the decades-long closures, curfews, Israeli-army-enforced blockades, land seizures, settlement expansions, and other abuses that govern their daily lives."

"But the virus has intensified these struggles, fracturing an economy that, in the West Bank, at least, had been steadily improving."
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