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TOPIC: israel

Geopolitics

Should We Still Even Be Talking To Netanyahu?

After forming a governing coalition with right-wing extremists, will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu face a chill in relations with the West? The reshuffled geopolitical cards offer a fair share of paradoxes.

-Analysis-

PARIS — No one has yet dared to call for a boycott of Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived in Paris for talks Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron. And yet ... the political leaders with whom he's built his ruling coalition in Israel make Europe's far right look like centrists.

In Israel, it's an unsettling question. The government is seeking to defuse the risk of diplomatic isolation resulting from the Jewish state's extreme rightward turn. The first weeks of the new government have been like a storm warning for the region — both because of the outbreak of violence which killed dozens of Israelis and Palestinians in January, but also threats to Israeli democracy itself.

In a sign of the changing times, the Arab countries in the Gulf that have recently normalized ties with Israel after decades of conflict are turning a blind eye to the Palestinian question. Their security ties with Israel are more important.

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Top EU Officials In Kyiv, U.S. Philippines Pact, King-less Banknotes

👋 Bone die!*

Welcome to Thursday, where top European officials arrive in Ukraine for talks, Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza, and Australia snubs King Charles on its new banknote. Meanwhile, Claudio Andrade in Buenos Aires-based daily Clarin reports on the armada of 500 fishing boats who gather yearly off the coast of southern Argentina for an "industrial harvest."

[*Sardinian, Italy]

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Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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How A Drone Strike Inside Iran Exposes The Regime's Vulnerability — On All Fronts

It is still not clear what was the exact target of an attack by three armed drones Saturday night on an arms factory in central Iran. But it comes as Tehran authorities appear increasingly vulnerable to both its foreign and domestic enemies, with more attacks increasingly likely.

-Analysis-

PARIS — It's the kind of incident that momentarily reveals the shadow wars that are part of the Middle East. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack by three armed drones Saturday night on an arms factory complex north of Isfahan in central Iran.

But the explosion was so strong that it set off a small earthquake. Iranian authorities have played down the damage, as we might expect, and claim to have shot down the drones.

Nevertheless, three armed drones reaching the center of Iran, buzzing right up to weapons factories, is anything but ordinary in light of recent events. Iran is at the crossroads of several crises: from the war in Ukraine where it's been supplying drones to Russia to its nuclear development arriving at the moment of truth; from regional wars of influence to the anti-government uprising of Iranian youth.

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That leaves us spoiled for choice when it comes to possible interpretations of this act of war against Iran, which likely is a precursor to plenty of others to follow.

Iranian authorities, in their comments, blame the United States and Israel for the aggression. These are the two usual suspects for Tehran, and it is not surprising that they are at the top of the list.

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Geopolitics
Pierre Haski

Nine More Dead In The West Bank — And Israel Still Thinks The Palestinian Question Doesn't Exist

... and it runs much deeper than Benjamin Netanyahu's new government.

-Analysis-

PARIS — The nine Palestinians killed during an Israeli military operation Thursday in the West Bank town of Jenin brings to 26 the number of deaths since the start of the year. This is a clear deterioration of conditions in the Palestinian territories after the year 2022 had already marked the highest number of victims since 2004 with 150 deaths.

This would appear to mark the return of a routine of low-intensity violence if the political context were not so explosive, where we see a new Israeli government in which key positions have been given to representatives of a virulent extreme right, hostile to any agreement with Palestinians, and keen to intensify any crackdowns.

The army sought to make it clear that the number of deaths in Jenin was not due to a change in military doctrine, but to the severity of the clash with members of the extremist Islamic Jihad group.

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In The News
Emma Albright & Ginevra Falciani

Deadly Strikes On Kyiv, Nine Killed In Israel West Bank Raid, Trump’s Meta Comeback

👋 ආයුබෝවන්*

Welcome to Thursday, where Kyiv is facing a new barrage of Russian missiles, Israel troops kill nine Palestinians in Jenin, and Donald Trump is allowed back on Facebook and Instagram. Meanwhile, Niccolò Zancan and Giuseppe Legato in Italian daily La Stampa take us to Campobello di Mazara, the quiet Sicilian village where Italy's most-wanted fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro was hiding in plain sight.

[*Ayubōvan - Sinhala, Sri Lanka]

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Ideas
Marek Halter

An Open Letter To Netanyahu, From A Notable "Jew Of The Diaspora"

The Polish-French writer Marek Halter addresses a letter to Israel’s leader warning him against the undercurrents of his government that threaten the very essence of the Jewish state.

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Geopolitics
Pierre Haski

Why Ben-Gvir's Explosive Visit Is Really Aimed At Netanyahu

Less than a week after being sworn in for the sixth time as Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu was defied by a highly charged visit his far-right coalition ally, Itamar Ben-Gvir, made to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, that has enflamed the entire Muslim world. Netanyahu has a choice to make.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Pick an arsonist to head the fire department and you’re sure to have blazes to fight. That's exactly what is happening in Israel right now, since far-right leader Itamar Ben-Gvir was installed as Minister of National Security.

It didn't take more than a week for the new minister, who had been convicted in the past for incitement to racial hatred, to do what his Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wish he hadn't: to make a visit to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound (a.k.a. Esplanade of the Mosques, or Temple Mount), the third holy site of Islam, and one of the most sensitive spots on the planet.

Ben-Gvir has a clear objective: He wants to challenge the status quo, which exists since 1967, that bans Jews from praying on the esplanade, on which stood their Holy Temple, some 2,000 years ago.

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In The News
Renate Mattar, Emma Albright, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Zelensky’s Whirlwind Trip, Netanyahu’s New Government, Spain’s Hottest Year

👋 Manao ahoana!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky concludes a historic visit to Washington, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu forms a new government after weeks of negotiations with far-right partners, and 2022 was más caliente in Spain. Meanwhile, we look at Donald Trump’s current legal woes and how they look in countries where recent presidents have been prosecuted.

[*Malagasy, Madagascar]

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Green
Pauline Jacot

Negev Terroir? Climate Change Pushes French Winemakers Into Desert Cultivation

More and more French wine growers are interested in the mechanics of growing grapes and producing wine in the world’s most arid regions—like Israel. Climate change is pushing the wine world to imagining all possibilities, including the most extreme.

On his family vineyard in the heart of the Negev desert — a vast expanse of sand and rocks that stretches from Israel’s border with Egypt to its border with Jordan — David Pinto and his team are getting ready to bottle the first white wine of the season.

The last harvest took place two weeks earlier, in September. “We closed out the harvest with two varietals that need more maturation time— Syrah and Muscat Canelli —which we use to make a really special dessert wine,” he explains.

Two years ago Pinto, the CEO of Pinto Winery, launched this adventure into Israeli wine. This year he produced 60,000 bottles, compared to 30,000 in 2021. His rows of vines spread out over ten hectares in this improbable terroir, a triangle amidst the Negev desert’s 13,000 km2 of dry and dusty earth.

“When the first producers set up in this desert 15 years ago, everyone thought they were crazy. Making wine in the desert? Back then people called it a hippie dream, but nobody's saying that anymore,” Pinto says. “There are 300 hectares of vines and 30 producers in the Negev, and the numbers grow every year.”

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This Happened

This Happened—December 9: The First Intifada Ignites

A series of Palestinian protests and violent uprisings in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel began in defiance of Israeli occupation.

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In The News
Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Iran-Israel Proxy War? Israeli Military May Send High-Tech Missiles To Kyiv

Sending Ukraine advanced weaponry would be a response from Israel to reports that Tehran is sending ballistic missiles to Moscow.

Israeli state media corporation Kan 11, citing the head of the National Security Council of Israel, Eyal Hulat, reported that Israel might transfer high-tech missiles to Ukraine if Iran supplies ballistic missiles to Russia.

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The Washington Post reported last month that Tehran could supply such missiles to Moscow, as well as Russia beginning to produce Iranian-designed drones on its own territory. Russia’s Chief of the Defense Intelligence Kirill Budanov stated that Moscow could use Iranian short-range ballistic missiles against Ukraine, which would have no effective means of combating Iranian rockets of this type.

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