O’Rourke Calls Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu ‘Racist’

Rabbi Steven Wernick CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Netanyahu will be on track to surpass founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel's longest-serving prime minister should he win on Tuesday.

The veteran right-wing Israeli leader, who has dominated Israeli politics for a generation, is fighting for his political survival against former top general Benny Gantz, a political novice campaigning on a centrist platform.

Polls have indicated a close race, though Netanyahu's Likud Party is expected to have a better chance than Gantz's Blue and White slate to form a ruling coalition.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman disagreed with O'Rourke's take on Netanyahu.

The Democrat was in Iowa over the weekend to drum up support for his run for president when a voter asked him to comment on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, CNN reported.

O'Rourke instead advocated for a two-state solution and said that Netanyahu has sown division throughout Israel, because he has "joined forces with far-right parties who are inherently racist in their speech and the way that they want to treat their fellow human beings in that part of the world".

However, ways to revive the moribund peace process have not been a main subject of electoral debate.

Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since 2014, when a US-brokered attempt to reach a deal collapsed.

Netanyahu - whose current coalition has a razor-thin majority of 61 seats and is composed of five parties - has made last-minute appeals to the right, issuing a deeply controversial pledge to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

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Blue and White's campaign platform refers to "separation" from the Palestinians but does not specifically mention them having a state.

Erdogan went on to say: "Every action of Israel since 1948 is illegal".

He also promised to permanently maintain full control over security in the entire West Bank.

The settlements are illegal under worldwide law, though Israel disputes this. Peace talks with Israel have been frozen since 2014.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing in three cases of alleged bribery and fraud, but the allegations could cloud his political future and that of any government he might head, possibly leading to a new election.

Israel's religious Haredi population is over a million-strong. Netanyahu's claims that Likud may lose were widely seen as a way to ensure his base of supporters turn out to vote.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and a close aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: "Israel will continue to brazenly violate global law for as long as the worldwide community will continue to reward Israel with impunity, particularly with the Trump Administration's support and endorsement of Israel's violation of the national and human rights of the people of Palestine".

He also calls for a third Jewish temple to be built on the contested holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, which is the location of the al-Aqsa mosque.

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