Ready to bring down Netanyahu, ex-general stirs hope of change

Former Israeli Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
Updated 09 February 2019
0

Ready to bring down Netanyahu, ex-general stirs hope of change

  • The retired general boasts of killing Palestinian militants and aligns himself with political hard-liners

JERUSALEM: Former military chief Benny Gantz has burst onto Israel’s political scene as the great hope of the country’s shrinking “peace camp” with a message that is anything but dovish.

The retired general, who wants to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April 9 elections, boasts of killing Palestinian militants and aligns himself with political hard-liners. He fires back at Netanyahu’s criticism with scathing counterattacks.

In today’s Israel, Gantz’s ready-to-rumble rhetoric appears to be the only way to bring down the long-serving Netanyahu. That is turning him into an unlikely source of hope for Israelis who view ending their country’s rule over the Palestinians, now in its 51st year, as a priority.

Yossi Beilin, an architect of the 1993 interim peace accords with the Palestinians, said fear of another Netanyahu term is driving much of the support for Gantz. He called Gantz a “black dove” — an imperfect but tolerable alternative to Netanyahu.

“Not that I agree with everything he says, but many of the things he is saying are OK from my point of view,” Beilin said.

Opinion polls forecast victory for Netanyahu’s Likud Party. But since Gantz’s recent maiden political speech, his new “Israel Resilience” party has emerged as No. 2.

The race could swing in the challenger’s favor. Netanyahu faces possible indictment in a series of corruption investigations, perhaps before the elections. Meanwhile, Gantz is reportedly exploring mergers with other centrist parties.

Gantz appears to be modeling himself after Ehud Barak and the late Yitzhak Rabin — former military chiefs-turned-prime ministers. Both used military credentials to lead security-obsessed Israel to peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Wary of being branded a “leftist,” considered a put-down by many Israelis, Gantz has said little about his vision of peace with the Palestinians. He dresses his rhetoric in security terms as he tries to win support from Netanyahu’s nationalist base.

In his January speech, Gantz bragged about assassinating Ahmed Jabari, a former Hamas military commander whose death in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip sparked an eight-day war in 2012.

“The heads of the terrorist organizations need to know that Ahmed Jabari was not the first, nor may he be the last,” Gantz warned.

Without giving details, he vowed to “strive for peace” and — if that is impossible — to shape a “new reality.” He said he’d strengthen West Bank settlement blocs and retain control of the Jordan Valley, a strategic section of the occupied West Bank the Palestinians seek as the heartland of a future state.

The UN has said about two-thirds of more than 2,100 Palestinians killed in the 2014 war were civilians. 

 

 


New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

Updated 26 April 2019
0

New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

  • The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July
  • Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues

RABAT: The Moroccan government on Thursday announced a “new social deal” with employers and the main labor unions, under which many workers will enjoy a pay rise.
The deal agreed by the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three main unions — the UMT, UGTM and UNMT — is the fruit of months of negotiations
The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July, except for the agricultural sector.
Government-paid family allowances will also rise.
Meanwhile public sector workers will be given a 300-500 dirham monthly pay increase over three years.
Of Morocco’s main trade unions only the Democratic Labour Confederation has not signed the social deal which, according to the government statement, is aimed at “improving spending power and the social climate.”
Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues, in particular health and education in the north African country which has been hit by protests over employment and corruption.
Mohammed VI pointed to social support and social protection programs that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”
After months of stalemate, the dossier was handed to the interior ministry at the beginning of the year and the final rounds of talks were held.
The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.
Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2018, it was ranked 123rd out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index.