‘Wonder Woman’ defends Arabs against Netanyahu’s rhetoric

Gal Gadot, above, defended the Israeli-Arab actress against Netanyahu’s attacks on Instagram. (AFP/File)
Updated 11 March 2019
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‘Wonder Woman’ defends Arabs against Netanyahu’s rhetoric

  • Netanyahu adopted a heavily anti-Arab rhetoric for the upcoming campaign
  • The exchange between an Israeli-Arab actress and Netanyahu happened on social media

JERUSALEM: Hollywood star Gal Gadot has leapt to defend a fellow actress who was chided by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for challenging his party’s treatment of Arab citizens.
Netanyahu and his Likud party have been accused of using scare tactics and demonizing Israel’s Arab population ahead of April 9 elections in a bid to motivate their right-wing base.
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” Israeli-born Gadot wrote on Instagram late Sunday after popular Israeli model and television actress Rotem Sela received online abuse from the public and a personal reprimand from Netanyahu.
“This isn’t a matter of right or left. Jew or Arab. Secular or religious,” the “Wonder Woman” star posted.
“It’s a matter of dialogue, of dialogue for peace and security and of our tolerance of one toward the other.”
Sela fired off an angry Instagram post late Saturday after watching right-wing firebrand culture minister Miri Regev on TV.
Regev stated the Likud’s line, warning voters in the April election not to choose its main opponents because if elected it would form an alliance with Israeli Arab parties in parliament — a highly unlikely scenario.
“When the hell will someone in this government convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people were created equal?” Sela wrote.
“Even the Arabs — believe it or not — are human beings, and the Druze and the gays, by the way, and the lesbians and — shock — leftists.”
Netanyahu answered with an Instagram message of his own, addressed to “Dear Rotem.”
“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” he wrote.
“According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and only it.”
He was referring to a deeply controversial law passed last year declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people and downgrading Arabic’s status as an official language.
He returned to the theme at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, where he called Israel a “Jewish, democratic state” with equal rights, but “the nation-state not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.”
Israeli Arabs make up around 17.5 percent of the population.
Netanyahu has continually warned that his opponents will receive the support of Arab parties and that they will make significant concessions to the Palestinians.
Arab parties would be extremely unlikely to be part of any coalition government after elections.
Arab Israelis are Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 creation of Israel and are largely supportive of the Palestinian cause.
Gadot’s message showed a re-post of Sela’s comment in the background.
“Rotem, sister, you’re an inspiration to us all,” she wrote.


UN presents new plan for Yemen pullback from Hodeidah

Updated 19 March 2019
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UN presents new plan for Yemen pullback from Hodeidah

  • The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war
  • The UN envoy's statement did not give a date for the start of the pullback, which would mark the first step towards de-escalation

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations will present a new plan for the pullback of forces from Yemen's flashpoint city of Hodeidah following talks with the government and the Houthis, a UN envoy said Tuesday.
The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
"Following constructive discussions with both parties, there is significant progress towards an agreement to implement phase one of the redeployments of the Hodeida agreement," said a statement from Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy for Yemen.
"Operational details will be presented to the parties in the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) for endorsement shortly," he added.
The UN envoy's statement did not give a date for the start of the pullback, which would mark the first step towards de-escalation.
Griffiths said he "looks forward to the swift endorsement of the plan."
The United Nations announced a deal on the two-stage pullback from Hodeidah city and its ports on February 17, but the redeployment failed to materialize on the ground.
UN diplomats said the Houthis were refusing to pull away from the ports as part of the first stage. 
Griffiths and head of the RCC, Danish General Michael Lollesgaard, have been holding talks with all sides to overcome the final hurdles.
The Red Sea port of Hodeidah is the entry point for the bulk of imported goods and relief aid to Yemen.
The conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world's worst humanitarian conflict.