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There is little the US can do to prevent Israel’s policies from being its undoing

Commentary: In reaffirming unbreakable US-Israel bond, Obama put this dilemma on the table.
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US President Barack Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum on March 22, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
OWL’S HEAD, Maine - Until just before President Obama bade farewell to Prime Minister Netanyahu, it was looking as if Obama's visit to Israel and the West Bank had been the proverbial dog and pony show, Obama-style: long on verbiage, short on results. But in fact, the Turkish-Israeli rapprochement that he worked out at Tel Aviv airport was a significant accomplishment. It addressed the break in Israel-Turkey diplomatic relations when nineTurkish activists sailing to Gaza were killed by Israeli commandos the year before the Arab world exploded.

Chatter: Israel votes

The polls are open in Israel's parliamentary elections, France and Germany celebrate 50 years of friendship, and fake boyfriends are on the rise in China.
Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
The polls are open in Israel's parliamentary elections, France and Germany celebrate 50 years of friendship, and fake boyfriends are on the rise in China.

Israel: Netanyahu coalition crumbles over conscription law

JERUSALEM — Israel’s broad coalition government, established only 10 weeks ago, has collapsed over the issue of conscription for ultra-orthodox young men. With social protests on the rise, the right wing maneuvering for future elections and the center looking for a clear direction, Netanyahu now finds himself crushed between two incompatible political imperatives: the majority of his citizens on the one hand, and the religious minority who ensure his government's majority on the other.

Netanyahu's AIPAC speech: Israel determined to stop nuclear Iran (VIDEO)

"Iran claims that it's enriching uranium to develop medical research. Yeah, right," said the Israeli prime minister. "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it?"

Florida primary: The view from Israel

JERUSALEM — Eyes filmed with exhaustion and undisguised envy gazed to Florida, where a “real primary” was underway, while Israel’s political correspondents were obliged to cover the Monopoly-like Likud party primary on Tuesday.

Natan Eshel: Netanyahu's chief of staff embroiled in sex scandal

Natan Eshel has been accused of harassing a female staffer in Israel.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on during the weekly cabinet meeting in his offices on Dec. 25, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. Netanyahu has so far not commented on the sex scandal of his Chief of Staff Natan Eshel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Israel’s attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, is investigating a claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Natan Eshel, harassed and stalked a female colleague.

More from GlobalPost: Israel welcomes EU ban on Iran's oil

The woman, so far only identified as “R,” is said to have initially reported Eshel’s behavior two months ago while on a business trip to the United States during which Eshel is accused of following her, spying on her text messages and harassing her.

The woman reported the behavior to several colleagues within the prime minister’s office in real time, but declined to press charges. Her co-workers, who have not publically identified themselves but are said to include such senior officials as the prime minister’s military attaché, Maj. Gen. Yochanan Locker, and cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser, decided to alert the attorney general to their concerns.

More from GlobalPost: Israeli official denies plans to attack Iran's nuclear facilities

Netanyahu was not informed of the suspicions in order to “distance him from the affair,” according to Ha’aretz, Israel's largest daily newspaper.

Tension is running high in the prime minister’s office, where several members of the senior staff have already been questioned, according to the Israel radio reporter who broke the story Thursday morning. According to most reports, neither Eshel nor the woman are among those queried so far.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel published a letter sent to Netanyahu Thursday that demanded, in light of the gravity of the accusations, that the prime minister immediately suspend Eshel. Netanyahu has so far not commented on the case.

More from GlobalPost: Israel: Official blames lack of faith for casualties in Second Lebanon War


In Israel, election season comes early

Elections are 18 months away, but new- (and old-) comers alike throw their hats into the ring daily.
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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is comforted by Yair Lapid as he speaks during the funeral of Lapid's father, Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, a former cabinet member and journalist who succumbed to cancer at the age of 77 the day before, on June 2, 2008 in Tel Aviv. (Avi Ohayon/Getty Images)

Elections seem to be in the air in Israel, with new- (and old-) comers throwing their hats into the ring daily, even though the actual polling date, at least on paper, remains 18 months away.

Increasingly, Israeli political analysts anticipate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will call for early elections, possibly as soon as six months from now, thus upending the electoral schedule currently calling for elections in late 2013.

Last month, in a surprise announcement, Netanyahu announced that his party’s primary election — a one-day affair in Israel — will take place later this month. Most observers agreed it was a successful gambit to cancel out a possible challenge by former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who was left with little time to prepare a serious campaign.


Netanyahu makes another public relations mishap

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized for shameless self-promotion.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel marked the first anniversary of a tragedy in which 44 firefighters were killed in a forest fire on the Carmel Mountain outside Haifa, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again stumbled into the prickly bramble of a public relations misadventure.

Neither Interior Minister Eli Yishai nor Netanyahu were expected at the event, which was attended by numerous family members of the dead firefighters. Over the past year both leaders have been roundly criticized for mishandling the inferno, which eventually required help from foreign countries before being vanquished.

Israeli media report that Netanyahu and Yishai decided to attend the event at the last minute, after learning that opposition leader Tsippi Livni was planning on participating.

More from GlobalPost: Netanyahu: The shameless scene stealer

Reading from a text prepared by the Office of the Prime Minister, Dan Kaner, a well-known radio announcer who was serving as the event’s host, praised the prime minister for “being the first to realize the seriousness of the event, and the first to respond and care for the families.” Further laudatory encomiums — and awkwardness — ensued.


Sarkozy overheard telling Obama: Netanyahu's a liar

"I can't stand Netanyahu, he's a liar," the French president told his US counterpart.

Netanyahu: Shameless scene-stealer

JERUSALEM — The Israeli media compares prime minister to Forrest Gump after he laughably inserted himself into pictures taken of Gilad Shalit.
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