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Pro-Israel Parties in Commanding Position Following Shock Election Result in Netherlands

Dutch politician Geert Wilders of the PVV Party. Photo: Reuters/Yves Herman

Pro-Israel parties found themselves in a commanding position on Thursday morning following the prior day’s elections in the Netherlands which resulted in the country’s main far right leader winning a plurality of votes.

“The PVV can no longer be ignored,” Geert Wilders — leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) and a veteran campaigner against migration — said as his party headed to win 37 of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament in the surprise outcome. “We will govern.”

Wilders is a vocal supporter of Israel. Following the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel, he has backed Israel’s military response, declaring in one recent tweet that “Hamas needs to be eliminated. We have to fully support Israel and the Jewish people!”  He has also advocated moving the Dutch Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has described the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as a Palestinian state already in existence.

However, concerns about renewed conflict in the Middle East and rising antisemitism at home were far from the minds of Dutch voters on Wednesday, the Dutch Jewish news outlet Jonet observed in an editorial on Thursday.

“Jewish topics such as antisemitism, the Middle East conflict, ritual slaughter, or Jewish special education did not play a major role in the 2023 parliamentary election campaign,” the editors wrote. “This makes sense, because Jews in the Netherlands only form a group of 40,000 residents and because many non-Jews are not engaged with these subjects either. Partly because the previous cabinet fell on the failed asylum agreement, migration became the main subject of the campaign. Coincidentally, the parties who want a stricter and fairer migration policy are also more pro-Jewish and pro-Israel.”

A government led by Wilders is far from guaranteed, as the PVV needs at least 39 more parliamentary seats to form a ruling coalition. One option, as Jonet pointed out, would bring the PVV together with three other parties with pro-Israel records.

The three parties are the BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB — “Farmers and Citizens Movement”), the New Social Contract (NSC), and the centrist People’s Party (VVD).

The tally of seats for the BBB — a populist party with an agrarian base — rose from one to seven. According to Jonet, the party is “pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli” and has endorsed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism which includes several examples of anti-Zionism. The center-right NSC, launched only last August, increased its share from one seat to 20; party leader Pieter Omtzigt “was known as pro-Jewish and pro-Israel with his voting behavior in the parliament,” Jonet said.

The VVD, led by Dilan Yesilgöz, decreased its share of seats by 10, ending up with 24. Yesilgöz has been a consistent supporter of Israel and may be tempted to work with Wilders. On Thursday morning, she told the Dutch broadcaster NOS that she would not rule out joining a PVV-led government. “We really need to let it sink in and see what exactly happened and what the voters said,” she said of the surprise result. “We are not there yet.”

Wilders’ success marks a historic moment for Europe’s far right, anti-migration parties. While they have triumphed electorally in recent years in many parts of eastern Europe, including Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, western Europe had proved more elusive until Wilders’ breakthrough on Wednesday.

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Russia Extends Invitation to Palestinian Factions for Talks in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

i24 NewsRussia has extended invitations to various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, for discussions on the Israel-Hamas conflict and broader issues in the Middle East.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov announced the initiative on Friday, highlighting Moscow’s desire to engage with all major players in the region amid heightened tensions.

The invitation included a dozen Palestinian groups and is slated for “inter-Palestinian” talks scheduled to commence on February 29.

Bogdanov, serving as President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East, emphasized the inclusivity of the invitation, stating, “We invited all Palestinian representatives — all political forces that have their positions in different countries, including Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.”

Among the invitees are Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, alongside representatives of Fatah and the broader Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The invitation comes at a critical juncture as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to escalate, drawing international attention and concern. Russia’s proactive stance in convening discussions reflects its growing criticism of Israel and its Western allies, underscoring Moscow’s efforts to assert its influence in the region.

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Netanyahu: Those Who Want us to Desist from Rafah Op Are Telling Us to Lose

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 28, 2023. Photo: ABIR SULTAN POOL/Pool via REUTERS

i24 NewsHamas drops its “delusional” demands, productive hostage talks could begin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, stressing Israel would not agree to the terror group’s current demands.

WATCH: PM Netanyahu delivers a statement after Hamas suspended negotiations

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 17, 2024

“I insist that Hamas should abandon its delusional demands – and when it does, we will be able to move forward,” Netanyahu said in a statement live on TV.

“Those who want us to desist from the Rafah operation,” the leader said in an apparent reference to the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden, “are telling us we should lose. We won’t be dictated to.”

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Iran Unveils New Air Defense Weaponry

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani speaks at a press conference during the unveiling of a new surface-to-surface 4th generation Khorramshahr ballistic missile. Photo: Reuters/West Asia News Agency

i24 NewsIran demonstrated new weaponry on Saturday, including what it said was the locally made Arman anti-ballistic missile system and the Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system, said the official IRNA news agency. Saturday’s unveiling ceremony of the two vehicle-mounted systems was held in the presence of Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani.

“With the entry of new systems into the country’s defense network, the air defense capability of the Islamic Republic of Iran will increase significantly,” said IRNA.

Video of the new Azarakhsh SHORAD engaging a target drone

It’s radar has a detection range of 50km, with 25km for it’s EO/IR suite

— Iran Defense|نیروهای مسلح جمهوری اسلامی ایران (@IranDefense) February 17, 2024

The Arman missile system is said to be able to “simultaneously confront six targets at a distance of 120 to 180 km,” while the Azarakhsh missile system “can identify and destroy targets up to a range of 50 km with four ready-to-fire missiles.”

The announcement comes amid tensions across the Middle East, with Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis attacking vessels linked to the United States, UK and Israel in the Red Sea in a show of solidarity with the Gaza Strip.

Iran unveils domestically-manufactured Arman anti-ballistic missile and Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system

— Press TV (@PressTV) February 17, 2024

The U.S. and its allies in the Middle East are concerned with Iran’s growing role at the international global arms market, The Wall Street Journal said on Friday. The transformation of the industry, boosted by Russia’s “purchase of thousands of drones that altered the battlefield in Ukraine, has helped Tehran scale up its support of militia allies in Middle East conflicts,” read the report.

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