This Week Today - Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

This Week Today
Current Events from Israel

Chag Sameach! Happy Sukkos to one and all! There are many ways to celebrate this holiday of happiness, but reading this news update is definitely a good one! 

Putin to the Rescue! 
Let's start out with something light. So this Israeli American was arrested in a Russian airport for possession of weed. She had a few grams, not much. However, she was convicted (that's some swift "justice") and sentenced to 7.5 years in prison. Now both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin have officially asked Putin to let her go. He definitely will release her and appear as a benevolent superhero - he's so good at this game! (And also judo. And also poisoning people) 

More Drama in Northern Syria
As was reported extensively in last week's update, Turkey has invaded northern Syria in an effort to expel the Kurdish people/security forces from the area and replace them with arabs. But things could be going better for them. Although Turkish forces successfully crossed the border, they haven't made so much progress. Why not? I'll tell you.

After President Trump ordered American forces pulled out from the area and the Turks immediately invaded, the Kurds made a deal with the Syrian Government for protection. Since then, Syrian military forces have been entering various Kurdish cities to protect them from the Turks. With the Syrians, also come the Russians. And that's what really matters. Now Russian is on a collision course with Turkey. Will Turkey actually take on Russia? Not bloody likely. And therefore, everything will stay more or less the same for now. The Kurds will have a little less independence, like before the Syrian civil war. Turkey will likely have to withdraw and not be able to resettle Sunni Syrian refugees back in Syria. So the two remaining wild cards will be those Sunni Syrian refugees and the thousands of current ISIS prisoners being held in the area. What happens with these two groups could eventually have much more extensive effects in areas far away from northern Syria.

Israeli Coalition Politics
Despite the holiday, the political maneuvering/grandstanding continues. Prime Minister Netanyahu has approximately one week left to either form a coalition government or return the mandate to the President. In this likely eventual mandate return scenario, the President will then give the mandate to the Blue and White party to try and form a government. Its very difficult to see how they could actually do this without the Likud joining in a unity government. Otherwise, the numbers just aren't there. Even if they included the arab parties, it wouldn't be enough without Lieberman or Likud. And neither of those is going to happen.

So then what is possible? Here is a list of some of the rumored possibilities:

1) A unity government between Likud/Blue and White and Lieberman (or without Lieberman)

2) A unity government with Likud/Blue and White and Bennet/Shaked (the New Right). Tonight the two of them refused to sign a Likud produced document that promised to support only a Netanyahu led government. All the other "right-wing" parties signed it. Stands to reason that if Bennett/Shaked and Lieberman had enough seats, they would join with Blue and White and form a coalition. But they don't. They are nowhere near as popular as they strangely seem to think they are. 

3) This one is currently getting the most attention: A unity government between Likud and Gantz, but without Lapid and his party and with the right-wing/religious parties. Of course such an arrangement would include a rotation for Prime Minister and be predicated on Netanyahu stepping down if he is indicted. 

4) And then there is the very not popular option of a THIRD ELECTION!!! 
Now, I don't normally do this, but I'm feeling especially giddy because of the holiday, so I'm going to predict what I think will happen. Consider it a holiday gift from me to y'all:  Gantz won't agree to anything that doesn't include Netanyahu stepping down if he is indicted. I think, and I think Netanyahu also thinks, that he will be indicted. Therefore, its not a real option for Netanyahu to join with Gantz under pretty much any circumstances. Another round of elections, after the indictment, is exactly what Netanyahu might want - the ability to let the people decide, not the leftist judiciary/media. This perhaps also explains why Gantz appears to be softening his negotiating positions - another election might not go well for him, so he needs to try to get the best deal he can get and soon! 

Happy Sukkos!