This Week Today: Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

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לבן ריק
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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

We Got Gas. Natural Gas. And Plenty of It!

Israel is becoming an energy superpower! This week, the Israeli Government gave official permission for the "Leviathon" natural gas platform in the Mediterranean Sea to begin pumping natural gas to Egypt. This is Israel's largest business deal with Egypt ever. The last big deal involved manual labor and fell apart when G-d killed the Egyptian firstborns and the Jews left hastily.

Of course an Israeli court just issued a temporary injunction against the pumping. They have to try to ruin anything that is good for the country. Hopefully the court will give up soon and we can start rolling in the dough...and natural gas. So cozy!

Israeli Election Update

That's right folks, as we mentioned last week, Israel will now have another election! It will be the third one this year. The voting is scheduled to take place on March 2. At this time, the various parties are deciding if to run together with other parties and/or who will be their representatives. Tons of fun! Yes, the last election was just a few months ago, but so much has changed. Not really, but still.

Here's a small breakdown of the recent highlights:

-Prime Minister Netanyahu is being challenged for the leadership of the Likud party by Knesset Member Gidon Saar. The vote will take place next week. A few Likud Members of Knesset have come out in support of Saar. Its hard to imagine that Netanyahu could lose, but it was just John Lennon's 39th yahrzeit last week, so go ahead and imagine.

-Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has announced that his party, the "New Right", will be running alone in the upcoming election. This has not made his former partners at "Bayit Yehudi" so happy. Both parties now potentially risk not passing the election threshold to enter the Knesset. "New Right' is polling high, but they always do and then Netanyahu convinces many of them to vote Likud at the last minute. It seems Bennett thinks his current position as Defense Minister and Netanyahu's political weakness will propel his party forward this time. For now, Bennett's former running mate, Ayelet Shaked, is MIA. Where she will end up is anyone's guess.

-In this past election, there was a rotation agreement for leadership within the "Blue and White" party between Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. They have announced there will be no such agreement in the coming election. The possibility of Lapid being Prime Minister at some point was one of the major impediments that kept the ultra-orthodox parties from joining a coalition with "Blue and White". That wont be the hindrance this time.

-As mentioned before, Ayelet Shaked has to decide with whom to run. Main choices are Likud, "New Right" and the religious zionist "Bayit Yehudi" (even though she is not a religious zionist by the standard definition). It is now being reported that Avigdor Lieberman just offered her a high spot with his party, "Yisrael Beiteinu". Quite the sought after lady.

-In the previous 2 elections, "Bayit Yehudi" ran with the "Ichud Leumi" party and an additional party. Last time was with the "New Right". Now that the "New Right" has announced they are running alone, what will these 2 parties do? If they are smart, they will join with the "Otzma Yehudit" party and they will all get in and strengthen the "right". In the last election, "Otzma" was left by themselves and failed to pass the electoral threshold, thus weakening the "right".

-The only other realistic option for "Bait Yehudi" would be to join with "Zehut". However "Zehut" can't decide if they are running or not or who is even in charge anymore. They do say that marijuana causes indecisiveness, so....

A New Chief Prosecutor, Maybe?

Since Israel's Government is a "caretaker government", they are limited in what they can do. Subsequently, many positions have been left vacant, waiting for a more consistent government to appoint candidates. This has gone on for almost a year now and is kindof starting to cause problems. (Although not as many as you might think. Get my drift?)

This week, the acting Justice Minister appointed a temporary chief prosecutor. The old one, the one that investigated and charged Netanyahu, recently finished his term. However, the Attorney General, who feels like he should make all the decisions for the country, doesn't like the Justice Minister's choice. He thought it should be someone else. So there's a good chance this will end up at the Supreme Court, who actually make all the decisions for the country. They will decide who gets the job. It would be so much more efficient to get rid of all the elected positions and just let them make all the decisions initially so we don't have to go through all this nonsense each time. Just sayin'.

Erdogan: Going, Going, Gone Totally Crazy ?

Turkey continues to mimic Iran by picking fights throughout the Middle East. Recently they made an economic agreement with one of the factions claiming to rule Libya. They seem to think this will enable them to reach from Turkey all the way to Libya, by way of the Mediterranean Sea. In short, it appears this guy Erdogan really thinks he's re-establishing the Ottoman Empire. Its more likely he has something similar to "Jerusalem Syndrome" and this will not end well for him. Trust me, I have alot of experience with this.

It was reported this week that Sultan Erdogan has decided to allow Hamas to plan attacks on Israel from Turkey and for Turkey to now be the new center for their terrorist operations. Its hard to envision Israel (or the United States) taking this well. Its been clear for while that Erdogan has been going too far, but this might be the last too far. And Hanukah would be such a perfect time. Happy Hanukah!