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 

Hope everyone had a Happy Hanukah! Unfortunately, our enemies did not use the time for vacation purposes and the "African Intifada" in America is continuing in full force. Iran as well continued their terror work with the intensity that could have been better served devouring kosher Hanukah doughnuts. 

Iran attacks the US, US returns fire, Balagan! 
It was only a matter of time before Iran and/or their proxies directly targeted American forces stationed in the Middle East. And now it has happened. Recently, a military base in Iraq with US forces was struck by multiple rockets . One US citizen was killed and US soldiers were wounded. In response, the US bombed an Iranian proxy responsible for firing the rockets. At least 25 terrorists were killed, including a senior commander. Now, the US embassy in Baghdad has been besieged by pro-Iranian protesters. The protesters were able to breach the outer security zone, but unable to enter the embassy. The Iraqi security didn't do a great job (shocker!), but the American security did and continues to prevent any takeover. Now President Trump has sent additional forces to guard the embassy and plans to possibly send another 750 US soldiers to provide long-term security. As always, Iran is talking all kinds of smack. If they were smart they would see the clear difference between this and Benghazi and let things calm down. Little chance of that happening! But as of now, protesters have left the area. Nothing a few groups of US Marines can't accomplish! 

The Leviathan is Pumping! 
Despite some delays, the Leviathan natural gas field off the coast of Israel successfully tested their pumping this week and has now begun to pump natural gas out of the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Pumping has already started to Israel and Jordan and will start to Egypt and eventually also to Europe in the next few weeks. There are estimated to be over 600 billion cubic meters of natural gas down there. Israel will no longer use coal at all. If the environmentalist weren't such leftists, they would be rejoicing about this, but alas. Anyway, Israel is now an "energy superpower". I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds great! Most important is that Israel is no longer reliant on any other nation for energy and that is one heck of a Hanukah present! 

Prime Minister Netanyahu Goes for Immunity
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced, just hours before the Wednesday midnight deadline, that he will ask the Knesset to grant him immunity from prosecution until the end of his political career. The request alone will delay legal proceedings by at least 3 months. By then, it will be after the next elections and things could be very different. The request was delayed until the last minute to try to minimize negative campaign coverage, but was certainly expected. 

Israeli Election Campaign Update
-Despite his legal woes, Prime Minister Netanyahu easily defeated Member of Knesset Gidon Saar in a primary vote to maintain his leadership of the Likud party. This was not surprising at all. 

-The National Union party, let by Betzalel Smotrich, has been very quiet since the recent merger of Bayit Yehudi and Otzma Yehudit was announced. In his first statement about the merger, Smotrich said that his joining the partnership is not guaranteed and that he expects concessions. Makes sense, but the merger will happen. National Union has no one else to partner with and is nowhere near passing the electoral threshold on their own. The only other possibility for National Union is to join with the "New Right" of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. Not likely at all, but would be darn interesting. 

-Speaking of the "New Right", they are is discussions with remnants from the former liberal, free-market, right-wing "Zehut" party on working together. They will have to combine with something after previously clearing the electoral threshold when they ran alone in the past. 

-Left-wing candidate Stav Shafir, who is chairwoman of the Green Party, can't seem to decide what she wants to do. At this point, she is negotiating with Democratic Union to possibly merge with them. However, previously she had said that her Green Party would run alone. Very little chance that she passes the electoral threshold alone, so they'll probably work it out. 

Tourism Bonanza! 
Israel finished the year with an 11 percent increase in tourism. Approximately 4.5 million tourists visited Israel in 2019. Those tourists brought in about $7 billion to the Israeli economy. That is some serious Hanukah gelt! When asked how Israel will handle the ever-rising number of tourists without the necessary infrastructure improvements, Israelis universally and characteristically responded: "Yehiye b'seder" - "it will be fine".