This Week Tonight - 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 ( and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives ( He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

Its all about diplomacy this past week and a little about elections. Nothing in the north - as previously predicted here. Iran is clearly scared and that's a good thing. Hamas is scared too. If only we could have election season all the time! 

TIPH - You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. Get to steppin'! 

After over 20 years of "patrolling" the streets of the Israeli controlled part of Hevron (3% of the city), Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to not renew TIPH"s mandate when it expires tomorrow. TIPH stands for "Temporary International Presence in Hevron", but really its just a team of people from countries that hate Israel, like Turkey, who can't find any Jews to hate in their own countries, so they came to Israel to do it. And where better than Hevron!! There were 2 incidents in the past year that greatly contributed to TIPH"s impending removal. Both were fortunately caught on camera. One was the legal adviser for the group smacking a 10 year old Jewish resident in the head and the other was another team member popping the tires of a Jewish-owned car. During an election = bad timing for TIPH, great timing for the Jews! 

In an additional development, a separate group that bothers Jews in Hevron has just announced today that they will be pulling out as well. They claim they will no longer feel protected by TIPH. As the country song says: "When it rains, it pours". 

Most importantly for Israel, this removes the only international force legally operating in Judea and Samaria. Norway, formerly one of the TIPH participant countries, is screaming that the removal of TIPH violates the Oslo accords. Not exactly true, but it certainly is a big hit to the "olso" mentality. The palestinian authority is also whining, so there's another sure sign that this is wonderful news.

Diplomacy on Steroids

Fresh off of re-establishing diplomatic relations with the African muslim country of Chad, there were quite a few other diplomatic developments this week:

-reports of a possible upcoming trip of the Prime Minister to Morocco - a much more prominent African muslim country

-announcement that the Prime Minister will be heading to India soon to discuss further cooperation, ie. arms deals

-Brazil and Venezuela.  Just a short time ago, Israel had terrible relations with both. With the election of the new leader of Brazil, ties have improved tremendously. With the current dam collapse disaster there, Israeli rescue forces are operating right now on the ground in Brazil - something almost unthinkable in the past.

In the midst of all the political turmoil in Venezuela, Israel has joined the US in recognizing the opposition leader (Juan Guaido) as the rightful leader of the country. Subsequently, Guaido has promised to send an ambassador to Israel when he is actually in charge. Huge diplomatic "coups" for Israel in S. America. 


-Prime Minister Netanyahu remains under threat of indictment. However, poll numbers have remained basically the same

-Former Chief of Staff Ganz finally gave a speech - probably not the best idea. Now its being reported that his party will be combined with another former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon's party. 

-Alot of fake poll numbers out there - as usual

-In a baffling move, Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Jewish community of Netiv Ha'Avot and met with families whose houses his government recently destroyed. While there, he promised that no additional communities would be destroyed. Shockingly that did not go over so well (heavy sarcasm). The pictures are terrible. Not sure who thought this would be a good idea, but in my opinion, was definitely helpful for Naftali Bennett's party. 

I'm a giver, so I'm going to go ahead and explain the entire meaning of the upcoming election right now - 2 months before the actual election takes place. 

Netanyahu getting indicted may or many not change the entire political field. 

For now, here are the only 2 questions of the election: 

-How many seats can Bennett/Shaked's new party ("HaYamin HeChadash") take from the Likud party. If they can take 3-5 seats, then Bennett will have a justified claim to be appointed Defense Minister. This did not happen in the past when they were with Bayit Yehudi and this is the whole point of their new party  - the potential to go higher. 

-Will Bayit Yehudi  (now without Bennett/Shaked) include the "far-right" parties/leaders in their party. If they do, then the "right-wing" stands to gain 3-4 seats that they have lost in the last few elections. This will also guarantee Bayit Yehudi's entrance to the Knesset, which is currently in doubt according to some polls. 

The people voting for the left are voting for the left (r'l) and those voting for the right for the right. Those numbers won't change. Only the right can form a coalition government. The only questions are how far to the right and who will be in which positions. No big surprises in the making, despite the media and legal community. Americans, sound familiar? 

Stay warm! 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem