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

This Week Today

Current Events from Israel

Iran being Iran

Iran grabbed another oil tanker in the Persian Gulf this week. I guess its not really news anymore. At least until the world finally responds. I guess that time isn't yet. Because so far, not much response. 

In the meantime, Iran has budgeted $30 million a month for Hamas. Part of the deal allegedly is to collect intelligence on Israel. At the same time, they are also negotiating with the Syrian Government to return Hamas offices to Damascus.(They were kicked out when they didn't support Assad in the civil war). In short, Iran ain't sleeping. 

Now Its Our Turn to Build! 

As was reported last week, Israel green-lighted over 700 permits for arab housing in Judea and Samaria. Things get a little murky after that, but here's what we know: 

-Israel had promised to permit 6000 units for Jews in the same area, did that happen or not is a bit of a mystery

-This week the planning commission advanced over 2,000 units for Jews and, of those, final approval was given to over 800. Where all these houses will be built is not being widely reported, but it appears they are mostly in smaller, more strategic communities deeper in Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan Valley. 

-The main focus of these most recent approvals appears to be southeastern (from Jerusalem) Gush Etzion. In that area, approximately 300 units were advanced and an entire community was retroactively legalized. One of the communities currently has 100 families and was just approved for 200 more - quite an increase! 

As has been noted in these updates in the past, it seems clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu's policy has been to consistently significantly strengthen smaller, strategic Jewish communities. Netanyahu recently again promised to never evacuate any Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in the future and these approvals give that claim further legitimacy. As to be expected, Europe and the UN are quite ticked-off. I'm sure Netanyahu cares about what they think about as much as President Trump does - not at all! 

Israeli Election Update/Israeli Legal Deep State

I was totally shocked! At the last second, Otzma Yehudit DID NOT join the "United Right" coalition of parties, led by Ayelet Shaked. The reason: not high enough spots on the list. Justified or not, now the elections have become much more competitive. Why? Since the polls (always wrong) are predicting it will be very close between the "left" and the "right" as to which side can form a functioning coalition government with at least 61 seats of the 120-member Knesset (Parliament), anything that costs one side possible seats is a big deal. If Otzma and Zehut, both right-wing and both running on their own, don't pass the electoral threshold of 3.25% (4 seats) then that will cost the right-wing dearly. If they both quit or even one of them gets in, a right-wing government should easily be formed (not according to the polls, but according to me and basic common sense, ie. the last election results that were just a few months ago)

Also this week, yair lapid of the "Blue and White" party released a video against the Hasidic ultra-orthodox party leader that many in his own party thought was anti-Semitic. Will definitely help the ultra-orthodox to rally support. Way to go Lapid! He was also a team player back in the army, just ask his fellow "warriors" at the army radio station. 

Meanwhile, the left-wing legal establishment is working hard to try to torpedo the right. So far they have planned indictments against the head of the Shas party, the head of the United Torah Judaism party, Minister of Welfare and Social Services Haim Katz of the Likud and, of course, Prime Minister Netanyahu. Some poor guy, Gal Hirsch, just joined Likud last week and already got threatened with indictment this week. Even the germans would be impressed with that kind of efficiency. 

Israeli Police Clowns

Speaking of the Israeli police...They don't always look so good in these updates and there will not be an exception today. This week an arab resident of Jerusalem filed a police complaint against the police and wait until you hear why. The Israeli police recently made a TV series of their law and order efforts in Jerusalem - think of the American classic "COPS" or more likely "Reno 911".  However, it came out this week that in one of the episodes where the police find an assault rifle in an arab's basement - they planted it! At least the arab wasn't charged! Now he says that people recognized him in the show and they think he's either a terrorist or a police informant - not sure which he considers worse. There are now suspicions that more of the episodes are staged as well. They have all been taken down for the time being. In the meantime, the police have apologized, which is more than we ever get from them in the Old City of Jerusalem.