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

Everything Netanyahu Says is "Dramatic"
This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he would be giving a "dramatic" speech on live television. This is not the first time this has happened, and quite frankly, the other times were real let-downs. This one was actually interesting.

So Netanyahu basically said that if he is able to form a solid governing coalition with a clear mandate after the upcoming elections, he will immediately move to extend Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area. This plan encompasses at least 30 distinct Jewish communities. Arab villages in the area and the city of Jericho will not be included.

What exactly this means is not completely clear. Additionally, most Israelis always assumed that the Jordan Valley would remain part of Israel regardless of "peace" negotiations because of its strategic importance as the eastern border between Israel and the rest of the Middle East. So why is this important at all? Keep reading!

Some important points to consider about the "dramatic" announcement:

-This is the first time a Prime Minister has ever publicly promised to annex a specific area captured in the Six Day War - except for Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Now the Prime Minister says that he will start with Jordan Valley and continue throughout Judea and Samaria, no more "disengagements", and no one being uprooted from their houses.

-Contrary to the plan for annexing all of Area C, put forward by the Yamina Party (Shaked and Bennett), the arabs living in the area will not be annexed and will not be offered a path to Israeli citizenship/residency at the present time.

-The area is indeed quite geo-politically strategic, but includes a relatively small percentage of Israeli "settlers". Seemingly not a factor in the decision

-The "Blue and White" party, considered on the left, has also voiced support for such a move, just not now and not how Netanyahu is doing it. This basically sums up their entire platform! In fairness, many are skeptical if Netanyahu will actually follow through on this promise. Well, he's definitely worked hard to earn that lack of trust.

-Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly stressed that all this is being done in coordination with President Trump and in line with the soon to be revealed "Deal of the Century". In short, similar to the US Embassy moving and the Golan Heights recognition - this is likely President Trump's decision and he alone will decide.

-Europe and the arabs are outraged - we've all seen this movie for the last 70+ years. But nobody constantly exposes it like President Trump. Making Europe and the arabs looked pathetically irrelevant - just a little talent Trump's got going.

Rockets from Gaza
No only do rockets continue to land in Israel from Gaza, almost on a daily/nightly basis, this week saw Prime Minister Netanyahu taken off stage by his security at a campaign rally in the south because of incoming rocket fire. The Iron Dome successfully shot down the missiles. Some on the left made fun of the Netanyahu for having had to run from the attack. Its a little weird considering their appeasement ideas with the palestinians - we'd be running all day!

Yea, Israel is still bombing Iran and Iranian proxies throughout the Middle East. Someone has to do it.

Final Israel Election Update (at least before the elections take place)

The big news this week is Otzma! According to all recent polls, they will pass the threshold and earn at least 4 seats in the rapidly approaching election. The problem with that is that both Zehut and the Yamin HaChadash parties were also shown in polls to be well above the threshold in the previous election. In the end when all the votes were counted, they didn't get in! Maybe this time will be different...

Moshe Feiglin, leader of the Zehut party, after making an alliance with the Likud, continues to consistently campaign with Prime Minister Netanyahu, seemingly everywhere he goes. Even in the bathroom you can see a smiling Feiglin standing next to Netanyahu. Its awkward, but that's how Feiglin rolls.

Once again, "Noam" is still running. No idea why they think that is a good idea

Greenblatt and Bolton - Out! This past week both Jason Greenblatt (Middle East coordinator for the Administration) and John Bolton (former national security adviser) announced they were leaving the Administration. President Trump was gracious enough to announce it for Bolton on Twitter. He's such a giver, always finding a way to inform and inspire folks.

In all seriousness, Greenblatt and Bolton were two of the most pro Israel advisers a president could ever dream of. They will be missed, but now we will find out if President Trump is simply following their advice or going with his gut.