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 ( 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

You ever notice how they put the milk and eggs in the back of the grocery store so that you have to walk all the way through to get to it? They want you to see and buy other stuff you might not think you need. That's what I'm doing with the Israeli election results in this update. Afterall, I used to work at a grocery store, so not my first rodeo.

Iran Finally Hits a Bullseye
Iran and her proxies in Iraq and Yemen have been shooting at Saudi Arabia for a while now, with minimal results. That losing streak ended this week with numerous direct hits on a large Saudi oil production site. It still remains somewhat unclear exactly where the attack originated (Iraq, Iran or Yemen) and how it was carried out (drones or cruise missiles or both). The main point - Saudi Arabia, a strong American ally, got hit hard by Iran. No way President Trump can let this go. Secretary of State Pompeo has been sent to Saudi Arabia and a response in the near future is expected.

A New (Authorized) CommunityFollowing up on last week's announcement of his intention to annex the Jordan Valley, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet authorized the Jewish Community of Mevo'ot Yericho this week. The community was founded as a farm back in 1999 and has since developed into a community of approximately 40 families. The community is very strategically located right next to Jericho - a relatively large palestinian-controlled city with incredible historical significance that Netanyahu said would not be annexed at this time. These rare kinds of authorizations had historically been harshly condemned by various US State Departments, but these days - not so much. Passed very quietly. Mazel tov to the residents of Mevo'ot Yericho!

Preliminary Israeli Election Results!!!!Ok folks, here we go!
-Soldiers' votes still aren't counted and that normally pushes things slightly rightward to the benefit of Likud and Yamina. How much exactly is "slightly" is pretty significant right now!

With over 90% of the votes counted, here's what we know more or less:

-The two biggest parties, Likud (Netanyahu) and "Blue and White" (Gantz), are basically tied in number of seats won (32)

-"Otzma Yehudit" did not pass the threshold and therefore received zero seats - to the apparent detriment of the right. How could this have happened? Its hard to articulate, but the Religious Zionist community looks today a bit like Walmart on Black Friday. Accusations (punches) being thrown everywhere over important things (think: flat screens) and unimportant things (think: kids toys).

-Everything else pretty much stayed the same

Without Avigdor Lieberman's party ("Yisrael Beiteinu" got 9 seats as of now), the right cannot form a government, unless they can pick up a few more seats from the soldiers and combine with another small party from the left.

Even with Lieberman, the left cannot form a government unless they include all the arabs (4 different parties that combined for the election). Never been done before and very highly unlikely.
So: Either Netanyahu will be able to form a government with his natural allies and someone from the left or more elections. Its theoretically possible that Likud and "Blue and White" could make a government together (as demanded by Lieberman), but also very unlikely.

It could be in Netanyahu's interest for Gantz (of "Blue and White") to be tasked with trying to form a government first and failing and then Netanyahu might have a better chance succeeding in subsequently forming one. Hard to say at this point and still some final touches needed on the numbers of the final election results.

In the meantime, both Netanyahu and Gantz are putting their teams together as if they won. Will be interesting to see who is selected first to try and form the government. That decision belongs to President Rivlin who, although from Likud himself, is a known hater of Netanyahu. For now, Netanyahu stays Prime Minister and, if no one can form a government, he will stay Prime Minister until more elections are held.

As you can probably tell by now and should have been able to tell from past updates, the Israeli political system is quite complicated, as is certainly befitting of a Jewish State.