This Week Today - Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

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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

The political situation in Israel was all sorted out this week. Just kidding. Not even close! 

“Der Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” - "Man plans and G-d laughs"

This is a Yiddish proverb, but some of our more urban readers may remember it as the name of an album released by the rap group "Public Enemy" a few years back. Either way, it best describes the current situation with President Trump's "Deal of the Century" for peace in the Middle East. After more than 2 years of work on the plan, here's what has happened in the last few weeks:

-Israel still doesn't have a governing coalition since going to elections back in April (in stark contrast to the palestinians who haven't had an election in over 14 years - that's some serious consistency) 

-Jason Greenblatt, one of the main formulators of the plan, has quit, with plans to return to work in the private sector and spend more time with his family-Iran successfully attacked Saudi Arabia and has also hijacked a few oil tankers in the Persian Gulf

-The democrats are opening some kind of impeachment/harassment process against President Trump


Official Israeli Election Results/Current Coalition Negotiations

I will spare you the boring details, but it basically comes down to this:

Need at least 61 to form a governing coalition in the 120-member Knesset

Right: 55

Left: 44

Arabs: 13

Lieberman: 8

The way the process works: The head of each party went this week to the President and recommended which party leader they think should get the first chance to form the next coalition government.

The results of those recommendations:

-55 for Netanyahu (Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yamina)

-54 for Gantz (Blue and White, Labor/Gesher, Democratic Party/Meretz and 10 of

the arabs. 3 of the arabs did not recommend Gantz)

-Lieberman (8 seats) did not recommend anyone (but has publicly insisted on a secular unity gov't between Likud and Blue and White and him)

During this time, simultaneous negotiations have been going on. All the right-wing parties have formed an alliance that requires that they all enter the government together or none of them does. At the same time, Netanyahu/Likud have been negotiating with the Blue and White party, and with the President, about forming a unity government with both parties and a rotating prime minister. You might say that these two possibilities are a contradiction - AND YOU'D BE RIGHT! They can't both happen - just too many folks. It would be a government of almost 90. Something will have to give. 

Barring a dramatic development, as early as tonight, President Rivlin will likely chose current Prime Minister Netanyahu to try to form a coalition government. Even though his party came in second to Blue and White in overall seats won, he has the most support from a combination of parties - by one whole seat. 

There seems to be only 3 "realistic" ways for Netanyahu to successfully form a coalition government of at least 61 seats:

1) Convince Lieberman's party to join (8 seats)

2) Convince the Labor/Gesher party to join (6 seats)

3) Convince at least 6 current members of Blue and White to join with him

If he can't do this or something else to get to a coalition of 61 seats, then Gantz (Blue and White) gets a chance to do it. There are alot of likely reasons why this might not work out for either of them and there may be a need for another election. CRAZY! (in Dave Chappelle's voice) 

There is also another mitigating factor and that is Netanyahu's legal issues. He has a pre-indictment hearing scheduled for Oct. 2 (which is the "Fast of Gedaliah", so safe to assume that the chunky Attorney General will be especially irritable). Unless he can convince the prosecutors not to indict him, some time after that, Netanyahu will be indicted on an assorted list of irrelevant corruption charges. The Prime Minister had hoped to pass a law granting him immunity from such charges, but that looks unlikely at this point. In short, no one has a clue as to what is going to happen! 

And if this all not whacky enough for you, you should take a look over at England! I wouldn't normally recommend that, but like is often true with British comedy, you don't have to really understand what's going on to be entertained. Its like a circus, but the performers all closely resemble stuck-up American country club members. An now the success of those spunky American colonists in the Revolutionary War will make alot more sense as well! 

G-d save the Queen and the rest of us! Happy New Year!