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 (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

This Week Today

Current Events from Israel

This week I'm writing the update a little earlier in the day so that we can meet a deadline for a newspaper to publish it in Florida. As I know this news update is the highlight of many people's week, please adjust your schedules accordingly. Daylight savings gave you one hour, I'm giving you many more!  

The Middle East Takes Steps Back from the Brink, Except Iran

After much drama last week, this week saw everyone kind of reflecting on last week's action - protests in Iraq and Lebanon, the US elimination of ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi, and other violent drama in northern Syria. All of these things continue to reverberate around the region, but no major changes this week. However, its important to point out that protests are continuing, including more protesters killed in Iraq and that former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has so far refused to return to his post after resigning last week, despite strong Hezbollah pressure to do so. I think he's done with all this. Keep in mind that he's not doing it for the money. The man has financial resources. He recently paid/gifted a "girlfriend" $16 million and that's alot more than Pretty Woman Julia Roberts could have ever even dreamed of! 

Crazy Iran Can't Take Even a Short Break

An notable exception to this pause is Iran. Like all psycho messianic cults, the Iranian mullahs refuse to take any break from their evil schemes. This week they took dramatic steps forward in their mission to obtain nuclear weapon capabilities. Will this finally be the last straw that causes Israel to attack? Not clear, but there has been a lot of public military preparation in Israel over the past few weeks and its been exclusively attributed to the potential Iranian threat. 

In addition to their nuclear activities, Iran is being blamed for a barrage of rocket directed at Israel this past Shabbat. Most of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, but one landed next to a house in Sderot. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries. Reports attribute the rocket fire to a rogue Islamic Jihad group that coordinates directly with Iran. Israel claims to hold Hamas responsible for any rocket fire from Gaza, but has so far decided that now is not the time to seriously respond. 

Israeli Coalition Government Negotiations Continue

Another week has passed since Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party was given the 28-day mandate by President Rivlin to try and form a coalition government. The first week, Gantz set up numerous meetings, none of which ended with any public success. This week, not so much. Some meetings have taken place, including with members of Prime Minister Netanyahu's "right-wing bloc of 55". Nothing to show. He still has 2 weeks left, but if there is hope for success, they are keeping it very quiet. 

Of course, we are still waiting on the Attorney General's decisions on whether to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu on corruption charges. There are conflicting reports that perhaps these decisions will be made soon or perhaps not until well into December. In the meantime, this week saw Netanyahu's side accusing the police/prosecution of all kinds of misconduct. Its probably all true, but no one will care. Never take the Bill of Rights for granted! Just like no one really knows when those decisions are going to be made, no one knows what is going to eventually happen with the government. Nonetheless, this is Israel, so let's speculate (like Israelis do with directions) on a few possibilities: 

-After consultations with Ayelet Shaked, Avigdor Lieberman will join a narrow right-wing government coalition. There would likely have to be compromises by Lieberman, the ultra-Orthodox and Netanyahu for this to happen. 

-During the additional and final 21 days after Gantz's mandate had ended, the right will be able to pull over some members of Blue and White to form a coalition government. (This could potentially also coincide with an indictment of Netanyahu and his ouster as the head of the Likud - that would seemingly make things much easier)

-Gantz will compromise and join a unity government together with Likud which would see Netanyahu continuing as Prime Minister for at least the next year/until he is indicted. Netanyahu, at this point, still promises to bring along all of his "right-wing bloc" with him to such a government. 

-A THIRD ELECTION!!! 

Prisoners

There is a strange situation of prisoners right now and its not clear if there is any actual connection between them, but here's what it is:

-Israel is holding a hacker who is wanted in the US and who Russia wants freed. Israel has promised to extradite the hacker to the US. 

-Russia has imprisoned a former Israeli soldier/American citizen on drug charges. Her current sentence for possession of a small amount of marijuana is 7.5 years. Israel wants her freed. President Trump has been uncharacteristically quiet about the whole thing. Probably because he is a Russian mole. Lol. Just kidding. 

-Russia is also holding an Israeli missile they found in Syria. No chance they will return that. 

-Israel was holding 2 Jordanian citizens who attempted to enter Israel. Israel claims there they are involved in terror plots. However, Israel just released them back to Jordan today. 

-America has just dramatically increased the reward offered for information on a (Jewish) former CIA operative who went missing in Iran years ago. Its now at $25 million. I guess if it worked with al-Baghdadi....$25 million buys alot of doggie treats! 

And don't go to Mexico, the violence there is out of control! Someone should build a wall.....3 Mexican tourists were just stabbed in Jordan. It would be cool if it was Mormon revenge for the attack in Mexico this week, but I don't think they believe in that stuff.