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

Israeli Government Coalition Update

One week left to go! That's right, only one week left for a coalition government to be formed. Otherwise, new elections! This would be the third in one year - a record even for Israel! 

There was a plethora of  attempts this week to broker a deal for a unity government between Likud and Blue and White. However, the same main issue remains: Netanyahu insists on continuing to be Prime Minister, at least initially, and leading members of Blue and White have promised to never sit in a government led by Netanyahu for even one day. Additionally, Avigdor Lieberman continues to refuse to join what he calls a "narrow right-wing government". Hence the current conundrum. 

Will someone give in? Netanyahu? Blue and White? Lieberman? We should know in the next few days or so. 

If new elections are called, then it seems the Likud Party will have primaries to determine leadership and candidates sometime in late December - so pretty soon. The only Likud member who has openly declared his intention of challenging Prime Minister Netanyahu is Gideon Saar and his campaign has been picking up momentum. 

ISIS in Jerusalem

This week two arab residents of Jerusalem were arrested on suspicion of joining ISIS and planning to carry out a terror attack in Jerusalem. Not exactly shocking, but concerning nonetheless. Also not shocking is that the two are from Jabel Mukaber - a well known bastion of terrorism. Construction began this week on 176 new apartments for Jews in that area - so the ultimate punishment is swift in coming for these two and their terror supporting neighbors. 

Big News from Hevron! 

After much delay, like 90 years, newly-appointed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced this week that Jews would once again be allowed to live on land they own in the center of the ancient and holy city of Hevron. The land in question had been seized by the Jordanian government after their illegal conquest of the city in 1948. It was later converted into a large marketplace and has sat empty for the last 20 years. Because of previous agreements with Jordan and subsequently with the Hebron Municipality (Arab-run), the former shopkeepers will technically maintain rights to the lower floors of the new buildings that will be soon constructed there. The current construction plan for the upper floors of the buildings would result in doubling the current size of the Jewish community in Hevron! This all comes after close to 50,000 people recently spent Shabbat in Hevron in honor of the Weekly Torah Portion of "Chayei Sara" that commemorates Avraham's purchase of the Cave of Machpela as a family burial plot. 

Tourism is Through the Roof!

It was just reported today that tourism in Israel for November this year was 16% higher than it was last year! That's a pretty big increase. For the whole year, tourism is up approximately 11%. At this rate, tourism is projected to bring in over $6 billion to the Israeli economy this year. How is tourism doing in Iran? Not great. Not great at all. 

Feel Good Story of the Week

Remember the Iranian judo fighter guy that was forced by Iran to forfeit to the Israeli judo fighter guy? So he defected from Iran and gained asylum in Mongolia - of all places!  And now he is coming to Israel! He will be representing his new country and trying to qualify for the Olympics. Also competing in Israel will be two judo fighter guys representing the United Arab Emirates. If they are lucky, Vladimir "Russian Super Judo Fighter Guy" Putin won't show up and beat them all! Clearly peace in the Middle East is possible, just got to get the right people in charge!