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

Happy Israeli Independence Day! 72 and perfect! Well, 72 and doing quite well. As many people I'm sure are aware, Israel commemorates those killed in their army service or through terrorist attacks on the day before Independence Day. The day is called Yom HaZikaron or Remembrance Day. Anyway, its a very heavy time here followed by extreme joy on Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Independence Day). Throw in the remaining restrictions from Corona and you got a bit of slow news week, which is just fine because its a good week to reflect on the importance of the State of Israel for the Jewish People and each of us personally. This is especially true when the intellectual luminary (read: idiot) running New York City tweets accusations and threats against the "Jewish Community". 

Corona Israel Update

The week has gone pretty well. Unfortunately the death toll from Coronavirus in Israel is now up to 215, but many thousands have recovered and now more than half the people officially infected have fully recovered, with many on the way. Under 100 are now on ventilators for the first time in weeks. 

Now that Yom Ha'Atzmaut is passed, the government is looking to loosen restrictions further. There is hope that open markets will be open soon and even some schools. There is alot of debate as to which grades to start with, but it seems clear that at least some kids will be going back to school on Sunday. Honestly, everyday that goes by seems better than the day before. 

Israel Coalition Government Update

There is still no coalition government! There are 9 days left until the deadline to form one and, if nothing is formed at that time, new elections would be called for a few months from now and the current government would continue in its role as a caretaker government. 

Despite the looming deadline, both Likud and Blue and White assure everyone that they have a deal in place and it will be finalized before the deadline. The holdup is legislation that needs to be passed to guarantee both sides keep their side of the deal. In short, not a lot of trust there, putting it mildly. A wrench was thrown in this week when Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid party and former partner of Benny Gantz and Blue and White, declared that he'd be willing to vote for anything that would prevent Gantz from becoming Prime Minister when the current proposed agreement between him and Prime Minister Netanyahu calls for it. That is quite a threat and seems to have blindsided everyone. Nonetheless, both sides are continuing to project confidence for now that a unity coalition government will be formed.

What about the Yameena party of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked? There was a meeting last week over the phone between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Bennett about the possibility of Yameena joining the unity government. Both sides said it went well and that more discussions would subsequently take place. That hasn't happened, at least not publicly. Its looking more and more like they might be out. However, everything should become clear in the coming week.

One thing that did become clear this week is that ultra-orthodox MK Yaakov Litzman is no longer interested in being the Health Minister. He had been in that role for about 10 years now. This week he announced that he is resigning, by order of his spiritual leader the Gur Rebbe, and has set his sights on the Housing Ministry. There are some in the anti-Haredi/ultra-orthodox world that probably think this is a victory for them.However its more likely that he has accomplished as much as he can for his community in health and can accomplish alot more by helping to alleviate the severe housing crisis they are currently facing. Depending on where exactly he decides to build housing, especially for his supporters, his haters might soon wish he was still deciding on health issues. 

Drama With Jordan

As of Thursday this week, Israel will turn over farmland adjacent to Moshav Tzofar to Jordan as part of the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan signed in 1994 - back when Israel regularly signed stupid agreements (see Oslo Accords). Of course it was always assumed by the "geniuses" who negotiated the "brilliant" treaty that Jordan would allow Israel to continue to use the land well into the future. However, domestic pressure in Jordan seems to have prevented that from happening. There are those who suggest that by applying Israeli sovereignty, as is currently planned in July, on the Jordan Valley and possibly other parts of Judea and Samara, the current leadership structure in Jordan could be destabilized. After this Thursday, Israelis have one more reason to not care about that at all. 

Shorts:

-Unfortunately there was a terror attack this week. A 19 year old arab stabbed a 62 year-old Jewish woman in Kfar Saba. Fortunately, he was very bad at the stabbing part and she's already mostly recovered. The attacker was shot by a civilian passing by at the time of the attack. Unfortunately, he wasn't so good at the shooting part and the terrorist is still alive. 

-Israel continues to attack Iranian targets in Syria. This week, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett seemed to hint at an upcoming attack. That night there was an attack near the Syrian capital of Damascus that resulted in much damage and some deaths. There are reports that Israeli strategy has shifted from trying to contain the Iranian presence and terror activities in Syria to aggressively trying to remove them altogether. 

-There have been further discussions regarding a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Hamas would very much like to make a deal for the Ramadan holiday and Israel would like to make a deal because they aren't horrible people like Hamas.

-Hope of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) filling all the way up have dimmed, but it did go up another centimeter this week, so its now 12 centimeters from being full. 

This past week marked the 100th anniversary of the San Remo Conference of 1920. This established the international legal basis for the State of Israel. Look it up, its important if you care about international law. If not, just stick with the Bible.