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 everything is about the extending sovereignty issue in Israel. However, Corona is also stubbornly sticking around. What a jerk of a virus.

Corona

After many days of less than 100 new people infected, the numbers in Israel have jumped now to almost 200 new cases a day. I'm under the impression that few to none of these cases involved people becoming very ill or being hospitalized. Because of the spike in numbers, things like the trains between cities are still not running. Enforcement of wearing masks in public has been significantly heightened with almost 400 fines given out today alone. The borders remain closed to non-citizens as well. So still a ways to go until things are back to normal. 

"Regulation law" rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court

This week the Israeli Supreme Court handed down a very controversial ruling that the "Regulation Law" was illegal. This is a law that was passed by the Knesset a few years ago that offered a solution to the thousands of homes that were built on privately-owned land in Judea and Samaria. The solution: financial compensation. In situations where it could be proven that people built their homes on land "in good faith" (often financially supported by the State), then the owners would be fairly compensated for its value plus a premium. The Court ruled that this amounts to discrimination against palestinians. Now what? Who knows! There are at least 4000 houses like this. Some are suggesting that if full Israel sovereignty is applied, the problem will be easily taken care of. I'm not so sure about that, but clearly a solution must be found that doesn't involve kicking more than 10,000 Jews out of their houses! 

Speaking of Extending Sovereignty

As Prime Minister Netanyahu's self-imposed deadline of July 1 gets closer and closer, folks continue to weigh in on the subject. This week it was Germany's turn. Yes, Germany. The foreign minister of Germany arrived in Israel to discuss the possible ramifications of any kind of Israeli sovereignty being implemented on any communities/areas in Judea and Samaria. When I think about Jewish security and best interests, its not exactly Germany I think to ask advice from. Am I right?!! 

Why the need for such vague language on what's being proposed ? Because its not clear at all what Prime Minister Netanyahu will actually do come July 1. Currently, a joint US-Israel committee is mapping out areas to become officially part of Israel with immediate US recognition of the change in status. However, this is taking time and is unlikely to be ready in 2 weeks time. So, what's possible? 

-Just applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley

Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party are on record supporting this. A new condition for US recognition is that Gantz agrees to the move. No one, and I mean literally no one (including Jordan), thinks Israel is ever leaving the Jordan Valley. This move would remain dramatic, but free of controversy in Israel and with the US. Unclear how it works within the contours of the "Plan of the Century"

-Apply sovereignty over all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as part of the Trump "Plan of Century"

In this scenario, Israel extends sovereignty to 30% of Judea and Samaria, endorses Trump's plan in its entirety and the US promises to recognize the change in status of the area and consider the area as permanently part of Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly promised a version of this in the past. 

-Applying sovereignty to 3 blocs of large Jewish communities 

This was just reported recently as an option being considered. The areas suggested  are reportedly Gush Etzion, the Maale Adumim area and the Ariel area. These are areas with high Jewish populations and are located close to the "Green line" of 1948. President Bush ("W") had previously agreed to Israel retaining these areas in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister, at the time, Ariel Sharon. President Obama publicly rejected this stance immediately upon taking office. Its unclear at this time how the Trump Administration would view this move. 

-Doing nothing is not really an option. Too much has been put into this at this point. 

Opposition to the "Deal of the Century" from the "Right"There continues to be strident opposition to President Trump's peace proposal from both the "right" and "left" in Israel. The "right" is mostly opposed to the idea of establishing a "palestinian state" on any percentage of land in Judea and Samaria. However, there are other issues as well, like transportation routes and the isolating (they called it "choking") of something like 25 smaller Jewish communities. Benny Gantz met with some leaders on the "right" this week and encouraged them "take whatever they can" and be happy with it. Well that will definitely not be their plan! Pressure will only increase in the coming weeks - from all sides, foreign and domestic. When Prime Minister Begin applied Israeli sovereignty to the Golan Heights in 1981 he did all the Knesset voting in one day and with no fanfare. Way too late for that on this one. 

The Arabs are also Opposed - Shocking!

Of course, the "Palestinian Authority" is against all of these proposals and has now offered a proposal of their own. They suggest a palestinian state be established on 97% or so of Judea and Samaria with parts of Jerusalem as its capital. There are a few basic issues with this. First they were already offered this in the past and rejected it. Alot has changed since then and not in their favor. They also fail to mention their (new?) stances on critical issues that have doomed previous attempts at agreements - like their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. No doubt deliberately. Their basis message: one unrealistic proposal deserves another. They are so much fun. 

Right now it seems that almost everything in Israel is waiting to see what happens with this. Although applying Israeli sovereignty to the Golan Heights  and subsequent US recognition of that move is a bit of a precedent, it can't really be compared to these current proposals - they are monumental and their importance cannot be overestimated. Probably the biggest deal since the Six Day War. The actual war took on only 6 days, the politics going on 53 years now.