News Digest — 11/22/22

Report: Smotrich Drops Demand For Defense Ministry, Will Get Finance

Religious Zionism Party Chairman Bezalel Smotrich has agreed to become Israel’s next finance minister, according to unconfirmed reports, walking back his demand for control of the defense ministry and seemingly paving the way for Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to finalize the make-up of a governing coalition.

Netanyahu reportedly had told Smotrich that he would not be given the defense portfolio due to his lack of experience.

The Religious Zionism Party will nevertheless have authority over policies in Judea and Samaria as they relate to civil administration and the enforcement of laws in mainly uninhabited areas, according to the report.

Netanyahu is now most likely to appoint Likud Party lawmaker and former Major General Yoav Gallant as defense minister, while Shas leader Aryeh Deri will, subject to his legal standing, head the Interior Ministry.

Channel 12 reported that Oztma Yehudit leader Itamar ben-Gvir will be named public security minister, which would give him control over the police.

The report did not say who would become foreign minister.

Netanyahu has until December 6, with the possibility of a 14-day extension, to finalize coalition deals with his prospective partners.



UK Lawmaker Says No Plan To Move Embassy To Jerusalem

British lawmaker Shailesh Vara confirmed on Monday (21st) that the UK has no plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Jordan News Agency reported.

Vara was leading a delegation from the British Group of the Inter-parliamentary Union to Jordan, where she met with members of the Jordanian Senate.

The delegation was led by Senator Hani Mulki, who told the British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) that the Palestinian cause remains a “central issue” in the Arab world.

“The choice of headlines and quotes show how much the Jordanian government wants to be seen as pushing for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  This is still a central message that Amman wants to broadcast outwards,” i24News senior diplomatic correspondent Owen Alterman said.

He also highlighted the deep historical ties between Jordan and the UK, noting that King Abdullah this month became the first Arab leader to meet Charles III after the latter ascended the throne in September.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh voiced concern last month, that Britain may be considering an embassy move.

Mulki asserted that a rapidly changing world poses increasing challenges to Jordan and has a direct effect on its infrastructure, social structure, and economic sectors, necessitating the continuation of its central humanitarian role, the most important being the reception of Syrian refugees.



IDF Chief Of Staff Receives US Legion Of Merit Medal

The Legion of Merit medal was awarded to Israel’s Chief of the General Staff, LTG Aviv Kochavi, by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, for deepening the strategic partnership between the State of Israel and the US.

The medal was awarded on behalf of the US Secretary of Defense, Mr. Lloyd James Austin III, at an honor guard that took place on Monday (21st) at Fort Myer, Washington, DC.

As stated at the awards ceremony:

“For his exceptionally meritorious service as the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (from January 2019 to January 2023).  Through his actions during his tenure as Chief of General Staff, LTG Kochavi exemplified the spirit of collaboration and cooperation in furthering the strategic partnership of the United States and the State of Israel.  LTG Kochavi solidified Israel’s status as a capable and effective regional security leader in the Middle East.  LTG Kochavi further demonstrated exceptional strategic leadership by capitalizing on the diplomatic initiatives of the Abraham Accords to deepen bilateral military-to-military ties with partners.  LTG Kochavi guided the US-Israeli military-to-military relationship through transition as United States European Command handed over its geographic combatant command responsibility to United States Central Command.  As a valuable partner, LTG Kochavi exemplified the close bond between Israel and the United States.  LTG Kochavi clearly established and shared Israel’s strategic defense objectives, in close alignment with US national interests and strategic objectives.  LTG Kochavi’s superior efforts, outstanding  leadership, and personal initiative reflect great credit upon himself, the Israel Defense Forces, and his country.”



In First, US Senate Could Pass Measure Honoring Israeli-Americans

Bipartisan members of the Senate’s Black Jewish Caucus on Thursday (17th) introduced a historic resolution recognizing the contributions of the Israeli-American community in the US.

The measure that was introduced by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Tim Scott (R-SC), is the first resolution focused on Israeli-Americans.  It stated that the values of the more than 800,000-strong Israeli-American community contribute significantly “to the welfare and diversity of the United States,” and help strengthen the bonds between the US and Israel.

The resolution cited numerous industries where Israeli-Americans have made a positive impact, including health sciences, pharmaceutics, disaster relief, astrophysics, mathematics, chemistry, aerospace, engineering, biotech, agriculture, and internet technologies.

It also applauded Israeli-Americans and Jews for advancing civil rights, equal protection, and justice, particularly for the most vulnerable.

Lastly, the resolution condemns the growing national-origin-discrimination faced by Israeli-Americans and Jews, noting and condemning recent incidents of assaults and bullying targeted at Jews and Israeli-Americans, specifically in grade schools and college campuses.

“As the third Jewish woman to ever serve in the US Senate, I’m proud to help introduce this resolution to honor the culture, heritage, and legacy of Israeli-Americans,” Jacky Rosen said in a statement.  “At a time of rising anti-Semitism that impacts Israeli-Americans, this resolution recognizes their contributions to the United States and condemns all forms of hate and discrimination.”

“It particularly pains me to see the Jewish community, and in particular the Israeli-American subset, targeted with national-origin-discrimination by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) hate movement.  This hate and bias has no place in the United States of America,” said Scott.

The Israeli-American Council (IAC), a nonprofit which represents Israeli-Americans in the United States, thanked both senators in a statement on Friday (18th).

“We are proud that our community and institutions have matured to the point that the Israeli-American story and our contributions to America are worthy of such acknowledgment,” the IAC said.  “This resolution comes at a crucial time for the Israeli-American and pro-Israel community who are unjustly being targeted at record levels based on national-origin bias.  With the rise of anti-Semitism and national-origin-discrimination against Israeli-Americans, now is the time for leaders to stand up with a voice of moral clarity, and we are grateful that Senators Jacky Rosen and Tim Scott are doing so.”



Iran Commander Threatens To Kidnap And Enslave Netanyahu

The Iranian regime’s commander of the Revolutionary Guards in the province of Isfahan said on Sunday (20th) that the theocratic state seeks to kidnap Benjamin Netanyahu and bring him to the Islamic Republic as a slave.

The Iranian-regime-controlled Bahar News reported that Mojtaba Fada, the commander of Isfahan’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said “The former prime minister of the Zionist regime hoped that the protests in Iran would lead him to travel to Tehran [in a post-protest, Mullah-free Iran], but God Willing the Islamic Republic will prevail [and quash the protests, once again taking charge of the country] and will frog-march that prime minister to Iran wearing a leash and a slave collar.”  Fada also urges the destruction of the Jewish state, calling it “the child-murdering regime of Israel.”

The German-Iranian dissident Kazem Moussavi told the Jerusalem Post that Fada sought to conjure up an image of enslaving the Israeli prime minister.

The US government sanctioned the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.  The IRGC-linked paper Tasnim News Agency also reported on Fada’s tirade against the prime minister.

Fada delivered his remarks at a funeral in Isfahan for the “martyrs” of the Islamic republic who died while smashing the ongoing protests against the totalitarian regime.  Moussavi said that Fada is also using martyrs to worship the dead Iranian forces who fought for Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime.

Banafsheh Zand, an Iranian-American expert on the Islamic Republic, told the Post that “The Khomeinist regime has a pattern of making physical and assassination threats against world leaders; in other words, anyone who dares to take issue with Tehran’s brazen terrorism and violent methodology, ends up getting that exact type of threat issued to them by the Khomeinist authority.”

“In recent weeks, Robert Malley who himself had been desperate for Tehran’s leaders to sign a second nuclear agreement, broke down and admitted that the regime’s assassination threats against US government officials were not only unacceptable, but made going forward with any accord, impossible.  As we’ve seen in other instances, they have no compunction in taking hostages from other countries, in order to use them as blackmail bargaining chips in negotiations.”

“Though for the past four-decades, most world leaders and international bodies such as the UN, have willfully turned a blind eye to the criminality of the Islamic regime, now it is becoming more and more inescapable and dangerous,” declared Zand.



In Apparent Protest, Iranian Players Don’t Sing Anthem Before First World Cup Game

Iranian players did not sing their national anthem before their first game of the World Cup against England, in apparent support for anti-government protesters in their homeland.

Ahead of the game in Qatar, captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh said the team would decide together whether or not to refuse to sing the anthem in a show of solidarity for demonstrations that have rocked the regime in Iran.

The Iranian players stood impassively and grim-faced as their anthem rang out around the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.  Iranian fans of the team were also heard booing as the anthem was played.

Iran has been shaken by two months of nationwide protests since the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody on September 16.

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin died three days after her arrest in Tehran over an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s dress code for women, which includes the mandatory hijab headscarf.

The crackdown since Amini’s death has left nearly 400 people dead, according to Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.